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 11, 25 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. They took the initiative to deliver sentient beings and felt at ease in any situation.
They relentlessly hoisted the Three Jewels with grandeur, and subdued maras and all the heretics on deviant paths. They had been completely purified and eternally freed from all obscurations and entanglements. Their minds were in a constant state of unhindered liberation, and with stable minds, they engaged in debates with eloquence.
We will now talk about: They had been completely purified and eternally freed from all obscurations and entanglements. This means that all the great bhikkus and great bodhisattvas have purified their body, speech, and mind and abandoned their obscurations and entanglements. “Obscurations” and “entanglements” are the key points here, which I will explain.
There are five kinds of obscurations and ten kinds of entanglements. Entanglements bind you, and obscurations enshroud your buddhanature, preventing it from manifesting. These defilements cause your buddhanature to never see the light of day.
First, there is desire or greed—if you have any desire for money, fame, sex, privileges, etc., you cannot be pure, and your body, speech, and mind won’t be pure either. Desires enshroud your buddhanature; thus, your buddhanature will not be able to manifest.
Next is animosity—anger, hatred, vengeance, hostility, and the like are like fire that burns away all your merits and virtues. As soon as hatred or vengeance arises in your heart, it will obscure you. As such, it will be impossible for you to manifest your buddhanature.
The third is sleep. Sleep is a human desire and can be problematic. If you sleep too much or you sleep day and night, then sleep too can be a terrible obscuration.
The fourth kind of obscuration is being too tight or too loose. If you are too uptight, agitated, and ever anxious in whatever you do, or vice versa, you are too lazy and apathetic, and never diligent in your spiritual cultivation or in anything you do, then these aberrations will hinder your ability to manifest your buddhanature.
The last kind is doubt. Say, today you believe in Buddhism, but not tomorrow. Then the next day you believe again, and then you don’t again. Doubt will also obscure you. None of the five obscurations is right.
I would like to rename True Buddha School, “Shelter for the Lazy.” Lazy people come to be ordained at our school. Some people were not lazy before, but upon joining, they became lazy. Why? Whom did they learn from? They did not strive to be diligent but instead became lazy. The very lazy people became ordained as monks and nuns—they thought they were guaranteed room and board and that everything will be provided until old age. They just live day by day, until eventually they get a spot at the Double Lotus Realm Columbarium for free. It is free for the ordained sangha. Once they are ordained, they have food on their tables and a roof over their heads wherever they go, either long-term or short-term. But they are no good for any dharma work. What a sloth! Oh my, how come our True Buddha School has become a shelter for the lazy!
Recently, I inspected three [of the Seattle temple’s] houses: the library, the aqua house across from the library, and the wasabi house. Such indolence!! They were like a shipwreck—occupied by extremely lazy people. So messy and filthy! I only saw three of the dormitories, and already I could tell how lazy the occupants are. Not only were they unkempt and unclean, but things were also scattered all over the place as if there had been an armed robbery during which someone ransacked the place. It does not look like a spiritual cultivator’s place at all.
Japanese monks mop the floor by hand with a rag and a bucket of water every morning. Their morning duty is to scrub the floors until they become shiny and spotless. They don’t use brooms, mops, or vacuum cleaners. On the contrary, what I saw in the dorms… let’s just say, no wonder you have skin problems; otherwise, it must mean you have amazingly good skin. What laziness. It is unbelievable!
Once I checked on someone who just kicked her blanket off when she got up in the morning and left it as is. I asked her, “Why didn’t you fold your blanket?” Do you know what she said?! “Because I will need it again at night anyway.” That’s what she said! Goodness gracious!
Remember! Don’t be greedy! Never be hateful or vengeful! Do not be like a clam, always hiding—sleeping a lot, covering yourself. And neither should you be too uptight nor too apathetic. Lastly, don’t be doubtful. So those are the five obscurations.
On the topic of no conscience and no shame—they didn’t feel any shame even after Grandmaster reprimanded them and talked about it on the dharma throne. They do not listen, reflect, or correct themselves. They have no conscience and no shame. It is like the saying, “Earnest advice falls on deaf ears.” In Taiwan, we say, “Goes in one ear and out the other.” They continue to be and do whatever they want as they have no integrity and no sense of shame. They stick to their old ways and disregard any advice, “Say all you like, but I do what I want.”
In the future, the temple president and manager should inspect every room. If it is dirty and messy, with blankets all rumpled and the environment unkempt, then demand it to be cleaned—every day. Ask them to clean the floors on their knees. It does not matter what position they occupy, they should vacuum the carpets themselves. What needs to be done needs to be done. You must change! How can you cultivate spiritually if you cannot manage your own surroundings? No conscience and no shame are considered entanglements.
Envy and jealousy are hand-in-hand. They are not as bad as hatred and vengeance, but they are close. One should not breed any envy or jealousy. Do not become jealous of someone else’s success. It would be wrong.
Being stingy or miserly is like, “This is mine, and nobody else can touch it!” or “This fridge is only for me to use!” I have heard that in our temple kitchen, they disallow other groups to use certain pots, pans, and utensils, not even to borrow for the slightest moment. It shouldn’t be like that! These belong to the temple, so everyone involved should be able to use them. Even the fridge can be divided, this area or this shelf for so-and-so, etc. Everyone should share. How can it be possible that it is only yours to use? It is not right. If you’re so stingy and miserly, it is impossible for you to become a buddha. Instead, you will go to a miserly place.
The ten entanglements include indolence and loafing around; being uptight and agitated; too much sleep and muddle-headedness; anger and animosity and lack of integrity—“Weasels waver back and forth and have no integrity nor responsibility.” They oscillate; they agree today but not tomorrow, time and time again.
We come here to cultivate spiritually, therefore, we must eliminate the five obscurations and the ten entanglements entirely. The great bhikkus and the great bodhisattvas are for the sake of sentient beings and not for themselves.
I find human beings to be too selfish. Greed is also due to self-interest. You harbor anger and hatred toward others—but why don’t you target yourself instead? You should hate yourself for not putting in the effort. You should sleep just enough, so you can make good use of the remaining time. Time is precious! If you sleep too much, then you are slacking off instead of being diligent. Laziness is the worst thing. Another entanglement is wavering back and forth; you do dharma practice today but not tomorrow. Instead, you must have willpower, tenacity, stamina, and self-discipline!
Grandmaster Lu is the best in perseverance and self-discipline. How did I produce 290 books? It is through perseverance! How about all my paintings? It is also through that steadfast tenacity! Look at how I have performed the bardo deliverance of the thousand dharma vessels non-stop for almost three years now! I never skip a night and still do it even if I am sick. I also never skip any of my practices, no matter what! You cannot skip it even for a day. You cannot be lazy—not even for a day or a night.
See? Grandmaster never takes any day off and continuously works seven days a week, 365 days a year. Did I ever take a break? Or have I said that I cannot go that day? Did I ever miss giving dharma teachings on the dharma throne throughout the last three-year [pandemic]? Have I ever requested time off on Saturday or Sunday? Never! Unless I am gravely sick to the point that I cannot even stand up, then I might request some time off—perhaps! I have this kind of spirit, stamina, and willpower.
Fo-Ching still goes on vacation because she is westernized. She says her dad’s lifestyle is unhealthy, working 365 days a year and never taking any break. He never goes on vacation. Little did she know that her dad merely cares for sentient beings. He cares for those who died from COVID-19—is there anyone helping to bardo-deliver them? It is only I who bardo deliver them every night—and anyone who dies that day is also bardo-delivered. That is what I do, and everything is for sentient beings.
A human’s life is short! It is over before you realize it. Time is so short, and every day I feel I don’t have enough time. How could I possibly have time for vacation? It is important to have a penitent mind. If you want to go to the buddha’s pureland, you must be this way. As long as I am still breathing, I will persevere to the very end.
They had been completely purified and eternally freed from all obscurations and entanglements.
Free yourself from the five obscurations and ten entanglements! Think for the sake of sentient beings and never for your own sake. It is useless to think for yourself, as there is nothing to ask for [everything is unattainable]. What do you have? What else do you want? We do not ask for anything in whatever we do.
This is my explanation of this phrase today: Purify your body, speech, and mind, and be eternally freed from the five obscurations and ten entanglements.
That’s all for today. Om mani padme hum.
Next discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 12, 26 June 2022 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
Previous discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 10, 19 June 2022 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
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Full webcast of 2022.06.25 Padmakumara Group Practice (Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://youtu.be/jSJPT6xxkbI