The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Chapter 25: The Universal Door of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva
(The Bodhisattva Who Contemplates the Sounds of the World)
Wondrous your sound, Contemplator of the World’s Sounds—
A pure sound, a sound like the sea tide,
A sound beyond all worldly sounds,
We shall always bear it in mind.
G3. Two exhortations.
H1. Exhortation to uphold the name.
I1. His state and wisdom are profound and wondrous, and so we should constantly uphold his name.
Wondrous your sound, Contemplator of the World's Sounds. Not only is the Bodhisattva's sound wondrous and subtle, it is also pure. A pure sound, a sound like the sea tide. The pure sound of Guanyin Bodhisattva is like the sound of the sea—the sea tide, which is reliable, ebbing and flowing. A sound beyond all worldly sounds, we shall always bear it in mind. Everyone should always recollect the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.
In thought after thought we have no doubt.
Guanshiyin is pure and sagely.
In times of suffering, agony, danger, and death,
He is our refuge and protector.
I2. The response is hard to fathom, and so we should uphold the name without doubts.
In thought after thought we have no doubt. You should not think, "What use is it to recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva? Isn't that just meaningless, reciting it every day?" It is very important not to have doubts. You should not have doubts for even a moment. Guanshiyin is pure and sagely. In times of suffering, agony, danger, and death, he is our refuge and protector. You can turn your very life over to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. He will certainly protect and help you.
Complete with all merit and virtue,
His kind eyes watching living beings,
He is endowed with massive blessings, limitless as the sea.
Therefore we should reverently worship him.
H2. Exhortation to make offerings to him.
Complete with all merit and virtue, his kind eyes watching living beings. Guanyin Bodhisattva possesses inconceivable spiritual powers. Like a compassionate father, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, with the same kind eyes, looks upon all living beings to see whether they have committed offenses or not. He is endowed with massive blessings, limitless as the sea. His equal, great compassion saves all living beings. The blessed reward he has cultivated is as great and boundless as the sea. Therefore we should reverently worship him.
Today, we have finished the verse section. Tomorrow we will finish the “Universal Door Chapter.” On Sunday we will begin to lecture on the entire Sutra. [Note: The Venerable Master explained the “Universal Door Chapter” first, and after that he lectured on the Lotus Sutra from the beginning.]
To have an opportunity to hear the entire Lotus Sutra is rare. There is nowhere you can go to hear the entire Lotus Sutra. In Hong Kong and Taiwan there might be a chance, but it is very rare. Here in affluent America you can hear the Sutra. By listening to it, you are imperceptibly helping the entire world. We lecture the Sutra here, and the entire world receives the benefits of the Dharma assembly. The auspicious and lucky energy helps the world. Wherever the Sutras are lectured, the gods, dragons, and the eightfold division come to guard the Bodhimanda. By coming to listen to the lectures, you too protect the Bodhimanda. One must have great good roots to have a chance to listen to the Sutras. A person without good roots could not hear them even if he wanted to. One demonic obstacle after another would prevent him from attending the lectures. In general, he would not be able to make it. Now that you can hear the Sutras and the Dharma, be assured that you have great merit and virtue.
At that time the Bodhisattva Guardian of the Earth rose from his seat and said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, if there are those who hear this chapter of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, who learn about the self-mastery of his deeds and the power of his spiritual penetrations as shown in this Universal Door, you should know that the merit and virtue of such people will not be small.”
E2. The merit and virtue of hearing this chapter.
F1. Guardian of the Earth praises and certifies it.
At that time, after Shakyamuni Buddha had finished speaking the verses, the Bodhisattva Guardian of the Earth. This Bodhisattva is mentioned in the Shurangama Sutra. Limitless eons ago, this Bodhisattva was illiterate. Although he had never studied the Buddhadharma, his conduct was very near that of a Buddhist. He was very strong and powerful. He could lift and move things that no one else could. His worked in repairing roads and sometimes he repaired bridges. He would help people move their carts or carry their burdens, and he never took any payment for these services. He did this for a long time.
Once a Buddha named Vishvabhu came by and said to him, "Leveling the roads is just casting aside the roots to grasp at the branches. It is superficial work."
"Then what should I do?" said the Bodhisattva.
"If you want to level the roads, first you should level your mind-ground. Why are there mountains and valleys, hills and dales? Because people's minds are not level. People's minds go 'up and down,' and so we have mountains, rivers, and valleys of the great earth come into being. You should first level your mind-ground. If the mind-ground is level, all places are level."
Having heard these instructions, Guardian of the Earth Bodhisattva then cultivated the mind-ground Dharma-door. He leveled the ground of his mind and cultivated to accomplishment.
From among the assembly, Guardian of the Earth Bodhisattva rose from his seat and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if there are those who hear this chapter of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, who learn about the self-mastery of his deeds and the power of his spiritual penetrations as shown in this Universal Door—those are his Thirty-two Response Bodies, Fourteen Kinds of Fearlessness, and Nineteen Ways of Speaking Dharma—you should know that the merit and virtue of such people will not be small." The merit from hearing this chapter on Guanyin Bodhisattva's Universal Door is not small by any means.
When the Buddha had spoken the “Universal Door Chapter,” eighty-four thousand living beings in the assembly all brought forth the resolve for anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
F2. Narrator describes benefits.
When the Buddha had spoken the "Universal Door Chapter," eighty-four thousand living beings in the assembly all brought forth the resolve for anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the mind for the Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment.
"Eighty-four thousand living beings" also refers to the 84,000 kinds of afflictions we living beings have. The bodies of each one of us contain 84,000 germs. We people are "big germs," and all the little germs live inside of us, inside our blood, flesh, and internal organs. We are the life-support systems for the little germs, and the little germs help the big germs. Each one of the germs is actually a living being. You could never count them, there being so many, but in general we say "eighty-four thousand."
Outwardly, the world is filled with many, many more than 84,000 beings. "Eighty-four thousand beings" also refers to the thoughts which rise and pass away continually in the minds of living beings. Each thought is a living being, rising and passing away, undergoing birth and death. The 84,000 living beings are not separate from your own nature. The 84,000 living beings all bring forth, at the same time, the resolve for anuttarasamyaksambodhi.
Anuttarasamyaksambodhi is a Sanskrit word. Anuttara means "unsurpassed." Samyak means "proper and equal," and sambodhi means "right enlightenment." There is nothing higher than this enlightenment; it is equal to the enlightenment of the Buddha. Upon hearing this "Universal Door Chapter," all the 84,000 living beings brought forth the resolve for enlightenment. That was an especially rare occasion!
Now at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco, we have lectured the "Universal Door Chapter," and over twenty people have heard it. All of these twenty people have 84,000 living beings inside of them. Ultimately, how many beings are there? And yet, did they all bring forth the mind of unsurpassed enlightenment? Even if not all of them did, the majority of them probably did. Those who attend the lectures on the Dharma Flower Sutra all have a share in becoming Buddhas in the future. That you have heard this chapter on Guanyin Bodhisattva means that in the past, for many lives and many eons, you have planted limitless, boundless good roots, and so now you have this causal condition to assemble together and study the Buddhadharma. This is a wonderful, inconceivable state.
Anuttarasamyaksambodhi is the highest position, the position of the Buddha's enlightenment, the Unsurpassed, Pervasive, Proper Enlightenment. Right Enlightenment is the enlightenment of the Arhats, those of the Two Vehicles. They have not, however, obtained the Proper and Equal Enlightenment. Who has obtained it? The Bodhisattvas—they have obtained both Right Enlightenment and Proper and Equal Enlightenment. Bodhisattvas are equal to the Buddha, in that sense. But they have not obtained the Unsurpassed Enlightenment.
Arhats have obtained Right Enlightenment; but they have not obtained Proper and Equal or Unsurpassed Enlightenment.
Bodhisattvas are said to be "Surpassed Knights" because they are surpassed by the Buddhas who are above them.
The Buddhas are called "Unsurpassed Knights," because none are higher than they are. They have obtained Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment, which is like the Perfect Bodhi that returns to Nonattainment. The Buddhas have attained the Perfection of the Three Kinds of Enlightenment and also the ten thousand virtues. There is nothing higher than Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment. This title applies only to the Buddhas, not to the Bodhisattvas or Arhats. Thus, it is the highest position.
From what position is this highest state reached? One might think it was realized from a high position, but that is not the case. The highest position is realized from the lowest position. Those who cultivate the Way should be very careful not to become arrogant, because the highest position can only be reached from the lowest position.
Lao Zi said, "The highest form of goodness is like water. Water skillfully benefits the ten thousand things but does not contend. Because it abides in places that people despise, it is close to the Way."
The ten thousand things include all creatures, flying, walking, and swimming, as well as all the plants and trees. All creatures need water, whether they are egg-born, womb-born, transformation-born, or moisture-born. But even though all creatures are nourished and supported by water, the water never thinks, "I am benefiting you, supporting your lives, and helping you out." Water does not fight either. It does not insist on taking credit for what it does, as people usually do. People all say, "I did this good deed, or that good deed. I built that temple. I built that bridge." They are always competing. Water never thinks like that. It is unselfish; it does not seek to benefit itself. Water does not fight for fame or profit. Water always flows to the bottom; it does not run upwards or fight to be on top.
"But rain falls down from the sky!" you say.
That is a very good point. The rain does fall down. But how does it get up there in the first place? It goes up from the lowest place. Then it falls down and flows into the rivers and the sea, and still recedes into the low-lying places. It just goes up into the sky temporarily. Water goes to places where no one else wants to go.
Why is it that cultivators do not like to live in fancy houses? They may even live in caves. The reason is they want to imitate water in dwelling in a lowly place. Because water goes to places people despise, it is close to the Way.
If you want to realize Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment, you, too, must begin from the lowest position. You do not begin at the top.
If you want to become a Buddha, you must first be a good living being. How do you do that? You should just do what is good. Do not do evil. Follow the good and change the evil. Go down the good road, and get off the bad road. Go forward and pursue what is in accord with the Way. Retreat from that which is not in accord with the Way. Then you will be able to obtain Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment.
Today we have finished this general explanation of the "Universal Door Chapter." The wonderful doctrine of the Universal Door is ineffable and endless. It is not something that can be completely explained in a short period of time. The Dharma Flower Sutra is ineffably wonderful. Its wonderful functions are infinite and endless. Today, I have explained the meaning in general. In the future, if there is an opportunity, we can go into it more deeply.
Saturday is Guanyin Bodhisattva’s anniversary. Now that we have heard this chapter, we have a general idea about the spiritual powers and wonderful functions of Guanyin Bodhisattva. Saturday we will recite Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name and bow the Great Compassion Repentance, and Guanyin Bodhisattva may manifest his inconceivable and wonderful functions. If there is anything on our mind, anything that you are seeking for, you should pray to Guanyin Bodhisattva. I believe that you will obtain what you seek.
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the Sutra for becoming a Buddha. Having heard the Dharma Flower Sutra, we each have a share in future Buddhahood. This is a very rare opportunity.
Those who know Chinese know what bowing repentance is all about. Those who cannot read Chinese, who can only pronounce the sounds, do not know what quelling disasters and increasing blessings and longevity is all about. If they understood, they could also bow very happily. During all the years I was in Hong Kong, people would bow the Medicine Master Repentance. They did not just bow, they also gave two dollars a month, HK$24 a year. Some people just gave money; others gave money and bowed as well. Why? Because they wished to increase their blessings and longevity.
The Medicine Master Repentance was very popular in Hong Kong. Most Buddhist temples liked to hold this repentance, because it would bring more people to the temple. They all wanted to quell disasters and obstacles lay in their future, so they all wanted to eradicate disasters and increase their blessings and longevity. That was the trend in China and Hong Kong. In America, the Buddhadharma is just beginning, and people are not that greedy yet. Why not? Because they do not know that this is something to be greedy for. When they find out, I bet they will be even greedier than the Chinese. When the time comes, it may get so that they will even skip eating in order to come and bow repentances.
When I was in Hong Kong, at Western Bliss Gardens Temple, people came to bow repentances all the time, not caring whether it was too cold or hot, or whether they were hungry or thirsty. Sometimes I would go and bow with them, but at other times I had other business to take care of and they would bow on their own. The more they bowed, the happier they were. Now that I have brought this up, some people are having false thinking. Some are thinking, “I would not be greedy,” and others are thinking, “I would like to try it out!”
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