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The Wondrous Adornments of the Rulers of the Worlds

Chapter One, Part Three



Moreover, Direction-ruling Spirit Pervasively Dwelling Everywhere gained a passage into liberation of universally being able to rescue and protect beings.


Moreover indicates that the earlier discussion was not completed and is being developed further. This is the beginning of the section on the Direction-ruling Spirits, the third section on Spirits in the Assembly. Before this, we had the Day-ruling Spirits and the Night-ruling Spirits, and now we’re discussing the Direction-ruling Spirits. The Direction-ruling Spirit discussed here is named Pervasively Dwelling Everywhere. “Pervasively” means extending universally, and “dwelling everywhere” means residing in all directions.

The directions, or points of the compass, refer to the ten directions. Any places where sentient beings of the ten directions dwell are also places where this Direction-ruling Spirit dwells. As to directions, there are the four directions, the eight directions, and the ten directions, in addition to one direction. If the text didn’t specify “pervasively” and “everywhere,” we couldn’t explain this as the ten directions, but just as a single direction.

However, since the words “pervasively” and “everywhere” do occur in her name, all worlds throughout the ten directions are places where this Direction-ruling Spirit resides. Why does she dwell there? Is it because she wants people to light incense, make offerings to her, bow to her and worship her? Not at all. She has gained a passage into liberation of universally being able to rescue and protect beings. Was it she herself who obtained the ability to rescue and protect universally? No. Rather, the Buddha’s spiritual power helped her so she could understand this passage into liberation and achieve this state. This type of passage into liberation, this state, is just a fraction, just one dharma door among the Buddha’s limitless dharma doors.

This power to rescue and protect on a universal scale is all-pervasive, not selective or discriminatory. There is no policy involved that says, “If a particular sentient being makes an offering to me, lights some incense for me, offers me some flowers, or bows to me a few times, then I will rescue and protect him.” It doesn’t work that way, but rather extends to all universally. Regardless of whether you worship and make offerings to her or not, if disasters occur, she will rescue and protect you from them. Well then, since this Direction-ruling Spirit rescues and protects you when disasters occur, does she rescue and protect you when no disasters occur, or not? When no disasters occur, she is preventing disasters from occurring. Before disaster hits, she makes it so the disaster does not strike. She saves people from imminent calamities as well as potential future disasters. She saves beings both before and after calamities have struck. She can rescue and protect beings from both impending and ongoing disasters.

That is called the ability to universally rescue and protect beings. If she attained the power to rescue and protect beings but failed to apply it, it would be of no use. Therefore, having acquired that power, she uses that power to rescue and protect all sentient beings, dispelling calamities and bringing good luck. That’s why this is called the power of universal rescue and protection. She affords identical rescue and safeguarding to both good and bad. She doesn’t discriminate or exclude, and so she is said to gain the passage into liberation of such power to rescue and protect universally. Having gained this passage into liberation, she talks about it in the hope that all sentient beings will gain the same passage into liberation. Direction-ruling Spirit Pervasively Dwelling Everywhere attained this state and proclaims how this state is one aspect of the state of the Buddha.


Direction-ruling Spirit Universally Displaying Brilliance gained a passage into liberation of transforming all sentient beings and helping them to achieve their karma of spiritual penetrations.


Direction-ruling Spirit Universally Displaying Brilliance radiates light not just in one direction, but everywhere throughout the ten directions, hence her name. When the sentient beings of the ten directions see her light, they can achieve whatever they want. This spirit can achieve wholesome karma, pure karma, and the karma of spiritual penetrations, and she can lead sentient beings to achieve wholesome karma, karma of spiritual penetrations, and pure karma as well. Sentient beings achieve wholesome karma when they bring forth wholesome attitudes, create merit and virtue from the ten wholesome deeds, and maintain the Five Precepts.

Sentient beings realize the karma of spiritual penetrations by leaving delusion far behind and acquiring the wisdom of spiritual penetrations. Sentient beings accomplish pure karma by “emptying” defiled karma. That is why the text says that she gained a passage into liberation of transforming all sentient beings and helping them to achieve their karma of spiritual penetrations. All sentient beings, having been taught and transformed by this spirit, attain the karma of spiritual penetrations. The karma of spiritual penetration aids cultivation of the fruition of the Way, which is bodhi.

When bodhi is attained, one has already accomplished what needed to be done. One has already brought the great matter to an end, and one no longer needs to undergo rebirth. That is, one has taken care of the things that had to be taken care of, so that all matters are concluded, and one undergoes no further existences. One will not have any more rebirths revolving on the wheel of the six paths. One achieves the perfect Fruition of Enlightenment, which neither comes into being nor ceases to be, is neither defiled nor pure, and neither increases nor diminishes. This spirit attained such a state and entered such a passage into liberation. This passage into liberation is one dharma door among the Buddha’s eighty-four thousand dharma doors, and any of you who wish to cultivate this passage into liberation and bring it to realization.


Direction-ruling Spirit Adorned with Luminous Practices gained a passage into liberation of emitting a great light that demolishes all obstacles of darkness and brings forth bliss.

Commentary: The next Direction-ruling Spirit is named Adorned with Luminous Practices. She too shines brilliantly. “Adorned with Luminous Practices” refers to how she uses radiant conduct as an adornment to ornament all Buddhas’ lands. That is why she is called “Direction-ruling Spirit Adorned with Luminous Practice.” For the most part, Direction-ruling Spirits like to emit light. That’s because they wish any place they are in to be bright. Then what is this Direction-ruling Spirit’s outstanding trait? She gained a passage into liberation of emitting a great light that demolishes all obstacles of darkness, dispelling all gloomy hindrances. Is it she who dispels them? The Buddha’s awesome spiritual might enables him to break through and disperse every blockage of darkness. The gloomy obstacles include ignorance and affliction--greed, anger, and delusion. Those are all gloomy obstacles of darkness, but he can dispel them. He demolishes sentient beings’ greed, anger, and delusion and makes them bring forth precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. Breaking through greed, anger, and delusion is demolishing affliction; and bringing forth precepts, samadhi, and wisdom brings forth bliss.

If you have precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, then you will naturally be happy. You obtain the bliss of dhyana. But if you lack precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, any happiness that arises will not be true bliss. If you do have precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, then the happiness that comes forth is true joy and bliss. When you achieve genuine bliss, great wisdom comes forth. From precepts, samadhi arises; and from samadhi, wisdom is born. When you cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom to completion, you obtain great light. Therefore this is called the passage into liberation of great light. When you attain great light and have true wisdom, then you will naturally achieve liberation. Why is it that we do not obtain liberation? It’s because we lack true wisdom. But now as the present Direction-ruling Spirit describes this state of the Buddha, we should cultivate according to the Dharma and also obtain the passage into liberation of great light that demolishes all obstacles of darkness and brings forth bliss.

The time has come to fault find, and for everyone to offer opinions. How many mistakes were made during today’s lecture, and how many places were lectured correctly? Bring them up, and we will look into them as a group. No matter how much or how little we lecture, we need to truly understand it for it to count. If there is something people haven’t understood, we won’t hesitate to re-lecture it. Now everyone has the right to speak, to criticize, and to discuss the issues. We absolutely must bring out the meaning of the sutra, so we will not have wasted our time sitting here so long.

Disciple: There are many kinds of sentient beings. For example, people are sentient beings, and so are gods. There’s one category that is spirits. What did they do to become spirits?

Venerable Master: What did they do to become spirits? What did you do to become an American? Tell me that. What did I do to become Chinese? Tell me that. Let’s say you’re a spirit and I’m a sentient being—what about that? Or maybe I’m a spirit and you’re a sentient being. Don’t apply effort here. How do you become a spirit? “To be wise and upright is to be spiritual.” If you are keen-witted, upright, and straightforward in your speech, then you are spiritual. The spiritual is not something strange or mysterious. As to heavenly spirits, they are in the heavens, aren’t they? What do they, in the heavens, have to do with us on earth? Let the heavenly spirits go their own celestial way. We’re talking about people, about those sentient beings.

To tell you more, “Ghosts comply with yin, while spirits comply with yang.” If you have light, then you are spiritual; but if you have darkness, you are ghostly. How does one become a spirit? It’s from having prajña wisdom. If you have the light of prajña, you are spiritual. You don’t need to search for this outwardly—if you yourself have wisdom, then you are spiritual. But if you yourself are deluded, then you are ghostly—you’re a sentient being, a deluded sentient being. If you are controlled by greed, anger, and delusion, then you are a deluded, ghostly sentient being.

But if you are governed by precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, then you are a wise and spiritual sentient being. Don’t look for this anywhere else. The spirits I have been discussing are the spirits, which are you, me, and other people. However, the Direction-ruling Spirits are not identical with us. Rather, they are Bodhisattvas, Great Knights of the Dharma-body from the past, who appear as Direction-ruling Spirits to teach and transform sentient beings. Fundamentally, they are sentient beings, so why do you ask how sentient beings become spirits? How do sentient beings become Buddhas? Tell me, how does a sentient being become a Buddha?

Venerable Master: There are numerous types of spirits, not just one kind. I don’t know which kind of spirit you were asking about. There are mountain spirits, water spirits, earth spirits, ground spirits, plant and tree spirits, medicinal herb spirits, tree and forest spirits—spirits of water, fire, wind and earth; spirits of the heavens and spirits of the earth. There are so many different types of spirits. You cannot lump them all together into a “spirit” category- not all of them are alike. On the other hand, spirits of the same type can be put into categories. The spirit discussed by Lao Zi is the nurtured spirit; whereas when the Confucian School speaks of spirits, it means heavenly spirits. Lao Zi said, “ The nurtured spirit which does not die is called the mysteriously profound. The gateway of the mysteriously profound is the root of heaven and earth.” What would you say that is talking about? It’s the root of heaven and earth.

The Confucian School says, “Completeness is beauty.” That is to be a beautiful person. “Completeness which has radiance is greatness.” That’s to be a great person. “Greatness which can transform is sagacity.” That’s what it means to be a Sage. “Sagacity which cannot be known is the spiritual.” That’s what makes for a spiritual person. What would you say that was? There are too many distinctions to this, just as there are too many distinctions among sentient beings.

Do you really want to know how each spirit became a spirit? Don’t pay attention to them. Just work hard at your cultivation and become a Buddha, and then you will know and understand everything. Then you will have proper and pervasive knowledge, not deviant and partial knowledge. Your knowledge will extend for limitlessly many eons into the past and for limitlessly many eons into the future. You will know about everything, not just spirits. So why should you now look for something to do when there is nothing to do? You want to know about spirits: do you want to become a spirit?

“Completeness which has radiance” means one has radiant light. “Completeness which has radiance is greatness.” “Greatness which can transform,” which has changes and transformations, “is sagacity.” That is what makes one a Sage. A Sage is great to the utmost and is also capable of changes and transformations. He is also not great, not big. It’s not that once he is great to the utmost, he becomes arrogant and says, “Look at how high I am! See how much greater my wisdom is than yours! Look at how much more Chinese I understand than you do! See how much better I translate than any of you!” That’s arrogance. Sages can also perform transformations.

From being great they can change and become small. Therefore, the Buddha is neither big nor little. Sages can go from being big to being small, and from being small can become large—without any conceit. They can change from large to small, and from tiny to great. That’s what “Greatness which can transform is sagacity” means. If one has greatness that can change into greatness, one is a Sage, according to Confucius. “Sagacity which cannot be known,” or you could say what is beyond the knowledge of Sages, what they cannot bring about by their transformations, namely the inconceivable, is called the spiritual.


Direction-ruling Spirit Traveling Freely Everywhere gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting everywhere without the effort being in vain.

Commentary: Today we will find someone to lecture for me. If you lecture correctly, then you get the credit. But if you speak incorrectly, then I’ll take responsibility. See who among you will speak. You should volunteer yourselves, and not have to be called on. There are two kinds of people who can speak. One kind is those who follow the teaching, and the other kind is those who do not follow the teaching. Those of you who can follow the teaching may speak, and those capable of not following the teaching are even more welcome to speak. Those are the two sorts of people. People who do not follow the teaching should stand with those who do. But people who do follow the teaching should not stand with those who do not. You need to be clear about where you stand. However, whether people follow the teaching or not, they are all my good advisors. I’m a teacher who is utterly unafraid of being opposed. Anyone who opposes what I say is very good. What about someone who doesn’t oppose me? That’s also not bad. The two kinds are “six of one and half a dozen of the other.” Don’t let the time pass in vain. It’s best if you don’t wait for your name to be called.

Bhikshuni Heng Hsien: I’m neither someone who does follow the teaching, nor someone who doesn’t. Why is that? I would like to follow the teaching, but my body, mouth, and mind don’t help me do so. Tonight’s passage of Sutra text talks about the Direction-ruling Spirit named Traveling Freely Everywhere. “Traveling everywhere” indicates that this spirit goes throughout the Dharma Realm, to the utmost reaches of space and everywhere in the Dharma Realm. She does this “freely,” without encountering any hindrances. She appears before beings everywhere in the world. What is the name of the passage into liberation that this Direction-ruling Spirit gained? She gained a passage into liberation of universally manifesting in all places without the effort being in vain. This spirit understood the Buddha’s state, and how the Buddha appears before every single sentient being in each and every location throughout the Dharma realm. But the Buddha does that effortlessly. If we want to go somewhere, it’s a lot of trouble, not easy at all. However, it’s very easy for the Buddha. This spirit understood that state of the Buddha and entered this type of passage into liberation.


Direction-ruling Spirit Forever Severing Delusions gained a passage into liberation of revealing as many epithets as there are sentient beings, giving rise to meritorious virtues.


The next Direction-ruling Spirit is named Forever Severing Delusions. When something is severed, it is definitely gone; it is cut off and will never exist again. Here , what is severed forever is confusion and delusion. Confusion means failure to understand, lack of knowing. Delusions are misperceptions, for instance mistaking wrong for right and right for wrong; or thinking that white is black and black is white. When one is deluded, one does not recognize things clearly. One does not have a true perception of the principle involved. Furthermore, one mistakes specifics for principle and principle for specifics. One cannot distinguish clearly between specifics and principle, right and wrong, or black and white--even to the point that one cannot clearly tell the difference between oneself and someone else or other people. What is the reason for this inability to discern clearly? It’s because one lacks true prajña wisdom, and so gives rise to fox-like doubts.

The analogy is that of a fox crossing a river that is frozen over. When the fox treads on the ice, it keeps stopping and listening to hear if the ice will crack, wondering if there was any sound. Sounds of cracking from the ice would indicate that the ice-covering is not solid, and the fox could fall into the river and drown. That’s why it listens. This is a kind of doubt, and foxes are prone to doubts. For that reason the Vajra Sutra says one should sever doubts and bring forth faith. One should cut off delusion and doubt and have a trusting attitude. Stop doubting; be trusting and have genuine prajña wisdom. Forever Severing Delusions is this Direction-ruling Spirit’s name. Whose delusions does she sever? She cuts off delusions on the part of all sentient beings. She can help sentient beings turn back from confusion and return to enlightenment, renounce what is deviant and return to what is proper. She gained a passage into liberation of revealing as many epithets as there are sentient beings, everywhere manifesting titles as numerous as the number of sentient beings.

The Buddha is able to make as many titles appear as there are sentient beings, and thereby have the effect of producing in sentient beings a resolve for the meritorious virtues of bodhi. The Buddha can inspire sentient beings who have not resolved on bodhi to make the bodhi resolve--not just one sentient being, but all. Yet when one makes the resolve for bodhi, it’s not the case that one is simply cultivating today and bringing forth the resolve today. Rather, one already made the resolve for bodhi limitlessly many eons ago, and it is just that the strength of bodhi is coming forth now. Later on one will reap the reward of the fruition and position of bodhi.

Therefore, it’s not that one just believes in the Buddha today and one’s resolve for bodhi only comes forth today. One made that resolve infinitely many eons ago. Someone may say, “No, it’s not that way. I heard a sutra at such and such a time and was inspired to believe in the Buddha.” Your hearing the sutra was a contributing cause for bodhi, but without previous contributing causes for bodhi, you would not have been able to listen to the sutra. Count for yourself: How many beings in the world have never listened to sutras? How many have never seen Buddhas, never heard the Dharma or seen members of the Sangha?

There are infinite numbers of such people. Is it the case that they never made the resolve for bodhi, that they never planted bodhi seeds? They did plant them, but their resolves are like ginseng. Once ginseng sees a person, it will hide in the earth for sixty years before coming out again. So long as it doesn’t see any human being, it comes out every year. But as soon as a person sees it, it will remain hidden for sixty years. Similarly, so long as you do not encounter demons, your bodhi resolve grows daily and at all times. But once you meet a demon, your resolve also hides away--for six hundred years, even longer than ginseng, more that five hundred years longer. “What is the reference for your statement?” you ask. “What Sutra says that?” That’s what it says in “my” sutra. If you recite “my” sutra, that text is there. It may also be in “your” sutra as well. Ah! But your Sutra and mine are very hard to recite!


Direction-ruling Spirit Pervasively Roaming in the Pure Void gained a passage into liberation of constantly producing wondrous sound, bringing joy to all who hear.

Commentary: Thenext Direction-ruling Spirit isnamed Pervasively Roaming in the Pure Void. This particular Direction-ruling Spirit likes to travel everywhere, and so she is called “Pervasively Roaming.” Where does she travel? She voyages in pure, clear emptiness--hence her full title: the Direction-ruling Spirit Pervasively Roaming in the Pure Void. Although her name is “Pervasively Roaming in the Pure Void,” and even though she does not have any fixed direction, nonetheless, within that absence of a fixed direction, she also has a direction. Therefore she is called a Direction-ruling Spirit. This Direction-ruling Spirit pervades all places. The state of the Buddha that she understood was that she gained a passage into liberation of constantly producing wondrous sound, bringing joy to all who hear. “Constantly” refers to the uninterrupted production of wondrous sound, which has no fixed sound. Sentient beings who hear this sound are delighted and happy at heart, and they all understand the sound. When they hear this wonderful sound, they rejoice.

Having spoken to this point, I’ll tell you about some sublime and inconceivable states. For instance, when some Dharma Masters deliver sutra lectures, the Buddhas come and protect their Dharma as they lecture the sutras. For some Dharma Masters, it’s Bodhisattvas who arrive to protect their Dharma as they speak Dharma and lecture on the sutras. In some cases, Arhats--Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions--come to protect the Dharma Master when he pronounces Dharma and delivers sutra lectures. In other cases, gods arrive to protect and support the Dharma Master who speaks Dharma and lectures on sutras. Sometimes it’s asuras who guard and uphold the sutra-lecturing Dharma Master’s speaking of Dharma. In other instances, there are only people protecting and supporting the Way-place and the Dharma Master who gives lectures on sutras and explains the Dharma, whereas some Dharma Masters speak Dharma and explain sutras with the protection and support of ghosts. How can you tell? When you obtain the penetration of the heavenly eye, you will know from which of the ten dharma realms the sages and worthies have come to support the Dharma Master who is lecturing on a sutra.

When some Dharma Masters lecture on Sutras, they cause the Way-place to shine resplendently, illuminating all the sentient beings in that Dharma assembly, as well as sentient beings who are not present, so all of them attain advantages and have their karmic obstacles eradicated. When other Dharma Masters lecture on sutras, at the time when they are speaking Dharma, they also have some light. However, that light is as if obscured by smoke or fog--there is only a small amount. It may be just a trace of white light, yellow light, red light, or purple light. Why is that? It’s because the Dharma Master’s bodhi mind is not great.

A Dharma assembly will have light in direct proportion to the magnitude of the Dharma Master’s mind. If he is small-minded, there will only be a little light; but if the measure of his mind is great, the light will also be great. That’s why it’s said that everything is made from the mind alone. Most Dharma Masters whom I know and whom I have seen are protected by gods when they lecture on Sutras and speak the Dharma. However, in some cases it’s not a god, but rather a kind of bird from the heavens that comes to protect the Dharma Master’s Dharma lecture. When that happens, the Dharma Master has unimpeded eloquence, and the sound of his voice resembles that of a bird. There is too much to say about this. Why do I bring it up? I do so since we are now discussing “constantly producing wondrous sound,”and there are very wonderful sounds made by birds. White cranes, peacocks, parrots and egrets, kalavinkas, and two-headed birds bring forth subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable sounds. The sounds come about because Amitabha Buddha, wishing that the Dharma sound be widely proclaimed, created these birds by transformation.

Now in the Flower Adornment Sutra this Direction-ruling Spirit’s constant production of wonderful sound comes about because Vairochana Buddha, wishing that the Dharma sound be widely proclaimed, made this happen by transformation. That is why it is called the constant production of wondrous sound, bringing joy to all who hear. Who are the listeners? You and I. Do you hear that wonderful sound right now? Do I hear it? Don’t you hear it? If you don’t, then you need to cultivate. When you have cultivated and attain samadhi, then within samadhi you will know that all the Buddhas of the ten directions are constantly producing wondrous sound.


Direction-ruling Spirit Cloud-like Banner of Resonant Sound gained a passage into liberation of bringing rain everywhere like a dragon, delighting sentient beings.


Direction-ruling Spirit Cloud-like Banner of Resonant Sound. Her sound is called a great sound, and it is like the great thundercloud sound. Doesn’t the Earth Store Sutra say: “The great thunder sound, the great thundercloud sound”? This Direction-ruling Spirit has that kind of great sound. However, this sort of great sound is a wonderful great sound of thunderclouds. How can we tell? It’s because the states of the Flower Adornment Sutra are inconceivable, and so this great sound differs somewhat from the great thundercloud sound in the Earth Store Sutra. This is the Direction-ruling Spirit Cloud-like Banner of Resonant Sound. What state of the Buddha did this Direction-ruling Spirit achieve? She gained a passage into liberation of bringing rain everywhere like a dragon.She causes rain to fall everywhere the way a dragon does. Dragons have spiritual penetrations, so they can make the rain of Dharma fall universally, enabling you and me, common and ordinary sentient beings, to be moistened by the Dharma rain and become delighted. Some people at this point are having doubts.

For example, when the text said, “So all their wishes could be completely fulfilled,” A layman wondered, “Then why hasn’t my wish been fulfilled?” I asked him, “What is your wish?” He replied, “I want to become a Buddha.” I answered him, “If you want to become a Buddha, you have to cultivate. If you don’t cultivate, how can you fulfill your wish? It’s like eating food—you have to eat it to get full. If you don’t eat the food, who can make you full?” Now we are lecturing the Flower Adornment Sutra, and this is like a dragon universally sending down rain. Isn’t your being able to hear the great Flower Adornment Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra a case of being moistened by the rain of Dharma?

Isn’t your listening to the sutra, understanding its principles, and becoming delighted in mind just like the dragon’s universal rain? Where else would you go to look for it? It’s right here in front of you, and right now you are obtaining the dragon’s universal rain—but you still don’t recognize it. This happens, “bringing joy to sentient beings.”I’ll give you a very simple example. Do you cry after listening to the sutra? The two little girls who are playing and being naughty here, still cry. Why is that? They cry because they haven’t listened to the sutra and have not obtained the rain of Dharma. Is it really the case that they haven’t obtained it? Actually they have, but they don’t understand yet.

Now all of you know about this principle and after listening to the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra, you have had some experience of being filled with the joy of Dharma. Isn’t that an example of universal rain like that of a dragon, which brings joy to sentient beings? However, it’s still a bit different from this passage into liberation. If you really become filled with the joy of Dharma and enter this passage into liberation, then whenever you do enter it, you will be permeated with the bliss of the Dharma.   When one’s nature is settled, demons are subdued, and every day is happy.

If false thoughts do not arise, any place is peaceful.   If your nature is not settled, then the demons will not be subdued. It’s just that uncanny. Once your nature is settled, the demons are quelled, so “When one’s nature is settled, demons are subdued, and every day is happy.” Also, “If false thoughts do not arise, any place is peaceful.” If you do not give rise to false thoughts, then any location at all is fine, and there are no distinctions among them. Therefore, when people ask me, “Do you like San Francisco ?” I reply, “It’s not bad.” And when they ask, “Do you like Hong Kong ?” I tell them, “It’s also very good. They are the same.” No matter where you go, if you don’t have false thinking, any place will be fine.

Now as we are investigating the Buddhadharma here, we should learn to have the kind of resolve and behavior that the Buddha has, and not indulge in empty talk. Who else has an opinion? Anyone who didn’t think of an opinion at the beginning but who has now thought of one may still speak and not have to miss the chance. [More opinions are expressed.] The principles that you all expressed just now are part of the principles in the sutra, and all could be said to be correct. Why is that?

All the principles are right from the point of view of each person’s wisdom, outlook, and understanding. Lecturing on the sutras is the same. Each person has his or her own outlook and innate wisdom from which the principles stem. However, the principles of this sutra are such that each word, each sentence, and each paragraph is replete with the nature of the Dharma Realm. And so if you tried to reveal the meanings completely, not to speak of trying to do so within the two hours of the Sunday afternoon lecture period, even to the ends of time you would not be able to express them all.


Direction-ruling Spirit Cowl Eyes Unconfused gained a passage into liberation of nondifferentiating sovereign power to make appear the karma of all sentient beings.  


The next Direction-ruling Spirit is named Cowl Eyes Unconfused. The word “cowl” alone contains infinitely many principles. There are hair cowls, flesh cowls, and jeweled cowls. A hair cowl is a topknot made of coiled hair. A flesh cowl is the invisible crown characteristic of the Thus Come One, hence the quote: “At that time the World Honored One, from the flesh mound at the crown of his head released a hundred-jeweled light, and a thousand-petal rare lotus arose from the midst of the light.”

Just try to describe the thousand-petal rare lotus emerging from the flesh cowl. Since on every lotus petal there sits a Dharma-body of Sãkyamuni Buddha, and each Dharma-body has the Thirty-two Hallmarks and Eighty Subsidiary Characteristics, how could one ever completely describe them? A jeweled cowl is a cowl composed of and adorned with the seven types of gems, which would also have infinite and unending explanations. The cowl now under discussion could be interpreted as a hair cowl or as a flesh cowl. If considered a hair cowl, to explain this a bit more esoterically, the tip of every hair is adorned with the infinite and unending dharma realms of the ten directions. All of the ten directions’ dharma realms are contained as adornments on the tip of a single hair.

As it is said: “On the tip of a single hair appear lands of the Jeweled Kings.” Now we are talking about lands of Jeweled Kings appearing on individual strands of hair on the head. Also, on each and every hair of the head there are infinitely many Dharma eyes. Did you ever hear about this before? A single strand of hair on the head has on it 84,000 eyes of Dharma. Yet even though each strand of hair has 84,000 Dharma eyes, they are still very distinct and organized, and not the least bit mixed up. Each eye observes what it is supposed to observe and does not observe randomly or chaotically. One eye doesn’t look at what another eye is seeing. The eyes don’t see things unclearly, nor are they muddled about them. Everything is sharp and distinct, and they are clear about what they see—hence unconfused. Although there are that many eyes on all those many hairs of the head, nonetheless they do not get mixed up. They still discern things very clearly. What do they discern? Doesn’t the text continue to say that she gained a passage into liberation of nondifferentiating sovereign power to make appear the karma of all sentient beings? The karma is discerned, but through nondifferentiating sovereign power.

Since she has so many eyes, she doesn’t have to make discriminations concerning the karma, or differentiate it. However, within that nondifferentiation, the retributions are not off in the least. Each being receives the retribution that being is supposed to undergo. Actually: “If one understands, then obstructions from karma are fundamentally empty. But so long as one does not understand, one still has to repay one’s previous debts.” If you have thorough understanding, then karmic obstacles are empty—the nature of karma is fundamentally empty. It basically does not exist. Karma has no form or shape. If it did, there would not be enough room for it in all of space and the entire Dharma Realm. That’s because each individual person’s karma could fill up the Dharma Realm. However, since karma has no shape or form, we don’t need to store it on the moon or in the sun.

The reason is that karma: “If rolled up can be stored away in secret, but if unraveled it extends to fill the universe.” Hence his cowl eye(s) being unconfused refers to all the 84,000 eyes, Dharma eyes, which are on each and every strand of hair on his head. Someone may say, “I don’t believe this. What’s the use of having so many eyes on hairs of the head?” Well, haven’t you seen all the knobs on the control panel of an airplane, or in a submarine equipped to launch nuclear warheads? There are several hundreds of them. If you go take a look in the cockpit of an airplane, you will see how very many there are. Well, those are all eyes. But that is just an analogy. This is not referring to buttons on airplane or submarine control panels.

As science progresses, there come to be such strange developments, so wouldn’t that be even more the case if you have spiritual penetrations? Eighty-four thousand eyes are not all that many. And wouldn’t that be called spiritual penetrations to have 84,000 eyes on each strand of hair of the head? Nonetheless, they are not confused. The hairs are not in disorder, nor are the eyes. The hairs of the head are very neatly arranged, not a strand out of place. And what about the eyes? Proper vision appears before them, and they do not regard haphazardly.

“The Dharma eye only contemplates the mundane.” It observes mundane truth, and so it knows the karma of all sentient beings—sentient beings’ karma being mundane truth. Moreover, she is not just named cowl eyes being unconfused—she also has a type of functioning. What does she do? She makes appear the karma of all sentient beings. “To make” indicates that something which doesn’t exist now will be brought into existence in the future. It gives advance notice saying, “I’m telling you now that in the future it will be such-and-such a way. The karma of sentient beings will entail the undergoing of retributions.” “To appear” refers to something which did not exist in the past now coming into existence, that is, manifesting. What manifests is the karma of sentient beings.

The karmic deeds of sentient beings are not the same. Each has his or her own individual karma. However, the retributions are the same, in that there are good retributions for good deeds and bad retributions for bad deeds. Even though the retributions are not identical, there still are no distinctions. In what sense are there no distinctions? For whatever karma one creates, one undergoes the corresponding retribution, without any error. This happens very naturally and automatically. No one else wields this power and controls you. Your own karmic obstacles control you. But to describe this even more accurately, the nature of karma is fundamentally empty. Inasmuch as evil karma is empty, wholesome karma also does not remain. That’s why the text speaks of nondifferentiating sovereign power.

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