Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Becoming a Buddha Is Most Honored(成佛普至尊)
Date: February.18. 2015
“Buddha-nature is intrinsic to sentient beings and the Roots of Wisdom and seeds of goodness will always exist in them. When faith arises, doubts cease and conditions mature. The Buddha gave verification and a prediction of attaining perfect enlightenment.”
This is something I constantly talk about. All sentient beings inherently have Buddha-nature, but we ourselves cover over our nature with ignorance. We have become unenlightened beings and put a great distance between ourselves and the Buddha. Since we intrinsically have Buddha-nature, our Roots of Wisdom and seeds of goodness will always exist.
So, starting now, we must find a way to recover our nature of True Suchness. We must also re-awaken our wisdom. “Wisdom” includes both discerning wisdom and impartial wisdom. With wisdom, we can discern between what is right and what is wrong, what is correct and what is incorrect, what is a principle and what is a matter and whether or not people are acting in harmony with the principles. When we encounter interpersonal conflicts, if we have pure wisdom, then we can discern the situation very clearly. In this era of great turbidity, we have a greater need of discerning wisdom. So, “In this great era, we must clearly distinguish right from wrong.”
In this great era, if we do not make an effort to be clear on what is right and wrong, then we will easily be influenced by the turbid perspectives of this era and be pulled down and dragged along by them. I often tell everyone that good and evil are in a tug of war. Isn’t that particularly true in this era? Technology is very advanced right now, so it is even more able to cloud our perspectives. Take television, for example. We can create a composite image. We can find a background and then put a person in front of it to make it seem like he was there. Clearly, he was not there, but we can put that scenery behind him. Then the people who see it think that it is real. So, in this great era, our eyes can be led along by that kind of scene, and we will be unable to tell whether it is real. So, now more than ever, we need great wisdom to distinguish right from wrong.
Thus, we talk about having discerning wisdom and impartial wisdom. We always say to “show compassion to all equally”. We must cultivate a heart of compassion, like that of the Buddha’s. The Buddha treats all sentient beings equally and sees every sentient being as His only child. A heart that is so impartial does not [discriminate] at all. No matter how right a person’s status is, how well off a person’s family is, how successful a person’s career is, everyone is equal, because we are all human. This is His compassion. Haven’t we been talking about this recently? Even the poorest people in the poorest places, though they have no money, they can use their strength to help people in and beyond their own country. Isn’t this true of our South African volunteers? They have faithfully accepted [the Dharma] and used it to turn the wheel in their minds. Not only do they help other people, not only do they work in their own country, but they also go help people in two other countries, in Mozambique and Swaziland. That is not all; they also go to a country which is in the middle of South Africa, Lesotho, and another country in Africa, Zimbabwe, which is farther away. It is over 1000 kilometers away. Tzu Chi volunteers in those countries seek to learn ways to help their own country, so they go on a pilgrimage to South Africa to learn the methods they use.
You see, South Africa has turned into the place in Africa where the Dharma is taught.This came about because seeds from Tzu Chi in Taiwan were bought to that place to inspire people to realize their spiritual wealth.The people who were poor and suffering were transformed into people who could help others, and the scope of their work is expanding.
The number of Bodhisattva[-volunteers] is already in the thousands.And the people they have helped number in the hundreds of thousands.This year’s winter aid distribution in Africa happened around New Year’s.During the distributions, we saw that in each country, in the poorest areas, the African Tzu Chi volunteers, wearing various uniforms, organized everything neatly.Some were “Bodhisattvas in grey”; others were in the blue and white uniforms.In the midst of all those poor people, they could carry a 20-kilo bag of rice and still bow deeply.
When the poor people came to receive the rice, they also bowed when they took it into their arms.One would say, “Bless you,” the other, “Thank you”.Everything was neat and orderly.Often, when I see these kind of images I wonder, isn’t this Buddha-nature?
Isn’t this the Root of Wisdom?
With the Root of wisdom, we show compassion to all equally; this is a seed of goodness.A seed of goodness was sown in that land.Then that seeded produced many fruits, which then produce seeds, which sprout into seedlings.The [original] seed will be there forever and will always exist.The seed of goodness is our pure intrinsic nature.So, “Roots of Wisdom and seeds of goodness will always exist in [us].”
And if we can each have faith, “Faith is the source of the Way, mother of merits.”If we can cultivate virtuous Dharma, if we can give rise to the Root of Wisdom, all our doubts will be eliminated.
Wasn’t Sariputra like this?His heart was pure. For countless lifetimes, he unceasingly followed Sakyamuni Buddha in his spiritual practice.A long time ago, Sariputra had aspired to walk the Bodhisattva-path.But a challenging situation cause him to lose his Bodhisattva-aspirations.
However, he was able to maintain the purity in his heart.By keeping his heart pure, he was able to be foremost in wisdom.
Yet, he was still lacking the great aspiration to walk the Bodhisattva-path among people, to do good deeds, benefit others and form good karmic affinities.This was what he was missing.
Once Sakyamuni Buddha saw that Sariputra had now formed this great aspiration, He verified that [this understanding] was correct.Thus all of Sariputra’s doubts were eliminated.He had no more doubts.He would go among the people to help them while sustaining a pure heart, undefiled by his interactions with others.
He would do good deeds, benefit others and form good karmic affinities.This is the way to walk the Bodhisattva-path.
Once his past doubts were eliminated, his courses and conditions matured.Therefore, “When faith arises, doubts cease and conditions mature.”Once faith arises, all doubts are eliminated.Since “doubt” obstructs the Path, we must rid ourselves of these obstacles, so that the conditions for attaining Buddhahood can begin to matureThis was the prediction the Buddha bestowed on Sariputra, thus, “The Buddha gave verification and a prediction of attaining perfect enlightenment.”
The Buddha verified this for His disciples, “This is the right thing to do. With this spiritual practice, you must continue on from this point. This is the right direction, so keep going and must diligently advance.”
How much farther do they have to go? Very far, because their karmic affinities and blessings are not yet complete.So, they must still go among people to extensive transform sentient beings.Then after a boundless period of time, one day they will attain Buddhahood. So, we must make an effort to be mindful. Since we have received a prediction of attaining Buddhahood, we must reach a state equal to the Buddha’s. To reach a state equal to the Buddha’s, we must be endowed with the ten epithets. Once Sariputra attains Buddhahood and becomes Flower Light Tathagata, He will live a very long life. However, His time will still come to an end. Eventually, He will bestow a prediction of Buddhahood upon Firm and Complete Bodhisattva. Each Buddha continues to pass on the lineage like this.
“Sariputra, after Flower Light Buddha enters Parinirvana, Right Dharma will abide I the world for 32 small kaplas. 32 small kalpas is very long time. “Dharma-semblance will also abide in the world for 32 small kalpas.”
So, I Flower Light Buddha’s world, people will live long and prosperous lives. Everyone will be a Bodhisattva, and it will be a world of great abundance. Currently, we live among a multitude of people and there are many people who devote themselves to helping the suffering. They give without expecting anything in return. Is Sariputra among them? Are the Bodhisattvas of Sariputra’s Buddha-land all currently in this world? They may be creating blessed conditions by doing good deeds, cultivating blessings and forming good karmic affinities. Therefore, we must respect every one of our Bodhisattva-volunteers.
We must be grateful to each and every one. Not only are people who help others Bodhisattvas, but these people who are manifesting the appearances of great suffering are also Bodhisattvas. This is because if Bodhisattvas do not encounter these conditions of suffering, they will not be able to realize the world’s truths of suffering as taught by the Buddha. And so, they must [help the suffering] out of a genuine sense of love. We must respect every single person. We must treat everyone with gratitude, respect and selfless great love. Then we see them all as Bodhisattvas. If we can do this, as we benefit people and form good affinities, we will not miss a single [opportunity]. We will be able to do this very thoroughly. This is a very important point in the Lotus Sutra. The Buddha hopes everyone will show compassion to all equally, which means we must be impartial. Our Root of Wisdom must be deeply planted so that when Bodhisattvas appear in front of us to challenge ad train us, we will not succumb to the challenge and lose our spiritual aspirations.
In summary, we must make an effort to treat everyone with gratitude, respect and love. We must do this for a very long time.
The next sutra passage states, “At that time, the World-Honored One, wishing to restate His meaning, spoke in verse”, which is this passage, “Sariputra, in a future life, will become a Buddha, an honored one of universal wisdom, with the name Flower Light. He will transform countless beings”.
In this part of the sutra, verses appear again. A verse indicates that this part of the sutra is very important. After we hear it, we must not forget it. [Verses] help us remember this sutra passage. The Buddha’s words and His interactions with Sariputra are things we must deeply commit to memory so those compiling the sutras wanted to repeat this sutra passage. This was to help those who listen to the Dharma remember; those who hear must commit this to memory.
“To help those who listen to the Dharma remember, the Buddha restated in verses Sariputra’s one great cause in the future, the beginning of his attainment of Buddhahood and his end in Parinirvana.”
Because all Buddhas manifest in the world for one great cause, when Sariputra attains Buddhahood in the future, it will also be for one great cause. Through the causes ad conditions [leading to] this one great cause, he will continuously grow in wisdom-life and form good affinities with others until he eventually attains Buddhahood. After attaining Buddhahood in that future land, he will likewise teach the Three Vehicles and teach with skillful means. He will still give wondrous and provisional teachings. This will be the great cause of his teachings. Even though in that land, everyone will have formed Bodhisattva-aspirations, Bodhisattvas must still be taught ways to transform sentient beings in the future. All Buddhas share the same path, and They go through this cycle of teaching.
Every Buddha comes to the world for one great cause. So, [Flower Light Buddha] will do this for 12 kalpas until He enters Parinirvana. Before He enters Parinirvana. Before He enters Parinirvana, He will, from among all the Bodhisattvas, bestow a prediction of Buddhahood on. This is how Sariputra’s journey of becoming a Buddha and his one great cause are described again.
“Here it describes again how Sariputra attained the prediction of Buddhahood: In the future,after countless and boundless,inconceivable kalpas of making offerings to trillions of Buddhas and practicing Right Dharma, Sariputra will fully perfect the path of Bodhisattvas and will become a Buddha by the name of Flower Light Tathagata.
So, Sariputra, when he attains Buddhahood in this land in the future, will be honored one of universal wisdom, be endowed with the ten epithets and will be able to transform countless beings. This was the Dharma that was repeated. In a future lifetime, only after countless and boundless kalpas, he will be able to attain Buddhahood. One cannot simply form aspirations today and attain Buddha hood in one’s next lifetime. No. He must go through lifetime after lifetime, countless kalpas of lifetimes, aboundless and inconceivable number of kalpas.
He must also “make offerings to trillions of Buddhas.” Thus he will “uphold and practice Right Dharma.” As for these trillions of Buddhas, as I was just telling you before, the Bodhisattva-volunteers in this world and those who manifest appearances [of suffering] so that we can help them may include these Bodhisattvas among them.
So, we treat all of them as Buddhas. In this way, we can also “make offerings to trillions of Buddhas.” because They are among the people. To put it simple, when we interact with people, we must see ourselves as making offerings to them and upholding and practicing the Right Dharma.When we interact with everyone with joyful hearts, a simple can be an offering of joy. When we give a bag of rice to someone experiencing hardship, that is a material offering. These are all considered offerings. Through them we can form good karmic affinities with everyone. By making offerings we form good affinities. Forming affinities is part of upholding and practicing the Right Dharma. We still apply the Right Dharma to transform sentient beings, to help each other achieve realizations and to gather everyone’s strength to help those suffering and enduring hardships.
This is all part of the Right Dharma. This is how Sariputra will fully perfect the path of Bodhisattvas. We must all learn to do the same Sariputra also has to go through this. In this evil world of Five Turbidities, he also has to dedicate himself, to help all sentient beings, to uphold the Right Dharma and walk the Bodhisattva-path. In this way, after a very long period of time has passed, Sariputra will form countless affinities and attain Buddhahood His name will be Flower Light Tathagata.This is why we must always be mindful. When among others, we must not become afflicted. We must make an effort to be vigilant of this. We cannot just guard against wrongs and stop evil. Guarding against wrongs means we must not allow our interactions with people and external states to influence our minds. This is called guarding against wrongs. This is not just about refraining from doing bad things. When we interact with other people, we must feel grateful to them.
“You are all Bodhisattvas to me. Even if you do not speak kindly to me, I still feel grateful to you”. This is where we engage in spiritual cultivation. This evil world of Five Turbidities. We must give rise to faith to eliminate doubts. Only in this way will our karmic conditions mature. As we interact with people, we must have faith that everyone in this world is a Bodhisattva. If this is our spiritual practice, we can perfect the Bodhisattva-path and then attain Buddhahood. Everyone, truly, we must always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)