THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 24: The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound

Sutra:

Having arrived, he stepped down from the terrace of seven treasures. Taking a necklace of beads, its value in the hundreds of thousands, he went before Shakyamuni Buddha, bowed with his head at the Buddha’s feet, offered up the necklace and said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King inquires after the World Honored One. Are you free from sickness and worry? Are you energetic in your comings and goings? Is your practice peaceful and happy? Are the four elements in harmony? Are you enduring the affairs of the world? Are living beings easy to save, without much greed, hatred, stupidity, jealousy, stinginess, or arrogance?

None are not filial in their behavior toward their parents, are they, or disrespectful toward Shramanas, deviant in their views, unwholesome in their thoughts, or not in control of the five emotions? World Honored One, have living beings been able to conquer the hateful demons? Has the long since passsed Thus Come One Many Jewels, within the jeweled stupa, come to hear the Dharma?”

“He also wishes to inquire as to whether the Thus Come One Many Jewels is peaceful and secure, free from worry, and long abiding in the world ‘Worthy of Being Endured.’”

Outline:

G3. Making inquiries.


Commentary:

Having arrived, he stepped down from the terrace of seven treasures. Taking a necklace of beads, its value in the hundreds of thousands of pieces of gold, he went before Shakyamuni Buddha, bowed with his head at the Buddha's feet, and offered up the necklace as an offering to Shakyamuni Buddha, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King inquires after the World Honored One.

My teacher asked me to inquire after Shakyamuni Buddha. He wants to know, are you free from sickness and worry? You are not sick, are you? Are you energetic in your comings and goings? When you rise and when you rest, are you sprightly? Is your practice peaceful and happy? Are the four elements in harmony? Earth, air, fire, and water—are they regulated properly?” When people are sick we say that their four elements are out of harmony. One may get too much fire, and the fire overcomes the water. Or one may get too much air, which overcomes the earth; or too much earth, which stops up the water. If, within one's body, the four elements are regulated, then one will not be sick.

“Are you enduring the affairs of the world? Is it bearable? Are living beings easy to save, without much greed, hatred, stupidity, jealousy, stinginess, or arrogance? None are not filial in their behavior toward their parents, are they? Or disrespectful toward Shramanas—left-home people? They are not deviant in their views, or unwholesome in their thoughts, are they? They are not stupid, are they? They have given rise to wisdom, right? Aren't living beings very clear now? Haven't they turned their backs on the dust to unite with enlightenment? They will wake up real soon, won't they?”

If you are not filial to your parents, you would not be able to cultivate. If you cannot cultivate, you cannot become a Buddha. If you are not filial to your parents, why would you listen to the Buddhadharma? Filiality is the most basic of doctrines. It is important not to be at odds with your parents or to treat them badly.

Shramanas are left-home people. They diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom and put to rest greed, hatred, and stupidity. Shramanas are worthy of respect. To look upon them as ordinary people is a mistake. Shramanas are the Sangha jewel. No matter whether they cultivate or not, you should be respectful toward them. You cannot think, "Oh, he has left-home, but he is just like me. Look how greedy he is, how hateful and stupid! He cannot even talk, let alone do anything! Why should I respect him? He is not even as good as me! In fact, it seems right that he should bow to me!" If you are not respectful toward Shramanas, you would not be able to enter the Way and cultivate. If you do not even respect the Triple Jewel, how can you cultivate? If you get mad at left-home people thinking, "Bald-headed freaks! They just eat, sleep, and wear clothes, and do nothing else!" You are having "deviant views" and "unwholesome thoughts." To think that left-home people are not different from laypeople is a deviant view; it is unwholesome.

Or they are not in control of the five emotions, are they?” Basically, people have seven emotions: happiness, anger, grief, fear, love, hatred, and desire. "The five emotions" refers to happiness, anger, love, hatred, and desire. It is not easy to control these five emotions. Living beings are basically controlled by their emotions and follow their desires, thinking they are free. That is a mistake.

“World Honored One, have living beings been able to conquer the hateful demons—the demons of death, the demons of sickness, the demons of afflictions, the demons of one's own mind, and heavenly demons? Has the long since passed Thus Come One Many Jewels, within the jeweled stupa, come to hear the Dharma?” Why did the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound ask this question? He already saw that the Thus Come One Many Jewels was there. However, he was not asking on his own behalf. He was representing the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King in making these courteous inquiries.

"He, the Buddha odhisatt va Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King, also wishes to inquire as to whether the Thus Come One Many Jewels is peaceful and secure, free from worry, and long abiding in the world 'Worthy of Being Endured'." The Buddha Many Jewels vowed that wherever the Dharma Flower Sutra was being lectured, he would manifest his jeweled stupa in space to certify the speaking of the Sutra.

Sutra:

“World Honored One, we now wish to see the Buddha Many Jewels. We only pray that the World Honored One will allow us to see him.”

Outline:

G4. Asking to see Many Jewels.


Commentary:

"World Honored One, we now wish to see the Buddha Many Jewels." The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound asked Shakyamuni Buddha, "We only pray that the World Honored One will allow us to see him. Please be compassionate and let us see him."

Sutra:

Shakyamuni Buddha told the Buddha Many Jewels, “The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound wishes to see you.”

The Buddha Many Jewels spoke to Wondrous Sound, saying, “Good indeed! Good indeed, that in order to make offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and to hear the Dharma Flower Sutra, as well as to see Manjushri and the others, you have come here.”

The Bodhisattva Flower Virtue then spoke to the Buddha, saying, “World Honored One, what good roots has the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound planted, and what meritorious virtues has he cultivated that he has these spiritual powers?”

Outline:

G5. Shakyamuni passes the message.
G6. Praise from within the stupa.
G7. Questions and answers about past causes.
H1. The question.


Commentary:

Shakyamuni Buddha told the Buddha Many Jewels, "The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound wishes to see you."

The Buddha Many Jewels spoke to Wondrous Sound, saying, "Good indeed! Good indeed, that in order to make offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and to hear the Dharma Flower Sutra, as well as to see Manjushri Bodhisattva, Medicine King Bodhisattva, and the others, you have come here."

The Bodhisattva named Flower Virtue then spoke to the Buddha, saying, "World Honored One, what good roots has the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound planted in the distant past, and what meritorious virtues has he cultivated that he has these spiritual powers?"

Sutra:

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, “In the past there was a Buddha by the name of Clouds and Thunder Sound King, Thus Come One, Arhat, Samyaksambuddha. His country was called Manifesting All Worlds. His eon was named Delightful to See. For twelve thousand years, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound made offerings to the Buddha Clouds and Thunder Sound King of a hundred thousand kinds of music. He also offered up eighty-four thousand bowls made of the seven treasures. As a result of these deeds, he has been born in the country of the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King and now possesses these spiritual powers.”

“Flower Virtue, what do you think? Could the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound who made offerings of music and jeweled vessels to the Buddha Clouds and Thunder Sound King have been anyone else? He was just this Bodhisattva Mahasattva Wondrous Sound.”

“Flower Virtue! The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound has in the past made offerings and drawn near to limitless Buddhas, for a long time planting the roots of virtue and encountering hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of nayutas of Buddhas equal in number to the sands of the Ganges.”

Outline:

H2. The answer.


Commentary:

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, "In the past there was a Buddha by the name of Clouds and Thunder Sound King Thus Come One, Arhat, One Worthy of Offerings, Samyaksambuddha, One of Right and Universal Knowledge. His country was called Manifesting All Worlds. His eon was named Delightful to See. For twelve thousands years, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound made offerings to the Buddha Clouds and Thunder Sound King of a hundred thousand kinds of music, and so he obtained a wondrous sound. This is like when we sing praises and chants in front of the Buddha. In the future, we, too, can obtain a wondrous sound.

He also offered up eighty-four thousand bowls made of the seven treasures. As a result of these deeds, he has been born in the country of the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King and now possesses these great spiritual powers.

Flower Virtue, what do you think? Could the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound who made offerings of music and jeweled vessels to the Buddha Clouds and Thunder Sound King have been anyone else? He was just this Bodhisattva Mahasattva Wondrous Sound present right here in the Dharma assembly.

Flower Virtue, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound has in the past made offerings and drawn near to limitless Buddhas, for a long time planting the roots of virtue and encountering hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of nayutas of Buddhas equal in number to the sands of the Ganges, and so now he has such great spiritual powers.

Sutra:

“Flower Virtue, you see merely the body of the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound as it appears here. However, this Bodhisattva manifests all kinds of bodies and speaks this Sutra in many places for living beings.”

“He may manifest in the body of a Brahma King; he may manifest in the body of Shakra; he may manifest in the body of the God of Sovereignty; he may manifest in the body of the God of Great Sovereignty; he may manifest in the body of a great heavenly general; he may manifest in the body of the heavenly king Vaishravana; he may manifest in the body of a wheel-turning sage king; he may manifest in the body of a minor king; he may manifest in the body of an elder; he may manifest in the body of a layperson; he may manifest in the body of a minister of state; he may manifest in the body of a Brahman; he may manifest in the body of a Bhikshu, Bhikshuni, Upasaka, or Upasika; he may manifest in the body of an elder’s wife or a layperson’s wife; he may manifest in the body of a minister’s wife; he may manifest in the body of a Brahman’s wife; he may manifest in the body of a young boy or a young girl. He may manifest in the body of a god, dragon, yaksha, gandharva, asura, garuda, kinnara, mahoraga, a human, or a non-human and speak this Sutra.”

“He can rescue all in the hells, the hungry ghosts, and the animals, as well as those in difficulty. He can even transform himself into a woman of the king’s inner court and speak this Sutra.”

“Flower Virtue, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound can rescue all living beings in the Saha world. The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound can, in this way, transform into all these different kinds of bodies and speak this Sutra for living beings in the Saha world and still lose nothing of his spiritual penetrations, transformations, and wisdom.”

“This Bodhisattva’s wisdom shines brightly upon the Saha world, causing living beings to each gain understanding. In worlds like Ganges’ sands throughout the ten directions, he does the same.”

“To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Hearer, he manifests in the form of a Hearer and speaks the Dharma for them.”

“To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Pratyekabuddha, he manifests in the form of a Pratyekabuddha and speaks the Dharma for them.”

“To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Bodhisattva, he manifests in the form of a Bodhisattva and speaks the Dharma for them.”

“To those who must be crossed over by the form of Buddha, he manifests in the form of a Buddha and speaks the Dharma for them. In this way he manifests in all manner of forms to cross them over in the appropriate manner, even to the point of manifesting entering stillness to those who must be crossed over by manifesting entering stillness.”

“Flower Virtue, such is the great power of the spiritual penetrations and wisdom of the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Wondrous Sound.”

Outline:

E3. Propagating the Sutra in the ten directions.
F1. The manifestation in different forms to speak the Dharma.

Commentary:

“Flower Virtue, you see merely the body of the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound as it appears here. However, this Bodhisattva manifests in all kinds of bodies and speaks this Sutra in many places for living beings. He is not just here in our Dharma assembly. He speaks the Dharma Flower Sutra in many, many places for living beings.

He may manifest in the body of a Brahma King and speak the Dharma. He may manifest in the body of Shakra, otherwise known as God of Christianity, also called Lord God. He is the lord of the Heaven of the Thirty-three.

He may manifest in the body of the God of Sovereignty; he may manifest in the body of the God of Great Sovereignty; he may manifest in the body of a great heavenly general; he may manifest in the body of the heavenly king Vaishravana. Vaishravana is one of the four heavenly kings. He governs the heaven in the north; his name means "much learning." He may manifest in the body of a wheel-turning sage king. He may manifest in the body of a minor king, one of the many kings "scattered like grain," to teach living beings. He may manifest in the body of a noble and wealthy elder, someone with great blessings and virtue. He may manifest in the body of a layperson. He may manifest in the body of a minister of state; he may manifest in the body of a Brahman, one who cultivates pure conduct. He may manifest in the body of a great Bhikshu, a great Bhikshuni, a great Upasaka, or a great Upasika to teach and transform living beings.

He may manifest in the body of an elder's wife or a layperson's wife; he may manifest in the body of a minister's wife; he may manifest in the body of a Brahman's wife; he may manifest in the body of a young boy or a young girl, to teach and transform living beings.

He may manifest in the body of a god, dragon, yaksha, gandharva, asura, garuda, kinnara, mahoraga—members of the eightfold division—or a human or a nonhuman, and speak this Sutra, the Dharma Flower Sutra.

He can rescue all in the hells, the hungry ghosts, and the animals—those in the three evil paths—as well as those in difficulty, that is, those experiencing the eight difficulties. He can even transform himself into a woman of the king's inner court and speak this Sutra.

Flower Virtue, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound can rescue all living beings in the Saha world. The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound can, in this way, transform into all these different kinds of bodies and speak this Sutra for living beings in the Saha world and still lose nothing of his spiritual penetrations, transformations, and wisdom. As he manifests a body, his spiritual penetrations and wisdom do not decrease. They remain exactly the same.

This Bodhisattva's wisdom shines brightly upon the Saha world with various wisdom lights causing living beings each to gain understanding of the Buddhadharma according to his abilities. In worlds like Ganges’ sands throughout the ten directions, he does the same. Not only in the Saha world, but in all worlds, he appears in all their different bodies.

To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Hearer, he manifests in the form of a Hearer and speaks the Dharma of the Four Truths for them. He appears as one of the Small Vehicle.

To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Pratyekabuddha, he manifests in the form of a Pratyekabuddha and speaks the Dharma of the Twelve Causes and Conditions for them.

To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Bodhisattva, he manifests in the form of a Bodhisattva and speaks the Dharma of the Six Perfections and the myriad conducts for them.

To those who must be crossed over by the form of a Buddha, he manifests in the form of a Buddha and speaks the Dharma for them. In this way he manifests in all manner of forms to cross them over in the appropriate manner, even to the point of manifesting entering stillness, the mark of Nirvana, to those who must be crossed over by manifesting entering stillness.

Flower Virtue, such is the great power of the spiritual penetrations and wisdom of the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Wondrous Sound.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Winter Chan Session begins on November 15th and will last for fourteen weeks. The best thing would be if no one spoke, but instead just applied effort single-mindedly. When you are sitting, do not make any noise. Keep quiet and peaceful. Do not use beads to recite the Buddha’s name, or make any other kind of sounds. Let us hope that during the session everyone can become enlightened. If you make noise, it disturbs other people and prevents them from entering Samadhi. If you cannot enter Samadhi, you would not be able to open up your wisdom. If you cannot open up your wisdom, you would not gain a genuine awakening. So you should all help each other out on the way to enlightenment. It is important, then, that once the session starts, the talking ends.

Sutra:

At that time the Bodhisattva Flower Virtue said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound has deeply planted the roots of goodness. World Honored One, in what samadhi does this Bodhisattva dwell that he is able in this way to transform himself and save living beings?”

Outline:

F2. Questions and answers about the samadhi he dwells in.
G1. The question.


Commentary:

The Bodhisattva Flower Virtue wanted to know what merit and virtue Wondrous Sound Bodhisattva had cultivated to gain such great spiritual powers. Shakyamuni Buddha told him that the Bodhisattva had made offerings of a hundred thousand kinds of music to the Buddha Cloud and Thunder Sound King.

At that time the Bodhisattva Flower Virtue said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound has deeply planted the roots of goodness. Although I know that is the case, still, World Honored One, in what samadhi does this Bodhisattva dwell that he is able in this way to transform himself, everywhere in all kinds of forms with as-you-will spiritual powers, and save living beings on such a vast scale?"

Sutra:

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, “Good man, this samadhi is called the Manifestation of All Physical Forms. The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound, dwelling in this samadhi, can in this way benefit limitless living beings.”

Outline:

G2. The answer.


Commentary:

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, "Good man, this samadhi is called the Manifestation of All Physical Forms. Remaining unmoving in the Way-place, he can yet manifest everywhere in the various forms of all living beings. The Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound, dwelling in this samadhi, can in this way benefit limitless living beings."

Sutra:

When this chapter on the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound had been spoken, those who had accompanied the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound, eighty-four thousand in all, all obtained the samadhi of the Manifestation of All Physical Forms. Limitless Bodhisattvas in the Saha world also gained this samadhi, as well as the dharani.

Outline:

E4. Benefits gained in two lands.


Commentary:

When this chapter on the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound had been spoken, those who had accompanied the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound from the country Adorned with Pure Light to the Saha world, eighty-four thousand in all, all obtained the samadhi of the Manifestation of All Physical Forms. Limitless Bodhisattvas in the Saha world also gained this samadhi as well as the dharani, the Dharma-door of uniting and upholding. So Bodhisattvas from both lands gained many benefits.

Sutra:

At that time the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Wondrous Sound, having made offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and to the stupa of the Buddha Many Jewels, returned to his own country. The countries he passed through quaked in six ways, precious lotus flowers rained down, and hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of kinds of music played. When he arrived at his own country, surrounded by the eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas, he went before the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King and said, “World Honored One, I have been to the Saha world where I benefited living beings. I saw Shakyamuni Buddha and the stupa of Many Jewels Buddha, bowed, and made offerings to them. I also saw the Bodhisattva Manjushri, the Dharma Prince, as well as the Bodhisattva Medicine King, the Bodhisattva Who Has Gained the Power of Diligent Vigor, the Bodhisattva Courageous Giving, and others, and enabled eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas to obtain the samadhi of the Manifestation of All Physical Forms.”

Outline:

E5. Going back to his own country.

Commentary:

At that time the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Wondrous Sound, having made offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and to the stupa of the Buddha Many Jewels of all kinds of jewels and beads, returned to his own country, Adorned with Pure Light. The countries he passed through on the way back quaked in six ways, precious lotus flowers rained down, and hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of kinds of music played. When he arrived at his own country, surrounded by the eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas, he went before the Buddha Wisdom of Pure Flower Constellation King and said, "World Honored One, I have been to the Saha world where I benefited living beings extensively. I saw Shakyamuni Buddha and the stupa of Many Jewels Buddha, bowed, and made offerings to them. I also saw the Bodhisattva Manjushri, the Dharma Prince, the greatly wise Bodhisattva whose name means 'Wonderfully Auspicious', as well as the Bodhisattva Medicine King.

This Bodhisattva's ascetic practices are inconceivable. In past lives he burned his body and burned off his arms as an offering to the Buddha. Now, he is able to cure the sicknesses of living beings. I also saw the Bodhisattva Who Has Gained the Power of Diligent Vigor. He is vigorous in body and mind, and vigorous in the six periods of the day and night. He is never lazy for a second. I also encountered the Bodhisattva Courageous Giving and others. This Bodhisattva is even more inconceivable. No matter what living beings seek from him, he gives it to them. He even gives away his very life, head, eyes, brain, and marrow; his countries, cities, wives, and children. He gives it all away.

And I enabled eighty-four thousand Bodhisattvas to obtain the samadhi of the Manifestation of All Physical Forms. My trip to the Saha world really paid off for living beings. It was great.”

Sutra:

When this chapter on the comings and goings of the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound had been spoken, forty-two thousand gods obtained the patience with the Non-production of Dharmas. The Bodhisattva Flower Virtue obtained the Dharma Flower Samadhi.

Outline:

E6. Hearing the chapter and entering the Way.


Commentary:

When this chapter on the comings and goings of the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound had been spoken, forty-two thousand gods obtained the patience with the Nonproduction of Dharmas. The Bodhisattva Flower Virtue, who asked about the Bodhisattva Wondrous Sound's samadhi, obtained the Dharma Flower Samadhi.

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