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Universal Worthy's Conduct and Vows

Chapter Forty




In one thought I see all Lions of Men
Of the past, present, and future.
I constantly fathom the Buddhas’ states,
Their magical liberations and their awesome strength.  

On the tip of an extremely fine hair,
Appear jeweled lands of eternal time.
Lands on hair-tips as many as dust-mote-like
lands of the ten directions,
I deeply enter, adorn, and purify.  

All lamps of the future that light the world,
Complete the Way, turn the Dharma Wheel, and awaken living beings;
As they perfect the Buddha’s work and manifest Nirvana,
I visit and draw near to each one and obtain
The spiritual power to rapidly go everywhere,
The power to universally enter the Mahayana through the Universal Door,
The power of wisdom and conduct to universally cultivate merit and virtue.
The subtle spiritual power to shield all with great kindness.  


In one thought I see all lions of men of the past, present, and future. I see all the Buddhas who are the lions among men. I constantly fathom the Buddhas' states. I am always within the states of the Buddhas. The states of the Buddhas are inconceivable states in which one thought is ten thousand kalpas, and ten thousand kalpas are but one thought. Most people without wisdom or good roots cannot believe this. Because they lack wisdom, they cannot fathom these states.

Their magical liberations and their awesome strength. Entering the Buddhas' state is just like entering the samadhi where everything is like an illusion. To enter this magical samadhi is to have the samadhi of liberation. Everything is liberated, and everything is like an illusion. One has free-wheeling spiritual powers, one purifies Buddha lands, and one teaches and transforms living beings. This is the state of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas which, in the final analysis, is inconceivable. This is the magical samadhi in which everything is like an illusion. If you say it is true, it is still like an illusion, and if you say it is false, there is still some truth to it. It is a true state; it is the illusion-like samadhi, accompanied by the great awesome strength of spiritual powers.

On the tip of an extremely fine hair. On the tip of a hair within a fine mote of dust appear jeweled lands of eternal time. Thus there is a saying,

On the tip of a hair the Buddha manifests eighty thousand lands;
Sitting on a dust mote, he turns the Dharma wheel.

This is the kind of state expressed by these lines of the Sutra. All the adorned lands of the Buddhas of the three periods of time come forth on the tip of a hair.

Lands on hair-tips as many as dust-mote-like lands of the ten directions I deeply enter, adorn, and purify. All the lands as numerous as dust motes appear on the tip of one hair, and in these precious royal lands on each hair-tip, I turn the great Dharma wheel. By means of the strength of the Ten Great Kings of Vows, I deeply enter this state, adorn all lands, and purify the Buddha lands by teaching and transforming living beings.

All lamps of the the future that light the world are all the Buddhas of the future. They complete the Way, turn the Dharma wheel, and awaken living beings. All the Buddhas teach and transform all the living beings in the myriad existences. As they perfect the Buddha's work and manifest Nirvana, I visit and draw near to each one. When each Buddha is about to enter Nirvana, I will go to his Bodhimanda and draw near to him.

And obtain the spiritual power to rapidly go everywhere. When I draw near to the Buddhas, they will cause me to quickly and fully perfect my vows and spiritual powers. The power to universally enter the Mahayana through the Universal Door. I bring forth the practices and vows of the Universal Door and universally enter the power which comes from the sea of enlightenment of the Great Vehicle. The power of wisdom and conduct to universally cultivate merit and virtue. Through the power of my wisdom and investigation of Prajna Paramita, I universally cultivate the power of all merit and virtue. The subtle spiritual power to shield all with great kindness. My great awesome virtue and the power of great, kind, and compassionate vows universally shield all living beings.


The power to everywhere purify and adorn supreme blessings,
The power of wisdom which is unattached and independent,
The awesome spiritual power and the powers of concentration, wisdom, and skill-in-means,
The power of universally accumulating Bodhi,
The power of good karma which purifies all things,
The power to eradicate all afflictions,
The power to subdue all demons,
The power to perfect Universal Worthy’s conduct.  

The sea of lands I everywhere adorn and purify,
And I liberate the sea of all living beings.
With skill I make distinctions in the sea of all dharmas
And enter deeply into the wisdom sea.  


The power to everywhere purify and adorn supreme blessings. "Everywhere" means universally. The power of the supreme blessings which are cultivated is pure and reaches everywhere. "Supreme blessings" surpass all others; they cannot be possessed by common people, because they transcend the Triple Realm. They are the blessings and virtue of the Buddhas and the blessings and virtue cultivated by Bodhisattvas.

Why do I say that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can possess these supreme blessings? With the exception of Buddhas, only Bodhisattvas can possess the adornments of these supreme blessings that reach everywhere. The Buddhas body is called thee body adorned with both blessings and wisdom, and so it the Bodhisattva's. The bodies of both are adorned with blessings and wisdom which only come about through cultivation for measureless kalpas. They cultivated all kinds of good roots and did all kinds of good deeds throughout measureless kalpas, and so they can be adorned with superior blessings.

The power of wisdom which is unattached and independent. Since blessings and virtue are supreme, wisdom should also be supreme. What kind of wisdom is supreme? The wisdom of non-attachment. To have no attachments is to be independent. Dependence is attachment; attachment is dependence. Non-attachment is the power of unattached and independent wisdom.

Most people's intelligence is based on attachments. When they perceive a state, because they have some kind of attachment to it, they cannot reach liberation. The wisdom of liberation is the wisdom of truly understanding without any basis in attachments. If you are attached, then you cannot truly understand, and you do not have true wisdom. Without true wisdom, your inferior wisdom is worldly eloquence and intelligence. This kind of intelligence, for example, is used when one debates with ordinary wisdom. Worldly eloquence and intelligence are based on attachments.

The awesome spiritual power and the powers of concentration, wisdom, and skill-in-means If you do not have samadhi power, you cannot produce wisdom power; if you do not have wisdom power, you cannot bring forth your samadhi power. If you have wisdom, then you have samadhi. If you have no samadhi, you cannot be one who has great wisdom. Where do you get samadhi power? It comes from the power of discipline, from precepts. If you do not hold precepts, then you cannot have wisdom power. To be without the power of wisdom is to be without any precept power.

If you have wisdom, then you can hold the precepts, but those without wisdom cannot hold the precepts. Why is this? Because their ignorance is too heavy. If one's ignorance is too heavy, then one has no wisdom. If one is without wisdom and breaks the precepts, one still feels that one has not broken them. Why? Because one is stupid. One does not believe that one's precept-breaking activity has broken any precepts.

Wat is the power of "skill-in-means?" The dharma of skill-in-means is an unfixed dharma. The dharma of skill-in-means involves teaching according to the conditions, and speaking the Dharma for the sake of individuals means to teach each person individually, prescribing medicine suitable to cure his illness. You speak the Dharma for each individual and prescribe the medicine for the illness. This is the meaning of the dharma of skill-in-means.

If you use skill-in-means, you must have "awesome spiritual power." "Awesome" refers to awesome virtue. Spiritual power refers to spiritual penetrations. What is awesome virtue? An awesome person causes others to be afraid. For example, someone may life to you and think he is very clever because he deceived you. But if you have spiritual power, you won't be tricked by him.

The power of universally accumulating Bodhi. Everything comes about because of accumulation. The great comes from the small; one goes from near to far; and one enters the deep from the shallow. Bodhi is also cultivated to perfection step by step; it does not happen in one day. Shakyamuni Buddha "cultivated blessings and wisdom for three great asamkhyeya kalpas." This is to accumulate Bodhi. "For one hundred kalpas he perfected the minor characteristics." This is also to accumulate Bodhi.

What does it mean to accumulate Bodhi? When did you begin to study the Buddhadharma? To study the Buddhadharma is to study Bodhi, and to study Bodhi is to accumulate Bodhi. To accumulate means to amass, to collect together. From the time you began your study of Bodhi until the present, Bodhi and your understanding of the Buddhadharma have increased day by day. When you first began studying the Buddhadharma, you did not understand what I was saying After a time you could understand a little, until finally after having listened for a long time, you could understand everything. You say, "Oh, basically it's like this!" This process is called accumulating Bodhi.

How were you able to understand? You have accumulated Bodhi. What do you need in order to accumulate Bodhi? You must have strength, and you need a constant mind. It will not work if you accumulate today but not tomorrow, because when you stop the process, you lose what you have accumulated. If you study today but not tomorrow, you will lose what you have studied, and you won't understand.

For example, a young novice told everyone he would be gone for two weeks, but he did not return for six weeks. He was away three times as long as he said he would be. In this instance, he lost a lot of bodhi, but he does not feel this is the case. He is not aware that he has lost anything. Not gaining was just his loss. Instead of studying the Buddhadharma, he went off to drift around. During this time he was not accumulating Bodhi, but instead he has become scattered and dispersed.

From this explanation, it is easy to understand the principle of accumulating Bodhi. If you study the Buddhadharma, you accumulate Bodhi. If you do not study, you lose Bodhi. Bodhi is enlightenment, and so if you lose Bodhi, you are not enlightened. If you are not enlightened, you are in the wrong. If you are not enlightened, you are wasting your time. If you have a good opportunity to study Bodhi, isn't it a stupid thing to run off all over the place in your confusion instead? It is stupid, and stupid people cannot accumulate Bodhi.

If you have the strength of samadhi, wisdom, and spiritual powers, then you can accumulate Bodhi. The strength of Bodhi refers to the strength of your enlightenment, and enlightenment refers to understanding thing you did not previously understand. For example, now you can say, "Before I didn't understand the Buddhadharma, but now I understand it. Before I didn't understand that cultivating the precepts was important, but now I understand that I must maintain the precepts. To eat anything I like and to take drugs and drink alcohol is not to follow the precepts. To be irresponsible and indulge in stupid things it not to accumulate Bodhi. If you do what is wrong, not only are you breaking precepts and failing to accumulate Bodhi, you are actually losing Bodhi.

The power of good karma which purifies all things. When we do good things, why do we not become Buddhas? It is because our good karma is mixed with bad karma. We may do good deeds, but within the good we do there is some evil. Or we may do bad deeds, but within them there is good.

What does it mean to do a good deed which contains some bad? You may happen upon a poor person who has nothing to eat and no clothes to wear, and decide to help him. After you have obtained clothes and food for him, you feel short-changed, and so you try to take advantage of him. "I was good to him before. Now he should do something for me. I'll ask him to do some work." If you have helped someone, and then ask him to do something for you, of course he will feel obligated to do it. This may only amount to asking him to work for you, and then paying him ten dollar less than the job was worth, but it is nonetheless an example of doing something good and yet harboring an evil motive. There is not merit and virtue involved in this.

To sum it up, when good is mixed with bad, you do a good deed seeking something in return. Your good deed is done with an ulterior motive, with the hope of getting a reward, and so it is not a pure good deed, but one in which good and bad are mixed together. In whatever we do, we should benefit others and not hope that people will benefit us. Underhandedly seeking others to help you out is selfish.

Basically you are not helping others, but are only helping yourself. If you were really helping others and not yourself, why would you hope that others will help you, thank you, or have a good impression of you? Why is it that you want others to be good to you? Explain that. You help others, and yet you hope they will thank you and repay you. Is this not greed? It is only your greed coming forth and has nothing to do with truly helping people.

To truly benefit others is to truly do good deeds. What is a true good deed? It is said,

Don't seek for a reward from your giving;
Having given something away, don't have second thoughts about it.

You should be good to everyone and not worry or even think about getting a reward. They may return your favor, but that is up to them. You should not hope for it or take advantage of the situation. To have hopes for personal benefit is called taking advantage of situations.

For example, some people who do good deeds, like making offerings to the Triple Jewel, feel that they must have an announcement to accompany their good deeds, so they run an advertisement in the newspaper. There is a person who comes here occasionally with some vegetables and fruit which she has bought. She walks in making a big show, hoping that everyone will see that a great Dharma protector has come to make offerings to the Triple Jewel. So her giving is not a truly good act. There is another saying,

Good that can be seen is not true good.
Evil that is concealed is great evil.

Do not seek a reward for your giving. Always be kind to everyone, yet do not seek a reward or have second thoughts about it. After you have given someone something, do not have regrets and think, "That's really too bad. I shouldn't have done that." If you are going to give, then give; the things of the world should be used, not stored away.

"Good that can be seen is not true good." If you do a good deed and want others to know about it, then it is not true good. Why? Because you are greedy; you are greedy for reputation, and you hope people will say, "That person does good deeds. I've seen him do them." To get your reputation going, you talk about the good deeds you have done so that everyone will know about them. You put your advertisement in the newspaper. This is not true goodness, but a false appearance. But even though it is false giving, it nonetheless has a little good to it, and gradually it can become real, so that you do not do what is false.

"Evil that is concealed is great evil." To do bad deeds and fear that people will know about them is to make the evil even greater. If you do good deeds hoping others will see them, it is not pure good. Should you then do good in secret so that others will not know? No. This is not necessary. You do not need to let others know, and you do not need to conceal it from others. If you want to do something in secret so others will not know, you are still seeking something. You are seeking the reputation of a person whose good deeds are not known by others. This is making an advertisement for yourself.

Then how should you be? Cultivating the Way is right here. You should not advertise yourself, nor should you be secretive. Just do things as if they amounted to nothing. When you do things, do them as if you were not doing anything. If you do things and tell people about them, you have greed. However, to conceal your acts is another manifestation of greed. Then what should you want? You should prefer that others not know that you do good deeds.

This is where it becomes difficult, for whether or not you want people to know about our good deeds, you still have an attachment. Then how should you be? Do things as if they were nothing. Do not be attached. Do not be concerned whether other people know or don't know. You should think, "I've done this deed as if I haven't done it." because if you hadn't done it, how could you have thought of liking fame or disliking fame? You couldn't. If you hadn't done it, there wouldn't be anything at all. Just that is pure, good karma. Pure karma is pure Dharma. The power of good karma purifies everything. This power is especially great.

The power to eradicate all afflictions. "To eradicate" means to destroy. The kind of power discussed here is the power to destroy afflictions. A person may be able to accomplish almost anything else that you tell him to do, but if you tell him to destroy afflictions, he finds it very difficult. Afflictions are endless, and they are the hardest to destroy.

One of the Four Great Vows is, "I vow to cut off the endless afflictions." To vow to cut them off means to eradicate them. From where do you cut them off? How do you cut them off? How do you destroy them? If they are not produced, then they are destroyed. Not to give rise to afflictions in the first place is to destroy them. If you give rise to afflictions, your afflictions have not been eradicated. If there is production, there must be destruction. If there is destruction, there must be production. If, however, you are without production or destruction, then you will be without afflictions, and just that is to eradicate all afflictions.

There are many afflictions that could be discussed, but basically they are greed, hatred, and stupidity, the basic afflictions. If you are without greed, hatred, and stupidity, you have the power to eradicate all afflictions.

Instead of vowing to cut off afflictions, you could make another vow. What is it? I vow not to cut off my afflictions. If you do not cut them off, then what should you do with them? Put them to use. If you cut off your afflictions, you cut off Bodhi as well. So I do not teach you to cut off your afflictions. Afflictions are just Bodhi. What should you do if you do not cut them off? Change them. How do you change your afflictions? Transform them.

Everyone pay attention to this. Your transforming should be tireless. It is said,

From movement there is change.
And from change there comes transformation.

Only by being the world's most sincere person can you effect a transformation. This is what is important. You want to change your afflictions into Bodhi, not cut them off. If you cut them off, then you cut off Bodhi. Why? Because afflictions are just Bodhi.

How can you transform your afflictions? Because scientific progress is now more widely understood, an analogy from chemistry will throw light on the matter. Afflictions are like ice, and Bodhi is like water. Leaving a chunk of ice inside a freezer is analogous to cutting off Bodhi; ice remains ice, and there can be no Bodhi. But if you transform the ice with the light of the sun, it becomes water; this water is analogous to Bodhi. The principle that afflictions are Bodhi is just like this. If you transform your afflictions, they become the inherently existent Buddha nature. This is to realize Bodhi, to enlighten to the Way.

I have explained this very simple principle to you several times, but you have not paid close attention to it, so you are not able to use it. If you strike someone on the head with a chunk of ice the size of a tea cup, it can fracture his skull and kill him, quickly sending him off to see King Yama. This is what can be done with a piece of ice. But if you melt the ice into water, you cannot harm him, even if you throw a thousand pounds onto his head. He will feel wet but will not be hurt. This analogy shows that if you use the Bodhi mind to teach and transform living beings, they will appreciate and accept it. But if you use afflictions to teach and transform them, they will not be happy, and they will refuse to accept your teaching. They would rather die than accept your teaching. This is similar to the idea of water and ice.

We should transform our afflictions and not cut them off, because if we cut them off, then we will be without Bodhi as well. If you throw away the ice, which can kill a person, then you will not have the water either. Where do afflictions come from? They come from Bodhi, just as ice comes from water. So it is said,

Ice is water, and water is ice.

Afflictions are just Bodhi. If you can use them, they are Bodhi. But if you cannot, they are afflictions. When you can use them, it is inexpressibly wonderful. If you cannot use the, it is inexpressible suffering and totally useless. this is why I tell you not to cut off your afflictions, but to keep them.

The power to subdue all demons. "To subdue demons" means to prevent them from bothering you as you cultivate the Way. It means to transform them so that they become your Dharma protectors. There are many kinds of subduing. You can subdue them with our spiritual powers, subdue them with principle, or subdue them with your virtuous practices. You can subdue them with your samadhi power, subdue them with wisdom, or subdue them with the power of your discipline. There are many different ways to subdue the demons.

There is not just one kind of demon. There are heavenly demons, earthly demons, demons among people, weird demons, and terrifying ghosts. There are also the demons of states, sickness demons, and demons of your self-nature. External demons, heavenly demons, earthly demons, demons among people, ghostly demons, and li mei and wang liang demons are hard to subdue. But the demons of your self-nature are not easy to subdue, either.

They are always present in your mind, and they cause you to break the rules. The most difficult demons to subdue are the demons of your self-nature. If your precept-maintaining power is solid, if you have precept power which is proper, then when all the demon kings come to bother you, their demonic methods will not work, and they will not be able to move you. If you have samadhi power, you will also be able to subdue all demons. So it is said,

If a big mountain collapses in front of you, you are not afraid.
if a beautiful woman appears before you, you do not move.

The most difficult thing for a person to resist is sexual desire. Whether you are a man or a woman, it is difficult to remain calm when the demon of sexual desire comes. The sex demon may send a common person to trouble you, or it may send a transformation body to do its work, or it may vex you in your dreams. You may not move when it sends transformation bodies or people, but when it comes to bother you in dreams, to steal your jewels, it is very difficult not to move. In a dream the demon of sexual desire may come as a real beauty to seduce you. If you do not have any samadhi power, you will be disturbed by it.

If you are a man, the sexual desire demon will appear as a woman. If you are a woman, it will appear as a man. When it manifests as a man, it will either appear as a very handsome man or as the person the woman most likes. At this point, if a woman's samadhi power is insufficient, she will be turned by this demonic state. If you have samadhi, you will not be moved by demonic states.

To sum it up, there are many kinds of demons, and there are many different ways to subdue them. If you have wisdom you can subdue demons, but you must have the jeweled wisdom sword. If you have this sword, you can defeat any demon, no matter what kind it is. Only people who are stupid, without wisdom, are moved by demons.

To further explain the meaning of "demon": it refers to the Sanskrit term Mara, which means "murderer." Demons specialize in disturbing people who cultivate the Way. If you wish to cultivate the Way, demons will want to disturb your karma in the Way. So we must talk about the power to subdue all demons. What else can you use to subdue demons? Mantra power. If you hold mantras to perfection, you can subdue all demons. If you bow to Sutras to the point that you have a response, you can also subdue all demons. Because there are many kinds of demon kings, there are many methods to subdue them. The important question is whether you can use these methods.

The Shurangama Mantra is made up of five assemblies, and these five assemblies correspond to five divisions. The middle division is the Buddha division. the eastern division is the Vajra Division. The southern division is the Jeweled Birth Division. The western division is called the Lotus Division. The northern division is called the Accomplishment Division. In the Buddha Division, in the center, Vairochana Buddha is the host, as is Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Vajra Division in the East, Akshobhya Buddha is the host. Ratnasambhava Buddha is the host Buddha for the southern division. Amita Buddha is the host for the western Lotus Flower Division. Amoghasiddhi is the host for the Accomplishment Division in the north, which is also called the Karma Division.

The five directions with their divisions have five kinds of dharmas.

The first is the dharma for stopping all catastrophes. The second is called the dharma for increasing and benefiting. When you recite the mantra, it will help to increase your Way-mind and to increase your wisdom, so that everything that happens to you will be beneficial.

The third is the dharma for subduing. This refers to using your spiritual powers that come from mantras to subdue yourself so that you act in accord with your regulations, are very obedient, and will not break the rules.

The fourth is called the hooking dharma. What is the hooking dharma? If a demon is a thousand miles away from you, ten thousand miles away, a million miles away, or a billion miles away, even to the point that it is in another world, you can hook him in so that he must come to wherever you are if you recite this mantra.

The fifth is the dharma of accomplishment. No matter what you do, you will complete your task if you recite this mantra. The Shurangama Mantra possesses these five kinds of powers; it is an especially wonderful and inconceivable state.

The power to perfect Universal Worthy's conduct. Universal Worthy Bodhisattva's practices are the greatest, and his cultivation power is foremost. Mount Omei in Szechwan, China, is the holy place of this Bodhisattva. It is one of the four famous mountains in China. Most cultivators wish to make a pilgrimage there to bow. Mount Omei is constantly bathed in golden light; it is very high and difficult to climb. Nevertheless, many people come from afar, traversing mountains and rivers, to bow to Universal Worthy Bodhisattva.

Why do pilgrims wish to bow to him? Universal Worthy made a vow that those who traveled to Mount Omei would receive his help in completing their karma in the Way. Because of this, many cultivators of the Way go to this mountain and make the difficult assent.

It is not easy to perfect the practices of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. For example, each of the Ten Kings of Vows discussed above must be cultivated until they are perfect, to the point that even if empty space, living beings, the karma of living beings, and the afflictions of living beings are all exhausted and cease to be, these vows will continue to exist nonetheless, and one will continue to cultivate in accord with them. This is what it means to perfect the practices of Universal Worthy.

The sea of lands I everywhere adorn and purify. I am able universally to adorn and purify the sea of all Buddha lands, and I liberate the sea of all living beings. All of us living beings have our attachments, and so we have not obtained liberation. Without liberation, we are prevented from obtaining true freedom.

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