THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Sutra:

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World’s Sounds, “In worlds of the present and future, gods whose heavenly blessings are ending may be manifesting the five signs of decay, indicating that they may be about to fall into the Evil Paths. When those signs appear, if those gods, whether male or female, see Earth Store Bodhisattva’s image or hear his name and gaze at him or bow but once to him, their heavenly blessings will thereby increase. They will experience great happiness and will never have to undergo retributions in the Three Evil Paths. How much more will that be the case for those who, upon seeing and hearing the Bodhisattva, use incense, flowers, clothing, food, drink, jewels, and necklaces as gifts and offerings to him. The meritorious virtue, blessings, and benefits they gain will be limitless and unbounded.

Commentary:

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Contemplator of the World’s Sounds and all those assembled in the Dharma Assembly, “In worlds of the present and future, gods whose heavenly blessings are ending may be manifesting the five signs of decay. Gods’ blessings are so much more enjoyable in the heavens than in the human realm. However, gods have five signs of decay. What are they? 1. Their floral crown wilts. When the five signs of decay occur, this crown of flowers falls away. 2. Their clothing becomes dusty. The Gods’ clothing do not need washing. It is always clean. When dust gets on their clothes, they are close to death. 3. Their armpits are sweaty. Gods do not sweat, but when the five signs of decay occur, perspiration comes from their armpits. 4. Their bodies smell. Gods have a nice scent about them. But when their signs of decay appear, they have a stench about them. 5. They do not enjoy sitting still. Gods are always meditating. When they are about to die, they cannot bear to be sitting in meditation anymore. They do not know whether to sit or stand. They stand up then sit down; sit down then stand up. This is about the time that they fall, turning possibly into hungry ghosts, animals, hell-beings, or humans etc. These are the five major signs of decay.

There are also five minor signs of decay. What are they? 1. No delightful voice. Heavenly beings have really beautiful voices. When their five signs of decay appear, their voices become unpleasant and ugly. 2. The light to their bodies dims. Heavenly beings have a light to their bodies; but when one of these minor five signs of decay appear, the light on their bodies is not so light, but dims. 3. Bath water sticks to their bodies. Originally when heavenly beings bathe, their bodies cannot be touched by water; but water drips down like on glass. When the five minor signs of decay appear, bath water sticks to their body. 4. Attached to states. They are attached to whatever states they encounter and cannot give them up. 5. Weak body and rolling eyes. When the five minor signs of decay appear, their bodies are really weak and unhealthy. Heavenly beings rarely have their eyeballs roll about with their eyes open. But when the five minor signs of decay appear, heavenly beings’ eyeballs roll back and forth. These are the five minor signs of decay.

There is another list of seven. This seven includes the five major signs of decay: 1. Light goes out. They do not have any more lights. 2. Wilted floral crown. The garland of flowers on their heads falls away. 3. Change in appearance. Heavenly beings’ appearances are flawless. When signs of decay occur, they go from being good-looking to being bad-looking. 4. Dust alights on their clothing. 5. Sweat from their armpits. 6. Skinnier Bodies. Heavenly beings do not need much nourishment and yet they are not thin. When one of their signs of decay occurs, they are skinny. 7. No delight in being in their seats. They leave their seats. Five minor signs of decay, five major signs of decay and seven signs of decay are signs that occur when heavenly beings use up their heavenly blessings.

Indicating that they may be about to fall into the Evil Paths. When those signs appear, if those gods, whether male or female, see Earth Store Bodhisattva’s image or hear his holy name and gaze at him or bow but once to him, their heavenly blessings will thereby increase. They will experience great happiness and will never have to undergo retributions in the Three Evil Paths. How much more will that be the case for those who, upon seeing and hearing the Bodhisattva, use a variety of incense, an array of flowers, different clothing, various food, drink, and all kinds of jewels, and decorative necklaces made of valuables as gifts and offerings to him, Earth Store Bodhisattva. The meritorious virtue, blessings, and benefits they gain will be limitless and unbounded.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds, in worlds of the present and future, when beings in the Six Paths are on the verge of death, if they can hear the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva even once, such beings will never have to endure the sufferings of the Three Evil Paths again. How much more will that be the case if the parents and other relatives use the houses, wealth, property, jewels, and clothing of such people who are on the verge of death to commission the carving or painting of images of Earth Store Bodhisattva.”

“If those ailing people have not yet died, their relatives can try to help them see, hear, and understand that their houses, jewels, and so forth have been used to carve or paint images of Earth Store Bodhisattva. If those people’s karmic retributions were such that they were to undergo severe sickness, then with such merit they can quickly be cured and their life spans prolonged. If those people’s retributions send them to the evil destinies at death due to their karma and obstacles, then with such merit they can, when their lives end, be born instead among people or gods and there enjoy extremely wonderful bliss. All their obstacles due to offenses will dissolve.”

Commentary:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds, in worlds of the present and future, when beings in the Six Paths are on the verge of death, if they can hear the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva even once, such beings will never have to endure the sufferings of the Three Evil Paths again. How much more will that be the case if the parents and other relatives use the houses, wealth, property, jewels, and clothing of such people who are on the verge of death to commission the carving or painting of images of Earth Store Bodhisattva.”

“If those ailing people have not yet died, their relatives can try to help them see, hear, and understand that their houses, jewels, and so forth have been used to carve or paint images of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Patients create merit by building images of Earth Store Bodhisattvaa. If those people’s karmic retributions were such that they were to undergo severe sickness, entangled by demons of illness and karmic obstructions, then with such merit they can quickly be cured. Create an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva for them and they will recover soon. And their life spans prolonged. If those people’s retributions send them to the evil destinies at death due to their karma and obstacles, then with such merit they can, when their lives end, be born instead among people or gods and there enjoy extremely wonderful bliss. All their obstacles due to offenses will dissolve, vanish.”

Sutra:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future men or women may lose their fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters while still infants or as youngsters. As adults, such people may think about those parents and other relatives, not knowing into what paths or worlds or heavens they have been reborn. Suppose that such people are able to sculpt or paint images of Earth Store Bodhisattva, to hear his name or to gaze upon and worship him for one through seven days without retreating. Thus, upon hearing his name and seeing his image, they gaze at him in worship and make offerings. If such people’s relatives had fallen into bad paths and were destined to remain there for many eons, those relatives would quickly gain release, be born among people or gods, and experience supremely wonderful bliss. That will happen because of the meritorious virtue generated by their sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters who carved or painted images of Earth Store Bodhisattva and then gazed upon and worshipped them. If such people’s relatives have already been born among people or gods on the strength of their own blessings and are already experiencing supremely wonderful bliss, then upon receiving that additional merit, their causes pertaining to sagehood will increase, and they will experience limitless bliss.”

Commentary:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, says Shakyamuni Buddha, ‘Let me tell you another inconceivable state, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva!’ In the future, kind-hearted men or women may lose their fathers, mothers. Their parents may have died, disappeared or gotten lost. They may have lost their brothers or sisters too while still infants or as youngsters. As adults, such people may think about those parents and other relatives, not knowing into what paths of gods, humans, asuras or hungry ghosts or other worlds or heavens they have been reborn. Suppose that such people are able to sculpt or paint images of Earth Store Bodhisattva using clay, wood, gold, silver, copper, metal or paper. To hear his name. Even if they do not sculpt or draw images of Earth Store Bodhisattva, but just to hear Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name. Or to gaze upon and worship him for one through seven days without retreating. They do not give up that very first intent to bow to an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Thus, upon hearing his name and seeing his image, they gaze at him in worship and make offerings. If such people’s relatives had fallen into bad paths of asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts and animals, and were destined to remain there for many eons. According to their offenses, they should be in the hells, the four evil realms for as long a time as an unfathomable number of great eons. Those relatives such as parents, siblings and other deceased individuals, would quickly gain release from their offense karma, be born among people or gods, and experience supremely wonderful bliss. That will happen because of the meritorious virtue generated by their sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters who carved or painted images of Earth Store Bodhisattva and then gazed upon and worshipped them. If such people’s relatives have already been born among people or gods on the strength of their own blessings and are already experiencing supremely wonderful bliss, then upon receiving that additional merit and blessings, their causes pertaining to sagehood will increase, and they will experience limitless bliss. Supremely wonderful bliss earlier now becomes limitless bliss.

Sutra:

“If such people are able to behold and worship images of Earth Store Bodhisattva single-mindedly for three weeks, reciting his name a full ten thousand times, the Bodhisattva may then manifest a boundless body and describe to those people the realms into which their relatives have been born. Or in their dreams, the Bodhisattva may manifest great spiritual powers and personally lead them to those worlds to see their relatives. If they can further recite the Bodhisattva’s name one thousand times a day every day for one thousand days, the Bodhisattva will order the ghosts and earth spirits in the vicinity of such people to guard and protect them for their entire lives. In this world their clothing and food will be abundant and they will have no suffering from sickness or other causes. No accidents will occur in their households, much less affect them personally. Finally, the Bodhisattva will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them.”

Commentary:

“If such people are able to behold and worship images of Earth Store Bodhisattva single-mindedly for three weeks . The individual who sculpts or draws images of Earth Store Bodhisattva, who gaze upon and worship images of Earth Store Bodhisattva can, for three weeks, instead of the one week before, recite his name a full ten thousand times. The Bodhisattva may then manifest a boundless body that is boundless and omnipresent. He manifests to teach every type of being. But this sutra passage here means that Earth Store Bodhisattva appears an individual during these three weeks and describe to those people the realms into which their parents, relatives and relatives have been born. Or in their dreams. . . Since some Buddhists are too confused, the Bodhisattva cannot make contact with us or communicate with us when we are awake and conscious, the Bodhisattva may manifest great spiritual powers and personally lead them to every one of those worlds to see all their relatives. If they can further recite Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name one thousand times a day every day for one thousand days, which is about three years, the Bodhisattva will order the ghosts and earth spirits in the vicinity where such people live to guard and protect them for their entire lives. In this world their clothing and food will be abundant and they will have no suffering from sickness or other causes. No accidents will occur in their households, much less affect them personally. Finally, the Bodhisattva will definitely come rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them. He will say, ‘Good men, your great resolve for Bodhi will bear Bodhi fruits in the future.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men or women may want to practice great compassion in rescuing beings, may want to cultivate unsurpassed Bodhi, and may want to leave the Three Realms. Those people may see Earth Store Bodhisattva’s image, hear his name, and in their hearts take refuge with him. They may use incense, flowers, clothing, jewels, food and drink to make offerings while beholding and worshipping him. Such good people’s wishes will quickly be fulfilled and they will never have any further obstructions.

Commentary:

“Moreover, let me tell you in detail. Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the worlds of the future, good men or women who cultivate the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Deeds may want to practice great compassion in rescuing beings. Why do they develop great compassion? To save all beings who may want to cultivate unsurpassed Bodhi, and may want to leave the Three Realms of Desire, Form and Formlessness, the houses on fire. Those people may see Earth Store Bodhisattva’s image, hear his name, and in their hearts sincerely take refuge with him. They may use various incense, flowers, clothing, jewels, food and drink to make offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva while beholding and worshipping him. Such good people’s wishes will quickly be fulfilled and they will never have any further obstructions.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men and women may want to fulfill millions of billions of vows and to succeed in as many undertakings both in the present and the future. They need only take refuge with, gaze upon, worship, make offerings to, and praise images of Earth Store Bodhisattva. In this way, their vows and goals can all be realized. Moreover, they may hope that Earth Store Bodhisattva, being endowed with great compassion, will always protect them. In dreams the Bodhisattva will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them.

Commentary:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men and women may want to fulfill , not just one, but millions of billions of vows. Vows are what they want. What do they want? Whatever you want will be granted. And to succeed in as many undertakings both in the present and the future. You will get whatever you want, but there is one thing you need to do, what is that? They need only take refuge with, gaze upon, worship, make offerings to, and praise images of Earth Store Bodhisattva. In this way, their vows and goals can all be realized. They can complete their power of vows. Moreover, they may hope that Earth Store Bodhisattva, being endowed with great compassion, will always protect them. Asleep or in dreams the Bodhisattva will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions upon them.

Sutra:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men and women may have high regard for the Mahayana sutras and make the inconceivable resolve to read them and to recite them from memory. They may then encounter a bright master who instructs them so that they can become familiar with the texts. But as soon as they learn them, they forget them. They may try for months or years and yet still be unable to read or recite them from memory. Because those good men and women have karmic obstructions from past lives that have not yet been dissolved, they are unable to read and memorize sutras of the Great Vehicle. Upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name or seeing his image, such people should, with deep respect and honesty, state their situation to the Bodhisattva. In addition, they should use incense, flowers, clothing, food, and drink, and other beloved material objects to make offerings to the Bodhisattva. They should place a bowl of pure water before the Bodhisattva for one day and one night. Afterwards, joining their palms together, they should state their request and then, while facing south, prepare to drink the water. As the water is about to enter their mouths, they should be particularly sincere and solemn. After drinking the water, they should abstain from the five pungent plants, wine, meat, improper sexual activity, false speech, and all killing and harming for one to three weeks. In dreams, those good men and women may then see Earth Store Bodhisattva manifesting a boundless body and anointing the crowns of their heads with water. When they awaken, they may be endowed with keen intelligence. Upon hearing this sutra but one time, they will eternally remember it and never forget or lose a single sentence or verse.”

Commentary:

“Moreover, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds Bodhisattva, in the future, good men and women may have high regard for the Mahayana sutras . They consider Mahayana sutras more highly than any valuable. And make the inconceivable resolve to read them and to recite the Mahayana sutras from memory. ‘I swear to become very familiar with this sutra.’ Since they developed such incredible intent and determination, they may then encounter a bright master who instructs them on reading sutras so that they can become familiar with the texts. But as soon as they learn them, they forget them. They may try to study in their every movement or action, for several or many months or one or many years – a long time -- and yet still be unable to read, unable to read clearly, or recite them from memory. They may have it memorized after reading it a few times, then forget again. Because those good men and women have karmic obstructions from past lives. Why do they recite sutras then forget, recite and forget again. It is because these individuals have karmic obstructions from past lives that prevent them from memorizing the sutras. The karmic obstruction makes you lazy and not wish to recite sutras. Karmic obstruction makes you sleepy when you want to read the sutras. Karmic obstruction makes you drowsy when you want to recite the sutras. Strangely enough, you are full of energy when you do not recite the sutras, but you want to sleep as soon as you recite the sutras. Put down the sutras and your sleep demon runs away. You are no longer sleepy. Start reading again, it is here again. I believe a number of you have this type of experience. You want to listen to the sutras, but instead of listening you want to sleep. If you chitchat and engage in meaningless conversation, then the more you talk the more energetic you get. Saliva flies about as you speak that it is practically raining. You are not sleepy. Karmic obstructions have not yet been dissolved, this is why they are unable to read and memorize sutras of the Great Vehicle. You do not have enough memory to even read or recite.

Upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name or seeing his image, such people should not worry or be sad. With deep respect and honesty, their wondrous and bright true mind rather than their false mind, reverently state their situation to the Bodhisattva. They share their opinions and comments. What opinions and comments? They say, ‘Namo Great Vows Earth Store King Bodhisattva! Please be compassionate and help me eliminate this demon of sleep, this demonic obstruction of a poor memory. Make my head clear and memory excellent.’

In addition, they should use a wide variety of incense, flowers, clothing, food, and drink. . . Drinks here refer not to alcohol but to soup. Do not misunderstand this drink for alcoholic beverages. If you imbibe alcohol, your memory will be even worse. And they use other beloved material objects to make offerings to the Bodhisattva. Why? Do Bodhisattvas play with their beloved object? Do they like toys? For example, balls that children play with may be offered to Earth Store King Bodhisattva. Earth Store King Bodhisattva does not necessarily want to play ball, but he enjoys your offerings of your favorite things.

They should place a bowl of pure water , not dirty water, before the Bodhisattva as an offering for one day and one night. Afterwards, joining their palms together, they should state their request as they sincerely and earnestly contemplate that Earth Store King Bodhisattva bless this water. I believe this is extremely important. And then, while facing south, prepare to drink the water. As the water is about to enter their mouths, they should be particularly sincere and solemn. After drinking the water, they should abstain from the five pungent plants (onions, chives, scallions, garlic and shallots). These spicy things and their like increase people’s drowsiness, stupidity and sexual desire. We must avoid these. Be careful not to use the five pungent plants as well as wine, meat, improper sexual activity. Avoid intercourse and false speech, and all killing and harming for one to three weeks.

In dreams, those good men and women may then see Earth Store Bodhisattva manifesting a boundless body and anointing the crowns of their heads with water like sweet dew. In the 42 Hands and Eyes, there is a Sweet Dew Hand where the Bodhisattva anoints the crown of their heads with this Hand. When the Sweet Dew Hand is extended, you will feel like you are taking a shower. Wash away all the defilements so that there are no more karmic obstacles, so that you are clean. You cannot be lazy and stop cultivating for even one day. Stop for a day and you will have to start all over. When they awaken, they may be endowed with keen intelligence. Is that not bizarre? Sleep, have a dream, wake up and then they are smart. Is that not wonderful? Do you want to be that way? If you do, try it. Upon hearing this sutra but one time, they will eternally remember it. You used to always forget, but not this time. You cannot forget even if you want to. For example, someone says that he wants to think of a way to stop coming to the Buddhist Lecture Hall, but cannot think of a way. He still wants to come. That is strange. And never forget or lose a single sentence or verse. This is really wonderful beyond words.

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