2019.07.02 Afflictions, Bodhi, Delusion and Awakening Are One 煩惱菩提迷悟一體

Wondrous Lotus Sutra  靜思妙蓮華




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2019.07.02

Afflictions, Bodhi, Delusion and Awakening Are One

煩惱菩提迷悟一體

 

From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:

>> "Our ignorant views and thinking share the same essence as our Dharma-nature. Afflictions and Bodhi, delusion and awakening, are all one. How could there be any dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking? How could there be any ignorance beyond the two views [of emptiness and existence]? When we dispel the three delusions, we will come into harmony with the Three Views. There are no dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking. From this, we can understand [the nature of] our ignorance and delusions."

>> "Their lips, tongues and teeth will all be magnificent, their noses long, tall and straight, their faces full and perfect. Their eyebrows will be long and set high, their foreheads broad, smooth and even. They will be fully endowed with all the features befitting a human being. In each lifetime they are born into, they will see the Buddha, hear the Dharma and faithfully accept the teachings." [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> "Just contemplate this, Ajita. These are the merits and virtues of encouraging just a single person to go listen to the Dharma. This is to say nothing of single-mindedly listening to, reading and reciting the sutra, explaining it to others before an assembly and practicing in accordance with its teachings." [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> Just contemplate this, Ajita. These are the merits and virtues of encouraging just a single person to go listen to the Dharma: Ajita, you must contemplate this for yourself. This is actually quite hard to do. If someone who takes joy in doing good were to encourage but a single person [to listen to the sutra], they would attain these merits and virtues.

>> This is to say nothing of single-mindedly listening to, reading and reciting the sutra [and] explaining it to others before an assembly: This is to say nothing of always focusing single-mindedly upon the path, reciting the sutra, listening to Dharma teachers expound it, accepting, upholding, reading, reciting and explaining it to others before an assembly. This benefits the self as well as others.

>> "Practicing in accordance with its teachings" [means], "We must cultivate our minds in accordance with the sutra's teachings. Our predecessors were like this; they practiced reverently in accordance with the teachings. The benefits gained from encouraging others are incalculable."

>> This explains how He uses a lesser example to grasp the superior. The retribution of magnificent physical features attained from encouraging just a single person to listen to the Dharma is merely the lesser fruit. He presents this example to fully explain the superior merits and virtues of those who are able to listen and teach on their own as well as encourage many people to practice in accordance with the teachings.

"Our ignorant views and thinking share the same essence as our Dharma-nature.

Afflictions and Bodhi, delusion and awakening, are all one.

How could there be any dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking?

How could there be any ignorance beyond the two views [of emptiness and existence]?

When we dispel the three delusions,

we will come into harmony with the Three Views.

There are no dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking.

From this, we can understand [the nature of] our ignorance and delusions."

We must mindfully listen, observe and understand. We must do all of these equally. Our ears must earnestly listen; our eyes must earnestly absorb what we read; our minds must work to gather what we heard and read so that we can comprehend it. This is very important. "Our ignorant views and thinking share the same essence as our Dharma-nature." As we learn the Buddha-Dharma, we must keep putting our minds into implementing [what we learn] in our daily living [and asking], "Where is our Dharma-nature?" We give rise to discursive thoughts. When such thoughts arise, what happens to [our] "intrinsic nature"? As we learn the Buddha-Dharma, we always hear that "the nature of True Suchness is intrinsic in everyone." [This nature] can never be separated from what we are encountering or making contact with our bodies' Six Sense Organs and Eight Consciousnesses or from how we "turn consciousness into wisdom." Are we really that complicated? Do we multitask with our minds? When it comes to all these things, do we need to understand all their different essences? They actually all share the same essence.

[Due to our] "ignorant views and thinking," what we see and hear in our everyday lives affect the way we feel about others, whether affection, resentment, enmity or hatred. These [emotions] arise in our everyday lives when we interact with external conditions that make us give rise to discursive thoughts. The Five Dusts in the external world stimulate the consciousness in our mind. So, adding our mind-consciousness to the Five Consciousnesses, we have the Six Consciousnesses. With our Six Roots, Dusts and Consciousnesses, after observing things, we must contemplate them. These "views" and "thinking" are the same; we have thoughts, thinking and contemplation. We often discussed the Chinese character for "thoughts"; it comprises the character for "appearances" above the character for "mind." This is also true of our views. We look at so many external forms and appearances and hold them in our minds so that we can contemplate them. Our thinking is very complicated. Are our thoughts going in the right direction, or have they gone astray? It all comes down to our views and thinking, ignorance and delusions. It is these ignorant views and thoughts that lead to delusions. In fact, they still share the same essence as our Dharma-nature and nature of True Suchness.

Our nature of True Suchness is covered by these external views, thoughts, ignorance and delusions. But without the nature of True Suchness within us, we would not have come here, either. We came journeying on our causes and conditions, which are always a matter of what karmic causes we have created. We "cannot take anything with us when we die. Only our karma follows us to our next life." We still bring both this karma and our nature of True Suchness with us. People say, "I saw [Master] in a dream." The dreamer was the only person who saw the dream. I am still where I am. I often hear people say that. I came to them in a dream and told them something. In fact, I myself have never left to go anywhere. I am still here. It seems like I am unrelated to their dream. However, the people in their dreams have affinities with them. So, this dream may have changed the direction of their life. It is the same principle. What we act to create is in the external world, but our nature of True Suchness is within us. This is the analogy we use.

So, are our ignorant views and thinking related to our nature of True Suchness? They are! After we act to create them externally, we store them back in our eighth consciousness. The eighth consciousness must take them on; our nature of True Suchness must bear these afflictions. The eighth consciousness must still carry what we act to create in this way into our future lifetimes. This is because our nature of True Suchness has not yet reached an environment with the causes and conditions for it to manifest. If we work hard, however, we can eliminate our ignorant views and thinking and return to our nature of True Suchness. Then, in the future, we could return to our ninth consciousness. This ninth consciousness is our nature of True Suchness. It is undefiled, pure and uncontaminated. This is returning to our ninth consciousness.

This is also awakening to the Buddha's teachings. "We have heard the Dharma. Oh, I am awakened. After being awakened, I will put it to use." It is the same principle. So, this is "darkness" and "light." Every time we hear someone say they want to take refuge, we tell them, "'Taking refuge,' means to turn from darkness to light. It is eliminating past mistakes. Now and in the future, we must walk according to the Buddha-Dharma. This is 'light.'" After being awakened, we go toward virtuous methods, turning from evil to do good. But this goodness is only a direction. We must change all past mistakes and go in the direction of goodness. This is "turning from the darkness to the light."

In spiritual practice, this is our starting point. Our ignorant views and thinking are darkness. We want to turn from darkness to light, which is our Dharma-nature, our nature of True Suchness. So, ignorance can converge with our Dharma-nature. After we purify ignorant views and understanding, they "share the same essence as our Dharma-nature." It is like how we say, "Afflictions are Bodhi." This is something we often hear. Afflictions are Bodhi. So, there is a fine line between delusion and awakening; they share the same essence. If we are able to understand this, we will clearly understand the Dharma.

So, since this is very clear, when it comes to "ignorant views and thinking," if we do not know them, we will continue to [accumulate] infinite dust-like delusions. Dust-like delusions and afflictions are very simple when we summarize them. Ignorance gives rise to volitional formation, which then leads to consciousness. These are the Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence. The Twelve Links of Cyclic Existence finally lead to aging, illness and death. Where do we then go? We return, journeying on our karma. Journeying on our karma, what else do we create? More ignorance and dust-like delusions, afflictions that continue to snowball.

So, from our ignorant views and thinking, we fall into delusions. These delusions are very subtle; we call them dust-like delusions. Sometimes we say, "Oh, it is so hazy." We often hear people talk about "dust storms." A dust storm comprises very fine dust particles. Just a slight breeze will blow up dust from a faraway place. The dust continues to travel from afar, such as the deserts of Mongolia. When the wind blows, the dust keeps traveling and the whole sky becomes hazy. The dust particles are so fine and dense that when we are outside, we cannot see anyone, just a vague profile of people in the haze. This is dust. Dust is very fine sand particles that travel from afar in the winds, blown from distant deserts. They were blown thousands of miles. What we see is a thick fog-like haze.

Sometimes we will also hear the weather bureau report that there is smog, and the probability of haze is very high. "Today, the sky looks very hazy." This is due to [this dust]. Initially, it was a completely clear day, and we could see blue sky and white clouds. Sometimes, there are even no clouds in the sky. All we see are blue skies. In fact, that blue sky is our misconception. We may see a blue sky, but the distant universe has no color at all. This is simply our views and thoughts as well as the external conditions [that lead to] so much ignorance and delusions. So, afflictions are intrinsically Bodhi; "delusions and awakening are one." Is it delusion or awakening? In fact, it only depends on ourselves.

"How could there be any dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking?" Dust-like delusions are from accumulated ignorance. This ignorance begins with views and thoughts. Intrinsically, they are so simple. However, at this point, [the Buddha] analyzes them in various terms. There are so many types of afflictions that can be either profound or superficial. Based on what we observe before our eyes, we immediately give rise to discursive thoughts. Also, we have accumulated over the long run habitual tendencies from our ignorant views and thinking. We very quickly begin contemplating what we see now. How should we react to it? What should we do with it? The old and new often mix together in this way. It is like the dusts from far away; we cannot say whether they came from several days or several years before. The dust storm keeps blowing until it gets to where we are now. We really cannot say.

In the end, what we see in this world, every scene that we see, is not necessarily from the present. They have accumulated in what we see, hear and think. They continue to accumulate. So, "How could there be any dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking?" We did not have them to begin with. "How could there be any ignorance beyond the two views [of emptiness and existence]?" How could there be any ignorance beyond emptiness or existence? Is it "the view of emptiness" or is it "the view of existence"? These are our perspectives. In truth, these views have all passed through our minds. Do we understand them? To what extent do we understand them? How have we accumulated them through complicated turns of events in the past that we have the view of emptiness or existence?

I often tell everyone that there is "wondrous existence in true emptiness." Wondrous existence is true emptiness. It is the same with the empty space in the universe. We use different names for it, but it is very vast. How can we see blue sky and white clouds or dark clouds filling the sky? They are all appearances in this world's space. If we take time to analyze them, we can analyze the differences. So, we are able to clearly understand "the emptiness" of space, because within this emptiness there is "existence."

We clearly have this empty space here, but the empty space in the Abode is limited. The lecture hall can seat 300 to 400. The area outside of the hall in the atrium can seat another 100. There is also our Small Jing Si assembly hall that can seat 20 to 30 people. With 40 to 40 people, the space is already full. That is why we further expanded our space through the larger atrium. If our lecture hall is full, there is more space behind this.

How can people hear from so far away? With the help of wired and wireless technology, images can be seen and sound can be heard. This extends beyond the Abode, across mountains and oceans; it also reaches other countries. How many countries have we reached? At this very moment, everyone is simultaneously listening to my voice as I speak and looking at the same image that everyone sees. This really is true emptiness; it is also truly wondrous existence. This is such a wondrous world.

So, we have these three delusions. Ultimately, what are we? Emptiness or existence? As we learn the Great Vehicle Dharma, we need to establish the Middle Way. We may say that we know this. Emptiness is referring to the state of our surroundings in this space. From our past as humans, there were infinite spaces [that we went through] and, as a result, in our interpersonal relations, we have these karmic causes, conditions and retributions. As we recognize the existence of the present, we can also confirm the existence of our past. Thus, we must clearly understand the principles, converging the past and present with them. This is called the Middle Way, not being attached to emptiness nor existence. When we can unite emptiness and existence, we are practicing the Middle Way, which is the ultimate truth.

So, we "dispel the three delusions. Views and thinking" refers to delusions of views and thinking. Delusions of views and thinking, dust-like delusions and delusions of ignorance are three kinds of delusions. If we can dispel these three things, we will "come into harmony with the Three Views." The view of emptiness and view of illusoriness converge together in the middle view. We have not rejected "the illusory." We also have not rejected "emptiness." Emptiness of the past means we must find ways to not be attached to the past. If we say that such and such happened in the past, it is still in the past. How could we return to the past? We cannot do so, so we must let it go.

In the past, we believed that there were such causes and conditions. Do we now pursue the future? In our present life, what will happen in our future? It depends on our actions in the present. So, there is the past, present and future. We do not need to pursue any of them. We only need to live this life well. In the future, what we bring with us in the field of our eighth consciousness depends on what we do with our present.

We do not need to investigate how our past [lives] have been. We believe that, in our past, we were also ordinary beings. In the past, we had many attachments. Thus, in our present life, there are many things we do not understand. We also still have our habitual tendencies that we are attached to. These are what we have been permeated by since the past. Once we know this, we must work to correct them. We [must] quickly turn our actions around so that we can dispel the three delusions. We must no longer [pursue] past, present and future, nor emptiness and illusion. As we walk the Middle Way, we must observe the past, consider the future and seize the present. This is more practical.

So, if we can do this, "we will come into harmony with the Three Views." As we understand the past, we know how to accept [the present] and act for the future. Then, we can attain harmony. Naturally, we have "no dust-like delusions beyond our views and thinking." Now that we have steadied our minds, this dust no longer "flies all over." So, there is no more dust, no more "delusions of ignorance." These delusions of ignorance have disappeared. We have eliminated them all. We also have no doubts regarding the past because we believe that this is how causes and conditions have developed from the past.

The Buddha also continuously talked about His past causes and conditions. The Buddha had past causes and conditions, causes and conditions for enlightenment. So, He attained enlightenment by continuously engaging in spiritual practice over many lifetimes for the sake of serving sentient beings. As for us, in our past, we were deluded. Being among sentient beings, we created karma and gave rise to delusions, continuously entangled in interpersonal conflicts. Thus, we remain bound even up to our present life. "Oh, we have now heard the Buddha-Dharma. We understand it, so we open our hearts." We quickly seize this lifetime to earnestly take in the Buddha-Dharma, constantly awakening ourselves. We earnestly accumulate [virtues] by going among people to form good affinities, earnestly walking the Bodhisattva-path and not being attached to the self.

Previously, we have been talking about "zero." Zero means there is nothing left. We no longer have any attachments that say, "Everything is mine; it is mine. I did this; this is to my credit." We do not need to have such attachments. "If it is the right thing to do, just do it." This sentence is simple and easy to follow. If something is right, just do it. We serve without expectation and maintain a heart of gratitude. After completing a task, we rejoice, and that is it. There are still more things to take joy from in the future. Likewise, we devote ourselves to go among people, finishing [our tasks] one by one, always grateful, always joyful. This is [being in accord with] the Dharma.

So, everyone, please be very mindful as you read. Though this principle is simple, when we read the verses, we seem to not understand anything. After this explanation, we should all be very clear. We must earnestly put our mind to understand how "our ignorant views and thinking share the same essence as our Dharma-nature." This sounds very profound. In fact, it is simply that afflictions are Bodhi. Delusions and awakening share the same essence. If we can clearly understand this, we ought not have any significant doubts.

Does the verse above have any relation to the [sutra] passage? Of course they are related, for the sutras are there to dispel our delusions. The sutras use all kinds of words to teach us and explain to us. However, if we have not studied their more subtle and intricate meaning, we will often be unable to understand the profound principles within.

So, the previous passage says,

"Their lips, tongues and teeth will all be magnificent, their noses long, tall and straight, their faces full and perfect. Their eyebrows will be long and set high, their foreheads broad, smooth and even. They will be fully endowed with all the features befitting a human being. In each lifetime they are born into, they will see the Buddha, hear the Dharma and faithfully accept the teachings."

This is describing a person with a very dignified appearance; seeing such a person makes people feel a strong sense of connection and great joy. "In each lifetime they are born into," they will "see the Buddha, hear the Dharma" and accept the Buddha's teachings.

They continuously listen to the Dharma. Earlier, some people's lips, tongues etc. were described as unpleasant. These are ordinary beings. Ordinary beings have disputes, criticisms etc. These upsetting afflictions cause people to keep giving rise to ignorance and to become unable to grasp the true principles. So, they have a menacing appearance, as we mentioned before. These people we are discussing now have features that are very magnificent. People rejoice upon seeing them. In lifetime after lifetime, they see the Buddha and hear the Buddha-Dharma, receiving the Buddha's teachings.

Next, it says,

"Just contemplate this, Ajita. These are the merits and virtues of encouraging just a single person to go listen to the Dharma. This is to say nothing of single-mindedly listening to, reading and reciting the sutra, explaining it to others before an assembly and practicing in accordance with its teachings."

In the sutra passage even earlier on, we read about "the merits and virtues of joy." We ourselves listen to the Dharma and practice it. We also teach the Dharma. We joyfully listen to others teach the Dharma. Though we ourselves can teach it, we also joyfully praise others who teach it. We also love to listen to them and quickly call on others to come and listen. We invite others to come and whether we have a seat or must stand, we offer our seat to others so that they can listen to the Dharma with ease. This is what we discussed before. We continuously spread it and appeal to people. Starting with the first generation, we continually spread and pass the Dharma down.

This is how people continuously listen to the Dharma. Speaking of these people at this place, the Buddha said, "Just contemplate this, Ajita. These are the merits and virtues of encouraging just a single person to go listen to the Dharma."

Just contemplate this, Ajita. These are the merits and virtues of encouraging just a single person to go listen to the Dharma: Ajita, you must contemplate this for yourself. This is actually quite hard to do. If someone who takes joy in doing good were to encourage but a single person [to listen to the sutra], they would attain these merits and virtues.

The Buddha again said, "Ajita. You must mindfully listen and earnestly contemplate." Look at the merits and virtues of joy. As the Buddha praised the merits and virtues of joy from the beginning, Ajita had doubts and asked the Buddha, "Does simply rejoicing for others bring such great merits and virtues?" So, the Buddha began to tell them about the merits and virtues of joy, which extend even to the fiftieth generation. From that beginning, the Buddha had been teaching about this until now.

So, the Buddha said, "Ajita, you must earnestly contemplate this. Encouraging one person to listen to the Dharma already brings great merits and virtues. You must all mindfully think about this. After hearing the Dharma, you must then contemplate it mindfully." So, the Buddha said, "Ajita, you must contemplate this for yourself." We must contemplate this for ourselves. Forming aspirations is more easily said than done. "This is actually quite hard to do."

It is just as we said, "Our ignorant views and thinking share the same essence as our Dharma-nature." In our everyday life, even just these few words rarely come to mind. What we hear in the morning, we will easily neglect and forget later. How will we remember that "afflictions are Bodhi"? We have afflictions all day long. For us to change our mindset to call this Bodhi is not easy, either. Being between delusion and awakening is what we face every day.

So, "Ajita, you must contemplate this for yourself." This is what the Buddha said to Ajita. In fact, what He is trying to tell us is that "this is actually quite hard to do." To always keep all of this Dharma in our hearts is truly hard to do. It is hard to do and we are unable to seek it. It is also impossible for us to rejoice just upon seeing the Dharma. To truly attain the merits and virtues of joy is no easy task.

So, "someone who takes joy in doing good" is the kind of person who takes joy in giving to others. These are people with a magnanimous heart. If they "were to encourage but a single person [to listen to the sutra], they would attain these merits and virtues." These people with a broad and open heart only need to exhort one person to go and listen to the Dharma, and their merits and virtues will be very great. We often listen [to the Dharma]. "Do you understand what you heard? I know it, I know it." However, this is only temporary understanding. After we leave the lecture hall, perhaps these teachings will be forgotten.

"You came to listen to the Dharma! That is great!" We will not think, "This is good, so I will quickly invite people to come listen." That is more difficult than [just saying] "You came to listen! That is great! I praise you for this!" Yet, we do not think, "This is such a good teaching, I should invite others to come listen." Actually, even just praising others is difficult, let alone inviting others to listen to the Dharma. This is even more difficult, not to mention to continue passing it down to the fiftieth generation. That is something truly difficult.

So, here it says, "This is to say nothing of single-mindedly listening to, reading and reciting the sutra [and] explaining it to others before an assembly."

This is to say nothing of single-mindedly listening to, reading and reciting the sutra [and] explaining it to others before an assembly: This is to say nothing of always focusing single-mindedly upon the path, reciting the sutra, listening to Dharma teachers expound it, accepting, upholding, reading, reciting and explaining it to others before an assembly. This benefits the self as well as others.

 

If someone happily follows along, that is great. Will these people who joyfully came along [today] come again by themselves tomorrow? Will they themselves come to listen to the sutra? They do not even know this themselves. Even though I recite the sutra every day, will I have the affinity to recite it tomorrow? After reciting the sutra, will I still be able to explain it to everyone? Do I have that possibility? This is like [when the Buddha said], "Ajita, you must earnestly think about it."

Are we ourselves like this, earnestly listening to the Dharma? Do we encourage others to come and listen? We should not only invite others to listen, but also read and recite [the sutra] and moreover explain it in the assembly. Are we able to do this? When we listen to the sutra in this way, we must always maintain a single resolve. We "focus single-mindedly on the path." After hearing the Dharma, can we single-mindedly focus on the path? "The sutras are a path. This path is a road to walk on." After hearing the sutra, do we put the teachings into action, focusing single-mindedly on the path? Do we accord with the teachings of the Dharma and put them into practice? Have we been able to do that?

When we listen to and recite the Dharma, after hearing the Dharma teachers expound the Dharma, do we never retreat and instead accept, uphold, read and recite it? Besides listening to and reading the sutra, do we personally read it in the assembly, and are we able to explain what is being read? If we are able to do these things, we benefit ourselves as well as others. If we only speak and listen for ourselves, and rejoice in encouraging others to listen, this is quite easy, but are we able to also explain [the Dharma] in the assembly?

"Practicing in accordance with its teachings" [means], "We must cultivate our minds in accordance with the sutra's teachings. Our predecessors were like this; they practiced reverently in accordance with the teachings. The benefits gained from encouraging others are incalculable."

Are we able to do it? Are we able to follow the Dharma in this sutra and cultivate our minds by practicing according to its teachings? Can we do it? This sutra passage tells us to self-reflect, reflect and think about it. After we listen to this sutra, the Dharma, we are also able to rejoice for others, and we also exhort others to come and listen. For ourselves, are we also able to listen to and recite it? Are we able to teach it, and if we do teach it, do we practice according to what we teach? Based on the sutra teachings, do we "cultivate our minds in accordance with the sutra's teachings"? Have we done this?

"Our predecessors were like this; they practiced reverently in accordance with the teachings." This is what our predecessors were like. As for people who come later like us, are we also able to do this? After teaching the first person, do they also do this? This is to say nothing of the second or third; will everyone [practice reverently]? "The benefits gained from encouraging others are incalculable." If in this way we can "practice reverently in accordance with the teachings," we naturally benefit from encouraging others. We will teach the first and second person, and then further until the fiftieth person. Looking back and seeing everyone do this, this will truly bring great merits and virtues. These [benefits] will be beyond any comparison.

We have said this before; it is not just this one person after us vertically passing it down. Laterally speaking, we widely spread [the Dharma], too. We will do this for generation after generation, teaching countless people in each generation. After countless people in the first generation receive [the Dharma] and put it into practice, countless people in the second generation will continue to pass it down like this for generation after generation. "Our predecessors were like this; they practiced reverently in accordance with the teachings." The previous generation did this, receiving the teachings and putting them into practice. Thus, "the benefits gained from encouraging others are incalculable." We see the people we encouraged doing this, continually receiving [the teachings] generation after generation. Of course, the people who encourage them will attain merits and virtues. Those who previously encouraged those people will have even more merits and virtues. Because the number is so great, it cannot be counted or compared; thus, the merits and virtues are infinite.

This explains how He uses a lesser example to grasp the superior. The retribution of magnificent physical features attained from encouraging just a single person to listen to the Dharma is merely the lesser fruit. He presents this example to fully explain the superior merits and virtues of those who are able to listen and teach on their own as well as encourage many people to practice in accordance with the teachings.

This is explaining "using a lesser example to grasp the superior." We begin as ordinary beings without understanding, and then earnestly engage in spiritual cultivation. When it comes to people with unpleasant features, such as lips, tongue and teeth, who have disputes with or slander others, we gradually lead them so that they learn to speak kind words in such a way that their features become dignified. This describes how we teach and encourage others from the very beginning. [Those we teach] are all ordinary beings. We take these ordinary beings and keep patiently teaching them. We teach them until everyone has a dignified appearance, until everyone can go among people and take joy in teaching and listening to the Dharma and encouraging others to listen to the Dharma. When we are able to do this, it is "using a lesser example to grasp the superior."

It starts with encouraging one such person. We begin with this ordinary person and keep patiently encouraging them so that they will listen to the Dharma. As they clearly understand what they heard, they change [their lives]. From having menacing features, they transform into having a pleasant and dignified demeanor. This is to "attain the retribution of magnificent physical features." It is not just for this lifetime. We must form more aspirations. Even in this lifetime, we must work even harder to transform people and never easily give up on them. We must be persistent with these people. We must form these aspirations that whoever we have affinities with, we must transform them.

"The retribution of magnificent physical features attained from encouraging just a single person to listen to the Dharma" is this lesser fruit. Before people hear the Dharma, they are just ordinary people. We encourage these ordinary people until they know to listen to the Dharma and encourage others to come listen as well. They teach the Dharma themselves and also rejoice for others. These people have already attained a magnificent appearance. We must be earnest in doing this. We must take joy in encouraging others. Otherwise, as everyone intrinsically has. Buddha-nature, whom do we need to talk to? We teach those who are deluded. Otherwise, the fact that "afflictions are Bodhi," that everyone intrinsically has Buddha-nature, will be forgotten. To sum this up, this is the method we must use, "presenting this example to fully explain [the merits of] those able to listen and teach on their own." We help ourselves gain the ability to both listen to and teach [the Dharma]. This is how we must continually train ourselves. We encourage people to come listen to the sutra, and we listen to it ourselves as well. Just as we transform others, we must also transform ourselves. So, we must be grateful. Sentient beings are this spiritual training ground for Bodhisattvas. "[They] are able to listen and teach on their own." We ourselves must know how to listen and teach, "as well as encourage many people to practice in accordance with the teachings." We listen, teach and encourage others to come listen and learn to teach, too. The merits and virtues from this are truly extraordinary.

Dear Bodhisattvas, learning the Buddha-Dharma can be very profound. Yet, when we analyze the teachings, they are clear and easy to understand. If we discuss afflictions, ignorance and delusions of views and thinking, we can analyze these for years, for they are like dusts; there are too many of them to discuss one by one. Look at how many afflictions people have. There is so much to analyze. In truth, if we want to condense everything, "our ignorant views and thinking" actually "share the same essence as our Dharma-nature." There are so many afflictions, but we can turn them all into Bodhi. Thus, "delusions and awakening are one."

In our everyday lives, after hearing [the Dharma] and leaving this hall, there are many things [we must face]. Isn't this the infinite dust-like afflictions in our minds? We must recall "Bodhi," that "afflictions are Bodhi." There are so many [afflictions] that, if we do not think of Bodhi, then these afflictions will "fly all over. Bodhi" is awakening; as we have heard the Dharma, we should thoroughly understand it. To sum this up, listening to the Dharma takes great mindfulness and thorough understanding. Then, we will naturally understand the principles. Therefore, we must always be mindful.