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 21, 30 July 2022 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
They appeared most magnificent, even when they had forgone all worldly embellishments. Their fame and reputation far exceeded the height of Mount Meru, and their deep faith was as strong as a vajra. Their dharma treasure showered nectar everywhere upon all beings as the most marvelous sound ever heard. They understood the profundity of the origination of causes and conditions, and cut off all wrong views.
Now, we will continue with the Vimalakirti Sutra: …they had forgone all worldly embellishments. All the great bhikkus and great bodhisattvas of that time had forgone all worldly embellishments. They had no need for any worldly ornaments.
Generally, Grandmaster includes the six ornaments when painting the celestial maidens. The six ornaments are the headdress, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and ribbons on their celestial garments. The headdress or crowns are sometimes made of flowers that do not wilt. They wear nice earrings and usually three layers of necklaces. They also wear bracelets and anklets. The celestial garments they wear flow with many beautiful ribbons. We also have a beautiful statue of the Golden Mother in the form of a celestial maiden.
Many statues of buddhas and bodhisattvas are adorned with ornaments and embellishments. However, it is written here that …they had forgone all worldly embellishments. In reality, the great bodhisattvas are magnificent as they are, as we talked about in the preceding phrase: They appeared most magnificent. Their magnificence is externally reflected as bright radiance and complexion, and internally as integrity and virtue. They are endowed with merit externally and virtue internally.
In such a state, a great bodhisattva is magnificent as is and therefore has no need for any additional embellishments. Naturally, you would exclaim in admiration upon seeing them, “Wow! How beautiful! How magnificent!” Their splendor is magnificent without earrings, headdresses, or any material things.
On the contrary, women in this world, especially older ones, would put on many things on their faces—something like SK-II. Some also put on fake eyelashes or tattoo their eyebrows, which can look like two caterpillars. Nowadays, beauty and youthfulness are man-made.
But when your hormones are abundant, your face looks lustrous naturally, without any cosmetics. They have a natural blush on their faces and look very beautiful. We have a pair of twin girls from Vancouver today who are both very beautiful. When you’re young, you are naturally beautiful.
But when they start to age, then they start to put on a lot of makeup. They apply layers of makeup as if they are painting their face. Some spend an hour or two before they can leave the house. I saw a lady who usually spends two hours doing her makeup, and she indeed looked gorgeous. Then, one time I saw her without makeup, I could only say, “Good heavens!” Looking from afar, she looks like a flower. Up close, her face is full of marks. Oh gosh! Women can surely put on makeup to cover their imperfections, but how about men? It seems, nowadays men do too, although not as common.
Grandmaster never applies anything on the face. Every day, especially in this hot weather, I just take a towel and wipe my face with it. These past few days have been so hot! If it gets any hotter, I will have to wear my swimming trunks to the dharma throne. [Audience laughter]
Bodhisattvas naturally exude radiant complexion. They don’t need to tattoo their eyebrows or create double eyelids. Their lustrous radiance is very natural. It is very interesting how no two faces can look exactly alike, although the face consists of only eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. At most, they are very similar.
The great bodhisattvas had forgone all worldly embellishments. They don’t need to adorn themselves as they look magnificent as is.
As a Buddhist practitioner, you should be responsible for your own look, especially if you lack the appropriate dignified look. If you are an ordained monk or nun, you should look like a monk or a nun. You need to correct yourself if someone ever says that you look vicious, ruthless, fierce or confrontational, or that you don’t look like a monk or nun at all. A monk or a nun should look compassionate and kind. The nuns should look like Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva or Maha Cundi Buddha Mother while the monks should look like Skanda Bodhisattva.
Look at the face of our Skanda Bodhisattva; he looks magnificent—very handsome and majestic. Look at the appearance of the buddhas and bodhisattvas here—the seven buddhas—they all look magnificent and perfect. You need to cultivate until you naturally exude the perfect look of a great bodhisattva—very kind and compassionate. Only the herukas and the vajra deities look wrathful.
There are three types of Buddhist images in Tantrayana: the serene or peaceful, the wrathful, and lastly, a mix of peaceful and wrathful. The peaceful look is compassionate and serene; the last kind is very difficult to sculpt. In Mahayana, most images are serene and peaceful.
Without any adornments, they are naturally magnificent. They have a perfect appearance the way they are. Age does not matter—whether they are seventy, eighty, or ninety years old, they can still exude dignity, kindness, and compassion. It doesn’t matter how old they are; they look naturally perfect without any adornments.
Like Reverend Lian Yin, he looks good. Could you please take off your mask and turn around so everybody can see? He looks like a monk and looks very nice. Our secretary, Master Lian Qi, has a scholarly look and looks good, too. Shimu praised him for being very capable at housework. Master Lian Wang, who wears glasses, looks good too. At our Seattle temple, he has read a wide range of things, including many sutras, like the Five Treatises of Tantrayana. Please take off your mask so that everybody can see you. His look is also good. He looks like a renowned monk from China called the Great Master Taixu. I saw his image, and he looks a little bit like Master Lian Wang.
The look of Reverend Jiu Ru is likewise not bad; he looks like a wrathful heruka. Reverend Lian Xu’s look is also good, like an arhat, very skinny. During Sakyamuni Buddha’s era, they starved the arhats, and they looked like Reverend Lian Xu. Currently, the oldest nun is Reverend Lian Ye, right? And who is the oldest monk? Lian Guan! How old are you? 67? That is still akin to a kid. I am the oldest one then. For the bhikkus, is anybody older than me? Nobody? How come I am the oldest now? In the past, my classmates always called me the little one, the youngest. How come now I’ve turned into the oldest? Strange!
According to the Taiwanese calendar, I am seventy-eight. How do I look at seventy-eight? I don’t need any embellishments. That’s just how it is.
We have a Chinese idiom, “Your thoughts are reflected on your looks.” If your thoughts are good, then goodness will be reflected on your face, which gradually turns into the face of a good person. Vice versa for bad thoughts, and your face will look accordingly.
That’s why a guru once said, “You are responsible for your own looks.” That’s how it is. Looks are important, too. If you are loveable and amiable, everybody will like to be around you. If you are mean and fierce, then people will be afraid to approach you. As a Buddhist, you want to treat everybody well, as your subject of deliverance, as your subject of compassion, as your subject of giving, and as your subject of salvation. This is doing without conditions. Doing unconditionally without expectations is forgoing all worldly embellishments.
Om mani padme hum.
Next discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 22, 31 July 2022 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
Previous discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 20, 24 July 2022 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
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Full webcast of 2022.07.30 Maha Cundi Bodhisattva Group Practice (Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, USA) and dharma discourse with English interpretation: https://youtu.be/fi9FH9X8b50