THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds

Chapter One, Part Three
A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua_

Sutra:

For measureless eons, the Buddha
Cultivated expedient practices based in great kindness.
He comforts all those in the world.
Universal Sound awakens to and enters this path.

Commentary:

For measureless eons, the Buddha...We are not the only ones who must be respectful when we listen to the sutras and Dharma. The Buddha, before he attained Buddhahood, also listened to the Dharma with respect. He was not lazy at all. It’s not known for how many great eons he cultivated expedient practices of great kindness. He cultivated a heart of great kindness and compassion and an impartial mind that did not discriminate between self and others. He practiced skillful expedients and spoke the most appropriate Dharma for each occasion. The more people listened to his Dharma, the happier they felt. The happier they were, the more they wanted to listen. The Buddha cultivated those expedient practices of great kindness. He comforts all those in the world. What does it means to comfort someone? When a person feels dejected and upset, another person may say, “Cheer up. It is only a small thing. Don’t take it so seriously. Once this blows over, it will be over and done with. Don’t get hung up on it.” Hearing such an exhortation, the first person’s spirits are uplifted and he feels better. That’s an example of comforting someone.

The Buddha comforts all sentient beings, making them peaceful and happy. Universal Sound awakens to and enters this path. Gandharva King Universal Sound understands this principle of this Dharma and skillfully enters this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

All rejoice to see the Buddha’s immaculate body.
He inspires in the inhabitants of this world unending delight.
Causes and effects leading to liberation are gradually achieved.
Splendid Eyes skillfully expounds upon this.

Commentary:

All rejoice to see the Buddha’s immaculate body. Why is the Buddha’s body pure? He has cast out all defilement—all greed, anger, and delusion—and retains only precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. Therefore his body is pure and immaculate. On the other hand, the bodies of sentient beings are filthy and impure, because we haven’t gotten rid of our greed, anger, delusion, and other defilements. That is a general explanation. A detailed explanation could take several great eons and still not be finished. Since the Buddha’s body is pure, all sentient beings rejoice to see it. Everyone is delighted to see the Buddha’s pure Dharma body. People not only rejoice in seeing the Buddha, but also respect and make offerings to him.

Whereas the Buddha has cultivated for measureless eons, we sentient beings have been creating karma for measureless eons all the way up to the present. Even now, we are still creating karma in our thoughts and actions. That’s why no one rejoices to see us. In fact, no one wants to see us. Since we are impure, no one wants to lay eyes on us.

He inspires in the inhabitants of this world unending delight. The Buddha inspires infinite, inexhaustible joy in sentient beings. At the end of every sutra spoken by the Buddha, it is recorded that “The great assembly greatly rejoiced, believed, accepted, and practiced according to the teachings.” That is because the Buddha inspires unending delight in sentient beings.

Causes and effects leading to liberation are gradually achieved. Liberation is not gained instantaneously. A certain period of time must transpire. Those who have not yet planted good roots are led to plant good roots. Those who have already planted good roots are led to increase those good roots. Those who have increased their good roots will bring their good roots to maturity. Those who have mature good roots can attain liberation. There are causes for liberation and effects of liberation. If we have planted causes for liberation at the level of planting causes, we will reap the fruits of liberation as a result. Liberation is attained step by step in gradual succession.

Splendid Eyes skillfully expounds upon this. Gandharva King Splendid Eyes skillfully reveals this principle to sentient beings, helping them to understand the Buddha’s state, cultivate the Dharma, and attain liberation.

Sutra:

Sentient beings, confused and deluded, forever flow and turn,
Most solid and dense is the ignorance that hinders and shrouds them.
For them, the Thus Come One speaks the vast, great Dharma.
King Lion Banner conveys this.

Commentary:

Sentient beings will not admit that they are deeply confused. If you tell someone that he is confused, he retorts, “Wrong! You’re the one who’s confused!” If you tell someone that he’s deluded, he counters, “No, you’re the deluded one!” Why do they snap back? They cannot admit their own ignorance. Everyone feels himself to be wiser and better than others. In fact, this is a case of being confused and deluded and not understanding principle.

“Confused” means unawakened; “deluded” means not understanding, being unclear and doubtful. Once a person is confused and deluded, he does not understand principle. If someone teaches him the Buddhadharma, this person will wonder, “Was there really a Buddha? I wonder if the Dharma is really true.”

Now, if you were to teach this person a vice, he would find it wonderful and would have no doubts. But he is skeptical when you try to teach him a good dharma. Teach him bad dharmas, and he has no doubts. Wouldn’t you say such a person was confused and deluded?

Sentient beings, confused and deluded, forever flow and turn. They may have wanted to come back before, but their karmic obstacles pull them away and so they flow and turn within the six paths of rebirth: suddenly in the heavens, suddenly on earth; suddenly in the realm of humans, suddenly in the realm of ghosts, suddenly in the realm of animals, and suddenly in the hells. They are carried along by the current of their confused and deluded karma. The more they flow, the farther they drift; the more they turn, the more disoriented they become. Sentient beings flow around and around until they are thoroughly deluded.

Most solid and dense is the ignorance that hinders and shrouds them. The obstacles of ignorance form a very solid and dense covering. Someone who is too deeply deluded cannot break through this covering. When such a person is encouraged to study the teachings of wisdom, he will say, “Are you saying that I’m dumb? You are far dumber than I am.” He refuses to admit his own ignorance. The Doctrine of the Mean [a classic Confucian text] speaks of this:

“People invariably claim to be intelligent. But if you were to drive them into a trap, they would not know how to avoid it.”

Would you say they were smart or foolish?

For them, the Thus Come One speaks the vast, great Dharma. The Buddha speaks the vast, great Dharma for these beings, dispelling their confusion and showing them the truth so they will regain their inherent prajña wisdom and no longer be ignorant. King Lion Banner conveys this. Gandharva King Lion Banner expounds freely upon the principles of this Dharma.

Sutra:

The Thus Come One universally manifests wondrous physical bodies, With measureless variation, equal to all sentient beings.
His different expedients shine on all worlds.
Universally Releasing Jeweled Brilliance perceives this.

Commentary:

The Thus Come One universally manifests wondrous physical bodies. The Thus Come One comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. For that reason, he is called the Thus Come One. There is another definition for Thus Come One: “Riding on the path of reality as it is, he comes to accomplish proper enlightenment.” Thus Come One is one of the Buddha’s ten titles. He manifests everywhere; there is nowhere he does not prevail; and there is nowhere he does not appear. Therefore, he “universally manifests.” The Thus Come One’s Dharma body reaches the Heaven of Neither Thought nor Non-Thought above and reaches the uninterrupted hells below.

“Wondrous physical bodies” refers to bodies adorned with the Thirty-two Hallmarks and the Eighty Subtle Characteristics. These wondrous physical bodies pervade the Dharma Realm, with measureless variation, equal to all sentient beings. The differences and kinds of sentient beings are measureless. To sum it up, there are beings born from wombs, eggs, moisture, and transformation. Womb-born creatures come about through emotion; egg-born creatures come about through thought; moisture-born creatures come about through union; and transformation-born creatures come about through separation. There are infinite variations among womb-born creatures, and the same is true of egg-born, moisture-born, and transformation-born creatures. Each category of birth has infinite variations. All of these creatures behold the Thus Come One’s wondrous physical bodies. His different expedients shine on all worlds. The Buddha employs numerous skill-in-means to teach and transform sentient beings, enabling them to attain the light of prajña wisdom. Gandharva King Universally Releasing Jeweled Brilliance perceives this. He understands the principle of this liberation and this state of the Buddha.

Sutra:

Using immeasurable expedients based in great wisdom
The Buddha expounds for flocks of creatures, all and everywhere.
He enters the true practice of supreme bodhi.
Vajra Banner skillfully contemplates thus.

Commentary:

Using immeasurable expedients based in great wisdom . Great wisdom is the wisdom of prajña. One needs prajña wisdom to employ expedient methods and speak expedient dharmas. There are not just one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, or ten expedient dharmas. How many are there? There are infinitely many. Each one of them meets the potentials of some category of sentient beings. There are as many dharmas as there are categories of sentient beings. These expedient dharmas are used to teach and transform sentient beings. First, one observes the causes and conditions of sentient beings and determines what method to use to teach any specific kind of sentient being. One speaks a dharma geared to an individual’s needs, just as a physician dispenses medicine according to the sickness. Basically there is no dharma that is spoken, and yet no dharma that is not spoken. One speaks every dharma, but after speaking it, is not attached to it. That’s why we say there is no dharma that is spoken. Since beings’ minds are different, different dharmas are spoken for them.

The Buddha expounds for flocks of beings, all and everywhere. He expounds expedient doors, measureless doors of great wisdom’s expedients, causing sentient beings to enter the Buddha’s wisdom. He enters the true practice of supreme bodhi . He enters the supreme path of enlightenment and genuinely practices. When you cultivate, you have to really do it. You cannot merely render it lip service. You can’t say, “Since I know how to lecture on a few lines of the sutras, I am satisfied. That’s cultivation.” Nor can you be arrogant and say, “I know how to sit in meditation. I don’t have to cultivate.” And it’s also not the case that having translated a few sutras, you have cultivation behind you. Cultivation must be based on genuine virtue. If you lack virtue, no one will respect you. If you have virtue, no matter where you go, people will recognize you as a person of virtue who has entered genuine doors of practice. Vajra Banner skillfully contemplates thus. Gandharva King Vajra Banner is skilled at contemplating the state of this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

An instant contains hundreds of thousands of eons.
A Buddha’s spiritual power manifests this, yet he remains unmoved.
Comfort and joy he bestows equally upon all sentient beings.
This is the liberation of Delighting in Adornment.

Commentary:

An instant contains hundreds of thousands of eons. Hundreds of thousands of eons are compressed into a single instant; on the other hand, a single instant of time can be expanded to hundreds of thousand of eons. In the eyes of ordinary people, there seem to be short and long intervals of time. However, on the part of the Buddhas, long can become short, and short can become long. Short and long are nondual; they are one and the same. We may feel that a single lifetime is already a long period of time: From youth we progress to our prime, from our prime we move on to old age, and from old age we move on to death. We experience the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death, and we undergo the processes of coming into being, dwelling, change, and extinction; formation, stasis, decay, and emptiness. We pass through several decades and feel that is a long time. However, from the perspective of Buddhas, that is simply a very brief instant of time. Within that single instant, we experience the sorrows and joys of partings and reunions. We suffer when we are separated from those we love, and we also get together again. We take all of this very seriously, considering it all to be real. But once we close our eyes, everything is gone. Isn’t that the same as a dream?

A Buddha’s spiritual power manifests this, yet he remains unmoved. By means of his awesome spiritual power, a Buddha can condense hundreds of thousands of eons into a single instant, and then expand that single instant into hundreds of thousand of eons. Isn’t that wonderful? Comfort and joy he bestows equally upon all sentient beings: With his awesome spiritual power, a Buddha endows sentient beings with peace and joy. This is the liberation of Delighting in Adornment. Gandharva King Delighting in Adornment experiences this kind of joy.

You may bring up any opinion you have, and we’ll discuss it.

Someone was wondering: “Animals are living creatures, and so are plants. Why is it that we are not allowed to eat meat, but we can eat vegetables? And since we are allowed to eat vegetables, why can’t we eat meat?”

This is the way to answer such a question: Living creatures are divided into those that are sentient and those that are not. Vegetables are not sentient. Although they possess some kind of awareness, they do not have emotions or feelings, and so they do not actually qualify as “sentient beings.” They must first be eaten before they will be transformed into sentient beings. That is, they go through the machinery of the human system, undergo a chemical process, after which their nature will become incorporated into the body of a sentient being: A human being is a machine, a scientific instrument. After going through a chemical change that involves the isolation of atoms, protons, and so on, those elements are gathered back into the human “machine.”

When people ask this sort of question, you can tell them, “Since you know that vegetables are also sentient beings and you do not wish to eat them, that’s okay. Don’t force it.” Then see what they will do.

Sutra:

Moreover, Kumbhandha King Growth and Development gained a passage into liberation of eradicating the power of all resentment and harming.

Commentary:

This refers to Kumbhandha King Growth and Development, Celestial King of the South, who governs the kumbhandha ghosts. We have explained the kumbhandhas many times before, but I don’t know whether you remember it or not. If you do, you can explain it for us. There are many kinds of kumbhandha ghosts. They are also called “barrel-shaped ghosts,” since they do not have heads or legs. Since they resemble winter melons, they are also called “winter melon ghosts.”

Why do certain people encounter this kind of ghost? Such people are strong in yin energy but weak in yang energy. A Celestial King has to govern these ghosts, or else they will be even more intractable and unruly. Fortunately, Celestial King Growth and Development keeps them under control, so they do not get out of hand.

Moreover indicates that the following text continues to explain this ongoing topic. Kumbhandha King Growth and Development gained a passage into liberation of eradicating the power of all resentment and harming. “Resentment” means vengefulness and hatred; “harming” means injuring. One who harbors resentment harms others. Now this Kumbhandha King can dispel all resentment, hatred, and harming. He has obtained the power of this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Dragon Ruler gained a passage into liberation of cultivating the ocean of boundless methods of practice.

Commentary:

The next Kumbhandha King is named Dragon Ruler . He has gained a passage into liberation of cultivating the ocean of boundless methods of practice. He cultivates measureless, boundless dharma doors, which are as profuse as the ocean. He attained that passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Adorning Banners gained a passage into liberation of knowing the delights of all sentient beings.

Commentary:

The Kumbhandha King named Adorning Banners ornaments all Buddhalands, Way-places, and the pure lands of the ten directions. He has gained a passage into liberation of knowing the delights of all sentient beings. He knows what they like. Thereupon he always accords with sentient beings and speaks Dharma for them. He has attained this kind of state.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Magnanimous Practice gained a passage into liberation of universally accomplishing the karma brought about by pure, great light.

Commentary:

The Kumbhandha King named Magnanimous Practice brings benefit to sentient beings, helping all of them. That is his practice. He has gained a passage into liberation of universally accomplishing the karma brought about by pure, great light. “Universally accomplishing” means that he is impartial. He helps all sentient beings and benefits them, aiding all of them to accomplish the karma brought about by pure, undefiled dharmas, a treasury of great brightness of prajña. Here “karma” refers to good karma that will be accomplished. That is the passage into liberation of this Kumbhandha King.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Terrifying gained a passage into liberation of revealing to all sentient beings the path of fearlessness that leads to peace and security.

Commentary:

The next Kumbhandha King is named Terrifying. Basically kumbhandhas are pretty frightening, but this one is even more so. All sentient beings are terrified by him, hence his name. However, although he has a frightening appearance, he has a kind and compassionate mind and wants to help sentient beings. He has gained a passage into liberation of revealing to all sentient beings the path of fearlessness that leads to peace and security. When sentient beings do not understand, he uses various dharma doors to facilitate their understanding. Although sentient beings fear him, he shows them the path leading to peace and security so that their fears will be dispelled.

On the subject of fear, the Confucian school says, “The superior person has three fears. He fears the ordinance of heaven; he fears a great person; and he fears the words of a sage.” He is apprehensive and cautious regarding the decree of heaven. When he meets a great personage, he is apprehensive and respectful. And he is also attentive and reverent towards the words spoken by a sage.

In general, people experience many kinds of fear. When they run into a tiger, they are so petrified that their feet turn to jelly and they cannot walk, since tigers can devour people. A person would experience the same kind of fear if he ran into wolves or poisonous snakes. Why do people experience fear?

They have not let go of their attachment to life. If we do not fear death, we will have no other fears to speak of. This Celestial King shows sentient beings the path leading to peace and security. He bestows fearlessness upon them, which is a kind of giving. There is the giving of wealth, the giving of Dharma, and the giving of fearlessness. This Kumbhandha King often gives sentient beings courage, much like Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. He dispels their fears. That is his passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Wondrous Adornment gained a passage into liberation whereby he dries up the sea of love and desire of all sentient beings.

Commentary:

The Kumbhandha King named Wondrous Adornment gained a passage into liberation whereby he dries up the sea of love and desire of all sentient beings. He destroys and dries up the love and desire of sentient beings. Due to a single thought of ignorance, sentient beings fall into lower states. Ignorance is a state of not understanding anything. When one understands nothing, one acts in a reckless and unruly manner, behaving improperly. That is, one gives rise to selfish desire and emotional love, which can be as profuse as an ocean. This Kumbhandha King knows how to dry up and extinguish that sea of love and desire, at which point sentient beings can attain the pure Dharma body. That is to have achieved a passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Wisdom like a High Peak gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting a cloud of light in all destinies.

Commentary:

The Kumbhandha King named Wisdom like a High Peak has superior wisdom. He has gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting a cloud of light in all destinies. “Universally manifesting” means appearing throughout the dharma realms of Bodhisattvas, Hearers, Sages Enlightened to Conditions, gods, humans, asuras, hungry ghosts, animals, and hell beings. He manifests in all those realms and makes appear a cloud of light amidst all destinies. There is darkness in the different destinies, but he manifests a cloud of light, illumining all sentient beings so they achieve great wisdom. That is his passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Robust Arms gained a passage into liberation of universally emitting light and destroying heavy obstacles resembling a mountain.

Commentary:

Kumbhandha King Robust Arms is very brave and skilled at battle. His strong and robust arms are as solid as steel; even if you hacked at them with a knife, you wouldn’t be able to cut through them. For that reason he is able to subdue the kumbhandha ghosts and become their king. He has gained a passage into liberation of universally emitting light and destroying heavy obstacles resembling a mountain. His light shines everywhere, dispelling obstacles from offenses as weighty as a mountain. Our karmic obstacles have no shape or form. If they had shape or form, space would burst since it would not be able to contain all of our karmic obstacles. Fortunately, karmic obstacles do not have shape or form, and so space has not burst open. However, karmic obstacles are as heavy as Mount Sumeru . Why is it that we do not have a resolute resolve for the Way? Why is it that we don’t have a long-lasting resolve for cultivation? It’s because we are burdened by these obstacles. They obstruct us so our resolve for cultivation is not firm or enduring.

There are three kinds of obstacles: karmic obstacles, obstacles of retribution, and obstacles of afflictions.

Karmic obstacles derive from karma that we create. Our evil karma covers our wisdom. Therefore, during the refuge ceremony, there is passage that says, “We have created much evil karma, which obstructs and occludes the source of our mind. We are not worthy of being gathered in.”

Obstacles of retribution are present-day retributions resulting from karma we created in our former lives. Cultivators must pay attention to obstacles of afflictions. Take care to not have so many afflictions. Do not have such overwhelming ignorance that you get angry or upset at the slightest provocation. Affliction and ignorance are the absolute worst things in cultivation. Don’t think you can simply get angry if people treat you badly. That is the ugliest, the lowest, the most spineless thing to do. Once you get angry, all the effort you put into cultivation is lost. Cultivation means being patient with what others cannot be patient with, yielding to what others cannot yield.

People who have cultivation and virtue never really get angry. If a virtuous person makes a show of anger, people find it very easy to take. If a person lacking virtue blows up, however, it won’t work. Don’t think, “Now that I have virtue, I can get mad at others.” That will not do. Any indication of anger is a sign of your own stupidity. You cannot be mad at anyone. You shouldn’t get angry even at people who are one or two levels junior to you, or who are lower than you in position, much less your Dharma peers. You cannot attack others because of your own afflictions and ignorance.

From now on, this is how you should observe people: If an individual has truly gotten rid of his temper, afflictions, and ignorance, that individual has promise. Don’t look at his scholarship, wisdom, or eloquence. If he is still prone to ignorance and gets angry often, then, without having to ask, you should know that such a person has no skill to speak of. Not only does he have no skill, but he will soon fall into the hells; after all, he came from the hells. You should to pay attention to this point.

If you are a cultivator, no matter how badly people treat you, you absolutely cannot get angry at them. That’s the most important point. I remind you daily, over and over again: “Don’t get angry,” and yet you insist on getting angry. You insist on letting the tiger out of its cage. This is very pathetic. If you still cannot practice the paramita of patience after having cultivated for such a long time, everything will be to no avail. No matter how much merit and virtue you have, if you aren’t able to be patient, all of your efforts will be annulled. Every one of you should cultivate the dharma of patience. You should not get angry every day. This is important! Pay special attention to this point.

There is another list of two kinds of obstacles: obstacles of afflictions and obstacles of what is known. Getting angry is an obstacle of afflictions. Why aren’t you enlightened? Why haven’t you gained a passage into liberation? It is because you are blocked by obstacles of afflictions. Even if you are on the verge of enlightenment, the door leading to enlightenment closes once you become afflicted. What are the obstacles of what is known? It refers to an attitude of feeling that you know more than others, that your views are more correct than others. “My English is good, my Chinese is excellent, my French is great, and my Spanish is terrific!” Such a person feels he or she knows a great deal, and that is the obstacle of what is known. No matter what kind of obstacles they are, be they obstacles of afflictions or obstacles of what is known, these resemble a mountain that obstructs your mind’s enlightenment. And you will not gain a passage into liberation. Now this Kumbhandha King has gained a passage into liberation of universally emitting light and destroying heavy obstacles that resemble a mountain. Upon hearing this Dharma, we should reflect and be determined to get rid of our temper. Don’t hang on to it. Otherwise, you won’t gain this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Eyes Resembling Flowers of Boundless Purity gained a passage into liberation of revealing a treasury of irreversible, great compassion.

Commentary:

Kumbhandha King Eyes Resembling Flowers of Boundless Purity gained a passage into liberation of revealing to sentient beings, a treasury of irreversible, great compassion. This is the mind of great compassion that universally saves all sentient beings, enabling all of them to leave suffering and attain bliss. This Kumbhandha King has attained this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

Kumbhandha King Vast, Great Range gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting bodies that traverse all destinies.

Commentary:

The next one is Kumbhandha King Vast, Great Range . [Note: The character for “range” is the same as for “face.”] Does that mean he has a big, wide face? Is his face larger than his body? Does he have a big head, a small body, and short legs? No. Here, it means his scope of influence and control is great. He knows when any kumbhandha ghost misbehaves. The area of his jurisdiction is large, not his face. He rules over many kumbhandha ghosts. He has gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting bodies that traverse all destinies. He can appear throughout the ten dharma realms, all the paths of rebirth. “Bodies that traverse” refers to going through birth and death, dying and then being born again, revolving on and on without beginning or end. From the human path one drifts into the path of hungry ghosts, and from the path of hungry ghosts one drifts into the heavens.

This Kumbhandha King has attained this dharma and teaches and transforms sentient beings of the various destinies, leading them all to attain this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

At that time, the Kumbhandha King Growth and Development received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the kumbhandha multitudes, and spoke the following verse.

The Teacher of the World achieved the strength of patience and
For the sake of beings, cultivated for measureless eons.
Forever removed from the world’s arrogance and delusion,
His body therefore is most adorned and pure.

Commentary:

At that time, Kumbhandha King Growth and Development received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the kumbhandha multitudes, and spoke the following verse . Whether you are a left-home person or a layperson, you must practice the Dharma after you have heard it. If you don’t practice, then you’d be better off not hearing the Dharma at all. If you practice the Dharma without having heard it, then it’s as if you had heard the Dharma. These lines of verse say:

The Teacher of the World achieved the strength of patience and…We should reflect upon this line of verse. The Buddha is the Teacher of the World who has achieved the strength of patience. Have we achieved that power? Have we achieved the strength of patience, or have we achieved the strength of violence? If we have achieved the strength of patience, in the future we will have a chance to be a Teacher of the World. However, some people acquire the strength of violence instead; that is, they heavy-handedly oppress others with force, authority, and position. Although people may appear to be subdued, they don’t really admire or respect a person who oppresses them. For instance, if my disciples disagree with me, I regard them as my good advisors. They are helping me to realize my strength in patience. You are checking to see if your teacher would be able to endure his disciples’ criticisms. Anyone of you who disagrees with your teacher is a good disciple. If you are impolite and rude to your teacher, you are a good disciple, my good and wise teacher. Those of you who agree with your teacher are not good disciples. If you respond with, “Yes, yes, I’ll do whatever you say,” you are not my good disciple.

For the sake of beings, cultivated for measureless eons. What “beings” does this refer to? It refers to strange creatures—really weird beings. What strange creatures? The strange creature that you are, and the strange creature that he is. What does this really mean? It simply means that people, basically all sentient beings, are “strange creatures.” Wouldn’t you say they are strange? They know how to sleep, eat, put on clothes, take advantage of situations, and they also know how not to take a loss. If these aren’t strange creatures, then what are they? They know how to benefit themselves but do not wish to benefit others. The Buddha cultivated for beings like these. Because of that, although these creatures are strange to start with, they will eventually no longer be strange. The Buddha cultivated on behalf of those strange creatures.

The Buddha considers all these beings his own sons and daughters. That’s why he set out to cultivate, acquired great spiritual penetrations, became enlightened, and perfected the method for ultimately ending birth and death. And then he taught that method to sentient beings, enabling them also to perfect that method of ending birth and death. However, this dharma is not easy to understand. The Buddha, wishing to understand this dharma, bravely underwent myriad sufferings and hardships for measureless eons. He cultivated various ascetic practices so as to rescue those pitiful “strange creatures” from suffering and bring them happiness.

Forever removed from the world’s arrogance and delusion. Take a look. You’ve been studying the Buddhadharma for so long, and yet you are still that arrogant and haughty. Not to talk about anything else, some Bhikshus are extremely arrogant toward Bhikshunis. They demand, “You Bhikshunis must practice the Eight Dharmas of Respect. If you don’t, I won’t be nice to you!” If that’s not arrogance, then what is it? They say, “Bhikshunis are not people. We don’t want to talk to Bhikshunis.” Haughtiness consists of being extremely rude, behaving like barbarians or country bumpkins. However, if a country bumpkin were to renounce his arrogance, he could become a Patriarch. On the other hand, if you claim to be a Patriarch to begin with, you couldn’t even be a country bumpkin given your arrogance.

His body therefore is most adorned and pure. Free from every arrogance and defilement, the Buddha’s body is the most splendid and pure, the most wonderful and majestic. He is endowed with the Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subtle Characteristics. People want to keep staring at the Buddha, never letting up their gaze.

Sutra:

In the past, in all places, the Buddha cultivated an ocean of practices, Teaching and transforming measureless multitudes in the ten directions. With various expedients he benefits all sentient beings.
Dragon Ruler attains this passage into liberation.

Commentary:

In the past, in all places, the Buddha cultivated an ocean of practices. For measureless eons, the Buddha universally cultivated all dharmas and practices, not just one. He cultivated and practiced any and every dharma. He cultivated the Six Paramitas and the myriad practices. These were not practiced for just one lifetime. Maybe in one lifetime the Buddha exclusively worked on the paramita of giving and exhausted his efforts in giving. In his next lifetime he would work on the paramita of precepts. The lifetime after that he would work on the patience paramita. The lifetime after that he would work on the vigor paramita, and then the dhyana-paramita and the prajña-paramita, in subsequent lives.

The Buddha would focus on one paramita in each lifetime, making that the theme of his cultivation, but he would also complement that paramita with other practices. That’s how we work at Gold Mountain Monastery. Here, we take translation of the sutras as our main work, but we also study various languages and cultivate many dharmas. That is “in all places, one cultivates an ocean of practices.” The Six Paramitas and the myriad practices are as profuse as an ocean; they’re inexhaustible and unending.

Teaching and transforming measureless multitudes in the ten directions. Having cultivated that sea of practices to perfection, the Buddha then uses those practices to teach and transform sentient beings, leading all beings to follow the same path and universally cultivate an ocean of practices. The Buddha teaches and transforms measureless multitudes in the ten directions. With various expedients he benefits all sentient beings. In his every move, the Buddha cultivates on behalf of sentient beings. Therefore, after completing his own work in the Way, he employs various expedients and methods to benefit all beings. Kumbhandha King Dragon Ruler attains this passage into liberation.

Sutra:

With great wisdom, the Buddha rescues sentient beings.
He knows and understands their minds without exception.
He tames and subdues them with various feats of self-mastery.
Adorning Banners sees this and rejoices.

Commentary:

With great wisdom, the Buddha rescues sentient beings. The Buddha is someone who has reached Great, Perfect Enlightenment. There is nothing he does not know and nothing he cannot do. Therefore, with great wisdom, he saves sentient beings. How does he teach them? He tames and subdues them with various feats of self-mastery , many expedients. For every kind of sentient being, the Buddha will appear in the appropriate form to save that being and speak Dharma for him. For each being, the Buddha will speak the most suitable Dharma for liberating that being. He contemplates their potentials and teaches them the Dharma accordingly. Since beings have different faculties, they need to be taught and transformed using different methods. Thus it takes great wisdom to save and protect sentient beings. The Buddha uses great wisdom to teach sentient beings, saving all of them. Who recognizes their potential and the dharmas they need? Only the Buddha. He knows and understands their minds without exception. “The Thus Come One completely knows and sees all the various thoughts of sentient beings.” Since he completely knows and sees them, the Buddha knows which dharmas to use to teach and transform sentient beings. He selects dharmas suited to their individual dispositions.

He tames and subdues them with various feats of self-mastery: “Feats of self-mastery” refers to different kinds of spiritual powers that the Buddha uses to regulate and subdue beings. Sentient beings are very stubborn, but the Buddha uses various methods to eventually persuade them to develop the strength of patience. To greedy and stingy beings, the Buddha explains the practice of giving, enabling them to renounce their stinginess and greed. Some beings are very scattered and do not observe the rules, much less the precepts. To those beings the Buddha speaks of the precepts. He influences them to follow the rules, cast out all unwholesome dharmas and cultivate all wholesome dharmas, abstain from evil and practice goodness. Some sentient beings have huge tempers. They exhibit “the fire of ignorance and the spirit of a tiger.” The Buddha speaks the dharma of patience for them, teaching them to be tolerant. He does the same with the other paramitas of vigor, dhyana concentration, and prajña wisdom.

Whatever way sentient beings can be taken across, the Buddha will use that method, that spiritual power and wonderful functioning, to tame and subdue sentient beings, causing them to reform and renew themselves.

Adorning Banners sees this and rejoices. Kumbhandha King Adorning Banners understands this dharma door. He has achieved the samadhi of this passage into liberation. He is delighted upon seeing this.

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