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Flower Adornment Sutra Preface With commentary by the Venerable Master Hua

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Flower Adornment Sutra Preface
With commentary by the Venerable Master Hua



Text of Preface to The Flower Adornment Sutra

Going and returning with no border,
Movement and stillness have one source;
Embracing multitudes of wonders, more remains;
Overstepping words and thought by far:
This can only be the Dharma Realm.

Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle,
Understanding and expanding the mind and its states;
Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature,
Penetrating the result which includes the cause;
Deep and wide and interfused,
Vast and great and totally complete,
Surely this must be:
The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra!

Therefore, our World Honored One,
The ten bodies just fulfilled,
Proper Enlightenment first perfected,
Rides vows and conduct all-pervasive,
Unites with empty space in substance and nature,
Is wealthy with ten thousand virtues,
And cleansed without the finest dust.

The pellucid waves of his deep, sea-like wisdom are empty,
yet hold myriad reflections.
The full moon of his glistening, space-like nature
at once scatters in one hundred streams.
Without rising from beneath the King of Trees,
he extends to seven places in the Dharma Realm.

Unhindered by the bounds of ‘afterwards,’
He pervades the nine assemblies as he first succeeds.
Exhausting vast expanses of esoteric doctrine,
he aids the hard-to-conceive-of,
oceans-wide assembly.

The perfect sound continually scatters through ten kshetras,
yet suddenly is everywhere.
Host and attendants keep repeating to the limits
of the ten directions, yet in unison proclaim.

Although emptiness is emptied and the traces are cut off, still the sky of meanings’ stars glitter and blaze.
Although stillness is deepened so that words are lost, yet the sea of teachings’ waves are oceanic in extent.

As for the thousand doors which in secret flow, of multitudes of texts it forms the copious source.
The ten thousand virtues commingle and return, while companies of Sutras comprise its retinue.

This is its intent:
Tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations;
Displaying virtues’ marks in the doorway to the multiply profound.
Functions are legion and prolific, yet it is always such;
Wisdom everywhere examines, yet it is forever still.

Truth and falseness interlink and mingle:
Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha mind.
Specifics and principle are together cultivated:
On relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

Principle changes according to specifics,
so one and many conditionally arise without bounds.
Specifics interfuse with principle,
so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction.

Therefore he obtains:
Ten bodies in succession, yet mutually operative,
Six positions not disordered, yet reciprocally contained.
And so:
The vast and great can enter where there is no place,
Dust-motes and hairs envelope with nothing left outside;
Clearly arrayed, like mustard seeds within a jar;
Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea:
One and many unobstructed,
like a thousand lamps in empty space;
Hidden and revealed together realized,
like the crescent moon in an autumn sky;
Layer on layer lights interlace,
like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls;
Thought after thought makes perfect fusion,
like an evening dream’s passing time.
Dharma doors pile up in layers,
like clouds billowing in space;
Myriad practices unfurl profusely,
like flowers blooming on brocade.

Too high is it for gazing,
So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate;
Too deep to be surveyed, so Sound Hearers of superior virtue stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly.

Seeing and hearing act as seeds:
The eight difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds.
Understanding and practicing in one’s person:
One life perfects the fruit of distant kalpas.

The Lion Sprints:
The Ocean-Wide Assembly suddenly certifies in the Grove.
The Elephant King turns ‘round:
Six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.

Dawn of understanding at the Chaitya in the east:
Fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought.
Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South:
Perfected causes do not exceed a hair-pore.

Opening Fine Dust-motes’ Sutra scrolls:
Then in every thought the fruit is won.
Exhausting sentient beingsvow doors:
then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled.

It may truly be called:
Wonderful speech of constant duration,
Vast model of universal scope,
Ultimate expression congruent with the nature.
Main track of the single vehicle.

To examine its profound purport,
And then look into other Sutras:
It is like a sunrise glorious in the sky
Dimming multitudes of luminaries’ splendor;
Like Sumeru which spreads across the seas
Lowering retinues of peaks’ high altitudes.

Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragon’s Palace.
Great Worthies had it published in the Eastern expanse.
Considering that in the Proper Dharma Age
Its pure glory still remained concealed,
How fortunate that in semblance and final times
This profound teaching is happened upon!
Moreover, when one meets a sagely ruler,
obtaining it on Vulture Mountain,
Exhaustively reflecting on its esoteric meaning,
How can one but jump for joy?

The title reads: the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra.
That is the general name for inexhaustible Sutras.
The Wondrous Adornments of World Rulers,
Chapter Number One,
is a specific heading for one of many sections.

Great is extensive union with no boundaries
Means are proper Dharmas personally maintained.
Expansive says it fits the substance totality.
Buddha is awakened to this mysterious wonder.

Flower stands for virtues from the myriad conducts.
Adornment decorative Dharmas on the accomplished person.
Sutra is the flow without end of a bubbling spring,
Stringing deep crystalizations of wonderful meanings,
Attracting the boundless, sea-wide assembly,
It acts for late and ancient as a constant rule.

The Buddha and all kings are called the World Rulers.
Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled Wonderful Adornments.
In dividing meaning-units and assigning chapter names,
What caps the other sections is called number one.

This Sutra has thirty-nine chapters,
This chapter comes first.
Therefore it is called the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra,
the World Rulers’ Wondrous Adornments of the World Rulers, Chapter Number One.

a. National Master Ching Liang

Preface:

The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. A Preface composed by the Tang Dynasty Shramana Cheng Guan of Qing Liang Mountain

Commentary:

Today is a very important day. Why is it important? This day marks the opening of the lecture series on The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. There may be people who have lectured on this Sutra in other countries, but I believe this is the first time that it is being lectured in any country in the West. Being the first time, it is worth our remembering it, and so is very important.

One usually begins to explain The Flower Adornment Sutra with an analysis of the Sutra's title. However, this explanation of the Sutra will begin with an explanation of the Preface to the Sutra, which covers all the principles contained in The Flower Adornment Sutra. Once this Preface has been explained, it will be possible to understand the general meaning of The Flower Adornment Sutra.

Who was the author of this Preface? It was composed by "Avatamsaka Bodhisattva," the Dharma Master Cheng Guan. Before lecturing on the Preface, we will first say something about the Dharma Master who composed it. Dharma Master Cheng Guan was nine feet tall, and each of his eyes had two pupils. During the daytime, there was nothing especially extraordinary about him and he seemed like anybody else. At night, however, one could see a kind of light radiating from his eyes. Also, his two arms were so long that they extended below his knees. You should all pay attention to this: whenever someone has arms that extend below his knees, it is a very rare and special mark, an indication of nobility. Furthermore, he had forty teeth. Ordinary people have thirty-two, thirty-four, thirty-six, or thirty-eight teeth. The Buddha had forty teeth, and so did this Dharma Master. He was also a very fast reader. In the time it takes the average person to read a single line of writing, he could read seven lines. His intelligence was supreme.

How do we know that he was Flower Adornment Bodhisattva? He wrote an extensive Commentary and Sub-commentary to The Flower Adornment Sutra, and lectured exclusively on The Flower Adornment Sutra. After his demise, an Arhat at the border between India and China one day saw two very young Bodhisattvas traveling in space. The Arhat used his spiritual powers to prevent the two youths in dark clothing (the young Bodhisattvas) from moving. Thereupon he inquired of the two young Bodhisattvas, "Why are you going to China?" to which the pair replied, "We're headed for Wu Tai (Five Peak) Mountain in China, to request the teeth of Flower Adornment Bodhisattva. We want to bring them back to our country and make offerings to them." Once he heard that, the Arhat said, "Fine. Go right ahead," and released them so they could continue on their way. Not long after, the Arhat himself arrived at Wu Tai Mountain and started telling everyone how he had encountered such and such a state. The result was that all the people got together and opened National Master Qing Liang's coffin, only to find that two of his teeth were missing. The two teeth were the teeth of Flower Adornment Bodhisattva that the two young Bodhisattvas had requested, and which they had taken back to worship! For this reason, Dharma Master Cheng Guan is known in Buddhism to have been a transformation body of Flower Adornment Bodhisattva. Since this Preface was composed by Flower Adornment Bodhisattva, it is of course the most excellent. That's why we shall explain the Preface before lecturing on The Flower Adornment Sutra itself.

b. National Master Ching Liang

National Master Ch’ing Liang, that great Bodhisattva, had a truly inconceivable state. He was teacher to seven emperor, having had even emperors appoint him National Master. He was able to do that due to his true and actual cultivation, which was not the least bit sloppy. He was not like most people whose mouths speak of cultivating but whose bodies do not cultivate:

Mouth right, mind wrong.

Their mouths speak very correctly, but their minds are completely off. After he left home, and even before he left home, he made vows. He used ten requirements to urge himself on, ten matters to help keep himself going forward, which everyone who leaves home should know. They are as follows:

1. His person would not renounce the appearance of a shramana.
2. His mind would not oppose the regulations of the Thus Come One.
3. He would not sit with his back to the Sutra of the Dharma Realm.
4. His nature would not be defiled by states of emotional obstruction.
5. His feet would not tread the dust of a nunnery.
6. His ribs would not touch the bed of a lay person.
7. His eyes would not gaze at improper spectacles.
8. His tongue would not taste edibles after noon.
9. His hand would not let loose of the round, bright beads.
10. Not for a night, would he be apart from his robes and his bowl.

1. His body would not renounce the appearance of a shramana. That he would not renounce it meant that he would not give it away. He would definitely not hand the manner of a shramana over to other people, but would have it himself. That means at all times his body was garbed in the robe and sash of a left-home person, and very genuinely and actually had the appearance of a Bhikshu, a shramana. He always looked like someone who had left the home life.

2. His mind would not oppose the regulations of the Thus Come One. Within his heart, or mind, he would not in any way oppose the regulations of the Buddha, the Buddha’s precepts. His mind absolutely accepted and respected the rules and regulations pronounced by the Buddha, very last one, and recognized that the investigation of the precepts is very important. Not to speak of actual violation, he did not even strike up such false thoughts in his mind. Does that appear fierce to you or not? There are a great many ways of explaining this.

3. He would not sit with his back to the Sutra of the Dharma Realm. When he sat down, if there happened to be a copy of the Flower Adornment Sutra around, he insisted upon sitting facing the Flower Adornment Sutra, and would not sit with his back to the Flower Adornment Sutra, the Sutra of the Dharma Realm. Consider what it means to have that kind of vow power! Not to speak of the Buddha, he would not even turn his back to the Sutra, but wherever the Sutra was to be found, he would sit facing it. He would not sit with his back to the Sutra of the Dharma Realm.

4. His nature would not be defiled by states of emotional obstruction. That is, his nature would not be attached to and obstructed by emotional love.

5. His feet would not tread the dust of a nunnery. It was not very egalitarian, but he still went ahead and made that vow anyway; and it got the Bhikshunis very upset. He would not even set foot on the ground, the soil, inside the gates of a residence for the Bhikshuni Sangha. A nunnery is a place where only female left-home persons live. The meaning of this is that he did not go to Bhikshuni temples. All of you think it over. You Americans would say, “That’s crazy. Why not? What’s wrong with going to a Bhikshuni temple? I go running over to them a hundred times a day without ever being aware of any problem.” But National Master Ch’ing Liang was too “pure and cool,” too extremely cool, without the least spark of passion. He didn’t have even a trace of emotion.

6. His body would not touch the bed of a lay person. To say nothing of living at a lay person’s house, he would not even touch the bed upon which a lay person slept, not come in contact with it. All of you think it over: would you live up to that?

7. His eyes would not gaze at improper spectacles. “Spectacles” are things that look jumbled and chaotic, like giving plays, dancing, wearing flashy clothes and jumping around ¾ the things done by all of those people who don’t follow the rules. His eyes would not gaze at such improper spectacles. For example, if a play was being performed, or people were dancing, or perhaps there were some of those freaks who sing, dance, and jump around on the streets, he would not look at them. “Improper spectacles” refers to circumstances that are not in accord with the awesome manner, not in accord with propriety.

8. His tongue would not taste edibles after noon. Not to speak of eating after noon, his tongue would not even taste food to see what flavor it had. After noon, he would not taste or eat things, not even sample just a tiny bit to find out what the taste was like. He didn’t sample, let alone eat. You may have thought leaving home was so easy; if you can’t put it all down, then don’t leave home. See how the High Monks go about their practices. His mouth would not taste edibles after noon. “Edible” means anything that can be eaten, such as vegetables, rice... even fruit. When once cultivates, one should hold the precepts very strictly. If you absolutely cannot manage that, then a very forced and expedient method is just to eat a piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange, in the evening. But when the time comes that you really want to cultivate, then you cannot even eat fruit. Another practice is not to drink anything but water after noon, not even milk. Right now, however, we’re not as strict as that. If you are hungry, you can drink some milk, but don’t steal things to eat. You must offer up your conduct in accordance with the teachings. Don’t listen without paying attention.

9. His hand would not let loose of the round, bright beads. Some people who are greedy for wealth get confused and think this means that he would never handle gold, silver and other precious substances, but that is not the meaning. The beads in questions are his recitation beads, and that his hand would not let loose of them means that he would never put them down, not that he would never pick them up. If his hand never picked them up, how could he let loose of them anyway? If he doesn’t let loose of them, he has to have picked them up, hasn’t he? All that talk of gold and silver just shows:

Left-home people are not greedy for wealth: the more the better! The more valuables there are, the more they pick up and the tighter they hold them. “Let loose” is as when someone has been accused of committing a crime and then is let off as not having committed it. He never let loose of his round, bright recitation beads. He would never put them down. They were always in his hand. He always held his beads and recited Namo Amita Buddha, Namo Amita Buddha, and was mindful of the Buddha. Even when he was eating he would hang them on this bowl, not put them down.

10. Not forever a night would he be apart from his robes and his bowl. He always slept with his robes and bowl placed beside him, right next to him. He took care of his robe and bowl.

Those are the ten requirements that he used to urge himself on. No Teacher taught them to him. At no time did a Teacher say to him, “You shouldn’t eat after noon.” “When you sit, don’t sit with your back to the Sutra.” Those were requirements that he established for himself, not ones a Teacher taught him. Therefore he lived at the same time as nine emperors, and seven emperors bowed to him as their Master.

The nine emperors during whose reigns National Master Ch’ing Liang lived were in the T’ang Dynasty:

1. T’ang Hsuan Tsung. The “Hsuan” in his name means “mysterious.”

2. T’ang Su Tsung. The “Su” in his name means “Decorous.” It’s the ‘decorous’ of :

“His manner stern and proper as he decorously honored the method for obtaining food.”

3. T’ang Tai Tsung.
4. T’ang Te Tsung.
5. T’ang Hsun Tsung.
6. T’ang Hsien Tsung.
7. T’ang Mu Tsung.
8. T’ang Ching Tsung.
9. T’ang Wen Tsung.

From Tai Tsung on, they all bowed to National Master Ch’ing Liang as National Master. Why is he called National Master “Ch’ing Liang”? “Ch’ing Liang” means “Pure and Cool.” At the time when he was living on Five Peak (Wu T’ai) Mountain, which is also called Ch’ing Liang Mountain, he spoke Dharma for the emperor and the emperor said to him, “Ah, you have really caused me to become pure and cool! I really feel fine! I have truly become independent, pure, and cooled.” As a result, he gave him the title Ch’ing Liang, “Pure and Cool,” and from that time on Dharma Master Ch’eng Kuan was called National Master Ch’ing Liang, and was no longer called by his personal name. Another of his titles was that of “Teaching Master” for he acted as Teaching Master for the emperor, regularly lecturing Sutras and speaking Dharma for him. He, a single person, saw in the time of nine emperors, and seven emperors bowed to him as their Teacher. If he had been lacking in Way virtue, how could he have had such a response?

National Master Ch’ing Liang was also very learned. He had studied a great many books, all the books of left-home and at-home people, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucians, and was especially well-versed in the Book of Changes. So National Master Ch’ing Liang employed his ten requirements day by day to urge himself on. That means that during his entire life he never went to a Bhikshuni temple. Consequently, a good many Bhikshunis also refused to go where he was, saying, “If he won’t come, forget it! We won’t go either.”

I. PRESENTATION OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE

 What does the Preface say? It begins:
Going and returning with no border,
Movement and stillness have one source;
Embracing multitudes of wonders, more remains;
Overstepping words and thought by far:

Going and returning with no border. "Going" represents going out, arising, movement, and change. Therefore it is said:

With movement there is change;
With change there is transformation;

In the universe, only those who with total sincerity can effect transformations.

If you are totally sincere, then you can bring about change; but without total sincerity, you cannot. "Returning" represents coming back, extinction, and stillness. What this refers to is movement not obstructing stillness, and stillness not obstructing movement. Movement is stillness, and stillness is movement. Movement and stillness are one suchness. That is why it says, with no border. No border means no boundary, no trace, no path. It is also as is described by:

The mouth wants to speak but words are lost;
The mind wants to think but reflection perishes.

The mouth wishes to talk, but words fail. There is no way to speak. In the mind there is the intention to do some climbing on conditions, but there is no way to climb on conditions. Reflection perishes. All that kind of deliberation is gone, which is to say:

No consciousness, no knowing;
No deliberation, no reflection.

This is the Greatness of the Functioning to the Flower Adornment Sutra. The use of the Flower Adornment Sutra is great, which is why it says, Going and returning with no border:

Going, yet not going,
Returning, yet not returning.
Going and returning are not dual.

They are not two. Going comes from returning, and returning comes from going, and so going and returning have no border. There is no path:

Just as a bird flies through space,
and space has no track;

When a bird flies back and forth in the air, there is no path. If you attempt to find the path followed by a bird flying in space, you won’t be able to find it.

Just as a knife cuts through water,
and the water has no trace.

It is also similar to using a knife to cut through water: after you cut it, in just a little while, there is no trace at all. That’s how the saying goes, but in actuality it’s not the case that there is no track after a bird has flown through the air. A track is left behind, and it takes twenty-four hours for the track left behind by a bird’s flying through the air to disappear. After the passage of a day and a night, no path remains. It’s just that our eyes of flesh are unable to perceive that path, so even though nowadays we have x-rays and microscopes, we don’t see it. But all you have to do is obtain the Five Eyes, and you can see, “Oh, a bird has flown through that area, so there is no fine dust in that space. Ah, it is truly empty!” And if you cut water with a knife, although it is said that the water has no trace, no scar, still, if you look with the heavenly eye, the cut of the knife is traced out. It takes twenty-four hours for the wound made by a knife in water to heal. Now you may object, “Do you mean to say that water is wounded when cut through by a knife?” Well, why would you say that, when a knife cuts through it, the water is not injured? When someone cuts into another person’s body, that person’s body bleeds. When someone slices through water, the water lets air through. There is a stream of air within the water. But this is not something that modern-day science can research. Perhaps one or two thousand years from now science will be able to “prove” this. As for now, probably very few who hear this will believe it. However, very many people will believe it... in the future, after they have understood the principle.

That is Going and returning with no border, and it is the Greatness of the Functioning.

Movement and stillness have one source. This is the Greatness of the Substance. The source of movement is there, and the source of stillness is also there. This original substance basically has neither movement nor stillness. Movement and stillness change into each other. As was just quoted:

With movement there is change.

Once there is movement, then there will be change. As with the sixty-four hexagrams of the Book of Changes, before movement takes place, there is the original hexagram; but as soon as you have a moving line, it changes into the other hexagrams. This basic substance of movement and stillness is one. The basis of movement is stillness, and the basis of stillness is movement. The two are two, and yet not two. Although they are described as dual, basically they are one. They have one source.

There is another simple analogy for the relationship between movement and stillness. The basis of movement and stillness is like a mother who gives birth to two children, one called “Movement” and the other called “Stillness.” The one named “Stillness” calls its mother “Mama,” and the one named “Movement” also calls its mother “Mama.” That describes their production from one substance. In Lao Ts’u it says:

The Way has purity and defilement;
It has movement and stillness.
Purity is the source of defilement;

He did not say that purity and defilement had one source, but said that purity was the source of defilement, and he said:

Movement is the foundation of stillness.
He said that movement acts as a foundation for stillness, and that;
If people can constantly be still,
If people can constantly be clear and still,
Heaven and earth completely return.

What he was saying was, “Heaven and earth are all with me. They all return and come back to me.” Furthermore, he said,

Heaven is pure, earth is defiled.
Heaven is pure, while earth is defiled and turbid.
Heaven moves, earth is still.

He said that heaven moves, and that earth is still. Now, however, science has “discovered” and maintains that the earth moves and that heaven is still. But this Movement and Stillness is not what science takes for movement and stillness. This “movement and stillness” is talking about the basic substance. If you look at the earth, while science claims to have proved that the earth moves, in actual truth heaven moves as well. You see heaven as unmoving. However, it also moves. The earth moves. However, it also does not move. Consequently this kind of principle is not something that ordinary people using words and language can clarify.
Lao Ts’u also said,

Men move, women are still.
Men are pure, women are defiled.

Men are clean and pure, women are defiled and turbid. Men move and women are still. By now some people are objecting, “I don’t believe that principle. It’s men who are defiled and turbid, and women who are clean and pure. Women daily apply rough and rub on power, and make-up their faces so they are one-doesn’t-know-how clear!” Well, why is it that they want to make up their faces? If they weren’t defiled and turbid, why would they want to make them up? It’s like sweeping the floor: if it weren’t dusty, why would you sweep it? The reason you want to sweep the floor is that it is dirty, that it is dusty. Why do you want to put on a false face? It’s because you yourself know your face is defiled. Now there are movie stars who go even further making false faces. They employ the beauticians’ art and face lifts. To start with they are old as in the line:

Chicken-skin and white crane hair...

The skin on their faces is like that of a chicken, and the hair on their heads is as white as a white crane. But they dye their hair, and have some of their flesh cut out, or else add a little, and smooth out the skin. It looks good on the outside, but underneath it’s very painful. Lao Ts’u was aware of this principle thousand of years ago, and so he said,

Men are pure, women are defiled.
Men move, women are still.

But we will not pay any attention that movement and stillness of his, or his defilement and purity, for what we are talking about now is Movement and Stillness have one source. Purity to the ultimate is defilement, and defilement to the ultimate is purity. Therefore there is no distinction between them: they all come from one basic source, one fountainhead. Movement to the ultimate becomes stillness, and stillness to the extreme again becomes movement. Someone may say, “I don’t understand that at all.” I can very easily teach you to understand it. My expedient dharmas are many. It’s my true and actual dharmas that are very few. What is that expedient dharma? In the daytime you do not sleep, isn’t that correct? You go to work. That is movement. In the evening you want to sleep, not work, and that is stillness. You cannot be still to the ultimate and say, “I’ll sleep day after day and not work.” That’s impossible. And you are even less able to say, “Day after day I’ll work and not sleep,” which is impossible as well. So, as to movement and stillness:

Movement is not separate from stillness,
Stillness is not separate from movement;
Movement and stillness have one source.

That is a substance, the substance of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. That is the Greatness of the Substance which being great, can include both movement and stillness.

He also said that heaven is pure while earth is defiled; that heaven moves and earth is still; that purity to the ultimate is defilement; that defilement to the ultimate is purity. Therefore there is no distinction between them. They all come from one basic source. Movement to the ultimate becomes stillness, and stillness to the extreme again becomes movement. The Greatness of the Substance of The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra can include both movement and stillness.

Embracing Multitudes of Wonders, More remains. Embracing means including and containing, not just one kind of wonder, but multitudes of wonders. Although multitudes of wonders are many, still more remains. This is the Greatness of the Appearances. Going and returning with no border was the Greatness of the Functioning, Movement and stillness have one source was the Greatness of the Substance, while here Embracing multitudes of wonders, more remains is the Greatness of the Appearances. Those are the Three Greatnesses set forth in the Preface: of Substance, Functioning and Appearances.

Wonders, fundamentally, inconceivable kinds of states. Multitudes of wonders is a phrase from the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching, used by National Master Ch’ing Liang to illustrate the principles of the Buddhadharma. The Tao Te Ching begins:

The Way that can be spoken is not the Eternal Way;
The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name.
Nameless, it is the beginning of Heaven and Earth;
Named, it is the Mother of the myriad things.
Therefore, constantly without desire,
one contemplates its wonder;
Constantly having desire,
one contemplates its shell.
From sameness come forth different names.
All alike are called mysterious,
The mysterious within the mysterious,
The gateway to the multitudes of wonders.

The phrase in the Preface is a literal quote from the Tao Te Ching, but the context gives it a different meaning. The Tao Te Ching’s gateway to the multitudes of wonders has no remainder, that is, nothing more beyond, whereas the Flower Adornment Sutra embraces multitudes of wonders, yet more remains there is something more beyond and so this meaning differs from that in the Tao Te Ching.

Overstepping words and thought by far: This can only be the Dharma Realm! Overstepping means exceeding, going beyond. Going beyond what? Going beyond words, i.e., language, and thought, i.e., conceptualization. That is to say:

What cannot be expressed in speech;
What cannot be conceptualized by thought.

That kind of state is inconceivable, and so it says, by far. Far means distant. How is it distant? It is because it goes far beyond words and thought. It is a kind of inconceivable state that goes beyond, and very distantly. Furthermore, this is the inconceivable within the inconceivable. What is this kind of state? This can only be the Dharma Realm! The only thing you could call it, the only thing it could possible be, is the Dharma Realm.

There are Four Kinds of Dharma Realms:

1. The Dharma Realm of Specifics.
2. The Dharma Realm of Principle.
3. The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Specifics and Principle.
4. The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Specifics and Specifics.

That is why the Buddha said:

If one wishes to understand fully
All Buddhas of the three periods of time,
One should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from mind alone.

There is also categorization into ten kinds of Dharma Realms, which further divide into the Four Sagely Dharma Realms and the Six Ordinary Dharma Realms. The Four Sagely and Six Ordinary Dharma Realms, taken together, do not go beyond the nature of one manifest thought of the mind of you and me. One thought is replete with the Ten Dharma Realms, and the Ten Dharma Realms are not separate from one thought of the mind.

The Ten Dharma Realms are:

1. The Dharma Realm of hell-beings.
2. The Dharma Realm of animals
3. The Dharma Realm of hungry ghosts.

Those are called the Three Evil Paths.

4. The Dharma Realm of asuras.
5. The Dharma Realm of humans.
6. The Dharma Realm of gods.

Those are called the Three Good Paths.

What makes you fall into the hells? It is because you do things that make you fall into the hells. For example, if you kill people, set fires, or upset the peaceful workings of society and make all the people in society be shaken by disasters, all of that will lead you to fall into the hells. If you are greedy, you will fall into the hells. If you have thoughts of desire, you will fall into the hells. If you are hateful, you will turn into a hungry ghost. If you are stupid, you will become an animal.

There are said to be eighteen major hells and five hundred minor hells. Actually, there are ten of millions of hells. Hells are not created in advance in anticipation of your falling into them. Rather, hells manifest in response to your karma. If you create the karma of a hell, that hell manifests. Where does the hell manifest? It manifests in your mind. If while you are alive you are unhappy, always worried, if you are constantly crying, then:

With each cry, in hell there is a small, dark room.

In hell there is a small, dark room, a room pitch black, in which there is no light at all; and yet you undergo suffering there. You are in that small, dark room in which you cannot see anything, when suddenly from one side there comes a knife which rips up your body. You bleed and suffer excruciating pain, so intense that you die of the pain. However, strangely enough, once you die of pain, a wind called the “Clever” wind blows, and brings you back to life.

If your are always getting angry, with heavy hatred, then you will turn into a hungry ghost. Hungry ghosts have huge tempers. No matter what comes up, they want to get angry. So, if you like getting angry, you will wind up as a hungry ghost. This, too, happens from always getting angry within your mind.

What makes for animals? Animals are stupid. If you are stupid, and do not understand anything, then you will become an animal. Take a look at animals. Why are they controlled by human beings? It is because they are stupid. They are not as intelligent as human beings.

You may say, “But I’ve seen animals that were very intelligent.” Well, go become that kind of animal then, since you like and admire it so much. It’s not difficult at all. All you have to do is do what animals do. What do animals do? They do stupid things. It’s thinking, “This is something that is not in accord with principle, but I definitely am going to do it. I won’t pay any attention to whether it is principled of not.” That is an example of stupidity becoming manifest. That’s becoming stupid, and that’s how one becomes an animal.

Therefore, the Three Evil Destinies come from the three poisons of greed, hatred and stupidity. How do you get out of the Three Evil Destinies? You do meritorious and virtuous deeds. What is the source of the Three Good Destinies? They come from goodness, merit and virtue. If you do good deeds, you can become a human being. The kind of person you become will depend upon the amount of good you have done. If you have done a lot of good, you can be a gas-and-oil king, a great automotive king, a great gold king, a great silver king, a great diamond king, a great construction king, a great earthly king or a great heavenly king there are that many kinds of great kings to be if you do good.

If you establish merit, there may be situations in which you know there is merit, and you establish it, and there may be situations in which there is not merit, although you think there is and go ahead and establish it. One example is that of helping a country wage war by going and killing people. That is the Dharma Realm of asuras, which is that of going out and fighting with people.

Asuras think that if they are victorious in battle they have merit, and so they are asuras. There are asuras in the heavens, and there are also asuras among human beings, among animals, and among the hungry ghosts all four of those destinies. In the path of animals, the asura is the one that always wants to bully the other animals. Among horses it is the stallion that harms the herd, the one horse of the herd that, if it’s not kicking this one it’s biting that one. That one is an asura. Among human beings, an asura is the one who’s always, stirring up trouble when there isn’t any. Asuras like to fight. They have the blessings of the heavens, but lack heavenly authority. They lack virtue of the gods. Heavenly asuras are called “the wine-less,” for they haven’t any wine to drink. You may object, “Then I couldn’t be an asura. I don’t want to be an asura, because I like to drink wine and they don’t have any wine to drink.” That’s best of all. To avoid being an asura, first you must never lose your temper. If you have a temper, that is the same as the Dharma Realm of asuras. So if you intend not to be an asura, first you should not lose your temper. You should have:

A nature like ashes.

The nature of your heart should be like ashes, with no fire inside. You can also have;

A nature like water.

One’s nature is like water: whoever is thirsty can drink water, and water is yielding, not rigid. Also you can have:

A nature like cotton.

One’s nature is as soft as cotton. When it’s cold, people like to wear quilted cotton clothing, and so it is beneficial to people. If you’re like that, then you will not end up as an asura. “But, you may object, ‘I also don’t want to be clothing for people.’ That was only an analogy. It didn’t mean actually to go and be clothing for people.

Most people who do not understand the Buddhadharma consider being born in the heavens as the ultimate. “Ah,” they say, “to go to the heavenly paradise and be with Lord God!” However, Lord God within Buddhism is just a Dharma protector. He doesn’t even have a place to sit. He has to stand. Some may protest, “I don’t believe it: Lord God standing for the Buddha?” If you don’t believe it, then try it out. Just go ahead and believe in your Lord God, and don’’ believe in the Buddha. It doesn’t matter.

People who don’t understand the Buddhadharma consider Lord God the very highest. However, within the Buddhadharma Lord God is just a local constable. This local constable says to the citizenry he superintends, “I am the very greatest. In the entire world there is no one who is greater than I am. I’m your boss, and you all have to follow my orders.”

The country people, not knowing any better, listen to their local constable’s caliber of wisdom and say, “Ah! He is our Lord. We must constantly draw near to this Lord!” Once that local constable went to visit the mayor, on which occasion he had to be very polite and formal. No one saw it, however, since he went there by himself. The local citizenry still had no idea they were under the jurisdiction of a mayor. What is more, when the local constable went to visit the president, he had to be even more polite. When the president said, “Sit down, have a seat,” he replied, “No, thank you. Standing is just fine. It’s already glorious enough to be standing.”

Lord God is referred to in the line in the Shurangama Mantra: Na mwo Yin two la ye. King Indra, Yin two la ye, is just Lord God. So, recognize him clearly and if you happen to run into Indra and he says he’s King Indra, just say to him, “Oh, aren’t you Lord God?” Ask him that and he’s sure to blush and answer, “Yes, yes.”

The realms of gods are also limitless and unbounded. There is not just one Lord God, there are a great many Lords God. This particular Lord God started out as a woman, and since she was helped by thirty-two other women to repair and gild a Buddha image, her subsequent reward was to become Lord God. That is something which happened a long, long time ago... but she’s still being Lord God. How long ago did it happen? It was much, much longer than several quadrillions of years ago.

You should not act the historian with respect to this, feeling, “I definitely must check and research to what proof there is for this.” There isn’t any proof, except that I’m telling it to you now. You don’t believe it? I’m not particularly pleased if you do believe. I’m just telling you, and whether you believe or not makes no difference. Why not? If you believe, Lord God is still Lord God. If you do not believe, the Buddha is still the Buddha. There will not be any increase or decrease. The Dharma Realm of gods is so manifold that right now it cannot be completely described.

 There is also the Dharma Realm of Sound Hearers. Sound Hearers are Arhats. Of Arhats there are:

1. First Fruit Arhats.
2. Second Fruit Arhats.
3. Third Fruit Arhats.
4. Fourth Fruit Arhats.

You may ask, “Aren’t there any Fifth Fruit Arhats?” Once when I was explaining to people that there is the First Dhyana, the Second Dhyana, the Third Dhyana, and the Fourth Dhyana, there was a person whose head was going a mile a minute who said, “I know , I know: there’s an even higher level which is the Fifth Dhyana.” Hah! He’d gone to the Fifth Dhyana!

Arhats can only certify to the four fruits. Those of the First Fruit have cut off the eighty-eight grades of view delusions. View delusions occur when one gives rise to greed and desire when confronted by states, in other words, when you see something and are turned by it. For example, you may see a good-looking car and think, “Wow! How can I get a car like that? I could drive it around and wouldn’t have to walk!” That is giving rise to greed and love, which is simple view delusions. If you saw the car and did not strike up that kind of false thinking, you would not have any view delusions. The same holds true for airplanes, fine houses, attractive clothing, beautiful possessions. In general, everything is included, and there’s no need for detailed explanation: you can figure it out for yourself. In general, whenever you see something, and you have greed and love for it. “Ah! I can’t put it down to the point that you can’t sleep at night for thinking about ... it. What is it? Pretty things. Ah! It is really too fine!” That’s the way you think about those states, and, faced with states, you give rise to greed and love. That’s view delusions.

Thought delusions occur when one is confused about principle and gives rise to discriminations. Confused, you don’t understand the principle, and so you have discriminating false thoughts. For example, you may say, “What is said in the Flower Adornment Sutra is very well and good, but I’m afraid that’s not really the way things are. I shouldn’t believe it. I should believe myself and not believe the Flower Adornment Sutra. National Master Ch’ing Liang had his ten requirements to urge himself on, but that was his business; and besides, it’s all just talk. It’s not for sure he really was that way.” You discriminate, “It is this way, it isn’t that way. It’s true, it’s false.”

Sages of the First Fruit, Sound Hearers of the First Fruit, have cut off eighty-eight grades of view delusions, while there are eighty-one kinds of thought delusions. You may say, “I haven’t seen that many.” Not only have you not seen them, you haven’t even heard of them; so how could you possible have seen them? Isn’t that right? When one certifies to the Second Fruit of Arhatship, one cuts off all the eighty-one grades of thought delusions.

When one testifies to the Third Fruit, one cuts off delusions like dust and sand, i.e., delusions as many as there are motes of dust or grains of sand, which are very subtle. There are coarse delusions and subtle delusions. Thought delusions are also called subtle delusions. Someone who certifies to the Third Fruit cuts off delusions which are as many as sand and dust, and then all things that were not understood, as many as sand and dust, are all understood. “Not bad,” you say. Not bad? Then try it out: just go ahead and cultivate.

The more one speaks, the more there is to say. One never says it all; so I won’t say more.

Arhats of the First Fruit have cut off eighty-eight grades of view delusions. Those of the Second Fruit have cut off the first six grades of thought delusion. When one testifies to the Third Fruit, one cuts off three more grades, and has severed nine grades of thought delusion in all. Fourth Fruit Arhats cut off all eighty-one grades of thought delusion in the Three Realms.

The Dharma Realm of Those Enlightened to Conditions comes next. When a Buddha is in the world, they hear the Buddha explain the Twelve Links of Conditioned Co-Production and become enlightened to the Way, and so they are called Those Enlightened to Conditions.

The Dharma Realm of Sound Hearers is followed by the Dharma Realm of those Enlightened to Conditions. Sound Hearers are called Sound Hearers because they:

Hear the sound of the Buddha’s voice and become enlightened to the Way.

They cultivate the Dharma door of the Four Truths:

1. Suffering.
2. Accumulations.
3. Extinction.
4. The Way.

Those Enlightened to Conditions: Cultivate the Twelve Causal Conditions and become enlightened to the Way.

When no Buddha is in the world, they cultivate by themselves and become enlightened, so they are called Those Solitarily Enlightened. Off alone in steep mountains and remote valleys, they observe the continual birth and death of the myriad things and become enlightened.

The Dharma Realm of Bodhisattvas is one of benefiting oneself while benefiting others, taking oneself across while taking others across, and enlightening oneself while enlightening others. What Bodhisattvas cultivate is the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts.

The Six Paramitas

1. Giving.
2. Holding Precepts.
3. Patience.
4. Vigor.
5. Dhyana-Samadhi.
6. Prajna Wisdom.

Paramita is a Sanskrit word which translates as “Crossed to the Other Shore.” The analogy is that of crossing a body of water. For example, if one goes from San Francisco to Oakland, one has ‘arrived at the other shore.’ Now there is a bridge, so one may go by bridge without having to take a ferryboat. Having crossed to the other shore is just having done something to completion. Taking giving, for instance. If previously I didn’t give, but now I do give, then that is to have crossed to the other shore of giving. If I never used to keep the precepts, but now I do keep the precepts, that is to have crossed to the other shore of holding precepts. If I never used to be patient, but now I am patient, that is to have crossed to the other shore of patience. If I never used to be vigorous, but now I am vigorous, that is to have crossed to the other shore of vigor. If I never used to cultivate dhyana-samadhi, but now I do cultivate dhyana-samadhi, that is to have crossed to the other shore of dhyana-samadhi. If I never used to cultivate wisdom, but now I do cultivate wisdom, that, too, is to have crossed to the other shore of wisdom. Bodhisattvas cultivate those six kinds of Paramitas, six kinds of Crossings to the Other Shore. They want to benefit other people, and so they are said to:

Benefit themselves while benefiting others,
Take themselves across while taking others across.
One should take oneself across to the other shore.
That is why Bodhisattvas constantly make the vows:

My own nature’s living beings I vow to take across.
My own nature’s afflictions I vow to eradicate.
My own nature’s Dharma doors I vow to study.
My own nature’s Buddhahood I vow to accomplish.

Their vows are to take their own nature across to the other shore and, by so doing, take others across as well, since there is a reciprocal relationship between oneself and others. The reason that Buddhas want to take living beings across is that living beings are all Buddhas ¾ it’s just that living beings are unaware of it, and so the Buddha needs to explain the Buddhadharma in order to bring living beings to accomplish Buddhahood. Bodhisattvas use the Buddhadharma to teach living beings and so they take themselves across while taking others across, enlightening themselves while enlightening others.

Once they are enlightened themselves, they reflect, “Enlightenment’s not bad at all! Everything is understood. Everything is suddenly penetrated. There is no ignorance and there are no afflictions. It’s extremely wonderful! This is truly an inconceivable state! But it’s useless for me to be the only one who attains this kind of state. I ought to enlighten everyone, all people, so that they, too, all attain this kind of inconceivable and supremely wonderful state.” Thereupon, instead of settling down in the wondrous state, they keep incredibly busy, every day intent upon teaching living beings and taking them across, in order to bring all living beings to attain the same kind of enlightenment they themselves have attained. That is what it means to bring forth the thought of a Bodhisattva, and describes the Dharma Realm of Bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattvas are also made from the mind in the same way as Sound Hearers and those Enlightened to Conditions are made from the mind. If in your mind you want to be a Bodhisattva, for example, you go ahead and cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. But if in your mind you think, ‘I don’t want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. It just leads one to take a loss, and I don’t want to take a loss,’ at that time you are unwilling to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. People who cultivate the Bodhisattva Way bring forth the great thought for Bodhi, and use the mind of the Dharma Realm to cultivate the conduct of the Dharma Realm.

This is a further Dharma Realm, that of the Buddha. The Buddha is enlightened himself, and he enlightens others. Furthermore, his enlightened conduct is perfected. His virtuous conduct is perfected, and his cultivation is perfected absolutely everything has been perfected, and so he has accomplished Buddhahood. What is a Buddha? Just a person. However, that person has returned to the origin and gone back to the source. He has understood his original face. He has found his own home. In that way he has accomplished Buddhahood. The very first thing the Buddha did upon accomplishing Buddhahood was to speak the Great Flower Adornment Sutra. For three whole weeks, twenty-one days, the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, and it was not through his Reward Body, it was through his Dharma Body. He appeared as Vairochana Buddha to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra, and during that time all that the people of the Two Vehicles saw was the Buddha seated there in samadhi, not speaking Dharma. The Great Lords of the Dharma Body, the Bodhisattvas, saw the Buddha speaking Dharma. To the people of the Two Vehicles, the Buddha still looked like a six-foot tall Bhikshu seated in meditation. In actuality, while the Buddha was seated there in mediation, he was manifesting the clear, pure Dharma Body, and speaking the Great Flower Adornment Sutra. But even though the people of the Two Vehicles had eyes, they could not see Nishyanda Buddha. And although they had ears, the couldn’t hear the sound of the Buddha’s voice. The Buddha thereupon manifested the clear and pure Dharma Body Vairochana Buddha, and the perfect, full Reward Body Nishyanda Buddha. How big and how tall was that Nishyanda Buddha? He was a thousand feet tall. The thousand foot Nishyanda Buddha, along with the Dharma Body, completely filled every space and, at the appearance of the Nishyanda Buddha Body, all of the Bodhisattvas were able to see the Buddha speaking the Flower Adornment Sutra, which the Arhats couldn’t see. Now, we may not be Arhats, but then again, we may be Bodhisattvas, because now we are able to see and hear the Flower Adornment Sutra. Perhaps in the past we planted the caused for Bodhisattva-hood, so that we now are in circumstances in which we can hear this great Dharma and great Teaching.

When divided up, the Ten Dharma Realms exist as described: but when taken together, they are just the manifestation of a single thought of our mind. That single thought of the mind universally fills the Ten Dharma Realms, and so it is further said:

If one wishes to understand fully
All Buddhas of the three periods of time,
One should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from mind alone.

The Buddhas of the three worlds of time are those of the past worlds, the present worlds, and the futures. To know how the Buddhas of the three worlds of time became Buddhas, all you need to do is contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm as being entirely created from the mind alone.

How did those of you now attending the Buddhist Study and Cultivation Summer Session come here? You may say, “I bought a plane ticket and flew here,” or, “I bought a bus ticket and the bus brought me here.” Perhaps you say, “I used my old dilapidated jalopy, drove for a few days, and got here.” That’s all not the truth. You’re all wrong. You came by means of your mind. In your mind you thought, “Oh, the Sino-American Buddhist Association is having a Study and Cultivation Summer Session. The first one was ninety-six days long, the second one was ninety-six days long, and the third also was ninety-six days long. But the duration of this fourth one has been cut down. It’s probably very easy. I’ll go attend it and see what it’s like. It’s just for a few weeks, so no matter how difficult it is, I’ll be able to bear the suffering. At that time, in your mind you said, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Because you thought to come, now you have arrived. Now that you have arrived, you have become a student in the Flower Adornment Buddhist Study and Cultivation Session. Isn’t that just a case of everything being made from mind alone? It came about simply from your mind.

If you had never had the intention in your mind to come, then you might have had a plane, a boat, a bus, or a train, but they all would have been useless. Without the thought of coming, you would never have taken the first step, so how could you have come here? Therefore, everything is made from mind alone.

What this the mind? You may say, “The mind is just the mind. What else could it be?” I’ll tell you: the mind is just the Dharma Realm. Now doesn’t the text say, “This can only be the Dharma Realm!”? We could make a substitution and say, “This can be only be your mind!”. It’s just your mind. You may object, “But I thought the Dharma Realm was very great, and here it is changing into my mind, which is so small.” How can your mind be small? Didn’t you just hear how the Ten Dharma Realms are simply the manifestation of a single thought of the mind? How then could your mind be all that small? Your mind is greater than empty space. It is bigger than heaven and earth. It is just that you are unable to use it. Your mind is:

So great nothing is beyond it,
So small nothing is within it.

However, you are only aware of having a small mind, a mind the size of fine mote of dust. Your state is too small. If your state were great, then you would know you have a great mind.

II. SPECIFIC PRAISE OF THAT WHICH ILLUSTRATES

Preface:

Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle,
Understanding and expanding the mind and its states;
Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature,
Penetrating the result which includes the cause;
Deep and wide and interfused,
Vast and great and totally complete,
Surely this must be:
The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra!

Commentary:

Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle. To open is, for example, to take a knife and cut something open ¾ perhaps lychee nuts. If you crack open the outer shell of a lychee nut, you have opened it up. Once you have opened it, you disclose it, opening and disclosing what? Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle. What, then, is the mysterious and wonderful, the fine and subtle? It is just the Dharma Realm that was previously discussed. The previous section of text was the Presentation of the Substance of the Doctrine. The section of text just given is called the Specific Praise of That Which Illustrates the mysterious and subtle. It is too wonderful! To open and disclose the mysterious and subtle is to open up this inconceivable state.

Understanding and expanding the mind and its states. To understand is similar to illumining, and expanding means enlarging. One expands the small to make it great. A fan is a good example. It starts out quite small, but then extend it, open it out, and it becomes very large. Umbrellas work the same way. Most of the time umbrellas are kept furled up small, but when it rains people open them and they’re quite large. Now what is being expanded and opened up is the mind and its states. National Master Ch’ing Liang was aware that our states are really small, that we are unable to let go at all. Whenever someone says something good about you, you grab it and run. Whenever someone says anything bad about you, the feature on your face all merge together, and your eyebrows limit into a frown. With that kind of state, how can you cultivate? Or, maybe someone scolds you, and you virtually go insane; or people slander you and you sink into a fit of depression. Why does that happen? It is from not understand and expanding the mind and its states, from being too small-minded. You need to be able to understand and expand the mind and its states.

Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature. “Exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature: is a phrase from the Book of Changes: “By exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature, they arrived at Fate.” I remarked before that National Mater Ch’ing Liang was very learned, and that he had thoroughly mastered the Book of Changes. In this composition he uses a great many expressions which are taken from the Book of Changes. “Exhausting” means using up. Here one exhausts uses up the mysterious and wonderful principles than which there is nothing more mysterious and wonderful. “Fathoming” also has the idea of finishing, which makes it parallel to using up.

Here, the nature is fathomed to the utmost. In fathoming the nature of people, one fathoms the nature of people, one fathoms one’s own nature, and one fathoms the nature of all things. One realizes, “Oh, this person likes to go off and have a good time in the mountains. That person likes to go swimming and enjoy himself in the water. This person likes to sit in meditation. That person likes to take drugs. Each one likes something different.” Once you know what each one likes, then you have fathomed their nature. Once you have fathomed the nature of people, you still need to fathom your own nature. “I know about people, but now what kind of a person am I? Isn’t it the case that I don’t have the least bit of samadhi power, or even a fraction of wisdom? Don’t I just want to get angry all day long and always feel like getting upset? That’s really strange, who tells me to get upset? Why does it happen? Where does it come from? Oh! It’s basically because my ignorance is so heavy.” That is how one fathom one’s own nature. Once one knows oneself, one can say, “Come on, don’t be so rotten. You ought to go along a good path,” and that way one acts as one’s own supervisor. Once you know about people and about yourself, you still need to know about things. For example, a teacup is a thing used for drinking tea, while an incense burner is used for burning incense. When you know what everything is used for, and what it’s good for, then you have fathomed the nature of all things, exhausting the principle and fathoming the nature.

Penetrating the result which includes the cause. To penetrate means to go through, so that results encompass causes, and causes penetrate through to results. It is as is said: Causes include the sea of results, and results penetrate through to the causal source. “Causes include the sea of results” means that the time when one is on the causal ground encompasses the result ground. “And results penetrate through to the causal source” means that at the time of the result there is also penetration through to the causal source. This Sutra states, “Upon first production of the thought, one right then accomplishes Proper Enlightenment.” In the very first thought- instant of the initial production of the resolve, one just then accomplishes Proper, Equal, Right Enlightenment and becomes a Buddha. Therefore, that is the meaning of Causes include the sea of results and results penetrate through to the causal source. It is as mysterious and subtle as that.

Deep and Wide and Interfused. Deep means profound, and wide means vast. You could say that deep means very deep, extremely profound, one-does-not-know-how profound, as deep as the sea; while wide means vast and great extent. Both profound and vast, it is compared to the great sea. Interfused means combined and fused, interpenetrated. The principles of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra are both profound and vast, and yet they also combine, interpenetrate, and perfectly fuse. They may be described both as perfectly fusing and as interpenetrating; as being fused together, and as being strung through. They are both combined and fused, and strung together as if threaded on a string strung through and so interpenetrated.

Vast and great and totally complete. Totally complete means just as it ought to be: not deficient or excessive, not too little and not too much just right. It is also entirely whole and totally complete replete with wonderful, subtle and inconceivable principles.
Surely This Must Be:

The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra!

The seven words Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra constitute the title of the Sutra, which has a common name and a particular name. Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment is the particular name, the name that is particular to this Sutra. The single word Sutra is the common name, inasmuch as all Sutras are called “Sutra” in common. Just as people of whatever nationality are called “people” as their common name, so too all separate Sutras have the common designation “Sutra.” Just as people all have their own personal names, Sutras also have their own individual names. The family names of Mr. Jang and Mr. Lee are Jang and Lee respectively; but they also have personal names, for example, Big Jang or Little Lee, which are personal names. Westerners too, may be called Steve, Stan, Frank, or any number of particular names.

Great in the title means that, because its substance encompasses empty space and has no borders whatsoever, it may be called “great.” Means are just methods, i.e., the Buddhadharmas, which comprise inexhaustible Dharma doors that are as infinite, as unending and as deep as the sea. Described in terms of height and depth, it is Great. Described in terms of breadth and extent, it is Expansive. It is so expansive that there is nothing more expansive, and everything is included within it. Its functioning is great, its substance is great, and its appearance is great. Its functioning is expansive, its substance is expansive, and its appearance is expansive. That’s a simple summary explanation of the three words Great Means Expansive.

The Buddha is a greatly enlightened person: free from enlightenment, and from anything enlightened to. What is meant by “free from enlightenment”? Day after day we want to become enlightened, and so we are not free from enlightenment. After one becomes enlightened, one is free from enlightenment, and from anything enlightened to. One is freed from what there was to become enlightened to. Someone may now say, “Well, then, does that means that all I have to do is be free of enlightenment to be a Buddha?” Go ahead and try. You can be a phony Buddha.

Brightly shining everywhere. The Buddha’s wisdom brightly shines everywhere, even brighter than the light of the sun: shining everywhere on all. The Buddha’s light shines everywhere. If you can shine everywhere on all, then you can say you are free from enlightenment and from anything enlightened to. If you cannot shine everywhere on all, then you cannot be said to be free from enlightenment and from anything enlightened to.

Brightly shine every where. As to wisdom brightly shining everywhere, once one is free from Enlightenment and from anything enlightened to, then the light of one’s wisdom is brighter than the light of the sun:

Shining everywhere on all.

If you can shine everywhere on all, then you can say you are free from Enlightenment and from anything enlightened to. If you cannot shine everywhere on all, then you cannot be said to be free from Enlightenment and from anything enlightened to.

A few years ago I met a person from China who thought that he was enlightened. He said, “I used to read all sorts of books: Buddhist, Taoist, medical and so forth; but now I don’t read books at all. I no longer need books at all.” His meaning was that he was perfected, that he had all-wisdom. I asked him, “What do you do now?” He said, “Oh, I sell wine.” I said, “It’s no wonder you don’t read books: you’re drunk on wine!” He was very embarrassed.

It’s not just a matter of saying, “I’ve already opened Enlightenment.” What Enlightenment have you opened? How did you open it? It is comparable to a lock: You need a key to be able to open the lock. If it was locked and you opened it, how did you get it open? Did you simply break the lock? That does not count as opening if; that’s unreasonable, and like a thief wantonly destroys other peoples’ property. The Buddha is free from Enlightenment and of anything enlightened to, and shines and so is called “Buddha

A Flower has fragrance, which here represents the virtuous conduct which the Buddha perfected, and which adorns him with a rare fragrance. Adornment is decoration. The merit and virtue from cultivation are used to adorn the ten kinds of bodies which the Buddha has. That is Adornment.

Sutra has a great many meanings, among which are those of “bubbling spring” and “inked cord.” “Bubbling spring” means that the sutra is like a spring of water which bubbles up from within the earth and flows incessantly without interruption. The meaning of “inked cord” comes from the fact that sutras discuss various kinds of guidelines and methods that show people how to cultivate. They are just like the cords used by carpenters which they hold taut to make a straight line. “Inked cord” stands both for cords chalked white and cords inked black. You may object that if it’s chalked white it can’t be an inked cord though maybe the chalk could stand for white ink. Anyway, if you object to chalk being called ink, you may call it whatever you like.

Sutra has four further meanings:

1. Stringing together.
2. Attracting.
3. Permanent.
4. Method.

“Stringing together” refers to the Way, for example, recitation beads are pierced through and strung together on a string. From the very beginning until the end, all the words in a sutra are strung together in the same way as recitation beads. It completely strings together all the meanings which are spoken.

“Attracting” means it attracts and holds those with potential to be taught. It is comparable to a magnet which attracts iron filings as soon as it appears. It attracts and holds those with potential to be taught. Those of you who have come here, some from as far away as New York, were attracted here by this Sutra, as those with potential to be taught. You may say, “I don’t believe that. I came on my own.” When you “came on your own,” it was just the power of the Sutra that attracted you only you were unaware of it. You were drawn here from New York like an iron filing to a magnet.

At this year’s summer session there is old friend of mine, who is also an old friend of one of my disciples. I remember once when I went to New York, he took me to the YMCA and helped me a great deal besides. At that time I couldn’t speak English. Not only that, but I couldn’t even speak Chinese. However, when I went to New York, at least I wasn’t like Mr. Tou. When he got to New York and someone asked him, “Where are you going?” He replied, “I’m going to New York.” When they asked again, “Where are you going?” He again said, “I’m going to New York.” He’d been in New York for over four hours, and when they asked him, “What part of New York are you going to?” He just said, “I’m going to New York.” He was just going to New York. At least, I wasn’t such a country bumpkin as that. I called this old friend of mine on the phone, and he came and took me to stay at the YMCA. That time I found him, and this year he has come to find me. Why is that? He was attracted by the Sutra. He’s saying, “I don’t believe it.” Believe it or not, you came. This is just an explanation of the meaning. You don’t necessarily have to believe this reason just because it’s stated, and it isn’t necessarily that way. So put your mind at ease, and don’t feel you have to argue with me. O.K.? That’s attracting and holding those with potential to be taught.

Permanent” means unchanging. Not only does it not change now, but it did not change in the past, and also in the future it will not change. From the beginning to the present it has not changed, and so it is permanent. “Method” means that all living beings, whether of the past, the present or the future; from this direction or from that direction; from the East, West, North, South, above or below, the Southeast, the Southwest, the Northeast or the Northwest all the ten directions and three periods of time should rely upon this method to cultivate.

The term Sutra has that many meanings and more, but if I give more I’m afraid you won’t remember them... or maybe you have already forgotten them. You say, “The Dharma Master is always joking.” If I didn’t joke, how much truth would I have to talk about? If you hear it as joking, it’s joking. If you hear it as Buddhadharma, it’s Buddhadharma. It’s not a question of whether the Dharma Master is joking: if you feel what I say is incorrect, then even if I speak correctly, it’s incorrect. If you consider what I say correct, then even if I speak confusedly and incorrectly, you feel, “That’s not bad. He certainly speaks a lot better than these American Dharma Masters.” Isn’t that right? It is that way.

III. THE TEACHING HOST'S INCONCEIVABILITY

Preface:

Therefore, our World Honored One,
The ten bodies just fulfilled,
Proper Enlightenment first perfected,
Rides vows and conduct all-pervasive,
Unites with empty space in substance and nature,
Is wealthy with ten thousand virtues,
And cleansed without the finest dust.

Commentary:

This is the section of The Teaching Host’s Inconceivability. Therefore, means consequently. In saying, Our, National Master Ch’ing Liang is referring to himself. The World-Honored One is Shakyamuni Buddha, whom he calls our World-Honored One, that is, our Buddha. He could have been referring instead to the Buddha that all of us will become in the future by saying our World-Honored One, but in this passage it should be explained as, our World-Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha.

The Ten Bodies Just Fulfilled. The Buddha has ten kinds of bodies, which will be explained in detail when we reach that text or the Sutra. Just fulfilled refers to when they had just been attained and brought to fulfillment.

Proper Enlightenment first perfected. “Proper Enlightenment first perfected” is identical with “the ten bodies just fulfilled;” and “the ten bodies just fulfilled” are just “Proper Enlightenment first perfected.” The meaning is the same. Proper Enlightenment refers to proper knowledge and proper views, not the deviant views of sects of externalist ways. Those of externalist ways also have an enlightenment, but it is evil, not proper. When Shakyamuni Buddha first realized Buddhahood, he sighed and said, “Strange indeed!” three times:

Strange indeed! Strange indeed! Strange indeed! All living beings have the Buddha nature. All can become Buddhas. It is only due to false thinking and attachments that they do not certify to attainment.

His statement was that all living beings can realize Buddhahood, unlike some religions which claim, “I alone am true. All the rest of you are false.” The Buddha was not that way, but instead stated that all living beings can realize Buddhahood. “Living beings” refers not just to human beings, but to non-humans are well; animals, hungry ghosts, up to and including the beings suffering in the hells. All they need to do is change from bad to good. “The Sea of Suffering is boundless; a turn of the head is the other shore.” Then they can realize Buddhahood. Buddhism has that magnitude. it is not a case of, “Only I can become Buddha. None of the rest of you can become Buddha.” It is not that way. Everyone has a share. Everybody can become a Buddha. When the Buddha first perfected Proper Enlightenment, he saw that all living beings could realize Buddhahood.

Rides vows and conduct all-pervasive. Riding is using something as a conveyance to go somewhere. He rides his vows and conduct. For example, if you board a boat and go somewhere, that’s taking a boat ride. If you go by car, that’s riding a car. If you mount a horse, that’s horseback riding. Riding, then, is getting into or on something to go somewhere. Here it is getting on and going by the power of his vows. The vows that Shakyamuni Buddha made on the causal ground were measureless and boundless, all-pervasive. “All-pervasive is another expression from the Book of Changes, in which it is said:

When the Sages made the Changes,
They based them upon the principles of heaven and earth,
Those principles being all-pervasive.

“All-pervasive” means extending everywhere and including everything. Extending everywhere means: No place is not gone to; nothing is excluded. Including everything means: Inclusive of the myriad existing things. That is, all of the myriad shapes and appearances are included within them, and so they are described as all-pervasive because the power of the Buddha’s vows extends everywhere and includes everything. Unlike us who make one vow and consider that sufficient, Shakyamuni Buddha on the causal ground made endless, inexhaustible great vows in each and every life, all of which were to accomplish Buddhahood and rescue living beings.

Unites with empty space in substance and nature. The Buddha is identical with empty space, and so it is said: If people wish to understand the Buddha’s state, they should purify their minds like empty space.” That is, if you want to know what the Buddha’s state is like, you ought to purify your thinking. Like what? Like empty space. That is why it says, “Unites with empty space is substance and nature.” To unite with is to combine with, become one with, and have the same substance as empty space. Empty space has no appearance and no boundaries, and the Buddha’s substance and nature are the same as that of empty space; and so he is said to unite with empty space in substance and nature.

Is wealthy with ten thousand virtues. “Ten thousand virtues” is a generalizing and symbolic expression. In fact, tens of thousand of tens of thousands is more like it. To say that the Buddha is adorned with ten thousand virtues and wealthy with ten thousand virtues really means he has the ultimate amount of blessings and honor it is possible to possess. He is adorned with the myriad virtues.

And cleansed without the finest dust. Cleansed means clean or cleaned. For example, our lecture hall periodically must be cleaned up, swept and purified. If you don’t sweep it, it will be dusty. The Buddha, however, is wealth with ten thousand virtues, and cleansed without the finest dust. He hasn’t the least bit of defiling dust. Being wealthy with ten thousand virtues means having wisdom which understands perfectly, while being cleansed without the finest dust refers to the complete eradication of karmic obstances, that all karmic obstacles have been “emptied.”

“Dust” is also an allusion to the complete elimination of all view-delusions, thought-delusions, and delusions like dust and sand. It could also be said to stand for putting an end to ignorance, in which case afflictions like dust and sand also disappear: taking everything which is impure and making it all pure without remainder getting rid of it all.

IV. THE SPOKEN MEANINGS' UNIVERSAL PERVASION

Preface:

The pellucid waves of his deep, sea-like wisdom are empty,
yet hold myriad reflections.
The full moon of his glistening, space-like nature
at once scatters in one hundred streams.
Without rising from beneath the King of Trees,
he extends to seven places in the Dharma Realm.
Unhindered by the bounds of ‘afterwards,’
He pervades the nine assemblies as he first succeeds.
Exhausting vast expanses of esoteric doctrine,
he aids the hard-to-conceive-of,
oceans-wide assembly.
The perfect sound continually scatters through ten kshetras,
yet suddenly is everywhere.
Host and attendants keep repeating to the limits
of the ten directions, yet in unison proclaim.

Commentary:

This section of text is The Spoken Meanings’ Universal Pervasion, which describes how to modes of activity in speaking this Sutra are universal in scope and extend everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm.

Therefore, it begins: The Pellucid waves of his deep, sea-like wisdom. Deep represents profound stillness, and sea-like wisdom indicated that his wisdom is like the sea. However, it is profound and quiet, unmoving and still. The waves are pellucid, clear and still. That is, there are no waves at all. The absence of waves also stands for the complete eradication of afflictions: those waves disappear. Therefore it says that the pellucid waves of his deep, sea-like wisdom are empty, yet hold myriad reflections. In the same way as empty space includes all the myriad things that exist, the Buddha, with sea-like wisdom, understands all principles that exist. There is nothing that he does not know, nothing that he cannot do.

The full moon of his glistening, space-like nature. Glistening means bright and pure, while the full moon of his space-like nature means that his nature is like a full moon in empty space, the moon on the fifteenth day of the lunar month. It at once scatters in one hundred streams. One hundred streams is a way of saying all places where there is water. At once scatters: His nature is like the luminous, full moon is empty space, which at one and the same time appears in all places that have water. Therefore, it is said:

A thousand pools have water;
A thousand pools have moons.
One moon universally appears in all waters;

The single moon can make a luminous reflection of a moon appear universally in all waters. Then are there that many moons? No. As if says in the Song of Enlightenment of Great Master Yung Chia:

The moons of all waters come from a single moon.

All of the moons within the waters are reflections of one single moon. Although there are thousands upon tens of thousands of pools of water, in which there appear thousand upon tens of thousand of reflected moons, the basic substance of the moon is one. Therefore it says that the full moon of his glistening, space-like nature, his self-nature which is like a full moon in empty space, at once scatters in one hundred streams. This is the “at one” of the Sudden or All-at-Once Teaching. It scatters all-at-once into all waters. There is “water” within the minds of all living beings, and within the Buddha Nature there is “moonlight” which lights up the water in the minds of living beings. If the water in our minds of living beings is pure, Bodhi every day increases. If the mind is pure, Bodhi becomes bigger and grows higher day by day. At once scattering into the hundred streams has that meaning. If the water in the minds of living beings is pure, the light comes in and illuminates the water of our minds. If the water in our minds is not pure, the light of the Buddha nature cannot illuminate us. It is like a pool of water: if the water is murky, there is no reflection of the moon. If it is pure and clear, then in the water there appears a moon. It at once scatters in one hundred streams.

First The Bodhimanda (Field of Enlightenment)
Second, Seventh, and Eighth The Universal Light Palace
Third The Trayastrimsha Heaven
Fourth The Suyama Heaven
Fifth The Tushita Heaven
Sixth The Paranirmitavashavartin Heaven
Ninth The Jeta Grove’s Multi-storied Lecture Hall

The nine assemblies of speaking in the seven places all took place upon the initial accomplishment of the Way. Actually, the final one, the Multi-storied Lecture Hall also called the Jeta Grove, had not been built yet, and so the hall was not yet in existence when the Buddha accomplished the Way. If that lecture hall did not yet exist, then how did the Buddha manage to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra there? That has to be described as “wonderful.” The Buddha is able to move limitless kalpas of the past to the present, and move limitless kalpas of the future to the present too. There is no past there is no present and there is no future either. Therefore it is said: Past thought cannot be got at; present thought cannot be got at; future thought cannot be got at.” Why is that? If you say there is a present, that is an attachment. If you say there is a past, that is also attachment. If you say there is a future, that is attachment too. If you have no attachments, the past has already gone by, and the present does not stop. If you say, “This is the present,” that interval of one kshana right before your eyes has also already gone by. And so the saying goes: “The three thoughts cannot be got at.” That is to break people’s attachments.

Now, Shakyamuni Buddha, without rising from beneath the King of Trees, in that single place, does not arise from where he is sitting. He remains seated there, and yet he pervasively goes everywhere to every place and speaks the Dharma. He pervades all places and speaks Dharma. On the other hand, he can be in every place and not get up from his seat; in all Buddha lands be seated underneath the Bodhi tree, not arising from his seat, yet go to various places to speak the Dharma for living beings. That is, on the one hand, you may describe it in terms of his not arising from his seat in that one location yet being able to go to other places to speak the Dharma; that without getting up from his seat he can go to other places to speak Dharma. On the other hand, you may say that while located in a single place he is able to pervade seven places and speak the Dharma. That is because his state is inconceivable.

his state is inconceivable. The Buddha is able to compress limitless kalpas into a single thought, and stretch a single thought out to limitless kalpas. So it is said, Without rising from beneath the King of Trees, he extends to seven places in the Dharma Realm. Just sitting in that one place, he goes to seven places and speaks Dharma, the Great Flower Adornment Sutra.

Unhindered by the bounds of ‘afterwards; pervades the nine assemblies as he first succeeds. The way we people look at things, there is a definite ‘before’ and a clearly defined ‘afterwards.’ ‘Afterwards’ cannot move ahead to ‘before,’ and ‘before’ cannot be moved to ‘afterwards.’ However, the wonderful aspect of Shakyamuni Buddha’s speaking Dharma is not something ordinary people can know. Actually, immediately upon accomplishing Buddhahood, in the Jeta Grove he was able to make the Multi-storied Lecture Hall appear, and he spoke Dharma there. It is also known as the multi-stored hall in the wilds, a hall with many stories built in the wilderness. When he first accomplished Buddhahood, that structure did not exist, and yet he was able to bring that Multi-storied Hall into being and speak the Flower Adornment Sutra there. So the Preface reads: Unhindered by the bounds of ‘afterwards.’ He was not hindered by the limitation of what came afterwards. He pervades the nine assemblies as he first succeeds. In the twenty-one day period after accomplishing the Way, he extended to nine occasions of Dharma assemblies.

Exhausting vast expanses of esoteric doctrine. To exhaust means to use up, and vast means vast and great. Expanses suggests both space and amplitude. The esoteric is the mysterious, what people do not see. You could call it obscure, in the sense of occluded, but as having a wonderful aspect which people do not easily understand. It is not easy for people to see or hear esoteric doctrine.

He aids the hard-to-conceive-of, ocean-wide assembly. Aids means teaches. The Buddha’s Dharma is able to teach the hard-to-conceive-of, ocean-wide assembly of living beings. Hard-to-conceive-of means that you do not know how many living beings there are. The assembly is everyone collected together, described as ocean-wide because it resembles the sea. The Buddha employed the Sea-Seal Samadhi to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra. To speak the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, the Buddha entered the samadhi of the station of limitless meanings, but to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra, the Buddha entered The Sea-Seal Samadhi. The “Sea” of the Sea-Seal Samadhi refers to the seas of perfumed water of which there are seven which encircle Mount Sumeru. They are profoundly still and waveless, without even a single wave. Nonetheless, all the form bodies of all the living beings in the worlds of the ten directions appear within the seas of perfumed water in just the same way as a seal makes an imprint on an object. All the living beings of the worlds of the ten directions who have shape and form have a seal-imprint within the seas of perfumed water, just like prints of seals on paper hence the name” Sea-Seal Samadhi.” That is what is being described when it says, “He aids the hard-to-conceive-of, ocean-wide assembly.”

The perfect sound continually scatters. The perfect sound is very full and complete. When the Buddha speaks the Dharma: He speaks the Dharma with a single sound. Each being understands it according to its kind. When the Buddha speaks Dharma, the gods hear it as the language of the heavens. Bodhisattvas hear it as the language of Bodhisattvas. Those Enlightened by Conditions hear it as the language of Those Enlightened by Conditions. Arhats hear it as the language of Arhats. People hear it as the language of people. Animals hear it as the language of animals. Hungry ghosts hear it as the language spoken by hungry ghosts. Living beings in the hells hear it as the language of used in the hells. And so the Buddha employs one kind of sound to speak the Dharma, and living beings of whatever category all take in that Dharma. That is why it says, he speaks the Dharma with a single sound and each living being understands it according to its kind. That’s why it says the perfect sound continually scatters. Continually scatters means that all living beings, upon hearing this Dharma, understand it as if it had scattered right into their minds; as if it had fallen right into the living beingsminds.

Through ten kshetras, yet suddenly is everywhere. “Suddenly” means right away. This sound is not confined to a single country, but in all other places in all Buddha-lands, the sound of the Buddha speaking Dharma can be heard, and the appearance of the Buddha speaking Dharma can be seen. It is just like the pure, full moon in empty space. Everyone who sees the pure, full moon in space feels that the moon is facing him and that it is shining right on him. It is that way with the Buddha too. When the Buddha speaks Dharma, each living being feels that the Buddha is right before him, speaking the Dharma right to him. Therefore, it says “The perfect sound continually scatters through ten kshetras, yet suddenly in every where.”

The perfect sound, right away, is universally everywhere, in all the seas of Buddha kshetras, Buddha-lands. “Kshetra” is a Sanskrit word for land or country. To say “ten kshetras” is just a symbolic way of saying all countries, not just ten. It means that the limitless seas of kshetras of all Buddhas all display the appearance of Shakyamuni Buddha speaking Dharma.

Host and attendants keep repeating. The Host is Shakyamuni Buddha, and the attendants are all the great Bodhisattvas. They keep being repeated endlessly without exhaustion, and without exhaustion are endlessly duplicated. That kind of state is inconceivable. Therefore it says, Host and attendants keep repeating, to the limits of the ten directions. To the limits of means to the utmost reaches of the countries of all Buddhas of the ten directions. Yet in unison proclaim. At one and the same time they all speak the Great Flower Adornment Sutra. The seven places and nine assemblies appear in each and every Buddha’s land. In all the other countries there appear these states and the inconceivable speaking of the Flower Adornment Sutra, and so it says, to the limits of the ten directions, yet in unison proclaim. At the same time they all proclaim the doctrines of this Sutra.

At this point in the explanation of the Preface, some people have raised a doubt. They are wondering how to reconcile the previous statement that when the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, those of the Two Vehicles had eyes but could not see... had ears but could not hear, with the statement that the Buddha speaks the Dharma with a single sound; each living being understands it according to its kind, finding a contradiction of ‘before’ and ‘afterwards,’ since the explanations differ. That is a good point, but it is merely one you yourself thought up. I’ve already told you it is inconceivable. If you still try to conceive of it, how can you? Although it is said that the people of the Two Vehicles do not see or hear, it is because their conditions have not yet ripened that they do not see the Buddha. When their conditions have become ripe, not only the Two Vehicles, but even the Three and Four Vehicles will be able to see and hear. The Three Vehicles are the Sound Hearers, those Enlightened to Conditions and the Bodhisattvas. Add the Buddha and that makes Four Vehicles. They all will be able to hear. There are some lines which say:

Heaven’s rain, though broad, does not moisten dried-up, rootless plants.
The Buddha’s door is vast and great, yet it is difficult to save people who have slight affinities and who are not good.

When it rains, it is like the Buddhadharma. Tall trees take in a lot of moisture, while small trees absorb a small amount. However, if plants are all dried up and have no roots, as much as it might like to, the rain cannot nourish them. The door of the Buddha is vast and great, but there is no way to save those who have no affinities with the Buddha. As it is said:

Face to face, passed by;
Within reach, yet missed.

The Buddha is right before them, but they fail to recognize the Buddha. Two people may be right in front of each other, close enough to grasp each other’s hands, yet they pass each other by and miss the opportunity. Therefore it is said:

Face to face not recognizing Gwan Shr Yin.

Gwan Shr Yin is right before you. You are mindful of Gwan Shr Yin, bow to Gwan Shr Yin, and recite Gwan Shr Yin’s name, but you do not recognize Gwan Shr Yin. You may say, “If I’d seen him, I would have recognized him.” You see him daily, and you daily fail to recognize him. Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva recognizes you, but you don’t recognize Gwan Shr Yin. You may say, “I’ve never seen him. If I’d seen him I would have recognized him.” You see him daily, and you daily fail to recognize him. Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva recognizes you, but you don’t recognize Gwan Shr Yin. It’s the same principle.

If people are not good, even though the Buddha’s door is vast and great, but there still is no way to save people who do not want to be good or to do good. So, even among those who study the Buddhadharma, there are some who study and study, and then run away. They are like the plants that have no roots, which the rain has no way to nourish. Now don’t you see, studying the Buddhadharma is like that, consequently, in order for there to be seeing and hearing, there must be some sort of affinities. Without affinities, even though one may want to see, one will not see. Therefore all who have come here to investigate the Buddhadharma during this summer session have lots of affinities. Wouldn’t you say that was something to be most happy about?

Therefore, some people even come from forty to fifty miles away to listen, which makes me happy. I’ve been lecturing every evening for the past week, and I could go on lecturing every night. But I think there are people who couldn’t come every evening to listen. Some want one evening either to go to the movies, or go dancing, or go to the beach and watch people fishing. Although they themselves don’t fish, by watching others fishing they satisfy their craving for fishing. There are lots of people who have not come and so I think I would still like to take it easy one day, and rest on Saturdays; which gives you an opportunity to rest too. But not the people who lives here in the temple all the time and study the Buddhadharma, they have no way to rest.

V. THE EXPRESSION'S INCLUSION OF THE ROOTS AND BRANCH-TIPS

Preface:

Although emptiness is emptied and the traces are cut off, still the sky of meanings’ stars glitter and blaze.
Although stillness is deepened so that words are lost, yet the sea of teachings’ waves are oceanic in extent.
As for the thousand doors which in secret flow, of multitudes of texts it forms the copious source.
The ten thousand virtues commingle and return, while companies of Sutras comprise its retinue.

Commentary:

Although emptiness is emptied and the traces are cut off. That is to be the midst of appearances yet free of appearances. Right within appearances to be apart from appearances. How? If you are not attached to appearances, you are free from appearances, and there are appearances and yet no appearances. “Although” means even though; and “emptied” means that apperances are emptied. Even though “emptiness is emptied and the traces are cut off...” “Emptiness is emptied” means that appearancelessness is emptied as well, and the traces are also cut off and severed; although the traces are severed, and there are no appearances, so that one is free from appearances while in the midst of appearances. Yet the sky of meanings’ stars glitter and blzae. “The sky of meanings” indicates that the meanings are so many that they resemble the sky. “Sky” “heaven” has the meaning of spontaneity. The meanings are as vast as the sky. The sky also has such heavenly bodies as the stars and moon, which glow with a luminous appearance. This is analogous to the...within the Buddha’s Teaching being as vast and great as the sky. The teaching’s meanings comprise all different kinds of principles, which are compared to starts which glitter and blaze. Therefore it says, still the sky of meanings’ stars glitter and blaze.

Although stillness is deepened so that words are lost. Stillness means profound stillness, and it also means pure clarity. The profound, clear stillness is deepened, so that words are lost. Nothing can be said. That is to be within words yet beyond words. How is it possible to be beyond words? If you have nothing to say, you will also be unable to explain the principle of there being nothing to say. To make understood what it is to be within language yet separate from language, you must employ language to express the principle of no language. That is why this section of the Preface is called The Expression’s Inclusion of the Roots and the Branch-tips. Basically, what is spoken of is the root, yet it includes the branch-tips. And basically speaking of the branch-tips also includes the root. The root and the branch-tips are non-dual. This is a quote from The Ten Aspects of According With Intent. Even though the deep is deepened so that words are lost, Yet the sea of teachings’ waves are oceanic in extent. The Teachings are the Buddha’s Teachings, which are placed in Five Periods and Eight Teachings:

The Five Periods are:

1. The Flower Adornment Period.
2. The Agama Period.
3. The Expansive Period.
4. The Prajna Period.
5. The Dharma Flower-Nirvana Period.

The Eight Teachings are:

1. The Store Teaching.
2. The Connective Teaching.
3. The Separate Teaching.
4. The Perfect Teaching.
5. The Sudden Teaching.
6. The Gradual Teaching.
7. The Secret Teaching.
8. The Unfixed Teaching

In the first of the Five Periods, the Flower Adornment Period, the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken for twenty-one days. One may wonder how it can be so long if it was spoken in twenty-one days, whereas the Dharma Flower and the Nirvana Sutras, which are not nearly so long as the Flower Adornment Sutra, together took eight years to speak. The reason is that the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken by the Buddha as Nishyanada Buddha, and so it was spoken fast.

The second was the Agama Period in which the Teachings for the Two Vehicles were presented the dharmas of the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Conditioned Co-production. Concerning the Four Truths, a few years ago in this country, I met someone who had investigated Buddhism for a good many years who still inquired, “Are there four truths?” Now wouldn’t you say that it is truly pathetic for someone to have investigated Buddhism for over ten years still not recognize the Four Truths, but have to ask if the Four Truths are true? It would not have mattered so much if he had been an ordinary person, but he had a Ph.D.; yet still he didn’t even understand the Four Truths! And he said he’d studied Buddhism for over ten years.

The Expansive Period, an initial door leading from the Theravada through to the Great Vehicle.

The Prajna Period is called the Separate Teaching because it is not the same as the previous Connective Teaching, and also not the same as the subsequent Perfect Teaching. The Agama Period is called the Tripitaka Teaching, and the Expansive Period is called the Connective Teaching. The Connective Teaching connects with what came before it and with what comes afterwards. That is, it connects with the previous Tripitaka Teaching and with the following Prajna Period. The Prajna Period is different from what came before it, and different from what comes after it, inasmuch as it differes in certain respects from the previous Connective Teaching and is also not the same as the subsequent Perfect Teaching, which is why it is called the Separate Teaching.

The Dharma Flower and Nirvana Period is called the Perfect Teaching. It was spoken particularly to cross over those whose root nature was that of the Great Vehicle.

The Five Periods and Eight Teachings relate in the following way:

PERIOD TEACHING
Agama Three Stores
Expansive Connective
Prajna Separate
Dharma Flower-Nirvana Sutra Perfect

The Sudden Teaching refers to the sudden and immediate opening of Enlightenment in an instant. The Gradual Teaching refers to gradually, little by little, opening Enlightenment. The Secret Teaching means that something is spoken for the other person without the first person knowing it, and something is spoken for the first person without the other person knowing it, both remaining unaware of what the other person knows. The Unfixed Teaching is the dharma of there being no fixed dharma. Altogether that makes Eight Teachings, which is what is meant by the sea of Teachings, indicating that all the Three Stores and Twelve Divisions of the Canon, the treasury of Sutras, spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha are so numerous they are like a great sea. That is why it says “the sea of Teachings’ waves.” The waves in question are huge breakers, great waves among the waves, and so they are described as oceanic in extent and boundless.

As for the thousand doors which in secret flow. “As for” indicates a connection between what preceeded and what follows. The thousand doors is a way of saying that the doors are many. There may not be exactly one thousand, but perhaps nine-hundred and ninety-nine, or one thousand and one. It’s not fixed. Generalizing, it says a thousand doors, which in secret flow. In secret means that they flow to that place without people seeing them. It is similar to the great sea. The waters of all streams, rivers and lakes return to the ocean. Some may be seen as they flow to the sea, whereas there are slo those whose flow to the sea is invisible. Some flow on the surface of the earth as they return to the sea, and others flow beneath the earth to the sea, and cannot be seen. They are what is meant by “which in secret flow.” One can also speak in terms of the water of the great sea universally penetrating the great earth. No matter where you stand upon the surface of the earth, if you break the earth’s surface, there will always be water that flows from within. Flow, then, refers to those hidden currents of water which are everywhere within the earth, so that one may dig anywhere and discover water.

It is the same as the blood system within people’s bodies. No blood flows forth unless you puncture a person’s skin; once you do break the skin, however, the person bleeds. Those are secret flows to within the human body. Administering an injection is also similar. A hypodermic needle has a glass chamber which contains medicine. Once the medicine is injected into a person’s bloodstream, it constitutes a secret flow. So in Chinese a hypodermic needle is called a flow-projecting medicine-needle, using the same word as in “secret flow” here. “Projecting” is like shooting an arrow. The thousand doors which in secret flow refers to all of the various teaching principles in Buddhism, be they the Five Periods, the Eight Teachings, the Theravada, the Mahayana, or whatever all of which merge with the principle of Enlightenment the way all waters return to the sea. That is why it goes on to say:

Of multitudes of texts it forms the copious source. The multitudes of texts means all the Sutras: the Three Stores and the Twelve Divisions of the Canon:

I have already explained the Twelve Divisions of the Canon many times, and so now I’ll just list them.

Prose, Resumptive Verses and Predictions;
Interjections, Spontaneous Speakings Unrequested;
Causes and Conditions, Analogies as well as Past LivesDeeds:
Deeds of This Life, Expansions, the Hitherto Unknown;
Explanations, together make twelve terms,
As in the Great Shastra, roll thirty-three.

If you want to know more about them, you can ask the people here. If they remember, they can tell you. If they don’t remember, they can look them up. That way you and they can both benefit, for if they have forgotten them, they can refresh their memories, and those of you who don’t know can find out. So this is a Dharma door of benefitting self while benefitting others.

That is why it says:

Of multitudes of texts it forms the copious source. To call it the copious source is the compare it to the great sea. The ten thousand virtues commingle and return. The Buddha is endowed with ten thousand virtues:

No virtues not perfected;
No heights not reached.

To say the ten thousand virtues is, again, to generalize. The virtues commingle and return. They all come back together and return... where? They return to the Flower Adornment Sutra. The ten thousand virtues comming and return, While companies of sutras comprise its retinue. That is, while the Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is able to include the other Sutras in its retinue, the Flower Adornment Sutra has companies of Sutras comprise its retinue, and so the Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra forms part of its retinue, its entourage, even though the Dharma Flower Sutra is a king in its own right.

VI. THE PROFOUND SUBTLETY OF THE DOCTRINE'S INTENT

Preface:

This is its intent:
Tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations;
Displaying virtues’ marks in the doorway to the multiply profound.
Functions are legion and prolific, yet it is always such;
Wisdom everywhere examines, yet it is forever still.

Commentary:

This passage discusses the Profound Subtlety of the Doctrine’s Intent. The intent is the tendency, the direction the intent is taking, is profound and subtle, mysterious and deep. Therefore it says: This is its intent. Its intent is:

Tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations. Tallying means meshing, linking up true substance, that is, the basic substance, the Buddha’s Dharma Body, with the regions of ten thousand transformations. This describes the beginning of the creation of the world by transformation, and stands for transformational creation in general, which is why it is called “the region of ten thousand transformations.” The meaning of region is place, area, or arena, and it meshes true substance, the original substance, which is just the the Dharma Body of the Buddha, the basic Dharma Nature.

What is the Dharma Nature like?
The Dharma Nature is like empty space.
It cannot be grasped. It cannot be seen.
The nature emptied is the Buddha.
It cannot be limited by thought.
If someone wants to know the Buddha’s state,
He should purify his mind like empty space.

If you are able to bring the nature and substance to empty stillness, then that is the Buddha. It cannot be limited by thought. That state is inconceivable, and it is the Buddha’s state. If someone wants to know the Buddha’s state, he should purify his mind like empty space. This was discussed before. It is like empty space. Whoever is able to be just like empty space is a Buddha. If you are unable to be like empty space, you still have to cultivate. The Buddha and empty space are just the same, and so it speaks of tallying true substance with the region of ten thousand transformations. Although it is empty space, it still has wonderful existence. Wonderful existence can still come forth from within true emptiness. Wonderful existence does not obstruct true emptiness, and true emptiness does not obstruct wonderful existence. Therefore it says:

Displaying virtues’ marks in the doorway to the multiply mysterious. To display them means to make them appear. ‘Virtues’ marks refers back to the previous ten thousand virtues, the characteristics of the Buddha’s meritorious virtues, which are displayed in the doorway of the multiply mysterious. The multiply mysterious is the mysterious within the mysterious, while the doorway is just the gateway to the multitude of wonders. There is no way to describe fully the marks of the Buddha’s meritorious virtues, as in Lao Tzu’s “the mysterious within the mysterious, the gateway to the multitude of wonders.” Concerning which there is a verse that says:

Thoughts like kshetras’ dust could be counted and known.
The water in great seas could be drunk to the end.
Empty space could be measured and the wind be tied:
The Buddha’s meritorious virtues could not be fully described.

It says: “Thoughts like ksetras’s dust could be counted and known.” “Kshetras’ dust” refers to the unknowably many lands in the Dharma Realm, which has seas of kshetras many as fine particles of dust. Thoughts even as many as there are dust motes in kshetras could be counted up and a total arrived at and..“The water in great seas could be drunk to the end.” There is no way to drink up all the water in the great seas. Nevertheless, suppose that it could be drunk completely, that in a single gulp one could drink up all the water in the five rivers and the four great seas to the end, having that huge a belly.

Empty space could be measured.” Basically empty space is immeasurable, but suppose that the amount of empty space could be measured, “and the wind be tied.” If you tried to take a cord and tie up the wind, you would not succeed. However, imagine that you did have the spiritual penetrations to tie up the wind, to measure how much empty space there is, to drink dry all the water in great seas in a single gulp, and to count up all the thoughts of the mind many as there as dust motes in kshetras that you could calculate and know them all. None the less, even then you would not be able to state how many meritorious virtues the Buddha possesses, “The Buddha’s meritorious virtues could not be fully described.” Consequently, in “Displaying virtues’ mark in the doorway of the multiply mysterious, “multiply mysterious” means multiplied inexhaustibly, inexhaustibly multiplied. So it says “display virtues marks in the door way of the multiply mysterious.”
Functions are legion and prolific, yet it is always such. Its employments are incredibly many. They are “legion and prolific.” “Legion” means many, and “prolific” means flourishing. The uses to which it may be put are many, “yet it is always such”. It is always such as it is, still and unmoving. Wisdom everywhere examines yet it is forever still. Examines means contemplates wisdom everywhere contemplates, yet it is forever still. Forever still is constant stillness, which is just peaceful fruition, not necessary yours or mine or anyone else’s for in the fruition, it is extremely peaceful and still.

VII. THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF BENEFIT OF SUDDEN TRANSCENDENCE

Preface:

Truth and falseness interlink and mingle:
Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha mind.
Specifics and principle are together cultivated:
On relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

Commentary:

Truth and falseness interlink and mingle. Falseness comes from truth, and truth comes from falseness, and so the false is not separate from the truth, and truth is not separate from falseness. That is why truth and falseness are said to interlink and mingle. What they resemble is waves in water and wetness: the waves are not separate from wetness, nor is the wetness separate from the waves. However, wetness definitely is not waves. Wetness and waves form an analogy for truth and falseness. In the analogy, falseness is comparable to the production of waves within wetness, while truth is comparable to wetness. Therefore, there is wetness in waves, yet the original substance of wetness has no waves. Wetness by itself does not necessarily have waves. This makes an appropriate model for the principle of the interlinking and mingling of truth and falseness. Nevertheless, falseness includes truth, and truth is included within falseness as well. Although they have two names, in origin they are one identical substance, comparable to wetness.

In Great Master Yung Chia’ Song of Enlightenment it is said:
Not seeking truth, not cutting off the false;
Fully knowing both dharmas are empty without appearance.

The reason there is no search for truth is that truth has no appearance. The reason there is no cutting off of falseness is that falseness, also, has no appearance. When you are confused, that is falseness. When you wake up, that is truth. That is what is meant by Truth and falseness interlink and mingle. Truth and falseness are not separate, not apart from each other, and so the text continues, within the ordinary mind, right within the mind of the ordinary person, one sees the Buddha mind. You can see the mind of the Buddha. However, whereas ordinary people can become Buddhas, can Buddhas become ordinary people? You can’t put it that way; for if the Buddha became an ordinary person, then people would have not further need to become Buddhas. The Buddha does not become an ordinary person. If the Buddha transformationally creates the body of an ordinary person, then it is the transformation body that becomes an ordinary person, while the Buddha’s basic substance is still in a state of unmoving suchness. However, are ordinary people ordinary people forever? No. It is right within the mind and nature of ordinary people that one is able to see the Buddha nature. That allows one to say that ordinary people can become Buddhas, but not that the Buddha returns to being an ordinary person. Hence “within the ordinary mind, one sees the Buddha mind.” It is right within the state of an ordinary, common individual that the Buddha’s state can be seen. Why? The reason is that truth and falseness interlink and mingle, that they are inseparable.

What enables living beings to become Buddhas is that living beings possess the Buddha Nature. All living beings have the Buddha nature, not just people. All living beings can become Buddhas. You may say, “I keep hearing about ‘all living beings,’ but when it comes right down to it I don’t know what is meant by ‘living beings.’ “ Now I will tell you. There are womb-born living beings, those born from eggs, moisture-born, and transformationally born. Living beings that are womb-born are born from wombs due to the existence of emotion. Womb-born due to emotion come forth.

Egg-born because of thought are had. Those living beings born from eggs are born due to the existence of thought. An example is a mother hen sitting on her eggs. She sits there and thinks to herself, “my sons or daughters are going to be born. Hurry up and hatch!” She sits there day after day, all day long, and won’t move, that old mother hen, thinking, “They’ve got to hatch. They’ve got to be born. Hurry up!” She thinks that over and over again, and lo and behold, her wish is fulfilled and the little chicks are born. As they are born they use their beaks and crack open the egg shell. Once they crack it open, she is terrifically happy. She gets so heated up sitting there that her feathers fall out, but even then the mother hen doesn’t leave them. She wouldn’t leave them even if it meant giving up her life. Her attitude is, “Even if it kills me, I shall give birth to these little son and daughter chicks!” That is how they are born from thought. Prior to that, when she was laying the eggs, it was with the intention of giving birth to chicks. Then she sat on them, and they were born.

Womb-born due to emotion come forth.” That means that parents give birth to sons and daughters as a result of emotions. The egg-born are due to the mother’s thinking. A mother hen on her eggs is really an example of focusing one’s mind. That’s really having no scattered thoughts. When hens are setting, they have no scattered thoughts. The only false thought they have is, “Hurry up, hurry up.” Another day ought to do it.” The next day it’s, “Just a little longer.” She waits for maybe three or four weeks, and then they are born.

Moisture-born due to union are conceived. Those born from moisture are born when potentials come together. Moisture and earth unite, and at that point there is something with a not defiled and not pure aspect to it, and then all of a sudden they are born. You could not say that it was clean, but you couldn’t quite call it dirty before it has produced larvae. But, as earth and water combine and receive the light of the sun due to the various causes and conditions, larvae are born, or maybe butterflies. Actually, butterflies are transformationally born. Transformation-born due to separation are produced. They arise from separation. There are others. As the Vajra Sutra says:

Whether womb-born, or egg-born; whether moisture-born, or transformationally born; whether with form of without form; whether with thought or without thought; not lacking thought, and not not lacking thought.

Some have shape and form that can be seen and some do not. There are living beings that have thinking, and living beings that lack thinking. There are also living beings that do not lack thought, and living beings not not lacking thought. There are that many different kinds of living beings. If you wish to understand them in detail, you can investigate the Shurangama Sutra where they are very clearly explained.

The literal meaning of “living beings” is “the multitude-born.” That is, they are born from a multitude of conditions coming together, uniting, and assisting in their birth. Living beings can all become Buddhas because they all have the Buddha Nature, and so “Truth and falseness interlink and mingle. Within the ordinary mind one sees the Buddha-mind.”

Specifics and principle are together cultivated. Specifics refers to specific characteristics, while principle means the principle and substance. Specifics have appearances, whereas principle has no shape. For example, when we accomplish Buddhahood, we accomplish a principle. We know there is a certain kind of principle and so we want to cultivate. We base ourselves upon that principle to cultivate. The Flower Adornment Sutra discusses four kinds of Dharma Realms:

1. The Dharma Realm of Specifics.
2. The Dharma Realm of Principle.
3. The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Principle and Specifics.
4. The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Specifics by Specifics.

The text now says, “Specifics and Principle are together cultivated.” The specific marks are cultivated, and the principle is cultivated too. The specifics do not obstruct the principle, and the principle does not obstruct the specifics. That is “Specifics and principle are together cultivated.”

One relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom. Basic wisdom is everyone’s inherent wisdom. Relying upon that inherent wisdom, one seeks to obtain and accomplish the wisdom of a Buddha. The accomplishment of the Buddha’s wisdom is just the realization of our own inherent wisdom. Everyone has that basic wisdom, and so everyone can open the wisdom of a Buddha. If it were not for that basic wisdom, no one would be able to accomplish Buddhahood. However, everyone has it. Not only do people have it, all living beings have that basic wisdom, and that is why it says, Specific and principle are together cultivated: One relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha’s wisdom.

If all of you investigate the Flower Adornment Sutra to the point that you understand it, that is seeing the Buddha mind within the ordinary mind. If you go on to use the methods of the Flower Adornment Sutra to cultivate, then that is relying on basic wisdom to seek and obtain the Buddha’s wisdom. Unless you read Flower Adornment Sutra, you will not know of the Buddha’s true blessings and honor. The Flower Adornment Sutra is the Buddha’s greatest store of treasures. There are priceless, true treasures within the Flower Adornment Sutra, and so those who read it then know the wonderful aspects of the Buddhadharma.

If you had started from the beginning to memorize as much of the Preface text as I explained, so that you could recite it without looking at the book, by now you would be able to recite a great deal. However, if you didn’t do that at the start, by now you will have forgotten and if you try to go back and memorize it now, you will feel it is quite a lot. None the less, if one has determination, one can succeed and if you want to do it, you will still be able to manage it, and a week from now you can recite for me. We’ll see who can recite it. If you can’t recite all of it, it doesn’t matter! But if you can recite all of it, that’s even better, and I’ll be very please. But if you can’t recite it all, I won’t be displeased, because my...Every thing is ok,’ and if I were displeased about something, that would be ‘not ok.’

Preface:

Principle changes according to specifics,
so one and many conditionally arise without bounds.
Specifics interfuse with principle,
so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction.

Commentary:


Principle changes according to specifics. Principle and specifics are also interlinked and mingle. Therefore, at times principle may accord with specifics and change and transform. Principle accords with specifics and consequently one becomes many. The many also become one. Whether one or many, those kinds of arisals from conditions are boundless. They have no limit, which is why it says, principle changes according to specifics. So one and many conditionally arise without bounds. The meaning is the same as that of having no boundary. If you understand one mode, then you can understand all modes. If you do not understand even one mode, then you won’t understand mode after mode. Therefore it is said:

Once one is attained, ten thousand
specifics come to an end.

If you attain to the one, the myriad particulars may all be ended. If you have not attained the one, then you cannot attain the many. If you have not attained the many, then you have not yet understood the one.

A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications;
Ten thousand ramifications return to a single root.

In the world, all the various forms, shapes and characteristics are produced from the one. You calculate it: people are one, dogs are two, cats are three, pigs are four... Calculating you’ll calculate to limitless and boundlessly many living beings, including even lions and tigers in the computation of all living beings. Where do they all come from? They come from the one, and so, “A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications.” What, then do the ten thousand ramifications do? They return to the root. They all go back to a single place. What is that place? It is the place of one birth and one death. No matter who you are, you cannot escape birth and death. Therefore, although their shapes and characteristics are not the same, when the fruit is reaped, they again are one. Therefore, “A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications” is birth, and “Ten thousand ramifications return to a single root” is death. If you investigate the problem of birth and death to the point that you understand them, then one and many are unobstructed and have no bounds, So one and many conditionally arise without bounds. Those kinds of causally conditioned arisals have no bounds.

Specifics interfuse with principle. If specifics are fused together and blended with principle, then specifics and principle interpenetrate without being mutually obstructive, so a thousand distinctions, a thousand distinctions means a thousand kinds of differences, combine without obstruction. Although there are a thousand or ten thousand kinds of distinctions, they combine with one another. Combine has the same meaning as interlink and mingle. They combine with one another without obstruction. Even though they combine, they do not interfere with one another. No obstructions arise. That is a wonderful kind of state.

You may say as well that the ordinary and the sagely interlink and mingle; that specifics and principle interlink and mingle; that good and evil interlink and mingle; that true and false interlink and mingle; that right and wrong interlink and mingle. What, after all, is ‘right’? Doesn’t ‘right’ come from ‘wrong’? If you have ‘wrong,’ then you have ‘right.’ If you have ‘right,’ then you have ‘wrong.’ So right and wrong interlink and mingle. You can transform this statement into trillions of statements, which itself is an example of one and many conditionally arising without bounds. You could also call it a thousand distinctions combining without obstruction. That is how it works.

At this point in the explanation of the Preface, some people have raised a doubt. There’s a student of Philosophy saying, “That has something to it. It’s pretty logical.” However, there’s a sociologist who’s saying, “That’s not correct. Right is right and wrong is wrong. How can you talk of not distinguishing right and wrong, good and evil, specifics and principle, or true and false? If you don’t distinguish between them, how can you determine what is true and what is false?” Well, if you don’t have anything to do and you want to find something to do, then there are all kinds of things you can find to do. But if you are not interested in adding a head on top of a head, then basically there is nothing to do. If you want to go one further and are trying to avoid being like Yajnadatta, the man who went wandering all over the place looking for his head, then there is even less to do.

Those of you who haven’t heard the explanation of the Shurangama Sutra may not know about Yajnadatta, so I’ll tell you. He is very interesting. One morning he took a look in the mirror and exclaimed, “Hey, that guy in the mirror has a head, how come I don’t have a head? My head’s been stolen! How can that guy in the mirror have a head while I have no head.” Then he went nuts. “How can I live without a head?” He immediately ran out into the streets shouting, “Did you see where my head went? Where’s my head?” He went everywhere asking people. Now, wouldn’t you say that was a case of having nothing to do and looking for something to do? Without a head, how could he have talked? How could he have been asking people? But he didn’t realize that. He was just attached to having lost his head, to not having a head. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes:

Riding on the donkey, one looks for the donkey.
Riding on the horse, one looks for the horse.

Astride the donkey, one goes looking for the donkey, saying, “Where’s the donkey?” Astride one’s horse one goes looking for one’s horse, asking, “How did my horse get away?” without realizing one’s riding it. That’s a case of one single thought of ignorance clouding the person over so that he goes all over looking for it. Think about it. If you were to look down and break through that ignorance, then one would see, “Oh, I’m riding on my horse! I don’t need to look all over for it after all.” “Oh! I’ve been riding on my donkey all along, so I don’t have to go find it after all.” If you go looking for truth and falseness, then you are attached, and you still have truth and falseness. If you are unattached, truth and falseness fundamentally are one single substance.

Ultimately, then, what is the principle of one and many conditionally arising without bounds, so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction? It has no principle at all. It is what is known as there being no fixed Dharma. You can discuss it from this angle, and discuss it from that angle, and discuss it forwards and backwards but what is spoken is false. If every day you can sit in meditation for a minute longer, then that is true. What is spoken is false; what is practiced is true. If you study and understand more principle, then that is opening more wisdom. If you meditate for a minute longer and obtain more samadhi power, then one may say, “Samadhi and wisdom are together cultivated.” Your listening to Sutras is just the cultivation of wisdom. Your sitting in meditation is the cultivation of samadhi. Isn’t your daily refraining from idle chatter the cultivation of precepts? If you aren’t thinking of stealing things to eat, that also is holding precepts. If you aren’t thinking of stealing all kinds of things here but we don’t have anything worth stealing here so we don’t need to consider that ¾ then you are holding precepts.There’s even less reason to speak of taking life: there is no way to kill in here.

Someone may say, “Oh, that does not apply to me. Every day I want to kill people.” Well, if you want to kill people, start by killing yourself. Why? If you don’t kill yourself, you could turn into a monster, a demon, from wanting to kill people.

You may say, “As for killing myself, I can’t do it.” In telling you to kill yourself, I mean for you to kill your killing mind, not to kill your person. Take that thought of killing of yours and kill it. Tell yourself, “Why is it that I want to kill people? I should put a stop to such thoughts.” You see, if you can do that, then that’s killing the thief which is ignorance. If you cut off afflictions and cast out evil, then that is true and actual killing. Don’t hesitate to kill some more: kill your ignorance. The reason you want to kill people is due to ignorance, so you should start by killing ignorance. That is what I meant by killing yourself, I didn’t mean you should commit suicide, I meant that you should kill your ignorance. Cut off your ignorance. Smash it to bits! When ignorance is cut off and smashed, then there is no darkness, and so there is light. Falseness is darkness. If there is an electric light, then that is truth, not falseness. The principle of truth and falseness is just that. Truth smashes falseness, and falseness displays truth. Look around. Now we have electric lights, true and actual light, and so everyone can see to write. If we didn’t have these lights, if we wanted to study and write, we wouldn’t be able to see to write. “Couldn’t we use the heavenly eye?” Someone asks. If you have the heavenly eye you can use the heavenly. If you don’t have the heavenly eye, what eye are you going to use? These earthly eyes? So that’s truth and falseness.

Preface:

Therefore he obtains:
Ten bodies in succession, yet mutually operative,
Six positions not disordered, yet reciprocally contained.

And so:

The vast and great can enter where there is no place,
Dust-motes and hairs envelope with nothing left outside;
Clearly arrayed, like mustard seeds within a jar;
Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea:
One and many unobstructed, like a thousand lamps in empty space;
Hidden and revealed together realized,
like the crescent moon in an autumn sky;
Layer on layer lights interlace,
like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls;
Thought after thought makes perfect fusion,
like an evening dream’s passing time.
Dharma doors pile up in layers,
like clouds billowing in space;
Myriad practices unfurl profusely,
like flowers blooming on brocade.

Commentary:

Therefore he obtains: As a consequence of the previous Specifics interfuse with principle, so a thousand distinctions combine without obstruction, therefore he obtains ten bodies in succession, yet mutually operative.

There are two lists of ten bodies. The first list is:

1. The Bodhi Body.
2. The Body of Vows.
3. The Transformation Body.
4. The Dwelling and Maintaining Body.
5. The Body Adorned with Fine Marks.
6. The Power Body.
7. The As-you-will Body.
8. The Body of Blessings and Virtue.
9. The Wisdom Body.
10. The Dharma Body.

The second list is:

1. The Living Beings Body.
2. The Country Body.
3. The Karmic Retribution Body.
4. The Sound Hearer Body.
5. The Body of One Enlightened by Conditions.
6. The Bodhisattva Body.
7. The Thus Come One Body.
8. The Wisdom Body.
9. The Dharma Body.
10. The Empty Space Body.

Those ten kinds of bodies are simultaneously completed and mutually operative, and so this is called the Door of Simultaneous Reflection Yet Mutual Interaction.

What is the Living Beings Body? “Living beings,” as was just discussed, means “multitude-born” born from a multitude of conditions coming together. Each category of living being has its own body. The Living Beings Body means that the Bodhisattvas:

Contemplate potentials and entice with teachings;
According to the person speak the Dharma.

They take a look at the opportune conditions and use the appropriate kind of teaching to teach and transform living beings. They contemplate potentials and entice with teachings, and according to the person speak the Dharma. They speak the kind of Dharma that is suited to a particular person and, as a result, they make appear bodies of living beings in order to speak the Dharma for living beings.

As for the Country Body, the countries that we live in have all been transformationally made to appear by Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas make a Country Body appear by transformation in order to benefit living beings and teach and transform them. They cause all of the living beings upon that Country Body to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi.

Then there is the Karmic Retribution Body. Living beings all have the karmic retribution of living beings. Bodhisattvas also make karmic retribution bodies appear in order to teach and transform living beings. They also make appear bodies of Sound Hearers the appearance of Sound Hearers is that of Bhikshus as well as those of Ones Enlightened by Conditions (also called the Solitarily Enlightened) to teach and transform living beings.

Anyone of us now who brings forth the mind of a Sound Hearer is a Sound Hearer, and whoever brings forth the mind of One Enlightened by Conditions is One Enlightened by Conditions. If you bring forth the mind of a Bodhisattva, you are a Bodhisattva. Your Bodhisattva may be a transformation body made to appear by transformation by a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas also make appear bodies of Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattva bodies are always benefiting living beings. They forget all about themselves and benefit living beings. They also make appear the bodies of Thus Come Ones, that is, of Buddhas, as well as Wisdom bodies, the bodies of persons with wisdom. They also make appear the Dharma Body and the Empty Space Body. However, the ten bodies can simultaneously be made to appear by transformation without the basic substance ever changing.

That is why the ten bodies are described as being in succession, which means that they are very clearly discernible yet mutually operative. There appear bodies of living beings, the characteristics of country bodies, karmic retribution bodies, Sound Hearer bodies and bodies of those Enlightened by Conditions all of which mutually appear and do the Buddha’s work without obstructing one another. We people who have just one single body are not that way. If we go to New York, we are no longer in San Francisco, and if we go to Honolulu we are no longer in New York. They are not like that, however. They can make those ten kinds of bodies appear all at the same time, without any mutual interference. In this Door of Simultaneous Reflection Yet Mutual Interaction, those ten kinds of bodies can be made to appear simultaneously.

Six Positions not disordered, yet reciprocally contained.

The Six Positions are:

1. The Ten Dwellings
2. The Ten Conducts
3. The Ten Transferences
4. The Ten Grounds
5. Equal Enlightenment
6. Wonderful Enlightenment

Those Six Positions are not disordered. They are all very neatly arrayed, not the least bit out of order, yet reciprocally contained. That is, at one and the same time, the Ten Bodies are completed and the Six Positions, the six stages, are perfected without the possibility of their becoming mixed up.

And so the vast and great can enter where there is no place. The vast and great means what is largest, while where there is no place means what is smallest. Nonetheless, the vast and great can go in where there is no place - into such an infinitesimal area. However, what is large still does not become small. The wonderful is right at this point. What is more, when the vast and great state enters into the smallest area, that smallest areas also does not become any larger. This is called the Door of Free-and-Easy Non-Obstruction of Vast and Narrow. The vast does not obstruct the narrow, and the narrow does not obstruct the vast. Within the area which has no space may be seen a vast and great state. The vast and great state is also inside the area with no space. And so this is known as Door of Free-and-Easy Non-Obstruction of Vast and Narrow.

The next line says, Dust-motes and hairs envelope with nothing left outside. Dust-motes means fine particles of dust, and hairs refers to individual strands of hair. They are able to take in the vast and great, to describes the principle of the small enveloping the great with nothing left outside, nothing they fail to take in.

As it says in the Shurangama Sutra:

On the tip of a hair appear kshetras of the Jeweled Kings. On the tip of a single strand of a fine hair, all Buddha-lands are manifest, along with all the living beings in those lands yet that is all made to appear on the tip of a strand of hair.

Seated in a particle of dust, they turn the vast, great Dharma Wheel. Seated within a single fine mote of dust, they lecture Sutras and speak the Dharma, and there are limitlessly many living beings listening to the Dharma within that single fine mote of dust. Consequently, this kind of state is The Door of Free and Easy Non-Obstruction of Vast and Narrow. The vast does not obstruct the minute, and the minute does not obstruct the vast. Within the small there manifests the large, and within the large there manifests the small. This kind of state is not a state that ordinary beings can conceptualize.

Clearly arrayed. Clearly arrayed means set out in a very evident fashion, like mustard seeds within a jar just like mustard seeds stored in a glass container, which can be seen very distinctly. They are clearly arrayed like mustard seeds in a glass jar. The individual mustard seeds are very small, but when stored in a glass container, they can be seen very clearly.

Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea. The many do not obstruct the one, and the one does not obstruct the many, just like mustard seeds stored in a glass container. “Completely simultaneous, like drops of water in the sea.” The one participates in the many, and the many participate in the one as well just like the individual drops of water in the sea, each of which has the flavor of the sea in its entirety. The Flower Adornment Sutra is also that way.

One and many unobstructed, like a thousand lamps in empty space. There is no inter-obstruction among the lights that come from lamps. When, within empty space, there are a thousand lamps, each gives off its own light, without the light of one interfering with that of another. One light would never say to another, “Your light is too great. It interferes with my light,” nor would the other light say, “My light is too small. It gets swallowed up by your light.” They do not interfere with one another. That is what is known as the harmony of lights. A thousand lamps in empty space do not obstruct each other. Your light does not interfere with mine, nor does my light interfere with yours. There is harmony of light, and one and many are unobstructed. If there is one, there is light; if there are a thousand, there is also light. One and many are unobstructed and do not obstruct one another. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are just like that: limitless and boundless, yet all very clear.

Hidden and revealed together realized, like the crescent moon in an autumn sky. It is also as in autumn, the Fall Season, the moon in the sky has both a period when it is hidden and a period when it is revealed. Sometimes the moon is waxing, and sometimes it is waning, and yet both aspects are “together realized.” In the combination of hidden and revealed, what is hidden reinforces what is revealed, and what is revealed reinforces what is hidden. Once the moon has waxed to the full, then it wanes. After waning, it then waxes once again. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra also follow that pattern, and so they are like the crescent moon in an autumn sky, like the Fall Season’s moon in empty space.

Layer on layer lights interlace, like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls. Layer on layer means one layer after another, in multi-tiered and inexhaustible profusion, lights interlace. To interlace means to intertwine. Your light shines upon me, and my light shines upon you, as “layer on layer lights interlace.” Lights shine upon one another as in the lattice-work banner before Shakra, Lord Indra’s Heaven; and it is the same as the net in the Great Brahma Heaven. The lattice-work banner is cylindrical in shape, and has holes along its sides, just like a fish net which has one hole after another so that the fish are trapped inside, but the water can pour out. However, within each hole there is inlaid a precious pearl. Each pearl can emit light. Upon this lattice-work banner there are inexhaustibly multi-layered amounts of holes, which are inlaid with inexhaustibly multi-layered amounts of previous pearls. The lights mutually interlace, which is the reference of “like the Lord’s net of trailing pearls.” The pearls of that banner of netting shine upon one another.

Thought after thought makes perfect fusion, like an evening dream’s passing time. This Sutra is one of interpenetration without obstruction. “Thought after thought makes perfect fusion, like an evening dream’s passing time.” It is like a dream one has at night during which one feels that a very, very long time has gone by. One dreams of being an Emperor, of holding public office, of striking it rich all kinds of dreams. Periods of time as long as whole lifetimes go by in the time of a single evening’s dream. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra also have that kind of inconceivability about them, and so it further states.

Dharma doors pile up in layers. The Dharma doors of the Flower Adornment Sutra are inexhaustibly multi-layered, both inexhaustible and multi-leveled, and so they are said to pile up in layers, like clouds billowing in space. What they resemble is banks of clouds in empty space. No sooner has one cloud gone by than another comes along. The principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra are also that way.

Myriad practices unfurl profusely. Myriad practices means the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts, which unfurl profusely, like flowers blooming on brocade. This resembles embroidering more flowers on top of flowers, adding flowers to brocade. To start with there were plenty of flowers on the piece of embroidery, yet one adds even more flowers. These flowers, however, are also inexhaustibly multi-layered, and so are compared to flowers blooming on brocade. In China there is a saying:

To add flowers to brocade, there are a thousand;
To give coal within the snow, not half of person.

To add flowers to brocade is as when someone is president, this person sends this gift and that person sends that gift, and if the president’s wife wants a diamond necklace to wear, immediately countless hundreds of people send her one. One person sends one, and then someone else sends one. She only wanted one, but in the long run she receives several hundred. Nonetheless, she can’t say to people, “I have one already, I don’t want yours.” That’s the meaning of To add flowers to brocade, there are a thousand. To give coal within the snow, not half a person. This refers to a person who is very, very cold out in the snow. The person is so poor, he doesn’t even have a house to live in, and so he lives under the snowy ground; but no one comes along to give that person a lump of charcoal to warm himself. Originally, To add flowers to brocade described the tendency of people in our present age to:

Flock to flames and fawn on power.

That they flock to flames means that they go where it’s hot, that they run to warm places. Fawn on power means that they go and submit themselves to authority. Here, however, the principles within the Flower Adornment Sutra are being compared to flowers added to brocade.

Preface:

Too high is it for gazing,
So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate;
Too deep to be surveyed, so Sound Hearers of superior virtue stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly.

Commentary:

Today’s translator came to me ahead of time saying she didn’t understand the “dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate.” She wanted to get it all clear in advance. Now I see it was because she was due to translate tonight, which is understandable. But basically, before the Sutra is lectured, whether you understand the principles or not, you cannot ask questions. That’s because if before the Sutra is explained you come with questions and someone else comes with questions, there may be several hundred people all of whom don’t understand. That makes several hundred people all coming to ask questions, and in a given day there would not be enough time just for answering those questions. Therefore the rule when Sutras are lectured is, before the Sutra is explained, if you understand then you understand; and if you don’t understand you wait until it’s explained to understand, you can’t ask in advance. That’s because there are so many people, there’s no way to answer all their questions. What she asked about today was the “dried-up gills and scales before the dragon’s gate.” She didn’t know what it was talking about. Now I’ll tell you.

“Gills” are located on the side of a fish’s head, while “scales” are the fish’s scales. There is a story connected with this, a kind of legend handed down, and it concerns carp.

The Chinese character for “carp” is used in the name of Confucius’s son, K’ung Li, “Confucius Carp.” How did he get the name Confucius Carp? It is because at the time when he was born, the Emperor made him a gift of two carp, and so Confucius said, “Ah, there, he must be named ‘Confucius Carp!’ “ However, I don’t think it was very appropriate to name him ‘Confucius Carp’. Even if it is the Emperor who presents you with carp, still they are dead, and he intends for you to eat them. So how can you beget a live son and call it by the name of dead fish? So Confucius begat a son and couldn’t even come up with a name for him, and so he opted for ‘Confucius Carp.’ He commemorated the fact that he had carp to eat that day, and so that’s how his son became a ‘Carp.’ Now, it is characteristic of carp that they can leap. They leap and jump like frogs. In this line, “the Dragon’s Gate” refers to the gate to the Dragon Palace.

How high is the Dragon’s Gate? I’ve never paid a visit to the Dragon’s Palace, and so I don’t know how high it is, but at the very least it must be twenty feet high. It’s that high, but if any carp, whether large or small, can swim up and jump over the gate, jump from outside to within the gate, then that carp can become a dragon. Based on that there is a saying:

The carp has leaped the Dragon’s Gate.

When the carp has leaped the Dragon’s Gate, once it gets over it, it can become a dragon. But if the carp leaps and does not make it, then it will tear its gills or have its scales scraped off. Torn gills and scraped-off scales are not so bad, but it also may be dashed to death. Therefore, the line between life and death is right at this point. This is just as when someone is about to become enlightened. If you have no more attachments and have gone through all the demonic obstacles, then you become enlightened. However, if right when you’re about to become enlightened you become attached, then you will be possessed by a demon, and may even lose your life. Consequently, becoming enlightened is not so easy. It is like a carp’s leaping the Dragon’s Gate. If it manages to leap it, then it can become a dragon. If it doesn’t make it over, it turns into mud that is, it dies and afterwards turns into mud. That explains the phrase dried-up gills and scales. Dried-up means dried out by the sun, the fish-gills and fish scales dry up by the sun and turn to dust. So “Dried-up gills and scales before the Dragon Gate” refers to the carp who have not managed to leap over the Dragon Gate, and end up being dried out by the sun outside the gate.

Therefore, it says, too high is it for gazing. If it were of ordinary height one could see it; but if it is too fantastically high, you cannot get a glimpse of its summit. In the Analects, someone asks Confuciusdisciple Yen Hui what kind of state his teacher, Confucius, has. Yen Hui replies:

The more you gaze at him, the higher he is.

That means the more you look at him, the higher he appears to be. Nothing is higher. He is just too high.

The more you born into him, the more solid he becomes.

If you use a drill to bore into him, he becomes even more solid. There is no way to drill through him.

Regarding him from the front, suddenly he is behind.

He was right in front of you, but before you know it, there he is behind you.

That is all inconceivable. Now here, instead of saying as there, “The more you gaze at him, the higher he is, it uses, Too high is it for gazing.” So this amounts to saying that it is even higher, too high for gazing at altogether.

So Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice. As a Bodhisattva of accumulated practice, you may have been cultivating from limitless kalpas to the present, life after life, for one does not know how long. However, if you do not believe in the Flower Adornment Sutra, and fail to cultivate according to the principles in the Flower Adornment Sutra, then you cannot arrive at the Buddha’s family. If you do believe, then that counts as having leapt over the Dragon’s Gate. If you do not believe in the Flower Adornment Sutra, then that is like not having leapt over the Dragon’s Gate. You haven’t leapt it because it is too high for you to leap over. The Flower Adornment Sutra represents the Dragon’s Gate, and Bodhisattvas of accumulated practice are like the carp that have not made it over the Dragon’s Gate, and so cannot become dragons. They are dried-up gills and scales before the Dragon’s Gate. Do you understand?

Too deep to be surveyed. Deep means like the water of the ocean, the bottom of which cannot be seen. No matter how much you scan and survey it, you will not be able to see how far it is to the bottom of the sea. So Sound Hearers of superior virtue, ones who have great virtue, like Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Subhuti, Aniruddha, and the Venerable Kashyapa all of those Sound Hearers of superior virtue Stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly. What do they stop? They stop up their ears and cover up their eyes.

They had eyes but did not see Nishyanda Buddha,
Had ears but did not hear the perfect, sudden Teaching.

That’s what it means when it says that they stop seeing and hearing in the fine assembly. Seeing is receiving with the eye, and hearing is listening with the ears, but they plug up their ears and cover their eyes.
Although they are right beside the Buddha in the Seven Places and the Nine Assemblies, still they do not hear or understand these principles.
We have been lecturing the Flower Adornment Sutra for more than a week now, and today it has accurred to me to ask all of you if you remember National Master Ch’ing Liang’s vows or not. Without looking at your paper, who can recite them from memory for me?

Preface:

Seeing and hearing act as seeds:
The eight difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds.
Understanding and practicing in one’s person:
One life perfects the fruit of distant kalpas.

Commentary:

If you just have a glimpse of the Flower Adornment Sutra or simply hear its name, that can plant the seed of Bodhi within the field of your eighth consciousness. That is why it says, seeing an hearing act as seeds. Once that kind of vajra seed has been planted, it will, in time, come to maturity. When that seed ripens in the future, that is the ripening of the fruit of Buddhahood. Therefore, it says, the eight difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds.

The Eight Difficulties

1. Hells.
2. Hungry Ghosts.
3. Animals.
4. The Northern Continent. Uttarakuru.
5. Heaven of Long Life.
6. Being Blind, Deaf or Mute.
7. Having Worldly Knowledge and Argumentative Intelligence.
8. Being Before or After a Buddha.

The Eight Difficulties are eight circumstances in which it is very difficult to hear the Buddhadharma or cultivate it, even if you want to. The hells are a difficulty, inasmuch as one does not hear the Buddhadharma in the hells, and it is also not easy for hungry ghosts to hear the Buddhadharma. The same is true of animals. Those Three Evil Paths are fraught with difficulty.
Why is it that they cannot hear the Buddhadharma? Why were the Sound Hearers of superior virtue who stopped seeing and hearing in the fine assembly unable to hear the Buddhadharma although they were present while the Buddha was speaking Dharma? How?, when the Buddha was right in front of them, were they for all intents and purposes as if separated from the Buddha by as many as a hundred and eight thousand miles? You should all pay attention to this. The reason is that in previous lives they had not praised the Buddha, the Dharma or the Sangha. There attitude was very stuffy and conservative. When praises were being chanted before the Buddha, they refused to chant. They would say, “Cultivation is cultivation, isn’t it? What’s the use of chanting that? What’s the point in reciting that? It’s just so much play-acting. What point is there to it?” They would think, “It’s just a lot of ruckus, and it’s really meaningless.” They called doing the Buddhist ceremonies putting on a play. Even when it came to chanting, “Amitabha’s body is the color of gold,” they said, “If I had wanted to hear that, wouldn’t I have been better off going to hear music? It’s just because I didn’t want to go hear music that I came and bowed to the Buddha only to find that even within Buddhism there’s still that kind of stuff,” and they refused.

It wasn’t just that they themselves refused. They went on to tell other people, “Hey, you don’t want to study that. That’s really meaningless and phony!” when it came right down to it, they didn’t know what was true. If you don’t understand the false, then how can you study what is true? And even if it is false, are you able to do it? If you don’t recognize even a single character... Therefore, it is because on the causal ground they didn’t praise the Buddha, the Dharma or the Sangha that when they arrived at the fruit position of Sound Hearers they did not see the Buddha speaking the Flower Adornment Sutra and did not hear it all due to having failed to praise the Triple Jewel. Therefore, all of you should be aware of this:

If the causal ground is not true,
The result obtained will be crooked.

If what you do on the causal ground is not true, there will be a lot of trouble in the consequent fruition, lots of twists and turns. It won’t be straight. So, those of the Two Vehicles did not hear the Flower Adornment Sutra being lectured because they had not praised the Buddha in the past, and had been very stuffy before the Buddha.

In the Eight Difficulties, however, one basically does not hear the Buddhadharma. For example, in the Northern Uttarakuru Continent people have lots of blessings and can live for a thousand years. However, they do not see the Buddha. Not to speak of seeing the Buddha, they do not even hear the Buddhadharma, and they do not see members of the Sangha. They never see people who have left home: monks and nuns, Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Shramanas. That is because they have cultivated blessings without cultivating wisdom. They are reborn in the Northern Continent Uttarakura with a lifespan so long that they can live a thousand years, but they never hear the name of the Triple Jewel. That is why the Northern Continent Uttarakuru is one of the Eight Difficulties in which it is not easy to hear the Buddhadharma. You may say, “That place is not bad. One lives for a thousand years, eats well and wears fine clothes.” However, one cannot plant good roots there. If you do not hear the name of the Triple Jewel, you won’t be able to make offerings to the Triple Jewel; and if you don’t make offerings to the Triple Jewel, your good roots cannot increase and grow. If you good roots do not increase and grow, after you have lived your thousand years there, either you fall to the hells, or you turn into a hungry ghost or an animal it’s not fixed.

The Heaven of Long Life is also called the Heaven of No Thought. Life-spans are even longer in that heaven, much longer than the life-span in the Northern Continent Uttarakuru. However, one still does not see the Buddha, hear the Dharma or encounter the Sangha, and so it is called one of the Difficulties.

Being blind, deaf or mute refers to one kind of person who has no vision, another kind of person who is unable to hear, and yet a third kind of person who is unable to talk a mute. All the blind, deaf and mute in limitless kalpas past slandered the Triple Jewel. They said the Buddha was not right, the Dharma was not right and the Sangha was not right, which is slandering the Triple Jewel. If you slander the Triple Jewel, you fall into the hells. After falling to the hells, once you have paid off your offenses that merited the hells, then you turn into a hungry ghost. After having been a hungry ghost, you turn into an animal; and after having spent one-does-not-know-how-long a time as an animal, you afterwards become a person. But, although you are a person, you are either blind, deaf or mute, or crippled. Someone who cannot walk, who has to stay in bed all the time and can either lie down or sit up, but cannot walk around is a cripple. People like that have all slandered the Triple Jewel, and they are within the Eight Difficulties.

In the past, America had very few people who had left home. There were some who wanted to leave home, but they had not actually received the Shramanera precepts, the Bhikshu precepts and the Bodhisattva precepts. They all looked real but were not. They resembled left-home people, but actually they weren’t. One such American named Sumangala who had “left-home” in Japan by taking the five lay precepts which they call the Shramanera (novice) precepts and consider leaving home eventually realized that he had not received the full precepts in Japan, and wanted me to transmit the Bhikshu precepts to him. On that occasion I said to him, “The Chinese precepts, unlike the Japanese precepts, cannot be received so simply and casually. When the precepts are transmitted in China, you need fifty-three days, or thirty days. The very minimum is eighteen days, and it requires Three Masters and Seven Certifiers to transmit the precepts. They cannot be transmitted by a single individual. It turned out that he did not have time, and was unable to receive the complete precepts; and not long afterwards he died in Singapore.

Now in America there are Bhikshus and there are Bhikshunis, and they have all gone through the detailed study and cultivation of the precepts and the manner of someone who has left the home life Shramanas. This is actually to have the Triple Jewel: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. But in this country, very few people are aware of this, because to start with this country lacked the Buddhadharma, so now that it has it, few people actually recognize it. Without actually recognizing it, they are unable to cultivate properly and truly.

You should all realize that while I am here transmitting the Buddhadharma, I am not transmitting Chinese Buddhism, or Burmese Buddhism, or Indian Buddhism, or Ceylonese Buddhism. What I am transmitting is the Buddhadharma of the Mind-to-Mind Seal, which from the First Patriarch Mahakashyapa was handed down to the second Patriarch Ananda, until it reached to Twenty-eight Patriarch Bodhi-dharma who transmitted it to China. This Buddhadharma is not the Buddhadharma of just one country. It is the Buddhadharma of the entire world, the Buddhadharma of the universe, the Buddhadharma of the Dharma Realm. Why is that? I’m always telling you that I do not want anyone to believe in me, and I also do not want anyone to disbelieve in me. If you believe, you are still within the Dharma Realm. If you do not believe, you are still within the Dharma Realm, and have not run outside of it. Therefore, I pay no attention to whether you who have come to the Sino-American Buddhist Association’s Gold Mountain Monastery, believe or not. I lecture my Buddhadharma or rather, I have no Buddhadharma. It is the world’s Buddhadharma. The Sixth Patriarch said, “If I had a single dharma to transmit to you, that would be cheating you.” In the final analysis, I have not one dharma which can be got at. I have no dharma. Within this state of not one single dharma, the time of no dharma:

When not a single dharma is established,
The ten thousand dharmas all are empty.

There are some people on the outside who slander us and say, “That place follows such and such a Teaching,” or, “That place follows such and such other Teaching.” For example, someone described us to one of my disciples as transmitting the White Lotus Teaching. That was how they described it, but others might say it was the Red Lotus Teaching, the Yellow Lotus Teaching, the Blue Lotus Teaching or the or the Purple Lotus Teaching that many Teachings when in fact we establish not one dharma, and the ten thousand dharmas all are empty. If you don’t believe it, try it out and see. Right now we are not within the Eight Difficulties, and so we are able to investigate the Buddhadharma. This Buddhadharma of ours should not be described as either false or true. Basically it does not exist. Basically there is nothing whatsoever. Not one dharma is established. There is no knowing, and no attaining. There is no wisdom and nothing is attained.

The Seventh Difficulty is that of having worldly knowledge and argumentative intelligence. Such a person considers his wisdom very great. His philosophy is: both no head and no tail; both no beginning and no end; both no above and no below; both no ancient and no modern. The philosopher talks that way. If you say he’s dead, then he’s alive. If you say he’s alive, then he’s dead. However it’s said, it’s right. That’s philosophy: having worldly knowledge and argumentative intelligence. Wisdom of a worldly sort means the ability to argue and the possession of a certain amount of intelligence. However, worldly wisdom is not wisdom that transcends the world, and it is also one of the Eight Difficulties.

There is also the Difficulty of being born before or after a Buddha. That puts all of us now within one of the Eight Difficulties. Being born before a Buddha is a Difficulty, and being born after a Buddha is also a Difficulty. When the Buddha appeared in the world, we didn’t make it, and so we are in one of the Eight Difficulties. Don’t figure you’re so terrific. What’s so terrific about you? You’re within one of the Eight Difficulties. Within those eight kinds of Difficulties, it is not easy to study the Buddhadharma.

The period when the Buddha was appearing in the world, the Proper Dharma Age, was a time of solidity in liberation. The five hundred years that followed were a period of solidity in dhyana-samadhi. The next five hundred years after that were a period of solidity in erudition, when everyone was able to read and recite Great Vehicle Sutras, and could recite several of them by heart. They read lots of books, but there was no actual liberation. By liberation is meant certification to the fruit, the attainment of the First Fruit, the Second Fruit, the Third Fruit and the Fourth Fruit. Liberation means to have no limitations or ties, no hang-ups or obstructions, no troubles or afflictions. During the period of solidity in dhyana-samadhi, everyone liked to sit in meditation with single-minded concentration. Any of you now who likes to sit in meditation is solid in dhyana-samadhi. Whoever manages certify to the fruit is solid in liberation. Whoever can recite by heart the Shurangama Sutra or the Dharma Flower Sutra is solid in erudition.

After the period of solidity in erudition was the Dharma Semblance Age, a five-hundred period of solidity in building temples: building temples here, building temples there, building a whole lot of temples, all of which were very big. After that period comes our present period of solidity in fighting. At present there is fighting between countries, fighting between families, fighting between people. You usurp what is mine, and I usurp what is yours, and we fight with each other. We have a need to fight. Someone asks how long the fighting lasts: for five hundred years, of course, during all of which time there is fighting. The Dharma Ending Age is like that.

We now are within the Dharma Ending Age, are we not? So you shouldn’t keep on slandering the Triple Jewel, should you? In this world there are very, very few people who truly cultivate the Way. Everyone wants to fight, so now left-home people even fight with left-home people. They all fight. You say I’m not right, and I say you’re not good, and we fight with each other. “I simply must outdo you! Your temple can lodge a thousand people! I must surpass you! If yours can lodge a thousand people, I’ll build a temple that will hold ten thousand, which will certainly be better that yours!” All of that is fighting. Those are the Eight Difficulties. Nonetheless, although in the Eight Difficulties one cannot hear the Buddhadharma, still, if one has causal connections, upon hearing the name of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, one can, as a result, from within the hells and the realms of the hungry ghosts and the animals, certify to the Ten Grounds. The Ten Grounds are Bodhisattva positions, the Bodhisattvas’ First Ground, Second Ground, Third Ground, Fourth Ground, Fifth Ground, Sixth Ground, Seventh Ground, Eight Ground, Ninth Ground, and Tenth Ground. The Eight Difficulties leap to the echelons of the Ten Grounds means that they all certify to that fruition echelons meaning positions or stages.

Understanding and practicing in one’s person. To understand is to be clear, in this case to be clear about the principles of this Sutra. To practice is to cultivate. In one’s person means oneself. When you understand, you yourself understand, and cultivation is something that you do yourself as well. If you both understand and practice, then what? One life perfects the fruit of distant kalpas. Then, right within the single lifetime, you can perfect the fruit of distant, that is, limitless, kalpas. For many, many kalpas one may seek the perfect accomplishment of Buddhahood. For example, the Buddha:

For three asamkhyeyas cultivated blessings and wisdom; For three great asamkhyeya kalpas he cultivated blessings and cultivated wisdom, and:

For a hundred kalpas perfected the marks and characteristics. He took one hundred great kalpas to cultivate the marks and characteristics. However, if you now, upon hearing the Flower Adornment Sutra, can cultivate according to the Flower Adornment Sutra, and understand the Flower Adornment Sutra, then right within this lifetime you can certify to the fruit of distant kalpas and become a Buddha. In other words, whereas it took so long a time for Shakyamuni Buddha to become a Buddha, we can attain Buddhahood in this very lifetime.

Preface:

The Lion Sprints:
The Ocean-Wide Assembly suddenly certifies in the Grove.
The Elephant King turns ‘round:
Six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.

Commentary:

The Lion Sprints. This is an analogy, that of the Lion’s Sprint Samadhi. This kind of samadhi is one of extremely courageous vigor, resembling a lion’s majesty and prowess. The lion’s sprint is fast, and it is also strong. The Ocean-Wide Assembly. The ocean-like assembly is the sea-wide multitudes, that is, a lot of people. Suddenly Certifies. It very quickly attains to certification in the Grove. The Grove is the Jeta Grove, and also means that all the Great Bodhisattvas assembled together in one place are like a forest. On that occasion, all of a sudden, they all certify to the Fruit, and attain Irreversibility of Position, Irreversibility of Thought, and Irreversibility of Conduct, those Fruit of Irreversibility.

The Elephant King turns ‘round: Six thousand realize the Way as the words fall.

This refers to the time when Shariputra was leading six thousand Bhikshus, all of whom wished to see Manjushri Bodhisattva. Thereupon Manjushri Bodhisattva manifested a body for those six thousand people to see, and spoke Dharma for them, causing all of them to cultivate the Dharmas of Great Compassion, bring forth and increase the greatly compassionate thought of Enlightenment, obtain the substance of Great Compassion, and cultivate the doors of practice of Great Compassion. Therefore, at that time, the six thousand Bhikshus all certified to the Fruit of Arhatship, and obtained the purity of the Dharma Eye. In the elephant king turns ‘round, the image is that of a whole troop of elephants, lead by an elephant king at the head of the procession. The elephant king turns its head around and takes a look at the rest of the elephants, its retinue. Shariputra resembles a king of elephants as he leads the other Bhikshus, the six thousand who are to attain to the purity of the Dharma Eye and certify to the Fruit. The states represented by the Flower Adornment Sutra are inconceivable. The next passage of text says:

Preface:

Dawn of understanding at the Chaitya in the east:
Fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought.
Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South:
Perfected causes do not exceed a hair-pore.

Commentary:

Dawn of understanding at the Chaitya in the east. This will be discussed in the Sutra text proper. It refers to the Youth Sudhana, “Good Wealth,” going to a large temple, certifying to the Fruit, and opening wisdom. That Fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought. Upon first bringing forth the thought, he certifies to Proper, Equal Right Enlightenment, very swiftly, so it is the same as the first thought, at the time of first bringing forth the thought which means it is very swift. The fulfillment of wisdom does not differ from first thought. Fulfillment of wisdom means that the fruit of enlightened wisdom is perfected and full; does not differ from first thought means that upon first bringing forth the thought, there is certification to Proper, Equal Right Enlightenment, very fast unlike the Buddha who passed through three great asamkhyeyas of kalpas before achieving Buddhahood. In other words, this entire passage speaks of attaining to the fruit position very quickly.

Sojourning in positions while seeking in the South. The Youth Sudhana bowed to fifty-three teachers. The average Chinese person who does not understand the Buddhadharma still wants to take him for a model and says, “The Youth Sudhana made fifty-three visits and bowed to fifty-three teachers.” As a result, within Chinese Buddhism a kind of custom has grown up of visiting teachers. Bowing to a single teacher is not enough: one bows to two. Two is also not enough, so one bows to three ... up to and including one hundred or two hundred. The claim is, the more teachers one bows to the better! Actually, this is a great mistake within Buddhism. The Youth Sudhana, to be sure, made fifty-three visits; but he was carrying out the instructions of his teacher when he bowed to other teachers. He was doing what his own teachers told him to do when they said, “Now I have taught you all my wisdom, spiritual penetrations, and Way-virtue. I have nothing more to teach you. Do you still want to keep on studying Buddhism? Then go to such and such a place, at such and such a distance in the South, and in that spot there is a good, wise advisor who cultivates the Way. His/her name is such and such. Go and bow to him/her as your Master.” Thereupon the Youth Sudhana inasmuch as he for Dharma’s sake forgot about himself, that is, since in his quest for the Buddhadharma he completely forgot about his own sufferings set out for the South in search of the Buddhadharma. He traveled great distances, and afterwards encountered good, wise advisors. He underwent all sorts of hardships and difficulties studying and practicing the Buddhadharma. Because he was very intelligent, he would study and come to understand all the Buddhadharma that a particular good and wise advisor himself had understood; whereupon that good and wise would introduce him to yet another good and wise advisor, and he would draw near that advisor and study the Buddhadharma. One would introduce him to another, and in that way he was introduced to fifty-three good and wise advisors.

Those good and wise advisors were definitely not like the present “good and wise advisors” who only know how to climb on conditions: “If you come take refuge with me, first you have to make offerings to me, present me with a red envelope. You have to make offerings to the Triple Jewel and be respectful to your teacher.” Furthermore, if you want to go on to receive the precepts, you have to make more offerings to the Triple Jewel. If you want to go one further and leave home, you have to make still more offerings to the Triple Jewel. At the time of leaving home and receiving the precepts, there are Three Masters and Seven Certifiers, and the preceptee must make offerings to all of them. All of the Youth Sudhana’s good and wise advisors at that time were not greedy for offerings. They did not climb on conditions. They were all good and wise advisors with spiritual penetrations. They had Way-virtue and spiritual accomplishments, and cultivated the Bodhisattva Way. They were not concerned about whether you made offerings or not. If you were seeking the Dharma with sincerity, they would teach you. That is how it happened that there were fifty-three good and wise advisors who taught the Youth Sudhana under the very last of whom he certified to the Fruit.

Presently the custom in Chinese Buddhism dictates that you visit teachers, the more the better. None of the lay people understand or find it strange. They figure the Buddhadharma is paying visits to teachers. This visiting of teachers has brought a lot of trouble into Buddhism. One Dharma Master’s refuge-disciple will go off and pay a visit to some other Dharma Master, and if the first Dharma Master knows about it, he gets jealous: “You want to go bow to another teacher? You’re really not a loyal disciple of mine! You’ve done me wrong! Obviously the reason you’re bowing to another teacher is that you have no faith in me.” He gets jealous and starts to hate his disciple: “You are certain to fall to the hells.” He may even curse his disciple with falling to the hells. That’s the reaction if you let the teacher know. What if he does not know; if you turn your back on your teacher and steal off to bow to another teacher? That’s what happens in Chinese Buddhism. They steal off and bow to other teachers. For example, if there’s a very famous Dharma Master, people say, “Oh! That Dharma Master is in town. Let’s go visit that teacher and take refuge with him!” They keep visiting teachers and taking refuge with them.

Now, when you take refuge, if you have faith in the Buddha, you definitely took refuge the first time, so why would you want to take refuge a second time? By so doing you’re just cheating yourself. If you figure, “Oh, the first time I didn’t understand, and I don’t know if when I took refuge the Buddha was able to come. At that time I was all sloppy and insincere, so the ceremony was all messed up.” If you figure the Buddha didn’t come the first time, the Buddha also will not come the second time. Why is that? The Buddha came the first time and the second time, upon seeing that you have already failed to believe in Buddhism, why should he come again? Now, why is it that these Dharma Masters do not say to you, “You shouldn’t bow to any other teachers. You can take refuge once and that’s it”? It’s because if they informed you, they wouldn’t get red envelopes. No one would make offerings. That is what is described by:

Left-home people are not greedy for wealth:
the more the better!

I’m speaking very frankly with you, telling you the way it is. What’s more, I’m absolutely not afraid of my disciples going and making visits to other teachers. Whoever wants to go visiting can go. So a few months ago someone came and said me, “I want to go some other place and bow to another teacher. Is that all right?” I said, “If you want to, that’s fine.” Why is that? It’s because if you think another teacher has Way-virtue and Buddhadharma to teach you, then it’s no problem. Provided that you tell me, I certainly will not prevent you. But in China they don’t give notice. They steal off and bow to teachers, which amounts to turning their backs on and opposing good teachers.

If they bowed to the teacher and then cultivated, that would be one thing; but they don’t cultivate either. After they’ve bowed to that teacher for a few days, they’ve had enough. They figure that teacher has gone stale, and go on to bow to a fresh, new teacher. Consequently within this one lifetime they don’t understand a single phrase of Buddhadharma. All they’ve done is bow to a certain number of teachers. For example, at New Year’s several Chinese lay people will all bow to a whole lot of teachers. One says, “I bow to eight,” the next says, “I bow to nine,” and the third says, “I bow to over ten, which is more than either of you.” However, they don’t get to fifty-three. Why do they bow like that? They’ll tell you, “The Youth Sudhana made fifty-three visits, so it’s a good idea for us to bow to a few more teachers. Then, for instance, if we fall into the water, one teacher can stretch out his hand and pull us out, but if there are more than ten, then it won’t take any effort at all.”

What they mean is that if they fall into the hells, if they have ten or so teachers, whichever teacher has Way-virtue can save them. Wouldn’t you say that was just too calculating and hypocritical, that they were conniving slippery-heads? If someone rubs oil on his head then King Yama can’t grab hold of him. The little ghost finds the oil-coated head very slippery: that’s a slippery-head. A few days ago someone came here and said he wanted to cut off his hair that is, shave his head and then be on his way. I said, “Don’t go.” He said, “I have to go. I still have things left to do. I’m going to New York and then to Canada.” I asked him, “If you’re shaving your head, what can you have left to do? You’re not shaving your head, you’re greasing your head!” Therefore, in cultivating the Way, you should recognize true principle. Don’t be like all those stupid couples who don’t understand any principle and who go...about all over the place.

Basically within Buddhism it’s good. However, there are a number of people who do not understand the Buddhadharma who are at error without being aware of it themselves. That way it becomes not good. For example, in this country a few years ago, before you five here had returned from going to Taiwan to receive the precepts, this person was a “Dharma Master,” and that person was a “Dharma Master.” Left-home people were “Dharma Master,” and lay people were also “Dharma Masters.” This “Dharma Master” was a Doctor, and that “Dharma Master” was a Professor. That is what they were getting away with. But since the five here came back from Taiwan, somehow or other all of those ‘precious jewels’ have been:

Without sound and without trace.

There’s nothing left at all. They’ve all been subdued. This one doesn’t go around saying he’s a Dharma Master, and that one doesn’t go around saying she’s a Dharma Master. Or, if they do grit their teeth and say they are themselves, still they’ve been humbled. So this is very strange. Now, we do not want to say that we are true or false. A few years ago in America there were no genuine left-home people Buddhist Bhikshus and Bhikshunis and now there are. Therefore, you Americans should support your fellow Americans, and not pay any attention to me. Even though I am introducing the Buddhadharma to you in this country now, you yourselves should go on to create your very own American Buddhism. But don’t make American Buddhism too “Beautiful”. If you make it too beautiful, that’s also an extreme. So you don’t want it too beautiful, and you Americans now should protect your fellow American left-home people.

When people first come here, before they have been here for a least half a year, they should not seek personal instruction from me. If they want personal instruction, to ask some question, they must wait at least half a year, six months. I remember one disciple who was here for a long time without my ever speaking to him. I realized he was someone who had really brought forth his resolve, and yet I didn’t speak with him. Why was that? In cultivating the Way, if you ask this question today and that question tomorrow, it loses its importance.

Preface:

Opening Fine Dust-motes’ Sutra scrolls:
Then in every thought the fruit is won.
Exhausting sentient beingsvow doors:
then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled.

Commentary:

Opening Fine Dust-motes’ Sutra scrolls. To open, as before, means to disclose, in this case revealing the Sutra scrolls many as fine motes of dust. One could also explain it as opening and showing forth the rolls of Sutras that are within fine motes of dust. Fine motes of dust are most minute. However, within fine motes of dust there is the Dharma Realm; and there are limitless and boundless rolls of Sutras as well, which one opens and discloses. If you open and reveal Sutra scrolls as many as fine motes of dust, then in every thought the fruit is won. In thought after thought you accomplish the fruit of Buddhahood. One many also explain this as the Dharma door of opening up the verses and chapters within the Flower Adornment Sutra which are as many as fine motes of dust, and then within every single thought accomplishing the fruit of Buddhahood. Hence it goes on to say:

Exhausting living beingsvow doors. No matter what vows you make, the vows made by you as a living being constitute limitless and boundlessly many doors. However, it can completely fulfill all of the doors of practice represented by the vows that living beings have made, and Then in every dust-mote practice is fulfilled. In each fine particle of dust, the power of practice of your cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way is accomplished. This represents your having cultivated limitless and boundlessly many doors of practice. If you rely upon the Flower Adornment Sutra in your cultivation of those kinds of doors of practice, then they can be perfected and your work will be accomplished. Therefore, the Flower Adornment Sutra is the most subtle and wonderful of Sutras.

VIII. CONCLUDING PRAISE OF ITS VAST SCOPE

Preface:

It may truly be called:
Wonderful speech of constant duration,
Vast model of universal scope,
Ultimate expression congruent with the nature.
Main track of the single vehicle.

Commentary:

It may truly be called. National Master Ch’ing Liang is praising the Flower Adornment Sutra by saying that it may truly be called: Wonderful speech of constant duration. This kind of Dharma is constant and unchanging. It is the most subtle, wonderful and inconceivable Vast model of universal scope. On the one hand you can say that it is of universal scope, that is, that everyone can use this kind of method, this vast model and great guideline. This kind of method is not restricted to a given area, but works anywhere and everywhere, being of universal scope. It may also be called the Ultimate expression congruent with the nature. That means that the expression of virtue is identical with, not separate from, other than, or different from the nature. The nature is the Buddha Nature, from which if flows forth in congruence. That is, these most wonderful, lofty and profound principles are proclaimed from the Buddha’s Dharma Body, from the Buddha’s self-nature, and so are described as the ultimate expression, meaning that the principles are spoken to the ultimate.

Main track of the single vehicle. This means the one supreme Vehicle.

There is just the Buddha Vehicle,
And no other Vehicle besides.

Main means the most important, and track means a rail. For example, the steel rails that railroad trains go along are called “tracks.” This main track is the guiding rail along which every single individual should go in cultivation. Therefore, the principles of the Sutra are most important. The great Dharma within the Flower Adornment Sutra is difficult to encounter and difficult to meet. It is not easy to hear it. You figure it out: Dragon Tree Bodhisattva went to the Dragon’s Palace and memorized it, and so we are able to hear it.

Preface:

To examine its profound purport,
And then look into other Sutras:
It is like a sunrise glorious in the sky
Dimming multitudes of luminaries’ splendor;
Like Sumeru which spreads across the seas
Lowering retinues of peaks’ high altitudes.

Commentary:

National Master Ch’ing Liang, bringing up another example to act as an analogy for the Flower Adornment Sutra, goes on to say, To examine its profound purport. If you investigate this mysterious and wonderful Sutra, and examine its mysterious and wonderful purport, and then look into other Sutras ... If, after having read the Flower Adornment Sutra, you then go on to read other Sutras, or recite them, it is like a sunrise glorious in the sky. It resembles the time when the sun, upon first arising, makes the light of the stars all disappear, thereby Dimming multitudes of luminaries’ splendor. The multitudes of luminaries are all the other stars and the moon, the splendor, that is, the light of which the sun absorbs, to the point of virtually extinguishing them, since it makes all their light disappear. Even though in the evening there are so many stars and the moon is so bright, they are still not as bright as the sun. The Flower Adornment Sutra is like the light of the sun which dims the light of all the stars and the moon, outshining them so that they are no more. That is to say, within the Flower Adornment Sutra are exhaustively discussed all of the principles found in all the other Sutras, and so it is described as dimming all their splendor, all their light.

It is also like Sumeru which spreads across the seas. Mount Sumeru is “Wonderfully High” Mountain, which is in the midst of seas of fragrant water, and acts as if it spread out across the seas, lowering retinues of peaks’ high altitudes. Other mountains, when compared to Mount Sumeru, all fall, and so it is said to lower them. That is, the peaks of all other mountains are lower, none of them being as high as that of Mount Sumeru. Now, the Flower Adornment Sutra is higher than any other sutra, in the same way that Mount Sumeru, King of Mountains, is higher than any other mountain, so says, like Sumeru which spreads across the seas, lowering retinues of peaks’ high altitudes.

IX. GRATEFUL REJOICING AT THE ENCOUNTER

Preface:

Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragon’s Palace.
Great Worthies had it published in the Eastern expanse.
Considering that in the Proper Dharma Age
Its pure glory still remained concealed,
How fortunate that in semblance and final times
This profound teaching is happened upon!
Moreover, when one meets a sagely ruler,
obtaining it on Vulture Mountain,
Exhaustively reflecting on its esoteric meaning,
How can one but jump for joy?

Commentary:

Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragon’s Palace. National Master Ch’ing Liang’s literary style is very fine. Each phrase is matched. Hence means because of the previous principles, therefore the Bodhisattva, that is, Nagarjuna, “Dragon TreeBodhisattva, sought the secret in the Dragon’s Palace. You could say that this Sutra was a secret Dharma that was not transmitted, a secret teaching which had been cut off and did not exist among people.

Consequently Dragon Tree Bodhisattva went in search of this secret, hidden Dharma which did not exist among people. Inasmuch as he had read everything written among people, and having no books to read, he went to the Dragon Palace. Because he was a Bodhisattva who had certified to the fruit and had spiritual penetrations, on his way he waters of the sea spontaneously parted and made a path for him, as they regularly do for those who have certified to the fruit. As he was making his way to the Dragon Palace, the Dragon King saw him coming, and didn’t dare put surveillance on the Bodhisattva. He just said, “Do as you please. I have a library here. If you want to look through it, go right ahead and take a look at any book you want.”

The Bodhisattva was most delighted by the Flower Adornment Sutra. Consider the number of volumes that comprise the first and second versions, whereas the third version is the shortest. When he had read it through once and impressed it in his thought, he remember it all. Then he said, “Okay, I’m off.” This is because if he had said he was going to take the volume of the Flower Adornment Sutra with him, the Dragon King would not have...and even though he was a Bodhisattva and far greater than the Dragon King, still he was incapable of using his power to bully the Dragon King so he simply memorized it. His memory was so strong that he remembered it after reading it only once, and that is how he took it away with him. When he returned to the realm of people, he wrote it out. That’s the meaning of “Hence the Bodhisattva sought the secret in the Dragon King’s Palace.”

The Dharma Masters Buddhabhadra and Shikshananda among others, who are discussed in the Record of the Lives of High Monks, propagated an translated the Flower Adornment Sutra, and so are said to be the Great Worthies who Had it published in the Eastern Expanse. The Eastern Expanse is China, which is known as the Country of Glorious Expanse.

Considering that in the Proper Dharma Age... “When I take into consideration, think it over, consider, reflect upon it in this manner when I thus take thought of it ...” this is being said by National master Ch’ing Liang. “When I think about how in the Proper Dharma Age when the Buddha was in the world, its pure glory still remained concealed. They stored away this kind of radiant glory by sending it to the Dragon’s Palace; that is how important it was. If it had not been an important Sutra, why would they have stored it in the Dragon’s Palace?

How fortunate. “How lucky!” he is saying, “I’m really happy. I’m really fortunate!” By “fortunate” he means it is really lucky, auspicious, and very fine, That in semblance and final times. Semblance means the Dharma Semblance or Dharma Image Age. National Master Ch’ing Liang lived at the very end of the Dharma Semblance Age and the very at beginning of the Dharma Ending Age, so it says, that in Semblance and Final times, This profound teaching is happened upon! That it was happened upon means that this was most unexpected, as for example a chance encounter when it had never occurred to you that you would run into a certain person. By this profound Teaching he means the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, giving it that further name.

Moreover, when one meets a sagely ruler. This was during the T’ang Dynasty when all of the Emperors believed in the Buddhadharma, took refuge with the Triple Jewel, and listened to Sutra lectures. They would issue personal invitations to Dharma Masters to come to the Palace and lecture Sutras for them. Obtaining it on Magic Mountain. This Sutra was transmitted from Vulture Peak in India, obtained from there, from Vulture Mountain.

Exhaustively reflecting on its esoteric meaning. National Master Ch’ing Liang says that he exhausts his reflective powers to the utmost and totally uses up his reflection in the investigation of the esoteric meaning of its mysterious doctrines and inconceivable principles, so How can one but jump for joy? This means, how could one do anything but jump for joy? He is so delighted, so terrifically happy, that it is as if he were about to dance and leap for joy. He is saying, “I’m so happy to have encountered this inconceivable Sutra that I could jump for joy!”

X. GENERAL EXPLANATION OF THE TITLE

Preface:

The title reads: the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra.
That is the general name for inexhaustible Sutras.
The Wondrous Adornments of World Rulers,
Chapter Number One,
is a specific heading for one of many sections.

Commentary:

The Title is the descriptive title, and reads means that it is called: the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. The is the definite article, particularizing that it is this very Sutra. That is the general name for inexhaustible Sutras. That refers back to the previous words of the title. Inexhaustible means never used up, hence infinite. Here “inexhaustible” modifies “Sutras.” When it says, a general name for inexhaustible Sutras, it means that all Sutras are included within it, and so are described as inexhaustible, never used up. Those seven words: Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra include within them the names and principles of all Sutras whatsoever. Therefore, if those seven words were discussed in detail, since they are multi-layered and inexhaustible, there would be no way to finish discussing them. They form the title, which, because it generalizes, is called a general name.

The previous passage which discussed the Bodhisattva’s search for the secret, was the Grateful Rejoicing at the Encounter. He was very thankful and joyous, and so he said how fortunate it was that he happened upon it. The present passage of text is the tenth, that of the General Explanation of the Title, in which the title Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is analyzed in a very summary fashion.

This Preface, divided into ten general topics:

1. Presentation of the Substance of the Doctrine.
2. Specific Praise of That Which Illustrates. “That which illustrates” means that which makes evident and displays the principles of the Sutra.
3. The Teaching Host’s Inconceivability. The Buddha is inconceivable.
4. The Spoken Meaning’s Universal Pervasion. The principles that are spoken are universally pervasive.
5. The Expression’s Inclusion of the Roots and the Branch-tips.
6. The Profound Subtlety of the Doctrine’s Intent. This kind of purport is very profound and subtle, deep and subtle, astonishing and wonderful.
7. The Accomplishment of Benefit of Sudden Transcendence. This kind of benefit it that of sudden transcendence. One accomplishes the benefit of sudden overstepping.
8. Concluding Praise of its Vast Scope. It praises this Sutra’s vast reach and extensive scope.
9. Grateful Rejoicing at the Encounter.
10. General Explanation of the Title.

Those are the names of the ten passages by topic. This particular passage is the tenth, the General Explanation of the Title. In a very summary fashion the descriptive title is explained.

“The Wondrous Adornments or World Rulers, chapter number one”: The “World Rulers” are the rulers of the world and of what transcend the world. All the kings in the world are worldly rulers, while the Buddha is the Ruler of what transcends the world. The wonderful adornments are those of Dharma doors. Dependent retribution and proper retribution are both wondrous adornments, being subtle, wonderful, and adorning. This particular chapter is arranged as the first among the thirty-nine chapters which comprise, so it says it Is specific heading for one of many sections. It is the name of a particular section among the numerous chapter divisions of the Flower Adornment Sutra.

It may be that now while we are lecturing the Great means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra a number of earthquakes will occur, inasmuch as when the Great means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is lectured, the earth trembles and quakes in six ways. So if this sort of event should take place, none of you should be afraid. They can only be minor, not severe earthquakes, because the good Dharma-protecting spirits are protecting the Dharma assembly. Even then there are also demon kings who come to trouble the Dharma Assembly, and so when, as regularly happens, people come and pound on the door, you should not move your minds. The Flower Adornment Sutra should be lectured with one’s mind in samadhi, which is how Shakyamuni Buddha spoke it, and all the Bodhisattvas listened to the Sutra with their minds in samadhi. It was in samadhi that the Dharma was spoken, so if something unusual should happen, none of you should be afraid. There may be nothing it’s not fixed. There is no fixed Dharma.

In the Chin Dynasty, there was a Dharma Master who made the first translation of the Flower Adornment Sutra, working in Bodhimanda Monastery. Every day right at the time when he was translating the Sutra, from the pool of water in front of the hall there would appear two youths, bounding and leaping, each one holding fresh flowers in his hands. They would approach, light incense, and make offerings to that Dharma Master. On those occasions it was not just the Dharma Master who was aware of what was going on. Within the Dharma Assembly there were many who knew of and saw those events, but not everyone saw them. Why not? It was because at that time there were people with deep, thick good roots, all of whom had opened the Dharma Eye which enabled them to see this.

The reason the two youths came to make offerings to the Dharma Assembly was that the Sutra had been stored in the Dragons’ Palace for several hundred years. Dragon Tree Bodhisattva appeared in this world six hundred years after the Buddha’s entry to Nirvana. During that six-hundred year period, no one knew about the Flower Adornment Sutra which was stored away in the Dragon Palace. Dragon Tree Bodhisattva went to the Dragon Palace, read the Sutra once, and remembered it, because he never forgot what passed before his eyes, the power of his memory being especially good. He remembered it very clearly after one reading, and transmitted it to the world. The Dragon King was also very happy to have the Flower Adornment Sutra circulate in the world. He didn’t selfishly say, “My Sutra in the Dragon Palace is an untransmitted secret, a hidden Dharma which people are not permitted to know.” He was not like that, but instead was delighted and said, “It’s really most wonderful that the Great Vehicle Dharma is being transmitted in the world,” and commissioned the dragon sons and dragon grandsons to appear by transformation as a pair of youths and make offerings to that Dharma Assembly.

The Dharma Assembly at that time was one in which the Sutra was being translated, not one in which it was being lectured. Right when people were translating, the two youths would appear and light incense before the Buddhas and make offerings of flowers. This is know as the Portent of the Appearance of the Pair of Youths, and is an event about which most Buddhists know. Now while we are lecturing the Flower Adornment Sutra, the earth may quake in six different ways, or various other kinds of things could happen. I’m telling you in advance so that if the earth quakes you won’t be afraid. On the other hand, it may not happen, for I have no Way-virtue, and it may be that I am lecturing the principles in a very superficial way, not at all in hormony with the Buddha’s Mind Seal Dharma. In that case the good Dharma-protecting spirits may pay no attention saying, “Let them lecture as they please.” But if it should happen that during the Sutra lecture the earth and lecture hall tremble, be forewarned and don’t be afraid.

Some people are bringing up a further problem, saying, “It is impossible for the place where this Sutra is being lectured to have an earthquake, because for four or five years now, Dharma Master, you have been telling us that San Francisco cannot have an earthquake that as long as you are in San Francisco there will be no earthquakes, or if there are any, they would be very slight. If there is an earthquake this year, won’t that be a case of contradiction between what was said before and afterwards? Not bad, it would be very contradictory. Telling it not to quake when it’s time for it to quake, and telling it to quake when it’s not time for it to quake is a case of there being no fixed Dharma. As it happens, one of my disciples called me on the phone a few days ago and questioned me that evening saying, “Everyone says there’s going to be an earthquake in New York tomorrow. If there’s certain to be an earthquake, then I’ll come back sooner. If there’s not going to be an earthquake, then I’ll wait until the fifth or sixth of next month.” When I first replied to her I said, “I don’t know, because right now I’m not in New York and I don’t know what’s happening in New York.” After we had talked a couple of minutes more, she asked again and said, “What about it?” I said, “It’s not serious. Don’t be afraid. If the earth quakes, it quakes. What are you going paying attention to that?” Now I read in the papers that there was no earthquake in New York, so this matter has passed ... Now if we have an earthquake in San Francisco, it’s not serious, so don’t be afraid. While we are lecturing the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, perhaps some kind of inconceivable state may manifest.

In the T’ang Dynasty, when Dharma Master Shikshananda had finished translating the Flower Adornment Sutra, National Master Hsien Shou preceded to lecture it. The translation was begun in the first year of the Cheng Sheng reign period, the afternoon of the 14th day of the third month, and took until the second year of the Sheng Li reign period, the eighth day of the tenth month to complete. Right before the translation of the Sutra had begun, the empress Wu Tsai T’ien, who was probably not far removed in time from the Sixth Patriarch, had a dream. In the dream, in heaven and on earth throughout the entire universe there fell sweet dew, no place being without it. This made her very happy, and so she requested Dharma Master Shiksananda to translate this Sutra. He translated the present Sutra in eighty rolls, eighty-one rolls if one counts the “Chapter of the Conduct and Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva,” in thirty-nine chapters. After the translation of the Sutra had begun, as it turned out, rain fell and all the rain was sweet. That was an auspicious portent.

After the Sutra had been translated, National Master Hsien Shou began to lecture it at Buddha’s Bestowal of Predictions Monastery. The lecture series began on the fifteenth day of the tenth month. On the evening of the twelfth day of the twelfth month, the Sutra had been lectured as far as the seas of world-systems of the Flower Treasury to where the earth quakes. Right then there was an earthquake! Right at that time the monastery all of a sudden experienced an earthquake and everything shook. On that occasion there were several thousand people, both left-home and lay-persons, who had assembled there to listen to the lectures, all of whom felt the earth quake. There had never been anything like it before, but it happened, and so they called it obtaining what had never before existed.

Thereupon Dharma Master Shikshananda, along with a Vinaya Master of the time named Ming Ch’uan and another Dharma Master named Te Wei composed an account of the earthquake and sent it to Wu Tsai T’ien. When Wu Tsai T’ien, in her own hand, penned her remarks, she said, “Before you even wrote your account, I had already seen it. For at the time of lecturing the Sutra, when this secret, hidden Dharma was being propagated, in a dream I had already seen the sweet-dew portent, the omen of the heavens universally raining down sweet dew. And now that the lecturing of the Sutra has begun, for the earth to quake in six ways, is truly an inconceivable kind of state! This event should be broadcast throughout the world, and everyone in the world should be informed about this auspicious occurrence.”

Preface:

Great is extensive union with no boundaries
Means are proper Dharmas personally maintained
Expansive says it fits the substance totality
Buddha is awakened to this mysterious wonder
Flower stands for virtues from the myriad conducts
Adornment’s decorative Dharmas on the accomplished person
Sutra is the flow without end of a bubbling spring,

Stringing deep crystalizations of wonderful meanings. Attracting the boundless, sea-wide assembly. It acts for late and ancient as a constant rule

The Buddha and all kings are called the World Rulers.
Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled Wonderful Adornments.
In dividing meaning-units and assigning chapter names,
What caps the other sections is called number one.

Commentary:

This passage is the General Explanation of the Title. “General” means “summary”, and “Explanation” means “elucidation.” “The Title” is the Sutra’s descriptive title, its name. The seven words Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra combine into six pairs, and each word can be further divided into ten meanings, each of those meanings including within it limitless and boundlessly many principles.

The six pairs are:

1. Teaching and Meaning.
2. General and Particular.
3. Subject and Object.
4. Person and Dharma.
5. Function and Substance.
6. Appearance and Nature.

The single word Sutra, taken by itself, belongs to Teaching. The six words that precede it, i.e., Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment, belong to Meaning. That is the pair of Teaching and Meaning. The second pair is that of Adornment, which belongs to General, and the preceding five words Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower, which belong to Particular. That is the pair of General and Particular. The third: “Flower” is that which adorned, and “Great Means Expansive Buddha” is that which is adorned, and so the “Flower” is the subject, and the preceding four words are the object. The fourth consists of Buddha, the Person who becomes accomplished, while the preceding words Great Means Expansive are the Dharmas which adorn. That is the pair of Person and Dharma. In the fifth, Expansive is a Function, and the two preceding words Great Means are Substance. That is the pair of Function and Substance. The sixth has Means, which is an Appearance, and Great, which belongs to Nature. That is the pair of Appearance and Nature. All together there are six pairs. If the seven words Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra are discussed in detail, there are very many meanings, and the principles are even deeper and more wonderful than those of the Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.

Great is extensive union with no boundaries. The meaning of the word Great is that of vast extension without any boundaries or limitations. Means are proper Dharmas personally maintained. Means are methods. There are proper and improper methods. Here this is to cultivate and maintain oneself by means of proper Dharmas or methods to use orthodox rules to guide oneself. Expansive says it fits the substance in totality. However great the substance may be, this Sutra’s principles are just that great, not more and not less, not greater and not smaller. They are a perfect match just right. Buddha is awakened to this mysterious wonder. The Buddha has awakened to the mysterious wonder of the principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra.
           
Flower stands for virtues from the myriad conducts. Flowers are a comparison for the perfection of the meritorious virtues of the Ten Thousand Conducts, which are like blossoming flowers.

Adornment’s decorative Dharmas on the accomplished person. The adornment decorates and ornaments the Buddha’s Ten Bodies. Sutra is the flow without end of a bubbling spring. This is as when, from within the earth, there bubbles forth an eternal spring whose flow never ceases and which is never used up. The flow of water can be used in ten thousand places and yet never be cut off. It is continuous and without interruption, and so is like a bubbling spring. Stringing deep crystalizations of wonderful meanings. To string is to thread, as if on a string, these most mysterious and wonderful solidifications of meanings, these inconceivable principles. Attracting the boundless, sea-wide assembly. This Sutra is able to attract the boundless, sea-wide assembly the number of people who come being like the great sea in the same way a magnet attracts iron filings. It acts for late and ancient as a constant rule. This Sutra is used for late and ancient, that is, in the past and in the present, as a guiding rule.

Preface:

The Buddha and all kings are called the World Rulers.
Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled Wonderful Adornments.
In dividing meaning-units and assigning chapter names,
What caps the other sections is called number one.

Commentary:

The Buddha and all kings are called the World Rulers. The Buddha and all of the worldly Wheel-Turning Sage Kings, namely the Gold Wheel-Turning Sage King, the Silver Wheel-Turning Sage King, the Bronze Wheel-Turning Sage King, and the Iron Wheel-Turning Sage King, are called World Rulers. The Buddha is the Dharma King while all those Kings are worldly rulers. The Buddha may also be described as the Ruler of the world and of what transcends the world, and is therefore called the World Ruler. The World Rulers belong to the worlds, there being Three Worlds:

1. The World of Proper Enlightenment.
2. The World of Utensils.
3. The World of Living Beings.

Of the Three Worlds, the Buddha is the Ruler of the World of Proper Enlightenment. All the Kings are the Rulers of the World of Utensils. The Lords of Gods, Lords of Dragons, Yaksha Lords and so forth are the Rulers of the Worlds of Living Beings.

Dharma doors dependent and proper are both styled Wonder Adornments. Dharma doors are the doors of the Buddhadharma. Dependent is Dependent Retribution, and Proper is Proper Retribution. The two retributions, dependent and proper, are both called wonderful adornment. Those subtle and wonderful flowers are used as adornment. World-rulers belong to the world. Dependent Retribution means all of the:

Mountains, rivers, the great earth;
Houses, verandahs, porches and sheds.

Those are the places we rely on, where we dwell, and so are called the dependent retributions. All living beings are called proper retribution. Those are the two retributions, dependent and proper. Those kinds of states are inconceivable, and so they are both styled, known as, wonderful adornment.

In dividing meaning-units and assigning chapter names. In making a division into meaningful chapter-units and assigning the names of the descriptive titles of the chapters, what caps the other sections is called number one. This chapter comes before all of the other chapters, and so it is said to cap them, that is, to come before them. To cap is to put a hat on someone, and this chapter, coming before the others, is as it were worn like a hat. What caps the other sections is called Number One. It is designated as the first chapter.

The Seven Kinds of Greatness may also be employed to describe the meaning of the seven words, Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra:

Word of Title Greatness Represented
Great Greatness of Substance
Means Greatness of Appearance
Expansive Greatness of Function
Buddha Greatness of Fruit
Flower Greatness of Cause
Adornment Greatness of Knowledge
Sutra Greatness of Teaching

If you were to discuss the name of this Sutra in detail you would not finish discussing it to the exhaustion of the boundaries of the future. Not to speak of five years, in fifty years it would not be spoken to the end. However, we are not going to discuss it that way, but will just speak it very simply: for whatever way you lecture the title of this Sutra is in accord with Dharma. If you discuss it horizontally, it has principle; if you discuss it vertically, it also has principle. Therefore it is said:

Discussed in horizontal terms,
discussed on the vertical plane;
Discussed in terms of dust-motes,
Discussed on the scale of kshetras.

Any way it is discussed it has infinite and inexhaustibly many principles. Dust-motes means subtle and minute particles, and kshetras means large-scale lands or countries. Whatever way it is discussed it has principle, and so this Sutra is truly one of no fixed Dharma.

Preface:

This Sutra has thirty-nine chapters,
This chapter comes first.
Therefore it is called the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra,
the World Rulers’ Wondrous Adornments of the World Rulers, Chapter Number One.

Commentary:

The number of chapters in the Flower Adornment Sutra is thirty-nine. Originally there were forty-five chapters, but six chapters were not translated from the original Indian language into Chinese. Nonetheless, the Sutra has all of the requisite divisions:

1. Prefatory Division.
2. Division of the Text Proper.
3. Division of the Transmission.

Therefore it may be considered an entire Sutra, and so it says, This Sutra, that is, the present Flower Adornment Sutra, has thirty-nine chapters. All together there are eighty rolls, eighty-one if one counts the Chapter of the Conduct and Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. This Chapter Comes First. This Chapter is the World-Rulers’ Wonderful Adornments Chapter. That it comes first means that is was put in the front, at the very beginning.

Therefore it is called the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, the Wondrous Adornments of World Rulers, Chapter Number One.

The Flower Adornment Sutra is the greatest among the successive Teachings spoken by the Buddha. Previously, in the T’ang Dynasty, the Emperor T’ang T’ai Tsung, whose Reign Period was Chen Kuan, asked Dharma master Hsuan Tsang, “Which is the biggest of all the Sutras spoken by the Buddha?” Dharma Master Hsuan Tsang replied, “The Flower Adornment Sutra is the biggest.” T’ang T’ai Tsung wanted to recite a Sutra, but he wanted to recite a big Sutra, not a small one, which is why he asked that question. “The Flower Adornment Sutra?” he asked incredulously. At that time they were still using the Chin Dynasty translation of the Flower Adornment Sutra in sixty rolls. Afterwards, Dharma Master Shikshananda translated it, adding twenty rolls making eighty rolls, but at that time it only had sixty. “You say that the Flower Adornment Sutra is the biggest, but the Great Prajna Sutra has six hundred rolls, while it has only sixty.

How can the Flower Adornment Sutra be the biggest?” Dharma Master Hsuan Tsang then told him, “The Flower Adornment Sutra is such that one single door can open limitless doors, in multi-layered inexhaustibility. This Dharma is inconceivable, whereas the Great Prajna Sutra is just a single door within the Flower Adornment Sutra.” Thereupon T’ang T’ai Tsung exclusively recited the Flower Adornment Sutra.

The state of the Flower Adornment Sutra is not something that you can conceptualize. You cannot conceive of it.

In the past, during the Pei Ch’i Period (479 - 501), the third son of the Emperor went to Wu T’ai, “Five Peak Mountain” to burn his body as an offering to Manjushri Bodhisattva. On that occasion there was, among his escorts, a eunuch by the name of Liu Ch’ien who, upon seeing the Emperor’s son decide to burn himself as an offering to the Bodhisattva Manjushri, sought the Emperor’s permission to leave home himself. The Emperor granted his request, and after he had left home he devoted himself to reading and reciting the Flower Adornment Sutra. He was particularly sincere, and was vigorous day and night, seeking some sort of response. After he had cultivated for a certain time, his beard began to grow. Basically eunuchs do not have beards, but as he cultivated his beard started to grow, and he had all the masculine characteristics which eunuchs lack. After that he opened enlightenment and went on to write the Flower Adornment Treatise. Upon completing it, he died with no illness. That was one.

There was also the Elder Lee who cultivated the Flower Adornment Sutra, reading and reciting it. At one point he set out in search of a good place to cultivate. As he was walking down the road, he met a tiger. The tiger acted very friendly towards him. Basically tigers harm people, but when this one saw the Elder Lee, it acted as if they were old friends. The Elder Lee said to the tiger, “Right now I’m looking for a place to cultivate and do my work. Can you help me find such a place?” The tiger seemed to nod its head in confirmation, and so the Elder piled his gear upon the tiger’s back for the tiger to carry. After they had traveled some thirty miles, they came to mountain cave. The tiger stopped outside the cave and went no further. The Elder Lee looked inside and found the cave not bad at all, and so he stayed there to cultivate. The only trouble was that the place had no water. However, that very evening a great wind blew up, which uprooted an ancient pinetree, from the roots of which water flowed forth. So he used that water and cultivated there, and wrote a treatise on the Flower Adornment Sutra. There are many states of that sort, all proving that the Flower Adornment Sutra is inconceivable.

GATHA

Gatha:

I return my life to the ten directions
And the three times’ utmost reach,
To dust-mote kshetras’ Taming Masters of perfect clarity,
To the Dharma Realm’s Great Compassion Cloud of merit and virtue,
To Vairochana, the Great Wisdom Sea;

Commentary:

National Master Ch’ing Liang divides the discussion of this Sutra into four sections. What was previously discussed was the General Preface and Meaning of the Title. The passage of text now under consideration consists of a sixteen-line Gatha in which National Master Ch’ing Liang, before writing the Prologue and Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra, first takes refuse with, worships and requests the Triple Jewel to enable him to open wisdom, and so it is called Taking Refuge, Worshipping, and Requesting Aid. The four lines of verse quoted above are taking refuge with the Buddha Jewel.

I return my life means, “I take refuge and return my life, giving it To the ten directions’ and the three times’ utmost reach. The three times are the past, the present and the future. This represents taking refuge with all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three period of time, all the Buddha Jewel. To dust-mote kshetras’ Taming Masters of perfect clarity. Dust-mote kshetras are kshetra-lands many as fine particles of dust. Taming Master is one of the ten titles of the Buddha. Of perfect clarity: The wisdom of the Taming and Regulating Masters is perfect, and so is their merit and virtue. They tame and regulate the living beings of the Three Realms the Desire Realm, the Form Realm and the Formless Realm enabling them all to leave suffering and attain bliss. Those are the Regulating Masters, Great Guiding Masters who tame and regulate.

To the Dharma Realm’s Great Compassion Cloud of merit and virtue. To the exhaustion of empty space and of the Dharma Realm, in the ten directions and the three periods of time, extends the infinitely Great Compassion Cloud of merit and virtue. The “Great Compassion Cloud” is another name for the Buddha, and compares the Buddha to a cloud in empty space. To Vairochana, the Great Wisdom Sea. Vairochana, which is Sanskrit, is translated as “All-Pervasive Light,” and as “One of Great and Perfect Enlightenment.” The Great Sea of Enlightenment is the Great Wisdom Sea, and the Great Wisdom Sea is the Great Sea of Enlightenment.

The four lines of verse praise and take refuge with the Buddha Jewel. The next two lines constitute taking refuge with the Dharma, and so they say:

Preface:

To the dwelling place most deep,
The true Dharma Nature,
To what flows forth whole and perfect as the Sutra;

Commentary:

To the dwelling place most deep, the true Dharma Nature. This says that there is nothing deeper than the true and actual Dharma Nature which is dwelt in, the true and actual Dharma Jewel. To what flows forth whole and perfect as the Sutra, that which flows forth whole and perfect means this perfect Sutra, the Flower Adornment Sutra.

The next two phrases represent taking refuge with the Sangha Jewel, and so they say:

Preface:

In each assembly of the Buddhas in each dust-mote,
To Universal Worth, Manjushri, all Great Lords,

Commentary:

In each assembly of the Buddhas in each dust-mote. In each and every one of the countries many as fine motes of dust, in all places throughout the ten directions, in all the BuddhasDharma Assemblies where all Buddhas are speaking Dharma, To Universal Worthy, Manjushri, and all Great Lords. Universal Worthy Bodhisattva is an important Bodhisattva in the Flower Adornment Sutra. These are also ManjushriWonderfully LuckyBodhisattva, and all Great Lords: many other very great Bodhisattvas besides.

Preface:

I now wish with my one hair’s breadth of wisdom,
To fathom the boundless Dharma Realm’s vast void.

Commentary:
          
National Master Ch’ing Liang now says, I now wish with my one hair’s breadth of wisdom... He means that his wisdom is too small, to fathom the boundless Dharma Realm’s vast void. How can one use as little as a hair’s breadth of wisdom, which is so very small, to fathom entirely the principle of true emptiness so large as that of the Dharma Realm? It cannot be fathomed to the end, and so National Master Ch’ing Liang goes on to say,

Preface:

May I receive the Triple Jewel’s Compassion of Identity in Substance,

Commentary:

May I receive the Triple Jewel’s Compassion of Identity in substance. “I hope to rely on the kindness and Compassion of Identity in Substance of the Triple Jewel of the ten directions and the three periods of time.

Preface:

In each phrase profoundly meshing with all Buddha’s intent.

Commentary:

May I in each phrase of this Commentary which I am writing to the Flower Adornment Sutra be in accord with the intent of all Buddhas, Profoundly meshing with all Buddhas’ intent. May it, in a deep way, be in harmony and tally with the thought in the mind of all Buddhas.”

Preface:

May I cause the Dharma Eye to never, ever fail,
Exhausting realms of living beings like Universal Worthy.
I transfer this supreme good equally to all that live:
May they soon accomplish Bodhi’s fruit of never-ending bliss!

Commentary:
         
The first eight lines of this sixteen-line Gatha express taking refuge with the inexhaustibly infinite permanently-dwelling Triple Jewel of the ten directions. The following six lines request the permanently-dwelling Triple Jewel of the ten directions to come to his National Master Ch’ing Liang’s aid, be protective and mindful of him, and open his wisdom so that each phrase of the Commentary which he is writing will be in accord with the Buddha’s meaning:

Above, meshing with the Buddha’s mind;
Below, tallying with living beings’ potentials.

In the final two lines, he transfers the merit and virtue of the entire Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra as a gift to the living beings of the Dharma Realm: May I cause the Dharma Eye forever not to fail. The Dharma Eye in this instance is The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. To cause it to forever not to fail means to prevent it from ever being deficient, to keep this Dharma from ever declining or disappearing. Therefore, he says, May I cause the Dharma Eye to forever not to fail, Exhausting Realms of living beings like Universal Worthy.

In the Flower Adornment Sutra, Universal Worthy Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is the Host who requests Dharma on behalf of all the beings who have appropriate potential. There is no way to know the state of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, and so he is Universal Worthy Bodhisattva of Great Conduct. Universal Worthy Bodhisattva is in the mind of each and every living being, and the bodies and minds of all living beings are also within the mind of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. Therefore, National Master Ch’ing Liang says, Exhausting realms of living beings like Universal Worthy. All living beings can become transformation bodies of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. All of them can practice this great power of conduct.

I transfer this supreme good equally to all that live. This phrase transfers all the merit and virtue from his Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra as a gift to all living beings of all the Dharma Realms of the ten directions. Supreme Good means the merit and virtue of this Commentary are exceptionally good, the very best. Equally means pervading everywhere, that the merit and virtue are given to all living beings everywhere, equally to all that live. Consequently, among those of old, some resolved to read and recite the Flower Adornment Sutra, some to write it out, some to make offerings to it, and some to receive and maintain it.

The Flower Adornment Sutra is such a large Sutra, with eighty-one rolls and one hundred thousand gathas. Some resolved to use the blood from their own bodies to write out the Flower Adornment Sutra character by character. That is their way of repaying the Buddha’s kindness, for the Buddha’s compassion towards living beings is so great. In New York right now there is a high monk who vowed on Wu T’ai Mountain to write out the Flower Adornment Sutra in his own blood. He for that reason calls himself “the Flower Adornment Cultivator,” meaning that he cultivates according to the methods of the Flower Adornment Sutra. To start with that Dharma Master was...as tutor, but after he left home he studied the Four Books the Analects, etc, little by little he learned to read and write, eventually could use his own blood to write out the Flower Adornment Sutra which is an inconceivable state.

One may also say that Dharma Master certainly has great causal affinities with the Flower Adornment Sutra. At present he has not yet gone to rebirth, and no one recognizes him; but after he goes off to rebirth, perhaps it will be known that he was a certain Bodhisattva, a certain Arhat, or someone similar come to this world to teach and transform living beings.

May they soon accomplish bodhi’s fruit of never-ending bliss! In his transference, National Master Ch’ing Liang is not retaining any of the merit and virtue for himself. He is not saying, “It’s my merit and virtue. I want all of the merit from writing this Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra to put in my pocket and hang onto.” He’s not that way. He wants to transfer it as a gift to all living beings that exist. He universally extends this supremely good merit and virtue as a gift to all living beings of the Dharma Realm everywhere. In what way? In a way that makes all living beings of the Dharma Realm rapidly certify to the attainment of this great, perfect enlightenment, to the wonderful fruit of the Four Virtues of Nirvana:

1. Permanence.
2. Bliss.
3. True Self.
4. Purity.

To such constant bliss and such fruit of Enlightenment.

Therefore, you see that when a Bodhisattva makes a vow, it absolutely is not for his own sake. Consequently, when he makes a Commentary to a Sutra, he then wishes to transfer the merit and virtue to all the living beings of the Dharma Realm. He has not the slightest selfishness, never saying, “I made this Commentary, and I want all the merit and virtue myself.” Never. Instead he bestows it upon the living beings of the Dharma Realm. You and I at present all form part of those living beings, and National Master Ch’ing Liang is bestowing the merit and virtue from his Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra upon us, the living beings of the present. Therefore, we should all now be grateful to National Master Ch’ing Liang for that kind of compassion which enables us to see this Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra and rely upon it to study and cultivate the Buddhadharma. We should repeatedly bow to National Master Ch’ing Liang.

Before you have understood the Buddhadharma, when you hear these kinds of principles, they many seem very ordinary to you, and you may not recognize that they are inconceivable states. After you have understood these wonderful Dharma doors, then you will know that National Master Ch’ing Liang’s compassion and concern for all of us living beings leaves no subtlety unreached. He enables us to conceptualize and make the fines of discernments. If you at present, who are able to hear wonderful Dharma of this sort, did not have great good roots, you fundamentally would have no way to hear this kind of Dharma. No matter what kind of person you are: whether you cultivate or not, whether you have brought forth the thought for Bodhi or not, for people to be able to hear this kind of Dharma truly is like panning gold from sand. If one has never seen gold before, one may not recognize it as a precious substance. If you’ve never seen a diamond, you may mistake it for glass and wonder why it costs so much when you do see one. We are now in a similar position with regard to the Flower Adornment Sutra. Those of you who do not understand the Dharma may feel there is nothing much to it when you do hear it. Those who do understand how that this Dharma is incomparable. It is the highest, unsurpassed, most profound, subtle and wonderful Dharma there is.

National Master Ch’ing Liang, prior to writing the Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra, beseeched the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the sea-wide Flower Adornment Assembly to come to his assistance and bestow some kind of miraculous portent. He went before the Buddhas and bowed to them, seeking with the utmost sincerity of mind. He kept seeking, and then one day he had a dream in which he saw a golden Buddha image, from which was emitted great light that universally illumined the Dharma Realm. Thereupon he took the light into both his hands and swallowed it. He ate all that light. One of my disciples also says he has eaten light, probably not the same light as that however. There is also Mahakashyapa who is called the Light Drinker. It’s not known how he drank the light, but National Master Ch’ing Liang did not drink it, he swallowed it right into his belly. After that, he wrote the Flower Adornment Sutra Preface without pause. It flowed from his pen non-stop and required no revision, because he had opened great wisdom. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came to his aid and told him what to write. We have just finished discussing the Preface to that Commentary, which is the first section of the Prologue. The Prologue is longer than the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, and will take at least a year to lecture. The kind of state he had when he started writing the Commentary is called the Omen of Light Universally Illumining, the meaning of the portent being that the light of the Flower Adornment Sutra pervasively illumines the Dharma Realm.

When he was actually into the writing of the Commentary, another state occurred to National Master Ch’ing Liang. He dreamed that he turned into a dragon whose head extended to the southern peak of Wu T’ai, “Five Peak,” Mountain, also known as “Ch’ing Liang Mountain,” and whose tail stretched to the northern peak. Shortly afterwards, he changed into quintillions of dragons which flew off into space and then disappeared. As he thought about it later he realized, “Oh! The Flower Adornment Sutra will disseminate to the exhaustion of empty space, and everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm there will be the Flower Adornment Sutra!” those of you who succeed in opening your five eyes will see the Flower Adornment Sutra present to the exhaustion of empty space and everywhere throughout the Dharma Realm. The Commentary to the Flower Adornment Sutra by National Master Ch’ing Liang is also everywhere. You can see them as soon as you enter samadhi.

The Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken by the Buddha while in samadhi, using the mind in samadhi to speak the Dharma of samadhi, in order to cross over the Bodhisattvas whose minds were in samadhi. There is the Flower Adornment Sutra to the exhaustion of empty space and of the Dharma Realm. If you do not believe it, there is no way I can convince you. If you look into it, gradually you will come to believe. This kind of state is utterly inconceivable, and will be even more so when we discuss the actual text of the Sutra. There is fundamentally no way for you to understand this kind of state and know what it is like. If you try to use the thought of an ordinary person, you basically will not be able to conceptualize these principles if you do not understand the Buddhadharma. That is why it needs to be lectured, which will be done rather superficially, discussing its principles in terms of what you do know. Then, little by little, you will understand it.

There is probably no other place in the entire world where the Flower Adornment Sutra is being lectured. At the very least, this Dharma Assembly will take five years for the Sutra to be completely lectured. I lectured the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra for one year and one month in this country. Lectured quickly, this Sutra will take at least five years. During that time, all of you young people will get old, and maybe the old people will die and, having died, exchange their bodies and come back to hear the Sutra some more. There may be a lot of transformations in that five-year period a lot of changes of face. People who did not previously believe in the Buddha, upon hearing, will believe. Those who previously believed, after hearing it, will proceed to cultivate. Therefore, with this Flower Adornment Assembly about to begin in America, all of you are the most sincere of those who study the Buddhadharma in the entire world. Consequently, this is an opportunity difficult to meet.

Source

cttbusa.org