THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over
EXPLANATION OF THE GREAT TRANSFERENCE OF MERIT
This text is called a text for contemplating, the same “contemplate” as in Contemplator of the World’s Sounds, that is Kuan Yin. It means that you contemplate the meaning contained within the text. It says, WE DISCIPLES OF THE ASSEMBLY We call ourselves disciples because we are disciples of the Buddha. Who are the disciples? There is not just one disciple, but very many. An entire assembly together, so it says, “We, disciples of the assembly.” NOW MANIFEST AS COMMON PEOPLE IN BIRTH AND DEATH We, disciples of the assembly, now, at present, have not accomplished our Way karma. We are born and then die; die and are reborn; we are common people who have not certified to the attainment of the Sagely Fruit. Why are common people common people? It is because WITH KARMIC OBSTACLES EXTREMELY HEAVY Our karmic obstacles are at the same time both deep and heavy, and because they are deep and heavy WE REVOLVE IN THE SIX PATHS In the path of the gods, in the path of humans, in the path of asuras, in the path of the hells, in the path of hungry ghosts, and in the path of animals. In the six paths we turn around and around, revolving without cease. AND THE SUFFERING IS UNSPEAKABLE In the six paths, if one is a hungry ghost, there is nothing to eat. For animals, there is food, but the stuff they eat is very filthy. And dogs eat manure, pigs eat stinking things, and birds, though they can fly, eat raw food. They don’t eat cooked food and that’s not really too good. So it says it is unspeakable suffering. As a person, sometimes one eats well and dresses well and everything is fine, but one is still subject to all kinds of very unfortunate circumstances, so it says the suffering is unspeakable. Suffering can’t be talked about to the end.
NOW WE’VE MET A GOOD ADVISOR It is not easy to meet a Good Knowing Advisor. For many lives, in many kalpas, we’ve planted a lot of good roots and so we have been able to meet a Good Learned Advisor who understands the Buddhadharma. AND GET TO HEAR THE NAME OF AMITABHA BUDDHA The Good Knowing Advisor teaches us, transforms us, leads us to recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, to recite Amitabha Buddha, to hear Amitabha Buddha’s name; Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. AND THE MERIT AND VIRTUE OF THEIR BASIC VOWS Amitabha Buddha’s basic vows are forty-eight in number. Kuan Yin Bodhisattva also made great vows. This is merit and virtue. AND WITH ONE HEART WE RECITE
Because we call on the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva we can lessen our greed, decrease our hatred, and diminish our stupidity. So with one heart we recite the name of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva. AND SEEK TO GO OFF TO BE REBORN We earnestly seek to make the vow to go off to rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss in the West. WE PRAY THAT THE BUDDHA, OUT OF COMPASSION, WILL NOT CAST US ASIDE We hope that Amitabha Buddha will be greatly compassionate and not cast us aside. We pray that Kuan Yin Bodhisattva will be greatly compassionate and not cast us aside, but will take pity on us and receive us. BUT WILL MERCIFULLY RECEIVE US We hope that they will pity us, will have mercy on us, will receive and gather in all of us who are assembled as disciples here.
WE, DISCIPLES OF THE ASSEMBLY Again it says, all of us here in the assembly DID NOT RECOGNIZE THE BUDDHA’S BODY We didn’t recognize the Buddha’s body WITH ITS BRIGHT LIGHT AND FINE MARKS. The Buddha has thirty-two fine marks and eighty minor characteristics, and this light, and we didn’t recognize it. WE PRAY THAT THE BUDDHA WILL MANIFEST We hope that the Buddha Amitabha and the Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin will cause their wonderful marks and their bright light to appear AND ENABLE US TO VIEW let us be able to see the fine marks and light of the Buddha and those of the Bodhisattva. AND TO SEE KUAN YIN AND SHIH CHIH Not only do we want to see Amitabha Buddha, but we want to see Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and the Bodhisattva Ta Shih Chih. AND THE ASSEMBLY OF BODHISATTVAS and also the entire assembly of the pure, great, ocean-wide assembly of Bodhisattvas. AND IN THAT LAND In that Land of Ultimate Bliss, THE PURE ADORNMENTS THERE in the land of Ultimate Bliss, the pure adornments, wonderfully fine appearance THE BRIGHT LIGHT, THE WONDERFUL MARKS AND SO FORTH The bright light, the wonderful marks and so forth refers to the seven tiers of railings, the seven layers of netting, the seven rows of trees, and all the other things CAUSE US TO CLEARLY UNDERSTAND. Cause all of us disciples to very clearly and distinctly understand. Clearly understand means to understand and then understand again, very, very clearly. AND GET TO SEE AMITABHA BUDDHA And get to view those fine marks, the dharma body.
The second contemplation text goes: I VOW AT THE END OF LIFE TO BE WITHOUT OBSTRUCTION. AMITABHA WILL WELCOME ME FROM AFAR. We who cultivate the Way—why do we cultivate the Way? It’s just because we want the end of our lives to be without obstruction. I vow at the end of life…The end of life is just the time when one’s life draws to a close—the time of death. When people are born it’s like a live turtle having its shell ripped off. Like taking a live turtle and ripping off its shell. And the time of death is just like a cow having its skin ripped off, that painful. A live cow which you don’t kill first, but just rip its skin off. How painful do you think that is? It’s agonizing; and the time of death is that way.
When the seventh consciousness has already departed, the eighth consciousness, the alaya consciousness, is the last to leave. And as the last to go it can’t just take off easily. There are a lot of obstacles, and as to these obstacles, how many are there? In general you can say there are eighty-four thousand kinds—that many. If it’s not a human obstacle, it’s a material obstacle. Wealth presents the obstacle of wealth, and people present the obstacle of people. When you have human obstacles at the time of death you think, “I have relatives and I’m so fond of them, I can’t let them go.” Or, “I have a child who hasn’t left home and set up his own business yet, his own work, so I can’t put him down.” Or else you have friends that you can’t part with. Your not being able to part with them is just pain, is just obstruction. The obstruction of people. There are many kinds of obstructions like this. Men can’t put down women, women can’t put down men. Most ordinary stupid people find this is the hardest fault not to have. They think it’s real. People have human obstacles, and also material obstacles. Maybe at the time of death you really can’t put down your car. Or you can’t put down your plane, or you can’t put down your big beautiful house, you big building, or maybe you can’t put down your business. You say, “I’ve opened up so many companies. If I die, what’s going to happen to them?” This is an obstruction. In general there are too many of them. So now, we make a vow to be without obstructions, to get rid of these obstructions, and when the time comes we will see all these things as an illusion, a magical transformation. They present no problem, they’re just like a dream.
Cultivating the Way is very difficult for people. When you’re very clear and aware you say, “I see everything as empty. I’ve put everything down. No problem. Nothing matters to me.” You’re very nonchalant. But when you dream, you can’t put it down. You have a dream and then it isn’t so that nothing matters. A woman comes and you like the woman; wine comes and you like the wine; things come and you want to steal them; drugs come and you want to take them. And you think in your dream, “Oh, not bad.” And you can’t keep in control. You say, “Yes, I can, and in dreams it’s no problem either. When I see a woman I’m not lustful, when I see wealth I’m not greedy, when I see wine I don’t drink it. No matter what I see, I’m not moved. In my center I do not move.” Don’t think you’re so fine and outstanding, because this is still just a tiny, minute state. Don’t be self-satisfied and say, “Look at me. Ha. I have taken over Mount Sumeru’s position. I stand where Mount Sumeru used to stand. See, in cultivating the Way, I am number one. In cultivating the Way I’m first.” That’s being arrogant. Even if you have control in your dreams, when you’re sick you won’t have control. When you’re sick, your legs hurt. You can’t stand it. You say, “My legs, how can they hurt like this? Oh!” Or, “My back hurts an awful lot. I can’t stand it. My stomach hurts even worse. And my head. Oh, oh!” Everybody has headaches. Everybody knows what headaches are. But this headache is very bad and you can’t stand it. And when you can’t stand it, then you scream for your teacher. You say, “Teacher, help me, I can’t stand it.” And in your heart you just call for your Teacher. Those are people who have taken refuge with the Triple Jewel. Those who haven’t taken refuge with the Triple Jewel and who are at home and don’t have a Teacher, call for their mothers. They cry, “Mommy, Mommy,” and they can’t stand it. At that time they are turned by the state, and they can’t break through this obstacles.
If you can have control in dreams, and sickness is also not too much for you to cope with, then you think your endurance is very great, and you say, “Go ahead and hurt. Hurt all you want. It doesn’t matter. Go ahead and hurt. I’m not going to pay any attention. That’s just the way it is. What problem could there be?” Then you have samadhi power, and sickness is not a problem. Well, don’t think you’re out-of-sight and get self-satisfied, because when the time comes for you to die, I’m afraid you won’t be in control then. This is because all the debts of resentment and evil which you have incurred over many aeons come to collect. They will say, “You borrowed so much money. Give it back now.” Someone else will say, “You gave me this karmic obstacle. Here it is right back again. You should receive this retribution.” And at that time your body of six organs, your eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind, is without a lord. Your thoughts won’t be in control. Your eighth consciousness will not be in control. And it’s very dangerous at that time. So now we vow at the end of life to cut off obstruction, to get rid of all these impediments.
AMITABHA COMES FROM AFAR TO WELCOME US When we are without obstructions, Amitabha Buddha comes from one hundred thousand million Buddhalands with his hand outstretched to receive us. Why does he want to receive us? Because he made a vow. He said, “If all living beings who recite my name are not reborn in my land, I vow not to attain the Right Enlightenment.” All living beings, if they recite Namo Amitabha Buddha, my name, my Buddha name, and are not reborn in my country, I also will not realize the Right Enlightenment. Enlightenment is not just getting enlightened. You don’t explain it that way. It means becoming a Buddha. Right Enlightenment is the status of Buddhahood. I vow not to attain Buddhahood. I vow not to realize the Utmost Right and Perfect Enlightenment. It’s not just getting enlightened. That is a small matter. You’re not properly enlightened if you don’t say “Right Enlightenment,” but just translate it, “Get enlightened.” That is not sufficient because there are also evil enlightenment. For instance, demons have a kind of enlightenment, but it’s an enlightenment to all evil. They have an enlightenment to think improper things. Now we want to have Proper Enlightenment, Right Enlightenment, Proper, Equal and Right Enlightenment, so if you just say, “enlightenment,” you don’t specify whether it is proper Enlightenment or Improper Enlightenment.
As before, when I told you this story which you probably all remember—at New Year’s I wrote this on a piece of paper—I was writing characters, and I wrote some very cursive scripts that said, “wisdom like the sea.” And the script looked like a dragon—it was really wonderful. I wrote it with my eyes shut. I wrote, “wisdom like the sea,” those four words. And because someone knew I’d written it with my eyes closed, the more he looked at it the better he liked it. And he kept saying, “wisdom like the sea, wisdom like the sea, wisdom like the sea.” He recited it about twenty or thirty times and I just detested it. I said, “How can you do that?” I really didn’t like it. I said, “I see that your karma power is like the sea.”
Then that person blew his top. “How can you say my karma power is like the sea?” He wanted to fight on the spot.
I said, “Don’t get mad. Wait a minute, calm down. I said your karma power was like the sea, but as to your karma power, I haven’t told you clearly. When I tell you, I guarantee you’ll be happy, you’ll like it. You won’t be like you are now, so angry.”
He said, “You said my karma power is like the sea. How can I be happy? What in the heck!” and he really got mad.
I said, “Come here, and I’ll tell you,” and in a very low whisper I said, right in his ear, “Your karma power—there’s good karma and there’s bad karma. I was talking about your good karma being like the sea. Don’t you like that?”
Then he said, “Ohhh, how can you say that? Oh well, that’s all right.”
See? Just one word. Just the difference of one word. I said, “Karma power like the sea,” and when he heard it, he was not happy. When I said it was his good karma power that was like the sea, then he was delighted. And I said, “I didn’t say your evil karma power was like the sea, so don’t get mad. If you get mad, then it will turn into evil karma power like the sea.” So he didn’t dare get angry with me.
KUAN YIN’S SWEET DEW IS SPRINKLED ON MY HEAD Kuan Yin is Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Kuan Yin has a pure bottle and also a willow branch. Kuan Yin puts the willow branch in the pure water bottle and then sprinkles the water on top of our heads. Last night didn’t I say that if you have a sweet taste in your mouth that’s Kuan Yin Bodhisattva sprinkling sweet dew on your head? And SHIH CHIH’S GOLD PAVILION IS BENEATH OUR FEET. Bodhisattva Great Strength has a gold lotus platform which will be lent to you so that you can ride upon it to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. AND IN THE SPACE OF KSHANA WE LEAVE THE FIVE TURBIDITIES. A Kshana is a very short space of time, even less than a second. You leave the five turbidities, the world of five turbidities—the turbidity of time, the turbidity of views, the turbidity of afflictions, the turbidity of living beings and the turbidity of life. These are the five turbidities. They are spoken of in the Amitabha Sutra. AND IN THE FLICK OF A WRIST WE ARRIVE AT THE LOTUS POOL Then it’s just like sticking out your arm. Just sticking it out and bringing it back in again, or flicking your wrist. In such a short space of time you arrive at the Lotus Pool, you arrive at the Lotus Pool by transformation birth. If you recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha, you recite in the Saha world; and in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, in the West, there is a lotus blossom in the seven-jewel lotus pool that blooms. The more we recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha, the bigger the lotus flower grows. The less you recite, the smaller it gets. If you just recite a little, then when you’re a Buddha you’ll be a little Buddha, and when you become a Bodhisattva, you will be a little Bodhisattva. If you recite a lot, the lotus flower will be very big. When you recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and the Buddha’s name, you are pouring water on the lotus flower. You recite here and in the lotus pool in the West the lotus grows. If you don’t recite, the lotus flower dries up. There is an interrelationship between the Land of Ultimate Bliss and the Saha world.
WHEN THE LOTUS FLOWER BLOOMS YOU WILL SEE THE COMPASSIONATE HONORED ONE Having arrived in the Land of Ultimate Bliss by birth in a lotus flower, you will see Amitabha Buddha when the lotus opens. The Compassionate Honored One is Amitabha Buddha. AND PERSONALLY HEAR THE DHARMA SOUND AND COMPREHEND IT CLEARLY. You will personally hear Amitabha Buddha speak the Dharma, and his sound is very clear and distinct. HAVING HEARD IT, WE WILL AWAKEN TO THE PATIENCE OF UNPRODUCED DHARMAS After hearing it you will obtain the patience of the non-production of dharmas, and when you are enlightened to that, there will be no production and extinction. AND NOT GOING AGAINST THE COMFORTABLE SUPPORT, WE WILL ENTER THE SAHA. At that time, you will still be in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, sitting in the Lotus Flower, but your transformation body can go to the Saha world. This is called not going away from the peaceful support. That means not leaving the Land of Ultimate Bliss, but being able to go to the Saha world.
WITH GOOD KNOWLEDGE AND EXPEDIENT DEVICES WE CROSS LIVING BEINGS OVER You’ll be able to use sound understanding and expedient devices, all kinds of methods, to be a Good Learned Advisor. You can use good knowledge and expedient devices as doctrines to save and liberate living beings. AND CLEVERLY TURN THE WEARISOME DUSTS INTO BUDDHA AFFAIRS. At that time, everything you do, all your practices, on the one hand will be the wearisome dusts, that is, form, sounds, tastes, touchables, and ideas: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. But although your activities will be the same as those of other people, the things that you do will be things for the Buddha, Buddha affairs. You won’t be selfish, and seek self-profit; you’ll always be able to benefit living beings, not yourself. You use the wearisome dust to do the Buddha’s work,. You won’t leave the wearisome dust to do Buddha affairs. It is right within the wearisome dust that you will teach and transform living beings and cause them to obtain enlightenment. This is called cleverly turning the wearisome dust into the Buddha’s work. Wearisome dust: For people who are able to practice or cultivate the Dharma, wearisome dust is wearisome dust, and the Buddha’s work is the Buddha’s work. But for people who are perfectly fused without obstruction, everything’s okay, and although it’s wearisome dust, it’s also the Buddha’s work, and what you do is just Buddha work. You do the same things that other people do, but the merit and virtue is different. And this is because you are one who is experience; you are manifesting a great, provisional device. A Bodhisattva who has come back, or a Buddha who has come back again, is different from ordinary people. You do the same things, like maybe feeding pigeons. Take that, for example.
The pigeons are wearisome dust, but if you infuse their food with wonderful secret dharma, bit by bit, gradually they will bring forth the Bodhimind, and little by little they will grow good roots. If you don’t understand, you can go ahead and give them food too, but you’ll just feed them and get them fat and they won’t be of any use. Do you understand? This is called cleverly taking the wearisome dust and turning it into the Buddha’s work. Even feeding pigeons is Buddhadharma. Don’t think that feeding pigeons is not Buddhadharma. See, that one was very stupid. At first he didn’t even know which end of the jar to eat out of, and now he knows he should eat out of this end of the jar. This means that he has opened his wisdom. See, he’s opened wisdom. Come, come and eat. See, he’s opened wisdom. Right? Before, he didn’t even know enough to eat from this end, now he knows. This is called cleverly taking the wearisome dust and turning it into the Buddha’s work.
MY VOWS BEING SUCH AS THIS, THE BUDDHA WILL KNOW My vow power is just like that, as I have said before, and the Buddha is certain to know AND EVENTUALLY IN THE FUTURE THEY WILL CERTAINLY BECOME ACCOMPLISHED. In the future for sure, ultimately, in the end, eventually, it is absolutely certain that my vows will be accomplished. Now, before I told you that those two pigeons in the T’ang Dynasty used to be left-home people, remember? They were bhikshus and bhikshunis, upasakas and upasikas—they were left home people and laymen. However, you shouldn’t think that they are pigeons now: pigeons are pigeons. They came because of their vows. They made vows to become pigeons which would be influential in the assembly. You see, even pigeons can get near left home people and the Triple Jewel, and they are not afraid that they will be rejected as Buddhist disciples. So, every day they come here to be an influential assembly, to let everyone take a look and see that pigeons, too, can study the Buddhadharma, and they know it’s this way. The pigeons are inconceivable pigeons. Of thirty-four pigeons, thirty-two ran away, and only two came back to be an influential assembly.
You can’t fail to believe. See how intelligent they are! But, although they basically are very intelligent, they are pretending to be very stupid, and gradually, little by little they will come to understand. Otherwise, how could pigeons climb right into your hand and let you pet them and not be afraid at all? You can pick them up in your hand and they are not even afraid. This is not to say, “Well, you give them food.” We tried to give some other pigeons food and they wouldn’t even eat it. We treated them the same, but they wouldn’t come and eat our food. The other thirty-two were let loose, so why didn’t they come back to get some food? So because of this everyone should wake up a little bit. This should influence you. Because of these two pigeons you should bring forth the Bodhi heart, and not be so muddled. Don’t take it very lightly and think, “Pigeons are just pigeons.” This is an inconceivable state, I’ll tell all of you. And after this there are going to be a lot more inconceivable states. Bit by bit you’ll come to know that the Buddhadharma is truly inconceivable. At first, when they came back that day, no one gave them any food. After they kept coming back for five or six days we started to feed them. So when they came back, it certainly wasn’t because we had given them some food. It was because they recognized the Buddha’s Bodhimanda and they came to bow a little, bow to the Buddha, but they didn’t let you see them, of course.
Someone says, “I don’t believe it.” If you believe, I believe. If you don’t believe it, then I don’t believe it. What I say is Ch’an banter. If you believe it, you can bring forth the Bodhi mind; if you don’t believe it, you can bring forth the obstacle mind. There’s another thing that needs to be said clearly: I basically don’t think that there’s a “me,” so if you believe, I believe—if you don’t believe, then I don’t believe. At the very most, I cannot even admit that I said it, because since you don’t believe me, it’s as though I never said it. So I’ll say I don’t believe it either, and you can just figure that I never spoke such a Buddhadharma. You might try to forget about it entirely, but you won’t be able to, because the seed has already been planted in your eighth consciousness. Okay, now we’ll recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. That is true! And you should believe it and I should believe it.
At the Buddhist Lecture Hall the things we do are different from those of ordinary people. In what way are they different? They are especially intense. They are not the slightest bit sloppy. If you’d like to be a bit lazy, you can’t. If you’d like to take it easy a little, that’s even less permissible. As to speaking, this year there was probably less talking than in years previous, because there were two who did not speak at all and so they influenced everyone else not to talk so much.
At present the sound of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva has manifested in America; the sound of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva has appeared and the basic substance of the Bodhisattva, his Dharma body, has also just arrived. Therefore we are here reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and you can see Kuan Yin Bodhisattva in empty space holding a bottle of sweet dew, on the one hand smiling on the other sprinkling the sweet dew. Those of you who have attended this Kuan Yin session have had your karmic obstacles greatly diminished. However, although your karmic obstacles have been greatly diminished, the karmic obstacles you started out with were not few, and so now even though a great many have melted away, there are still a lot of them following you. If you can attend more Kuan Yin sessions your karmic obstacles can be entirely melted away.
This has been the first Kuan Yin session in America. Never before was there a session in which the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva was recited for seven days in such a rigorous manner, beginning early in the morning and going straight through to nine at night. This is the first time and so I give you all a good name—I call you all good knowing advisors. You may all be called good knowing advisors since you understand how to recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. If you can’t recite, then you are non-knowing advisors. Why? If you don’t even know how to recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, isn’t that a case of being stupid, “not knowing,” and having no genuine wisdom or intelligence? So this time, those of you who have attended should take care to keep on being good knowing advisors and, wherever you go, don’t do upside-down things anymore. That’s my hope for you.
What is more, when you see your relatives and friends you should advise them to recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. This is the best advice you can give anyone, the best present. This kind of merit and virtue can be practiced without using money, and anyone can recite. Later, when you leave, those of you who have attended this Kuan Yin Bodhisattva Dharma assembly can introduce Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to everyone. This is an inconceivable circumstance. If you can recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, you are a good knowing advisor. If you can’t recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, you are a “non-knowing” advisor. If you want to be a “non-knowing” advisor, do as you please. If you want to be a good knowing advisor, then introduce Kuan Yin Bodhisattva everywhere, and teach people to recite his name. That’s the very best gift there is. If you give Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to people, that’s the best gift because it can cause them to plant good roots and to melt away all of their karmic obstacles. This is very important and, whatever you do, take care not to forget it. You should know that you are all the first participants in a Kuan Yin Bodhisattva Dharma assembly. Don’t take your good roots lightly, but go everywhere and teach people how to have Kuan Yin Sessions.