The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Translated by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva of Yao Ch’in
A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Chapter 10: Masters of the Dharma
There are five types of Dharma Masters. The first is the Dharma Master who receives and holds (the teaching). He receives the Dharma into his mind. To receive means that the mind receives the Dharma. To hold means that the body holds the Dharma. With his mind, he understands the Dharma, and with his body he puts the Dharma into actual practice. The second type of Dharma Master is one who reads the texts. The third type of Dharma Master recites the texts from memory. The fourth type of Dharma Master copies out the Sutras. The fifth type of Dharma Master explains the Sutras to others, lectures on the Sutras and explains their meaning.
The first four types of Dharma Masters practice self-benefit. The fifth type practices benefiting others, they teach and transform other people. When you receive and uphold the Sutras, read, recite and copy them out, you are benefiting yourself. To explain the Sutras to others is to benefit them. A Dharma Master is defined as “one who takes the Dharma as Master.” One takes the Buddhadharma as one’s teacher. A Dharma Master is also defined as “one who bestows the Dharma on others.” In this chapter, Dharma Masters receive predictions from the Buddha and so this is titled MASTERS OF THE DHARMA.
At that time the World Honored One, through Medicine King Bodhisattva, spoke to the eighty thousand great lords saying, “Medicine King, do you see within this great assembly the limitless gods, dragon kings, yakshas,gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, and beings both human and non human, as well as the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those seeking to be Hearers, those seeking to be Pratyekabuddhas, and those seeking the Buddha Path? Upon such ones as these, all in the presence of the Buddha, who hear but one verse or one sentence of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, or who have even one thought of rejoicing in it, I bestow predictions of their future attainment of anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”
C3. Section of propagation.
D1. Dharma Master Chapter.
E1. Praising those who uphold the Dharma.
F1. Showing the disciples deep merit and the blessings of those who uphold the Dharma.
G1. Disciples during the Buddha’s time.
At that time, the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, through Medicine King Bodhisattva, spoke to the eighty thousand great lords, Great Bodhisattvas, saying, “Medicine King Bodhisattva, do you see within this great assembly the limitless gods, dragon kings, yakshas, the speedy ghosts who fly through space, ghandharvas, the musical spirits in the court of the Jade Emperor, asuras, garudas,the golden winged p’eng birds. Kinnaras, another class of musical spirit in the Jade Emperor’s Court.
Mahoragas, the big snakes, and beings both human and non human, as well as the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, those seeking to be Hearers, those seeking to be Pratyekabuddhas, and those seeking the Buddha path? Upon such ones as these, all in the presence of the Buddha, who hear but one verse or one sentence of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, or who have even one thought of rejoicing in it, I bestow predictions of their future attainment of anuttarasamyaksambodhi. They shall all obtain the unsurpassed enlightenment, the position of Buddhahood.
The Buddha told the Medicine King: “Furthermore, after the extinction of the Thus Come One, should there be one who hears but a single verse or a single sentence of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra or who has even one thought of rejoicing in it, I bestow upon him as well a prediction of anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”
G2. Disciples after the Buddha’s extinction.
The Buddha told Medicine King: “Furthermore, after the extinction of the Thus Come One, after the Buddha has entered Nirvana. Should there be one who hears but a single verse or a single sentence of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, or who has even one thought of rejoicing in it. But one thought of rejoicing. “Rejoicing” includes praising the Sutra, receiving and upholding it, reading and reciting it, writing it out as well. I bestow upon him as well a prediction of anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”
“Further, should there be one who receives and upholds, reads and recites, explains and teaches, or copies out The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, be it even a single verse, looking upon the Sutra text with reverence as he would the Buddha himself, making various kinds of offerings of flowers, incense, beads, powdered incense, paste incense, burning incense, silk canopies, banners, clothing and music, or who even join his palms in reverence, O Medicine King, you should know that such a person has in the past already made offerings to tens of myriads of millions of Buddhas, in the presence of those Buddhas, accomplishing great vows. It is out of pity for living beings that he is born among human beings.”
“O Medicine King, if someone should ask you what type of living beings shall in the future become Buddhas, you should point out to him that these very people in the future certainly shall become Buddhas, Why is this? If a good man or good woman receives and upholds, reads, recites, explains and teaches, or writes out even a single sentence of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, or makes various offerings to the Sutra text of flowers, incense, beads, powdered incense, paste incense, burning incense, silk canopies, banners, clothing, music, or reverently joined palms, that person should be looked up to in reverence by those in all worlds and should receive offerings befitting the Thus Come One.
You should know that this person is a great Bodhisattva, one who has accomplished anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Out of pity for living beings, he has vowed to be born here and to expound upon The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra broadly and in detail.”
F2. Showing categories of disciples.
H1. Specific explanation.
J1. Lower classification of masters.
Further, should there be one who receives and upholds, reads and recites, explains and teaches, or copies out The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. Be it even a single verse, looking upon the Sutra text with reverence as he would the Buddha himself. Making various kinds of offerings of flowers, incense, beads, powdered incense, paste incense, burning incense, silk canopies, banners, clothing and music, singing praises or who even joins his palms in reverence, O Medicine King, you should know that such a person has in the past already made offerings to tens of myriads of millions of Buddhas, in the presence of those Buddhas, accomplishing great vows. It is out of pity for living beings. These Bodhisattva Dharma Masters have compassion for living beings. That he is born among human beings.
O Medicine King, if someone should ask you what type of living beings shall in the future become Buddhas, you should point out to him that these very people in the future certainly shall become Buddhas. Those Dharma Masters who receive and uphold, copy out, read and recite, and explain the Sutra to others, or those who hear but a single sentence or verse of The Lotus Sutra—these people will become Buddhas. Why is this? If a good man or good woman receives, upholds, reads, recites, explains and teaches or writes out even a single sentence of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, or makes various offerings to the Sutra text of flowers, incense, beads, powdered incense, paste incense, burning incense, silk canopies, banners, clothing, music or reverently joined palms.
Why should one make offerings to the Sutras? It is because the Sutras are just the Dharma body of the Buddha. That person should be looked up to in reverence by those in all worlds and should receive offerings befitting the Thus Come One.You should make offerings to these Dharma Masters as you would make offerings to the Buddha. You should know that this person is a great Bodhisattva. Those who lecture upon The Dharma Flower Sutra after the Buddha’s extinction are great Bodhisattvas. One who has accomplished anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Why did he come into this world? Out of pity for living beings he has vowed to be born here and to expound upon The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra broadly and in detail.
“How much the more does this apply to one who can receive and uphold it in its entirety and make various kinds of offerings to it.”
“Medicine King, you should know that this person has renounced his own pure karmic reward and, after my extinction, out of pity for living beings, has been born in the evil world to vastly proclaim this Sutra.”
J2. Praising the higher class of masters.
How much the more does this apply to one who can receive and uphold it in its entirety and make various kinds of offerings to it.
Medicine King, you should know that this person has renounced his own pure karmic reward and, having already attained anuttarasamyaksambodhi, after my extinction, out of pity for living beings, has been born in the evil world of the five turbidities to vastly proclaim this Sutra. This Dharma Master, after I enter Nirvana, will take pity on living beings and be reborn in the realm of the five turbidities to propagate The Lotus Sutra. So if you study The Dharma Flower Sutra and learn how to explain it to others, you do not have to ask to know that you are a Bodhisattva who has returned to save living beings. If this were not the case you would have no opportunity to meet up with The Dharma Flower Sutra, or, if you did have the chance to meet up with it, you surely would not be able to explain it to other people.
If you lecture The Dharma Flower Sutra, several thousands of years ago Shakyamuni Buddha already gave you a prediction. We who are investigating the Sutras now should each take one of them and investigate it in great detail until you understand it very well. Penetrate its meaning from beginning to end. Then you will be able to explain it, because you will have some foundation in the Buddhadharma. It is not enough just to listen to the Sutras being lectured. You must really understand their meaning well enough to explain them to others. Otherwise you are just wasting your time. Pick a Sutra you like and really get into it so that you understand it completely. Then that counts for something.
“If this good man or good woman after my extinction can secretly explain even so much as a single sentence of The Dharma Flower Sutra for a single person, you should know that this person is a messenger of the Thus Come One. This person is sent by the Thus Come One to do the Thus Come One’s work.”
J1. Lower class of Masters.
If this good man or good woman, should it be the case, that after my extinction can secretly explain even so much as a single sentence of The Dharma Flower Sutra for a single person. “Secretly” means not openly. Perhaps the person does not dare lecture to groups of people because he is afraid of the awesome virtue of the great assembly. He refused to speak for the great assembly because he is fearful of the awesome virtue of the large assembly. So he secretly explains the Sutra to just one person. Perhaps he is afraid people will ask him questions he cannot answer. Let us say he does not even lecture the whole Sutra, but just a single sentence. Which sentence? It does not matter. Any sentence will do.
You should know that this person is a messenger of the Thus Come One, the Buddha sent him. This person is sent by the Thus Come One to the world to explain The Lotus Sutra, to do the Thus Come One’s work. Lecturing on The Dharma Flower Sutra is just doing the Buddha’s work. The Buddha’s work is just The Dharma Flower Sutra.
“How much the more so is that the case for one who can in the midst of a great assembly extensively explain it to people.”
J2. Higher class of Masters.
How much the more so is that the case for one who can, in the midst of a great assembly, extensively explain it to people. Any of you who can study The Dharma Flower Sutra, understand it and then explain it for a gathering of people, will be praised by the Buddha.
You say, “Well, Dharma Master, you are up there lecturing it for us right now. Is the Thus Come One praising you?”
Not only is he praising me now, he did so in the past and he will do so in the future. That is why I like to lecture it so much! If the Thus Come One did not praise this activity; I would not be undertaking it. I like praise! Ha!
In the past I used to lecture on The Dharma Flower Sutra all the time, I also always used to go to lectures and listen. No matter what was going on, I always liked to go to lectures and listen.
“O Medicine King, should an evil person with unwholesome mind appear before the Buddha, slandering and scolding him constantly for the length of an eon, his offenses would be relatively light compared to the offenses of a person who speaks even a single evil word reviling any Sanghan or layperson who reads or recites The Dharma Flower Sutra. That person’s offense would be very grave.”
“O Medicine King, you should know that one who reads and recites The Dharma Flower Sutra takes the Buddha’s adornments as his own adornments. He shall carry the Thus Come One on his shoulders. Wherever he goes, he should be welcomed with obeisance. Singlemindedly, and with palms joined, one should pay reverence, make offerings, honor, and praise him. He should receive the finest offerings among people, offerings of flowers, incense, beads, powdered incense, paste incense, burning incense, silk canopies, banners, clothing, fine food, and music. Heavenly jewels should be scattered over him, and clusters of the finest heavenly jewels offered to him.”
“What is the reason? When this person joyfully speaks the Dharma, those who hear it for but an instant shall directly achieve ultimate anuttarasamyaksambodhi.”
H2. General explanation.
O Medicine King, should an evil person. How evil is this person? Not only does he scold his teacher, he even scolds the Buddha! Would you say he was evil or not? With unwholesome mind, evil mind, appear before the Buddha, slandering and scolding him constantly for the length of an eon. Let us just say it is a small eon, that is 139,600 years. This is like Devadatta who always scolded the Buddha. As a result, he fell, alive into hell. His offenses would be relatively light. You should not think this phrase means that scolding the Buddha brings only light offenses. It only means that the offense is lighter than the offense of slandering any Sanghan or layperson who recites The Dharma Flower Sutra. Compared to the offenses of a person who speaks even a single evil word reviling any Sanghan or layperson who reads or recites The Dharma Flower Sutra. Be they at-home or left home, that person’s offense would be very grave. They say things about the reciter of The Dharma Flower Sutra, things like, “He recites The Dharma Flower Sutra? Are you kidding? He kills, steals, fools around, and drinks and everything!” It does not matter whether the one who recites is a left home person or a lay person.
As to receiving and upholding the Sutra, some do it outwardly and some do it inwardly. “Inwardly” means that it is done in secret. This is like Rahula who was first in secret practices. He recited Sutras and mantras but nobody knew. He did not run up in front of everyone holding a copy of the Sutra and making a display of himself, “See me? I am upholding The Dharma Flower Sutra!” To uphold it inwardly means that, silently, at all times, one is cultivating, and people do not necessarily know.
The same applies to reading and reciting. Rahula recite whether there were people there or not. Some people in Buddhism exclusively cheat people. If they see someone coming, they pick up a Sutra and start reciting like crazy. When the person leaves, they put it down and forget it. They just do it for show. Some people do the same thing with bowing to the Buddha, writing out Sutras, etc. Those who truly write out the Sutras do so whether anyone is there to watch them or not. A Dharma Master in Hong Kong was like this. When he wrote out the Sutra he always sat in full lotus and wrote it out with utmost respect in every word and every brush stroke. He had extremely fine handwriting, too.
The person who slanders one who recites this Sutra has created a heavier offense than one who slanders the Buddha himself. Slandering the Buddha is a tremendously heavy offense, too, but the Buddha is very compassionate. It does not phase him in the least whether you praise him or scold him, and so the offense is less than the offense of slandering the Sutra. Why is slandering the Sutra such a heavy offense? This is because the reciter of the Sutra has not yet certified to the unproduced Dharma patience. If he hears you slander him he is likely to get mad and quit reciting.
So see what you have done? Not reciting the Sutra, he will not become a Buddha. Sutras are just the Dharma body of the Buddha, and therefore you must not slander them. The Vajra Sutra says, “Wherever this Sutra is, there is the Buddha and his reverent disciples.” If this applies to The Vajra Sutra, it certainly applies to The Dharma Flower Sutra. The Dharma Flower is the true body of the Buddha. If you want to now see what the Buddha is like, well, then just read The Dharma Flower Sutra.
O Medicine King, you should know that one who reads and recites The Dharma Flower Sutra takes the Buddha’s adornments as his own adornments. That means that, in the future, this person will certainly become a Buddha. He shall carry the Thus Come One on his shoulders. He is a messenger of the Buddha, teaching living beings, leading them to proper views. He carries on his back, as it were, the Thus Come One’s Dharma. Wherever he goes, he should be welcomed with obeisance. People should bow to him.
Singlemindedly, and with palms joined, one should pay reverence, make offerings, honor, and praise him. He should receive the finest offerings among people, offerings of flowers, incense, beads, powdered incense, paste incense, burning incense, silk canopies, banners, clothing, fine food, and music, the finest offerings among people. Heavenly jewels should be scattered over him, and clusters of the finest heavenly jewels offered to him.
What is the reason? Why does he deserve these offerings? When this person joyfully speaks the Dharma, those who hear it for but an instant shall directly achieve ultimate anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Those who hear the Sutra can very quickly attain Buddhahood. It will not take them very long at all.
At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate these principles, spoke verses, saying:
“One wishing to dwell in the Buddha Path
And to accomplish spontaneous wisdom
Should diligently make offerings
To those who receive and uphold The Dharma Flower
One wishing quickly to gain
The Wisdom of All Modes
Should receive and uphold this Sutra
And make offerings to those who uphold it.
H1. Exhortation to self-practice and benefiting others.
At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate these principles, spoke verses saying: He wanted to make it easier for living beings to understand the principles, so he spoke in verses.
Basically, the time is up for this lecture, but I still have something to say. Someone has some questions about the different kinds of Dharma Masters and about inward and outward cultivation. Some people only work on the superficialities while others cultivate for themselves.
I told you before, when I was in Guan Yin Cave in Hong Kong, my next-door neighbor performed the ceremony of the flaming mouths every day for a thousand days. Everyday about three o’clock he started his ceremony. He would put on his ceremonial robes and then go out on the front porch and look up and down the street to see if any guests were coming. If some guests were coming he would run in and grab the bells and ring them like mad, making an unholy racket. When the people walked by they would see him and think, “This Dharma Master really works hard,” and offer him some money. That is how it went.
Someone is thinking, “Dharma Master, you always wait until we all arrive in the evening before you write out The Shurangama Sutra. Isn’t that ‘outward’ cultivation?” I do not face out or face in.
That is different. I write out the Sutra to teach you Chinese. Basically, I am incredibly lazy. I would not be interested in writing out the Sutra or lecturing, reading, or reciting it. I like it best when there is nothing going on at all.
“But you just said that you liked to lecture on the Sutras!” you say.
That is because the Buddha praises those who lecture on it. So, I end up liking what I do not like to do!
One wishing to dwell in the Buddha Path. Should there be someone who wants to become a Buddha. If you want to become a Buddha, you must first dwell in the Buddha Path. If you do not then you have no way to become a Buddha.
What is meant by “dwell in the Buddha Path?” It means that you stand firmly without moving from that position. It means that you would not change your persuasions and turn to an outside Way. Originally one has already taken refuge with the Triple Jewel, and “dwells in the Buddha Path.” But many people stray from the Buddha Path to study other doctrines. They no longer dwell in the Buddha path. Since coming to America, I have seen many such people. There was one disciple who had a lot of faith in his teacher. He said, “No matter what my teacher tells me to do, I will do it.” He heard that once a disciple had knelt for five hours asking forgiveness from me, and he said, “I could do that too. I could kneel for ten hours, and I would not retreat!” I used an expedient to test him out, and needless to say, he flunked. Not only that, he ran off to some other religion. He was not really dwelling in the Buddha Path.
Dwelling in the Buddha Path means that you can bear up under any circumstances. If things are going well, you can take it. If bad things happen, you can take that, too. You are not attached to or turned by favorable situations. Disliking bad situations means that you are not dwelling in the Buddha Path. One who dwells in the Buddha Path cultivates patience. You must be so firm in your resolve that you can bear up under any adverse circumstance. Then you can be said to dwell in the Buddha Path.
And to accomplish spontaneous wisdom. In order to dwell in the Buddha Path, you must first have spontaneous wisdom. Spontaneous wisdom is also called “wisdom gained without a teacher.” This does not mean that it is obtained without a teacher, however. It means that after the teacher has crossed you over and led you to understanding, you will then have spontaneous wisdom and do not rely upon a teacher.
For example as they were about to cross the river, the Fifth Patriarch said to the Sixth Patriarch, “It is fitting that I take you across.” The Sixth Patriarch replied, “When one is confused, the teacher takes one across, but when one is enlightened, one takes oneself across.” Before you have crossed the river, you definitely need a boat to cross it, but once you reach the other side, you do not put the boat on your back and carry it around with you everywhere! Your burden would be too heavy; you would get tired quickly! Once across the river, you must put the boat down. Spontaneous wisdom means that you naturally have wisdom. It is said,
If the demon comes, slay the demon.
If the Buddha comes, slay the Buddha.
How does one obtain spontaneous wisdom? How can one come to dwell in the Buddha Path?
Should diligently make offerings to those who receive and uphold The Dharma Flower. One should constantly make offerings to…whom? To the Buddha? No. Then who, you? No. Me? No. To those who receive and uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra. You should make offerings to those who can read, recite, receive, uphold, write out, and lecture upon The Dharma Flower Sutra. Those who make offerings to such Dharma Masters will be able to dwell in the Buddha Path and accomplish spontaneous wisdom.
One wishing quickly to gain the Wisdom of All Modes. Suppose someone else wants to obtain this wisdom very quickly. The Wisdom of All Modes is not easy to attain. Spontaneous wisdom is not the same as the Wisdom of All Modes. The Wisdom of All Modes includes all of existence in its scope as well as all kinds of wisdom. It is the perfect wisdom. To realize Buddhahood, one must obtain the Wisdom of All Modes. How does one attain it? Do not be nervous. I will teach you the method.
Should receive and uphold this Sutra. If you constantly receive and uphold this Sutra, you will attain the Wisdom of All Modes very quickly. Do you see how wonderful this Sutra is? Why is it titled The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra? This is where the Wonderful Dharma is. You need only receive and uphold it to attain that Wonderful Dharma, the Wisdom of All Modes. So you should receive and uphold and also recite it constantly. You recite it with your mouth and ponder it with your mind, thinking upon its wonderful principles. With your body put those principles into action, practicing them in your daily life. This is called receiving, upholding, and actually practicing The Dharma Flower Sutra. In this way you can obtain the Wisdom of All Modes.
And make offerings to those who uphold it. It is not enough just to receive and uphold it yourself. You have to make offerings to others who receive and uphold it. If you receive offerings from others for your work with the Sutra, you must pass those offerings on to others that also work with it. If you can do this you will attain the Wisdom of All Modes, and you will not be confused any more. If you obtain spontaneous wisdom, you will not be stupid any more. Why are you unclear about the principles? Why is it you do not know what is going on? It is because you have not attained genuine wisdom.
Without spontaneous wisdom or the Wisdom of All Modes, your thoughts will be a mixed bag. One thought will be awakened and the next confused. With one confused thought you have been bumped off the Buddha Path. With one awakened thought, you are back on it again. If every thought is awakened, then in every thought you are on the Buddha Path. If every thought is confused, then in every thought you are a confused living being. There is nothing strange about it. It all depends on whether or not you are confused or awakened.
Who is confused? It is you, yourself. Then who is awake? It is also just you. Since it is you who wake yourself up, you should not rely upon anything external for your awakening.
What is meant by, “relying” on something? It is like the poet Li Tai Bai who relied upon wine. Unless he had had a few drinks, he could not remember anything at all. He could not write poetry or compose essays. But once he had had a few, the muse would visit, and the poems would flow and the essays spill forth. Ha! Words flowed like a bubbling spring. But first, he had to have the wine. It would not work any other way. He had to have that crutch. Without it, he was helpless. That is “relying.”
Some people claim that when they take drugs they can melt into the void. They say drugs give them samadhi. But just take the drugs away and see how far into the void they get. They cannot go anywhere then. They are just confusing themselves. Confusing themselves, they are just living beings. Waking themselves up, they are on the Buddha Path. Confusion and awakening are up to you. Nobody can do it for you.
To say nothing of us common folk, even the Buddha’s cousin Ananda could not rely upon the Buddha for his enlightenment. The Buddha had no way to get enlightenment for him. This makes it obvious that you must apply effort yourself. If you just fritter your time away, day after day, that is really pathetic. We say,
An inch of time is an inch of life.
An inch of time is an inch of your life. You must not waste your life. If you waste all your time, you will accomplish nothing. If you use it up entirely, your life will just go down the drain. Everyone should dwell in the Buddha Path everyday. How? Just do not be confused! If you are confused, you run off the Path.
“But how can I avoid confusion?” you ask.
Do not ask how you can get out of confusion. Ask yourself how you got confused in the first place. If you know how and why it is that you are confused, then you will know how to get “unconfused.”
“I do not know, though,” you say. Since you do not know, I will tell you. If you knew, then I would not tell you. Why? It is because your self-nature would have taken itself across, and you would not need me to wake you up. But since you have not awakened, I will teach you a little something…just a little.
You are confused because of ignorance, because of your not understanding. If you understood, there would be no problems. If you understood, then the heavens would be empty and the earth lay bare, and the entire universe would be yours!
Ignorance is the worst thing going. It is also the best thing going. Why? It is just ignorance that helps you to become a Buddha. Understanding only comes from not understanding. Unless there was something you did not understand, then there would be no way for you eventually to understand it! Without darkness there is no light. You see? If you can understand precisely this point, you can get enlightened. If you do not understand, you will just have to approach it gradually—wait a few more days.
Someone says, “I cannot wait! I want to understand right now!”
Okay, already, then understand! You do not have to wait. The understanding is up to you, not me. If you understand you do not have to wait.
One who can receive and uphold
The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra
You should know the Buddha sent him,
Out of pity for living beings.
Those who can receive and hold
The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra,
Have renounced their pure lands,
And, pitying beings, have been reborn here.
You should know that such people,
Are free to be born wherever they wish,
And can, in this evil world
Vastly teach the supreme Dharma.
One should make offerings of heavenly flowers
Incense and heavenly jeweled garments,
And heaven’s finest, most marvelous gems,
To the teachers of this Dharma.
H2. Repetition of specific and general meanings.
I1. Verse of specific explanation.
So hurry up and learn to lecture The Dharma Flower Sutra! See all the offerings you will get? But I hope you will not learn to lecture it out of greed for offerings, really. You should cultivate and dwell in the Buddha Path.
One who can receive and uphold The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra, You should know the Buddha sent him. The Buddha told him to come. If this were not the case, he would not be able to receive and hold The Dharma Flower Sutra. If you can receive and uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra, then the Buddha sent you here. You just do not know, that’s all. It was so long ago, you have forgotten. You have forgotten your duties. If you read and recite and uphold the Sutra, then you are the Buddha’s messenger.
Why did the Buddha send you here into the evil world of the five turbidities? Out of pity for living beings. Taking pity on all living beings, the Buddha sent you into this world. And this evil world of the five turbidities is decidedly impure.
Those who can receive and hold The Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra have renounced their pure lands. They themselves wished to renounce their pure lands of reward and come instead into the evil world of the five turbidities. And, pitying beings, have been reborn here. Because they have great compassion for living beings, they have been reborn in this world.
You should know that such people are free to be born wherever they wish.They did not come into this world on the wheel of rebirth. They picked this world out of their own choice. They chose to be born here in order to teach and transform living beings. And can, in this evil world, in this evil world of the turbid eon, the turbidity of views, the turbidity of affliction, the turbidity of living beings, and the turbidity of the life span—such a dirty world. Vastly teach the supreme Dharma. They have great fearlessness. They are not afraid of the five turbidities, and they are not afraid of the Ten Servants. The Ten Servants are the Five Slow Servants and the Five Sharp Servants. Fearless, they expound upon the supreme Dharma.
One should make offerings of heavenly flowers, incense and heavenly jeweled garments, and heaven’s finest, most marvelous gems. The gems are marvelous. In heaven they have jewel-cluster trays. The tray is empty, but when you put one thing in it, the whole tray becomes filled with similar things. For example, if you set a small piece of gold on the tray, the tray will be filled with gold. If you set a piece of silver there, there will be a tray full of silver. If you place a piece of gemstone on the tray, there will be a tray filled with gemstones. Such are the wonderful jewels in the heavens.
To the teachers of this Dharma, to one who speaks The Dharma Flower Sutra. So I told you to hurry up and learn how to speak the Sutra, but not so that you can get offerings. Offerings should not even enter into the picture. You should learn to speak the Sutra so that you can realize Buddhahood. I do not care if any of you make offerings to me, even though I am speaking the Sutra. If there are no offerings at all, I still keep on lecturing it. I do not do it out of greed for offerings. If I were greedy for fame or offerings, I would be just like Maitreya Bodhisattva! Ah…
Bodhidharma’s disciples, the Bhikshuni Zong Chi could recite The Dharma Flower Sutra from memory. After she died, a blue lotus flower grew from her mouth as a certification of the merit she had gained through her recitation of the Sutra.
You should arrange in your cultivation for special practices that you undertake, over and above the daily-required practices. For example, in addition to morning and evening recitation and translation work and so on, you should concentrate on memorizing or reciting a particular Sutra, The Vajra Sutra, The Dharma Flower Sutra, The Shurangama Sutra, or The Earth Store Sutra. You should investigate it in great detail and “put it in your stomach!”—that is, memorize it.
Do not just waste your time all day.
Regardless of whether you have left home or not, you should gather your thoughts and contemplate emptiness. Discipline yourself so that you reduce your bad habits and faults. Change your habits and toss out your faults. Then you will be able to dwell in the Buddha Path and gain a response from the Buddhadharma.
Those who cultivate the Way should not tell people to make offerings of treasures to them. If you take valuable offerings from people, thieves will be interested in you. I say this because there was once an old Taoist named Lu Dong Bin who had the ability to point his finger at a rock and turn it into gold. He turned a lot of rocks to gold for the poor people, but after five hundred years, the gold would turn back into rock.
A thief saw this going on and thought, “What an incredible finger that is! If I had his finger I would never be poor again. I could give up this life of crime.” He resolved to steal poor Lu Dong Bin’s finger. He made elaborate plans to break into his house and cut the man’s finger off. Lu Dong Bin may have been an immortal, but he still felt pain when the thief tried to cut off his finger. “Hey, what are you doing cutting off my finger!” he yelled. The thief tried to run away, but Lu Dong Bin who had many assortment of spiritual powers, used the power of “Pointing Fixation” and the thief froze in his tracks. He pointed at him and said, “You cannot move.” And he could not!
Then he asked him, “Why were you trying to cut off my finger?”
“Your finger is just too neat!”
“All you have to do is point to something and it turns to gold. I need your finger, I mean! If I get it, I will not have to be poor.” Lu Dong Bin thought, “This finger might turn things to gold, but it is a lot of trouble too. I am not going to give it to you, thief, and I am not going to use it myself anymore, not commercially anyway.” So cultivators should not have a lot of valuable stuff and you can see why!
One who can uphold this Sutra
After my extinction, in the evil age,
Should be worshipped with palms joined
As if making offerings to the World Honored One.
Fine food and many sweet delicacies
And various kinds of clothing,
Should be offered to this disciple of the Buddha,
Hoping to hear him speak even for a moment.
One who can, in the latter age.
Receive and uphold this Sutra,
Has been sent by me into the human realm,
To carry out the Thus Come One’s work.
One who can uphold this Sutra after my extinction, in the evil age. “My” refers to Shakyamuni Buddha speaking of himself. The evil age is a time of not only “five” turbidities, but also an uncountable number of turbidities. The evil age is the Dharma-ending age, the age when people are strong in fighting. Everyone wants to put everyone else down, to destroy everyone else. If I am the one, then you cannot be. If you are the one, I cannot be. People cannot exist side by side. This is a most difficult age in which to be born and live. So the Buddha thought of a method. He said, “One who can uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra, should be worshipped with palms joined. One who can cultivate according to the doctrines in The Dharma Flower Sutra should be greeted with palms joined, reverently. You should bow to them just as if making offerings to the World Honored One.”
The Buddha gave predictions long ago to those who uphold The Dharma Flower Sutra, saying that they represent him in propagating the Dharma. Therefore, The Dharma Flower Sutra is extremely important. Why do we say that The Dharma Flower Sutra is “the Sutra for realizing Buddhahood?” If you can hear The Dharma Flower Sutra you have a chance to become a Buddha.
When I was in Hong Kong one of my old disciples, over 70, always went to my lectures. She could not hear them, however, because she was deaf. Once, when I was lecturing on the Universal Door Chapter of The Dharma Flower Sutra, suddenly she could hear. She was no longer deaf. Is this uncanny or not? Once she got her hearing back, she insisted on attending the lectures even more. She never missed even one lecture. She would come regardless of wind or rain. She told people, “If I miss a lecture, I am upset for about two weeks, and regret it.”
There were also several young students who only went to my lectures. Even if I told them to go to someone else’s lecture, they would not go! I said, “You cannot just listen to my lectures. The other Dharma Masters lecture much better than I do. You should go listen to them.”
“Better or not, I am not going anywhere else,” one of them said. “Why should I go to their lectures? I could lecture better than they do.”
I said, “Do not be so arrogant.”
“But there is just no contest!” he insisted “You cannot compare them.”
Sometimes I would scold my young students roundly, but they did not care. You have not seen me really get angry yet. If you had, you would not dare to try to get away with the stuff you do.
As to Sutra lecturers and listeners, it is also a question of inter-personal affinities. If you have affinities with someone, you can scold them, and it will not matter. If you do not have affinities with someone, no matter how much you try to butter him or her up, they still will not like you. Affinities are very important.
A few days ago I did some nuclear testing. I got angry with my disciples to see if they would run away. I was not probably tough enough because no one ran away.
Fine food and many sweet delicacies. Oh boy! Good food. Do you want some? If you do, you cannot have any!
This line refers to a great variety of good things to eat, mouth-watering! Who gets them? The person who receives and upholds The Dharma Flower Sutra gets them. If you want some, you had better get to work on the Sutra. But you better get to work on the Sutra anyway, not just to get some good food. That is too greedy! Receive and uphold the Sutra so that in the future you can become a Buddha.
And various kinds of clothing should be offered to this disciple of the Buddha, hoping to hear him speak even for a moment. One who can, in the latter age, in the future, receive and uphold this Sutra. One who reads, recites, copies it out, or lectures on it, has been sent by me into the human realm. Shakyamuni Buddha sent him here to carry out the Thus Come One’s work. The Buddha’s work is not the work of ordinary people. What is the Buddha’s work? Receiving, upholding, reading, reciting, copying out and explaining The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
“I am listening to The Dharma Flower Sutra,” you ask. “Did the Buddha send me here?”
Ask yourself! Do not ask me. If you have genuine interest in the Sutra and study its principles, then the Buddha sent you here to protect the Bodhimanda. If on the other hand, you listen, but your mind wanders off to Golden Gate Park, to the beach, or the mountains with its great view, then I believe that you were not sent by the Buddha. It is because you are not really listening to the Sutra, you are false thinking instead. If listening to the lectures makes you very restless, Shakyamuni Buddha probably did not send you.
If for the space of an eon,
One were to harbor an unwholesome mind
And scowling, scold the Buddha,
He would incur measureless offenses.
But if one were, but for a moment, to speak ill
Of one who reads, recites, or upholds The Dharma Flower Sutra,
His offenses would exceed the former’s.
If one who seeks the Buddha Path
Were for the length of an eon
To stand before me with palms joined,
Praising me with countless verses,
Because of his praise of the Buddha,
He would gain limitless merit and virtue.
But one who praises the upholder of this Sutra
Would gain blessings exceeding that.
One who, throughout eighty million eons
Made offerings to the upholder of this Sutra
Of the finest forms, sounds,
Fragrances, tastes, and tangible objects,
And having made such offerings,
Gets to hear it for but an instant,
He should be filled with rejoicing
Thinking, “I have gained great benefit!”
I2. Verse of general explanation.
If for the space of an eon one were to harbor an unwholesome mind. An eon is a long time. An unwholesome mind means that: and scowling, scold the Buddha,losing one’s temper and blow up at the Buddha. Such a person would have to think that they had more personal power than the Buddha did. Let us say they kept up their tirade for a whole eon.
He would incur measureless offenses, but if one were, but for a moment, to speak ill of one who reads, recites, or upholds The Dharma Flower Sutra, his offenses would exceed the former’s. If one were to scold one of the five kinds of Dharma Masters for even a second, to say nothing of an entire eon, his offenses would be greater than the person mentioned above would. So do not speak ill of anyone who lectures on this Sutra, regardless of whether or not they lecture well. For example, I am lecturing on the Sutra now so you should not slander me. Although I am compassionate, I would not be able to lighten your offenses, because Shakyamuni Buddha handed this rule down. Nobody can change it.
Notes for the gourmet: If you do not eat good food, you will be less stupid. If you eat a lot of good food, you will be more stupid. You probably do not believe this, but I sure do. If you do not eat a lot of good food, you can give rise to wisdom. That single thought you had, “I would like something good to eat,” is already stupid! To say nothing of how stupid you get after you stuff yourself, you will be stupid before you even eat it because if you were not stupid you would not think, “I want something good to eat.” Good or not good, it is just eating. Why have such false thinking about it? Your false thinking is just stupid. Not having that false thought means you are intelligent. You do not have to look for the answers anywhere else. The whole story is told in a single thought. Understand?
I just told you that I cannot lecture on the Sutras very well and several people have struck up some false thinking: “The Dharma Master is telling a lie. I know he can lecture yet he is saying he cannot.”
You are very intelligent. I tell one little lie, and you pick right up on it. Since I cannot get away with it, I might as well admit that, yes, I do know how to lecture on the Sutras. Part of the reason for this is because I have set aside my greed for food. I am not thinking about cookies or anything like that. And before when I said I could not lecture, I really was not lying. It is really really the case. If you tried to get me to lecture when I was occupied with eating, I would not be able to do it. The only Sutra I could explain at that time would be the “Gourmet Sutra.”
So I said not being preoccupied with good food makes one intelligent and thinking about food all the time makes one stupid. No matter whether the food you eat is good or bad, it all turns into the same thing. If you eat some good food, your excrement will stink even more. You might enjoy eating it, but when it hits the toilet you will think, “Yikes! Whew!” Well, who told you to eat that stuff in the first place and get yourself so smelly? A lot of money will make you all stinky, too. Do not think that eating too much alone makes you stink. Money will do it, too. Sometimes we say that high government officials are “stinky politicians.” Well, if Dharma Masters eat too much good food, they turn into stinky Masters! I do not want to be one, myself, so I do not like to eat good food.
All of you disciples should remember this and refrain from developing into stinky Dharma Master. Okay?
If you are a stinky Dharma Master no one will listen to you when you lecture on the Sutras. If you speak the Dharma no one will believe it. You can knock yourself out trying to tell people how wonderful the Doctrine is, but people will just stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to listen. This is like Gin Gui who absolutely refused to recite the Buddha’s name. No matter how they tried to trick him into it, he would not do it.
So, no one will listen to you. Why? Because you stink from “eating too well.”
If one who seeks the Buddha Path–who is it? It is just a person! What are you asking that for! Now, this person might be you or me. If you seek the Buddha Way, it is you. If he seeks it, it is he. If I do, it is I. If you do not seek the Buddha Way, then you are out of the picture. Anyway, suppose this person, were for the length of an eon. Not one, two, three years, or a hundred years…but at least 100,000 years. To stand before me with palm’s joined very respectfully, praising me with countless verses, because of his praise of the Buddha. Although the Buddha does not care if people praise him or not, still you gain more merit by praising the Buddha than by scolding him. If you scolded the Buddha for an eon you would fall into the Avichi Hell. If you praise the Buddha for an eon you can reap the fruit of unsurpassed enlightenment.
He would gain limitless merit and virtue. Limitless means you could not count it. It would not be as much as the grains of sand in one or two Ganges Rivers, but as much as the grains in limitless Ganges Rivers. Would you say that was a lot or not? I would say it was a lot. You would not dare say it was not a lot. Why? It is because you could not count it either! But one who praises the upholder of this Sutra. The Dharma Master who receives, upholds, reads, recites, copies out or explains The Dharma Flower Sutra, would gain blessings exceeding that. This person would have more merit than the person who praised the Buddha for such a very long time.
Someone says, “That is just what he or she says.”
Yep, and that is what you just heard. They said it, and you heard it, and that is the way it is!
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is just that wonderful. You should not ask why the merit gained by praising the Sutra is greater than the merit gained by praising the Buddha. Whether you praise the Buddha or not, he is unmoved. If you praise those who recite the Sutra, they will be encouraged to be even more vigorous. If you scold them, and they get mad and quit cultivating and quit reciting the Sutra, then you have helped to cut off their Buddha seed. That is a grave offense. I did not want to explain this, but several people were wondering about it, and wishing that I would explain it. So, in answer to the questions in living beings’ minds, I am explaining this mind Dharma.
One who, throughout eighty million eons made offerings to the upholder of this Sutra of the finest forms, sounds, the most beautiful things, fragrances, tastes, and tangible objects–these are the five desires. Here, they are the best. They are like those in the Real Reward Adornment Land of the Buddha; they are not like those in our world. One time Shakyamuni Buddha was describing the sense objects in the Real Reward Adornment Land. Mahakashyapa, who had been in samadhi like an old cultivator, suddenly jumped up dancing. Such an old established cultivator, and he jumped for joy. It is not surprising that he did, though, considering how fine things are there. If you want to know how fine, ask Mahakashyapa. Go ask him: “What is gotten into you, anyway? Dancing at your age!” Then see what he has to say for himself.
And having made such offerings gets to hear it for but an instant, gets to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra for just an instant, He should be filled with rejoicing, thinking, “I have gained great benefit!” I have gained a chance for Buddhahood. Wouldn’t you say that was a great benefit? What could be better? If you get to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra, you have a share in becoming a Buddha. So, the Sutra says, “…and say but once, ‘Homage to the Buddha,’ they shall all realize the Buddha Way.’”
Medicine King, I tell you now,
Of all the Sutras I have spoken,
The Dharma Flower is foremost.”
H3. Conclusion: praising the Sutra as foremost.
Why do I say that The Shurangama Sutra is the Sutra for developing wisdom and The Dharma Flower is the Sutra for becoming a Buddha? It is because The Dharma Flower Sutra is the Buddha’s Dharma body. It is the real body of the Buddha. It is the Buddha’s Reward body. The Buddha’s clear, pure Dharma body; Vairochana Buddha is also The Dharma Flower Sutra. The perfect, full Reward body, Nishyanda Buddha is also The Dharma Flower Sutra.
The one hundred thousand million transformation bodies are also The Dharma Flower Sutra. Within The Dharma Flower Sutra you will find the Three Bodies of the Buddha, the Four Wisdoms of the Buddha, the Five Eyes and Six Penetrations of the Buddha as well. The Dharma Flower Sutra is the king of Sutras. So now, Shakyamuni Buddha is not afraid of taking the trouble to tell Medicine King Bodhisattva.
Medicine King, I tell you now: of all the Sutras I have spoken–from the Avatamsaka, through the Agama, Vaipulya and Prajna periods of my teaching—all the Sutras that I spoke. The final perfect teaching of The Dharma Flower is foremost. The Dharma Flower Sutra is number one among the number ones! Now that you are able to listen to it be explained, even so much as a single sentence, means that you are establishing affinities with The Dharma Flower Sutra, whether you believe it or not, or understand it or not. If you come here to listen to the lecture, you are setting up affinities in The Dharma Flower assembly. Hearing the Sutra should make you happier than eating the best of food. If this is the case, then you have affinities with the Sutra. If you believe in The Dharma Flower Sutra and understand this wonderful Dharma, the seed of the wonderful Dharma has been planted in you.
Originally, the wonderful Dharma is something that cannot be understood, but if now you understand it, or even if you do not understand it, the seed has been planted in you. You might want to get rid of it, but you cannot. In the future, when those 2,000 who study become Buddhas, all with the same name, you will be able to attend their Dharma assemblies. If you are vigorous, then sooner than that you will be able to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra and draw near to all the Buddhas. If you are vigorous, you might become Buddhas before Ananda and Rahula do. Why? It is because becoming a Buddha all depends on how vigorous you are. If you are vigorous, you go forward. If not, you fall behind.
Take Maitreya Bodhisattva, for example. He should have become a Buddha long ago. Ananda should have become a Buddha already too, but he concentrated on studying and set himself back behind Shakyamuni Buddha. Maitreya Bodhisattva was seeking fame and so he has not become a Buddha yet. Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated vigorously and became a Buddha, and Maitreya Bodhisattva will become a Buddha next.
His Dharma Assembly will be called Dragon Flower. So we say,
See you again in the Dragon Flower Assembly!
In the future we will all draw near to that fat Bodhisattva, Maitreya. If you want to meet this Bodhisattva, you can not only do so, but you can be him yourself. If your stomach is real big, then you are Maitreya Bodhisattva. If his stomach is real big, then he is Maitreya Bodhisattva. If their stomachs are real big then they are all Maitreya Bodhisattva.
You think, “A big stomach is a lot of trouble. It is real heavy when you try to walk around and when you eat you have to eat so much food.”
I agree. I had a big stomach for a while, and I always felt that my two legs could not quite support my body. Now, I have lost weight, and I do not eat too much. I really hate excess fat!
“Then why does one have to have a big stomach to be Maitreya Bodhisattva?”
Good question! “Big stomach” means that he is able to bear up, to be patient and yielding. He bears what others cannot bear, yields where others cannot yield. He eats what others cannot eat.
This is like when I told my disciple Guo Shun, “You must be able to eat what others cannot eat.” This does not mean that you eat all the good food before other people get a chance to eat any. It means that you eat the things other people do not like to eat.
To do what others cannot do means that you do humble and toilsome work that other people avoid. You do the dirty work, like cleaning the toilet. Even though we have sanitary toilets, they still are not as fragrant as the kitchens, right? I am telling it like it is. I speak Sutras for the common people! If you are a person, you can understand it. If you are an animal, you might have trouble! Ha!
So you bear what others cannot bear. Originally, if someone above you scolds you or hits you, you might be able to stand it. But let us say that someone beneath you scolds you or hits you and you can take it, then that is genuine patience. You cannot say, “I can stand it if my teacher scolds me, but I cannot stand it if my students scold me.” That does not count. If my disciples scold me, I bear it. I just think, “They are just my teacher. There is really no difference.” If you can stand being scolded by your disciples, then you have got some skill. Or suppose, your own son says to you, “You old man! To be old and not die is to be a thief!” Hearing this, you think, “I guess I am a thief. Oh, well, no big deal.” If you can be like that, you have got a stomach pretty much like Maitreya Bodhisattva’s.
To yield where others cannot yield means that you can give up the things others cannot. Say you have five million dollars and you give away five hundred thousand, that does not count. If you have five million dollars and you give away five million dollars, not worrying about whether you will have any for yourself, that is giving what others cannot give.
You think, “But that is really stupid!” It is by being stupid in this way that you can attain great wisdom. If you do not get that stupid, you cannot gain such wisdom.
If you can do these things, it is for sure that you will accomplish your Way karma. I told these things to Guo Shun, and he left home. He was never greedy for anything. In all the years he spent as my disciple, he wore the same set of clothes. He never had a quilted robe or quilted shoes, or anything at all. In Manchuria it is really cold, and he was not afraid of freezing, starving or dying of poverty. He had these “three fearlessnesses.” Later, he immolated himself—he was not afraid of fire, either. His immolation was not a political act of defiance against the government. He did not do it out of anger. He felt that the world was filled with too much pain. He wanted to take the pain of others upon himself and burn himself as an offering to the Buddha. He burned himself in front of the Buddha and dedicated the merit to living beings. So you see that the same act can have a very different motive and meaning, and serve a different purpose.
Someone like Guo Shun did indeed have a “big stomach.” We are not talking about his regular stomach, but about his capacity to be patient. It is said,
With his big stomach, he can bear
All the things in the world that are hard to bear.
He opens his mouth to smile,
Laughing at all the funny people in the world.
He just smiles an inconceivable happy smile, mind you, not a shrill cackle—and laughs at all the people in the world who are stupidly pursuing fame and profit. He should be crying, it is so pitiful, but he smiles instead. They are so upside down he has no way to save them, so he just laughs instead, and thinks of some way to help them. Besides, crying makes you stupid and smiling can give you wisdom.
So do not think Maitreya Bodhisattva got his big stomach by overeating. He manifests that appearance as part of his cultivation to teach and transform living beings.
At that time, the Buddha further told the Bodhisattva, Mahasattva Medicine King, “Of all the limitless thousands of myriads of millions of Sutras I have spoken, am speaking, or will speak, The Dharma Flower is the hardest to believe and the hardest to understand.”
“Medicine King, this Sutra is the treasury of the Buddhas’ secrets and essentials. It must not be distributed or falsely presented to people. That which the Buddhas, the World Honored Ones, have guarded from the distant past until now, has never been explicitly taught. This Sutra incurs much hatred and jealousy even now, when the Thus Come One is present. How much the more so will this be the case after his extinction!”
E2. Praising the Dharma maintained and showing method for propagating the Sutra.
G1. Praising Sutra-Dharma.
H1. Praising the dharma.
At that time, having spoken the above verses, Shakyamuni, the Buddha, out of great compassion, fearing living beings might not understand the Buddha’s doctrines as set forth in the Sutras, further told the Bodhisattva, Mahasattva Medicine King, “Of all the limitless thousands of myriads of millions of Sutras I have spoken, am speaking, or will speak, The Dharma Flower is the hardest to believe and the hardest to understand.” The Dharma Flower Sutra is difficult to believe and understand because it is just too wonderful. The wonderful Dharma is wonderful and “not wonderful” people do not believe in it. This Dharma is wonderful and so “not wonderful” people cannot understand it. It takes wonderful people to believe in and understand the wonderful Dharma.
It is also hard to listen to The Dharma Flower Sutra. All of you here are wonderful people. You sit and do not feel uncomfortable or drowsy, and you do not lose interest. Isn’t this wonderful?
It is not easy to believe the doctrines presented in this Sutra. For example, the above said that if you scolded the Buddha for an eon, your offenses, though great, would not be as great as if you had slandered one who upholds this Sutra for even an instant. This is not easy to believe. But if you are a wonderful person you will believe and understand it. Why can I lecture it to you? It is because I am a wonderful person. Otherwise, how could I explain it to you? This is something you could not disbelieve if you wanted to because it is too wonderful!
Medicine King, this Sutra is the treasury of the Buddhas’ secrets and essentials. Those of you who study Chinese, why do you learn it so fast? It is because by listening to the Sutras it is very easy to develop your wisdom. Once your wisdom has been opened up, you learn everything very easily. But do not look upon it as a very simple process. You do not have any idea how many lifetimes you have studied in order to have this accomplishment. This is not a matter of just this one single lifetime, by any means.
That I can lecture on the Sutras is also not a matter of one single lifetime. Who knows how many lifetimes I studied? I remember long ago, I would read The Dharma Flower Sutra until my eyes bled. Why did they bleed? It is because I did not sleep for many days. I just knelt and read the Sutra. The more I read it the more I wanted to read it and recite it. I forgot about eating and sleeping. When my eyes started to bleed, I did not notice, until the blood fell on the text. Then I knew, “Oh, those are not tears, those are blood.” Since my eyes were acting up like that, I had to rest. That is how I read The Dharma Flower Sutra.
You say, “Dharma Master, you are really too stupid.”
Right. If I were as intelligent as you were, my eyes would not have bled.
Perhaps you are laughing to yourself, “That is right. That is the way it is.”
You may be more intelligent than I am, but you are still my disciple. No matter how smart you are, you are still studying with me. I remember in the past, I read a lot of Sutras like that until my eyes bled. But you should not think that I was always a Dharma Master. I have done everything. I was an Emperor, and an official, all kinds of things. I remember it more or less. That is why I am not interested in being an emperor or a politician, or even a Wheel-turning sage king. It is too much trouble. If you can put things down then there is no trouble.
What is meant by “putting it down”? It means “everything is okay. No problem.” You are then a “wonderful person.” The more you listen to the Sutras, the more wonderful you will find them. If you cannot be like that, then you will have problems listening to the Sutras. You will sit there thinking, “This really is not very interesting. It is pretty dry, in fact. It is in Chinese and has to be translated and uses up a lot of my time. Wouldn’t I be better off out playing somewhere?”
“This Sutra” refers to The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. If you are reciting the Vajra Sutra, you cannot say this Sutra is The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. You cannot be like that. When it says “this Sutra” in the Vajra Sutra, that would be referring to the Vajra Sutra and not The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. The Sutra in which the words “this Sutra” appear is just that Sutra. If it is in The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, “this Sutra” refers to The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. If it is in the Varja Sutra, “this Sutra” refers to the Vajra Sutra. If it is in the Amitabha Sutra, “this Sutra” refers to the Amitabha Sutra.
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the storehouse of the secrets and essentials of all the Buddhas. It contains the most secret and essential Dharma of the Buddhas in the ten directions. All the Buddhas think it is the most esoteric of Sutras, and they do not speak it explicitly. It must not be distributed casually among people.
“If this is the case,” you wonder, “then why have so many copies of it been made to be given to people for study?”
It could not be distributed in the past, but now it can be. Do not be attached to no distribution and refuse to distribute it. A long time ago, the Buddhas all took this Sutra to be a treasure, and they did not want to pass it out to everyone. It was a Dharma treasure. This is like the Forty-two Hands & Eyes, a Dharma, which I teach only to my disciples. It is my secret and essential treasury. Or falsely presented to people.You cannot just explain it for everyone. The Buddhas felt this way about The Dharma Flower Sutra. They did not let everyone see it. They did not transmit it to people. Wouldn’t you say we had a great opportunity now? We get to know all these secrets.
That which the Buddhas, the World Honored Ones, have guarded from the distant past until now, has never been explicitly taught. Shakyamuni Buddha says, “The Buddhas of the past took The Dharma Flower Sutra as a secret treasury. Now that I have realized Buddhahood, I have never, until this time, spoken The Dharma Flower Sutra. I spoke the Avatamsaka, Agamas, the Vaipulya, and Prajna Teachings.
This Sutra incurs much hatred and jealousy even now, when the Thus Come One is present. How much the more so will this be the case after his extinction! Why haven’t I spoken The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra? Do you know? It is because most people would not believe or understand it. It would have been useless to explain it. What is more, in speaking the Sutra, the heavenly demons and those of outside ways would get jealous.
If you try to propagate the proper Dharma, the demons get angry, because they do not want people to understand the proper Dharma. If people understand the proper Dharma, then their deviant dharmas became useless. Even Shakyamuni Buddha had to be very careful not to arouse jealousy by speaking the Sutra. Just before he was about to enter Nirvana, he went ahead and spoke it anyway, not worrying about it. “If they get angry or jealous, that is too bad. I am still going to speak it. The time has come and I am going to speak it.”
Just think how jealous people will get after the Buddha’s extinction. We should not be surprised that now, as we lecture it week after week, a lot of people get upset. The demon kings are uncomfortable that we are propagating the proper Dharma. They feel we are taking their clientele away from them. Their improper dharmas are no longer of use so they come here and get angry but it is no use. The deviant cannot overcome the proper, so they run away.
When Shakyamuni Buddha was in the world, a lot of outside Ways were jealous of the Buddhadharma. Now, in the Dharma-Ending Age there are even more outside ways. Some of them claim to have spiritual powers. They say that you can put them in the freezer for a hundred years, and they will come back to life. So what? What use were you during those hundred years? Did you benefit yourself or anyone else? Probably not. And what is more is that you might not be able to wake up after that hundred years.
There is another outside way where they worship fire. They light their wine on fire and then drink it saying they drink “fire wine.” People without much sense see this and think, “I saw it with my own eyes. If they did not have some kind of spiritual powers, they could not do this.” But not only do they not have spiritual powers, they do not even have ghostly powers! Obviously the fire will not burn in their stomachs because there is no oxygen in there.
There is another kind of outside way where they say they can walk on fire and not get burnt. It never occurs to people that they could probably do it too—if they walked fast enough! If you want to test them out, ask them to sit down on the fire! If you pour gasoline all over you and still do not burn, then you have some mastery, although that is not the ultimate either. If they do not burn, then you could say they had some skill. But even this is not anything special. It is just deviant magic. These days there are a lot of outside ways. There are some that claim they can drink fantastic amounts of water, even the whole ocean. What use is that? If they drank up the entire ocean, all the fish would dry up and die! That would be terrible. Murder! So, you need not study these outside ways.