THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Sixth, they will not encounter disasters of water and fire… They will neither be drowned nor burned; they will not encounter any flood or fire.

Out of t he four great spirits in the sky that I mentioned earlier, I forgot to explain two. What does the spirit of fire look like? Like a red sparrow with only one leg, making it different than others. Although he has a name, he will not come close when he is called; he will run away instead. Unlike us people, we come running over when our names are called. So what is his name? His name is “Fang Mian”. When you say, “Fang Mian,” he runs away. When you do not call on him, he will stay around and never leave. This is how strange this spirit of fire is. Let me explain the spirit of earth next. The earth spirit looks like a child with red eyes and long ears that drag on the ground. Have you seen a child like this? He is the spirit of earth. He also has a name; he is called “Wang Xang”. It is difficult to encounter the spirit of earth. When you do though, catch him, cook him and eat him, then become the next spirit of earth. I am not kidding you; all this is true.

Seventh, they will avoid unforeseen calamities… there are no unforeseen calamities of various kinds. Calamities come as a surprise and are unusual. Here, all kinds of disasters, things that you cannot imagine, disappear.

Eighth, they will never have nightmares… people often have nightmares about being hit, killed, eaten by a tiger or taken to see King Yama by the ghost of impermanence. For instance, someone sleeping saw a kumbhanda ghost sit on top of him. He could not talk, make any sound or move his body. He was stuck there. Make offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva or recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name and nightmares will not occur any more.

Ninth, they will be protected by spirits in their daily comings and goings… For instance, you were hit by a car that threw you more than ten yards away, but you walk away unscathed. You should have broken bones and all, but you get up and walk away from the scene. You do not even need to go to the hospital. Why? It is because spirits are protecting you as you go in and out.

Tenth, they will create many causes that lead to sagehood… What are these causes that lead us to sagehood? Our summer session, for example is a cause for sagehood. These six weeks, we focus on lecturing sutras and speaking dharma. We work hard at cultivation. It is impossible to find around the globe, another summer session as difficult as this one. If you do not want to work yourself that hard, you will not encounter a cause that leads to sagehood. Though this is suffering for you right now, it is a cause for sagehood.

Sutra:

“World Honored One, beings of the present and future who make offerings in their homes in the prescribed manner will attain benefits like those.”

He further said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, good men or women in the future may keep this sutra and an image of the Bodhisattva where they live. Furthermore, they may recite the sutra and make offerings to the Bodhisattva. I shall constantly use my own spiritual powers day and night to guard and protect those who do that from disasters, including floods, fire, robbery and theft, major calamities, and minor accidents. All evil deeds shall disappear.”

Commentary:

Earth Spirit Firm and Stable called out, “World Honored One, beings of the present and future who make offerings in their homes in the prescribed manner, offering up an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva at a clean spot in the southern part of their homes. They will attain benefits like those ten said earlier. He further said to the Buddha, Earth Spirit Firm and Stable told the Buddha again, “World Honored One, good men or women in the future may keep this sutra, the Earth Store Sutra, and an image of the Earth Store Bodhisattva where they live. Furthermore, they may recite the sutra and bow and make offerings to the Bodhisattva. I shall constantly use my own spiritual powers day and night to guard and protect those who do that from disasters, including floods, fire, robbery and theft, major calamities, and minor accidents. We talked about a car crash earlier today. A major calamity refers to death in that accident. A minor accident refers to getting a little scrape from a crash. All evil deeds shall disappear completely.

The times are bad right now. Everywhere you go, lots of problems occur, be it theft or robbery, even robbery in broad daylight. Be careful with thieves. In China, there is a saying, “ Hide your treasures too slowly creates thefts; make yourself too beautiful creates lust.” Hide your treasures because if you were to hide even just a bit too slow, bandits will be greedy at the sight of them and come rob you. Why would they rob you? It is because you hide your gems too slowly; hence inviting robbers to mug you.

This is how it works with our treasures outside; the same goes with out treasures inside. Hide the treasures in our inherent nature; do it too slowly then monsters, demons and ghosts will come and rob you. Rob you of what? Rob you of your most precious treasures. But how can we hide the treasures of our inherent nature? The way to hide is different than hiding some tangible valuables, such as a secret spot or a safe. How do we hide the treasures of our inherent nature? Avoid ignorance. Know that our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind are all major thieves.

Don’t think your eyes help you. The reason that you are not a Buddha right now is because of your eyes. Not only are your eyes thieves, your ears, nose, tongue, and mind are also thieves. Your spiritual nature is a most valuable treasure: when your eyes take a bit, you have less of it; when your ears take a bit, you have even less of it; when your nose takes a bit more, you have even less of it; when your tongue takes a bit, you have even less of it; when your body takes a bit, you have even less of it; when your thoughts take a bit, you have even less of it. Unable to pull in our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind, we indulge them as they roam about bothering with others’ business. The eyes want to see everything a bit more clearly, that is to bother with other people’s business. The ears are affected when they want to hear some useless chatter again. They act like thieves in this way! So do not let the six thieves rob you of your nature’s treasures. If you obey your six senses, then the robbers of your inherent nature are stealing from you. You may not necessarily understand this idea that I am now telling you. When you cultivate for a while, you will know. You will realize how awful your eyes are, how disobedient your ears are. You will know that they are bandits; they are thieves.

“M ake yourself too beautiful creates lust.” Women making themselves up and dressing themselves beautifully creates lust in people. It would be best if women do not make themselves up and just be natural. It is completely meaningless to make your lips all red. Living beings are mixed up in this fashion.

The six senses are said to be thieves because we do not know how to use them. If you know how to use them, they are not thieves, but are Dharma protectors. That is why the Shruangama Sutra says that the six senses are the cause for transmigration in the six realms. However, if you can reflect and purify your mind, then you can realize Buddhahood because of these six senses too. It is not because there are other people helping you. They are Dharma protectors if you know how to employ them; they are thieves if you do not know how to employ them. For example, you remain mindful as you look, then your eyes are Dharma protectors. In contrast, you develop evil thoughts as you look, then your eyes are devils. This illustrates what Great Master Six Patriarch said, “The devil is in the house when evil thoughts occur; the Buddha is in the hall when proper thoughts occur.” Being mindful all the time makes your six senses your Dharma protectors; they help you. However, were the eyes to chase after forms that they see; were the ears to chase after sounds that they hear; were the nose to chase after scents that it smells; were the tongue to chase after flavors that it tastes; were the body to chase after tactile sensations that it comes in contact with, then you have run away with your desire based on preference and wanting. Were the mind encounter dharma and chase after the objects of dharma, then you have no ability to concentrate and are affected by external states. Instead of proper mindfulness, the thoughts are deviant; hence you are affected by states. Conversely, if you maintained proper mindfulness, then you can influence states.

Sutra :

The Buddha told the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable, “There are few spirits who can match your great spiritual power. Why do I say that? All the lands in Jambudvipa receive your protection. All the grasses, woods, sands, stones, paddy fields, hemp, bamboo, reeds, grains, rice, and gems come forth from the earth because of your power. Moreover, your constant praising of the beneficial deeds of Earth Store Bodhisattva makes your meritorious virtue and spiritual penetrations hundreds of thousands of times greater than those of ordinary earth spirits.

“If good men or women in the future make offerings to this Bodhisattva, or recite The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva and rely upon even a single aspect of it in their cultivation, you should use your own spiritual powers to protect them. Do not allow any disasters or unwelcome events even to be heard, much less undergone, by them. Not only will those people be protected by you, but they will also be protected by the followers of Shakra, Brahma, and other gods. Why will they receive protection from sages and worthies such as those? It will be due to their having beheld and worshipped an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva and from having recited this sutra of his past vows. Such people will quite naturally be able to leave the sea of suffering and will ultimately be certified to the bliss of Nirvana. For those reasons, they will receive great protection.”

Commentary:

The Buddha told the Earth Spirit Firm and Stable, “There are few spirits who can match your great spiritual power. Why do I say that? All the lands in Jambudvipa receive your protection. All the grasses, including the tiniest blade of grass, smallest pieces of wood, one grain of sand, or one piece of stone, paddy fields, hemp, bamboo, reeds, grains, rice, and gems come forth from the earth because of your power. Moreover, your constant praising of the beneficial deeds of Earth Store Bodhisattva… you always praise Earth Store Bodhisattva for his helping people and all beings. This makes your meritorious virtue and spiritual penetrations hundreds of thousands of times greater than those of ordinary earth spirits.

If good men or women who have taken the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Deeds in the future make offerings to this Bodhisattva, or recite The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva and rely upon even a single aspect of it in their cultivation… cultivate one thing in the sutra accordingly, you should use your own spiritual powers to protect them. Do not allow any disasters or unwelcom ing events even to be heard…do notlet them hear any sounds coming from unpleasantries and catastrophies, much less undergone by them. If they do not even hear displeasing sounds, how could they come face to face with the adversity? It would be impossible. Not only will those people be protected by you… let me tell you, you are not the only spirit who protects those people, but they will also be protected by the followers of Shakra, Brahma, and other gods. Why will they receive protection from so many sages and worthies, such as those members of the eightfold pantheon? It will be due to their having beheld and worshipped an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva and from having recited this sutra of his past vows. Such people will quite naturally be able to leave the sea of suffering and will ultimately be certified to the bliss of Nirvana. For those reasons, they will receive great protection from all the sages.

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