THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
The Thus Come One’s Praises
At that time the World Honored One emitted a great bright light from his entire body, totally illuminating Buddhalands as many as grains of sand in millions of billions of Ganges Rivers. His strong voice reached all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas in those Buddhalands, as well as the gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits, humans, non-humans, and others, as he said, “Listen today, as I praise Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva, who displays inconceivable awesome spiritual strength and compassionate power throughout the ten directions in rescuing and protecting beings who are suffering for offenses they have committed. After I pass into tranquility, all of you Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas and all of you gods, dragons, ghosts, spirits, and others should use vast numbers of expedient means to protect this sutra and to cause all beings to attain the bliss of Nirvana.”
After that was said, a Bodhisattva named Universally Expansive rose in the assembly, placed his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, “We are now about to witness the World Honored One praising Earth Store Bodhisattva’s inconceivably great awesome spiritual virtue. We hope that the World Honored One will also aid beings in the future Dharma-Ending Age by telling us about how Earth Store Bodhisattva benefits people and gods and about the workings of cause and effect. That will help the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division, along with beings of the future, to receive the Buddha’s teaching respectfully.”
Chapter six, the Thus Come One’s Praises. Like we said many times before, the Thus Come One is the Buddha. Praises include compliments. This is chapter six. The Earth Store Sutra contains 13 chapters. This is an explanation of chapter six, there are seven more chapters.
At that time the World Honored One emitted a great bright light from his entire body , an indication of the profound importance of the Earth Store Sutra. Totally illuminating Buddhalands as many as grains of sand in millions of billions of Ganges Rivers is this light. His strong voice isas loud as thunder or a lion’s roar. Most people are delighted with and respectful because of the Buddha’s voice. For example, some people lecture on the sutras with a voice that is not very loud and clear so that listeners get drowsy and do not wish to listen to any more. A Lecturer’s voice must be crystal clear like a copper bell, even if audience members are sleepy, they will wake up because of such strong and clear voice. People are happy with the Buddha’s voice so they do not fall asleep; the more they listen the happier they are. They hear one line and want to hear the next line, as if they are eating something delicious and do not wish to let go. Although the Buddha’s voice is loud, it is not the same as when we yell so that our voice sounds scratchy, volatile, or fuzzy. People hear the Buddha’s strong and clear voice and enter the Samadhi of Hearing the Dharma. Unfortunately we were not born during the time of the Buddha and do not get to hear the Buddha’s voice. So sorry, it is too bad!
. . . reached all the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas in those Buddhalands, as well as the gods, dragons, ghosts and spirits, humans, non-humans, and others, as he said, “Listen today, as I praise Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva, who displays inconceivable awesome spiritual strength and compassionate power throughout the worlds in the ten directions in rescuing and protecting beings who are suffering for offenses they have committed. Why do I praise Earth Store Bodhisattva? It is because Earth Store Bodhisattva’s compassion is inconceivable; his wisdom is inconceivable; his awesome might is inconceivable; and the wonderful uses of his spiritual powers are all inconceivable. He vows to save beings who have committed offenses in particular. He believes that people who do not commit offenses do not suffer so much. People who commit offenses suffer too much; they suffer the worst suffering among all types of sufferings.
The Buddha said, “After I pass into tranquility, all of you Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas and all of you gods, dragons, ghosts, spirits, and others should use vast numbers of expedient means to protect this Earth Store Sutra. See, while we are explaining the Earth Store Sutra, the eightfold pantheon of gods, dragons, etc., as well as great Bodhisattvas are all here providing protection! And to cause all beings to attain the bliss of Nirvana: permanence, bliss, true self, and purity.”
After that was said, a Bodhisattva named Universally Expansive rose in the assembly, placed his palms together respectfully, and said to the Buddha, “We are now about to witness the World Honored One praising Earth Store Bodhisattva’s inconceivably great awesome spiritual virtue. I see now that the World Honored One is about to praise Earth Store Bodhisattva for his many inconceivable, mighty spiritual virtues like those mentioned earlier. We hope that the World Honored One will also aid beings in the future Dharma-Ending Age by telling us about how Earth Store Bodhisattva benefits people and gods and about the workings of cause and effect. That will help the gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division, along with beings of the future, to receive the Buddha’s teaching respectfully.”
At that time, the World Honored One said to the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, and to all those in the fourfold assembly, “Listen attentively, listen attentively. I will briefly describe to you how Earth Store Bodhisattva’s virtuous deeds keep benefiting people and gods.”
At that time, the World Honored One said to the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, and to all those in the fourfold assembly of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas and others such as the eightfold division of gods, dragons, and others: “Listen attentively, listen attentively. Think it over carefully and listen! Pay attention! Do not be casual but listen especially attentively. I will briefly describe to you how Earth Store Bodhisattva’s virtuous deeds keep benefiting people and gods. I will now briefly describe Earth Store Bodhisattva for all of you in the great assembly about the blessed and virtuous deeds he does to help humans and celestial beings.”
What are blessed and virtuous deeds? According to one article called “Great Standards” in the Book of History that contains nine sections that explains five types of blessings: the first type of blessing is called blessings and longevity. What are blessings? Blessings means being very much at ease with everything. Longevity means a long life and not a short life. One is shone upon by the stars of blessings, prosperity, and longevity. Blessings are natural so that you are very much at ease. Prosperity could be one’s monthly income from being a government official. Lord Longevity, or Son of the South Pole in China, is mostly bald and wears a long, white beard. He is said to be the Immortal Man of South Pole in Taoism. His head contains three volumes of celestial texts, so he knows everything. He is the elderly Prosperity star.
The second type of blessing is affluence and nobility. The third type refers to a healthy and safe body. The fourth type means enjoying cultivating virtues and doing good deeds. With this type of blessings, one is willing to do what is virtuous. The fifth type of blessing is a peaceful passing.
There are also five kinds of virtues: mild-mannered, kind, respectful, frugal, and yielding. Who has these five kinds of virtues? Confucius. What are the five? The first is mild-mannered, neither too cold nor too hot. Too cold, one is like the silent and stoic Lord Guan all the time. The second virtue is kindness. The third type of virtue is respect, always respectful toward others without slighting others. The fourth type is frugality and simplicity. One does not waste any material resources. For example, one usually eats five bowls of rice but reduces one’s intake to three bowls, leaving the other two bowls for those who are starving. One maintains a simple lifestyle. “One serves oneself a simple and restricted diet; one treats guests without letting the meal linger on.” We must try to save on what we use, what we wear, what we eat, what we live in so that none of it is excessive. The most important thing is frugality. The fifth type of virtue is yielding. Do not rush forward to fight for anything. Yield means letting other people be number one. Let other people enjoy the good things and pick up bad things ourselves. This is yielding. Politely yield. These are the five virtues.
Speaking of yielding, Kong Rong at the age of four knew to yield his pear. Kong Rong was someone before the Three Kingdoms period in China. He was in a real high political office. When he was four years old, some guests brought a gift basket (made out of bamboo) of pears for his family. The adults told him to get a pear and what does he do? He picks the smallest one. The guests ask, “Why don’t you pick a big one? Why do you pick such a small pear for yourself?” He said, “I am the youngest, I should eat a small one. My older brothers are older than I am, so they should eat the big ones.” He yielded the bigger pears for his brothers and took the smallest one for himself. Later he reached a very high office. During the Han Dynasty, Huang Xiang at the age of nine knew to warm his parents’ bed. Every night at bedtime, he would go and sleep on his parents’ bed so that it is warm before he goes to sleep on his own bed. He shows his filiality by warming up the bed, which is a type of virtuous conduct. The Five Virtues are about being mild-mannered, kind, respectful, frugal, and yielding.
Universally Expansive replied, “Excellent, World-Honored One. We will be happy to listen.”
The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, “If, in the future, good men or women, upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s name, place their palms together, praise him, bow to him, or gaze at him in worship, they will overcome thirty eons’ worth of offenses. Universally Expansive, if good men or women gaze upon and bow but once to painted or drawn images of the Bodhisattva or images made of clay, stone, lacquer, gold, silver or bronze, they will be reborn one hundred times in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three and will eternally avoid falling into the Evil Destinies. If their blessings in the heavens come to an end and they are born in the human realm, they will become national leaders who will suffer no loss of benefits.
“There may be women who dislike having female bodies. Suppose they wholeheartedly make offerings to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva, such as paintings or images made of clay, stone, lacquer, brass, iron or other materials. If they continually make offerings day after day without fail, of flowers, incense, food, drink, clothing, colored silks, banners, money, jewels, and other items, then when those good women finish their current female retributions, throughout thousands of millions of eons they will never again be born in worlds where there are women, much less be one, unless they choose to through the strength of their compassionate vows, in order to liberate beings. Based on the strength of their offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva and the power of their meritorious virtues, they will not be born with female bodies for hundreds of thousands of eons.
Universally Expansive Bodhisattva replied, “Excellent, World-Honored One. We will be happy to listen.”
The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Universally Expansive, “If, in the future, good men or women who received the Five Precepts and practice the Ten Good Deeds, upon hearing Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva’s name, place their palms together when they see an image of Earth Store Bodhisattva, praise him saying that Earth Store Bodhisattva is a real great Bodhisattva who is truly compassionate, uses his spiritual powers in wonderful ways. He is really incredible. Or they bow to him, or gaze at him in worship. They may not wish to leave the image of Earth Store Bodhisattva that they see. They stay in place to look, forgetting to eat or anything else. This is similar to someone being infatuated with something and forgets everything else. They will overcome thirty eons’ worth of offenses. Universally Expansive, if good men or women who received the Five Precepts and practice the Ten Good Deeds gaze upon and bow but once to painted or drawn images of the Bodhisattva Earth Store or images made of clay, stone, lacquer, gold, silver or bronze, they will be reborn one hundred times in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three and will eternally avoid falling into the Evil Destinies. With the merit of bowing to Earth Store Bodhisattva, they will never fall into the evil destinies. If their blessings in the heavens come to an end and they are born in the human realm, they will become national leaders who will suffer no loss of such major benefits. People who are kings now bowed to Earth Store Bodhisattva before; presidents of nations had some merit from the past too.
“There may be women who dislike having female bodies. Do not be satisfied with having a female body because the female body is full of trouble. First guest-like objects come, then host-like objects come a few days later. Isn’t that so much trouble? Women may cry for no reason all of a sudden, smile for no reason all of a sudden, get angry for no reason all of a sudden, and then become distressed for no reason all of a sudden. Isn’t that so much trouble? Why is a female body so troublesome? I am not saying this to make you hate the female body so that you will leave the householder’s life and become a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni. The female body is really so much trouble, that is why some women do not want to be women. Why be a woman? Let us study this, it is because female habits such as envy, obstructionism, greed for petty gain, and vanity etc. are so ingrained. They become women in future lives as a result. However, if you were to respect Earth Store Bodhisattva, then all these problems dissolve. If you do not resolve these issues, then women’s five obstructive tendencies and ten evils are no fun.
What are the females’ five obstructive tendencies? The first obstruction is that women cannot become a Great Brahma Heaven King in this lifetime. Why? Great Brahma Heaven Kings become accomplished in their cultivation through pure conduct. The female body is mostly impure, so they cannot become Great Brahman Heaven Kings. The second obstruction: women cannot become Lord Shakra, the lord of the heavens. You wonder, “Didn’t a woman become the lord of the Thirty-Three Heavens?” Actually, she went from a woman to a man. Lord Shakra does not have very much desire. Women tend to have more lust, so they cannot become gods. The third obstruction for women is that they cannot become demon kings, which is best. The reason for this is that demon kings are tough and firm while women are very weak. Sometimes they cannot take care of themselves so that when certain things happen, they have to look for help. The fourth obstruction for women is that women cannot be Wheel Turning Sage Kings. There are Gold Wheel Sage Kings, Silver Wheel Sage Kings, Iron Wheel Sage Kings, and Copper Wheel Sage Kings. Why cannot one become a Wheel Sage King in the body of a woman? It is became Wheel Turning Sage Kings are most compassionate and kind. They teach people to practice the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Deeds. Women tend to be less compassionate and more envious; consequently they cannot become Wheel Turning Sage Kings. The fifth obstruction for women is that they cannot become Buddhas. Since the body of Buddhas comes with the myriad virtues while the female body is full of evil, such as jealousy, obstructive tendencies, and pettiness, a heart the size of sesame. This is why women in their bodies cannot become Buddhas.
Although women experience these five obstructions, if they can be free of jealousy, lust, and weakness, all the evils and tainted thoughts, then there is still hope for women to turn into men. Shariputra, for example, said that Dragon Girl cannot become a Buddha, so she took here favorite pearl that she cannot possibly give up and gave it to the Buddha. The Buddha accepted her pearl. She explained, “I can become a Buddha now. The Buddha accepted the pearl I offered him. Is this fast?” Shariputra responded, “It is very fast.” She said, “The speed at which I become a Buddha is as fast as the speed at which I offered this pearl to the Buddha.” After saying this, she became a Buddha immediately indeed. Women should not give up on themselves and lose hope because of these Five Obstructions. They should only be afraid that they are not bold enough in their resolves. Were they to bring forth their resolves boldly, they can become Buddhas too. For instance, the Dragon Girl offered her favorite pearl and became a Buddha immediately.
Now let me briefly explain women’s Ten Evils. I will not explain them in too much detail because of the time constraint. The first evil is that parents are unhappy that the newborn is a female; they would be happy if the baby were a male. Although not all parents are like this, most countries share this same attitude of favoring males over females. Girls leave a poor impression on their parents as soon as they are born. The second is that parents are not so interested in raising daughters. The third is that women are often afraid and shy. Conversely, men are not afraid of being embarrassed. The fourth is that parents worry about their daughter’s marriage. Americans are different though, they do not care. You do whatever you want. The trends in countries such as China, for example, are that Chinese parents worry about what kind of husband their daughter will have. The fifth is that daughters will definitely leave their parents. The sixth is that women are afraid of their husbands; they are very cautious about their husbands’ emotions. A wife is happy if her husband is happy; a wife trembles in fear if her husband gets angry. The seventh is that giving birth is difficult and scary. The eighth is that people will blame and criticize a girl’s parents for her meanness and debauchery. If a daughter does fine, okay, but if she goes awry then her parents are affected. The ninth is that a woman’s husband may order her about and restrain her with many rules. If she does not observe such rules, he may divorce her. Is that a hassle? This is when she is young, when she is older, she faces the tenth evil of being slighted by her children and grandchildren. Her offspring may think, “Why does she not die, she is already so old!” At that stage, even her children yell at her. Isn’t that sad? So women are replete with trouble. The above are the ten kinds of evils. There are actually twenty more, but we cannot finish telling them.
What should women who detest their impure female bodies do? Suppose they wholeheartedly make offerings to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva such as paintings. The reason why I requested a drawing of Earth Store Bodhisattva here is that this helps women who do not wish to have a female body anymore. Or images made of clay, stone, lacquer, brass, iron or other materials. If they continually make offerings day after day without fail, of flowers, incense, food, drink, clothing, colored silks, banners, money, jewels, and other items, then when those good women finish their current female retributions, throughout thousands of millions of eons they will never again be born in worlds where there are women. What kind of a world is a world without women? It is the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Much less be one, unless they choose to through the strength of their compassionate vows, in order to liberate beings. The only exception would be if they make the vow that “I would be willing to be a woman to teach and transform living beings.” Perhaps there some among you who made vows of being a woman to save living beings. Although as women now you do not wish to be women, but you became women because of the power of some compassionate vows. One example of this is the Buddha’s mother, Lady Maya. She plays about the human realm in the Great Illusion Samadhi. She vowed that she will be the mother to every Buddha who is born in this world. Among the one thousand Buddhas, Shakyamuni Buddha is the fourth. Lady Maya is the mother of all one thousand Buddhas; this is her vow. Another example is Guanyin Bodhisattva, who is originally neither man or woman, but he knows that everybody likes beautiful women so he appears as a very beautiful woman to save living beings in the Saha World. All of you should emulate Guanyin Bodhisattva and save beings and not be converted by living beings. How do I mean? Saving living beings means making living beings leave suffering and attain bliss. Avoid running into the sea of suffering and be turned by the tides because you have no Samadhi; instead of living beings you are involved in romance and infatuated with love. Although Guanyin Bodhisattva appears as woman, she does not dwell on love. He wants to save living beings because he wants to save living beings out of the genuine wish to protect and rescue. She wanted to be a woman to save and liberate beings. Otherwise, based on the strength of their offerings to Earth Store Bodhisattva and the power of their meritorious virtues, they will not be born with female bodies for hundreds of thousands of eons.
“Moreover, Universally Expansive, some women may have imperfect features or be prone to sickness. Disliking those problems, they can sincerely gaze at and bow to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva with sincere resolve for even just a few minutes, and consequently, throughout millions of future eons of rebirth, they will continually be endowed with full and perfect features. If those women whose features are currently imperfect do not dislike having female bodies, then throughout millions of billions of lives they will always be born as women of royal lineage, or will marry into royalty, or will become daughters of prime ministers, or women in prominent families, or daughters of great elders. They will be of upright birth and full-featured. They will receive such blessings from having sincerely beheld and worshipped Earth Store Bodhisattva.
“Moreover, Universally Expansive, let me repeat, some women may have imperfect features or be prone to sickness. How come some women are really beautiful and some are really ugly? How come some are very healthy and some are often ill? Ten kinds of evil karma make people ugly, and what are these ten type of evil karma? 1. They get angry easily. They enjoy getting angry, one of the twenty afflictions. Most women get angry easily, though there are exceptions. Some get angry over a needle or a thread; some especially love getting angry. 2. They enjoy being skeptical and resentful. She doubts everything and resents everyone for not doing her right. 3. They like to lie and delude people so that they do not know what to do. 4. They enjoy disturbing living beings. 5. They do not truly love and respect her parents. Some may, but most do not.
6. They are not respectful at places with sages, worthy ones, and good spirits. Sages would be, for example, arhats who cultivated the Buddhadharma and certified to the fruition. 7. They, not all women, but some women, rob sages and worthy ones for the land, assets, and property that they need. 8. They may extinguish the lights before the Buddhas in Buddhist stupas and temples. Very few women probably actually do this. But this is one action that leads to being ugly. 9. They slander and look down on ugly people, saying, “Hey, that person is so ugly!” They are condescending so they end up being ugly themselves. We do not realize that there is a mirror in our inherent nature that reflects our condescension toward someone’s ugly looks; we become even ugly than that person in another life. 10. They enjoy learning all evil conducts and improper behavior. The above ten types of evil karma are the reasons for experiencing the retribution of ugliness.
There are also ten reasons for frequent illnesses. What are these ten types? 1. They enjoy beating all beings or any being they see. This is the first cause of the retribution of many illnesses. 2. They encouraged others to beat people, or even dogs, cats, or rats. Encouraging others to beat children or any being will result in illnesses. 3. They praise the means if hurting living beings, which led to the retribution of their many illnesses. 4. What do you say? They are delighted when they see beating occur. It is fun for them to watch; they are happier with this than movies. 5. They are happy when they see sick people. “Ha, excellent, they are sick.” Not only are they not sympathetic, they are very happy when they see people sick. 6. They are unhappy when they see people recover from their illness. As a result, they experience the retribution of facing many illnesses in future lives. 7. They give medicine to sick persons, but what kind of medicine? They do not give medicine that cures that particular sickness. For instance, they give someone with a headache a cure for stomach aches. They even try to earn a good reputation, saying, “See! I gave them medicine”, even though it is not the cure for the patient’s illnesses. 8. They grow jealous at the sight of a patient being treated by a doctor. 9. They are happy to see sick individuals and wish that these people will always be tortured by illness. 10. They enjoy eating. Before they even digest their food, they eat more. They enjoy eating nonstop. Due to these ten kinds of evil karma, they face the retribution of many illnesses.
Ugliness and sicknesses result from these twenty kinds of evil karma. Without committing these twenty kinds of evil karma, they will not be ugly or sick. What should they do? Disliking those problems, they can sincerely gaze at and bow to images of Earth Store Bodhisattva with sincere resolve for even just a few minutes, in a matter of a meal’s time, and consequently, throughout millions of future eons of rebirth, they will continually be endowed with full and perfect features. What are full and perfect features? Eyes look like eyes; ears look like ears. You say, “How can eyes not look like eyes?” For instance, most people have longer-looking eyes, but someone has square eyes; most ordinary people’s ears are long and look like shoe-shaped gold, but someone has ears like knives; also someone’s nostrils are turned out. In terms of physiognomy, someone with upturned nostrils does not have much blessings. Do not be friends with people with eyes that are triangular shaped like apricots; you will not experience too many advantages being friends with them. A certain Dharma Master, for example, openly sabotaged me after I helped him out a lot in Hong Kong. I do not blame him, but he later died of cancer. Before he passed away, he could not let go of his face and asked to sit in a crock pot like Dharma Master Cihang (Kind Boat). He said to open the crock three years later, if the body is still intact, then paste gold on it. However, before the next day, his head already sank. Someone told me that people with skills will sit upright no matter how long it has been since their death. His head lowered down the next day and he had wanted to earn reputation and asked his students to open up his crock pot three years later. His students never dared to because they know what this man with upturned nostrils is unreliable.
Also, it is good for men to have large mouths but not good for women. This is a difference between men and women. We can tell when someone will enjoy good fortune by looking at their features. We can tell someone who succeeds in everything at a young age, in their prime, and in their old age. With knowledge that has existed in China, one can tell whether someone will be accomplished in the future by looking at him. Someone with full and perfect features is successful in everything. Archbishop Yu Bin, for example, has very fine features where he enjoys the best luck in his later years. You might notice how his features, be it eyes, nose, or mouth, are very much symmetrical. His physiognomy is about blessings and virtue. He went astray though; had he been a Buddhist, he would have been an incredible Dharma Master. The retribution of full and perfect features come from bowing to the Buddhas, reciting the Buddha’s name, or bowing to a certain Bodhisattva.
If those ugly women whose features are currently imperfect do not dislike having female bodies, although they are ugly, they still enjoy being women, then throughout millions of billions of lives they will always be born as women of royal lineage. They may become daughters to national leaders; furthermore, their features are perfect and beautiful from bowing to some image of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Or they will marry into royalty, such becoming queen or first lady, or will become daughters of prime ministers or high ranking politicians, or women in prominent families, or daughters of great and affluent elders. They will be of upright birth and full-featured. Just as I said earlier, it is imperfect when the eyes are very beautiful while the nose is not so nice; it is imperfect when the nose is beautiful but the eyes are not so nice; it is imperfect when both the eyes and nose are nice but the ears are not so nice, they do not match; it is imperfect where one ear is bigger than the other, one ear is smaller than the other, the nose is on the side of the face, or the mouth is connected to the nose so that you cannot tell the nose and the mouth apart. Perfect features means they eyes are nice, the ears are nice, the nose is nice, the mouth is nice, and the face is nice too. They are really beautiful, why? They receive such blessings from having sincerely beheld and worshipped Earth Store Bodhisattva.