Flower Adornment Sutra Preface

With Commentary By The Venerable Master Hua

A.D. 700 | 42,486 words

The Flower Adornment Sutra (Avataṃsaka Sūtra) is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras of East Asian Buddhism. The Avataṃsaka Sūtra describes a cosmos of infinite realms upon realms, mutually containing one another. The Avataṃsaka Sūtra was written in stages, beginning from at least 500 years after the death of the Buddha....

I. Presentation of the Substance of the Doctrine

What does the Preface say? It begins:

Going and returning with no border,
Movement and stillness have one source;
Embracing multitudes of wonders, more remains;
Overstepping words and thought by far

Going and returning with no border. "Going" represents going out, arising, movement, and change. Therefore it is said:

With movement there is change;
With change there is transformation;

In the universe, only those who with total sincerity can effect transformations.

If you are totally sincere, then you can bring about change; but without total sincerity, you cannot. "Returning" represents coming back, extinction, and stillness. What this refers to is movement not obstructing stillness, and stillness not obstructing movement. Movement is stillness, and stillness is movement. Movement and stillness are one suchness. That is why it says, with no border. No border means no boundary, no trace, no path. It is also as is described by:

The mouth wants to speak but words are lost;
The mind wants to think but reflection perishes.

The mouth wishes to talk, but words fail. There is no way to speak. In the mind there is the intention to do some climbing on conditions, but there is no way to climb on conditions. Reflection perishes. All that kind of deliberation is gone, which is to say:

No consciousness, no knowing;
No deliberation, no reflection.

This is the Greatness of the Functioning to the Flower Adornment Sutra. The use of the Flower Adornment Sutra is great, which is why it says, Going and returning with no border:

Going, yet not going,
Returning, yet not returning.
Going and returning are not dual.

They are not two. Going comes from returning, and returning comes from going, and so going and returning have no border. There is no path:

Just as a bird flies through space,
and space has no track;

When a bird flies back and forth in the air, there is no path. If you attempt to find the path followed by a bird flying in space, you won’t be able to find it.

Just as a knife cuts through water,
and the water has no trace.

It is also similar to using a knife to cut through water: after you cut it, in just a little while, there is no trace at all. That’s how the saying goes, but in actuality it’s not the case that there is no track after a bird has flown through the air. A track is left behind, and it takes twenty-four hours for the track left behind by a bird’s flying through the air to disappear. After the passage of a day and a night, no path remains. It’s just that our eyes of flesh are unable to perceive that path, so even though nowadays we have x-rays and microscopes, we don’t see it. But all you have to do is obtain the Five Eyes, and you can see, “Oh, a bird has flown through that area, so there is no fine dust in that space. Ah, it is truly empty!” And if you cut water with a knife, although it is said that the water has no trace, no scar, still, if you look with the heavenly eye, the cut of the knife is traced out. It takes twenty-four hours for the wound made by a knife in water to heal. Now you may object, “Do you mean to say that water is wounded when cut through by a knife?” Well, why would you say that, when a knife cuts through it, the water is not injured? When someone cuts into another person’s body, that person’s body bleeds. When someone slices through water, the water lets air through. There is a stream of air within the water. But this is not something that modern-day science can research. Perhaps one or two thousand years from now science will be able to “prove” this. As for now, probably very few who hear this will believe it. However, very many people will believe it... in the future, after they have understood the principle.

That is Going and returning with no border, and it is the Greatness of the Functioning.

Movement and stillness have one source. This is the Greatness of the Substance. The source of movement is there, and the source of stillness is also there. This original substance basically has neither movement nor stillness. Movement and stillness change into each other. As was just quoted:

With movement there is change.

Once there is movement, then there will be change. As with the sixty-four hexagrams of the Book of Changes, before movement takes place, there is the original hexagram; but as soon as you have a moving line, it changes into the other hexagrams. This basic substance of movement and stillness is one. The basis of movement is stillness, and the basis of stillness is movement. The two are two, and yet not two. Although they are described as dual, basically they are one. They have one source.

There is another simple analogy for the relationship between movement and stillness. The basis of movement and stillness is like a mother who gives birth to two children, one called “Movement” and the other called “Stillness.” The one named “Stillness” calls its mother “Mama,” and the one named “Movement” also calls its mother “Mama.” That describes their production from one substance. In Lao Ts’u it says:

The Way has purity and defilement;
It has movement and stillness.
Purity is the source of defilement;

He did not say that purity and defilement had one source, but said that purity was the source of defilement, and he said:

Movement is the foundation of stillness.
He said that movement acts as a foundation for stillness, and that;
If people can constantly be still,
If people can constantly be clear and still,
Heaven and earth completely return.

What he was saying was, “Heaven and earth are all with me. They all return and come back to me.” Furthermore, he said,

Heaven is pure, earth is defiled.
Heaven is pure, while earth is defiled and turbid.
Heaven moves, earth is still.

He said that heaven moves, and that earth is still. Now, however, science has “discovered” and maintains that the earth moves and that heaven is still. But this Movement and Stillness is not what science takes for movement and stillness. This “movement and stillness” is talking about the basic substance. If you look at the earth, while science claims to have proved that the earth moves, in actual truth heaven moves as well. You see heaven as unmoving. However, it also moves. The earth moves. However, it also does not move. Consequently this kind of principle is not something that ordinary people using words and language can clarify.
Lao Ts’u also said,

Men move, women are still.
Men are pure, women are defiled.

Men are clean and pure, women are defiled and turbid. Men move and women are still. By now some people are objecting, “I don’t believe that principle. It’s men who are defiled and turbid, and women who are clean and pure. Women daily apply rough and rub on power, and make-up their faces so they are one-doesn’t-know-how clear!” Well, why is it that they want to make up their faces? If they weren’t defiled and turbid, why would they want to make them up? It’s like sweeping the floor: if it weren’t dusty, why would you sweep it? The reason you want to sweep the floor is that it is dirty, that it is dusty. Why do you want to put on a false face? It’s because you yourself know your face is defiled. Now there are movie stars who go even further making false faces. They employ the beauticians’ art and face lifts. To start with they are old as in the line:

Chicken-skin and white crane hair...

The skin on their faces is like that of a chicken, and the hair on their heads is as white as a white crane. But they dye their hair, and have some of their flesh cut out, or else add a little, and smooth out the skin. It looks good on the outside, but underneath it’s very painful. Lao Ts’u was aware of this principle thousand of years ago, and so he said,

Men are pure, women are defiled.
Men move, women are still.

But we will not pay any attention that movement and stillness of his, or his defilement and purity, for what we are talking about now is Movement and Stillness have one source. Purity to the ultimate is defilement, and defilement to the ultimate is purity. Therefore there is no distinction between them: they all come from one basic source, one fountainhead. Movement to the ultimate becomes stillness, and stillness to the extreme again becomes movement. Someone may say, “I don’t understand that at all.” I can very easily teach you to understand it. My expedient dharmas are many. It’s my true and actual dharmas that are very few. What is that expedient dharma? In the daytime you do not sleep, isn’t that correct? You go to work. That is movement. In the evening you want to sleep, not work, and that is stillness. You cannot be still to the ultimate and say, “I’ll sleep day after day and not work.” That’s impossible. And you are even less able to say, “Day after day I’ll work and not sleep,” which is impossible as well. So, as to movement and stillness:

Movement is not separate from stillness,
Stillness is not separate from movement;
Movement and stillness have one source.

That is a substance, the substance of the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. That is the Greatness of the Substance which being great, can include both movement and stillness.

He also said that heaven is pure while earth is defiled; that heaven moves and earth is still; that purity to the ultimate is defilement; that defilement to the ultimate is purity. Therefore there is no distinction between them. They all come from one basic source. Movement to the ultimate becomes stillness, and stillness to the extreme again becomes movement. The Greatness of the Substance of The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra can include both movement and stillness.

Embracing Multitudes of Wonders, More remains. Embracing means including and containing, not just one kind of wonder, but multitudes of wonders. Although multitudes of wonders are many, still more remains. This is the Greatness of the Appearances. Going and returning with no border was the Greatness of the Functioning, Movement and stillness have one source was the Greatness of the Substance, while here Embracing multitudes of wonders, more remains is the Greatness of the Appearances. Those are the Three Greatnesses set forth in the Preface: of Substance, Functioning and Appearances.

Wonders, fundamentally, inconceivable kinds of states. Multitudes of wonders is a phrase from the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching, used by National Master Ch’ing Liang to illustrate the principles of the Buddhadharma. The Tao Te Ching begins:

The Way that can be spoken is not the Eternal Way;
The name that can be named is not the Eternal Name.
Nameless, it is the beginning of Heaven and Earth;
Named, it is the Mother of the myriad things.
Therefore, constantly without desire,
one contemplates its wonder;
Constantly having desire,
one contemplates its shell.
From sameness come forth different names.
All alike are called mysterious,
The mysterious within the mysterious,
The gateway to the multitudes of wonders.

The phrase in the Preface is a literal quote from the Tao Te Ching, but the context gives it a different meaning. The Tao Te Ching’s gateway to the multitudes of wonders has no remainder, that is, nothing more beyond, whereas the Flower Adornment Sutra embraces multitudes of wonders, yet more remains there is something more beyond and so this meaning differs from that in the Tao Te Ching.

Overstepping words and thought by far: This can only be the Dharma Realm! Overstepping means exceeding, going beyond. Going beyond what? Going beyond words, i.e., language, and thought, i.e., conceptualization. That is to say:

What cannot be expressed in speech;
What cannot be conceptualized by thought.

That kind of state is inconceivable, and so it says, by far. Far means distant. How is it distant? It is because it goes far beyond words and thought. It is a kind of inconceivable state that goes beyond, and very distantly. Furthermore, this is the inconceivable within the inconceivable. What is this kind of state? This can only be the Dharma Realm! The only thing you could call it, the only thing it could possible be, is the Dharma Realm.

There are Four Kinds of Dharma Realms:

  1. The Dharma Realm of Specifics.
  2. The Dharma Realm of Principle.
  3. The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Specifics and Principle.
  4. The Dharma Realm of Non-Obstruction of Specifics and Specifics.

That is why the Buddha said:

If one wishes to understand fully
All Buddhas of the three periods of time,
One should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from mind alone.

There is also categorization into ten kinds of Dharma Realms, which further divide into the Four Sagely Dharma Realms and the Six Ordinary Dharma Realms. The Four Sagely and Six Ordinary Dharma Realms, taken together, do not go beyond the nature of one manifest thought of the mind of you and me. One thought is replete with the Ten Dharma Realms, and the Ten Dharma Realms are not separate from one thought of the mind.

The Ten Dharma Realms are:

  1. The Dharma Realm of hell-beings.
  2. The Dharma Realm of animals
  3. The Dharma Realm of hungry ghosts.

Those are called the Three Evil Paths.

  1. The Dharma Realm of asuras.
  2. The Dharma Realm of humans.
  3. The Dharma Realm of gods.

Those are called the Three Good Paths.

What makes you fall into the hells? It is because you do things that make you fall into the hells. For example, if you kill people, set fires, or upset the peaceful workings of society and make all the people in society be shaken by disasters, all of that will lead you to fall into the hells. If you are greedy, you will fall into the hells. If you have thoughts of desire, you will fall into the hells. If you are hateful, you will turn into a hungry ghost. If you are stupid, you will become an animal.

There are said to be eighteen major hells and five hundred minor hells. Actually, there are ten of millions of hells. Hells are not created in advance in anticipation of your falling into them. Rather, hells manifest in response to your karma. If you create the karma of a hell, that hell manifests. Where does the hell manifest? It manifests in your mind. If while you are alive you are unhappy, always worried, if you are constantly crying, then:

With each cry, in hell there is a small, dark room.

In hell there is a small, dark room, a room pitch black, in which there is no light at all; and yet you undergo suffering there. You are in that small, dark room in which you cannot see anything, when suddenly from one side there comes a knife which rips up your body. You bleed and suffer excruciating pain, so intense that you die of the pain. However, strangely enough, once you die of pain, a wind called the “Clever” wind blows, and brings you back to life.

If your are always getting angry, with heavy hatred, then you will turn into a hungry ghost. Hungry ghosts have huge tempers. No matter what comes up, they want to get angry. So, if you like getting angry, you will wind up as a hungry ghost. This, too, happens from always getting angry within your mind.

What makes for animals? Animals are stupid. If you are stupid, and do not understand anything, then you will become an animal. Take a look at animals. Why are they controlled by human beings? It is because they are stupid. They are not as intelligent as human beings.

You may say, “But I’ve seen animals that were very intelligent.” Well, go become that kind of animal then, since you like and admire it so much. It’s not difficult at all. All you have to do is do what animals do. What do animals do? They do stupid things. It’s thinking, “This is something that is not in accord with principle, but I definitely am going to do it. I won’t pay any attention to whether it is principled of not.” That is an example of stupidity becoming manifest. That’s becoming stupid, and that’s how one becomes an animal.

Therefore, the Three Evil Destinies come from the three poisons of greed, hatred and stupidity. How do you get out of the Three Evil Destinies? You do meritorious and virtuous deeds. What is the source of the Three Good Destinies? They come from goodness, merit and virtue. If you do good deeds, you can become a human being. The kind of person you become will depend upon the amount of good you have done. If you have done a lot of good, you can be a gas-and-oil king, a great automotive king, a great gold king, a great silver king, a great diamond king, a great construction king, a great earthly king or a great heavenly king there are that many kinds of great kings to be if you do good.

If you establish merit, there may be situations in which you know there is merit, and you establish it, and there may be situations in which there is not merit, although you think there is and go ahead and establish it. One example is that of helping a country wage war by going and killing people. That is the Dharma Realm of asuras, which is that of going out and fighting with people.

Asuras think that if they are victorious in battle they have merit, and so they are asuras. There are asuras in the heavens, and there are also asuras among human beings, among animals, and among the hungry ghosts all four of those destinies. In the path of animals, the asura is the one that always wants to bully the other animals. Among horses it is the stallion that harms the herd, the one horse of the herd that, if it’s not kicking this one it’s biting that one. That one is an asura. Among human beings, an asura is the one who’s always, stirring up trouble when there isn’t any. Asuras like to fight. They have the blessings of the heavens, but lack heavenly authority. They lack virtue of the gods. Heavenly asuras are called “the wine-less,” for they haven’t any wine to drink. You may object, “Then I couldn’t be an asura. I don’t want to be an asura, because I like to drink wine and they don’t have any wine to drink.” That’s best of all. To avoid being an asura, first you must never lose your temper. If you have a temper, that is the same as the Dharma Realm of asuras. So if you intend not to be an asura, first you should not lose your temper. You should have:

A nature like ashes.

The nature of your heart should be like ashes, with no fire inside. You can also have;

A nature like water.

One’s nature is like water: whoever is thirsty can drink water, and water is yielding, not rigid. Also you can have:

A nature like cotton.

One’s nature is as soft as cotton. When it’s cold, people like to wear quilted cotton clothing, and so it is beneficial to people. If you’re like that, then you will not end up as an asura. “But, you may object, ‘I also don’t want to be clothing for people.’ That was only an analogy. It didn’t mean actually to go and be clothing for people.

Most people who do not understand the Buddhadharma consider being born in the heavens as the ultimate. “Ah,” they say, “to go to the heavenly paradise and be with Lord God!” However, Lord God within Buddhism is just a Dharma protector. He doesn’t even have a place to sit. He has to stand. Some may protest, “I don’t believe it: Lord God standing for the Buddha?” If you don’t believe it, then try it out. Just go ahead and believe in your Lord God, and don’’ believe in the Buddha. It doesn’t matter.

People who don’t understand the Buddhadharma consider Lord God the very highest. However, within the Buddhadharma Lord God is just a local constable. This local constable says to the citizenry he superintends, “I am the very greatest. In the entire world there is no one who is greater than I am. I’m your boss, and you all have to follow my orders.”

The country people, not knowing any better, listen to their local constable’s caliber of wisdom and say, “Ah! He is our Lord. We must constantly draw near to this Lord!” Once that local constable went to visit the mayor, on which occasion he had to be very polite and formal. No one saw it, however, since he went there by himself. The local citizenry still had no idea they were under the jurisdiction of a mayor. What is more, when the local constable went to visit the president, he had to be even more polite.  When the president said, “Sit down, have a seat,” he replied, “No, thank you. Standing is just fine. It’s already glorious enough to be standing.”

Lord God is referred to in the line in the Shurangama Mantra: Na mwo Yin two la ye. King Indra, Yin two la ye, is just Lord God. So, recognize him clearly and if you happen to run into Indra and he says he’s King Indra, just say to him, “Oh, aren’t you Lord God?” Ask him that and he’s sure to blush and answer, “Yes, yes.”

The realms of gods are also limitless and unbounded. There is not just one Lord God, there are a great many Lords God. This particular Lord God started out as a woman, and since she was helped by thirty-two other women to repair and gild a Buddha image, her subsequent reward was to become Lord God. That is something which happened a long, long time ago... but she’s still being Lord God. How long ago did it happen? It was much, much longer than several quadrillions of years ago.

You should not act the historian with respect to this, feeling, “I definitely must check and research to what proof there is for this.” There isn’t any proof, except that I’m telling it to you now. You don’t believe it? I’m not particularly pleased if you do believe. I’m just telling you, and whether you believe or not makes no difference. Why not? If you believe, Lord God is still Lord God. If you do not believe, the Buddha is still the Buddha. There will not be any increase or decrease. The Dharma Realm of gods is so manifold that right now it cannot be completely described.

There is also the Dharma Realm of Sound Hearers. Sound Hearers are Arhats. Of Arhats there are:

  1. First Fruit Arhats.
  2. Second Fruit Arhats.
  3. Third Fruit Arhats.
  4. Fourth Fruit Arhats.

You may ask, “Aren’t there any Fifth Fruit Arhats?” Once when I was explaining to people that there is the First Dhyana, the Second Dhyana, the Third Dhyana, and the Fourth Dhyana, there was a person whose head was going a mile a minute who said, “I know , I know: there’s an even higher level which is the Fifth Dhyana.” Hah! He’d gone to the Fifth Dhyana!

Arhats can only certify to the four fruits. Those of the First Fruit have cut off the eighty-eight grades of view delusions. View delusions occur when one gives rise to greed and desire when confronted by states, in other words, when you see something and are turned by it. For example, you may see a good-looking car and think, “Wow! How can I get a car like that? I could drive it around and wouldn’t have to walk!” That is giving rise to greed and love, which is simple view delusions. If you saw the car and did not strike up that kind of false thinking, you would not have any view delusions. The same holds true for airplanes, fine houses, attractive clothing, beautiful possessions. In general, everything is included, and there’s no need for detailed explanation: you can figure it out for yourself. In general, whenever you see something, and you have greed and love for it. “Ah! I can’t put it down to the point that you can’t sleep at night for thinking about ... it. What is it?  Pretty things. Ah! It is really too fine!” That’s the way you think about those states, and, faced with states, you give rise to greed and love. That’s view delusions.

Thought delusions occur when one is confused about principle and gives rise to discriminations. Confused, you don’t understand the principle, and so you have discriminating false thoughts. For example, you may say, “What is said in the Flower Adornment Sutra is very well and good, but I’m afraid that’s not really the way things are. I shouldn’t believe it. I should believe myself and not believe the Flower Adornment Sutra. National Master Ch’ing Liang had his ten requirements to urge himself on, but that was his business; and besides, it’s all just talk. It’s not for sure he really was that way.” You discriminate, “It is this way, it isn’t that way. It’s true, it’s false.”

Sages of the First Fruit, Sound Hearers of the First Fruit, have cut off eighty-eight grades of view delusions, while there are eighty-one kinds of thought delusions. You may say, “I haven’t seen that many.” Not only have you not seen them, you haven’t even heard of them; so how could you possible have seen them? Isn’t that right? When one certifies to the Second Fruit of Arhatship, one cuts off all the eighty-one grades of thought delusions.

When one testifies to the Third Fruit, one cuts off delusions like dust and sand, i.e., delusions as many as there are motes of dust or grains of sand, which are very subtle. There are coarse delusions and subtle delusions. Thought delusions are also called subtle delusions. Someone who certifies to the Third Fruit cuts off delusions which are as many as sand and dust, and then all things that were not understood, as many as sand and dust, are all understood. “Not bad,” you say. Not bad? Then try it out: just go ahead and cultivate.

The more one speaks, the more there is to say. One never says it all; so I won’t say more.

Arhats of the First Fruit have cut off eighty-eight grades of view delusions. Those of the Second Fruit have cut off the first six grades of thought delusion. When one testifies to the Third Fruit, one cuts off three more grades, and has severed nine grades of thought delusion in all. Fourth Fruit Arhats cut off all eighty-one grades of thought delusion in the Three Realms.

The Dharma Realm of Those Enlightened to Conditions comes next. When a Buddha is in the world, they hear the Buddha explain the Twelve Links of Conditioned Co-Production and become enlightened to the Way, and so they are called Those Enlightened to Conditions.

The Dharma Realm of Sound Hearers is followed by the Dharma Realm of those Enlightened to Conditions. Sound Hearers are called Sound Hearers because they:

Hear the sound of the Buddha’s voice and become enlightened to the Way.

They cultivate the Dharma door of the Four Truths:

  1. Suffering.
  2. Accumulations.
  3. Extinction.
  4. The Way.

Those Enlightened to Conditions: Cultivate the Twelve Causal Conditions and become enlightened to the Way.

When no Buddha is in the world, they cultivate by themselves and become enlightened, so they are called Those Solitarily Enlightened. Off alone in steep mountains and remote valleys, they observe the continual birth and death of the myriad things and become enlightened.

The Dharma Realm of Bodhisattvas is one of benefiting oneself while benefiting others, taking oneself across while taking others across, and enlightening oneself while enlightening others. What Bodhisattvas cultivate is the Six Paramitas and the Ten Thousand Conducts.

The Six Paramitas

  1. Giving.
  2. Holding Precepts.
  3. Patience.
  4. Vigor.
  5. Dhyana-Samadhi.
  6. Prajna Wisdom.

Paramita is a Sanskrit word which translates as “Crossed to the Other Shore.” The analogy is that of crossing a body of water. For example, if one goes from San Francisco to Oakland, one has ‘arrived at the other shore.’ Now there is a bridge, so one may go by bridge without having to take a ferryboat. Having crossed to the other shore is just having done something to completion. Taking giving, for instance. If previously I didn’t give, but now I do give, then that is to have crossed to the other shore of giving. If I never used to keep the precepts, but now I do keep the precepts, that is to have  crossed to the other shore of holding precepts. If I never used to be patient, but now I am patient, that is to have crossed to the other shore of patience. If I never used to be vigorous, but now I am vigorous, that is to have crossed to the other shore of vigor. If I never used to cultivate dhyana-samadhi, but now I do cultivate dhyana-samadhi, that is to have crossed to the other shore of dhyana-samadhi. If I never used to cultivate wisdom, but now I do cultivate wisdom, that, too, is to have crossed to the other shore of wisdom. Bodhisattvas cultivate those six kinds of Paramitas, six kinds of Crossings to the Other Shore. They want to benefit other people, and so they are said to:

Benefit themselves while benefiting others,
Take themselves across while taking others across.
One should take oneself across to the other shore.
That is why Bodhisattvas constantly make the vows:

My own nature’s living beings I vow to take across.
My own nature’s afflictions I vow to eradicate.
My own nature’s Dharma doors I vow to study.
My own nature’s Buddhahood I vow to accomplish.

Their vows are to take their own nature across to the other shore and, by so doing, take others across as well, since there is a reciprocal relationship between oneself and others. The reason that Buddhas want to take living beings across is that living beings are all Buddhas ¾ it’s just that living beings are unaware of it, and so the Buddha needs to explain the Buddhadharma in order to bring living beings to accomplish Buddhahood. Bodhisattvas use the Buddhadharma to teach living beings and so they take themselves across while taking others across, enlightening themselves while enlightening others.

Once they are enlightened themselves, they reflect, “Enlightenment’s not bad at all! Everything is understood. Everything is suddenly penetrated. There is no ignorance and there are no afflictions. It’s extremely wonderful! This is truly an inconceivable state! But it’s useless for me to be the only one who attains this kind of state. I ought to enlighten everyone, all people, so that they, too, all attain this kind of inconceivable and supremely wonderful state.” Thereupon, instead of settling down in the wondrous state, they keep incredibly busy, every day intent upon teaching living beings and taking them across, in order to bring all living beings to attain the same kind of enlightenment they themselves have attained. That is what it means to bring forth the thought of a Bodhisattva, and describes the Dharma Realm of Bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattvas are also made from the mind in the same way as Sound Hearers and those Enlightened to Conditions are made from the mind. If in your mind you want to be a Bodhisattva, for example, you go ahead and cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. But if in your mind you think, ‘I don’t want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. It just leads one to take a loss, and I don’t want to take a loss,’ at that time you are unwilling to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way. People who cultivate the Bodhisattva Way bring forth the great thought for Bodhi, and use the mind of the Dharma Realm to cultivate the conduct of the Dharma Realm.

This is a further Dharma Realm, that of the Buddha. The Buddha is enlightened himself, and he enlightens others. Furthermore, his enlightened conduct is perfected. His virtuous conduct is perfected, and his cultivation is perfected absolutely everything has been perfected, and so he has accomplished Buddhahood. What is a Buddha? Just a person. However, that person has returned to the origin and gone back to the source. He has understood his original face. He has found his own home. In that way he has accomplished Buddhahood. The very first thing the Buddha did upon accomplishing Buddhahood was to speak the Great Flower Adornment Sutra. For three whole weeks, twenty-one days, the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, and it was not through his Reward Body, it was through his Dharma Body. He appeared as Vairochana Buddha to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra, and during that time all that the people of the Two Vehicles saw was the Buddha seated there in samadhi, not speaking Dharma. The Great Lords of the Dharma Body, the Bodhisattvas, saw the Buddha speaking Dharma. To the people of the Two Vehicles, the Buddha still looked like a six-foot tall Bhikshu seated in meditation. In actuality, while the Buddha was seated there in mediation, he was manifesting the  clear, pure Dharma Body, and speaking the Great Flower Adornment Sutra. But even though the people of the Two Vehicles had eyes, they could not see Nishyanda Buddha. And although they had ears, the couldn’t hear the sound of the Buddha’s voice. The Buddha thereupon manifested the clear and pure Dharma Body Vairochana Buddha, and the perfect, full Reward Body Nishyanda Buddha. How big and how tall was that Nishyanda Buddha?  He was a thousand feet tall. The thousand foot Nishyanda Buddha,  along with the Dharma Body, completely filled every space and, at the appearance of the Nishyanda Buddha Body, all of the Bodhisattvas were able to see the Buddha speaking the Flower Adornment Sutra, which the Arhats couldn’t see.  Now, we may not be Arhats, but then again, we may be Bodhisattvas, because now we are able to see and hear the Flower Adornment Sutra. Perhaps in the past we planted the caused for Bodhisattva-hood, so that we now are in circumstances in which we can hear this great Dharma and great Teaching.

When divided up, the Ten Dharma Realms exist as described: but when taken together, they are just the manifestation of a single thought of our mind. That single thought of the mind universally fills the Ten Dharma Realms, and so it is further said:

If one wishes to understand fully
All Buddhas of the three periods of time,
One should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from mind alone.

The Buddhas of the three worlds of time are those of the past worlds, the present worlds, and the futures. To know how the Buddhas of the three worlds of time became Buddhas, all you need to do is contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm as being entirely created from the mind alone.

How did those of you now attending the Buddhist Study and Cultivation Summer Session come here? You may say, “I bought a plane ticket and flew here,” or, “I bought a bus ticket and the bus brought me here.” Perhaps you say, “I used my old dilapidated jalopy, drove for a few days, and got here.” That’s all not the truth. You’re all wrong. You came by means of your mind. In your mind you thought, “Oh, the Sino-American Buddhist Association is having a Study and Cultivation Summer Session. The first one was ninety-six days long, the second one was ninety-six days long, and the third also was ninety-six days long. But the duration of this fourth one has been cut down. It’s probably very easy. I’ll go attend it and see what it’s like. It’s just for a few weeks, so no matter how difficult it is, I’ll be able to bear the suffering. At that time, in your mind you said, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” Because you thought to come, now you have arrived. Now that you have arrived, you have become a student in the Flower Adornment Buddhist Study and Cultivation Session. Isn’t that just a case of everything being made from mind alone? It came about simply from your mind.

If you had never had the intention in your mind to come, then you might have had a plane, a boat, a bus, or a train, but they all would have been useless. Without the thought of coming, you would never have taken the first step, so how could you have come here? Therefore, everything is made from mind alone.

What this the mind?  You may say, “The mind is just the mind. What else could it be?” I’ll tell you: the mind is just the Dharma Realm. Now doesn’t the text say, “This can only be the Dharma Realm!”? We could make a substitution and say, “This can be only be your mind!”. It’s just your mind. You may object, “But I thought the Dharma Realm was very great, and here it is changing into my mind, which is so small.” How can your mind be small? Didn’t you just hear how the Ten Dharma Realms are simply the manifestation of a single thought of the mind? How then could your mind be all that small? Your mind is greater than empty space. It is bigger than heaven and earth. It is just that you are unable to use it. Your mind is:

So great nothing is beyond it,
So small nothing is within it.

However, you are only aware of having a small mind, a mind the size of fine mote of dust. Your state is too small. If your state were great, then you would know you have a great mind.

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