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The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds
Chapter One, Part Three
Moreover, Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere gained a passage into liberation of knowing the minds of all sentient beings in all destinies everywhere.
Space-ruling Spirit Universally Roaming Far and Wide gained a passage into liberation of universally entering the Dharma Realm.
Moreover indicates there is something more to be said, which is the passage into liberation of Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere. “Pure Light” in this Space-ruling spirit’s name refers to the type of pure radiance that emanates from prajña wisdom. This is not a faint light, but a brilliant one. Why do we maintain that the light is brilliant? Well, it is “Shining Everywhere.” Light of small intensity would not shine universally. Who sends forth this brilliant pure light?
It is this Space-ruling Spirit, this sunyata-devata. Doesn’t the Surangama Sutra say: “Should even the sunyata nature entirely melt away, this vajra resolve will never wane”? Sunyata refers to the spirit of emptiness, so one could say: “Should even the spirit of emptiness entirely melt away, this vajra resolve of mine will never wane. I believe in this great Surangama Samadhi and cannot be shaken. My firm resolve does not waver.” The name of this particular Space-ruling spirit is “Pure Light Shining Everywhere.”
She gained a passage into liberation of knowing the minds of all sentient beings in all the destinies everywhere. What did she attain? She achieved the passage into liberation of universally being able to know the minds of all sentient beings in all the paths of rebirth. That includes the four evil destinies of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, and asuras, as well as the path of humans and the path of gods. This Space-ruling spirit achieved the ability to know all thoughts in the minds of all the sentient beings in all those destinies. She knows all the false thoughts that sentient beings entertain in their minds. If someone is greedy, she decides, “ I’ll give that one a little something. That person is greedy for one cent, so I’ll give two cents. I’ll double the amount. If someone wants two cents, I’ll give four cents.”
This Space-ruling Spirit operates under the premise that, in order to encourage beings to enter the Buddha’s wisdom, first you need to bait the hook with something they like. Whatever you think you would like to have, that’s what she will give you. If you think, “I’d like to have a certain Buddhist dictionary,” then someone sends you one to help you translate. If you don’t recognize a word, you can consult the “teacher,” that is, look up the definition in the dictionary.
In the future [Note: This was in 1973] there will be computerized dictionaries. As soon as you search for a word, the explanation will appear. You won’t have to go to all the trouble of looking the word up in the index first, the way you do now, and searching a lot before you find it. In the future, it will be very convenient. However, the more convenient things become, the more trouble there will be. As the convenience increases, the trouble will also not be slight. If you can’t push the buttons, you won’t find anything at all. You’ll have to be able to push the buttons. For every benefit, there is harm. Any success brings failure. Whenever there is right, there is wrong. Every improvement entails decline. There will be decline in direct proportion to the improvement. There is no evil without goodness, no filiality without rebellion, no yang without yin, no youth without old age, no death without birth. If you had not been born, you would not die. Let’s not say too much about this. If I tell you too much, you’ll forget it.
So, where were we? We had been discussing the passage into liberation of being able to know the minds of sentient beings, and how if you think about having something, this Space-ruling Spirit will give it to you and make you happy. Then once you are happy, you will come inside this dharma door. Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere entered this passage into liberation. How do you feel about this passage into liberation? If you like it, you can come along too.
Space-ruling Spirit Universally Roaming Far and Wide likes to travel, to roam far and wide, going everywhere. There is no place in the Dharma Realm that she fails to visit. Her travels are not just confined to the world, but she even goes sightseeing to the Dragons’ Palace, to see if the dragons are asleep. Could it be that when they should be making rain, instead of doing so they are waiting for someone else to make it rain? As the saying goes: “When there are many dragons, each expects the others to do the work, the result being either droughts or floods.”
Therefore, when the Dragon King falls asleep, this Space-ruling Spirit calls out to awaken the Dragon King saying, “Old fellow cultivator, you should make it rain. You should be translating sutras. Don’t keep sleeping! Take a look at the sutras in the Dragons’ Palace.” How can I claim this Space-ruling Spirit goes to the Dragons’ Palace? I don’t say this without support. Just look at what the next phrase says: she gained a passage into liberation of universally entering the Dharma Realm.
Isn’t the Dragons’ Palace within the Dharma Realm? Is the Dragons’ Palace outside the Dharma Realm? Hence what I say is reasonable, and it’s not out of the question for her to tell the Elder Dragon King to make it rain. This Space-ruling Spirit gained a passage into liberation of universal entry to the Dharma Realm. If you would like to travel without having to purchase a plane ticket, to go on a holiday without needing to pay for passage on a boat, to take a vacation that does not require buying a ticket for a train or bus, that is all possible. All you have to do is enter this passage into liberation, and you can do it.
Space-ruling Spirit Creating Auspicious Wind gained a passage into liberation of fathoming the boundless state of bodily characteristics.
The next Space-ruling Spirit is named Creating Auspicious Wind. What is meant by auspiciousness and inauspiciousness? Also, what is good about auspiciousness and bad about inauspiciousness? And why does this Space-ruling Spirit create auspicious wind? There are all different kinds of winds. There are gales and hurricanes, which are inauspicious. There are also south winds, north winds, east winds, and west winds. North winds are cold, and south winds are hot.
Even though east winds and west winds are neither cold nor hot, sometimes they are quite strong. None of those is an auspicious wind. “Auspicious” means everything goes very well, without anything going wrong. If something turns out badly, that’s not auspicious.
The name of this Space-ruling Spirit is “Producing Auspicious Wind,” and what does that mean? The wind being auspicious signifies that there are no defiled dharmas within this wind, only pure ones. There is also a type of wind known as a gentle breeze, which conveys an idea of auspiciousness about it.
Hence Great Emperor Shun said: “When the southern wind is gentle, it can soothe my people’s anger. When the southern wind is timely, it can increase my people’s wealth.” He said that when the southern wind was mild—very gentle, very auspicious and very pleasant—it could soothe his people’s vexations. It made the people happy so they didn’t lose their tempers. It was as if there were music inside the wind, various types of music blending in harmony together.
There was that kind of spontaneous breeze that took away the anger of the populace. Unfortunately, that sort of wind no longer exists. Otherwise, it could rid all of us of our tempers. We ought to ask that auspicious wind to come, and invite this Space-ruling Spirit here. Emperor Shun further said that when the southern wind was timely, that is, when it blew at just the right time, it could increase his people’s wealth. It could help the citizens to have a lot of money. Emperor Shun was a great Bodhisattva who came to teach and transform sentient beings, and so in all he did he was unselfish—greatly public-spirited without private concerns.
Moreover, a poem composed during the Song Dynasty mentions this wind. How does it go?
Beyond mountains are green mountains, towers after towers.
When will the singing and dancing at West Lake ever cease?
The fragrance of the balmy wind wafts, intoxicating travelers,
So they start to mistake Hangzhou for Bianzhou.
“Beyond mountains are green mountains, towers after towers.” Layer upon layer of mountains, peak after peak of towers created a painting, a picture. “When will the singing and dancing at West Lake ever cease?” That is to say, when will the singing and dancing that go on at West Lake—when will that kind recreation, that kind of entertainment, that kind of worldly bliss—come to an end? This is describing how wonderful West Lake is.
When U.S. ex-President Nixon went to West Lake, the newspapers reported him saying that it was the most beautiful, the finest, and the prettiest city in the world. He wasn’t the only one who praised it; many people praised it long ago in the Song Dynasty. The fragrance of the balmy wind wafts, intoxicating travelers.”
The balmy wind is a warm breeze. As it is said, “Clear sky and cool air, how pleasant the gentle breeze.” A gentle breeze is a good kind of breeze. The sky is clear, without any clouds, the air is refreshingly cool, and the gentle breeze is pleasant. The balmy wind is a warm wind, neither cool nor too hot, but just right. When it blows on their bodies and faces, people feel very comfortable. It’s even more comfortable than electrotherapy, which uses electric current to activate people’s circulation. These balmy winds are even better, and are natural winds whose fragrance wafts, intoxicating people. And what is the effect of the balmy winds as they do that? They intoxicate people to the point that they can’t distinguish north, south, east, or west. Once intoxicated, people lose their sense of direction, “So they start mistaking Hangzhou for Bianzhou.”
This reference is to the Northern Song Dynasty’s capital, which had previously been at the eastern capital Bianliang in Henan Province . “Mistook Hangzhou for Bianzhou,” considered Hangzhou to be Bianliang, is a reference to how the Southern Song Dynasty’s Emperor was so delighted with Hangzhou that he forgot to return to the eastern capital Bianliang. He forgot all about it; he considered Hangzhou to be Bianliang.
Now we are discussing wind, and there could be a wide variety of interpretations of the word “wind,” since the word can also refer to the customs and mores of a society or group of people. At present we are explaining auspicious wind—how is it produced? When you become happy, you are generating an auspicious wind. When you are pure, you are creating an auspicious wind. If you lose your purity, a wild wind and torrential rain results; but if you become pure, then a gentle breeze and fine mist prevail.
Now we want to “fan auspicious wind throughout the Dharma Realm,” using this to fan so the wind stirred up is auspicious wind. And we want to “pour down wish-fulfilling rain on the mortal world,” so rainfall of all-according-with-one’s-wishes descends on the world of mortals. Wish-fulfilling rain contains as-you-will pearls. As-you-will pearls descend on the mortal world. You have your wish-fulfilling pearl, and I have mine. This wish-fulfilling pearl is a perfect sphere of dazzling light, which is with you.
Now we need to produce this auspicious wind throughout all of space and the Dharma Realm, stirring up auspicious wind so disasters are dispelled and disharmony disappears. When disharmony is gone, harmony prevails. Harmony is auspiciousness, whereas disharmony is difficulty. Doesn’t the Heart Sutra say: “And he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty”? To have suffering and difficulty is inauspicious, and to be free from suffering and difficulty is lucky. We should “stir up auspicious wind in all places, pouring down wish-fulfilling rain on the ten directions.” We should make that kind of resolve.
You should all be aware [spoken on October 27, 1973 ] that now we absolutely have to stir up auspicious wind. Otherwise, a comet will come. For over 2000 years no comet as big as this has appeared; but now the path of a comet is threatening to create a huge disaster. If it collides with this world, it will bring massive destruction, inverting this world’s heaven and earth, so the sky is below and the earth is on top. Where does such strength come from? From this comet. When you investigated the Surangama Sutra, you saw the section on evil stars. Such an evil star is appearing now and is going to come very close to our planet. Such a disaster is very hard to avert.
This great calamity that is threatening the world is a fate of catastrophic proportions. Some destinies cannot be avoided. Who is included in this fate and who is not? The character shu, which means fate, also means number. Who is included in this number? I didn’t want to talk about this, but the danger is grave. If I didn’t talk about it, people wouldn’t be able to have a change of heart. Now if everyone can have a change of heart, the calamity can be averted. This calamity was brought into being by the karma of the sentient beings of the entire world. However, if each one of us can change from bad to good, and have a change of heart, that will create an auspicious wind. And when auspicious wind is produced, it can turn this world around.
This spirit gained a passage into liberation of fathoming the boundless state of bodily characteristics. This Space-ruling Spirit is sure to carry out his responsibilities, so now the text says that she was able to fathom a boundless state. To fathom is to understand, to achieve enlightened penetration—in this case to the boundless state. What is the boundless state? It is that of the Buddha’s body being like space. The body of the Buddha resembles space. “If someone wishes to understand the Buddha’s state, he should purify his mind so it is like space.” Since the Buddha’s body is like space, it is referred to as a boundless state. In this boundless state, the body has no characteristics, its characteristics being no characteristics. It has appearance yet no appearance, no appearance and yet appearance. This kind of state is the inconceivable state of the Flower Adornment, a state that ordinary beings are unable to conceptualize or understand. This Space-ruling spirit entered that passage into liberation.
Space-ruling Spirit Dwelling Secure and Unhindered gained a passage into liberation of being able to dispel the obstacles of karma and delusions that all sentient beings have.
The next Space-ruling Spirit is named Dwelling Secure and Unhindered. Being unhindered means being free from all impeding obstructions. Securely dwelling refers to being firmly established on the Ground of Not Moving, dwelling securely in dhyana-samadhi, dwelling securely in a still and quiet place—all of that is securely dwelling. What did this Space-ruling Spirit gain? She gained a passage into liberation of being able to dispel the obstacles of karma and delusions that all sentient beings have. The ability to dispel presumes that something exists to begin with, but that one can get rid of it and make it disappear. In this case it is the karma of all sentient beings that is dispelled, and it is their bad karma. Then what about their good karma? It should not be dispelled. The more good karma there is, the better. As to bad karma, the less there is, the better. Delusions involve doubts, that is, unresolvable aspects; and aspects of confusion—lack of understanding. Obstacles are hindrances on the path of bodhi. What are those hindrances on the bodhi path? They are afflictions. And yet afflictions are bodhi, so why should one need to dispel them? Afflictions should be transformed into bodhi; so lack of understanding turns into understanding and becomes prajña; so evil karma becomes good karma. That is what is meant by gaining the passage into liberation of dispelling the obstacles of karma and delusions of all sentient beings.
Space-ruling Spirit Far-reaching Footsteps and Wondrous Cowl gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating and reflecting upon the sea of vast, great practices.
Space-ruling Spirit Far-reaching Footsteps and Wondrous Cowl gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating and reflecting upon the sea of vast, great practices. This spirit’s contemplation is universal in that she universally contemplates the sea of vast, great practices cultivated by all sentient beings. First she contemplates, and then she reflects. She contemplates the sea-like vastness of sentient beings’ practices and reflects upon the great expanse of beings’ dispositions. She contemplates potentials and entices with teachings, speaking Dharma according to the person and universally saving all sentient beings. The sea of vast, great practices refers to limitless and boundlessly many practices. Each individual sentient being has his or her individual causes and conditions, and the particular kind of dharma door that he or she cultivates needs to resonate with that individual, or else there will be no beneficial interaction. Hence this Space-ruling Spirit achieved that kind of state of the Buddha and understood the passage into liberation of universally contemplating and reflecting upon the sea of vast, great practices.
Space-ruling Spirit Unobstructed Blaze of Light gained a passage into liberation of radiating the light of great compassion to universally rescue and protect all sentient beings from difficulty.
The next Space-ruling Spirit is named Unobstructed Blaze of Light. What passage into liberation did she attain? She gained a passage into liberation of radiating the light of great compassion to universally rescue and protect all sentient beings from difficulty. Compassion eradicates the suffering of sentient beings. She is able to employ the brilliance of prajña wisdom and use a greatly compassionate attitude of mind to safeguard all sentient beings who are in the sea of suffering of birth and death. They are born and then they die, die and are reborn, revolving in a pointless cycle of births and deaths. They cast off one life only to take up another, yet still feel it’s a good thing and a lot of fun besides. Therefore they bob and sink without thinking of getting out. That’s what’s meant by the difficulty that all sentient beings have. “Difficulty” refers to suffering and difficulty, as in the line from the Heart Sutra: “...crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty.”
The difficulty is that of birth and death, and this Space-ruling Spirit rescues and protects all sentient beings from that hardship, enabling them to reach this passage into liberation.
Space-ruling Spirit Unobstructed Supreme Power gained a passage into liberation of having the power of blessings and virtue to universally be involved in everything without attachment.
Venerable Master: Guo Hu, lecture on Space-ruling Spirit Unobstructed Supreme Power.
Bhikshu Heng Shou (Guo Hu): Space-ruling Spirit Unobstructed Supreme Power gained a passage into liberation of having the power of blessings and virtue to universally be involved in everything without attachment. This Space-ruling Spirit takes “Unobstructed Supreme Power” as her name. What is supreme power? It is exceptional power that nothing blocks or hinders. No other power surpasses hers, and so she is known as Space-ruling Spirit Unobstructed Supreme Power. The state that she entered, the passage into liberation that she attained, is called the passage into liberation to universally be involved in everything without attachment. She pervasively enters nonattachment to anything. Since she has no attachments, she can go anywhere without becoming attached. That’s the meaning of being involved in everything without attachment. Since this Space-ruling Spirit Unobstructed Supreme Power can do anything anywhere without attachment, she has the power of blessings and virtue. This is her passage into liberation.
Space-ruling Spirit Immaculate Radiance gained a passage into liberation of being able to make all sentient beings’ minds pure and free from all coverings.
The next Space-ruling Spirit isnamed Immaculate Radiance. To be “immaculate” means to be free from defilements, coverings, and impurity. Such filth shrouds our mind and nature. It obscures the clear, bright substance of the purity of our nature so that it is not clear and bright. This is as when a mirror is coated with dust, the mirror cannot reflect images. If the dust is removed, then the mirror’s function is revealed. What is the function of the mirror? It reflects images. If there’s a layer of dust, the mirror won’t reflect anything. The radiance of our mind, our fundamental wisdom light, our inherent prajña brightness, our inherent Dharma-selecting vision, is like the mirror. But it has been obscured by bad habits and ignorance, and so the radiance is not apparent. As to immaculate radiance, if we can separate from defilement, wipe away the dust—which means to be able to cut off our bad habits from many lives and many eons—then the light will appear. If you can be free from the filth of greed, anger, and delusion, we will be immaculate. Once we are immaculate, we will be radiant. Her name reveals the principle she fathomed.
This Space-ruling Spirit is called Immaculate Radiance—that is her name. However, that name is a false name. Why do we say it is false? It’s because she is a Space-ruling Spirit, and space is nothing whatsoever. When one thing is empty, everything is empty. Yet within this absence of anything there is a false name, the appellation Immaculate Radiance. When there is fundamentally nothing whatsoever, then what defilement is there to leave behind? And what radiance could appear? This is talking about the fundamental purity of the inherent nature of each one of us. Basically it is neither defiled nor pure, and this doctrine can be deduced from the name of Space-ruling Spirit Immaculate Radiance. That is, through her name one can understand this principle.
The Space-ruling Spirit under discussion understood one dharma door among the Buddha’s many dharma doors. She didn’t understand them all. Since she is a spirit, she was only able to comprehend that one portion. It’s similar to when we people drink water, we can only drink up to our capacity, and then we have to stop. Each individual just drinks the amount of liquid he or she is supposed to—we can’t take in more. There isn’t enough space in our bellies to contain it. As empty as this Space-ruling Spirit is, she is unable to penetrate and comprehend the totality of the Buddha’s Dharma, and so she just knows and understands this one state.
Which state is that? She gained a passage into liberation, the kind of Dharma of being able to make all sentient beings’ minds pure and free from all coverings. “Free from” means all the many obscuring coverings are gone. I believe we discussed the Five Coverings during the Surangama Sutra lectures, but I don’t know if all of you still remember them. Since you’re not supposed to have any coverings, and want to be free of them, you may have tossed them aside. But if there is anyone who has not discarded the coverings, in a little while you can tell us what those coverings are. Are they the covering of heaven, the covering of earth, the covering of people, or the covering of the self? Tell us what they are, and then explain them. The purity here is achieved because the coverings are gone, and so the radiance of the mind can appear. When the mind’s radiance appears, it shines throughout the Dharma Realm, and so she is called Immaculate Radiance. The Space-ruling Spirit by that name entered that passage into liberation.
Space-ruling Spirit Far-reaching Wondrous Sounds gained a passage into liberation of universally beholding the ten directions by the light of wisdom.
Today I’ll just give a simple explanation of Space-ruling Spirit Far-reaching Wondrous Sounds . The state of being far-reaching is inconceivable. In what way? This Space-ruling Spirit is skilled at speaking all of the Dharma. Her state in speaking Dharma is that she speaks forth inconceivable states. How does she do it? She has wisdom, and that wisdom demolishes all ignorance. Wisdom breaks through ignorance, and so the text goes on to say that she gained a passage into liberation of universally beholding the ten directions by the light of wisdom. That is the state achieved by this Space-ruling Spirit, which is also a portion of the Buddha’s state. She entered that passage into liberation.
Space-ruling Spirit Light Pervading the Ten Directions gained a passage into liberation of appearing everywhere in all worlds without moving from one’s original place.
The next Space-ruling Spirit is named Light Pervading the Ten Directions. Without my telling you, you will all know that this light pervading the ten directions must be the radiance of wisdom that extends throughout the ten directions, and that this is the Space-ruling Spirit’s name. She gained a passage into liberation of appearing everywhere in all worlds without moving from one’s original place. What was the state that this Space-ruling spirit obtained? It was that of not moving from one’s original location. This state of not moving refers to how, even though one’s body and mind do not move, nonetheless the light of one’s wisdom extends throughout the ten directions. Even though that light spreads everywhere in the ten directions, one’s own wisdom does not decrease in any way.
The sutra also talks elsewhere about “not nullifying one’s original place,” and in that context “nullifying” would indicate displacement from one’s original location in order to go throughout the ten directions. That’s the force of “nullifying.” In this case, “not moving” means that even though one’s light of wisdom goes everywhere in the ten directions, there is no displacement of or from one’s original location. This is known as light pervading the ten directions and as not moving from the Way-place yet extending everywhere in the ten directions. There is not anywhere where one does not feel at home. One does things as if one were not doing anything. Everything is as it is, without there being any need to apply deliberate effort. Without moving from one’s original location, one universally appears in the world of sentience in order to teach and transform sentient beings. That is the passage into liberation that this Space-ruling Spirit attained.
Anyone who is willing to cultivate can achieve this passage into liberation. One goes from the small to the great, from what is near to what is far, and from one’s own self to identity with others. Let me give a simple illustration of what not moving from one’s original place means. It’s as when you do a lot of work, yet in your mind you don’t feel that it is exhausting. It’s not the case that you do some work and then experience mental fatigue, “Ah! I am tired.” Your feeling of fatigue is nullification of your original place. If you don’t feel tired, then you experience that you are doing things as if nothing were going on, that it’s very good to be doing them, that it’s good exercise for your body.
At that time Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere received the Buddha’s awesome might, universally contemplated the multitudes of Space-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse.
At that time Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere.
The text says “at that time,” but the “that” could be interpreted as “your,” because the Chinese character also has that meaning. Then the phrase would mean “at your time.” What time of yours is that? It’s whenever you are listening to the Flower Adornment Sutra. However, I don’t think anyone has ever explained it that way before, and today must be the first time. Since it’s your time, it could also be said to be my time, since you and I are the same. You have that time, so why shouldn’t I have it? So it’s also my time. What time is it that is both yours and mine? It’s the time when the Buddha speaks the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra.
“But that was a long time ago,” you may object. That’s the very reason it says, “At that time.” What then is the connection between that time and our time? At that time we might have been there in the Dharma assembly, or perhaps we were not. Even if we were there, we may have forgotten; and in any case there is no way to verify it.
You may object, “Oh, at that time I was such and such a spirit, or such and such a Bodhisattva.” Well, what you are now? What spirit are you at this time, or what Bodhisattva? Consequently, there are a great many principles that could be discussed in connection with “at that time,” but unfortunately we don’t have the time now. We could also say since we didn’t hear it at that time, we won’t talk about that time. We are currently looking at the Flower Adornment Sutra, and so it is this time. You are correct when you say there is not any time when the Buddha speaks the Dharma. There is only said to be a time to accord with the understanding of sentient beings. Actually there is no fixed time. Before there is no past, and afterwards there is no present. The Buddha is speaking the Dharma at all times. Therefore, “at that time” is only put in as a statement because of the worldly perspective of sentient beings.
We can’t finish talking about this today, because we don’t have time. This is very meaningful, and we will continue to investigate it together next time. We absolutely have to find out whether there is a time or not. That’s because there is nothing fixed about time, since it’s imprecise. As soon as you say it’s this time, this time has already passed. You try to pinpoint it as another time, and that time is already gone. Therefore, past, present, or future all have no precision about them. Ah! Let’s not ramble on.
Good advisors, yesterday we did not complete our investigation of “at that time.” Also, after some of the people spoke, they thought to themselves, “There are still a lot of principles that I didn’t finish explaining!” Well, since you didn’t finish, today we can continue the discussion. We absolutely have to bring the actual meaning to light, enabling all of us here to understand. Only then have we made it through the gate. You shouldn’t consider my lectures to be totally correct. In what I say there is only partial knowledge and incomplete understanding. Far more deep, profound, and wonderful principles are still stored in the Treasury of Sutras. All of you should look within yourselves, employ the sword of your own inherent prajñÁ wisdom, and analyze the meaning of this Dharma. Your understanding should be based on your own personal discoveries and not just on what I lecture.
Right now we’re using this precious time to investigate these wondrous, inexhaustible principles. Don’t simply wait for others to complete their talks and figure there’s no need for you to speak. As the proverb reminds us: “When it comes to humaneness, one does not even yield to one’s teacher.” We can change “humaneness” and say instead: “When it comes to meaning, one does not even yield to one’s teacher.” You definitely need to explain the meaning better and more fully than your master. That’s what I hope from you.
Moreover, if you can present a fuller explanation of the meaning, you become my teacher. There should be no differences of status or rank among us. The investigation of principle should not take status into account. All of us are equal. It is a matter of your own wisdom—if your wisdom surpasses that of all other teachers, then you are the best teacher. I myself also wish to learn from the teacher who is out in front. I will be delighted if one of you wants to be the number one teacher. Don’t be like me, always wanting to be last. You should be first; don’t be the last one. I like to be last in everything, and so I don’t amount to much. You ought to be a lot better than I am.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t develop an arrogant attitude and proclaim, “Now I’m Number One. I surpass everyone. I can beat my teacher, how much the more anyone else.” If you look down on everyone in that way, you make the mistake of being conceited. You will end up having wrong views and calling what is wrong right and what is right, wrong. You need to possess an accurate eye for distinguishing dharmas. You can’t just go around stirring up trouble when there is none, nitpicking for nonexistent faults. That’s not right. The right way is to maintain a proper understanding and outlook and develop genuine wisdom, authentic prajña light that dispels all darkness.
We have finished explaining “at that time,” and now we’ll discuss Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere. I read the sutra text a few days ago, so I don’t need to read it again. She received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the multitudes of Space-ruling Spirits, and spoke the following verse. Her pure light shines everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm. That Space-ruling Spirit received great awesome spiritual power from the Buddha, observed all the many Space-ruling Spirits everywhere, and pronounced verses.
The Tathagata’s vast, great eye–
Pure as empty space–
Sees every sentient being,
And understands them all.
Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere spoke these four lines of verse in praise of the Buddha. The gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division, and all the hosts of spirits, were simultaneously praising the Buddha by speaking verses. The verses were spoken at the same time, but when they were recorded, they had a sequence to them. It’s similar to how people get together and praise either a person, a country, or a situation--all at the same time.
An example is praise of an emperor. The Buddha is the Dharma King. Among people, the emperor is king, and we can draw an analogy between a human king and a Dharma King. In the human realm, wherever an emperor goes, the citizens come out to see him and shout, “Long live the King! Long live the King!” The citizens pronounce that praise simultaneously. No matter how many people there are, they all say it in unison. That’s an example of a human king, and it’s the same with the Dharma King. Every single spirit says his or her four-line verse in praise of the Buddha at the same time as the others are saying theirs. Since each has had a different experience in the course of his or her cultivation, each uses the state that he or she has obtained to praise the Buddha.
Hence the Space-ruling Spirit named Pure Light Shining Everywhere said: The Tathagata’s vast great eye. The Thus Come One’s vast, great light of wisdom, that is, the Buddha’s Dharma Eye, is pure as empty space. It sees every sentient being. It can observe all beings everywhere, and understands them all. Whether those beings are becoming deluded, creating karma, or undergoing retribution, the Buddha thoroughly comprehends all the causes and conditions involved, perceiving them with utmost clarity. The Buddha fathoms those causal and conditioning factors for all sentient beings whatsoever, and employs all types of expedient dharmas to transform those beings, enabling them to leave suffering and attain bliss.
Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere used the four-line verse to express her own state, outlook, and praise of the Buddha. Just now I mentioned how people praise the emperor in unison. National anthems are sung in that way too. When large numbers of citizens of a country assemble, perhaps on Independence Day or on Memorial Day, they make such pronouncements in unison as a group. If we take the Republic of China as an example, the wish is, “May the Republic of China last ten thousand years!” Other countries have similar pronouncements. For example, the citizens of Japan say, “May the Great Japanese Empire last ten thousand years!” The British say, “May Great Britain last ten thousand years!” These are praises of the nation.
There are also praises of individuals. When people celebrate someone’s birthday, they sing, “Happy birthday to you!” They pronounce that praise in unison. Worldly celebrations are conducted in that way, and so now that the Buddha has realized Buddhahood, his disciples from the past, the students he taught over the ages, who have obtained various kinds of states, now all come to praise the Buddha in celebration of his realization of Buddhahood. They say, “Our Teacher is now a Buddha, and we need to go quickly and praise him.” That’s why the infinitely many gods, dragons and others of the eightfold division, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, and Celestial Kings all came to praise the Buddha.
Space-ruling Spirit Pure Light Shining Everywhere used four lines of verse, and when Ànanda compiled the Canon, he recorded them in the sutra. Now when we read the sutra, we understand the wondrous points of the Flower Adornment Sutra and its many verses.