A Detailed Exposition of the Vimalakirti Sutra
by Grandmaster Lu, Living Buddha Lian Sheng of the True Buddha School
Translated into English by the True Buddha School Vimalakirti Translation Team
Discourse 7, 11 June 2022 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
Thus have I heard: At one time, the Buddha was in the Amra Garden near the city of Vaisali, accompanied by eight thousand great bhikkus, thirty-two thousand bodhisattvas, and the assembly of virtuous and knowledgeable spiritual practitioners.
Their attainments of the great wisdom and fundamental conduct were solely due to the divine might of the buddhas. Together they formed a dharma-protecting fortress to uphold the true dharma. Their lion’s roar resounded throughout all ten directions. People were naturally enticed to join, and the atmosphere was affable.
Now, we will talk about the Vimalakirti Sutra’s Chapter One—Buddhaverse. Earlier, I have talked about great wisdom and fundamental conduct. Great wisdom encompasses the wisdom of emptiness, the wisdom of existence, and the wisdom of the tathagata. How about the fundamental conduct? The fundamental conduct of the bodhisattvas is the six perfections of generosity, precepts, endurance, diligence, meditation, and wisdom. Meanwhile, the fundamental conduct of the great bhikkus are the four noble truths of suffering, cause of suffering, end of suffering, and the path to end the suffering. The great bhikkus and bodhisattvas are accomplished in the great wisdom and fundamental conduct.
Next is …solely due to the divine might of the buddhas. What does that mean? Think about it! It is very interesting... How are the great bhikkus and the great bodhisattvas related to the divine might of the buddhas? What do they have anything to do with the divine might of the buddhas?
I will let you explain this—whether you got it from the commentaries in English or Chinese. Grandmaster has his own explanation. If your answer is in line with Grandmaster’s version, then this Mahabala necklace is for you. Please raise your hand if you can explain the phrase …solely due to the divine might of the buddhas. Let’s begin. Alright, it’s the ambassador again. [The ambassador speaks at length.]
We could tell the ambassador had read the Vimalakirti Sutra and all its commentaries. What he said was right, but it is different from what Grandmaster had in mind. [Several people answer.] All your answers were close, including the ambassador’s. Anybody else? [Master Lian He speaks.] Okay, this gift is for you.
In his answer, Master Lian He mentioned an important keyword. The great bhikkus and all the bodhisattvas have their attainments due to the blessings of the buddhas. The key point is in the “blessings.” They can have attainment only because of the blessings from the buddhas. “Blessing” is very crucial. Upon receiving blessings from the buddhas, their mighty power and transcendent power manifest.
Let me give you a simple analogy. Recently, there has been a revitalization at the Seattle Lei Tsang Temple; we now have a new atmosphere, a new board, and many things, including the personnel and environment, are changing. A few days ago, as we were walking from the dining hall back to the Tantric Quarter, didn’t we see a halo rainbow around the sun in the sky above us? Raise your hands if you saw it. Many people saw it. There was a halo rainbow around the sun above the Seattle temple [Grandmaster shows the photo].
As usual, on the way out of the dining hall, I paid homage to Sakyamuni Buddha and Pindola. What I’m telling you now is true: Sakyamuni Buddha walked out of the tangka, smiling. He was smiling at me. Do you know what it means when he smiles at you? That is a blessing! He is giving you a blessing, as any movement and any word spoken by a buddha are all blessings.
Hence, all the sutras spoken by the buddhas have blessing power. All the sutras have blessing power, including the four noble truths, the six perfections, the noble eightfold path, and the twelve links of dependent origination. Likewise, when the buddhas smile at you, that is a blessing. Sakyamuni Buddha came out of the tangka and smiled; that’s a blessing, too!
Afterward, we walked back to the Tantric Quarter and saw a huge halo rainbow around the sun in the sky. Everybody exclaimed, “Wow, look at that huge halo rainbow around the sun!” I looked up briefly, and I also saw many monastics around the halo in the sky, paying homage in the direction of the Seattle Lei Tsang Temple.
This showed that the buddhas and bodhisattvas at the Seattle temple are all alive, as I have often mentioned. They are all alive and have blessing power. Golden Mother is seated right here behind me, and somebody knows that she is alive.
Where is dharma sister Lin Yixin (Shirley)? She told me she saw that the Golden Mother is alive. Oh, she is here. Did you ever say that the Golden Mother is alive? [She answers yes.] You told me, but can you tell us now why you said the Golden Mother is alive? [She says, “In my dream, she looked just like the statue on the altar there, and she was alive and could move.”] So you could see the Golden Mother statue moving? [“Yes.”] The Golden Mother is alive! This is the testimony of dharma sister Shirley.
[A reverend: “Greeting Grandmaster! For me, it’s not a dream. Once, I made a mistake, and I was startled that the Golden Mother appeared angry right away. There was another incident when we were cleaning the altar, and I removed something inappropriate from her statue. After I did it, I saw Golden Mother smiling and winking her eyes. I was not dreaming. The Golden Mother is alive!”] So, are you saying that Golden Mother is winking her eyes and flirting with you? [Grandmaster jokes.] [The reverend continues, “Oh, it’s because Golden Mother was encouraging me since I removed something bad from her body and I did the right thing.”] That’s good, very good indeed!
Another example is Shimu (Master Lian Hsiang), who is not here but at the Tantric Quarter. Over these past few days, she clearly heard continuous sutra chanting from the sky above the Seattle temple. She could even follow along. She asked me, “What does it mean to hear sutra chanting from the sky?” I replied, “The heavenly beings are chanting sutras in the sky; they are giving blessings.” Shimu remarked, “How about if an elderly and sickly person hears it, what does it mean?” “It means it’s about time to be picked up.” [chuckles] “So is it my time to go soon?” she asked again. Of course, my reply was, “No, no, not for you! They are blessing you.” That’s how I answered.
“Blessing” is extremely crucial. When Sakyamuni Buddha appears and gives you a smile, that is a kind of blessing; it has the power of blessings. Similarly, the sound of sutra chanting in the sky above the Seattle temple means blessings for the temple in its effort to remove dead wood and garbage from the past.
In my opinion, the temple should regularly inspect the rooms of sangha members—monks and nuns, as well as resident laity. The place where you live should be clean and tidy, so it is conducive for spiritual cultivation. Every morning, make your bed, fold your blanket neatly, put away your toothbrush, toothpaste, cups, washbasin, and everything else, so that it looks nice and clean. You should clean and tidy up every day. As a result, you will feel good and clean too.
One should never have a pile of things anywhere, and especially not on your bed or around your sleeping quarter. An unclean environment breeds all kinds of mold, mites, germs, and pests. Consequently, a similar “infestation” will also affect your heart-mind; there will be all kinds of [mental and emotional] germs and pests eating you up. If you and your surroundings are dirty and stinky, or you live in a place that looks like a garbage dump, how can you sit there and practice? Especially when you share your space with others.
Spiritual cultivators should also pay attention to their own outer appearance. They should wash themselves and wash their clothes regularly. Your body, mouth, and clothes should be free from filth and bad odor. Not only should your environment be clean and tidy, but you should also be clean and tidy. This way, your state of mind will also be clean and clear.
We have a Chinese saying, “If one cannot take care of one’s own room, how can one take care of a country?” If you cannot even tidy up your own room, how can you deliver sentient beings? You need to clean and take care of your residence first before you can teach other people how to improve their lives. If you don’t even wash your own outfits, your body is dirty, and you have body odor, bad mouth odor, earwax, boogers, eye mucus, or you have athlete’s feet, who would want to listen to your dharma teaching? If you have a bad mouth odor, who will listen to you?
Therefore, you should take care of yourself first. As spiritual cultivators, we should take care of our outer appearance as well as our inner self. Typically, we start by cleaning and tidying up our outer selves and environment, so we can clean up our insides. Generally, when our environment is clean, then our heart-mind will also be clean. Otherwise, how can you clean and purify your inner self if your outer self and environment are filthy and messy?
Therefore, we need a revitalization of this temple and a new atmosphere. After I inspected a few rooms and dormitories, all of which did not pass, they started putting in hours to tidy up and throw out garbage until late at night. The inspection will be monthly, and not just this once. We will set up sangha rules for monastic members and laity who stay at the temple.
…solely due to the divine might of the buddhas means that after all the buddhas give blessings to the great bhikkus and bodhisattvas, they can manifest their mighty transcendent power. The key point is on the blessing. Everything that the buddhas do and give are blessings.
Other than the buddhas, an authentic and virtuous guru also has such power. You may have heard of this anecdote in Vajrayana: Next to a guru, two attendants were standing to his left and right. As the guru sat in meditation, two fleas jumped onto him. The guru knew and pinched one of the fleas to death while the other one ran away. By killing the flea, the guru instantly delivered it to the pure buddhaverse. He had such power that he could deliver beings to the buddhaverse immediately.
The two attendants saw this incident. One of them thought, “I don’t want to die like that!” But the other one thought, “It would have been nice if I were that flea who died.” Right away, the guru looked at him and said, “Now, I will deliver you to the buddhaverse because you had such a thought.” With the guru’s single thought, this attendant had a heart attack and went to the buddhaverse in an instance.
What is this power and where does this power come from? From the blessings. Hence, today this phrase solely due to the divine might of the buddhas means that all the great bhikkus and bodhisattvas have their divine might and transcendent power only due to the blessings of the buddhas. This is what it means. This is Grandmaster’s version and explanation of this phrase.
That’s all for today. Om mani padme hum.
 Buddhaverse or buddha universe, is a novel and very appropriate term coined by Dr. Robert Thurman for 佛國, which has normally been translated as buddhaland, buddha-field, buddha realm, or buddha world from the Sanskrit word buddhaksetra.
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Full webcast of 2022.06.11 Sakyamuni Buddha Group Practice (Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://youtu.be/a1AMM7kvxkI