THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
All of the assemblies below, in general, are of ten kinds. When the texts are reached, they will be explained. Except for the assemblies of current potentials, all the rest are conditions.
All of the assemblies below, the assemblies of those listening to the Sutra, which occur later on, in general, are of ten kinds. If discussed in very general terms, they fall into ten categories. When the texts are reached, the will be explained. When we come to them in the Sutra text, they will be made clear. Except for the assemblies of current potentials, one category, those for whom the Sutra was directly spoken at the time, all the rest are conditions, contributing factors, auxiliary causes and conditions.
In Eighth, depending on the basis of virtue. Streams that have pearls are not dry. Mountains that have jade are increasingly lush. If one lacks a basis in virtue inside, how can one talk outside? If only in terms of the speakers, it is because of this Dharma’s previous people.
The Eight is depending on the basis of virtue. One has to have virtuous conduct. Way virtue is basic. Without it, no one will want to listen to the Dharma you speak. If you do have virtue in the Way, everyone will want to listen to what you say, whether they understand it or not. The possession of Way virtue is internal. No one can see it. And it represents the merit and virtue from regular cultivation. If ordinarily you don’t cultivate, you won’t have merit and virtue, and when you speak Dharma, no one will want to hear it. That is why people who cultivate the Way should at all times follow the rules and should always keep an eye on what they are thinking, being careful not to have a lot of false thinking. As soon as you strike up false thinking, you don’t have any merit and virtue; and when you lack merit and virtue, people won’t believe the Dharma you speak for them. So Way virtue is essential.
Streams that have pearls are not dry. What is Way virtue like? It’s like a stream of flowing water. Some places in the water have pearls, and in that case the two banks of the stream won’t be dried up, and the area is known to have a superior atmosphere about it. Mountains that have jade are increasingly lush. When a mountain has deposits of jade, the plants and trees will appear very fresh and beautiful. That comes from the precious treasures, the precious jade, in the mountain, which as a kind of efficacious energy that makes all sentient and insentient things have a glossy, well-moistened appearance to them. If one lacks a basis in virtue, if you, the person speaking Dharma, don’t have any merit and virtue yourself, how can one talk outside? How can you hope to teach and transform living beings outside, speak the Dharma and lecture Sutra? So the most important thing for people who cultivate the Way is to have merit and virtue.
If you have it, then when you lecture Sutras and speak Dharma, everyone will like to listen. Why? Because you will have affinities with people and with the Dharma.
Moreover, if only in terms of the speakers, it is because of this Dharma’s previous people. If one discusses this only in terms of the people who speak the Dharma, the people who went before also spoke this Dharma – that is, previous Buddhas spoke this Dharma, too – and so if you now want to speak this Dharma which was spoken by the Buddhas, you need to have merit and virtue.
In general, there are two kinds: One, wisdom, since it is foremost. The Buddhas of the ten directions addressed Vajra Banner saying, “and it is also due to your wisdom and purity.” They addressed Vajra Treasury saying, “and it is also because of the supreme power of your wisdom.” Two, the power of abundant conduct and vows. The Buddhas of the ten directions addressed Universal Worthy saying, “It is also because of the power from your cultivation of all conducts and vows.” The Buddhas of the ten directions addressed Dharma wisdom saying, “And it is also due to the power of your cultivation of all good roots, that you are caused to enter this samadhi and are able to speak Dharma.” Whether it is the good roots of the persons influenced, or the conduct and vows of the transforming host, both belong to causes for the speaking.
In general, there are two kinds, if discussed in a very summary fashion. One, the first kind is wisdom, listed first, since it is foremost, if you don’t have wisdom, you’ll do all kinds of upside-down things, and ignorance, greed, hatred, and stupidity will appear. If you have wisdom, you won’t do things that are upside down, and even if you do run into such things, you’ll be able to change them so they are not upside down. How can that happen? It’s from having wisdom, not being stupid. If you are stupid, you won’t know what’s the best way to act, what is right and what isn’t. You’ll clearly know something is right, yet figure it isn’t right; or clearly know something is not right, and yet figure it is. That’s stupidity, and if you’re stupid, you’ll do mixed-up things.
So, the Buddhas of the ten directions addressed Vajra Banner Bodhisattva saying, “And it is also due to your wisdom and purity.” It’s because of your wisdom and your purity from not doing defiled things. They addressed Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva saying, “And it is also because of the supreme power of your wisdom.” It’s also due to that most supreme wisdom power of yours which comes from your not having done upside-down things, and so bringing your work in the Way to success. That’s the first kind.
Two, the second kind, is the power of abundant conduct and vows, which just means all practices and all vows, doing lots and lots of practices and making lots and lots of vows. But don’t make vows saying, “I want to cultivate, leave home life after life,” and then five minutes later forget all about them. Or now, “I want to be filial to my parents and to my teachers and elders,” and not remember a minute afterwards. Or vow, “I want to leave home and propagate the Buddhadharma,” and before even a minute has passed say, “Really? Who said that?” Then it doesn’t count.
The Buddhas of the ten directions addressed Universal Worthy Bodhisattva saying, “It is also because of the power from your cultivation of all conducts and vows.” Furthermore, the Buddhas of the ten directions addressed Dharma Wisdom Bodhisattva saying, “And it is also due to the power of your cultivation of all good roots, all good, the Five Roots and the Five Powers, and the power from those good roots, that you are caused to enter this samadhi.” That’s why you are able to obtain this speaking-Dharma samadhi, the samadhi of cultivation, and all different kinds of samadhis, and are able to speak Dharma.” That’s what causes you to enter into this samadhi in which you can proclaim limitless, infinite, wonderful Dharma.
Whether it is the good roots of the persons influenced, meaning those with opportune potentials for being influenced, the assembly of current potentials… if you have good roots, then you can listen to the Dharma. For example, all of you have planted lots of good roots, and so you are able to come here and listen to the Dharma. Take a look: there are so many people in this country, but how many are able to listen to the Buddhadharma every day? You among so many people are like gold and diamonds: very scarce. So, whether it’s the good roots of the persons being influenced, or the conduct and vows of the transforming host, the Dharma-speaking Host, a host who teaches and transforms living beings has not to have cultivated. No matter what practice, what Dharma-door you cultivate, you have to keep at it. If you don’t, then you wont have that practice. You should also make vows, but they won’t be accomplished in just a day or two, a year or two, a decade or so. You’re got to cultivate life after life, over and over, right up until the opportunities are ripe and your work is accomplished. So you say, “Oh, I’ve left home three years, five years, ten years, and I still haven’t become enlightenment.” If you haven’t even graduated from elementary school and expect to get a Ph.D degree, how can that happen? Both belong to causes for the speaking. In either case, that of the persons influenced and that of the Dharma-speaking Host, each belongs to causes for there being a speaking.
What’s really important is for diamonds not to turn into glass.
The Ninth, depending on the people requesting. If there are considerations of deep kindness and compassion, there is also that spoken on one’s own without request. If there are considerations or respect for the Dharma and reverence for the person, there must be sincere request, after which it is spoken. Those of initial resolved, whose knowledge is obscured, inquire and seek prior to understanding. Those of superior wisdom, out of kindness and compassion, let a doubt arise and make their request.
The Ninth kind of Condition is depending on the people requesting. There must be people who request the Dharma, and then the Dharma can be spoken. If no one requests the Dharma, sometimes it is spoken anyway. When is that? If there are considerations of deep kindness and compassion, there is also that spoken on one’s own without request. When it’s exactly the right time to speak the Dharma, but none of the people understand that they should request it, if the person to speak the Dharma is endowed with vast, great kindness and compassion, and deep, thick vow-power, he will speak on his own without being requested to do so. An example is the Amitabha Sutra. That concise Sutra was spoken by the Buddha on his own, without anyone’s request. The Buddha spoke that Dharma out of deep kindness and compassion.
If there are considerations of respect for the Dharma and reverence for the person, if it depends upon there being respect for the Buddhadharma and reverence for the person who speaks it – the Dharma-speaking Host, who is also the teaching and transforming host – then there must be sincere request, after which it is spoken. There must be a request made with the utmost reverence and respect, with total sincerity. It’s that way here: each day before the Dharma is spoken, people request it, and after the request is made, the Dharma is spoken. Those of initial resolve, whose knowledge is obscured, that is, those who have first resolved their minds and who lack understanding, having little wisdom, inquire and seek prior to understanding. They ask the person to speak Dharma.
Those of superior wisdom, out of kindness and compassion, let a doubt arise and make their request. Those who have first brought forth the resolve don’t understand, but others who do have wisdom bring forth kindness and compassion and ask for Dharma. For example, in the Vajra Sutra, Subhuti requests the Dharma, while in the Lotus (Dharma Flower) Sutra it’s the greatly wise Shariputra. Most of the Sutras spoken by the Buddha were requested by people. Here it speaks of giving rise to a doubt, but it’s not for certain the people requesting Dharma do not understand its principles. They may be kindly and compassionately requesting the Dharma on behalf of others.
This is further of two kinds: One, oral request: Two, mental request. Whether or not they occur in all of the assemblies will be explained in the Chapter On The Manifestation of Marks.
This is further of two kinds. The formal request for Dharma may be made in two ways. One, oral request, asking for the Dharma through speech. Two, mental request, formulating the request in one’s mind – for when it’s the Buddha speaking Dharma, as soon as you move your mind, the Buddha knows. Sages who have certified to the fruit can know this, too. That being the case, one can request the Dharma in thought. For example, when we speak Dharma here, some request with words and others request in thought. The left-home people or laypeople who go up in front, bow, kneel with their palms together and ask for the Dharma are making an oral request. All the others in the assembly on the sides put their palms together, too, and at that time they are making a metal request for the Dharma. But you should get this clear: if you request in words, then I know; but if you request in thought, I don’t know. Why not? Because I am not a Sage; I’m the same as the rest of you. So don’t figure, “Whatever I think, the Dharma Master knows.” You think it and you know it – don’t expect the Dharma Master to know. Whether or not they occur in all of the assemblies, whether in the Seven Places and Nine Assemblies there is oral request or mental request, or whether there is neither oral or mental request, but the Buddha speaks the Dharma out of kindness and compassion, will be explained in the Chapter On The Manifestation of Marks. These formalities will be described in that chapter of the Sutra.
Ten, depending on the ones who aid. The sages do not constantly respond. They respond to adequate sincerity. When one’s profound and deep sincerity reaches the ultimate point, then one obtains the aid of the Buddhas.
Ten, the tenth Condition, is depending on the ones who aid, those who give you protection and assistance, who help you without your knowing it. You may not realize it, but the Buddha helps you speak Dharma. For instance, I’m speaking the Dharma for you now, but actually can I speak the Dharma or not? I’m the most stupid, doltish person in the world and can’t speak Dharma. Before, I remember even when I was around fifteen or sixteen, I didn’t like to talk. I was like a rock and wouldn’t say anything. Who would have guessed I’d be in America now speaking the Dharma for all of you. But now, can I speak or not? I can’t. Then how am I speaking? The Buddhas aid me and the Bodhisattvas come to my assistance. I can’t speak, but when I get to the Dharma seat, I can. To start with I can have forgotten the text of the Prologue, but I sit down and close my eyes and use a text; I can just recite it and explain it. How? Because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help me.
However, the Sages, the Buddhas or other sagely worthies like Bodhisattvas and Arhats, do not constantly respond. They don’t help you out on every occasion, or fulfill your every wish. They respond to adequate sincerity. If you are able to be truly sincere, then they respond and aid you. When one’s profound and deep sincerity reaches the ultimate point, when not one single thought arises, and that reaches the utmost degree, then one obtains the aid of the Buddhas. That is when the Buddhas help you.
But you have to be ultimately sincere. You can’t be saying, “Hey! I’m really sincere to the ultimate, so how come I haven’t had a response?” If you were sincere to the utmost, how could you still have an “I’m sincere to the ultimate degree?” Just having that thought is not having reached the ultimate. If you had reached the utmost degree, you wouldn’t think that. You’d never think, “I’m the best. I’m the truest. I use the most effort in my cultivation, so why haven’t I had a response?” If you know you use the most effort, you still haven’t used effort. If you apply your efforts, how could you still be smug and say, “I truly use effort?” Who falsely uses effort, anyway? If you retain a “true,” it becomes false. You should have no “true”: no false and no true. If you don’t have a “false,” you won’t have a “true”; and with no “truth,” there won’t be “falseness.” Then you’ve reached the ultimate. When you reach the ultimate there’s nothing, nothing at all, so how could you still think, “I’ve brought forth the firmest resolve, so why no response?” As soon as you bring forth a self-satisfied thought like that, you haven’t brought forth the resolve.