THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Chapters: 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6 * 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * 11 * 12 * 13 * 14 * 15 * 16 * 17 * 18 * 19 * 20

The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra

Chapter 5: Medicinal Herbs
With Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

This, the Fifth Chapter of The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, uses the herbs as an analogy. Medicinal Herbs can cure sickness, but they have to be administered properly. If they are administered incorrectly, not only will they fail to cure the sick they will make it worse.

Sutra:

At that time, the World Honored One told Mahakashyapa and all the great disciples, “Good indeed! Good indeed! Kasyapa has well spoken of the Thus Come One’s real and true merit and virtue. It is just as he said.”

Outline:

F3. Thus Come One’s narration.
G1. General narration.
H1. Doubly praising Kashyapa “Good indeed! Good indeed!


Commentary:

At that time, right after Mahakashyapa had praised the Buddhadharma in verse, the World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, told Mahakashyapa and all the great disciples, assembled there, Good indeed! Good indeed! You are really good, really good. Kasyapa has well spoken of the Thus Come One’s real and true merit and virtue. It is just as he said. You have spoken very correctly.” However…

Sutra:

Furthermore, the Thus Come One has limitless, boundless asamkheyas of merit and virtue. If you were to speak of it throughout limitless millions of eons, you could not finish.

Outline:

H2. Inability to speak fully of the Buddha’s virtues.


Commentary:

Furthermore, the Thus Come One has limitless, uncountable, boundless asamkheyas, an uncountable number of merit and virtue. The merit and virtue he has cultivated and practiced. If you were to speak of it throughout limitless millions of eons, you could not finish. If you spoke all day long, day after day, throughout an unreckonable amount of time, you still could not finish.

Sutra:

Kashyapa, you should know that the Thus Come One is the king of all the dharmas. Nothing that he teaches is false. He extensively proclaims all dharmas by means of wisdom and expedients, and whatever dharmas he speaks all lead to the ground of all wisdom.

Outline:

G2. Expanded narration.
H1. Prose.
I1. Showing the inconceivability of Provisional and Real.
J1. Speaking Dharma.
K1. Showing Provisional and Real Wisdom as inconceivable.


Commentary:

Kashyapa, you should know that the Thus Come One is the king of all the dharmas. All Dharmas are born from the Buddha. Nothing that he teaches is false. Everything he says is true. He extensively proclaims all dharmas by means of wisdom and expedients. In his teaching he includes the dharmas of all Three Vehicles. Wisely he employs clever expedients to proclaim all the dharmas. And whatever dharmas he speaks all lead to the ground of all-wisdom. The Dharmas the Thus Come One teaches, lead to the other shore of wisdom. All-wisdom is one of the three types of wisdom the Thus Come One possesses: the wisdom of All Modes, the wisdom of the Way, and all-wisdom.

Sutra:

The Thus Come One contemplates and knows the tendencies of all dharmas. He also knows the depths of the mental processes of all living beings, having penetrated them without obstruction. Furthermore, he has ultimate and clear understanding of all dharmas, and he instructs living beings in all-wisdom.

Outline:

K2 . Showing Provisional and Real Wisdom as inconceivable.

Commentary:

The Thus Come One, the Buddha, has Three Bodies and Four Wisdom, Five Eyes and Six Spiritual Penetrations.

The Three Bodies are: the Dharma Body, the Reward Body, and the Transformation Body. The Four Wisdom are: the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom, the Equality Nature Wisdom, the Wonderful Observing Wisdom, and the Perfecting Wisdom.

The Five Eyes are: the Buddha Eye, the Dharma Eye, the Heavenly Eye, the Wisdom Eye, and the Flesh Eye.

The Six Spiritual Penetrations are: the Penetration of the Heavenly Eye, the Penetration of the Heavenly Ear, the Penetration of Other’s Thoughts, the Penetration of the Knowledge of Past Lives, the Penetration of the Extinction of Outflows, and the Penetration of the Complete Spirit. With such wisdom, he contemplates and knows all dharmas. There are 84,000 dharmas. If one were to list them all separately, it would take way too much time, so the text simply says the tendencies of all dharmas. And just where do all dharmas tend? All dharmas are not apart from the minds of living beings. All dharmas arise manifested only through the mind. All dharmas manifest through the mind, and they return, they “tend”--towards the mind as well.

He also knows the depths of the mental processes of all living beings. Every thought they have, the Buddha knows. That is why The Vajra Sutra says, “The Thus Come One knows the thoughts in the minds of all living beings.” Having penetrated them without obstruction. He understands what living beings are thinking, totally. Furthermore, he has ultimate and clear understanding of all dharmas. He has fathomed all dharmas completely; he completely understands them, and so he instructs living beings in all-wisdom. He leads all living beings to attain all-wisdom.

Sutra:

Kashyapa, consider the world of the three thousand great thousand worlds and the grasses, trees, forests, as well as the medicinal herbs, in their many varieties, with their different names and colors which the mountains, streams, valleys and flatlands produce.

Outline:

J2. Setting up analogy.
K1. Analogy of just the Real is the Provisional -- not different yet different.

L1. Showing that which can produce and that which is produced, although not different, are different.

Commentary:

Kashyapa, I shall now speak to you a parable: consider the world of the three thousand great thousand worlds. One world consists of:

one sun
one moon
one Mount Sumeru
one set of Four Continents

One thousand of these worlds make up a “small world system”. One thousand small world systems make up a “middle-sized world system”. One thousand middle-sized world systems make up a “great thousand world system”. Because the word “thousand” is used three times, it is called “the world of three thousand great thousand worlds”.

And the grasses, trees, forests, as well as the medicinal herbs, in their many varieties. There are many varieties of plants and trees and herbs. With their different names and colors which the mountains; the mountains represent the great Bodhisattvas; streams, valleys and flatlands produce.

Sutra:

A thick cloud spreads out, covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, raining on them equally everywhere at the same time, its moisture reaching every part. The grasses, trees, forests and medicinal herbs - those of small roots, small stalks, small branches and small leaves, those of medium-sized roots, medium-sized stalks, medium-sized branches, medium-sized leaves or those of large roots, large stalks, large branches, and large leaves and also all the trees, whether great or small according to their size, small, medium, or large, all receive a portion of it. From the rain of the one cloud each according to its nature grows, blossoms, and bears fruit.

Outline:

L2. That which is moistened and that which moistens, although not different, are different.

Commentary:

A thick cloud spreads out, a large, dense cloud spreads out, covering the three thousand great thousand worlds, raining on them equally everywhere at the same time, its moisture reaching every part. It does not make discriminations. The grasses, trees, forests and medicinal herbs - those of small roots, small stalks, small branches and small leaves. This represents those of the Small Vehicle. Those of medium-sized roots, medium-sized stalks, medium-sized branches, medium-sized leaves, those of the Middle Vehicle, those of large roots, large stalks, large branches, and large leaves, those of the Great Vehicle.

And also all the trees, whether great or small according to their size, small, medium, or large, all receive a portion of it. From the rain of the one cloud each according to its nature grows, blossoms, and bears fruit. The smaller ones receive a smaller amount. The middle-sized ones get a medium amount, and the large ones get a lot of rain.

Sutra:

Although they grow from the same ground and are moistened by the same rain, still, all the grasses and trees are different.

Outline:

K2 . Analogy of just the Provisional is the Real--different and yet not different.


Commentary:

Although they grow from the same ground and are moistened by the same rain. The Buddha speaks one Dharma, but according to their dispositions, beings absorb what they can of it. Still, all the grasses and trees are different. The One Vehicle is proclaimed with a single sound, and as the teachings of the Five Vehicles, is received according to the good roots of beings.

Sutra:

Kashyapa, you should know that the Thus Come One is also like this. He manifests in the world like a great cloud rising; with his great sound he covers the world with its gods, humans, and asuras, just like that great cloud covers the three thousand great thousand lands. In the midst of the great assembly he announces, “I am the Thus Come One, one worthy of offerings, one of proper and universal knowledge, one whose understanding and conduct are complete, well gone one who understands the world, an unsurpassed lord, a taming and regulating hero, teacher of gods and humans, the Buddha, the World Honored One. Those who have not yet been crossed over, I cross over. Those who have not yet been liberated, I liberate. Those who have not yet been put at rest, I put at rest. Those who have not yet attained Nirvana, I cause to attain Nirvana. I know things as they really are, both in the present and in the future. I am the all-knowing one, the all-seeing one, the one who knows the Way, the one who opens the Way, the one who proclaims the Way. The entire assembly of gods, humans and asuras, all should come here to listen to the Dharma.”


Outline:

J3. Correlation with Dharma.
K1. Correlation of not different and yet different.
L1. Correlation proper.
M1. First correlating “that which moistens”.


Commentary:

Kashyapa, you should know that the Thus Come One, the World Honored One, is also like this. He manifests in the world like a great cloud rising; for the sake of One Matter he manifests in the world to teach and transform living beings. With his great sound he covers the world with its gods, humans, and asuras, just like that great cloud covers the three thousand great thousand lands. “Asura” is a Sanskrit word. It means “no wine”, or “ugly”. That is because asuras have the blessings of the heavens, but not the virtue, and they like to fight. Thieves, for example, are asuras in the three good paths, as well as asuras in the three evil paths, depending on whether they do good or evil. In the midst of the great assembly he announces, “I am the Thus Come One”. Someone here is thinking, “Ah hah! The Buddha must have a concept of a ‘self’. He is saying ‘I am the Thus Come One.’” If you really understand, the Thus Come One has no concept of self at all. The Buddha has mounted the Way which is thus and comes to realize right enlightenment.

I will now give you an example. You are all here listening to the Sutra being explained. The more intelligent of you, you remember more. Those of average intelligence, remember less than the smart ones, and the duller ones remember even less. The rain of Dharma of the Thus Come One falls in the same way. Those with greater wisdom get more moisture. Those with average wisdom get average moisture. Those with little wisdom get less moisture. Everyone is listening to the same Sutra, but everyone understands the doctrine on his or her level of understanding. It is different for everyone.

“But you are explaining so many things here--forests and trees and grasses and clouds--I do not understand one bit of this!”

If you know that you do not understand, that means that you must understand some of it! If you really did not understand, you would not even know that you did not understand. If you know that you do not understand, you are on your way to understanding. Why don’t you understand it? Because you have never heard of it before. You have not heard the Dharma before, so it is quite natural that you do not understand it the very first time you hear it. Still, if you know that you do not understand “one bit,” then that is the “one bit” you do understand! Today you understand one tiny bit, tomorrow you will understand two parts, and the next day, three parts and so on. Day by day your understanding will grow. Besides, I have lectured to you for so long, if you do not understand one bit, you are quite extraordinary in your own way! Tomorrow you will only understand half a bit and the day after nothing at all.

One worthy of offerings, one of proper and universal knowledge. To understand that the ten thousand dharmas are only the mind is called “proper knowledge.” To understand that mind gives rise to the ten thousand dharmas is called “universal knowledge.” Proper and universal knowledge is just understanding the mind. One whose understanding and conduct are complete. Through cultivation he attains the perfect fruition—Buddhahood. Well gone one who understands the world. “Well gone” means that he has gone to a good place. An unsurpassed lord. There is no one higher than him. A taming and regulating hero. He tames, guides, and controls living beings. Teacher of gods and humans, the Buddha, the World Honored One. The Buddha dares to say these things of himself. Those who have not yet been crossed over, I cross over. That is, those who have not yet understood the Buddhadharma, I lead to an understanding of it. I take them from the place where there is right and wrong to the place beyond right and wrong. I take them from the place where there is good and evil to the place beyond good and evil. I take them from the place where there is birth and death to the place where there is no birth and death. I take them across.

Those who have not yet been liberated, I liberate. I set them free. I bring them to understanding. Those who have not yet been put at rest, I put at rest. He makes those living beings who have never known happiness, happy. Those who have not yet attained Nirvana, I cause to attain Nirvana. Those who have not attained the fruition of Nirvana, with its four virtues: permanence, bliss, true self, and purity; I cause them to attain it, to attain the bliss of still extinction.

I know things as they really are, both in the present and in the future. I am the all-knowing one. The Buddha says this, and in his case it is true. He was not like the person who once claimed to know everything. I asked him, “If you know everything, then how many grains of rice did you eat for lunch today?”

“I do not know!” he answered.

If you asked the Buddha, he would know.

The all-seeing one, the one who knows the Way. He knows the Way to cultivate. The one who opens the Way. A pioneer among cultivators. The one who proclaims the Way. The entire assembly of gods, humans and asuras, all should come here to listen to the Dharma. Listen to the lectures on the Dharma! So, as you sit here in the lecture hall, you may not see a lot of people. But there are very many gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division present. If you opened your Five Eyes and had the Six Spiritual Penetrations you would know: “The Lecture Hall is packed! It is standing room only! I cannot even find a place to stand, for heaven’s sake!” It is probably better you cannot see. If you could, you would not even have room to walk around.

Sutra:

Then, countless thousands of myriads of millions of kinds of living beings came before the Buddha to hear the Dharma.

Outline:

M2. Correlating that which is produced with that which produces.


Commentary:

Then, countless thousands of myriads of millions of kinds. There are many different kinds of living beings. They all came before the Buddha, to the Dharma Flower Assembly to hear the Dharma, in order to hear The Dharma Flower Sutra.

Sutra:

Then, the Thus Come One, contemplating the sharpness and dullness of the faculties of these living beings, their vigor or laxness, according to their capacity, spoke the Dharma for their sakes.

Outline:

M3. Further correlating that which moistens to that which is moistened.
N1. That which moistens.


Commentary:

Then, the Thus Come One, contemplating in detail, the sharpness and dullness of the faculties of these living beings. “Faculties” also means “roots.” There are many different living beings. Some have sharp faculties, while others have dull faculties. Some are smart, and some are stupid. Their vigor or laxness. Vigorous ones go forward and make progress. Lax ones are lazy. According to their capacity, spoke the Dharma for their sakes . To the vigorous ones he spoke of vigor. To the lax ones he spoke of laxness to cure them of their laziness and encourage them to work harder. He spoke to each one just that dharma which they would be able to receive according to their individual capacities. If they were not able to accept it, then the Buddha would not speak it. That is why, at first, the Buddha did not teach the Real Dharma. He taught the Provisional Dharma instead.

Sutra:

In limitless varieties, causing them all to rejoice and quickly attain good benefit. After having heard this Dharma, all of these living beings presently are at ease; in the future, they will be born in a good place. By means of the Way, they will enjoy happiness and also be able to hear the Dharma. Having heard the Dharma, they will separate from all coverings and obstructions. Within all the dharmas, according to their powers, they will gradually gain entry to the Way.

Outline:

N2. That which is moistened.


Commentary:

In limitless varieties, the Buddha speaks all manner of dharmas, causing them all to rejoice ---to be happy. The Buddha spoke the Dharma to make living beings happy. He spoke whatever Dharma they would respond to happily. Once they were happy and interested, he gradually sent them down the Path to Buddhahood. And quickly attain good benefit. After having heard this Dharma, all of these living beings presently are at ease; in the future, they will be born in a good place. In the present they are tranquil and at ease. In the future they may be born in the heavens or among wealthy humans.

By means of the Way, they will enjoy happiness. By cultivating the Way, they will become very happy. And also be able to hear the Dharma. Having heard the Dharma, they will separate from all coverings and obstructions. If you wish to separate from obstacles, you must hear the Dharma. If you do not hear the Dharma, you would not be able to understand true principle, and you would not be able to leave your obstructions. Within all the dharmas, according to their powers, they will gradually gain entry to the Way. It happens very naturally, according to their abilities. They gradually enter the Path of cultivation, gradually gain enlightenment, gradually become Buddhas, and gradually end birth and death.

Sutra:

Just as that great cloud rains down on all the grasses, trees, forests, and medicinal herbs and each, according to its nature, fully receives the moisture and grows.

Outline:

L2. Bringing up the analogy again.


Commentary:

Just as that great cloud rains down on all the grasses, trees, forests, and medicinal herbs. The various types of vegetation represent the various kinds living beings. There are Bodhisattvas, Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas, gods, people, hell-beings, hungry ghosts, and animals. And each, according to its nature. Each living being accepts that dharma which they can accept, and each grows accordingly. Fully receives the moisture and grows. The larger ones get more; the smaller ones get less. Those who are wise get more wisdom; those with little wisdom, get less. But, whether they get more or less they all get some and they all grow.

Sutra:

…so, too, the Thus Come One speaks of a Dharma having one mark and one taste, that is to say: the mark of liberation, the mark of separation, the mark of extinction, culminating in the Wisdom of All Modes.

Outline:

K2 . Correlating the different and yet not different.
L1. Correlating Proper.
M1. Correlating “Grown from same ground and moistened by same rain”.


Commentary:

So, too, the Thus Come One speaks of a Dharma having one mark. What is the one mark? It is the mark of True Suchness of the essential nature of the minds of living beings. The mark of True Suchness is like a piece of ground, and one taste. The one flavor is the Buddhadharma of the One Vehicle and the certification to the principles of the One Vehicle. This single flavor refers to the single word of each ground.

That is to say: the mark of liberation. Those living beings who have not planted good roots are led to plant them. Those who have planted them, nurture them so they can grow. Those who have well-grown good roots find them brought to maturity. And those whose good roots have matured are led to liberation.

The mark of separation refers to leaving suffering and distress. The mark of extinction, the wiping out of all afflictions; culminating in the Wisdom of All Modes, the wisdom of the Buddha. The Buddha speaks Dharma with the hope that all living beings will one day attain the Buddha-Wisdom.

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