THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Chapter IV

Karmic Retributions of Beings in Jambudvipa

Commentary:

Jambudvipa is our southern continent of Jambudivipa. All living beings undergo retribution for whatever karma they created. Having sowed good causes, they reap good fruits; having sowed evil causes, they reap evil fruits. These are karmic retributions.

Sutra:

At that time Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, because I receive the awesome spiritual strength of the Buddha, Thus Come One, I am able to divide my body and rescue beings who are undergoing karmic retributions everywhere in billions of worlds. If it were not for the great compassionate strength of the Thus Come One, I would be unable to manifest such changes and transformations. Now the World Honored One has entrusted me with rescuing and liberating beings in the Six Paths until Ajita becomes a Buddha. I accept the entrustment, World Honored One. Please have no further concern.”

Commentary:

At that time Earth Store the Great Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, because I receive the awesome spiritual strength of the Buddha, Thus Come One, I am able to divide my body to teach beings and rescue all beings who give rise to delusion, create karma and who are undergoing karmic retributions everywhere in billions of worlds. Earth Store Bodhisattva did not say, “I have great spiritual powers; I have great wisdom; I have unobstructed eloquence.” He says that he is able to pervade billions and billions of worlds by relying on the power of the Buddha’s awesome virtues and spiritual penetrations. If it were not for the great compassionate strength of the Thus Come One, I would be unable to manifest such terrific changes and transformations such as teaching beings in billions and billions of division bodies. He changes roles or identities; he transforms something out of nothing all of a sudden.

Now the World Honored One has entrusted me with rescuing and liberating beings in the Six Paths of gods, humans, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals and asuras, until Ajita becomes a Buddha. Does anyone know who Ajita is? You may not know Ajita, but you might have heard of Maitreya? Which Bodhisattva is Ajita? He is Maitreya Bodhisattva. Maitreya Bodhisattva’s name means “incomparably victorious”. He can overcome everything; no one can defeat him. His name means something so powerful, it is no wonder no one can defeat him. Since he smiles all day long and never gets angry, he enjoys wisdom that overcomes everything, hence his name “Incomparably Victorious”. Ajita also means “the kind clan”. I accept the entrustment, I agree to do this now, World Honored One. Please have no further concern. Do not worry.

Sutra:

Then the Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, “Beings who have not yet obtained liberation have unfixed natures and consciousnesses. Their bad habits reap bad karma; their good habits bring rewards. Reacting to situations by committing good or evil deeds causes them to turn in the Five Paths without a moment’s rest. Throughout eons as numerous as dust motes they remain confused, deluded, obstructed, and afflicted by difficulties. They are like fish swimming through waters laced with nets. They may slip through and keep their freedom temporarily, but sooner or later they will be caught. I am concerned about such beings. But since you keep making extensive vows repeatedly throughout successive eons to take such offenders across, what further worries need I have?”

Commentary:

Then the Buddha Shakyamuni told Earth Store Bodhisattva, “All beings who are still on the Wheel of Rebirth have not yet obtained liberation. They have unfixed natures and consciousnesses. They may have wanted to study the Buddhadharma originally, but once they do, they change their goal, which means they are unfixed in natures and consciousnesses. Their bad habits reap bad karma; their good habits bring rewards. Reacting to situations by committing good or evil deeds causes them to turn in the Five Paths of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, and humans without a moment’s rest. They become born according to their states and as they pursue states. For instance, encountering good friends who speak the Buddhadharma for us, we go and do good deeds. Or we encounter corrupt friends who tell us to indulge in dissipation or to be mean. Hearing them often enough, we will act on it and possibly become like them. For instance, we gradually develop the habits of being diligent and frugal when we are with such people. Diligent and frugal people, after being with lazy people for some time will be affected and become lazy. “One takes on the color of one's company.” Without realizing it, we turn red when we are around rouge. The same with the color black. For example, without realizing it, we make our hands black when we write with dark ink. “Washed with brown dye, we turn brown; we are yellow when we are dyed yellow.” In the words of this sutra, this is called, “reacting to situations by committing good or evil deeds.” People who do not drink will start drinking for some reason when they are always with friends who drink. Draw near druggies and eventually they will turn into druggies. This is why we must be especially careful about making friends. Furthermore, people must listen to friends’ advice. There are good friends and bad friends actually. We must believe everything that good friends tell us; we must dismiss everything that bad friends tell us. “Reacting to situations by committing good or evil deeds” is the same idea.

Throughout eons as numerous as dust motes they remain confused, deluded, obstructed, and afflicted by difficulties. Due to one action, they undergo as many eons as motes of dust in an environment of fraught with confusion and karmic obstructions. What is this like? The Sutra explains it aptly: they are like fish swimming through waters laced with nets. They may slip through and keep their freedom temporarily, but sooner or later they will be caught again by fishermen. I am concerned about such beings, this type of people. I am worried because, you see, Shakyamuni Buddha is sad that we cannot get out of this dangerous and not-at-all fun fishnet. Though this is cause for concern for Shakyamuni Buddha, we should not worry. As long as we concentrate on studying the Buddhadharma, things will work out.

But since youkeep making extensive vows. Shakyamuni Buddha addresses Earth Store Bodhisattva saying, ‘Since you will fulfill the vows you made in the past,’ repeatedly throughout successive eons to take such offenders across, what further worries need I have? What is there for me to be sad about? I do not have anything to be concerned about! I can rest assured. Okay! Go and do it. Shakyamuni Buddha heard Earth Store Bodhisattva tell him this, he responds by declaring that ‘I will not worry anymore.’”

Sutra:

After that was said, a Bodhisattva Mahasattva in the assembly named Samadhi Self-Mastery King said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, what vows has Earth Store Bodhisattva made during so many successive eons that now cause him to receive the World Honored One’s special praise? We hope the World Honored One will tell us about this.”

Then the World Honored One replied to Samadhi Self-Mastery King, “Listen attentively, listen attentively, and reflect well on the examples I am about to give you.

Commentary:

After that was said, a Bodhisattva Mahasattva, a great Bodhisattva too, in the assembly named Samadhi Self-Mastery King, who got his name because he reached self-mastery by cultivating Samadhi. Not only did he reach a sense of ease, but the king among different types of ease. He said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, what vows has Earth Store Bodhisattva made during so many successive eons that now cause him to receive the World Honored One’s compassionate, earnest, and special praise? We hope the World Honored One will tell us about this briefly.”

Then the World Honored One, at that time Shakyamuni Buddha, replied to Samadhi Self-Mastery King, “Listen attentively, listen attentively, and reflect well on and remember the examples and detailed explanations I am about to give you.

Sutra:

One time, limitless asamkhyeyas of nayutas of inexpressible eons ago, a Buddha named All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One, One Worthy of Offerings, One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge, One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, Well-Gone One, Unsurpassed Knight Who Understands the World, Taming and Subduing Hero, Teacher of Gods and People, Buddha, World Honored One, appeared in the world. That Buddha’s life span was sixty thousand eons.

Commentary:

One time. . . how far back in time? Limitless asamkhyeyas of nayutas (these are terms for eons and large figures) of inexpressible eons ago, a Buddha named All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One appeared in the world. There are three types of knowledge: All Wisdom, Wisdom of Various Dharmas, and All Modes of Wisdom. All Wisdom includes the other two types of wisdom, and is what is realized by the Thus Come One. Thus Come One is one of the ten titles of the Buddha. One layperson asked me, “Are Thus Come One Buddha and Amitabha Buddha different?” Actually, Amitabha Thus Come One, Shakyamuni Thus Come One, Medicine Master Thus Come One, all have Thus Come One as part of their name. Just because one Buddha is named Thus Come One, it does not mean another Buddha cannot have the name Thus Come One.

The Buddha has ten titles. We may have a formal name that our elders call us by, then an informal name that our peers call us by. Lion’s Roar is a title that is heard far and wide as your reputation spreads. It symbolizes a loud sound. Thus Come One is one of the Buddha’s ten titles that are derived from former names of virtuous individuals.

“Thus” refers to not having any specific location. “Come” refers to manifestations when responses and the Way intertwine. These make up the name “Thus Come One”. Also, “Thus Come” also means one comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. “Thus” represents the noumenon in fundamental enlightenment. “Come” is starting of wisdom of enlightenment. The Thus Come One relates the noumenon of fundamental enlightenment to the wisdom of beginning enlightenment. This is roughly what “Thus Come One” means.

One Worthy of Offerings means that he deserves offerings from heavenly beings and people. There is another name for this, and that is “the title of Worthy of Being a Field of Blessings”. There are two types of fields of blessings, one that benefits oneself and another that benefits others. The one that benefits oneself is for one to study that which is true and eliminate delusion. What does that mean? It is beneficial for us when we study the truth and eliminate delusions. Once we understand, we can then go on to teach and change others, so that they also reach the truth and end delusions; hence benefiting others.

Three, One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge. He is omniscient. “Proper” makes it different from the non-Buddhists’ “improper”. “Pervasive” is different from the Two Vehicles’ “non-pervasive”. Adherents of the Two Vehicles have certified to the noumenon of extreme emptiness rather than pervasiveness, which is distinct from the Two Vehicles. “Knowledge” makes it different from ordinary individuals who have no “Knowledge”. Proper and pervasive knowledge is omniscience. There is a title to the One of Proper and Pervasive Knowledge, which is “the title of Pervasively Knowing the Dharma Realm.” What does this title mean? As the Shurangama Sutra says, “W hy the pine is straight, why the brambles are twisted, why the goose is white, why the crow is black - I understand the reasons.” The Buddha understands fundamentally why the way these things are the way they are. He even knows the number of raindrops, even just one, beyond the Three Thousand Great Thousand Worlds. The Buddha received this title because he is omniscient, which is “Pervasively Knowing the Dharma Realm”.

One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct. Clarity is also wisdom while cultivation is blessings. Beings replete in both blessings and wisdom make the Buddha One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct. There are three types of clarity embedded in this name, and what are they? Clarity There is Clarity with the Heavenly Eye from acquiring the penetration of the Heavenly Eye . , Clarity of Past Lives—one understands everything that occurred in lives past . , and Clarity in Ending Outflows. There is also a special title to One Perfect in Clarity and Conduct, which is “the title of Results that Show Virtues at the Causal Level”. At the level of consequences, the Buddha manifests the virtuous conducts he cultivated in the past.

Well-Gone One, One Who Understands the World. Another title for this is “Wonderful Proceeding Towards Bodhi”. This title includes Wonderful Proceeding because he is good at going to all the Buddhalands throughout the ten directions. He uses provisional and clever expedients to teach and transform living beings.

Unsurpassed Knight is one of the Buddha’s ten titles too because the Buddha has ended all delusions so that he has no more delusions of view, delusions of thought, delusions of dust motes, and others. If there are delusions left to sever still, then that would be a knight who still has something to surpass. Unsurpassed Knight has an alternate title too, which is “the title of Connecting with the False and Reaching the True”. The Buddha knows that everything inside and outside his body are illusory and false; only the Buddha Vehicle is true and hence “the title of Connecting with the False and Reaching the True.”

Taming and Subduing Hero who metaphorically steers a carriage. In ancient times, carts are drawn by horses with someone whipping the horses and steering the cart. Driving a car nowadays is like steering a carriage. One evening someone said to me, “A driver is a taming and subduing hero.” What does this hero tame and subdue? He tames and subdues beings of the six realms so that they reach the Buddhas’ fruit of Bodhi. This is the greatest hero because he tames and subdues living beings so that they all become liberated from birth and death, transcending the six paths of transmigration. There is also another title to Taming and Subduing Hero, and that is, “the title of Gathering in and Transforming so They Comply with the Way”. He transforms living beings, saving all so that they cultivate according to this path.

Teacher of Gods and People. The Buddha is a role model for gods and people throughout the Triple Realm. He also goes by “the title of Speaking the Dharma According to Potential”.

The ninth name is Buddha. “Buddha” is half of the Sanskrit word, “Buddhaya”. Since the Chinese prefers things simple, the word became “Buddha”. The “Buddha” also goes by “the title of Perfect and Clear in the Three Enlightenments.” The three types of enlightenment are self-enlightenment, enlightenment of others, and perfection in enlightening conducts. When the three types of enlightenment are perfected, one is replete with the myriad virtues; hence one becomes a Buddha.

The last one is the World Honored One. Whether in the world or beyond the world, the Buddha is respected. This name also goes by “the title of Being the Only Honored One in the Triple Realm”. The Triple Realm consists of the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. The Buddha is alone honored. When Shakyamuni Buddha was born, he pointed at the sky with one hand and pointed down at the earth with another hand, proclaiming, “Above and below, I alone am honored.” This is why the tenth name for the Buddha is the World Honored One and an alias by “the title of Being the Only Honored One in the Triple Realm.” There are six meanings to the name “World Honored One”: 1. Self-mastery. The Buddha is most at ease. 2. Blazes like fire. 3. Proper and adorned. 4. Universally known. Everyone knows the name, “Buddha”. 5. Auspiciousness. The name, “World Honored One” means auspiciousness. 6. Honored. The above explanations are simple explanations of ten titles to the Buddha.

This Buddha appeared in the world. That Buddha’s life span was sixty thousand eons.

Sutra:

Before he became a monk, he was the king of a small country and was friendly with the king of a neighboring country. Both kings practiced the Ten Wholesome Deeds and benefited beings. Because the citizens of those two neighboring countries did many bad things, the two kings made a plan using far-reaching expedients. One king vowed to quickly become a Buddha and then rescue absolutely all the other beings.

“The other king vowed, ‘I do not want to become a Buddha until I first rescue all those who are suffering for their offenses, enabling them to find peace and finally to reach Bodhi.’”

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Samadhi Self-Mastery King, “The king who vowed to quickly become a Buddha is All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One. The king who vowed to keep saving beings who are suffering for their offenses rather than become a Buddha is Earth Store Bodhisattva.

Commentary:

Before he became a monk. . . Before this All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come left the householder’s life, he was the king of a small country and was friendly with the king of a neighboring country. He was friends with a neighboring king. Both kings practiced the Ten Wholesome Deeds, which are not killing, not stealing, not committing sexual misconduct, not being greedy, not being angry, not being deluded, not speaking harshly, not lying, not speaking frivolously, and not speaking divisively. They did these ten kinds of good deeds and benefited beings. Because all the citizens of those two neighboring countries did many bad things, the two kings held a discussion, thought of some ways and made a plan using far-reaching expedients to help their people.

One king vowed to quickly become a Buddha. One of the kings made a vow that said, “I hope I will become a Buddha soon.” What will he do once he becomes a Buddha soon? On ce he becomes a Buddha, he will then do a good job of rescuing absolutely all the other beings who are creating evil. Without exception, all evil-creating beings will be saved.

“The other king vowed, ‘I do not want to become a Buddha until I first rescue all those who are suffering for their offenses, enabling them to find peace and finally to reach Bodhi. If I do not first save all beings who create evil and bear offenses, so that they leave suffering and reach peace and happiness, and even to Buddhahood, I will never become a Buddha. I must save all beings before I become a Buddha; I will not become a Buddha if there is still one being who is not yet a Buddha.’”

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Samadhi Self-Mastery King, “The king who vowed to quickly become a Buddha is the Thus Come One we just talked about, All-Knowledge-Accomplished Thus Come One. The king who vowed to keep saving beings who are suffering for their offenses rather than become a Buddha is Earth Store Bodhisattva. Who is the king who refuses to become a Buddha if there is any being not yet a Buddha? He is Earth Store Bodhisattva and that is a vow he made in the past.

Sutra:

“Another time, limitless asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One appeared in the world. His life span was forty eons. In his Dharma-Image Age, an Arhat who had accumulated blessings from rescuing beings met a woman named Bright Eyes, who offered a meal to him once while he was teaching and transforming beings.

“‘What is your wish?’ asked the Arhat.

“Bright Eyes replied, ‘On the day of my mother’s death I performed meritorious deeds to rescue her, but I do not know where my mother is now.’

“Sympathizing with her, the Arhat entered samadhi to contemplate and saw that Bright Eyes’ mother had fallen into a bad destiny where she was undergoing extreme suffering. The Arhat asked, ‘Bright Eyes, what unwholesome karma did your mother create while alive that makes her now have to undergo such terrible suffering in a bad destiny?’

“Bright Eyes replied, ‘My mother enjoyed eating fish, turtles, and other sea creatures. She especially liked to fry or broil fish and turtle eggs. Every time she ate those she took thousands of lives. Oh, Venerable One, please be compassionate and tell me how she can be saved!’

“The Arhat took pity on Bright Eyes and used his skillful means. He urged Bright Eyes thus, ‘With sincere resolve, be mindful of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One and also make carved and painted images of him. When you do so, both the living and the dead will be rewarded.’

Commentary:

“Another time, limitless asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One appeared in the world. His life span was forty eons. In his Dharma-Image Age, the Dharma Image Age after this Buddha entered nirvana, an Arhat who certified to the fruition and who had accumulated blessings to rescue beings met a woman named Bright Eyes, who offered a meal to him once while he was teaching and transforming beings.

“‘What is your wish? What do you wish in return for your offering to me? What advantages are you hoping for?’ asked the Arhat.

“Bright Eyes replied, ‘On the day of my mother’s death I performed meritorious deeds to rescue her, but I do not know where my mother is now. In which realm did my mother become reborn?

“Sympathizing with her, the Arhat meditated, entered samadhi to contemplate and saw that Bright Eyes’ mother had fallen into a bad destiny where she was undergoing extreme suffering. The Arhat saw these states and asked, ‘Bright Eyes, what unwholesome karma did your mother create while alive that makes her now have to undergo such terrible suffering in a bad destiny, in the hells?’

“Bright Eyes replied, ‘My mother enjoyed eating fish, turtles, and other sea creatures. She did not eat only fish and turtles, what else did she eat? She especially liked to fry or broil fish and turtle eggs. She ate with an abandoned indulgence. She forgets everything else, including her life, when she has food like this in front of her. Every time she ate those she took thousands of lives. Were we to count the number of lives she took, there would be as many as billions upon billions. Oh, Venerable One, please be compassionate and tell me how she can be saved! Please think of a way to save my mother.

“The Arhat took pity on Bright Eyes and used his skillful means. He urged Bright Eyes thus, ‘With sincere resolve, be mindful of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One and also make carved and painted images of him. When you do so, both the living and the dead will be rewarded. This way you and your mother both acquire benefits. Whether those alive or passed away experiences advantages.

Sutra:

“Bright Eyes heard that, quickly renounced everything she loved, and swiftly commissioned painted images of the Buddha. Then she made offerings before them. The reverence she felt moved her to tears and she wept in grief as she beheld and bowed to the Buddha. Suddenly near the end of the night, in a dream, she saw that Buddha’s body, dazzling gold in color and as large as Mount Sumeru, emitting great light.

“He said to Bright Eyes, ‘Your mother will be born in your household before long and as soon as that infant can feel hunger and cold, he will speak.’

“Shortly thereafter, a maidservant in the house bore a son who spoke before he was three days old. Lowering his head and weeping, he said to Bright Eyes, ‘The karmic conditions we create during our lives and deaths result in retributions that we ourselves must undergo. I am your mother and have been in darkness for a long time. Since you and I parted, I have repeatedly fallen into the great hells. Upon receiving the power of your blessings, I have been reborn as a servant’s child with a short life span. Thirteen years from now, I will fall into the evil paths again. Do you have some way to free me so that I can avoid them?’

Commentary:

“Bright Eyes heard that Arhat teach her, to pay respects and make offerings to Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One, so she quickly renounced, exchanged or sold everything she loved the way the Brahman woman sold her house, as mentioned earlier. This woman Bright Eyes sold everything she cherished. The most precious valuables and impossible to give up things were given away or sold. And she swiftly commissioned painted images of the Buddha on paper, silk and other fabric. Then she made offerings of incense, flowers, lamps, candles, and fruits, and different kinds of food, clothing, and bedding before them. The most sincere reverence she felt moved her to tears and she wept in grief as she beheld and bowed to the Buddha. Since she knew that her mother fell into one of the evil realms and is enduring the suffering of that evil realm, she sobbed out of sadness. She took a look at the Buddha image then bowed. Suddenly near the end of the night, in a dream, she saw that Buddha’s body. It felt like a dream, though it was not a dream. Since she was extremely sincere, she experienced a state where response and the Way intertwined-- she saw a Buddha in her room. If the sutra were just to say that she saw a vision, it may seem too strange, so the sutra says that she saw a Buddha in a dream. The Buddha, dazzling gold in color and as large as Mount Sumeru, emitting great light. “He said to Bright Eyes, ‘Your mother will be born in your household before long and as soon as that infant can feel hunger and cold, he will speak. Just you wait.

“Shortly thereafter, a maidservant in the house bore a son who spoke before he was three days old. Maidservants are usually of a lower class and has to do what their employers order. So soon, their maid gave birth to a son. Usually children start talking at the age of three or four, but this child was not yet three-days-old and can could speak. What did he say? Lowering his head as if bowing to the Buddha image and weeping, he said to Bright Eyes, ‘The karmic conditions we create during our lives and deaths result in retributions that we ourselves must undergo. We must face positive and negative consequences ourselves. I am your mother and have been in darkness devoid of light from the sun, the moon, or the stars for a long time. Since you and I parted, I have repeatedly fallen into the great hells. Upon receiving the power of your blessings, for which I am very grateful, I have been reborn as a servant’s child with a short life span. Although reincarnated as a human being, I am of a lower class. That is not so critical as I will die an early death. Thirteen years from now, I will fall into the evil paths again. Do you have some way to free me so that I can avoid them? Hurry up and think of a way to liberate me from the suffering in the evil realms!

Sutra:

“When Bright Eyes heard those words, she knew without a doubt that they were her mother’s. Choked with sobs, she said to the servant’s child, ‘Since you were my mother, you should know your own past offenses. What unwholesome karma did you create that made you fall into the Evil Paths?’

“The maidservant’s son answered, ‘I am undergoing retribution for two kinds of karma: killing and slandering. Had I not received the blessings you earned to rescue me from difficulty, I would not yet be released from that karma.’

“Bright Eyes asked, ‘What happens in the hells when beings undergo retribution for their offenses?

’“The maidservant’s son answered, ‘I can’t bear to speak of the ways in which beings suffer for their offenses. Even if I were to live for a hundred thousand years, I would find it hard to talk about.”

“When Bright Eyes heard that, she wept bitterly and spoke into the air, saying, ‘I vow that my mother will be released from the hells forever. At the end of these thirteen years, she will be done with her heavy offenses and will not go back to the Evil Paths. O Buddhas of the Ten Directions, with your compassion and sympathy, please listen to the vast and mighty vow that I am making for the sake of my mother. If my mother never again enters the Three Evil Paths, is never again born into low stations, and will never again be female, then here before the image of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One, I vow that from this day on, throughout millions of billions of eons I will respond to all beings who are undergoing suffering for their offenses in the hells or the Three Evil Paths of any world. I vow to rescue them from the bad destinies of the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and the like. Only after beings with such retributions have all become Buddhas will I myself achieve Proper Enlightenment.’

“After making that vow, she clearly heard Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One say to her, ‘Bright Eyes, your own great compassion and sympathy will reach your mother through this mighty vow that you are making. My contemplation shows me that after thirteen years your mother will be done with this retribution and will be born as a Brahman with a life span of one hundred years. After that retribution, she will be born in the Land of No Concern with a life span of uncountable eons. Later she will realize the fruition of Buddhahood and save people and gods as numerous as sand grains in the Ganges.’”

Shakyamuni Buddha told Samadhi Self-Mastery King, “The Arhat whose blessings helped Bright Eyes then is now Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva. The mother of Bright Eyes is now Liberation Bodhisattva. Bright Eyes herself is now Earth Store Bodhisattva.

Commentary:

“When Bright Eyes heard those words from her maid’s newborn son, she knew without a doubt that they were her mother’s. She knew without a doubt that the child was formerly her mother. Choked with sobs, she could hardly speak or cry out loud. She cannot seem to laugh or cry even if she wants to. She is all choked up because she is extremely sad. Then she said to the servant’s child, ‘Since you were my mother, you should know your own past offenses. What unwholesome karma did you create that made you fall into the Evil Paths?’

“The maidservant’s son answered, ‘I am undergoing retribution for two kinds of karma: killing and slandering. She killed a lot of fish eggs because she liked boiled or fried fish and turtle eggs. This type of karma from killing is tremendous. She slandered the Triple Jewel and spoke harshly to many beings. Two types of serious offenses led her to face this type of retribution. Had I not received the blessings you earned to rescue me from difficulty, I would not yet be released from that karma. Based on the karma I created, I should not have been released from my suffering yet.

“Bright Eyes asked, ‘What happens in the hells when beings undergo retribution for their offenses? Can you tell me?

’“The maidservant’s son answered Bright Eyes, ‘I can’t bear and find it impossible to speak of the ways in which beings suffer for their offenses. You see, some people are sitting here listening to the sutras and consider it painful; what do you think they would do were they to fall into the hells? In the face of misery, you say, “I do not want to be there to bear punishment!” That is impossible to escape. Without atoning our offenses, it would be impossible to wish out of suffering in the hells. So while undergoing some pain in the human realm, think, “Oh! This is much better than the misery in the hells; suffering in the hells is much more severe.” If you can think that way, then you will be happy wherever you are; there would be no insufferable places. You will not find pains in the legs painful, for example. You see, in the hells, ghosts stick you with a fork and drop you in a pot of oil. Is that miserable? If you say, “Gee, I cannot stand it, please do not put me in that pot of oil.” They will not listen to you; there is no favor to speak of. Is that miserable? In fact, they fry you over and over again so that you suffer more. Even if I were to live for a hundred thousand years, I would find it hard to talk about or to finish talk about such pain at once.”

“When Bright Eyes heard that, she wept bitterly. See how in the past, Earth Store Bodhisattva could do nothing but cry; others do not even have such capabilities. She sobbed and wailed loudly, ‘Oh, what do I do?’ And spoke into the air. Since there was nothing she could do, she could only speak into the air, saying, ‘I vow that my mother will be released from the hells forever. Fortunately Bright Eyes’ mother had such a filial daughter, without whom the mother could not have come out of the hells so easily because she had taken many lives and yelled at many people. These are the reasons why she suffered in the hells. Fortunately, the mother had this filial daughter who made a vow that her mother may forever be released from the suffering in the hells. At the end of these thirteen years when her life ended, she will be done with her heavy offenses and will not go back to the Evil Paths. O Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Ten Directions, with your compassion and sympathy, please listen to the vast and mighty vow that I am making for the sake of my mother. Be my witness.

If my mother never again enters the Three Evil Paths of the hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals where they experience the pain of knives, blood, and fire. If she is never again born into low stations such as that of a servant’s family, and will never again be female, then here before the image of Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One, I vow that from this day on, throughout millions of billions of eons I will respond to all beings who are undergoing suffering for their offenses in the hells or the Three Evil Paths (the hells, the realm of hungry ghosts, and the realm of animals) of any world. I vow to rescue them from the bad destinies and the sufferings of the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and the like. You should know, if Earth Store Bodhisattva had not made such great vows, we would probably be suffering in the hells, in the realm of hungry ghosts, or in the realm of animals too. The reason that we can be humans now all comes from this vow that Earth Store Bodhisattva made infinite eons ago; we are consequently rescued from the hells, from the realm of hungry ghosts, or from the realm of animals. Since we do not have the penetration of past lives or the penetration of the heavenly eye, we do not realize how much benefit and compassion we received from Earth Store Bodhisattva before. None of us knows the benefit and kindness he gave us. If Earth Store Bodhisattva had not made such a great vow a long time ago, we would be in tremendous danger. This is why we must be grateful to Earth Store Bodhisattva and maintain the resolve to repay his kindness. Only after beings with such retributions have all become Buddhas will I myself achieve Proper Enlightenment. I will become a Buddha only once these people become Buddhas,

“After making that vow, she clearly heard Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One say to her. . . She did not just hear in a way that was casual, vague, or confusing as if in a dream. She clearly heard Pure-Lotus-Eyes Thus Come One tell Bright Eyes, ‘Bright Eyes, your own great compassion and sympathy for making this kind of vow delights me.’ She praises Bright Eyes, ‘You are able to make a vow that will reach your mother through this mighty vow that you are making. Who taught you? Who told you? So that you can make this great filial vow for your mother! I have never heard any being who can make such a great vow at saving all beings in order to rescue her mother. This is truly rare! This is the best. You are the finest girl. My contemplation using my Buddha Eye shows me that after thirteen years your mother will be done with this retribution and will be born as a Brahman. Since you made such a huge vow, your mother in her next life will become a Brahman woman after thirteen years of this life. The Brahmans are the pure clan of generations of individuals who cultivate purity. With a life span of one hundred years as a Brahman, she will be different then. After that retribution, she will be born in the Land of No Concern, the Land of Ultimate Bliss, with a life span of uncountable eons. Later she will realize the fruition of Buddhahood and save people and gods as numerous as sand grains in the Ganges.’”

Shakyamuni Buddha told Samadhi Self-Mastery King, “The Arhat whose blessings helped Bright Eyes then to see where her mother fell is now Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva. He was an arhat at the time Pure-Lotus-Eyes was a Thus Come One and now he is Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva. Do you know who Bright Eyes’ mother is? The mother of Bright Eyes is now Liberation Bodhisattva. Bright Eyes herself is now Earth Store Bodhisattva.

Sutra:

He has been extending his compassion and sympathy like that from distant eons onward by making vows as many as Ganges’ sands to rescue vast numbers of beings.

“Men and women in the future may fail to do good deeds and only do evil; may not believe in cause and effect; may indulge in sexual misconduct and false speech; may use divisive and harsh speech; and may slander the Great Vehicle. Beings with karma like that should certainly fall into bad destinies.

Commentary:

He has been extending his compassion and sympathy like that from distant eons onward by making vows as many as Ganges’ sands to rescue vast numbers of beings. During an eon long, long ago, this Earth Store Bodhisattva was extremely compassionate and sympathetic toward living beings as described above, so he made as many vows as the number of sand grains in the Ganges River. The number of vows is not so as small as described in the sutras, it is equivalent to infinity. He universally teaches and transforms all beings, liberating all beings.

“Men and women in the future may fail to do good deeds and only do evil. People should do no evil and devote to doing every kind of good. These people, however, do not do any act of goodness but do every kind of evil. They may not believe in cause and effect.

Yesterday we went to lecture at University of California. After the lecture, one Chinese student asked me outside, “Does Buddhism believe in cause and effect?” I said, “Yes! Not only should we believe in cause and effect but know that it is absolutely accurate. There is cause and effect whether you believe in this law or not. Let me show you an on-the-spot experiment if you do not believe in the law of cause and effect. How do we conduct this experiment? Go find someone and slap him. This person will certainly slap you back. Your slapping him is the cause; his slapping you in return is the result. You hit someone else and someone else hits you. Do you believe in this principle?” He was left speechless. Initially he had a lot of theories with which he planned to argue that there is no cause and effect, but after what I said, he was either afraid that someone will hit him or that he did not want to hit anyone, so he became a believer in cause and effect. I said hitting people is a cause. You are not supposed to hit people, but you did, thus creating a cause; consequently people turn around to hit you, creating a result. Cause and effect refers to other people being mean to you because you are mean to others; were you good to others, they would be good to you too. This is the law of cause and effect. Sow causes of goodness and you will reap fruits of goodness; sow causes of evil and you will reap fruits of evil. For instance, befriend bad people and they will turn you into a bad person; befriend good people and you will become good even if you started out being bad. Everything is about cause and effect. Do not go searching for the answer outside. Quit saying that other people are mean to me; first ask ourselves whether we are good to others. Reflect on everything and search for the answers within. Stop acting like a camera that photographs others all the time but has no idea what itself looks like.

They may indulge in sexual misconduct and false speech all the time; they may use divisive and harsh speech. We must remember not to speak divisively or harshly. What is divisive speech? We reserve one kind of expression for some people and another kind of expression for some other people. For example, we criticize B in front of A and criticize A in front of B. We make mistakes in speaking divisively and harshly. Or we create schisms among an originally harmonious group; a group disperses because of our destructions. Among the different transgressions in speaking divisively and harshly, the most critical is not to break up the harmony of the Sangha. What does that mean? As a layperson, you should not speak of the faults of novices and Bhikshus because they have received at the least, the novice precepts or the Bodhisattva precepts. You learn the Buddhadharma from Bhikshus and novices. You cannot study the Buddhadharma then wreck the Buddhadharma. Do not create disharmony in the Sangha. If you do, then you speak divisively and harshly to break up a harmonious Sangha.

Ruining a Sangha’s harmony is one of the Five Rebellious Offenses, the most serious offenses. The five are: 1. Killing one’s father; 2. Killing one’s mother; 3. Killing an arhat who has certified to the fruition; 4. Destroying a Sangha’s harmony, such as telling one monastic about another monastic’s mistakes, faults, and wrong-doings, then tell the second one about how the first one is mean, wronged you, and is jealous and obstructive. As a result, monastics do not get along. They do not live together; they live apart. This would be wrecking a Sangha’s harmony. 5. Shedding the Buddha’s blood by burning Buddha images or damaging Buddha images. Although the Buddha is not in the world now, ruining Buddha images is also considered shedding the Buddha’s blood. The above are all included in the areas of divisive speech and harsh speech. We must be particularly attentive in avoiding these problems. Making such transgressions, we fall into the hells and will never come out.

And they may slander the Great Vehicle, claiming that there is no Great Vehicle text, only Pali text. Some such crazy man came yesterday, and asked, “Is your sutra translated from Pali?” He did not even know what Pali looks like and he asked whether the text came from a Pali text. He pretends to be an expert who knows; this kind of person is most pathetic. Beings with karma like that should certainly fall into bad destinies. They will definitely fall into the Three Evil Destinies, where things are dangerous.

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