Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra
A Detailed Exposition by Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Grandmaster Sheng-Yen Lu
Translated into English by the True Buddha School Vimala Sutra Translation Team
Discourse 62, 12 February 2023 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
“Here we offer humble parasols to the World-honored One.
Within which you showed us the three-thousand worlds,
The palaces of all devas and dragon gods,
Gandharvas and yaksas,
And all the things that exist in the saha world.
The appearances of the ten powers are manifestations.
Upon seeing this rare occurrence, sentient beings praised the Buddha.
Today, we pay homage to the Venerable of the Three Realms.
The Great Sage Dharma King is the refuge of the multitude.
Observing the Buddha with a pure mind, they are filled with joy,
Seeing the World-honored One right before them.
This is the most uncommon display of transcendent power.”
Yesterday, we talked about:
“Unmoved by honor or slanders like Mount Meru,
You equally love the virtuous and the unvirtuous,
With mind and conduct of equality like the cosmic space.
Who could hear such a human jewel without offering respect?”
In the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Accumulated Treasures Bodhisattva praised Sakyamuni Buddha for his embodiment of the wisdom of equal-nature. Sakyamuni Buddha is a buddha jewel. Since he masters the dharma, he is also a dharma jewel. As a [practicing] bhiksu, he is a sangha jewel. Human jewel refers to the supreme and very important jewel in the saha world. Sakyamuni Buddha is therefore a human jewel. We should respect human jewels, and we highly revere Sakyamuni Buddha, serve him, and pay homage to him.
“Here we offer humble parasols to the World-honored One.”
Each of the five hundred elders offered a jeweled parasol to Sakyamuni Buddha. They were humble in saying that their parasol offering was humble.
“Within which you showed us the three-thousand worlds.”
Sakyamuni Buddha used his transcendent power to transform these parasols into one huge parasol that contained the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, with all the buddhas and their purelands in it—countless of them.
Why did Sakyamuni Buddha show his transcendent power? It is to awaken sentient beings. Transcendent power is manifested to awaken deluded sentient beings—it exists because sentient beings are deluded. If they have been enlightened, what use are transcendental powers?
“The palaces of all devas and dragon gods,”
The three-thousand-great-thousand worlds include all heavens–Heavenly Realm of Desire, Heavenly Realm of Form, and Heavenly Realm of Formlessness. The palaces of the dragon gods at the bottom of the oceans are also included.
“Gandharvas and yaksas,”
Gandharvas refer to the name of musician gods in the Trayastrimsa Heaven—Lord Indra’s heaven. They are the gods of music and part of the music bands there. Has anyone heard any music from the heavens? Master Lian Xi has heard it. Anyone else? Please stand up and say your name. You are from Houston, Texas? You heard the sound of the drums. Anyone else? Your name? You are wearing a mask. Oh, Xiang Hong. Anyone else heard it? Huo En, you heard the sound of pipa (musical instrument)? Anyone else? Someone over there raised her hand, please stand up. Kathleen, what did you hear? Heavenly music! Wow, you have heard everything. What I heard is the sound of suona (instrument). What everyone hears is different.
Let me tell you. Shimu hears chanting from the heavens all the time—chanting Amitabha Buddha or the sutras. So I told Shimu that she should try to follow and chant with them even when it is difficult for her. I urged her to also chant with them. [This chanting that she hears was manifested by Grandmaster to help her to chant at all times.] Nowadays, the sutra chanting groups in heavens chant for her constantly. If you don’t believe me, you can ask her. She can hear the chanting of the sutra and Amitabha at every moment—day and night, 24 hours a day. Perhaps, the heavenly beings are taking turns. Otherwise, non-stop chanting around the clock would be tiresome. Shimu can hear it anytime and anywhere. Those are the gandharvas, the heavenly gods of music.
Yaksas are part of the Eight Divisions of Gods and Dragons. I call them the fast-travel ghost, which means they move very swiftly. They can reach a country or a world in an instant. That’s why I call them the fast-travel ghost.
“And all the things that exist in the saha world.”
The Buddha manifested everything within the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, including the palaces of the devas and dragon gods, gandharvas, yaksas, and many more. Everything in the saha world appeared inside the parasol.
“The appearances of the ten powers are manifestations.”
The appearances of the ten powers, transcendent powers, are manifestations. The Buddha has ten powers. You can check the sutras on the ten special powers that all buddhas possess. They are certain kinds of transcendent manifestations.
“Upon seeing this rare occurrence, sentient beings praised the Buddha.”
Everyone that attended the dharma ceremony saw the transcendent power of Sakyamuni Buddha. Upon seeing such a rare and unprecedented event, each and every one of them highly praised Sakyamuni Buddha.
“Today, we pay homage to the Venerable of the Three Realms.”
Accumulated Treasures Bodhisattva kowtowed to the Venerable of the Three Realms. They bowed and touched the ground with their heads toward Sakyamuni Buddha. They paid homage to the Venerable of the Three Realms, which refers to the greatest venerable of the Heavenly Realm of Desire, Heavenly Realm of Form, and Heavenly Realm of Formlessness.
“The Great Sage Dharma King is the refuge of the multitude.”
Everyone had taken refuge in the Great Sage Dharma King, Sakyamuni Buddha. He is indeed a dharma king. Buddhadharma originated from Sakyamuni Buddha. He is the king of dharma, the greatest sage of all sages. Everyone took refuge in Sakyamuni Buddha.
“Observing the Buddha with a pure mind, they are filled with joy”
They all looked at Sakyamuni Buddha with a pure heart-mind. Their eyes were fixated on him without blinking. Everyone present at the dharma gathering had their eyes fixated on Sakyamuni Buddha with great admiration. And they were filled with joy! They marveled as they had never seen such a transcendent power. Nobody dozed off.
Generally speaking, it is not easy to stay awake listening to the dharma teachings of some monks or nuns. In the past, I have listened to many dharma teachings by various dharma teachers. Some of them were good and kept you listening with interest, while some others made you feel drowsy. Sakyamuni Buddha manifested transcendent powers so that everyone would pay attention. Everyone fixated their gaze on Sakyamuni Buddha and offered their praises. Accumulated Treasures Bodhisattva and everyone who witnessed this rare display endlessly praised Sakyamuni Buddha.
“Each seeing the World-honored One right before them.”
This phrase is more important. Everyone could see Sakyamuni Buddha, and not just that! After they took refuge in Sakyamuni Buddha, they could see the Buddha wherever they went. They could see the Buddha in broad daylight with eyes wide open, not just in the dreams. With his transcendent power, Sakyamuni Buddha made everyone see him.
Grandmaster—with open eyes—can see Golden Mother and her attendants Dong Shuangcheng and Xu Feiqiong; her daughters Hualin, Meilan, Yaoji, Yufu; as well as [her three holy birds] Qingluan, Shaoluan, and Youluan; and her three-thousand attendants. Once you reach a certain realm in your spiritual cultivation, you will be able to see them.
Many prajna lights manifested [during the ceremonies] in Taiwan. Inside each prajna light, there is a mandala, with the main deity surrounded by his/her retinue of protectors and the palaces they live in. You can see them inside these prajna lights. Many of them were captured on camera—circles upon circles, some are light colored and some are very bright. Someone mentioned that only outdated cameras can capture those images, but not necessarily.
You can see those images if you have a pure heart-mind. Don’t think that you see them due to your intelligence. The smarter you are, the less you can see. You see them because you have a straight mind or pure mind. Do you know that you can only see the moon reflection on water when the water is clear and calm? But when the water is turbid and turbulent—like someone with lots of afflictions churning—you won’t be able to see clearly.
Like how the moon is reflected on many rivers, that’s how Sakyamuni Buddha appeared to everyone. With a pure mind, everyone can see Sakyamuni Buddha. The one with many afflictions and impure heart-mind will not be able to see. When your mind is like sewage; how can you see anything? If you want to see, your heart-mind must be pure and calm, like water without turbidity or turbulence. That’s why some people can see while some others cannot. Because all these bodhisattvas have a pure heart-mind, they were able to see Sakyamuni Buddha in front of them.
Once you become a true buddha and have true attainment, you will have many dharma bodies. Grandmaster Lu also has many dharma bodies, and many people have seen them. Last time, I mentioned two people who can see Grandmaster’s dharma bodies—Li Fei from Singapore and the Lion Head from Britain. They can see Grandmaster Lu’s dharma bodies both in dreams and in broad daylight. Many people can see Grandmaster’s dharma bodies. The World-honored One in this statement referred to Sakyamuni Buddha. [The pronunciations of the first character of Chinese words for Grandmaster and World-honored One sound the same.]
“This is the most uncommon display of transcendent power.”
The most uncommon display of transcendent power came from Sakyamuni Buddha, from sentient beings, and from all bodhisattvas. Uncommon means that not everyone can have it. Uncommon dharma is when only few people can have it but not everybody else—such as seeing dharma bodies. If everyone can see them then it is called common dharma.
Sakyamuni Buddha and the buddhas have eighteen uncommon dharmas. Buddhas also have five kinds of eyes. One night, I stood in front of Shimu’s bed and Shimu told me, “I see that you have five eyes.” I replied, “What you saw is right. I do have five eyes.”
What are the five eyes? The five eyes are the buddha eyes, wisdom eyes, dharma eyes, divine eyes, and physical eyes. There is no need to say more about the buddha eyes—they are perfect. Wisdom eyes are for those who comprehend the fundamental wisdom. Dharma eyes are [those with] the wisdom of discernment. Upon seeing a person, you would know what level they are at. You can tell the difference—who has more wisdom and who has less when two people stand side by side. You’d know what they are thinking, and what is in their hearts and on their minds. Those are the dharma eyes to symbolize having the wisdom of discernment. Having divine eyes allows you to see very far away in all directions. Lastly, the physical eyes are the eyes of human beings.
Om mani padme hum.
Next discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 63, 18 February 2023 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
Previous discourse on the Vimalakirti Sutra: Discourse 61, 11 February 2023 - Chapter One—Buddhaverse (Continued)
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