Chapter One (continued)
After such indescribable sounds had issued forth, gods, dragons,
ghosts, and spirits from the Saha world and other realms assembled in
the Palace of the Trayastrimsa Heaven. They arrived from the Heaven
of the Four Kings, the Trayastrimsa Heaven, the Suyama Heaven, the Tusita
Heaven, the Transformation of Bliss Heaven and the Heaven of Comfort
Gained through Transformation of Others' Bliss.
Saha, "able to endure," is the name of our world system because its inhabitants are capable of bearing much pain and suffering. Just as the Western Land is a place of extreme bliss, so this world of ours is one of utmost suffering.
The Heaven of the Four Kings is halfway up Mount Sumeru. In the east is a king named He Who Maintains Countries, in the south is a king named Increase and Growth, in the west is a king named Many Languages, and in the north is a king called Much Learning, who is also known as Wide Eyes. The gods in this heaven are half a Yojana tall and have a lifespan of five hundred years, each consisting of twelve months of thirty days each. One day in this heaven is equivalent to fifty years among humans. Because this heaven is extremely close to us, its inhabitants watch over the affairs of human beings.
The Trayastrimsa Heaven, the inhabitants are one Yojana tall and live for a thousand years.
The Suyama, "well-divided time," is a heaven located so high on the side of Mount Sumeru that the light of the sun and moon cannot reach it. It is light there, however, because the gods all emit light. Because there is no light from the sun or moon, time is measured by the opening and closing of the lotus flower; when the lotus is open, it is day, and when it closes, night has arrived. The inhabitants of this heaven are two Yojanas tall and live for two thousand years.
Throughout all these heavens, the height and lifespan double in each successive heaven.
The Tusita, or "contentment," Heaven, is divided into an inner and an outer court. The outer courtyard is subject to destruction by the Three Disasters, fire, water, and wind, which occur at the end of the Kalpas, but the inner courtyard is not.
The inhabitants of the Transformation of Bliss Heaven take pleasure in transformational creations.
The gods of the Heaven of Comfort Gained through Transformation of Others' Bliss obtain their bliss through transforming it away from other heavens. Those who live in this heaven are neither genuine spirits nor immortals but heavenly demons.
The Heaven of the Four Kings, the Trayastrimsa Heaven, the Suyama Heaven, the Tusiita Heaven, the Transformation of Bliss Heaven, and the Heaven of Comfort Gained through Transformation of Others' Bliss are known as the Six Desire Heavens. Although those who dwell there are among the gods, they still have impure thoughts of sexual desire. In the Heaven of the Four Kings and the Trayastrimsa Heaven, sexual affairs are carried out in the same manner as they are among people, but a newborn child in the Heaven of the F our Kings is as large as a five-year-old human child. In the Trayastrimsa Heaven an infant is as large as a seven-year-old human child, and in the Suyama Heaven the newborn are as large as human children of ten.
The desire of those in the Heaven of the Four Kings and the Trayastrimsa Heaven is like our own; but in the Suyama Heaven, husbands and wives prefer to cultivate the Way and only infrequently hold hands. In the Tusita Heaven, marital affairs are carried out by laughing. Although most people consider laughter good, it is actually a function of emotional gratification. In the Transformation of Bliss Heaven, the gods merely gaze at one another to achieve their gratification, and in the Heaven of the Comfort Gained through Transformation of Others' Bliss, a glance is enough to perform the marital act. As one ascends through the Six Desire Heavens, emotional desire decreases. If desire is not light, there can be no ascension to these heavens. If desire is heavy, stupidity results; as desire is lightened, wisdom grows.
The Heaven of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Heaven of the Ministers
of Brahma, the Heaven of the Great Brahma Lord, the Heaven of Lesser
Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, the Heaven of Light-Sound, the
Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, the Heaven
of Universal Purity.
These Heavens are those of the first three Dhyanas, each of which subsumes three heavens. The first of the three heavens of the First Dhyana is called the Multitudes of Brahma, because of the emotional desire of those in the Six Desire Heavens. In the Heaven of the Ministers of Brahma are the attendants of the Great Brahma Lord, who lives in the next heaven. He has cultivated the merits of the heavens, but has not truly become enlightened or certified to the fruit. Consequently he ascends through the heavens to be the Great Brahma King. He is surrounded and protected by gods from the two heavens below.
The three heavens of the First Dhyana are called the Joyful Stage of Leaving Production. Here no more afflictions are produced, so it is an extremely happy place. Diligent cultivation of the Way can lead to attainment of the First Dhyana, where the Great Brahma Lord, his ministers, and the multitudes may be seen.
In the First Dhyana, the pulse stops as one sits in meditation. This is commonly the sign of death, but because the self-nature goes to the heavens, no decay or death occurs in the body. One may enter this Samadhi for as long as twenty or thirty days or more without any sign of either pulse or decay. When the average person dies, his body becomes putrid within seven days, but the body of one who cultivates and attains this state will not rot no matter how long he remains in Samadhi.
The Heaven of Lesser Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, and the Heaven of Light-Sound are reached by eliminating desire and love. They cannot be reached without ending sexual desire.
The first of these heavens of the Second Dhyana is called the Heaven of Lesser Light. The bodies of this heaven's inhabitants shine with a light much greater than that of the Suyama Heaven but less than that of the other two heavens of the Second Dhyana. They shine because they maintained the precepts purely in the world. In the First Dhyana, the gods of the Multitudes of Brahma and the Ministers of Brahma also maintained the precepts purely, but they did not emit light. However, here in the heavens of the Second Dhyana, the gods have maintained the precepts so well that their bodies shine.
The inhabitants of the Heaven of Light-Sound use light to speak. Just as television uses light to create pictures, the gods of this heaven use light to represent speech. Some commentators say that these gods have no language and cannot speak, but this is not the case, for if it were, they would have done good deeds and been reborn in the heavens only to find themselves mute. Just as humans have both spoken and written aspects of language, the gods in this heaven use light to represent speech.
When people who practice Dhyana obtain Samadhi and reach the second of the Four Dhyanas, they have attained the stage called the Joyful Stage of the Arising of Samadhi. At this stage the breath stops. Anyone who meditates can reach this level, and those who practice should now ask themselves whether or not they have attained such skill. Has your pulse stopped? Has your breath stopped? If they have not stopped, there still remains much work to do; and if they have, there still remains the ending of birth and death,
Do not become attached to some minor psychic state, which you may encounter. To have seen light or Dharma protectors while meditating is a very minor matter. It is also possible that the body will shake involuntarily during meditation; this is a manifestation of the phenomenon known as "the great earth shaking in six ways" and still does not indicate genuine skill. There is a great deal of work left to do after such states are reached, for one cannot be lazy and end birth and death. Although it is always possible to object that such work leads to discomfort and is unpleasant, wait until you find yourself in hell someday, and then see just what "uncomfortable" can mean. If you set out to cultivate the Way and then do not work at it but prefer to savor your so-called independence, you can do so. Your independence may take you to hell in the end.
The Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity are the heavens of the Third Dhyana, which is called the Ground of the Wonderful Bliss of Being Apart from Joy. Here thought stops. The heavens of the First Dhyana were pure but had little light; those of the Second Dhyana were more pure and had more light. The heavens of the Third Dhyana are purer still.
Ascending through these heavens can be compared to the process of cleaning a floor. The First Dhyana is like sweeping the ground clean; here are found the heavens of the Multitudes of Brahma, the Ministers of Brahma, and the Great Brahma Lord. Although the floor has been swept, it has yet to be waxed, and so it is lacking in luster.
Once the waxing has been done, the floor shines with light. This can be likened to the Heaven of Lesser Light, the Heaven of Limitless Light, and the Heaven of Light- Sound-the heavens of the Second Dhyana. Once the floor has been waxed, it may shine with light, but nonetheless fine specks of dust may settle on it again. Dusting it off represents the Heaven of Lesser Purity, the Heaven of Limitless Purity, and the Heaven of Universal Purity-the heavens of the Third Dhyana.
Although the pulse stopped in the First Dhyana, and the breath in the Second Dhyana, the flow of thought still remained. It is in the Third Dhyana that the continual arising of false thoughts ceases. In a single Ksana (instant of time) there are ninety productions and extinctions, and in each of these there are nine hundred thoughts. When all these thoughts stop in the Third Dhyana, it is possible to sit for months or even years and not be aware of the passage of time. In such a state there is neither time nor space, and yet one who is in it is not dead. He can return at any time, and when he wishes to do so the thoughts no longer remain still. The thought "I am sitting in meditation" arises, and the meditator returns.
As long as thoughts remain, there is no real purity, for thought is like dust on the ground. Although there is a kind of purity when the breath stops and light is emitted, this is not the true purity, which is manifested only when thought is stopped.
The Third Dhyana is called the Wonderful Bliss of Being Apart from Joy, because even happiness must be put aside and not become the object of attachment. When this happens, the "wonderful" arises.
The Birth of Blessings Heaven, the Love of Blessings Heaven, the
Abundant Fruit Heaven, the No-Thought Heaven, the No-Affliction Heaven,
the No-Heat Heaven, the Good Views Heaven, the Good Manifestation Heaven,
the Ultimate Form Heaven, the Mahesvara Heaven and so forth, until the
Heaven of the Place of Neither Thought nor Non-thought. The gods, dragons,
ghosts and spirits assembled together.
In the Birth of Blessings Heaven, the cause of suffering is exhausted and bliss is not permanent. In the realms below this, that is, in the Second and Third Dhyanas, suffering and distress remain even though pulse and breath may stop. In the Birth of Blessings Heaven, the first of the nine heavens of the Fourth Dhyana, the causes of suffering come to an end and the seeds of suffering cease to exist. Since the gods have no suffering, they are also unattached to their happiness, and so it is said that their bliss is not permanent.
The cause of suffering eliminated in this heaven is desire, more precisely, sexual desire. When there is no sexual desire, there are no seeds of suffering. The gods of the Second Dhyana have cut off thoughts of desire; in the Fourth Dhyana the very seed of desire, the appearance of all coarse forms, is cut off, and blessings are born.
The second heaven of the Fourth Dhyana is called the Heaven of the Love of Blessings, and it is here that there is a supreme renunciation. What cannot be renounced is nonetheless renounced, and what cannot be given up is given up. The gods of this realm obtain a supreme purity of liberation. Their blessings are unfathomably great, and they reach beyond heaven and earth to attain a state of wonderful compliance in which everything accords with their intent. Their bliss is renounced and they are apart from both suffering and bliss. Although devoid of craving for the realms of desire and form, they nonetheless have a hope, something for which they seek: the heavens directly above them.
Directly above the Heaven of the Love of Blessings are two heavens, one called Abundant Fruit and the other No- Thought. The path to these is likened to a forked road: it is very easy to go down the wrong fork and enter the No-Thought Heaven. The Abundant Fruit Heaven is the highest reward common people can obtain, the highest state that includes the gods of the realm of desire. In this heaven, all the defilements of the lower heavens are left behind and there is illimitable and inexhaustible happiness. Here the miraculous functioning of spiritual penetrations can be found. The wonderful compliance attained in the heaven immediately prior is even more subtle in this heaven, and the gods are able to attain whatever they wish.
At the end of the other path of the fork lies the Heaven of No-Thought. The inhabitants of this realm have cut off thought, although not permanently. Their lifespan is five hundred Kalpas, and during the first four hundred and ninety-nine they have no thought. In the last half of the final Kalpa, however, thought once again arises; consequently "No-Thought" actually means that there is very little thought. The inhabitants of this heaven belong to the paths of the externalists and demons who think that they have achieved an ultimate Nirvana. What they do not realize, however, is that, in spite of their cultivation, they too are doomed to fall.
In the next heaven, the Heaven of No Affliction, there are neither views nor thought. Views means the arising of greed when faced by any sort of condition; thought is con- fusion about principle and indulgence in discriminating thinking. The gods of this heaven have neither suffering nor bliss and obtain a cool refreshment.
In the Heaven of No Heat there is no heat from afflictions. In the Heaven of Good Views there is an extremely wide and expansive vista. In the Heaven of Good Manifestation, a very subtle form of transformation occurs, and the inhabitants are able to create all sorts of wonderful pleasures.
The Heaven of Ultimate Form is the last of the heavens in the realm of form.
In the Mahesvara, the Great Self-Sufficiency Heaven, the chief god has eight arms and three eyes and rides a great white ox; as a result he thinks he is very independent. With the exception of the No-Thought Heaven, the abode of demons and externalists, the heavens mentioned above belong to the Fourth Dhyana. This Fourth Dhyana is called the Stage of Renouncing Thought, because, just as the pulse stopped in the First Dhyana, breath in the Second Dhyana, and thought in the Third Dhyana, in the Fourth Dhyana all thought is fully put aside. And so forth until the Heaven of the Place of Neither Thought nor Non-thought. And so forth includes the heavens of Infinite Space, Infinite Consciousness, Nothing Whatsoever, and Neither Thought nor Non-thought. In the last of these, consciousness is practically nonexistent, and so it is said that there is no thought. However, a very fine trace of thought still exists, and so it is called neither thought nor non-thought.
Moreover, sea spirits, river spirits, stream spirits, tree spirits,
mountain spirits, earth spirits, brook and marsh spirits, sprout and
seedling spirits, day, night, and space spirits, heaven spirits, food
and drink spirits, grass and wood spirits, and other such spirits from
the Saha and other worlds all assembled together.
Seas, rivers, and streams are some of the various bodies of water that cover the earth. What is their origin? The great heat of the sun draws water from the earth, plants, and living beings, and the accumulation of this water constitutes the seas. The Surangama Sutra discusses the all-pervasive nature of water, which can be demonstrated by the condensation which forms on a metal plate left out overnight. Although water is everywhere, only some places manifest its substance; what is all-pervading about water is its nature. This is analogous to the Buddha-nature in people. Although everyone has it, we see only the substance of living beings. Just as water, although it can be seen only in some places, is all-pervading, so too are fire and the other elements. Their substances appear to contradict one another, but their natures work in harmony and do not conflict.
What keeps water from inundating the world? The Four Heavenly Kings have a precious and wonderful gem, which has the power to halt water. Without this, heaven and earth would be joined in a mass of water.
Sea Spirit. Within the sea are a great many spirits, such as the dragon kings, the Jao, the Yang Ho, and others. The spirits of the sea are beasts of a sort; dragons are a well-known example. The chief sea spirit, the Jao, has eighteen tails, eight legs, and eight heads, which look human-four male and four female. There are many such spirits, which need not be discussed now; but if you ever happen to be sitting in meditation and encounter such a phenomenon, don't be upset. Just recognize it for what it is.
River spirits. Rivers are broad but are not very deep if compared to the sea. While seas stay in one place and invite all other waters to join them, rivers flow on unceasingly.
Tree spirits. The word "tree" is defined by a homonym in Chinese that means upright or perpendicular. Here, in Jambudvipa, the Jambunada is the king of trees. When trees become large and old they are known to be dwellings for ghosts and spirits who lodge in trees, where they feel a sense of security and comfort. If these spirits are unable to find such a tree they experience a sense of distress. For this reason Bhiksus are not permitted to cut down large trees; this is specifically mentioned in the Dharmagupta Vinaya.
Mountain spirits. Mountains are defined by the Chinese words that mean "grow" or "produce," since things may grow and flourish on their sides.
Ground spirits. Ground may be explained by a homonym in Chinese that means "bottom." Although the ground is on the bottom, it produces myriad things.
Day and night spirits. Day is calculated as beginning at midnight and night as starting at noon. Although the sun is not visible at midnight, the yang energies begin to rise at that time. Shortly before daybreak, about three, four, or five o'clock, this rise causes a corresponding rise of lustful desires in people. After noon, when the yin is rising, a similar phenomenon occurs. If the desire can be contained, it can be transformed into wisdom. This is not unlike the forked path leading to either the Abundant Fruit Heaven or the Heaven of No-Thought. Traveling down one path aids the flourishing of desires; turning to the other aids the growth of wisdom. In both cases there is a choice to be made, and it is up to the individual to make it for himself.
Space spirits. This spirit, whose Sanskrit name is Sunyata, is discussed in the Surangama Sutra.
Food and drink spirits. Anything anyone eats, even a mere mouthful of water or piece of fruit, is watched over by a spirit. If you believe this principle, the spirit exists; if you do not believe it, it exists nonetheless. To say that such things exist only if there is belief in them, and that they cease to exist if there is no belief, is preposterous.
As I said before, if there is belief in spirits, they exist, and if there is not, they exist nonetheless. It is not true that such things exist only if people believe in them. It is much like gold found deep in a mine. Knowing that there is gold in the mine can be likened to believing; not knowing of the gold is like disbelieving. In the final analysis, there is still gold in the mine, regardless of your belief or disbelief. If you believe, you know there are spirits; if you disbelieve, you do not know that there are spirits. But be that as it may, the spirits are there nonetheless, it is just that you lack the knowledge and vision that can encompass such matters.
In addition, all the great ghost kings from the Saha and other worlds
assembled together. They were the Evil-Eyed Ghost King, the Blood-Eating
Ghost King, the Essence- and Energy-Eating Ghost King, the Womb- and
Egg-Eating Ghost King, the Sickness-Spreading Ghost King, the Poison
Gathering Ghost King, the Kindhearted Ghost King, the Blessings and
Profit Ghost King, the Great Love and Respect Ghost King, and others.
Most people explain the word "all" in the phrase all the great ghost kings as meaning many, but I explain it differently and say that it means few. In fact, it means one. Some- one will object and ask why I explain "all," a word that everyone knows to be plural, as one. I just like to. When there are many numbers, I simply can't remember them, but one is simple enough to remember. If the Sutra text is explained as "many," we must ask just exactly how large "many" is, and we find that it is an infinite amount, a bothersome thing. Consequently, I explain "all" as meaning "one." This is the point where my explanations of Sutras differ from those of most other people.
All the great ghost kings means one ghost king, the one I happen to be explaining at any particular moment. There are the Evil-Eyed Ghost King, the Poison-Collecting Ghost King, and others, but I'll just explain them one at a time and not lump them together. Of course "all" can be taken to mean the collectivity of ghost kings, yet at the same time it means any particular one.
A moment ago I said that I explained "all" this way because I liked to, but it was unprincipled of me to say this. I'd better explain my reasons in greater detail so you won't have doubts about this matter. Where do the many come from? They come from the one. In fact, the many do not even come from one. But because we say that the many come from the one, there is no way not to start with one. Once that has been counted, it is possible to count a second, followed by a third, and so forth. Thus, one is limitless, and the limitless all return to one: A single one disperses to become the myriad numbers, the myriad numbers all return to a root of one. Thus, in cultivation, it is important to return to a unity, to One. Cultivation means to cultivate the mind and unify it. There is a saying, "When the One is attained, everything is finished." Once the One is obtained, there are no further matters left. If thoughts are unified, wisdom will be manifested.
If you are able to avoid giving rise to a single thought, everything will be manifested. The six organs will function harmoniously and the covering clouds will disperse. In this passage of text we've encountered many ghosts, but if not even a single thought arises, there will not be a single ghost. Not only will there be no ghosts, there won't be any spirits either. In fact, there won't be any Bodhisattvas or even a Buddha. There won't be anything at all, and yet at just that time everything will become manifest. Buddhas will come, Bodhisattvas will come, Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas; everything will become manifest because you won't have anything at all. As long as you still have anything, they will not come.
This very "all" is the point of what is wonderful. Don't let "all" be "all," let it be one, and then don't even have that. Then the great ghost kings will become nonexistent and run off. When there aren't any ghosts, there isn't any world, and when there isn't any world, well, what is there to be worried about? No worries, no cares, not a single obstacle. This is what is meant by the phrase, "Understand the nature of self and others; be equal to heaven and earth."
When you fathom and end the nature of others, self, and things, you are heaven and earth, and heaven and earth are you. You are all Buddhas, and all Buddhas are you. There is no distinction and no discrimination, so how could there possibly be an I, a you, or a he? How could there be a distinction of self, of others, of living beings, or a life? There are none of these. If you have nothing at all, how can you have any afflictions? This condition is one of purity and wisdom. When not even a single thought arises, everything is manifested, the six organs function together, and the clouds disperse- an indescribable state.
Since it is indescribable, isn't it better not to describe it? That wouldn't do at all. I describe it because I have to in order to give you some feeling about that state I refer to. Even if you don't want me to talk I shall still do so. Who is it, anyway, who knows that this is indescribable? Who? So, I'm going to keep on talking, and I will discuss now all the great ghost kings.
Let us examine the Chinese word for ghost. Take a look, ghosts have long legs. I really can't measure how long they are and rather doubt that even Chinese professors would be able to explain this, since the legs of ghosts are so long that there is no way to see where the ghost is. In Chinese, "ghost" is a homonym of a word that means "to return." Ghosts are defined as "returning," and so it is said that when a person dies, he returns. He returns to the place where he committed offenses.
In English you can say the ghost sounds like the word "go." It can be derived as follows: "go, goes, ghost." Ghosts go off to hell. In Chinese they return and in English they go, they go off to the hells, because they consider it their home. Ghosts become confused because they like to run about, going here and there, playing about allover and enjoying their kind of fun. Unsuspectingly, they find that they have gone off to the mountain of knives, the tree of swords, and the caldron of oil. They go off to the hells, to the realm of animals, to the hungry ghosts. Where have the great ghost kings under discussion here gone? They have not gone anywhere, they are right there in hell.
The Essence- and Energy-Eating Ghost King, "Pisaci" in Sanskrit, eats the essential energies of both people and plants. The reason for unexpected decay of energies in people or plants is that, they have been taken by this ghost.
The Womb- and Egg-Eating Ghost King is responsible for miscarriages and premature stillbirths.
The Sickness-Spreading Ghost King runs about spreading diseases and encouraging epidemics. The Poison-Gathering Ghost King, on the other hand, is a beneficial ghost king who removes poisons from people. Although he is a ghost king, he is really a transformation body of a Bodhisattva. He rescues living beings by gathering the poisons, which they have contracted.
The Kindhearted Ghost King leads other ghosts to resolve their thoughts on enlightenment.
The Essence- and Energy-Eating Ghost King got his position because he liked to kill but would not give the flesh of any of the animals he killed to his wife. He would not even give her the blood to drink. Since he treated his own wife this way, you can imagine how he treated other people He was extremely stingy, and as a result, he has to eat the most unclean things
The Blessings and Profit Ghost King is actually the spirit of wealth, but in this Sutra he is classified as a ghost king.
At that time Sakyamuni Buddha said to the Bodhisattva Manjus'ri, son of the Dharma King. "As you regard these Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits from this and other worlds, who are now assembled in theTrayastrisma Heaven, do you know their number? " Manjusri' said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, even if I were to measure and reckon with my spiritual penetrations for a thousand aeons, I would not be able to calculate it."
The Buddha told Manjusri, "As I regard them with my Buddha eye,
their number cannot be exhausted. Throughout many aeons all these beings
have been crossed over, are being crossed over, will be crossed over,
have been brought to accomplishment, are being brought to accomplishment,
or will be brought to accomplishment, by Earth Store Bodhisattva."
The great ghost kings mentioned previously are called kings because they lead the ghosts, and, regardless of whether they seem beneficial or malevolent, they are all transformations of great Bodhisattvas. In the past these ghost kings vowed to use expedient devices to benefit living beings. Some use compassion to protect their followers while others manifest a fierce appearance to subdue them. These two methods, protection and subduing, are the two major divisions in the methodology of teaching beings. Since some resolve their thoughts on enlightenment when they see a ghost of great compassion, the method of compassionate protection is practiced to teach them; because others will resolve their thoughts on enlightenment only after meeting a terrifying ghost, the method of subduing is also used.
In either case, the method used is not a question of good or evil on the part of the ghosts themselves, because good and evil come only from the Karmic responses of living beings. When a being's bad Karma ripens, it may encounter someone like the Ghost King with Evil Eyes; when its good Karma ripens, it may meet the Great Compassionate Ghost King. Any Karma may, of course, be changed when it has ripened-bad Karma may become good, and sometimes good Karma turns bad. Students of the Buddhadharma should learn not to be affected by either good or bad Karma, but should strive to turn bad into good and not allow themselves to go down the road which leads to the mountain of knives, the caldron of oil, and the tree of swords. They should study Buddhadharma, upset heaven, and smash through earth. Heaven represents good causes, earth bad ones. Turn the bad to good and the evil ghost kings will be of no use, while the good ones will be able to retire.
Manjusri, the Bodhisattva to whom the Buddha puts his question, is also known as Wonderful Virtue or Wonderful Luck because of ten miraculous signs that occurred at his birth: light filled the room; all bottles were filled with sweet dew; the Seven Precious Things welled up from the earth; the treasure within the earth was revealed; chickens gave birth to phoenixes; pigs gave birth to dragons; horses gave birth to unicorns; cows gave birth to white "tsai," a serpentlike animal with two bodies and one head; the grain in the granaries turned to gold; and elephants with six tusks appeared.
The Bodhisattva Manjusri' is not, however, a Bodhisattva. Long ago he became a Buddha named Superior Venerable Dragon-Seed King, and, in addition, he is currently the Buddha Happy Store Accumulation of Muni Gems, who dwells in a northern world called Happiness. Although he has been a Buddha for a long time, he is a great, compassionate rescuer who manifests the small while hiding away the great. Thus he appears as the Bodhisattva Manjusri.
Manjusri Bodhisattva is the spiritual grandfather of Sakyamuni Buddha. Sun Moon Lamp Brilliance Buddha, the last of the twenty thousand Buddhas, had eight sons, the last of whom was the Buddha Dipankara, "Burning Lamp," whose teacher was the Dharma Master Wonderful Light and who bestowed the prediction of Buddhahood on Sakyamuni Buddha. That Dharma Master, Wonderful Light, is now the Bodhisattva Manjusri, who, consequently, is the master of Burning Lamp Buddha. Since Sakyamuni Buddha is the disciple of Burning Lamp Buddha, the Bodhisattva Manjusri' is his spiritual grandfather and has greater seniority. Nonetheless, when Sakyamuni Buddha appeared in the world, Manjusri' Bodhisattva came to be his disciple. Just think, for a moment, about the state of such a Bodhisattva, devoid of high, low, up, down, big, or little. As it says in the Diamond Sutra, "This Dharma is level and there is no high or low therein."
Perhaps within this very assembly there are those who were my disciples. It may be that among you there is someone who will study the Way, develop great virtue, and become a Buddha very soon. Perhaps I shall then bow to that person as my own master, for there is nothing fixed in the Buddhadharma.
Manjusri' is called "Wonderful Virtue" and "Wonderful Luck," and the wonder lies in simply understanding that all Dharmas are apart from characteristics. If there is no such understanding, attachments arise. If nothing is done, there is a falling into emptiness. What, in the final analysis, is to be done? You'll have to find the answer to that one yourself.
My explanations are often like this, just carefree talking in which I say whatever I think. Sometimes when I talk I break through heaven; sometimes the earthquakes; but I don't care if the one topples and the other collapses, for there is really nothing at all. All Dharmas are devoid of a mark of self, others, living beings, or life. How can the Buddhadharma flourish, how can it decay? Where is there a Proper-Dharma and where a Dharma-Ending Age? There is none of this; everything is false. You may well object that the more I speak the more confused you become; that is just why I do it, for if you understood, who would pay attention to sutra explanations?
The Buddha eye is one of the Five Eyes explained in the following Gatha:
The heavenly eye penetrates what is without obstruction;
Although the Five Eyes' functions differ, their substance is of one source.
Of the Five Eyes, the heavenly eye can penetrate things. The fleshly eye, on the other hand, can see only people and objects and cannot see through them. These two eyes are located on either side of the forehead. There is no need to mention which is on which side at the moment, since when a cultivator open them he will know which is which. With the fleshly eye, everything which has a physical form can be seen, no matter how far away it may be; all one has to do is look. If no looking is done, of course, nothing is seen. Even though one may be able to use this power, it is better not to do so; for whenever things are looked at, a thought is spent, and adding a thought is not as good as diminishing one. To use the Five Eyes is to indulge in thought, and although such thoughts differ from ordinary ones, they are still not beneficial. It is always better to have one false thought less than to have one more.
The Dharma eye contemplates the common truth, which is also called the conventional, relative truth, or wonderful existence. If this eye is opened, there is no need to use books in order to read Sutras, since the entire extent of space is seen to be full of limitless Dharma treasures.
The wisdom eye contemplates the true, the absolute truth, which is also known as true emptiness and the truth of falseness, since it shows that everything is unreal. The real mark of all Dharmas falls within the vision of the Buddha eye.
The Buddha eye, blazing like a thousand suns, can see, know, and even hear everything. Although these Five Eyes differ in what they see, they basically are of common substance.
The term accomplishment may be described in two ways. The first accords with the literal meanings of the Chinese characters, "become flourishing." The second description of "accomplishment" is derived from the first. Since to "become flourishing" means to become high, lofty, and expansive, it also connotes the idea of the emperor. Ancient emperors regulated their empires by means of filial piety, and thus they accomplished ultimate virtue. Only the emperor was allowed to apply the word "filial" to himself. The two terms, accomplishment and filial piety, are related in the emperor's achievement, which is one major theme of this Sutra, the "accomplishment" of ultimate virtue by means of "filial piety."
Earth Store Bodhisattva has aided beings to become accomplished, to plant good roots, and he now helps beings who have planted good roots to make them grow and mature. Those good roots that have ripened he harvests so the beings might obtain liberation.
Manjusri said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, throughout many
aeons I have cultivated good roots and certified to unobstructed wisdom.
When I hear what the Buddha says, I immediately accept it with faith.
Sound- Hearer of small attainment, gods, dragons, and the remainder
of the Eightfold Division, as well as other living beings in the future,
may hear the Thus Come One's sincere and actual words but will certainly
harbor doubts. They may receive the teaching most respectfully, but
they will be unable to avoid slandering it. World-Honored One, please
discuss the conduct of Earth Store Bodhisattva while he was on the causal
ground, and tell about the vows he made that have enabled him to accomplish
such an inconceivable task. "
Unobstructed wisdom is another term for the Four Unobstructed Eloquences: unobstructed eloquence of Dharma; unobstructed eloquence of principle, in which hundreds of millions of principles may be spoken and then returned to one; unobstructed eloquence in phrasing, in which every word carries principle; and unobstructed eloquence of delight in speech.
Those who hear and harbor doubts are not unlike the very few people in the West who currently have the opportunity to encounter the genuine teaching of Buddhism. When they do meet it, it is not certain that they will recognize it. If someone who has never seen gold before receives some, he may mistake it for copper; those who have never seen diamonds may well take them for glass. When actual principle is explained, many will think it to be merely an external display. If the outside is not understood, how can one know the inside, since the two are inextricable? If there is no inner understanding, there cannot be any outer practice, since these two are also a pair. If there is understanding of the principles of Buddhadharma, there can be cultivation in accordance with them.
Even while the Buddha was in the world, Manjusri Bodhisattva brought up the fact that many beings would receive the teaching respectfully but, because of their wrong thinking, would be unable to understand it and would end up slandering it.
The term causal ground simply means past lives, the times in which the causes leading to a result were planted. Whenever anyone makes avow, he should be sure to act in accord with his resolve, no matter how difficult that may be.
The Buddha said to Manjusri, "By way of analogy, it is as if all
the grasses, trees, forests, hemp, bamboo, reeds, mountains, rocks,
and motes of dust in the world system of a million worlds were enumerated,
and each one made into a Ganges River, while within each Ganges River
each grain of sand became a world and within each world each mote of
dust was an aeon, while within those aeons the motes of dust which would
accumulate were in turn to become aeons. Increase this sum of time a
thousandfold and know how long Earth Store Bodhisattva has remained
on the position of the Tenth Ground. Much longer was his dwelling on
the grounds of Sound-Hearer and Pratyekabuddha."
The Ten Grounds are known by the following names:
"Manjusri, the awesome spirit and vows of this Bodhisattva are beyond
thought. If good men or women in the future hear this Bodhisattva's
name, praise him, regard and worship him, make offerings to him, or
if they draw, carve, cast, sculpt, or lacquer his image, they will be
born among the Heaven of the Thirty-Three one hundred times, and will
never again fall into the Evil Paths."
Since he made the vow, "Only when all the hells are emptied will I become a Buddha; only when living beings have all been saved will I attain to Bodhi," Earth Store has
used his awesome spirit to subdue living beings who have accumulated bad karma. He thus has passed through an un-thinkably long time yet still has not realized Buddhahood, because after one being has been taken across, there is yet another ready to go, and after that one, still another.
There is no one-to-one correlation between the number of beings born and those entering nirvana, since those who are born outnumber those who attain nirvana by tens of hundred of millions. The same relationship exists in the realm of birth and death; the number of births in any given period is greater than the deaths in the same time. Those who are to die have to grow old and pass through an entire life before that happens, but those who are waiting to be born only have to spend nine months in the womb. Since birth is such a rapid process, the persons born greatly outnumber the dying at any given moment. For this reason Earth Store Bodhisattva has not yet become a Buddha. He does not, however have any regrets about his vow, and the more living beings there are to rescue, the more he has to do. If there were no living beings, there would be no work, and if there were no work, he would become a Buddha, since Buddhas have nothing left to do. When there actually isn't anything to do, Earth Store Bodhisattva goes looking for work. Although he can remain quiet and at leisure, he continues to be busy himself over living beings because of the power of his vows.
There is no way that we can imagine the strength of such vows. What has been mentioned herein is only the smallest part of their greatness, for, indeed, there is no way they can ever be fully discussed. On hearing of these vows, people ought to consider their own behavior. If you find that you have vowed to rescue even one or two people, then you have not been studying this Sutra in vain; but if you say that Bodhisattvas are Bodhisattvas and we people are quite another matter, you might as well never have studied a single word of it.
Don't let your motto be, "Amitabha Buddha, every man for himself; Mahasattva, don't worry about others." If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, vow to cross her or him over. If you're too young to have such people to rescue, then you must still be close to your parents, and you can save them. Even if you are an orphan, you still have siblings or friends. Vow to see all of them over to Buddhahood. I, for example, have vowed that as long as any of my disciples do not become Buddhas, I, too, will not become one. This, of course, applies to those who have taken refuge and who believe. If such a person falls into the hells, I shall go there to rescue him. And so, while my vows are not as great as those of Earth Store Bodhisattva, they are not too small, either.
Whenever we make prostrations before the images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas; when we recite their names, as, for example, when we recite Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva of Great Vows; when we explain the Sutras, such as this one, which describes the inconceivable qualities of a Bodhisattva; or when we place flowers, fruits, and incense before his image, we are regarding and worshiping, reciting the name, praising, and making offerings.
Those who know how to draw or paint can make images of Buddha and thereby enhance their own appearance. With every image, their appearance will improve. Those who wish to perfect the Thirty-Two Marks and Eighty Minor Characteristics may do so by making images. Every one adds to the perfection of the features, and finally, after hundreds of thousands of millions have been made, the full set of Thirty-Two Marks and Eighty Minor Characteristics will be achieved. Anyone who wishes to be handsome should make images-painted, sculpted, carved, or of whatever kind. It is said that those who cultivate this dharma will be born one hundred times in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three. This means that they will be born throughout all of the Six Desire Heavens, the Heavens of the Realm of Form, and the Form- less Realm, all of which were discussed earlier. After each birth they will again be born among the Heaven of the Thirty-Three, and will complete this cycle one hundred times. They will never again fall into evil paths.
"Manjusri, unspeakably many aeons ago, during the time of a Buddha
named Lion Sprint Complete in the Ten Thousand Practices, Thus Come
One, Earth Store Bodhisattva was the son of an elder. On seeing that
Buddha adorned with a thousand blessings, the elder's son asked what
practices and vows had enabled him to achieve such an appearance. The
Thus Come One said, 'If you wish to perfect such a body throughout long
aeons, you must liberate living beings who are undergoing suffering.'
"Manjusri, the elder's son then made this vow: Throughout immeasurable
aeons until the very boundaries of the future, I will establish many
expedient devices for the sake of suffering and criminal beings in the
Six Paths. When they have all been liberated I myself will perfect the
Buddha Way.' From the time he made this vow in the presence of that
Buddha until the present, unspeakably many hundreds of thousands of
Nayutas of aeons have passed, and still he is a Bodhisattva."
The Five Precepts are included in the cultivation of the Ten Good Deeds. Thus there are fifty merits at the start of cultivation, and fifty at the completion, making a total of one hundred merits. In each of, these one hundred there are still the Ten Good Deeds, leading to a thousand blessings. When one thousand of these blessings are accumulated one is said to have completed one superior blessing. The accumulation of one thousand of these superior blessings is what is meant by adorned with a thousand blessings. On hearing the announcement that such a reward was cultivated by rescuing suffering living beings throughout the Six Paths, the son of the elder, who is the Bodhisattva Earth Store, decided upon his great and far-reaching vows.