The Record of Water Mirror Turning Back Heaven
By Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
From the 1998 issues of Vajra Bodhi Sea
Translated by The International Translation Institute
Cultivating the Bodhisattva Way
Pusa is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word, Bodhisattva, which translates as "one who enlightens sentient beings." This refers to one who cultivates all the practices of benefiting living beings, thereby enlightening oneself and enlightening others, rescuing oneself and rescuing others. One subjugates the self for the sake of others, and with kindness embraces all creatures. One is proper, public-minded, illustrious and bright. Since such a one's every move is dedicated to rescuing living beings, he is called "One who enlightens sentient beings."
In bringing forth the Bodhi resolve and practicing the Bodhisattva Way, the important thing is to be resolute and persevering, and to remain steadfast and unchanging in one's vows. Don the armor of vigor, wield the Prajna sword, and slay the mad thieves of the six faculties. Capture the skandha ghosts of the six consciousnesses. Wipe out the defiled demons of the six dusts.
Diligently cultivate the Dharma field of the Six Paramitas. Irrigate the garden of the six paths. Nurture the flowers and fruits of the ten thousand practices. Groom an indestructible Vajra body, and achieve an inconceivably splendid result. And then, upon becoming replete with the ten thousand virtues, with an efficacious light that radiates, manifest the eight marks of attaining the Way and realize Buddhahood in a hundred realms. Only then is the work of a great person fully accomplished!
Today our topic is "Cultivating the Bodhisattva Way." It is imperative that we cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. If you don't cultivate it, then you will not accomplish the Bodhisattva path. How does one cultivate it? By helping other living beings to accomplish their work in the Way. When other living beings accomplish their work in the Way, your own work in the Way will also be accomplished. That's called the Bodhisattva Way.
Pusa is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word, Bodhisattva. Actually, the full transliteration is Putisaduo, but since Chinese people like to abbreviate, they did away with the 'ti' and 'duo' syllables. Bodhisattva is a word which translates as "one who enlightens sentient beings," that is, one who causes all sentient beings to attain enlightenment. This refers to one who cultivates all the practices of benefiting living beings. This means doing any and every deed that benefits living beings, thereby enlightening oneself and then going on and enlightening others, rescuing oneself and rescuing others. After one has crossed over to the other shore and been liberated, one guides other people to that shore as well.
One subjugates the self for the sake of others, that is, you yourself take a loss and yield the advantages to others. You don't care to help yourself out, but only want to help others. You take abuse and suffer discomfort in order to make others happy. And with kindness one embraces all creatures. You welcome and draw in living beings with kind compassion.
One is proper, public-minded, illustrious and bright. Everything you do is fair and honest, public-spirited and unselfish. Since such a one's every move is dedicated to rescuing living beings, he is called "One who enlightens sentient beings." Your every deed and action is motivated by the intent to rescue living beings. This has been a simple explanation of the word "Bodhisattva." Do you understand?
In bringing forth the Bodhi resolve and practicing the Bodhisattva Way... If you wish to enlighten sentient beings, it's crucial that you make the Bodhi resolve. If you don't, you won't be able to enlighten sentients. Once you have made the Bodhi resolve, you must practice the Bodhisattva Way. If you fail to do that, your Bodhi resolve will not grow. Therefore, you should practice the Bodhisattva Way. The most important thing is to be resolute and persevering in your resolve to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. And it's necessary to remain steadfast and unchanging in one's vows. You should not cultivate today, and decide that it's boring tomorrow and quit. That's not the way.
Don the armor of vigor, wield the Prajna sword. It's as if you put on a suit of mail and hold the sword of wisdom in your hand. This wisdom sword is essential. You must have it. If you don't have the wisdom sword, you'll be confused by situations. In your confusion, you won't be able to cut through. Cut through what? Cut through your emotion and love. Where do emotion and love come from? They come from the six sense faculties. You see with your eyes. When a man sees a woman or a woman sees a man, defiled thoughts arise. When your ears hear sounds, defiled thoughts also arise and you become mad with love.
That's why the text says "mad thieves." As soon as you give rise to defilement, you go mad, so mad that you aren't even afraid of death. "If I fall into the hells, so what?" is your attitude. You don't heed anything and pay no attention to the matter of birth and death, because you are mad. Your ignorance has taken over and made you go mad. And so you must slay the mad thieves of the six faculties—the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. When the eyes see forms, your mind is affected. When the ears hear sounds, your mind also moves. If the nose smells scents, it affects you too. When the tongue tastes flavors, your mind is swayed. When the body feels sensations, your mind moves as well. When the mind considers dharmas, it is also influenced. In other words, you go mad.
Don't learn from the six thieves; slay them instead. Killing these thieves is not a violation of the precepts. Don't think, "I've taken the precepts, and now I've broken them." What about when you do evil: Are you breaking precepts then? Aren't you breaking precepts when you entertain defiled thoughts? How come you worry about breaking the precepts in this case, but not in those cases? That's pretty strange!
Capture the skandha ghosts of the six consciousnesses. The six consciousnesses give rise to the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The six consciousnesses are terrible. They help you out. How do they help you? They egg you on, saying, "Yes, you ought to do bad things and entertain defiled thoughts. Don't worry. It doesn't matter if you do them. I'll help you out." And so you must catch the skandha ghosts.
Wipe out the defiled demons of the six dusts. Forms, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations of touch, and mental dharmas—these are all defiled things. They are called "dusts" because they are unclean. You must sweep them out; clean them up. Diligently cultivate the Dharma field of the Six Paramitas—giving, holding precepts, patience, vigor, Chan samadhi, and wisdom. These are a field for cultivating the Dharma. Irrigate the garden of the six paths. The six paths are the paths of gods, people, asuras, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.
They are like a garden. We should cultivate it well so that the plants will bloom and bear fruit. In this garden, nurture the flowers and fruits of the ten thousand practices. Groom an indestructible Vajra body and spirit of your own, and achieve an inconceivably splendid result—enlightenment. "Splendid result" means the finest position. And then, upon becoming full and replete with the ten thousand virtues, with an efficacious light that radiates because your great wisdom has unfolded, manifest the eight marks of attaining the Way. These include the marks of dwelling in the Tushita Heaven, dwelling in the womb, leaving the womb, leaving the home-life, cultivating the Way, subduing demons, and so on.
You can look them up if you want to know the particulars. And realize Buddhahood in a hundred realms. You can go to a hundred other worlds and become a Buddha there. Only then is the work of a great person fully accomplished! At that point, you will have perfected the Bodhisattva Way. Your work as a great hero will be done and finished!
Cultivate the Bodhisattva path: Benefit others and forget self.