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The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds
Chapter One, Part Three
The Buddha, with the unlimited strength of his spiritual powers,
Extensively proclaims his epithets equal to the number of sentient beings. He enables all to hear according to their likes and pleasures.
Cloud-like Sounds enlightens thus and understands.
Dragon King Banner of Cloud-like Sounds spoke this verse. The Buddha, with the unlimited strength of his inconceivable and indescribable spiritual powers / Extensively proclaims his epithets equal to the number of sentient beings. The Buddha has many titles. In the beginning, each Buddha had 10,000 titles. Then, since beings’ memories grew worse, 9,000 were taken away so only 1,000 remained. However, people still could not manage to remember and so 900 were taken away, leaving 100 titles. Even then people could not remember his titles clearly. Sentient beings were confused by too many titles, and so 90 were taken away, leaving only ten titles. Therefore, the Buddha has ten titles, which are easy to remember. All Buddhas have these ten titles.
But, as described in this verse, the Buddha extensively proclaims Buddhas’ titles as many as there are sentient beings. There is another meaning to this line. The Buddha extensively proclaims the titles of Buddhas so as to awaken sentient beings. When sentient beings hear the Buddhas’ titles, they plant good roots and bring forth the great bodhi resolve. That’s the idea behind pronouncing titles of Buddhas as many as there are sentient beings.
He enables all to hear according to their likes and pleasures . The Buddha universally gives sentient beings a chance to hear the Dharma they enjoy hearing, according to their potentials. Dragon King Cloud-like Sounds enlightens thus and understands the state of this passage into liberation.
Multitudes in measureless, boundless lands,
The Buddha encompasses in a single pore.
The Thus Come One then sits–serene amidst the assemblies.
So perceives Mouth Aflame Dragon.
Multitudes in measureless, boundless lands are such that the number of sentient beings in those Buddhalands cannot be known. The number of beings in Buddhalands is measureless and boundless, their thoughts are measureless and boundless, and their accomplishments are also measureless and boundless. Although there are so many sentient beings, the Buddha encompasses them all in a single pore. A single pore of the Buddha can contain all those beings The Thus Come One then sits–serene amidst the assemblies. The Buddha allows all those Bodhisattvas to dwell in his pores, while he peacefully abides amidst the assemblies in the Buddhalands of the ten directions. So perceives Mouth Aflame Dragon. The Dragon King who emits flames from his mouth sees this and understands this state.
The angry, hateful thoughts of all sentient beings,
The fetters, coverings, and delusions—as deep as the ocean
Are completely eradicated by the Thus Come One’s sympathy.
Blazing Dragon observes this with lucidity.
The angry, hateful thoughts of all sentient beings...“Angry, hateful” means having a big temper and often blowing up. People with big tempers tend to harbor much anger and be impatient. Actually, all sentient beings have hateful and angry thoughts. These thoughts act as coverings and fetters. They cover over their wisdom light and bind sentient beings up so that they are no longer free. The fetters, coverings, and delusions—deep as the ocean…Sentient beings bind themselves up, depriving themselves of freedom, like a silkworm spinning a cocoon around itself, imprisoning itself inside. Just as a silkworm spins a cocoon and imprisons itself, people imprison themselves with the fetters and coverings of three poisons: greed, anger, and delusion. They are bound up by their extreme delusion. The more greedy, angry, and deluded sentient beings are, the deeper those poisons become, to the point that sentient beings cannot extricate themselves from the mire. They lose their freedom. Therefore the text describes these fetters being “deep as the ocean.” Sentient beings will never be able to pull themselves out.
All those problems are completely eradicated by the Thus Come One’s sympathy . The Thus Come One, out of kindness and pity, rescues sentient beings and dispels their greed, anger, and delusion. Blazing Dragon observes this with lucidity. Dragon King Blazing Eyes clearly perceives and recognizes this state. He attained this passage into liberation.
If sentient beings can let go of their greed, anger, and delusion, they will all attain ease and comfort. It’s just because they cannot renounce greed, anger, and delusion that they lack ease and comfort. We should model ourselves after Dragon King Blazing Eyes, understand this principle deeply, and then let go of our attachments and quickly attain ease and comfort.
The power of all sentient beings’ blessings and virtue
Completely manifests within the Buddha’s pores.
Now they return to the ocean of great blessings:
So contemplates Banner of High Clouds.
The power of all sentient beings’ blessings and virtue…Sentient beings have both blessings and offenses. Offenses refer to transgressions; and blessings refer to wholesome merit and virtue. If you create offenses, you will fall into the realms of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals, and be a guest to the three evil paths. If you create wholesome merit and virtue, you will be rewarded with blessings and be reborn in the realms of gods, asuras, and humans. You will be a guest to the three paths of wholesome rebirth. But in either case, you will not be in control.
Blessings come from the accumulation of meritorious deeds. When you have amassed a great deal of goodness and merit, you will have virtue. The Buddha is replete with both blessings and wisdom. His blessings are perfect and full, and so is his wisdom. Blessings and wisdom come from cultivation. If you cultivate you will have blessings; if you do not cultivate, you will not have blessings. Wisdom comes from learning. Therefore, Dharma Master Yongming Shou in his song called “ Samadhi and Wisdom Aid Each Other” says, “Samadhi must be cultivated; wisdom comes from learning.” You have to cultivate samadhi through investigating Chan and sitting in meditation. Wisdom comes from listening to the sutras and Dharma. If you listen to the sutras and Dharma often, your wisdom will unfold. Therefore, samadhi must be cultivated and wisdom comes from learning. By listening to the sutras and Dharma every day, you develop wisdom. When your mind reaches a single focus, you will develop great wisdom. If you do not focus your mind, you will develop a little wisdom. When a large quantity of blessings and virtue are amassed, they develop a strength of their own. If you have a large amount of blessings and virtue, you will have great power; if you have a small amount of blessings and virtue, you will have little power; and if you do not have them at all, you will have no power. Whether it is the power of blessings or that of virtue, it completely manifests within the Buddha’s pores. All the power of blessings and virtue of sentient beings throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time, to the ends of space and the Dharma Realm, are completely manifest within the one of the Buddha’s pores.
Now they return to the ocean of great blessings. Within a single pore of the Buddha, limitless sentient beings manifest. After that, sentient beings throughout the Dharma Realm of the ten directions are brought back to the sea of great blessings. That is, they become Buddhas and attain great blessings. So contemplates Banner of High Clouds. Dragon King Banner of High Clouds attains this samadhi, enters this passage into liberation, and understands this state .
The Buddha’s pores release the light of wisdom.
His brilliance proclaims wondrous sounds that reach everywhere.
Those who hear cast out worry and fear.
Taksaka Dragon awakens to this path.
This verse is spoken by the Dragon King Taksaka in praise of the Buddha’s wisdom-light. He says: The Buddha’s pores release the light of wisdom. Every pore on the Buddha’s body emits boundless, immaculate wisdom-light. Right within the light, wondrous Dharma is proclaimed to teach and transform sentient beings. His brilliance proclaims wondrous sounds that reach everywhere. Within the wisdom-light treasury of the Buddha, the Dharma wheel is turned to teach and transform sentient beings and the inconceivably wondrous Dharma is proclaimed.
“Everywhere” refers to the entirety of space and the Dharma Realm. There is not a single place that is not illumined by the Buddha’s wisdom-light.
Those who hear cast out worry and fear: Their apprehension and distress are dispelled. Taksaka Dragon awakens to this path. Among the Dragon Kings, Taksaka is the one with “many tongues.” What does his name mean? In proclaiming the Buddhadharma, this Dragon King can speak simultaneously in many languages. He has understood this principle, this samadhi, and this passage into liberation.
All the Thus Come Ones of the three periods of time,
Their lands, adornments, and the sequence of their eons
Manifest within the body of the Buddha.
Vast Stride sees the strength of these spiritual powers.
All the Thus Come Ones of the three periods of time—the past, present and future. In the past there were boundlessly many Buddhas. In the present there were boundlessly many Buddhas. In the future there will also be boundlessly many Buddhas. For this reason the sutra says, “All Thus Come Ones of the three periods of time,” indicating there are many Buddhas.
Some people fail to understand the three periods of time. “Why is it that there are the three periods of time—including past lives, present life, and future lives? I don’t accept this principle.”
You might find this unreasonable. But do you accept the fact that there was last year, this year, and next year? You can understand that, can’t you? There was last year, this year, and the year to come—those are the three periods of time. You have forgotten over half of what happened last year. Even if you remember, your memory will not be very clear. As for the events of this year, you might have forgotten a smaller portion and still remember the greater half of them. As for the events that will happen next year, you have absolutely no notion of them now, not so much as half of what will happen.
The same principle applies to the three periods of time. We have forgotten virtually all of what happened in our past lives. In our present life, we remember a bit of what has happened. And we have no idea of what will happen in our future life. Drawing the comparison to last year, this year, and next year, you can understand the workings of past life, present life, and future life. You can compress the scope and talk about last month, this month, and next month. Then you will get an even better understanding.
And if you still think the time intervals are too long, you can talk about yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You have forgotten most of what happened yesterday, but you still remember a little bit of what went on. You remember most of today’s events and have forgotten some. You don’t have any idea about what will happen tomorrow, however. You argue, “But I know that I have several appointments tomorrow.” Appointments do not count. It only counts if you know beforehand what will happen during the times when you don’t have an appointment. If you know what will transpire tomorrow without being told by anyone, then it counts. And if you admit that you don’t really know, that’s just the principle behind past life, present life, and future life.
Their lands, adornments, and the sequence of their eons: The lands of Buddhas are adorned and wondrously splendid. For example, the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss is adorned with the seven precious things: Gold, silver, vaidurya, crystal, mother-of-pearl, rubies, and amber. Our Saha world, on the other hand, is adorned with tiles, stone, earth, and wood. The Eastern Land of Medicine Master Vaidurya Light is adorned with vaidurya. Therefore, each Buddha’s land and Way-place has its own ornamentation. As for the timing of their events: for how many great eons, or small eons, does the Proper Dharma dwell in the world after a Buddha realizes Buddhahood? Which Buddha comes first, and which Buddha comes later? There is a clear order to all of this. It is not jumbled up. Manifest within the body of the Buddha: These states of all the Buddhalands do not manifest elsewhere; they appear right within a single pore on the Buddha’s body.
Vast Stride sees the strength of these spiritual powers. Dragon King Boundless Stride has seen this state of wonderful functioning of the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations.
I observe the Thus Come One’s past practices
How he made offerings to the oceans of all Buddhas
How his happiness and joy increased:
Thus enters Swift Dragon.
The text puts it very plainly. The first line says, “I observe,” and the last line says, “This is what the Dragon King Fast and Swift enters.” It’s obvious that the Dragon King himself is making that contemplation.
He says: I observe the Thus Come One’s past practices . What practices? Making offerings to the Buddhas of the three periods of time. I contemplated how he made offerings to the oceans of all Buddhas . Since there are that many Buddhas there is no way to enumerate them, and so the text describes them as “seas of all Buddhas.” How his happiness and joy increased. In the past when the Buddha was making offerings to all Buddhas, he his happiness and joy increased before all of those Buddhas. Thus enters Swift Dragon. This kind of samadhi, this liberation, this enlightenment, belongs to Dragon King Swift. He understands this principle and enters this passage into liberation.
The Buddha, with expedient sound that adapts to various kinds of beings,
Speaks Dharma for them, inspiring happiness.
His pure and elegant sound pleases the multitudes.
Carrying Everywhere hears and rejoices.
The Buddha, with expedient sound that adapts to various kinds of beings. In teaching and transforming sentient beings, the Buddha uses various skill-in-means. For the sake of the actual, he dispenses the provisional. For the sake of the Bodhisattva path of the Great Vehicle, he speaks the Dharma of Hearers of the Small Vehicle. Expedients refer to clever, provisional methods. The Buddha speaks Dharma for sentient beings with those clever, provisional methods.
The Buddha speaks Dharma with a single sound,
And sentient beings understand it according to their kind.
The Buddha speaks Dharma for them, inspiring happiness. All sentient beings are filled with the bliss of Dharma. They get to understand their mind and see their nature. His pure and elegant sound pleases the multitudes: Not to mention the Buddha’s words, people become enlightened if they just hear the Buddha’s voice. “Pure” means clear and resonant. The Buddha’s voice, unlike most people’s voices, is especially splendid and also elegant. It makes people immensely happy.
Carrying Everywhere hears and rejoices. When the Dragon King Carrying Everywhere sees this state and hears this wonderful sound, he becomes happy at heart. He has understood this passage into liberation.
Sentient beings oppressed in the realms of existence
Drift and flounder in karma and delusion, with no one to save them.
The Buddha liberates them with great compassion.
Great Dragon Free from Burning realizes thus.
Sentient beings are born from a collection of conditions. They transmigrate within the three realms: the Desire Realm, the Form Realm, and the Formless Realm, drifting endlessly. Sentient beings are oppressed in the realms of existence . The realms of existence refer to the twenty-five levels of existence within the Three Realms. People are so oppressed in these levels of existence that they live as if drunk and die as if in a dream. They drift and flounder in karma and delusion, with no one to save them. They flow and turn in the Three Realms, driven by the power of the sea of their karma. They give rise to delusion, create karma, and undergo the retribution. They go around and around in this cycle.
Coming out of a horse’s belly,
They enter a donkey’s womb.
How many times have they gone to King Yama’s court?
Having just passed through Lord Sãkra’s palace,
They come once again to the boiling vats in the hells.
Suddenly sentient beings are in the heavens; suddenly they are in the hells. People are like motes of dust that bob up and down in space. Within a boundless sea of karma they float and drift. Suddenly they are hungry ghosts; suddenly they are animals. As they revolve in karmic delusion, there is no one who delivers them from their plight, no one who saves them from this sea of karma, no one who rescues them from the three realms.
The Buddha liberates them with great compassion. By means of his wisdom boat of great compassion, the Buddha saves all beings. He guides those who have not planted good roots to plant them; those who have planted them to make them grow day after day; those whose good roots have grown to bring them to maturity; and those with mature good roots to be liberated. By means of his wisdom boat of great compassion, the Buddha rescues all beings from the sea of karma.
Great Dragon Free from Burning realizes thus. He understands this principle and this state of the Buddha, and enters this passage into liberation.
What do you think of this explanation? If I have explained a certain line incorrectly, you should bring it up for discussion. Do not be afraid to speak up if you hear something explained incorrectly. Now is the time for you to open your mouth and talk. Does anyone have an opinion? As for delusion, it is the root of ignorance. There are coarse delusions, subtle delusions, delusions of ignorance. There are also view delusions, thought delusions, and delusions as many as dust motes and sand. What are thought delusions? They arise when, “confused about principle, one gives rise to discrimination.” What are view delusions? They occur when, “coming face to face with a state, one gives rise to greed and love.” Face to face with a state, you give rise to greed and craving. You lose your samadhi and become confused. For instance, when people who like to gamble go to Reno and start playing with the slot machines, they become so confused that they forget everything. They aren’t even aware that they have lost all their money. That’s one kind of delusion. Why are they confused? They have greed and craving. They are greedy and wish to win, and they are in love with money. That is “coming face to face with a state, one gives rise to greed and love,” which constitutes view delusions.
Thought delusions arise when, “confused about principle, one gives rise to discrimination.” When one’s mind is unclear, one makes many distinctions, yet one is still unclear after that. And there are delusions as many as dust motes and sand grains. No one knows how many delusions are there. Delusions stem from ignorance. From ignorance come three kinds of delusion. Based on those delusions, sentient beings create karma. Why do they create karma? It is because they do not understand. They steal, kill, engage in improper conduct, lie, and take intoxicants. They violate the precepts against killing, theft, lust, lying, and taking intoxicants. Why do they violate the precepts? It is because they do not understand. They are confused. That’s creating karma. And, having created the karma of killing, they will undergo the retribution of killing. The karma of theft will bring about the retribution of theft. The karma of lust will bring about the retribution of lust. You will undergo the retribution for whatever karma you create. If you kill someone’s father, someone will kill your father. If you kill someone’s brother, someone will kill your brother. Retribution is evident in many situations. That is the process of becoming deluded, creating karma, and undergoing retribution. The power of the sea of karma is just that way. Take a look at how much karma people create. The karma each individual creates is very complicated; it is not only one kind of karma. Therefore, the power of karma resembles a great sea. People are blown and tossed about by the winds of karma.
d. Yaksha Kings
Moreover, Yaksha King Vaishravanagained a passage into liberation of rescuing and protecting evil sentient beings with boundless skill-in-means.
Take a look at Vaisravana, who truly has great kindness and compassion. Most people or Buddhas and Bodhisattvas tend to rescue sentient beings who do good. However, he vows to save evil beings. Moreover, Yaksha King Vaishravana(“Wide Renown”), the Celestial King of the North, gained a passage into liberation of rescuing and protecting evil sentient beings with boundless skill-in-means. He regards all evil beings as his friends. No matter what evil someone might do, he will rescue and protect that being. This Yaksha King is truly compassionate. He gained this passage into liberation.
Yaksha King Sovereign Sound gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating sentient beings, rescuing them with expedients.
The next Yaksha King is named Sovereign Sound. When he speaks Dharma, sentient beings who hear him feel very much at ease, hence his name. He has gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating the dispositions of sentient beings, rescuing and protecting them with expedients. This is part of the Buddha’s state. He understands this state.
Yaksha King Sternly Holding Weapons and Insignia gained a passage into liberation of nourishing and benefiting all emaciated and evil sentient beings.
Yaksha King Sternly Holding Weapons and Insignia. “Sternly” means strictly and cautiously; “holding” means brandishing. He holds weapons and insignia. In ancient times, when Chinese officials went out, they always had attendants hold up large signs that said, “Silence” and “Maintain Distance,” meaning that people on the streets should keep quiet or go back to their houses and keep out of the way. The roads had to be cleared for the officials. What the attendants held up were insignia. Others also brandished spears, knives, chains, and rods. All of those fall into the category of “weapons and insignia.” Great officials had their weapons and insignia, and so did this Yaksha King. He gained a passage into liberation of nourishing and benefiting sentient beings. He may aid them with provisions and wealth, or aid them with his wisdom, which is to give them Dharma. Moreover, he may dispel the suffering and difficulties of sentient beings, which is the giving of fearlessness. This Yaksha King nourishes all emaciated and evil sentient beings—poor, emaciated people who create a lot of bad karma. Being destitute and undernourished, they need help from others. Therefore, yaksha King Sternly Holding Weapons and Insignia helps those sentient beings change their evil ways, go toward the good, and turn over a new leaf. He gained this passage into liberation.
Yaksha King Great Wisdom gained a passage into liberation of praising the ocean of the meritorious virtues of all sages.
Yaksha King Great Wisdom became king of the Yakshas because he has great wisdom. Among ghosts, Yakshas are the most unruly. They have considerable spiritual powers, and because of that they often lie and do not admit to their improper conduct. However, most Yaksha Kings cannot possibly cheat this Yaksha King endowed with great wisdom. This Yaksha King forever accords with sentient beings and speaks Dharma for them. He gained a passage into liberation of praising the ocean of the meritorious virtues of all sages. Before sentient beings, he praises the sea of merit and virtue cultivated by all sages, including Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Hearers, Sages Enlightened to Conditions, and all other sages. He says, “Such and such a Buddha, while at the level of planting causes, cultivated such and such meritorious virtues and perfected such and such practices. Such and such a Bodhisattva cultivated such practices and accomplished his work in the Way.” That’s how he praised the sages. He didn’t stop at one or two lines of praise. Instead, day after day, and at all times, he lauded the ocean of meritorious virtues of all sages and worthy ones. That is the passage into liberation of this Yaksha King.
Yaksha King Lord Flaming Eyes gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating all sentient beings with the wisdom of great compassion. Yaksha King Vajra Eyes gained a passage into liberation of using various skill-in-means to bring benefit and peace to all beings.
Yaksha King Lord Flaming Eyes emits fire from his eyes. He gained a passage into liberation of universally contemplating all sentient beings with the wisdom of great compassion. He observes all sentient beings’ minds, bodies, and dispositions with his great wisdom of compassion. That is his passage into liberation.
Yaksha King Vajra Eyes has eyes that constantly emit light that resembles vajra. There is another way to explain this. Most people’s eyes cannot handle smoke, but his eyes are immune to smoke. They are as solid as vajra, and smoke does not disturb them. Some Yakshas can emit poisonous smoke. Without vajra eyes, you would not be able to open your eyes. This poisonous smoke is somewhat like teargas. It fills people’s eyes with tears so that they cannot see. Some Yakshas have this ability to release teargas bombs. However, Yaksha King Vajra Eyes is not afraid of this smoke, and so he is able to oversee those Yakshas. He has gained a passage into liberation of using various kinds—not just one kind—of skill-in-means to bring benefit and peace to all beings. He brings them benefits and happiness. That is his passage into liberation.
Yaksha King Robust Arms gained a passage into liberation of universally entering the significance of all dharmas. Yaksha King Bravely Opposing Great Armies gained a passage into liberation of guarding all sentient beings, so that they dwell industriously in the Way.
Yaksha King Robust Arms is especially healthy and strong. He has gained a passage into liberation of universally entering the significance of all dharmas. He can understand the meaning of all dharmas. He “deeply enters the sutra treasury and has wisdom like the sea.” Since he has understood the meaning of the treasury of sutras, his wisdom is tremendous.
yaksha King Bravely Opposing Great Armies is very courageous. No matter how many enemies he encounters, he is able to hold them back, hence his name. He gained a passage into liberation of guarding all sentient beings, so that they dwell industriously in the Way. Sentient beings who have wrong knowledge and views get put back on the right path and remain there at all times. They reflect on the wondrous Dharma and do not allow the time to pass in vain. That is his passage into liberation.
Yaksha King Abundant Resources and Wealth gained a passage into liberation of increasing the accumulated blessings and virtue of all sentient beings, thus enabling them to experience perpetual joy. Yaksha King Power to Topple High Mountains gained a passage into liberation of easily recalling and producing the wisdom light of the Buddha’s power.
At that time, the Great Yaksha King Wide Renown received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the Yaksha multitudes, and spoke the following verse.
Yaksha King Abundant Resources and Wealth is very rich and has a great amount of wealth. Although he is rich, he is not a miser. Instead he gives his wealth away to sentient beings. He gained a passage into liberation of increasing the accumulated blessings and virtue of all sentient beings. He gives his wealth to sentient beings, endowing them with increased blessings and virtue, thus enabling them to experience perpetual and boundless joy.
Yaksha King Power to Topple High Mountains is so strong that with a single shove of his hand, he can push over a high mountain. For instance, the cause of the recent earthquake in Mexico was the pushing over of high mountains, probably by Yakshas. It was reported that the earthquake killed over 900 people, but the total death toll is unknown. Mexico is quite close to us. Although they had an earthquake there, we did not experience an earthquake here. It’s not known whether it was the Yakshas or some asuras acting up. [Note: This was said during the lecture on August 29, 1973 . The earthquake had occurred the day before.]
This Yaksha King who is able to destroy high mountains has gained a passage into liberation of easily recalling and producing the wisdom light of the Buddha’s power. He forever accords with sentient beings. He recollects in thought after thought, never forgetting, the light of wisdom of the Buddha’s power and aid. He has attained this passage into liberation.
At that time, the Great Yaksha King Wide Renown received the Buddha’s awesome spiritual power, universally contemplated the Yaksha multitudes and their causes and conditions, and spoke the following verse .
The offenses of sentient beings are severe and terrifying.
For hundreds of thousands of eons, they fail to see the Buddha.
Drifting in life and death, they undergo innumerable sufferings.
Wishing to save them, the Buddha appears in the world.
Vaisravana , Yaksha King of the North, one of the Four Celestial Kings, the King of Wide Renown, contemplated the multitudes of Yakshas and spoke this set of verses.
The first verse says that sentient beings create too many offenses, and for that reason, they do not see the Buddha, hear the Dharma, or see the Sangha. They drift and flow in the sea of birth and death, undergoing various kinds of retribution. For that reason the Buddha appears in the world, wishing to save those sentient beings.
The offenses of sentient beings are severe and terrifying. Sentient beings refers to people, as well as evil beings. They become deluded, create karma, and undergo retribution. Driven by ignorance, they do not understand anything, and as a result create different kinds of evil karma and undergo different kinds of retribution. These offenses are too many; they are very frightening. For hundreds of thousands of eons, they fail to see the Buddha. Because their offense karma is excessive, for hundreds of thousands of myriads of eons they cannot see the Buddha, hear the Dharma, or draw near the Sangha.
Now all of you laypeople can see the Buddha, hear the Dharma, and see left-home people. This proves that you have planted good roots in the past. If you did not have good roots, you would not be able to see the Buddha. Think about the history of the West, stretching back to several thousand years ago: no one left the home-life, studied the Buddhadharma, or bowed to the Buddhas. But now they have begun to do this. Therefore, in hundreds of thousands of years, it is difficult to get to see the Buddha, hear the Dharma, or see the Sangha . “It is difficult to obtain a human birth; it is difficult to get to hear the Buddhadharma; it is difficult to encounter a wise teacher.”
Although those conditions are difficult to encounter, we have encountered all of them now. We have met the Buddha, heard the Dharma, and seen the Sangha. Beings who do not meet the Buddha, hear the Dharma, or see the Sangha, however, are drifting in birth and death. They revolve in the six paths of rebirth: gods, humans, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals. Sometimes they are born as gods in the heavens. Sometimes they are asuras; sometimes they are born in the human realm; sometimes they fall into the realms of hell-beings, hungry ghosts, or animals. Drifting endlessly in the six paths of rebirth, they undergo innumerable sufferings. Think about it. Every person experiences his or her own afflictions. Every family has its afflictions. Every nation has its afflictions. Every individual has his or her afflictions. How could you call the world a happy place? Everybody has his or her troubles. As the saying goes, “Every family stages eight plays. Every person has a sutra that is difficult to recite.” The “sutra” of each person’s life is not easy to read. Wishing to save them, the Buddha appears in the world. The Buddha appears just to rescue beings that are suffering.