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

Chapter 26: Dharani

Dharani is a Sanskrit word that means "uniting and upholding." A dharani is just a mantra. Mantras are for the purpose of giving rise to goodness and destroying evil. A dharani "unites all dharmas and upholds limitless meanings."

A dharani unites in purity the three karmas of the body, mouth, and mind. It upholds the self-mastery of the six sense organs--eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind--in their wonderful functioning.

You can also say that "unite" refers to the mind, and "uphold" refers to the body. A dharani unites the mind so it can obtain the Dharma Flower Samadhi, and it upholds the body so it can obtain the Dharma Flower Dharani, the dharani of a Single Revolution.

It unites the three karmas of body, mouth, and mind. The body does not commit acts of killing, stealing, or sexual misconduct. The mind does not indulge in greed, hatred, or stupidity. The mouth does not utter any frivolous speech, lies, harsh speech or duplicity. If you can purify your three karmas--physical, verbal and mental--then the gates of your six senses will also be pure. When the gates of your six senses are pure, you can obtain the comfort of the interpenetration of the six senses.

A dharani is a mantra. Mantras are used for protection. They protect you so that all affairs turn out lucky and just as you wish. Today a laywoman told us that her son had been in an automobile accident. The car was totally destroyed, but her son was not hurt. Think of it. Cars are very hard, but his car was destroyed. People are very soft, yet he did not get hurt. What is going on here? This is just the power of dharani. His mother always bows the Medicine Master Repentance at home. This is the vow-power of Medicine King Bodhisattva who said that if you bow the Medicine Master Repentance, you can avert the nine kinds of untimely deaths--all kinds of fatal accidents.

Three years ago, Mildred Fong, the mother of Miss San Francisco (Cynthia Fong), took a trip to the country. On the way back it started raining. A truck came up behind their car and tried to make them go faster, then rear-ended them, sending their car flying two hundred yards through the air across the highway. Although Mildred Fong was inside the car, at that moment she felt herself going up into space. From the air she could look down and see another "self" in the car. "What is this?" she thought. "Oh, I am probably dead!" But in the blink of an eye she was back in the car with just a few bruises. You could say this was a response from the Mantra, because she recites the Great Compassion Mantra and she really believes in the Buddha. If it were not for the power of the dharani, how could she have had a response like that? It was due to the workings of the "auspicious, wish-fulfilling power of the protective dharani."

In this chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra the Bodhisattvas and Vaishravana and others speak mantras that can be used in protecting the Dharma Masters who accept, uphold, read, recite, write out and explain the Dharma Flower Sutra, so no harm can come to them.

Sutra:

At that time Medicine King Bodhisattva rose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, placed his palms together, faced the Buddha, and said, “World Honored One, if a good man or a good woman can receive and uphold the Dharma Flower Sutra, whether reading or reciting it with ease and understanding, or writing it out, what blessings will that person gain?”

Outline:

C3. Mantras for protection.
D1. Asking about the merit and virtue of upholding the Sutra.


Commentary:

At that time, when the “Universal Door Chapter” had been spoken and the “Dharani Chapter” was beginning, Medicine King Bodhisattva wanted to ask about the Dharma, so he rose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, a gesture of respect with the body; placed his palms together, a gesture of respect with the mind; faced the Buddha, and said respectfully with his mouth, "World Honored One, if a good man or a good woman can receive and uphold the Dharma Flower Sutra, whether reading or reciting it with ease and understanding, or writing it out.” He reads or recites it quickly and does not make any mistakes. He does not miss a line or a word. He has mastered the entire Sutra, in other words.

What blessings will that person gain? Those of you studying Sutras can translate them into English so that people can read them. There is limitless merit and virtue in this kind of work. But you cannot be sloppy about it. You cannot make mistakes or paste over things; that does not count. You must be very, very respectful. Sit in full lotus, extremely reverently, and write out each letter with the utmost care. You do not judge a person's handwriting by how pretty it is, but by how much strength it has, how much concentration power went into it. The person's inner strength flows into the paper. When Wang Xizhi, the best known Chinese calligrapher of the Jin Dynasty, wrote characters, the ink would penetrate three-tenths of an inch into the wood underneath the paper. That was because of the strength of his handwriting. Or, perhaps, the wood was very porous.

One person can write out the Sutras and gain great merit, while another can write them out and not gain any merit at all. Why? Because the first person writes them out very respectfully, whereas the other does it sloppily. Two people can do the same thing, and one will do a good job while the other makes a mess of it.

Sutra:

The Buddha said to Medicine King, “What do you think? If a good man or a good woman were to make offerings to Buddhas equal in number to the grains of sand in eight million kotis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers, would the blessings he gained not be great?”

“Very great, World Honored One.”

The Buddha said, “If a good man or a good woman can receive and uphold even a single four-line verse of this Sutra, read it, recite it, explain its meaning, and cultivate in accord with its teaching, his or her merit and virtue will be extremely great.”

Outline:

D2. The answer: extremely great.

Commentary:

The Buddha said to Medicine King, “What do you think? If a good man or a good woman were to make offerings to Buddhas equal in number to the grains of sand in eight million kotis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers, would the blessings he gained not be great?”

“Very great, World Honored One,”
answers Medicine King Bodhisattva.

The Buddha said, “If a good man or a good woman can receive and uphold even a single four-line verse of this Sutra, read it, recite it, explain its meaning, and cultivate in accord with its teaching, his or her merit and virtue will be extremely great,
greater than that of the person who made offerings to Buddhas equal in number to eight million kotis of nayutas of Ganges Rivers.”

Sutra:

At that time Medicine King Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I shall now give to the speakers of Dharma a dharani mantra for their protection.”

Outline:

D3. Request for mantra of protection.
E1. Medicine King.
F1. The request.


Commentary:

At that time Medicine King Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I shall now give to the speakers of Dharma—the Dharma Masters who receive, uphold, read, recite, write out and explain the Dharma Flower Sutra--a dharani mantra for their protection.”

This is the second time in America the Medicine Master Repentance has been bowed. This repentance is based on the Sutra of the Past Vows of Medicine Master Buddha. There are many different repentances. There is the Pure Land Repentance, the Great Compassion Repentance, and the Jeweled Repentance of the Emperor Liang, and the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance. In Hong Kong there is a Bhikshuni named Kuanhui who was a protector of Venerable Master Hsu Yun. Wherever the Venerable Master Hsu Yun was building temples, she would gather a lot of money in Hong Kong for him. She could also speak very well, even though she could not read. The laypeople all believed what she said.

She had a karmic obstacle, however. At one time she had been a cook, and she had killed a lot of crabs. One time a crab pinched her finger, and she chopped off the crab's claw, killing the crab in the process. Strangely enough, her finger then looked just like a crab, complete with head and claws, and it was extremely painful. She was practically dying from the pain. At Feng Mountain, she bowed the Samadhi Water Repentance. After that, it was gone, but a big sore remained on her hand that would not heal. At that time I went to the Zhilian Temple to speak the Earth Store Sutra. She was not jealous of me then because she did not consider me a rival yet—she knew I would not compete with her and she asked me, "How can I heal my hand? It always hurts." I said, "Repent, and it will get better."

"But I already bowed this and that repentance," she said, "a lot of them, but I cannot get rid of this 'crab' sore!"

I said, "It wants to leave you now. Give it the Three Refuges and you will be okay." She signed it up for taking refuge, and it took refuge with me. I gave it the Dharma name "Supreme Conch." After that it was gone, and it did not hurt.

Her hand did not hurt, but once she was better she got jealous. After Hsu Yun completed the stillness and I received his sharira, she said they were false. She said that to everyone, because she was afraid people would believe in me and she would take a loss. She was jealous. Even so, she had some affinities with the Buddha. She also had some ghostly affinities. What do I mean by this? If she had not had affinities with the Buddha, she could not have met up with Venerable Master Hsu Yun and have been one of his great Dharma protectors. She was the manager of Zhilian Temple.

She also had affinities with ghosts. When she was working in the kitchen, she once beat a cat to death. The cat had a ghost, and the ghost kept trying to take her life. It would give her a headache, a leg-ache, or this and that, making her sick all the time. She would say, "Brother cat, why do you want me to die? If you kill me, we will never get the books straight. Why don't you help me win at the race-track and then when I have some money I will take you across so that you can be reborn. Wouldn't that be better?"

When she said that, the cat listened to her instructions. She went to Macau and won the daily double. That was how she got rich. Then she opened a vegetarian restaurant. So she had affinities both with the Buddha and with ghosts. The ghosts helped her get rich. Later she left home and did pretty well. She could not see through things, however, and she was pretty uncomfortable when she died.

Sutra:

He then spoke the mantra, saying:

“An er. Man er. Mo mi. Mo mo mi. Zhi li. Zhi li di. She li. She li duo wei. Shan di. Mu di. Mu duo li. Suo li. E wei suo li. Sang li suo li. Cha yi. E cha yi. E chi ni. Shan di. She li. Tuo la ni. E lu qie pe suo. Bo zhe pi cha ni. Mi pi ti. E bian duo luo mi li ti. E tan duo bo li shu di. E jiu li. Mu jiu li. E luo li. Bo luo li. Suo jia cha. E san mo san li. Fo tuo pi ji li zhi di. Da mo bo li cha di. Seng qie nye jyu sha mi. Po she po she shu di. Man duo luo. Man duo luo cha ye duo. You lou duo. You lou duo qiao she liao. E cha luo. E cha ye duo ye. E po lu. E mo rao nuo duo ye.”

Outline:

F2. Speaking the mantra.


Commentary:

Mantras are secret doctrines spoken by the Buddha. Usually, mantras are not explained, so we will just read them here. You can memorize them if you want to, and in the future we may explain them. But the wonderful functioning of the mantras cannot really be explained; one can only give the general idea.

Sutra:

“World Honored One, this dharani, this spiritual mantra has been spoken by Buddhas equal in number to the sands of sixty-two kotis of Ganges Rivers. If anyone harms this Dharma Master, he will thereby have harmed these Buddhas.”

Outline:

F3. Praise.


Commentary:

“World Honored One, this dharani, this spiritual mantra I just recited, was spoken not just by me, but has been spoken by Buddhas equal in number to the sands of sixty-two kotis of Ganges Rivers. If anyone harms this Dharma Master--should a heavenly demon, an evil ghosts, or a devious spirits come to hurt the Dharma Master who receives, upholds, reads, recites, explains or writes out the Dharma Flower Sutrahe will thereby have harmed these Buddhas.

Sutra:

Then Shakyamuni Buddha praised Medicine King Bodhisattva saying, “Good indeed, good indeed, Medicine King, that you mercifully protect this Dharma Master by speaking this dharani, thereby greatly benefiting living beings.”

Outline:

F4. Certification.


Commentary:

Then Shakyamuni Buddha praised Medicine King Bodhisattva saying, “Good indeed, good indeed, Medicine King, that you mercifully protect this Dharma Master by speaking this dharani, thereby greatly benefiting living beings.” By speaking this mantra, you bring copious benefit to living beings of the future.

Sutra:

At that time Courageous Giving Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I too shall speak a dharani to protect those who read, recite, receive, and uphold the Dharma Flower Sutra. If this Dharma Master gains this dharani, no yaksha, rakshasa, putana, kritya, kumbhanda, or hungry ghost will be able to seek out his weakness and take advantage of him.”

Outline:

E2. Bodhisattva Courageous Giving.
F1. Request.


Commentary:

So the Bodhisattvas are competing to give their mantras! At that time Courageous Giving Bodhisattva did not want Medicine King Bodhisattva to get all the merit, so he said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I too shall speak a dharani to protect those who read, recite, receive and uphold the Dharma Flower Sutra. If this Dharma Master gains this dharani I am about to speak, no yaksha, speedy ghost; or rakshasa, essence-eating ghost will be able to harm him.”

Within people's hearts there are seven drops of water that are like sweet dew. If a ghost, such as the rakshasa eats one drop, you will have a headache for three days. These seven drops of sweet water are the very best of vitamins. If you possess them in full, you will not need to sleep. You will never feel tired no matter how hard you work. If a ghost eats three of your seven drops, you will become unconscious for about a week. If all seven drops get eaten, you will definitely die; there is no politeness about it. However, if you recite the Dharma Flower Sutra, the ghosts cannot get even a single drop. It will protect you from trouble with ghosts.

A putana is a “stinking hungry” ghost. They are very hungry, and they have a terrible stench. If a person even smells this stench, he will get sick. Kritya means "what is done." This is a kind of ghost that possesses dead bodies so the corpses can get up and walk around again. There are adherents to external ways who cultivate certain dharmas and get corpses to get up and walk around. They will walk as far as you tell them to. If someone dies far away from home and there is no way to send the body home, people may use this method to get the corpse to walk home! The corpse looks perfectly normal during the day, walking along the road. At night, they recite the mantra and it lies down again. During the day they get it to walk. This kind of feat is accomplished with the help of the kritya ghost.

Things depend upon people's attachments, too. For example, let's say you see a dark shadow at night and you think, "It is a ghost." Then when you get up closer, you see that it is a person. "Hah! It is a real person, not a false ghost!" you think. Actually, the person is also a false combination of the four elements and is not real either. But you are attached to it being real.

A kumbhanda is called "winter melon ghost" or "barrel-shaped ghost." It is also called “the nightmare ghost.” If you are sleeping at night, and the ghost sees that you are deep in sleep, snoring away, with total yin energy and no yang energy, it will jump on you! Then you will feel as if you are being smothered. You would not be able to move or get up. With your eyes wide open, you would not have any mantra to say, no dharani! If this goes on for too long, you can be smothered to death. If your yang energy rises again and light comes forth, the ghost will run off. The light returns because you have not completely been involved in evil deeds. You still have a bit of yang light to scare the ghost away. If you are as bad as the ghost, and are completely yin, it can smother you. Then you will join its ghostly retinue and go to work for the ghost, doing whatever it tells you to. If you do not do what it says, it will punish you. It may hit you, recite a spell to give you a headache, or paralyze you. In general, it will control you.

Or hungry ghost. The hungry ghost referred to here is the ordinary hungry ghost, not the stinking ones. With the aid of the dharani, these ghosts will not be able to seek out his weakness and take advantage of him. They will not have a chance to work their evil deeds and push this person around.

Sutra:

Then, in the presence of the Buddha, he spoke this mantra:

“Cuo li. Mo he cuo li. Yu zhi. Mu zhi. E li. E luo po di. Nie li di. Nie li duo po di. Yi zhi ni. Wei zhi ni. Zhi zhi ni. Nie li chi ni. Nie li chi po di.”

“World Honored One, this dharani, this spiritual mantra, has been spoken by Buddhas equal in number to the grains of sand in the Ganges River, all of whom rejoice in accord. If anyone harms this Dharma Master, he will thereby have harmed these Buddhas.”

Outline:

F2. Speaking the mantra.
F3. Praise.


Commentary:

World Honored One, this dharani, this spiritual mantra, has been spoken by Buddhas equal in number to the grains of sand in the Ganges River, all of whom rejoice in accord. The Buddhas will rejoice in accord with those who recite this mantra. If anyone—a heavenly demon, an externalist or any other improper ghost or spirit—harms this Dharma Master who receives, upholds, reads, recites, writes out, or explains the Dharma Flower Sutra, he will thereby have harmed these Buddhas.

Sutra:

At that time the Heavenly King and World-Protector Vaishravana said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I, too, out of compassion for living beings and in order to protect the Dharma Masters, shall speak this dharani.”

Outline:

E3. Vaishravana
F1. Request.


Commentary:


The Heavenly King Vaishravana, "Much Learning" who was from the north, had just seen Medicine King Bodhisattva and the Bodhisattva Courageous Giving speak their mantras. Then he thought, "I am one of the Four Heavenly Kings. I cannot fall behind the Bodhisattvas. I should speak a mantra, too."

At that time the Heavenly King and World-Protector Vaishravana said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I, too, out of compassion for living beings and in order to protect the Dharma Masters, shall speak this dharani for the five kinds of Dharma Masters, those who receive and hold, read, recite, explain and write out the Dharma Flower Sutra.”

Sutra:

He then spoke this mantra:

“E li. Nuo li. Nou nuo li. E nuo lu. Nuo li. Ju nuo li.”

“World Honored One, by means of this spiritual mantra, I protect the Dharma Masters. I shall also personally protect the holders of this Sutra within an area of one hundred yojanas so that no harm or misfortune comes to them.”

Outline:

F2. Speaking the mantra.
F3. Praise.


Commentary:

“World Honored One, by means of this spiritual mantra, I protect the Dharma Masters. I shall also personally protect the holders of this Sutra acting as their Dharma Protector, within an area of one hundred yojanas so that no harm or misfortune comes to them, so that nothing unlucky happens.”

Sutra:

At that time the Heavenly King “Holder of the Country” was present in the assembly and reverently surrounded by a host of a thousand myriads kotis of nayutas of gandharvas. He went before the Buddha, placed his palms together and spoke to the Buddha saying, “World Honored One, I too shall protect the upholders of the Dharma Flower Sutra with a dharani, a spiritual mantra.”

Outline:

E4. The King Holder of the Country.
F1. Request.


Commentary:

At that time the Heavenly King “Holder of the Country” was present in the assembly and reverently surrounded by a host of a thousand myriads kotis of nayutas of gandharvas—music spirits. He went before the Buddha, placed his palms together and spoke to the Buddha saying, “World Honored One, I too shall protect the upholders of the Dharma Flower Sutra with a dharani, a spiritual mantra.”

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