The Annotated True Buddha Sutra

Written by Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu
Translated by Janny Chow

Day 1

Discourse No. 1:
(October 1st, 1988)

The Sutra of Authentic Dharma That Removes Hindrances and Bestows Good Fortune

This True Buddha Sutra is the spontaneous revelation from the Own Heart of Living Buddha Lian-sheng, the Emanation Body of White Mahapadmakumara of Maha Twin Lotus Ponds in Western Paradise.

Last week, a student who owns a bean sprout production company requested that I expound the True Buddha Sutra. I will therefore bestow the oral commentary week by week in stages.

True Buddha Sutra is the abbreviated form of the complete title, which is The Sutra of Authentic Dharma that Removes Hindrances and Bestows Good Fortune.

To begin with, we should examine the meaning of `true` or `authentic.` When I ask you `what is true?`, you will all respond `that which obtains or applies.` Actually, in this dualistic world where one aspect is called `true,` there is another called `false.` This is due to public agreement one way or the other. But, please examine the matter further. These agreements as to `truth` or `falsity` are just mental fabrications, and nothing in this world can be fundamentally one or the other.

Take for example the question of the world`s most valuable commodity. This commodity cannot be either gold or diamonds, these can still be purchased with money. Therefore currency - such as the U. S. dollar - must be most valuable. It is a valid currency through being backed by the resources of the U.S. government and through recognition by other lands and peoples. A private or counterfeit currency will however be accepted by no one and is therefore invalid.

But will these so-called valid currencies circulated worldwide be recognized by the Amitabha Buddha? I would say that the money brought as offerings to Amitabha at this temple will not be used by him.

Worldly paper money has no value in the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss [Sukhavati], and in the eyes of Amitabha, the `American dollar` is no more than a slip of paper with some dark green print. So, offering the most valuable worldly money in exchange for entrance to the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss will not work: the Buddha will not sell it to you!

The word `true` as used here represents official sanction of Amitabha of the Western Paradise which is in turn recognized by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Thus the True Buddha Sutra is officially and universally recognized. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas recognize this sutra, as do all arhats, sages, all True Buddha acharyas and disciples. Therefore it is named the True Buddha Sutra of the True Buddha School.

What is a `sutra`? It is a kind of road or pathway. Thus to follow this True Buddha road and walk ahead is to move in a certain direction, which leads to the abode of the True Buddhas.

What then is a `Buddha Sutra`? It is a path to True Awakening and Realization. Therefore the title identifies the sutra as a means to True Wakening and Realization - that is the essential meaning of the entire sutra.

As such it can remove obstacles and bestow blessings. Through reliance on this sutra, many disasters can be prevented and many heavenly blessings will be received.

Thus it is the Sutra of Authentic Dharma that Removes Hindrances and Bestows Good Fortune - the True Buddha Sutra in short.

You know, this sutra did not previously exist; it is only now that we have it. In fact, it did not exist even three or four months ago.

`This True Buddha Sutra is the spontaneous revelation from the Own Heart of Living Buddha Lian-sheng, the Emanation Body of White Mahapadmakumara of Maha Twin Lotus Ponds in Western Paradise.`

So, after all this introduction, the sutra identifies me as the author! Honestly, I too find this quite puzzling. This `spontaneous revelation from the Own Heart` how did it happen? Did the sutra just flow out of the physical heart?

The basic physical heart is associated with a certain rhythmic thumping (mind you, this is not a contemporary dance beat). But while most people use the character `hsin` Chinese for heart] to mean this physical heart, others use the same character to refer to the subtle [yogic awareness focused at the] brow point.

So when speaking of Own Heart, to which do I refer?

You will not be able to find IT!

This Heart is emphatically not the gross physical heart, not the one that beats rhythmically. Yet I tell you that it is also not at the brow point! For if it were present there only, then through what agency could your big toe be caused to wiggle?

Therefore Shakyamuni Buddha said, `The Heart is not outside, nor is it inside.` Perhaps then one of you will say, `Since the Heart is not outside and not inside, then it must be in the skin, right in the middle!` Actually, the Heart is not found there either.

The Heart/Mind referred to by Shakyamuni Buddha is the Consciousness of the entire Universe. Included in it are you, everything within you, and everything outside you. The Whole Universe comprising oneself and all others is known as the Heart.

Thus, in this one sentence - `The Sutra is the spontaneous revelation of the Own Heart...` - the phrase `Own Heart` expresses both the fundamental identity of individual and universal awareness.

Today, although the Grand Master is here expounding the sutra that is the spontaneous revelation from the Own Heart, the scripture identifies itself as being spontaneously revealed by the greatest Heart/Mind, the Universal Mind.

I wrote this sutra not through having and later recording a nighttime dream, nor through intent to leave a classic work for posterity, that I might in the pure realms listen to future generations recite it and boast of my authorship!

Ah, it can`t be this way at all. Such narcissism of the ego is in no way comparable to spontaneous Heart/Mind revelation. Many people said with great sarcasm that since Grand Master had written a True Buddha Sutra, they were inspired to write a False Buddha Sutra.

Actually, the spontaneous revelation from the Own Heart is a release of Wisdom of the Heart of the Universe. This sutra was not written through domination of the turbulent emotions or the individual self-consciousness, nor did I receive some inspiration from a dream of some kind. That was not it at all.

In this first paragraph is the phrase `Living Buddha Lian-sheng, the Emanation Body of White Mahapadmakumara.` The Mahapadmakumara is actually the Bliss Body residing in the Western Paradise. I am just a beam of light emitted by the Mahapadmakumara, like a reflection of the shining moon in the waters of Lake Sammamish. That is why the sutra identifies me as an expression of White Mahapadmakumara.

By now everyone should be very familiar with the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds of the Western Paradise ?it is our destination [as practitioners]. We return not to our parents` home, but to our `original` home [which is the Buddha`s Pure Land]. Thus, an in-depth understanding of this sutra is necessary. Achieving Realization through this sutra definitely allows us to return to the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds of the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss.

We will end here this week!

Om Mani Padme Hum

慶賀真佛宗根本傳承上師八十聖壽 「一生一咒」800萬遍上師心咒活動,從今年師尊的佛誕日正式啟動,請參加者到TBSN官網以下鏈接登記資料: 每持滿十萬遍上師心咒者,宗委會將把名單呈給師尊加持。每持滿一百萬遍者,將列名護摩法會功德主,資料請師尊主壇護摩法會時下護摩爐。