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 12: Devadatta
Devadatta was the Buddha’s cousin, but he opposed everything the Buddha ever did. Some people say that he was the Buddha’s enemy, but this is not the case. Devadatta actually helped the Buddha accomplishes Buddhahood. Not only did he help him in one life, but in life after life. However, he did so in a backhanded way. He “helped” Shakyamuni Buddha by “opposing” him. How does this work? Say for instance someone resolves to cultivate the Way, but another person gives him trouble all day long, by either scolding him, or ridiculing him, or generally giving him a hard time. This opposition serves as a test for the cultivator’s resolve.
One of my disciples once asked, “Is it okay to give people tests to help them out?” I said, “No. If you have certified to the fruit and know that your testing them will help them realize the Way, then it is okay. If you have not certified to the fruit, then do not test other people. If you test others, others will test you. If you test people and they fail, then they will fall. If people test you and you fail, then you will fall.”
The situation with Devadatta was different, however. Devadatta’s state was inconceivable. His spiritual powers were as great as those of the Buddha, and it was Devadatta’s opposition that spurred the Buddha on to his attainment of the Way. This chapter tells us that in the past Devadatta lectured The Dharma Flower Sutra to Shakyamuni Buddha, helping him realize Buddhahood.
Devadatta is a Sanskrit name, which means, “fever of the gods (天熱).” From the time of his birth, he specialized in “helping” people by opposing them. This would lead to some heated emotions on the part of the recipients of his generosity. This is an explanation of his name according to the method of “causes and conditions.”
How did Devadatta come to be Shakyamuni Buddha’s aide in realizing the Way? Let us look into the Way it happened. Long ago there was a wealthy elder named Xu Tan whose fortune in the seven gems was impressively abundant. His eldest son was called Xu Mo Ti. When his wife died, Xu Tan though advanced in years, remarried, and had another son, named Xu Pi Ye.
The elder passed on when his younger son was only about 18 or 20. The two sons proceeded to divide up their father’s riches but Xu Mo Ti, the elder brother, decided he did not want to give his younger brother half. He took him up to Vulture Peak for a holiday barbecue, and when they got near the top, Xu Mo Ti pushed his brother right off the top! Then he threw rocks on top of him to bury him. He then went home and took possession of all of his father’s wealth.
Xu Mo Ti, surprisingly enough, was Shakyamuni Buddha in a former life. You should not think that Shakyamuni Buddha never did anything wrong. The younger brother was Devadatta in a former life, and the elder was King Ajatashatru, the one who locked his parents up in jail. Life after life, Shakyamuni Buddha was involved with these people in varying combinations of affinities, and so even after he became a Buddha, they still came and gave him trouble. This chapter does not discuss these events, but does tell how Devadatta helped the Buddha accomplish Buddhahood.
You could say this was a case of “the suffering of being joined to what you hate,” one of the eight sufferings. Actually, it would be more correct to call it “the happiness of being joined to what you hate!” How is this? The more Devadatta opposed him, the more the Buddha liked it. If they had truly hated one another, then as lifetimes passed, they would have been drawn farther and farther apart. So it was not really a case of dislike. Because of their affinities, life after life they met one another and helped each other in their cultivation—one way or another.
At that time, the Buddha told the Bodhisattvas, gods, humans, and the four assemblies, “In the past, throughout limitless eons, I sought The Dharma Flower Sutra without laxness or weariness.”
D3. Chapter Twelve: Devadatta.
E1. Meeting up with Devadatta in the distant past.
F1. Showing how teacher and disciple held the Sutra in the distant past.
H1. The period of time in which the Buddha sought the Dharma.
This passage of the text says that Shakyamuni Buddha had given outer wealth and inner wealth throughout his past lives to seek the unsurpassed Bodhi. Everything he gave was for the sake of the Dharma.
At that time, having finished speaking the Chapter on the Jeweled Stupa and without being asked, the Buddha told the Bodhisattvas, gods, humans, and the four assemblies of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, “In the past, throughout limitless eons, I sought to understand the doctrines of The Dharma Flower Sutra without laxness or weariness. I have never grown weary. I never took a break. Whenever The Dharma Flower Sutra was being lectured, I went to listen. I never missed an opportunity.”
“For many eons, I was a king and vowed to seek supreme Bodhi with a non-retreating mind.”
H2. Clarifying his search for Dharma.
I1. His vow.
For many eons throughout many, many lifetimes I was a king and vowed to seek supreme Bodhi with a non-retreating mind. I made the Great Vehicle vow to seek Unsurpassed Enlightenment without ever turning back or getting side-tracked.
“Wishing to perfect the Six Paramitas, I diligently practiced giving, my mind not begrudging elephants, horses, the seven precious things, countries, cities, wives, children, slaves, servants, even my head, eyes, marrow, brains, body, flesh, hands, and feet—not sparing even life itself.”
I2. His cultivation.
J1. Showing how he practiced giving to perfect the Dana Paramita.
Wishing to perfect the Six Paramitas, I diligently practiced giving, my mind not begrudging elephants, horses, and the seven precious things, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red pearls, and carnelian. Sometimes I gave away countries, cities—my entire kingdom altogether! But these are just material possessions. I also gave up wives, children, slaves, and servants. As long as someone wanted them, I would give them away. But this is just the giving of outer wealth. I could give all these things away. I also gave away inner wealth.
Even my head, eyes, marrow, brains, body, flesh, hands and feet—not sparing even life itself. I had no regard for my body and life. As long as someone needed them, I would give all these things away. Thus, I gave away both inner and outer wealth in my desire to perfect the practice of Dana Paramita, the Perfection of Giving.
We see from the above that Shakyamuni Buddha, wishing to perfect the Six Paramitas, was able to give up both the proper and dependant retribution worlds, that is, give up himself and everything he owned. In giving up both the proper and dependence retribution worlds, he gave himself away entirely.
This is true giving. This is true Dana Paramita, the perfection of giving, and the first of the Six Paramitas.
The second is that of Morality. The Perfection of Morality means guarding against offenses in seven departments. The seven divisions are: three of the body and four of the mouth—killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct with the body and loose speech, lying, harsh speech, and backbiting with the mouth. Not committing these seven offenses is being moral.
The third Paramita is that of Patience. What is patience? Patience means to bear up under insult. It means to take what you cannot take. For example, if someone hits you and you kick him or her right back, you cannot call that patience, but if someone hits you on the face, and you turn the other cheek, that is patience. Besides, if they just slap one cheek and not the other, the other cheek will get jealous! Not striking back is having patience.
Vigor is the fourth Paramita. This means that you finish everything you start. If you start things with great excitement, but then get tired and quit, you do not have vigor. Completing the job indicates vigor.
The fifth Paramita is Dhyana. There are Four Dhyanas and Eight Samadhis. In the first Dhyana, the breath stops, and in the second Dhyana, both the breath and the pulse stop. One could be buried in the ground for two or three days and still not die—like a yogi! Scary, huh? Breath and no pulse. In the third Dhyana, thought stops as well. Then one is really not having false thinking. In the third Dhyana, thought stops, but it is not cut off.
In the fourth Dhyana, thought is cut off altogether. The first Dhyana is called “The Joyous Ground of Leaving Production.” In this state one leaves afflictions and gives rise to happiness. But this is not yet samadhi. The second Dhyana is called “The Joyous Ground of Giving Rise to Samadhi.” The third Dhyana is called “The Wonderful Ground of Leaving Joy.” The fourth Dhyana is called “The Pure Ground of Leaving Thought.”
The Eight Samadhis are the Four Dhyanas plus the Samadhi of the Station of Limitless Emptiness, the Samadhi of the Station of Limitless Consciousness, the Samadhi of the Station of Nothing Whatsoever, and the Samadhi of the Station of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception.
The sixth Paramita is Prajna. With this perfection, one no longer contends or fights. People fight because they lack genuine wisdom, genuine prajna. If one has true wisdom, one will not fight or struggle. That is the doctrine of the Three Storehouses Teaching—the Small Vehicle. There are many, many different ways to explain the Six Paramitas. Each paramita has ten advantages, also.
The Six Perfections and the Ten Good Deeds
The first four of the Ten Good Deeds—not killing, not stealing, not committing sexual misconduct, and not lying—correspond to the first perfection, that of Giving.
The fifth of the Ten Good Deeds, not backbiting, corresponds to the Perfection of Morality, the second perfection.
The sixth of Ten Good Deeds, not indulging in abusive speech, corresponds to the third perfection, Patience.
The seventh of the Ten Good Deeds, not indulging in loose speech, corresponds to the fourth perfection, Vigor.
The eighth and ninth of the Ten Good Deeds, not being greedy or hateful, corresponds to the fifth perfection, dhyana samadhi.
The tenth of the Ten Good Deeds, not having deviant views (not being stupid) corresponds to the sixth perfection, Prajna wisdom.
The Six Perfections in Terms of Their Curing Powers
1. Giving cures one of stinginess.
2. Morality cures one of the tendencies to commit offenses.
3. Patience cures one of hatred.
4. Vigor cures one of laziness.
5. Dhyana samadhi cures one of scatteredness.
6. Prajna cures one of stupidity.
The Six Perfections and How They Interact
By giving, say giving up one’s home and family, one is able to maintain morality. Meeting with insult, one is then patient. Having been patient, one can be vigorous. Having been vigorous, one can subdue the five senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body, so they no longer play tricks. That is dhyana samadhi. They follow your instructions instead of the other way around. When the five senses have been tamed, you can know the Dharma Realm. That is Prajna wisdom.
The Six Perfections in Terms of Rewards
1. Giving brings the reward of being wealthy.
2. Morality brings the reward of the perfection and refinement of the six senses. You will not be blind, or deaf or otherwise incomplete.
3. Patience brings physical beauty. Why are people ugly? It is because in past lives they were impatient and could not bear with things.
4. Vigor brings the reward of having great power and authority.
5. Dhyana samadhi brings the reward of a long and healthy life. You can live as long as you like.
6. Prajna brings the reward of unobstructed eloquences.
The Ten Advantages of the Perfection of Giving :
1. One will be able to conquer the afflictions associated with stinginess. Stinginess is a form of affliction, which is hard to overcome. With the practice of giving one can overcome this fault.
2. One will be able to maintain a continuous attitude of generosity. Sometimes people’s first thought is to give, but then in their next thought they retreat and get stingy. The second advantage of practicing true giving is that one is able to sustain an attitude of generosity.
3. One will be able to share one’s wealth with all living beings, without discrimination.
4. One will be born in a wealthy family.
5. In every life one will always be generous and ready to give.
6. The four assemblies will take delight in one’s presence. They will like one because of one’s generosity.
7. One will not be intimidated by others. No matter how much tough opposition one receives from other people—be it good or bad opposition—one will not be afraid.
8. One will enjoy a wide reputation. Everyone will know about one’s practice of giving.
9. One’s hands and feet will be soft and supple. They will not be coarse like sandpaper! The Buddhas’ hands are said to be as soft as cotton and this is because in every life they practiced giving.
10. One will find a genuine Good and Wise Advisor. If one has not practiced giving, one will be unable to find a true spiritual teacher. But if one has, then one will meet a Good and Wise Advisor who will employ “relentless compassion” to help one give up all one’s bad habits and faults.
If one can practice giving one will obtain these ten advantages. Each of the Six Perfections has ten advantages, making sixty in all.
The second is the Perfection Morality. “Morality” is the stopping of evil and the prevention of offenses. It means to do no evil and offer up all good conduct. If you can do no evil and offer up all good conduct, you are truly holding the precepts. But you are deluded if you think, “My little faults are not that important. I just make minor mistakes. They will not hurt my cultivation.” You should know that a hair is very fine and tiny, but if a lot of them are put together, they can make a rope. You should not think it does not matter if you do not correct your small imperfections. The smaller the fault is, the more important it is to change it.
“Does that mean the big ones do not count? I can just change the little ones?”
If you change your small faults, the big ones will naturally disappear. This is because your big fault result from all your small faults put together. A mountain does not just spring into being of itself; it is a collection of millions of tiny dust motes put together. Our faults work the same way.
Does offering up all good conduct mean that you only do good deeds on a large scale and ignore small good deeds? No. The great comes from the small, just like the distant comes from the nearby, and the deep comes from the shallow. If you do small good deeds, your big good deeds will naturally be accomplished. Doing a lot of small good deeds just amounts to doing good on a large scale. So we say,
Do not think a good deed is small and thereby fail to do it.
Do not think an evil deed is small and go ahead and do it.
Those who hold the precepts, who do no evil and offer up all good conduct, gain ten advantages.
The Ten Advantages of the Perfection of Morality:
1. One will perfect All-Wisdom. If one keeps the precepts well, one can gain All-Wisdom.
2. One will study after the manner of the Buddha. The Buddha took the precepts as his teacher. The precepts are called “the Vajra bright jeweled precepts.” They are the original source of all the Buddhas. All the Buddhas arise from morality.
3. Those with wisdom will not find faults with one. Only stupid, senseless people will speak ill of them. If one keeps the precepts, wise people will have no cause to find fault with one. Stupid people might slander one, but that is just because they have right and wrong all mixed up. They take what is black as white. If one keeps the precepts, wise people will not only refuse to speak ill of one, but they will even praise one. However, if you want people to praise you, you must not compete to be the number one.
You cannot take that position by force! If you do things so well that you are naturally number one, that is one thing. Whoever does the best, naturally becomes number one. If you are not that good, but you force yourself into the number one position, then you have only gained a false position for yourself. That is useless.
Movie kings and movie queens may occupy that position for a while, but they are not really kings and queens after all, and they cannot fool anybody. How do people turn out to be phony Hollywood kings and queens? In former lives they did not really do any work, they just struggled for false fame and glory. Since they sought to be royalty, they got their wish, but only in the world of celluloid dreams—empty and false.
4. One will not retreat from one’s vows. This is the most important. Say one vows, “I will seek the Buddhadharma no matter how hard it is. I do not care if I starve to death or freeze to death. I am not going to retreat. If no one makes offerings to me, that is the very best thing!” One should not be greedy for offerings. Do not drop hints to people hoping they will buy you things and then think, “I must have Way-virtue and be quite a cultivator. People are making offerings to me!” That is WRONG! One should make a vow, “I will seek the Buddha Way even if it means giving up my head, eyes, brains, marrow, my flesh, my hands and feet—my very life!”
One should make vows never to retreat from the Bodhi mind, never to turn back. One should not be like Shariputra, who tried to practice the Bodhisattva Path, but quit when he realized he gave up the wrong eye! That is just retreating! In the Buddhadharma, the harder things get, the more determined one should be to go forward and not retreat. That is the proper attitude for a true seeker of the Buddha Way, but it is not easy! All of you Good and Wise Advisors! Seeking the Buddhadharma is the hardest thing there is to do. You cannot be enthusiastic for five minutes and lose interest after five minutes.
5. One will dwell securely in proper conduct. One will peacefully practice proper, not deviant, conduct. Proper conduct means benefiting others. It does not mean benefiting yourself. If you are climbing on conditions, you do not have proper conduct. If you do not climb on conditions your conduct is proper.
6. One will cast aside birth and death. One should not hold one to birth and death, thinking, “My life is so valuable. I have to make nice offerings to my body—give it good food, vitamins, minerals, and so forth to make it really strong.” It may get stronger, but the stronger one’s body gets, the weaker ones wisdom becomes. What is the use of having a strong body, but weak wisdom? One must cast aside birth and death altogether. One should not hold on to one’s physical life at the expense of the life of one’s wisdom.
Look upon birth and death as unimportant, thinking, “if I live, I live; if I die, I die,” while at the same time cherishing the firm resolve to cultivate. One should not misconstrue the meaning and think, “If birth and death are no problem, then I will just keep getting born and dying.” That is not what I mean. You must see birth and death as unimportant and yet still cultivate to end birth and death.
7. One will long for and delight in Nirvana. One thinks, “What I delight in most is Nirvana, in the Dharma of transcending birth and death.” Through holding the precepts one obtains Nirvana.
8. One will obtain an unfettered mind. One may have a lot of wisdom and have brought forth a formidable resolve for Bodhi. But then one gets tied up by greed, hatred, stupidity, pride, and doubt, to say nothing of the view of a body, one-sided view, views of unprincipled morality, views of grasping at opinions, and deviant views. These are Ten Fetters, which bind up your mind so that wisdom cannot come forth. Obtaining an unfettered mind means gaining liberation.
9. One obtains superior samadhi. It is not the samadhi of ordinary people. This samadhi power is very solid! Nothing can disturb it—nothing! It is an inconceivable kind of superior concentration.
10. One will not lack the wealth of faith. To have faith is to have wealth. People without faith are poor. If you do not believe the Dharma Master when he lectures on the Dharma, then you will not be able to bring forth the Bodhi mind. If you cannot bring forth the Bodhi mind, you are poor. Through the practice of morality, you will gain the riches of faith.
This is a general explanation. If one were to go into detail, a great deal more could be said.
The next Paramita is Patience. It is definitely not easy to be patient. The Chinese word for patience: (忍) has a knife blade on the top (刃), and a heart on the bottom (心). Using patience is like having a knife stuck into your heart. It is hard to bear; it really hurts. If you can bear what is difficult to bear, you can make it through the gate of patience, which means you can achieve Paramita, for Paramita just means “getting through it.” Paramita, a Sanskrit word, literally translates as “gone to the other shore.” You go from the shore of birth and death through the massive flow of afflictions to the other shore, which is Nirvana. I have written a verse about patience, which describes it pretty well. If you can remember it, it will be of great benefit:
Patience is a priceless gem which few know how to mine.
But if you can master it, everything works out fine!
“Priceless” does not mean it is worthless! It means you cannot put a price on it. One, two, three million—it is still not enough. It is invaluable. Most people will claim that they are very patient, but that is when everything is going their way. Once something happens that they do not want to put up with, they usually blow their tops!
You may decide to cultivate patience, and strangely enough, someone will show up to test you by slugging you a good one, or trying to knock a few of your teeth out, and then kicking you around for a while. It might feel like that knife is being stuck in your heart, but if you can be patient and act as though nothing was going on, then you can make it through the gate. If you cannot take it, then you have to keep on trying. Patience is not easy, I repeat. Most people do not know how to be patient. If you can, everything will work out fine. It is just because you cannot be patient with things that everything gets messed up.
Maitreya Bodhisattva’s verse is also very good:
The old fool wears tattered clothes, and fills his belly with tasteless food,
Mends his clothes to keep away the cold,
and lets all things take their course.
If someone scolds the old fool, the old fool just says, “Fine.”
If someone hits the old fool, he just lies down to sleep.
Spit in his face, he just lets it dry.
“That way I save my strength and give you no affliction.”
This kind of Paramita is the jewel in the wonderful.
Knowing this news, how can you worry about not attaining the Way?
The old monk wears old, ragged clothes and eats unseasoned food. It does not taste like much, but he is full. When his clothes wear out he just patches them up and lets all things take their course. Nothing presents any problem. This is just “everything’s okay.” Sometimes it is not easy to be like that. Sometimes things just do not seem to work out for us.
For Maitreya Bodhisattva, things always work out. If someone scolds him, he just says, “Great, keep on scolding me!” If someone hits him, he just lies down as if he were asleep. If you spit in his face, he does not even bother to wipe it off. This way he saves the energy it would take to wipe it off. People then think, “It is useless to try to fight with someone like this,” and they do not give rise to afflictions. If you can cultivate this Paramita, it is the most wonderful of gems. Knowing this, how can you fail to realize the Way? Do not worry about not becoming a Buddha. You most certainly will. All you have to do is cultivate patience. It will surely take you to the other shore.
Someone is thinking, “That will never work in our society. We have to go out and compete. We fight for everything we get. We combat and kill using a knife, a gun, a canon, an atomic bomb. We won’t need this ‘patience’ you are talking about. The old fool is useless!”
Perhaps you cannot use him, but I will. Or maybe I will not use him, but I will tell my disciples to use him!
Five people have signed up to take refuge, and this makes me very ashamed. I do not know how to teach people who speak English because I am Chinese. However, five people want to take refuge but you should think it over very carefully. Once you take refuge, you have to listen to instructions. Whether or not you understand what I am saying, you still have to obey!
If you think that you cannot do it, cross your name off the list. I do not want a lot of disciples. I would rather that they took refuge with the American Bhikshus and Bhikshunis. Then I would not have to worry about whether they obey instructions. Sometimes when I catch you disobeying my instructions and question you about it, you say, “I did not understand what you said!” I never know what to think. Perhaps it is true! So think it over and do not rush into this. From now on all my disciples have to listen to instructions.
The Ten Advantages of the Perfection of Patience :
Patience is not easy to perfect! In this world, the harder something is to do, the more worth is has. If something is not difficult, it is not valuable. Therefore, even though it is hard to cultivate patience, it brings great benefits and its value is extremely great.
If on the cause ground one cultivates patience, in the future the benefits one will obtain can be generally listed as follows:
1. Fire will not burn one. Why? It is because inside one, there is no fire. If there is no fire within then fire from outside has no way to harm one. If one has fire inside, one will get burned. It is also said that if one has problems inside, one will attract sickness from the outside. If one catches cold, it is often because inside one has been doing a lot of false thinking. If one practices patience and has gotten rid of one’s fiery temper, then the outside fires cannot burn one. If one’s nature is like ashes, then outside fires cannot set one aflame.
2. Knives cannot harm one. If one cultivates patience, and within one there are no “knives and guns,” that is, no thoughts of harming others, then the external knives and guns cannot harm one. It is said:
If inside the house there is a superior person,
superior people will come to visit.
If inside the house there are petty people;
petty people will stop by.
This is genuine philosophy!
3. Poison cannot harm one. If one has cultivated patience to perfection, then, as the Great Master Yung Chia said in his “Song of Enlightenment,”
If one meets with knives, it is no problem.
Or is given poison, it is no cause for alarm.
Even if one is poisoned, one will not die. Patriarch Bodhidharma was poisoned six times by jealous rivals, but did not die because for limitless kalpas he had been perfecting patience and had attained that Paramita. The Paramita acted as an antidote to the poison.
4. Water will not drown one. One who cultivates patience to perfection will not drown.
5. Non-humans will protect one. “Non-humans” refers to the gods and dragons and the rest of the eight-fold division of ghosts and spirits. They will all look out for one and watch over one’s Bodhimanda.
6. One’s appearance will be beautiful. If one cultivates patience, one will have a pleasing appearance. One will be liked by all whom see one, and will not make anyone afraid. People will all respect and cherish one. They will always want to be around one and will never desert one. “Beautiful” here refers to the physical manifestation of the purity of one’s thoughts. It is not the kind of beauty associated with glamour and sex appeal. One’s appearance will inspire reverence. It will not cause people to become emotionally infatuated or think impure thoughts.
7. The evil paths will be closed to one. The doors to the hells, the realm of animals, and ghosts will be closed to one. One will not fall into any of the three evil paths.
8. One will gain birth in the Brahma Heaven. If one cultivates patience, in the future one can be born in the pure heavens of Brahma.
9. One will be peaceful by day and night. In the six periods of the day and night, one will be happy and serene. During the day, one will not be worrying about how one is going to finish one’s work, and then in the evening be wondering if one is going to lose one’s job the next day and starve to death. Most people have a lot of worries. If one cultivates patience, one will not have such afflictions. One will always be extremely happy and peaceful, and free from worries.
10. One will always feel happy. One will always be in good spirits, very happy. This kind of happiness is not based on anything external. Rather it comes from within the self-nature and is not forced.
We will now discuss vigor. Vigor is the opposite of laziness. If you are listening to the lecture and falling asleep, you are not being vigorous! If you listen to the lecture, but strike up a lot of false thinking, you are not being vigorous. If you listen and talk to your friends at the same time, you are not being vigorous. What, then, is vigor? Not sleeping, not having false thinking, and not chattering! Sitting quietly, paying full, respectful attention is being vigorous. Vigor is something you cultivate yourself. You do not go around telling other people to do it.
If you feel like you are falling asleep, then standup! If that does not work, kneel. Vigor means fighting with the lazy worms inside you—outsmarting them all. Some people say, “I have received the five precepts. I do not kill. Isn’t it a violation of the precepts to kill the lazy bug?” If you kill the lazy bug, you are vigorous. You should be as vigorous as a tiger! See how fast they run?
“I have never seen a tiger,” someone says.
Have you ever seen a cat? It can jump and it can climb trees. It can run faster than mice.
Vigor: you get up at four in the morning and you do not rest until ten at night. That is vigor.
If you take breaks all day long, you are not vigorous. Vigor just means you keep on working.
There is physical vigor and mental vigor. Using physical vigor means practicing the Way in the six periods of the day and night. In the morning you rise and do morning recitation, determined not to be late, not to make other people have to wait for you. If you make people wait for you all the time, instead of merit, you are committing offenses. It is said,
You can change the course of a thousand rivers,
But do not disturb a cultivator’s mind.
If you cause a cultivator to have one false thought, you are in for trouble! If you make everyone wait for you and cause them to be mad at you, you have committed offenses, great offenses!
Using mental vigor means being mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha throughout the six periods of the day and night. You never indulge in false thinking. At all times you are respectful of the Triple Jewel and you think about making offerings to the Triple Jewel.
If you cultivate vigor by striking up your spirits and cultivating the ascetic practices, then you will gain:
The Ten Advantages of the Perfection of Vigor :
1. Others cannot defeat one. If one has the true skill of vigor, one will win all debates. No one will win over one. One will win because of vigor. If two armies are engaged in battle and one is very high spirited while the other is drowsy and lazy, the vigorous ones will certainly conquer the lazy ones.
2. The Buddhas will receive and protect one. This is quite inconceivable! The Buddha will look upon one and think, “This living being is pretty good. He is a straight ahead cultivator, not lazy at all.” The Buddhas will take care of one. Would you not call that an advantage?
3. One will be protected by non-humans. Not only will the Buddhas protect one, but the gods, dragons, the eightfold division, humans, and non-humans will protect one as well.
4. One will not forget the Dharma one hears. One will have a good memory. Once the Dharma passes by one’s ears, it will always remain as a seed of the Way. One will never forget it. Would you not like to receive this benefit? If you are not vigorous, you will not get it. For every increase in your effort, you gain that much benefit.
5. One will hear what one has not heard. One will hear Dharma one has never heard before. What an advantage!
6. One’s eloquence will increase. To start with, one might not have been able to speak the Dharma, but all of a sudden one becomes quite eloquent. This is because one was vigorous, and so one’s eloquence increased, those with eloquence can talk people out of crying into laughing, out of anger into compassion, and out of running away from the suffering of this Summer Session into staying! Eloquent people can even scold others and they will find it very pleasant and not hard at all to hear.
7. One will obtain the essence of Samadhi.
8. One will have little trouble or sickness. One will not be sick or afflicted. Such problems will vanish.
9. One will have good digestion. One will be able to eat all one wants, and in just a few hours one will be hungry again. Why? It is because one is not lazy. One does not sit around thinking, “The Master is not here. I think I will take a snooze.” One will also have a good appetite.
10. One will grow like the Udumbara flower. One will develop and grow, day by day, just like the Udumbara flower.
I just said that you should beat your lazy worms into vigorous tigers, but really, tigers are too fierce. Turn your lazy worms into vigorous dragons. That would be better.
Dhyana, the next Paramita, is a Sanskrit word meaning “the cultivation of thought.” The Zhong Wen transliteration is “Chan.” It is one of the Five major Schools of Buddhism: Chan, Teaching, Vinaya, Secret, and Pure Land. When you cultivate Dhyana, you cultivate a ‘hua tou’, or meditation topic, such as “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” You are then thinking in terms of existence and non-existence, and both the existence and non-existence of existence and non-existence! When you meditate, you “investigate Dhyana.” It is like drilling a hole through something. You just keep drilling and drilling until you get through. In the same way you keep investigating until you “break through.” It is like being in a dark, windowless room and drilling a hole in the wall until the light shines through. As a deluded person lacking understanding, you are in a “dark room.”
Investigating Dhyana is also like a cat stalking a mouse. I talked about the cat yesterday, just getting ready to bring him up again today! Now, if a cat is after a mouse, he will wait and wait by the mouse hole for the mouse to show his little head. As soon as it does—zap!—It is caught. What does the mouse represent? Ignorance. Just as ignorance was likened to a “dark room” in the previous analogy, so too, when you finally “see the light” in meditation, it is like catching the mouse.
Investigating Dhyana is also like a dragon watching over its pearl. Dragons are more attached to their pearls than to their very own lives. So they always take very good care of them. Meditators focus their concentration in the same way on their topic and never let it wander. To be mindful in thought after thought–you are mindful right here, just in this thought. To be mindful in thought after thought is to contemplate with ease. If you can be mindful in thought after thought, then you are able to contemplate at ease. If you cannot be mindful in thought after thought, then you have run away! Run? What does “running away” mean? It means that you strike up false thoughts. How is “contemplating with ease” translated? To not strike up false thoughts is to be at ease. If you have false thinking, you wander away from your topic. So we say,
When your thoughts stir, the myriad affairs arise.
When your thoughts stop, all affairs cease.
As soon as you strike up false thinking, everything starts happening. When your thoughts stop, then nothing is happening! I often tell you:
When the mind stops and thoughts cease, that is true wealth and honor.
When desire and selfishness is ended, that is the true field of blessings.
Why? It is because you are without greed. People who are not greedy are wealthy. Greedy people are poor. If they were not poor, why would they still want “more”? Why would they be greedy? People are greedy because they feel they do not have enough. If they have a million dollars, they want two million. If they have two million, they want two billion, and so on, and they are never satisfied. Why not? It is because they are afraid of being poor. People who cannot be satisfied are always miserable. People who know how to be content are always happy.
When desire and selfishness come to an end, that is the genuine field of blessings. People without blessings are always greedy for something. If you do not have false thinking, if you do not compete, and if you have no desires, then you are blessed.
Investigating Dhyana, then, is like a cat stalking a mouse or a dragon guarding its pearl.
“I do not want to be like a cat or a dragon! Cats kill mice and dragons just run around all the time, from the sky to the ocean.”
Then I will give another analogy. It is like a chicken hatching an egg. The Shurangama Sutra says,
Womb-born beings are born from emotion
Egg-born beings are born from thought
When the hen sits on her eggs she thinks, “My chicks are going to hatch right on time; they are going to be fine little chicks!” Sitting in meditation one thinks, “One of these days for sure I am going to get enlightened. Every day I work on my meditation, I get that much more light. If I work every day I will gain more and more light, and eventually, I will be one with the Buddha.” Thinking like this—like an old hen thinking about her eggs—sooner or later, you will be successful.
The Ten Advantages of the Perfection of Dhyana :
1. One’s schedule will be regulated. One will be organized. One meditates day by day, month by month and year by year, in a very regulated way. In the Chan hall, the meditation periods are regulated. You sit for a while and then you walk and then you run! You run until you sweat. The heavens are cloudy and the earth is dark—that is, you are so absorbed that, above, you do not notice the sky, and below, you do not see the ground. In between, you do not know anyone else is around. Everyone seems to have disappeared. Where did they go? They are gone! But not lost! You have lost track of your “self.” There is no more “me.” There is no self and no others.
At that time you can contemplate with ease. Since there is no self, you have no false thinking about self, and since there are no people, you have no false thinking about them. That is just contemplating with ease.
With neither form nor emptiness, you see the Thus Come One. The Buddha dwells neither in existence or emptiness. His Dharma-body is neither existent nor non-existent. You then see the Thus Come One’s Dharma-body.
2. One will practice the attitude of compassion. Being compassionate does not mean being “nice” to people. It means that you accept people and transform them with compassion. But, if you meet stubborn ones, you may use your compassion to scold them a good one and get them to change! People get hit in the Chan hall, but it is not what you usually think of as getting hit. People are hit so that they will quit false thinking and get enlightened. It is not unusual; it is done so that people will be good and follow the rules.
3. One will have no regrets or afflictions.
4. One will guard the six sense organs. If one does not watch over them, they will run off. The eyes will run after form, the ears after sound, and the nose after smells, the tongue after tastes, the body after touch, and the mind after dharmas. Guarding the senses means that from the gates of the organs a light is emitted, and the earth is caused to shake. Emitting light means that, because one is not false thinking, one’s wisdom light comes forth and shines upon the three thousand great thousand worlds.
5. One will obtain the flavor of Dhyana food and be filled with the bliss of Dharma. This means that one can go without food and still be happy! One’s meditation may progress to the point where one does not need to eat and does not feel hungry at all. If you meditate in Dhyana, you can do this.
6. One will leave love and desire. When the mind separates from desire and love, it is pure. Love and desire are defilement. Defilement leads to birth and death. Why do we human beings undergo birth and death? It is just because we do not cut off love and desire. Why do most people keep turning on the six paths of rebirth and fail to end birth and death? Just because they cling to their thoughts of love and desire. It is because they never cut off their love and desire! As long as you cannot cut off love and desire, you will not be able to end birth and death, and will continue to spin around in the six paths of rebirth.
If you have no thoughts of love and desire, you close the gates of the hells; you will not fall into hell.
7. One’s cultivation of Chan will not be in vain. As long as one cultivates it, one will reap the benefits. If one sits in Chan for one hour, one’s wisdom-life will increase one hour’s worth. If one sits for two hours, it increases two hours worth. If one continues to investigate Dhyana over months and years, one will certainly develop great wisdom. All one has to do is cultivate it. It never fails.
8. One will be released from one’s demonic karma. Through Chan meditation one can be liberated from one’s demonic karma. Demons will have no way to obstruct you.
9. One will be secure in the realm of the Buddha.
10. One’s liberation will be effected. This means that one will have no obstructions. Non-obstruction is the pure Dharma-body.
The sixth perfection is Prajna. Prajna is Sanskrit and means, generally, wisdom. Wisdom is a fairly common word. Prajna is an honored term, and so it is not translated. It is a miraculous kind of wisdom. Also, it includes several meanings, and it is not translated. Prajna is of three kinds:
1. Literary Prajna. This refers to the wisdom contained in the Sutras and commentaries spoken by the Buddha. It does not refer to ordinary worldly literature. Literary wisdom gives rise to,
2. Contemplative Prajna. After reading the Sutras, one then contemplates and illuminates their meanings through actual practice. This type of Prajna then leads one to,
3. Real Mark Prajna. Real Mark Prajna is without a mark. But there is nothing not marked by it. It has no mark, and it is also without the mark of having no mark! The Real Mark is neither existent nor non-existent. Literary Prajna is existent. Contemplative Prajna is non-existent. Real Mark is neither existent nor non-existent. From existence one penetrates to non-existence, and from non-existence one arrives at neither existence nor non-existence. If you can comprehend the realm of neither existence nor non-existence, you have attained Real Mark Prajna.
Because Prajna has these three meanings, we do not translate it. If you have wisdom, you will have Prajna. If you have no wisdom, you are stupid. Stupid people lack wisdom. Wise people are devoid of stupidity.
“I am worried,” you say, “because I am really stupid. I do not have and Prajna.”
Do not worry. To know that you are stupid is just the beginning of Prajna! It is just to be feared that you do not know that you are stupid. If you think that you are wise and that you have a lot of Prajna, then you are stupid. Why? It is because you do not understand yourself. If you understand yourself, you have Prajna. If you understand yourself today, then today you have wisdom. If you understand yourself tomorrow, then tomorrow you have wisdom. If you understand yourself every day, then every day you have wisdom.
So do not be afraid of not having wisdom. Just be afraid that you will not realize that you do not have wisdom! Where does wisdom come from, anyway? It comes from stupidity. If you were not stupid, you could not become wise. If you know that you are stupid, that means your wisdom is starting to manifest. It is just that wonderful, that ineffably wonderful. Basically, I cannot explain wonderful Dharma to you, but now I see that you have developed to the point that it is okay to tell you. Since we have arrived at the discussion of Prajna, you are no doubt wise enough to hear it!
A few days ago when I talked about patience, a lot of people could not be patient! Instead, they got angry! Before I talked about it, it did not occur to them to get angry and they were getting along alright, taking things in stride. But as soon as I lectured on patience, they got impatient. Before I explained vigor, nobody retreated. Once I lectured on it, people started to retreat! Before I talked about Chan, people were not too scattered. As soon as I discussed it, however, people started getting confused.
Before I talked about Prajna, people were not stupid. As soon as I talked about it, their stupidity was revealed! It is actually not that the stupidity was not there, but that you had no mirror to see it in. My explanations are like a mirror and so you say, “Oh, I am so stupid!” Before, you did not know that you were impatient, because you had nothing to compare yourself with. Now, hearing the discussion of patience and looking at yourself in that “mirror” you know that you are not patient. Before you heard about vigor, you could take it easy and not feel too bad about it. Now that you know what vigor is, you realize how lax you have been. So now if you are stupid, in that one clear thought, your wisdom manifests!
The Ten Advantages of the Perfection of Prajna :
Prajna is basically non-attachment. Non-attachment is wisdom. As long as you are attached to things, you have no wisdom. If you are unattached, the light of wisdom is ever present.
1. One will not grasp at the mark of giving. If you grasp at the mark of giving, you are attached. If you do not grasp, then you are not attached. One should give in such a manner that the “three aspects are empty.” By this we mean the giver, the receiver, and the gift. If you are caught up in your ability to give, in the gift, or in the person you are giving to, then you are attached. One should give in such a way that there is no attachment to the mark of the giver, the gift, or the receiver. If you give, thinking, “I gave several million. How much merit do you think I have?” then you are like the Emperor Wu of Liang who asked Patriarch Bodhidharma, “I have built so many temples and bridges, and allowed so many people to leave home. How much merit do I have?”
If Patriarch Bodhidharma had said, “A lot,” he would have just been following worldly thinking. Instead, the Patriarch spoke the genuine Buddhadharma, which does not just go along with worldly sentiments. He said, “No merit!” This is just “not grasping at the mark of giving.” Without the mark of giving, there are no attachments. Without attachments, one’s merit is like empty space. Empty space is entirely filled with merit. But you must not be attached.
2. One will not become dependent upon the precepts. This does not mean that one will not receive and keep the precepts. It means that one will not be attached; one will not grasp at the precepts. One will not think, “I keep precepts and know how to cultivate. I understand the Buddhadharma!” that is just attachment. One should keep the precepts and not hold on to them. Keep them as if not keeping them. One should not think of oneself as a “keeper of the precepts.” Even if one keeps them very well, one should not get arrogant about it and think, “I am a Vinaya Master!” That is just another attachment to the mark of self.
The precepts are for the purpose of getting rid of the “self.” One must not get conceited and full of the mark of self, thinking, “I cultivate according to the rules.” If one gets rid of the mark of self, then there is not any “I.” If there is not any self, how can there be a precept holder?
“If there is not any me, then I can go out and kill, steal, and set fires and it will not count, right? That is being pretty unattached, is it not?” someone may wonder.
One form of “non-attachment” reaps offenses, while the other creates merit! There is a difference! Do not misinterpret the Buddhadharma and try to twist it into this and that. You cannot use it as a rationalization for nihilism.
Not being dependent on the precepts means that one keeps them without an attachment to keeping them. One keeps the precepts, but not in an obvious way. That is true holding of the precepts.
3. One will not be caught up in the power of patience. This, too, means being unattached. One is not attached to the idea of being patient. If one is attached to being patient, then one is not truly patient. True patience goes even beyond the concept of being patient.
“Then I do not need to be patient?” one may ask.
If you are not patient, then you are really not patient! You should be patient and yet not patient. You are patient, but you are not caught up in “being a patient person.” If you think, “I cultivate patience,” you are just adding a head on top of a head! Patience is just patience. Why do you have to think in terms of a self—“I” am patient? True cultivators of the Way must understand that all dharmas are but empty appearances. If you cannot understand that concept, then you will not be able to cultivate the Way.
4. One will be vigorous in body and mind. This means that one will not be more vigorous with the body than the mind or vice-versa. One will be vigorous equally with both, but not attached. One should not think, “I really work hard! I am really vigorous!” as long as one cultivates, but holds the idea of vigor, that is not “Prajna” vigor. With Prajna vigor one must be vigorous and yet not vigorous, not vigorous, and yet vigorous. All dharmas must be empty and one must separate from all marks. One still has to cultivate, but one must separate from marks. One must subdue one’s mind and yet separate from the mark of having subdued one’s mind. One must regulate one’s mind until it is tame and does no false thinking.
5. In Chan, one will not dwell anywhere. When one investigates Dhyana, one will arrive at the level of “dwelling nowhere.” This means that one will have broken all attachments. One will have no attachment to self or dharmas; they will both be emptied, gone. Not dwelling anywhere means that one has obtained liberation. As long as one dwells somewhere, one is not free. Not dwelling anywhere is “Prajna” Chan.
6. Demons will be unable to disturb one. This is the “Prajna” Prajna. Demons cannot get one because one has real Prajna wisdom. If one has no Prajna, they will be able to bother one. They will take one by surprise and ambush one so that one does not know what to do. They will catch one off guard and one will be afraid and confused. If one has wisdom, it does not matter what great spiritual powers the demons have, they will not be able to disturb one.
7. Other’s theories will not confuse one. If you do not have genuine wisdom, then if someone says “East,” you will go east. If someone says, “West,” you will go west. Someone might say, “Cultivating the Secret School is the best form of cultivation. Recite the name of Akshobhya Buddha.” You will think, “Is it? Okay, I will do that. I will recite it and subdue the demons!”
Then someone else comes along and says, “The Pure Land School is the best. Reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha is the best form of cultivation in the Dharma Ending Age,” and you will think, “Really? Okay, I will do it.”
Someone else might tell you, “Do not bother learning how to lecture on the Sutras and speak the Dharma. Go off and live in a cave in the mountains. That is real cultivation!” After you have spent two and a half days in the mountains, someone comes by and says, “Hey, the Vinaya School is the best,” and off you go to the Vinaya School. In general you vacillate. You just follow other people’s opinions of what is good. You have no samadhi power and so other people’s ideas turn you around and around.
The Old Man of Mount Wei had real samadhi power. He lived in a broken down hut, which kept out neither the wind nor the rain. Minister Pei went to see him and, being very wealthy, brought forth the Bodhi mind and made an offering of thirty pounds of silver so the Master could build a new “hut.” Thirty pounds in the Tang Dynasty was worth a lot—enough to build a big temple. Minister Pei put the coins in the grass and left. Three years later he came back to see what had been done with his money, but the same old hut was there! Minister Pei got suspicious and asked, “Where is the new hut? I gave you thirty pounds of silver three years ago to build a hut? What happened? Where is the silver?”
The Old Man of Mount Wei said, “Oh? Where did you put it?”
Minister Pei said, “I put it over there in the grass.”
“Well go look in the grass. That is where it still is,” said the Old Man of Mount Wei.
The Minister checked it out and found that the money still lay there untouched. He left all that silver there for three years, and did not touch it. Luckily no one else came by and picked it up. They probably would not have met with any resistance. Minister Pei knew that the Old Man of Mount Wei was a true cultivator, and so he had a temple built for him. It was large enough for several thousand people. This was in Hunan.
Later, the Minister sent his son there to leave home at the temple. His son was an Imperial scholar, sort of like a modern-day Ph.D. When he arrived at the temple, the Old Man of Mount Wei put the scholar to work carrying water. But he had to carry three thousand buckets of water for everyone in the temple!
So, given thirty pounds of silver, the Old Man of Mount Wei did not even look at it. He really had a spirit worthy of our respect. Nowadays, if someone hands us a sack of garbage we go picking through it looking for treasures. Where are you going to find treasure in garbage? Acting like this, how do we compare with our forefathers? When people gave them things, those Elder Virtuous men did not want them. Nowadays if no one gives people anything, they go looking on their own and try to steal things! How can people like that cultivate the Way?
Somebody asked me, “Master, are you unhappy these few days?” I teach them:
Freezing, we do not climb on conditions.
Starving, we do not beg.
Dying of poverty, we do not scheme.
These three principles have been ruined. Since these principles have been ruined, I feel that my coming to this country has been in vain. Since it has been useless, I am unhappy. No one acts like Elder Wei Shan. He did not look at the 300 ounces of silver that others presented to him. He did not even take a peek for three years. Unlike us now, every day we count one dollar, two dollars, three dollars, and four dollars, fearing that they may be lost. He did not look at all! Look at that kind of attitude!” But most people do not follow any of these three principles.
Long ago there were two Dharma brothers who decided to cultivate together. They were very ascetic and only ate one meal a day. One time they went up north. They stayed in an empty, old hut, while it snowed outside. They had no food, no firewood and no water. It snowed for three days, and they did not eat for three days.
After three days, the younger brother had a false thought: “It does not matter if I do not eat for three days, but elder Dharma brother came from a wealthy household. No doubt this is too hard on him. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone gave us an offering? It is so cold outside. Wouldn’t some noodle soup be nice?” As soon as he had this false thought, the local earth spirit picked up the message and thought, “Look at this weather! Those cultivators work so hard and they have not had a bite to eat for three days. If I do not think of a way to protect their Dharma, I will have committed an offense.”
Then the earth spirit went off behind the mountain and appeared in a dream to a couple, saying, “In the hut on the other side of this mountain there are two genuine cultivators. They have not eaten for three days. Hurry and make some noodle soup and take it to them!” The two old folks were in their fifties or sixties and they really believed in spirits. Besides, they both had the same dream several times that night, so they knew it was for real. The next morning they made some noodles and took them right over.
When the younger brother saw the noodles, he laughed. This tipped off the older brother as to what had happened, and he said, “Oh! All you do is false think! You go ahead and eat these noodles you ‘false thought’ here, but I have had it. I am moving out! You are absolutely sickening. You have no scruples at all.” He picked up the mat they shared and ripped it in half saying, “You do your thing and I will do mine! All you do is climb on conditions.” And that was the end of that.
So you see, the virtuous cultivators of the past did not want noodles even when they had not eaten for three days. Nowadays, people think that if they get a response to their false thinking about food, they are really special! False thinking and climbing on conditions might get you some good food, but it will really obstruct your cultivation! If your mouth has good food to eat, your self-nature will not be bright. Why not? It is because you do too much false thinking! You climb on conditions.
If one has samadhi power, nothing will cause one to have false thinking or to climb on conditions. If you want to take a good look at climbing on conditions, look at the pigeons! As soon as you bring out the birdseed they fly all over the place and jump around! They will not leave you alone until you give them some. We cultivators should be careful not to be like the pigeons. They got to be pigeons, you know, because they were greedy and did not have any samadhi power.
8. One will get to the bottom of birth and death. The ocean has a bottom, and every bottle and jar has one. What is the bottom of birth and death? It is Nirvana. To get to the bottom of birth and death is to arrive at Nirvana. If you have wisdom, you can end birth and death and ascend the other shore. “Ascending the other shore” is the same as getting to the bottom of birth and death.
9. One will practice ever-increasing compassion. Previously, we heard about the five thousand who left the Dharma Flower Assembly because of overweening pride. Ever-increasing compassion is the exact opposite of overweening pride. Perhaps you were not very compassionate, but gradually with ever-increasing compassion your compassionate nature develops.
10. One will take no delight in dwelling in the position of the Two Vehicles. One will insist on walking down the Great Vehicle Path. Why is this? It is because one has wisdom. Therefore, one wants to turn away from the small and goes towards the great, put the Small Vehicle aside and pick up the Great Vehicle Dharma.
“The people of that time had a limitless life span. For the sake of the Dharma, I renounced the royal position, leaving the government to the crown prince. I beat upon the Dharma drum, announcing my search for Dharma in the four directions, saying, ‘whoever can speak the Great Vehicle for me, for him I will act as a servant for the rest of my life!’ ”
J2. To perfect Prajna, he diligently seeks the wonderful Dharma.
The people of that time had a limitless life span. When he was a king, the Buddha could give up his very life to cultivate the Six Perfections and the Myriad Conducts. For the sake of the Dharma, I renounced the royal position, leaving the government to the crown prince. I gave away my kingship to my first son. I beat upon the Dharma drum, announcing my search for Dharma in the four directions, saying, “whoever can speak the Great Vehicle for me, someone with Way-Virtue, for him I will act as a servant for the rest of my life! I will serve and run errands for him, doing whatever he wants me to do.”
“At that time a seer came forth and spoke to the king saying, ‘I have a Great Vehicle scripture by the name of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. If you do not disobey me, I will expound it for you.’ ”
H3. Finding a Dharma Master.
At that time a seer came forth and spoke to the king saying. A seer is an immortal, a hermit who can live forever. The seer said “I have a Great Vehicle scripture by the name of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. If you do not disobey me, I will expound it for you.” “Disobey” means not doing what you are told to do, or doing what you are told not to do! You would be disobeying, for example, if you are told to be vigorous and instead you are lazy. Or if you are told to be moral, but you break the precepts. Or told to give, but instead you are stingy. Or told to be patient, but instead you get angry. Or you are told to cultivate dhyana samadhi, but instead you are scattered. Or you are taught to cultivate Prajna, but instead you go on being stupid. Not disobeying means that you do not object to any of the Dharma that I teach you.
“When I, the king, heard the seer’s words, I jumped for joy. I then followed the seer, supplying all of his needs: picking fruit, drawing water, gathering firewood, and preparing food, even offering my own body as a couch for him, feeling no weariness in body or mind. I served him for a thousand years, for the sake of the Dharma, diligently waiting upon him so he lacked nothing.”
H4. Receiving the Dharma and offering up his conduct.
When I, the king, heard the seer’s words, I jumped for joy. Think about it; he was a king. To seek the Dharma he gave up his royal position and wanted to be a servant. We are not even kings and we do not have such sincere minds. I then followed the seer, supplying all of his needs: picking fruit. He would go into the mountains and pick fruit for him. He served him by drawing water, gathering firewood in the hills, and preparing food. I went so far as to even offering my own body as a couch for him, feeling no weariness in body or mind. I served him for a thousand years, for the sake of the Dharma, diligently waiting upon him so he lacked nothing. He was never lazy, and he made sure that the seer had everything he needed.
At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying,
“I recall, in kalpas past, when seeking Dharma,
Although I was a king at the time,
I had no greed to enjoy the five desires.
Ringing the bell, I announced in the four directions,
‘If whoever has the great Dharma
Will explain it to me, I will be his servant.’ ”
H1. Verses about the length of time he spent seeking the Dharma.
At that time, the World Honored One, wishing to restate this meaning, spoke verses saying: I recall in kalpas past, limitless eons ago, when seeking the Great Vehicle Dharma. Although I was a king at that time, I had no greed to enjoy the five desires. The five desires are defined in two ways:
1. Wealth 1. Forms
2. Forms 2. Sounds
3. Fame 3. Smells
4. Food 4. Tastes
5. Sleep 5. Objects
You should recognize them clearly. If the king was not greedy for the five desires, how much the less should we common people be greedy for them. It should not be as hard for us to renounce them. The king had as many opportunities available to him, and still he was not greedy. Ringing the bell, I announced in the four directions, “If whoever has the great Dharma and will explain it to me, I will be his servant.” Even though I am the king, I will be his slave. Why? It is because I am seeking the Dharma. I will do anything for the Dharma.