2019.10.25 Lotus Sutra Preface (2)

2019.10.25

Lotus Sutra Episode 0002
Lotus Sutra Preface (2)

From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:


>> A sincere thought can pervade the trichiliocosm and reach all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. May all Dharma-protectors forever safeguard us. May we reverently invite them, with their compassion, to guard this. Tzu Chi training ground, where the teachings of the Jing Si Dharma-lineage are practiced.


>> Today we vow to take refuge. May we transcend the sea of life and death.


>> We wholeheartedly prostrate to our fundamental teacher, Sakyamuni Buddha. We wholeheartedly prostrate to. Many Treasures Buddha of the past. We wholeheartedly prostrate to the emanations of. Sakyamuni Buddha in all ten directions. We wholeheartedly prostrate to all Buddhas of the Lotus Sutra and of the ten directions and Three Periods.


>> We wholeheartedly prostrate to the Buddhas and. Bodhisattvas at the Lotus Dharma-assembly for the Lotus Sutra and to the wondrous treasure of yi (one, whole).

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Every day, with utmost sincerity we enter this place of spiritual practice. From across the entire universe, we invite the assembly of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to gather. This sincere thought can pervade the trichiliocosm and reach all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas so they will hear the voice of our heart. You may remember a story I have told before. There was an honest county magistrate who was uncorrupted and upright, who treated all the people in the county like his own children. He truly cared for them like a parent, so he was loved and respected by all. When he grew old, he retired and returned to the countryside. But as he had been honest all his life, his family had no savings, and were very poor. He also brought his daughter back to the village with him. A few years later, this aging magistrate got sick. What could they do once he got sick? They had no money to see a doctor and they lived in a very rural area; what could they do? His daughter thought of praying to the Buddha, but she had to look after her father and could not go to the temple to pay respect. What could she do? A Dharma master told her, If you are sincere, no matter how far away you are, your reverent thoughts can be heard by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. So every day at home, set up an incense table by the door that faces the temple. Pay your respects there every day, and pray sincerely. That will do. Because she was mindful, after she heard the Dharma masters words, on her way home, she counted her footsteps and kept track of the time. So she knew that going from her home to the temple took this many steps, this much time. Every morning by the incense table, she sincerely [paid respect] in this way: The number of steps to the temple was the number of times she prostrated. Each prostration equaled one step. Moreover, after prostrating, she even circumambulated the Buddha. She was very devout. Perhaps her devotion was felt; her father got better day by day. After he recovered, this young lady kept up this ritual every day, in the hopes that her father would be happy and healthy. In that same year, a young scholar placed first in the National Exams and then returned home to pay respect to his ancestors. The scholars mother felt that her son had been blessed by the Buddha. Since he had fared so well, when he returned home, she felt he should first pay respect at the temple. So, the scholars mother sent someone to the temple with this message, My son, the scholar, will light the first censer of incense. So that morning, nobody else went to light the incense. The scholar arrived very early. But when he showed up, there was already incense in the censer; three sticks of incense were burning. He thought, My mother clearly said that I will light the first censer of incense. How could this happen? Thats ok, I will come earlier tomorrow. He arrived earlier the next day, but again three sticks of incense were already lit. The scholar was very unhappy. The abbot said, That is odd. We did not! Truly, none of us lit that first censer of incense. Why are there 3 sticks of incense every day? The scholar thought it was strange. Since monastics do not lie, it was impossible [that they had done it]. Thus he said, Ok, I will stay here tonight. Tomorrow morning, I will see who lights the incense. So that night he stayed in the temple. In the morning, before dawn, he was watchful. Indeed, there was clearly a girl. He clearly saw the figure of a girl. The temple door was not yet open, but she was already inside. She prostrated sincerely and then circumambulated the Buddha. He told this to the abbot. Then it occurred to the abbot, The girl you mentioned actually exists. She is the daughter of a former county magistrate. When he retired, he returned here. Not long ago, the county magistrate fell sick. His daughter was very devoted and watched over him, day and night. She sincerely wanted to pray here, but could not come. Once I told her to set up an incense table by her door and prostrate towards the temple. Perhaps her piety is the reason that at this time every day, as she is praying, the power of her sincerity brings her presence here. The scholar heard this story and thought it was inconceivable such a thing could happen. So he went to visit the former county magistrate. When he saw the daughter serve tea, he was startled. Undoubtedly, she was the girl who lit incense and prayed early in the temple. The scholar was very moved, and greatly admired the girls beauty. So, he went home and told his mother, Quickly, send someone to propose marriage. Thus, this wonderful union came to be. The county magistrate had a scholar as his son-in-law and this became a story that people in the village loved to tell. They all enjoyed recounting this tale. So, from this we know that if we reverently pay respect to the Buddha, if we are sincere, miraculous things will happen. This is a form of devotion. If we are devout, the thoughts arising from our sincerity can be heard by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and pervade the trichiliocosm. Depending on the strength of our piety, even heavenly Dharma-protectors will surely come and always watch over us. So in our spiritual training ground, every day we practice with great sincerity. For the Dharma-protectors who guard this place, we feel a sense of gratitude and respect. Let us give rise to a sense of veneration and reverently invite them to guard us.

A sincere thought can pervade the trichiliocosm and reach all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. May all Dharma-protectors forever safeguard us. May we reverently invite them, with their compassion, to guard this. Tzu Chi training ground, where the teachings of the Jing Si Dharma-lineage are practiced.

This is the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism, the Jing Si Dharma-lineage. In Tzu Chi, the method we use for group practice is to prostrate to and chant the Lotus Sutra. In Jing Si Halls across Taiwan, and in all our offices, when we practice together, arent we bowing to and chanting the Lotus Sutra? So, we revere and treasure every word in the Lotus Sutra Preface. Thus, we prostrate and chant sincerely. This is a characteristic practice of Tzu Chi. This spiritual training ground is also called the Jing Si Dharma-lineage, the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism. Usually when we are engaged in group practice, we bow to and chant the Preface of the Lotus Sutra. I hope that when we practice together, when we bow to and chant the Lotus Sutra, we do so with a mindset of utmost sincerity. As I mentioned yesterday, in addition to our sincere contemplation of all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas across the universe, our offerings of incense and flowers likewise pervade all Dharma-realms. That is an expression of our piety, and it dignifies our place of practice. In every moment, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas grace us with their presence and surround this place, so we must be very sincere in the way we prostrate. We hope to thoroughly understand this Great Vehicle Sutra and the principles of the doors of the intrinsic and the manifest, and to thoroughly comprehend the Dharma, the analogies etc. Whether one aspires to practice the Great Vehicle or only to follow the Small Vehicle, everyone can understand this Great Vehicle Dharma, and turn from the Small to the Great Vehicle. I hope we can all awaken and realize the Buddha-Dharma from deep within our hearts. Thus, the Preface states that we need to take refuge. We need to sincerely take refuge and dedicate our body and life to spiritual practice because we hope we will be able to transcend the sea of life and death.

Today we vow to take refuge. May we transcend the sea of life and death.

In life, life and death is a state of mind. Does everyone die only once in a lifetime? No, our thoughts are constantly arising and ceasing. So let us turn thoughts that arise and cease into something ever-lasting and, with vows as vast as the universe, we remain unwavering. Thus we can transcend the sea of life and death. So, we are not simply speaking of a lifespan of several decades, or of a century. Definitely not. We are now speaking of the arising and ceasing of every thought. I often tell everybody about the four states of the mind, arising, abiding, changing and ceasing. These all take place in our minds. Good thoughts arise and cease. A good thought arises, but then quickly ceases. So, when we make a vow, we cannot persevere to the end because we cannot maintain our will and tend to quickly change our minds. This is a form of laziness and this is how evil thoughts arise. Evil thoughts also arise and cease. We should remember to first turn our present thoughts into everlasting ones. We can transcend arising and ceasing thoughts. This is what we must thoroughly understand and then practice with perseverance. So, let us sincerely prostrate.

We wholeheartedly prostrate to our fundamental teacher, Sakyamuni Buddha. We wholeheartedly prostrate to. Many Treasures Buddha of the past. We wholeheartedly prostrate to the emanations of. Sakyamuni Buddha in all ten directions. We wholeheartedly prostrate to all Buddhas of the Lotus Sutra and of the ten directions and Three Periods.

”Prostrate to our fundamental teacher,” Sakyamuni Buddha is the founder of our religion, the Great Enlightened One of the universe. So, we must prostrate very sincerely and prostrate to Many Treasures Buddha of the past. This Buddha came to this world as a witness, to testify at the Lotus Dharma-Assembly so that we would more strongly believe that Buddhas of the past, present and future share the same path. Many Treasures Buddha of the past verified the Dharma expounded by the present Buddha. So, we must be grateful and prostrate to all Buddhas in the Lotus Sutra and of the ten directions and Three Periods. We need to be aware that there are many Buddhas in the Lotus Sutra. In the process of chanting the Lotus Sutra, we need to keep in mind that many, countless worlds exist. How many are there above and below? They cover the universe of the ten directions and Three Periods of Time. There are Buddhas all across the universe. At the Lotus Dharma-Assembly, there are many Buddhas from all the ten directions.

We wholeheartedly prostrate to the Buddhas and. Bodhisattvas at the Lotus Dharma-assembly for the Lotus Sutra and to the wondrous treasure of yi (one, whole).

Aside from all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the Dharma-realms of the universe, there are some who were listening to the Buddha teach the Dharma at the Lotus Dharma-Assembly. When we pay respect, we must prostrate and visualize this image, that we are surrounded by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. We must have this devout mindset when we prostrate. In the past, alone in my small wooden cabin, I prostrated until I was filled with Dharma-joy. One time, as I prostrated, I suddenly felt my surroundings filled with a luminous light, very gentle, like the moon at the Mid-Autumn Festival, so perfectly round and radiant. It was a very gentle and tender light. With great reverence, I felt that that state was filled with a beautiful, perfect and soft light. At the Lotus Dharma-Assembly, this kind of state emerged constantly. Though I was not doing it for a long time, I prostrated and chanted with great sincerity, so that state manifested. You know, such Dharma-joy is indescribable. Every time I prostrate, when my head touches the ground, I think of that state. Everyone, this sincere state of mind is absolutely not illusory or unreal, not a visual or auditory hallucination. Absolutely not. We must all train our minds so that when we face any person, matter or condition, we will use a selfless and pure mind to deal with everything. As we chant the Buddhas name and prostrate with a pure and selfless mindset, that is called sincerity. So everyone, if every morning we treat this training ground as the assembly at Vulture Peak, at that moment we will have instantly pervaded the trichiliocosm. Presently, we are also at Vulture Peak during the time when the Buddha taught. So, as long as we are very sincere, a distance of over 2000 years means nothing. With a heart of sincerity, we have already returned to the Buddhas. Lotus Dharma-Assembly at Vulture Peak. Sincerity in prayer is very crucial, especially when prostrating to and chanting the Lotus Sutra. Every word in it is precious, so we must chant every word sincerely. Everyone, please always be mindful.