2019.07.09 Wisdom Comes from Listening to the Teachings 聞慧具足秉智行慈

Wondrous Lotus Sutra  靜思妙蓮華




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2019.07.09

Wisdom Comes from Listening to the Teachings

聞慧具足秉智行慈

From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:

>> "Through listening to the teachings, we give rise to deep wisdom and comprehension as we open our minds and become understanding; this is known as wisdom from listening. Through contemplation and silent concentration, we resonate with the Dharma and its principles. Now that we have wisdom from listening, we must also be replete with compassion and wisdom. [The Buddha] awakened to the universe and His everlasting fundamental nature. [This sutra] is rare to encounter in thousands of kalpas. We must accept instruction and go and listen. We must encourage and guide others to enter this door through faith, understanding, vows and practice. When we are replete with wisdom from listening, we can exercise both compassion and wisdom. By practicing loving-kindness with wisdom, our blessings will be infinite."

>> "When these people hear this Dharma, they all attain Arhatship. They become replete with the Six Spiritual Powers, the Three Insights and the Eight Liberations." 
 [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> "But as to that final, fiftieth, person who hears a single verse and takes joy in it, this person's blessings far surpass theirs, beyond description by analogy
."  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> "For hearing it in turn like this, they will attain infinite blessings. This is to say nothing of the one in the Dharma-assembly who is first to hear it and take joy in it." 
[Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> "Suppose there are people who encourage another person, guiding them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, saying, 'This sutra is profound and wondrous It is rare to encounter in millions of kalpas.' Accepting instruction, this person goes to listen, even for just a moment. As for the blessed retributions of these people, I will now explain them to you in detail
."  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> Suppose there are people who encourage another person, guiding them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, saying, "This sutra is profound and wondrous. It is rare to encounter in millions of kalpas": They encourage another person and guide them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, telling them that this sutra is profound, wondrous and rare to encounter.

>> This explains that if we seize our time to cultivate and uphold the Dharma, follow the virtuous acts and good deeds of others, earnestly listen to the Dharma and diligently advance, then we are people who listen to, contemplate and practice the Dharma ourselves, as well as people who encourage others to listen to and uphold the Dharma.

>> Accepting instruction, this person goes to listen, even for just a moment. As for the blessed retributions of these people, I will now explain them to you in detail: The first people have accepted the teachings, and the others follow them to listen briefly. As for their blessed retributions for this, I will now explain them clearly.

>> When it comes to the true Great Vehicle, every single sensory phenomenon is a teaching of the Middle Way. The mountainous landscape is His pure body; the stream's sounds are His eloquent tongue. Everything that exists is teaching us all at once. The wondrous Dharma of ultimate truth is also a unified whole. When we hear the sound of the wondrous Dharma, we are listening to the Dharmakaya speak. The sounds of nature are ever-present, even if we hear them only for a moment.

>> "Lifetime after lifetime, they will be free of any ailments of the mouth. Their teeth will never be gapped, yellow or black. Their lips will never be too thick, shriveled or deformed. They will be free of all repulsive features. Their tongues will never be dry, dark or short. "Their noses will be tall, long and straight, their foreheads broad, smooth and even. Their facial features will all be dignified." 
[Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> If people seek the joy of Nirvana and tranquility, their karma of speech must be pure and free of evil. They must abandon frivolous debates and uphold sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness. They must never engage in false speech and must have faith and joy in all the Dharma they hear. By forming good affinities among people, they will attain a dignified appearance.

 

"Through listening to the teachings, 
we give rise to deep wisdom 
and comprehension as we open our minds and become understanding; 
this is known as wisdom from listening. 
Through contemplation and silent concentration, 
we resonate with the Dharma and its principles. 
Now that we have wisdom from listening, 
we must also be replete with compassion and wisdom. 
[The Buddha] awakened to the universe 
and His everlasting fundamental nature. 
[This sutra] is rare to encounter in thousands of kalpas. 
We must accept instruction and go and listen. 
We must encourage and guide others to enter this door 
through faith, understanding, vows and practice. 
When we are replete with wisdom from listening, 
we can exercise both compassion and wisdom. 
By practicing loving-kindness with wisdom, 
our blessings will be infinite."

We should be mindful! The [sutra] passages we previously discussed expressed the hope that we have the karmic conditions to encourage others to listen to the Dharma and to do so ourselves. [The Buddha] hopes that we will have the karmic conditions to listen to the Dharma. "Through listening to the teachings, we give rise to deep wisdom and comprehension." It is only by listening to the Dharma that we get to know the principles. Moreover, if we only read [the sutras] but do not seek to deeply understand their meaning, we will be unable to grasp the importance of these principles. So, when we listen, because we have the karmic conditions, when someone introduces the Dharma to us, we then accept and listen to it. After listening, we take it deeply to heart; it leaves a very deep impression in our hearts, allowing us to experience Dharma-joy.

With this joy, we have faith in the Dharma, so we keep it in our hearts, keeping it within our treasury. Although we heard it from someone else, we take it into our own hearts. "As we open our minds and become understanding," we not only gain wisdom, but are also able to understand the profound meanings of the Buddha-Dharma. Moreover, as we keep [the Dharma] in our minds, it seems our minds become more and more open. As our minds open, [our thoughts] become more and more organized. Thus, "As we open our minds, we become understanding." It is like encouraging others to come and listen to the Dharma. Since they have come inside, we immediately make room for them to sit down. When our minds are open like this, [our reverence toward] the Dharma helps us understand the importance of yielding to others. So, "We listen ourselves and exhort others to listen." If our minds are open like this, [we say]. "You can sit and I will stand. My mind is listening just the same." This is just an example. "As we open our minds, we become understanding." Now that the doors to our minds are open and our intention to listen to the Dharma is firm, we are able to share the Dharma with others and also invite them to come and listen to it. This is all the same idea.

"This is known as wisdom from listening." After we come to know [the Dharma] ourselves, we hope everyone else will come to know it too. In a place as dark as this, a single candle's light is insufficient. Not even two or three is enough. We hope everyone will hold a up candle; we hope everyone will have the karmic conditions to light their [candles] from one another. After listening to the Dharma, we must be able to understand it even more thoroughly. All of us possess such karmic conditions. After listening to the Dharma, we can all awaken our wisdom-nature. "As we open our minds, we become understanding." This is "wisdom that comes from listening." The function of listening to the sutras is for us to open our minds and eliminate our ignorance and afflictions, driving away all darkness. By lighting one candle, two candles, [and eventually] countless candles, we can completely drive away the darkness. This is wisdom that comes from listening. After eliminating ignorance, we give rise to wisdom.

"Through contemplation and silent concentration, we resonate with the Dharma and its principles." We should earnestly engage in contemplation. Since we listen to the Dharma and have taken it into our minds, we should earnestly contemplate it. "Contemplation and silent concentration" refers to how we must calm ourselves and put effort into mindfully thinking things over. It is [hard] to calm ourselves in a noisy place. Even when we are working, we must silently concentrate and contemplate things. We should not speak while we are working, for if we do, our minds will become scattered. So, we should do our best to focus so that our minds remain tranquil. Although our hands may be busy, we must constantly train ourselves in this skill. After we listen to the Dharma and take it to heart, we can then silently concentrate and engage in contemplation. This is "contemplation and silent concentration." We must really ask ourselves, "What is the meaning contained in the Dharma we just listened to?"

This is the effect of listening to the Dharma. If, after listening to the Dharma, we just let it go by, then it has not effect on us. We do not [automatically gain] merits and virtue just from reciting the sutras. Although we may recite sutras a lot, we still may not understand the principles behind the sutra passages. We often see elderly Bodhisattvas who say, "I never went to school. I never learned to read. If you ask me to read this word somewhere [not in the sutra], then I will not understand it. You do not understand it? But we heard you reciting the sutras very well!" They say, "Oh! I read it like singing a song. I learned it, word by word. At a certain part of the text, I say this word. But if you show me the same word elsewhere, I cannot recognize it at all."

If we place a particular sutra in front of them, they will be able to recite it fluently, but if we give them a different sutra, where the words are in different places, then they will say, "This sutra is different, so I cannot recite it." Even when it is the same sutra, if it has a different print layout, whether it is a bigger or smaller book or has bigger or smaller characters, this alone can prevent them from recognizing it. They will forget what the characters mean. There are many who read sutras in this way. They rely on a kind of momentary wisdom. Momentary [wisdom] refers to that which is trained. They do not put much thought into it, but just keep on reading along. It is like water running through a pipe. The water flows through in this way. After water has flowed through, if we pick up the pipe, the pipe will still be empty. Similarly, if all we do is recite the sutra, [it is like how] water will not remain in the pipe. Instead, it will leak away. This is truly a shame.

We need the water of wisdom. [We do not want] the water of wisdom to just flow through the pipe and be gone. We hope that the water of wisdom will enter our minds drop by drop. Even when we are working, our minds can still engage in contemplation, contemplating the sutra we heard today. [Even with] just a few lines, what is the meaning of those few lines of the sutra passage? Where are the key words in those lines? What principles are expressed in those words? If we can realize layer by layer the deep essence of those principles, then we will come to deeply enter the Dharma. This is what we mean by "resonating with the Dharma and its principles." When it comes to the Dharma, to the principles and the things we do every day, we listen to the Dharma and do things, do things and listen to the Dharma. As we interact with people and deal with matters, when it comes to the things we encounter and the teachings we heard today or several days ago, are we applying the teachings to the things we do? This is very important.

When listening to the Dharma, upon initially hearing it, we may exclaim, "It makes me feel so joyful!" If I ask you, "What makes you feel joy? What meaning does it contain?" [You may say], "I just keep feeling so much joy. If you ask me what it all means, I will not be able to repeat it. However, I know what Master is saying." [I ask], "Well, if you know but cannot repeat it, then do you actually remember it?" [They reply], "All I know is I am joyful. If you insist that I repeat it for you, then I cannot do it; I cannot remember it."

It is not that they do not know. They still remember; they remember the joy! Their minds are open and understanding; it is just that no water remains in the pipe. The waterway is open; there is just no water there. The principle is the same. So, when we listen to the Dharma, the most important thing is to listen to and understand it. We do not just listen and feel joy; we listen, but we also need to be able to realize and understand [the Dharma]. This definitely requires "contemplation and silent concentration." After listening, we must put our hearts into silently contemplating [what we have heard]. Only then will we be able to resonate with the Dharma and its principles. This is very important. Otherwise, we will simply read through the sutra, but we will not be able to use the principles.

"Now that we have wisdom from listening, we must also be replete with compassion and wisdom." We have now begun to understand. "I have now listened to the Dharma and taken it in. I have also opened my mind and become understanding. My wisdom has awakened." But having awakened our wisdom, we need a purpose for it; what will we do with it? "We must also be replete with compassion and wisdom."

Wisdom from listening is just wisdom; if we do not go out and make use of it, it will merely be siting within us. After listening, we must not merely let it sit within us. We must quickly make use of it. After accepting the Dharma, we must make use of it. So, when we accept it and make use of it, this means we are "replete with compassion and wisdom." We accept the Dharma and [feel that] it is great. "Oh! They need us there! Let's go at once and help them!" When others receive our help, we attain joy. This is what it means to make use of [the Dharma]. After attaining and taking in the Dharma, we go to help others when we are needed and thus produce a result. This is what it truly means to "exercise both compassion and wisdom." Only by having both compassion and wisdom will we be able to put the teachings into action, to accept and make use of them. Otherwise, we may listen to many teachings, but never take action or make use of them. So, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this.

When listening to the sutras, we can listen, use it and realize [their principles]. "[The Buddha] awakened to the universe and His everlasting fundamental nature. [This sutra] is rare to encounter in thousands of kalpas. We must accept instruction and go and listen." This is what is most important. After listening to [the teachings], we accept and make use of them. When we awaken our compassion and wisdom, when we truly make use of [the teachings], only then will we be able to experience the meaning of "awakening." Awakening is when our external state comes together with our innate enlightenment. The Buddha told us that we all intrinsically possess Buddha-nature, that we all possess the Buddha's innate enlightenment. What is the Buddha's innate enlightenment? It is the Buddha-nature, which is True Suchness. This is what we were always saying in the past; the Buddha's innate enlightenment is True Suchness.

This is why the Buddha was able to attain enlightenment. It is not that He simply left the palace and went to a tranquil place to engage in spiritual practice; no. He also traveled to seek answers and engaged in ascetic practices. He gathered [experience] from these worldly matters and calmed His mind. These worldly matters were [what He learned] while practicing. He traveled everywhere seeking answers and seeing how people lived. Afterward, He engaged in ascetic practices. He calmed Himself and engaged in calm contemplation and silent concentration. In that tranquil state, He finally became one with the true principles of all things in the universe. It was because He had experienced so many things that during that period of silent concentration, He was able to empty His self. While He was in that state, the true principles of all things in the world awakened His mind; Only then did His mind become one with everything in the space of the universe. In an instant, He became enlightened.

So, as we listen to the sutra, does [the Dharma] stay in the pipe [of our minds]? Or, does it leak away? The leaks are the Leaks of afflictions. Moreover, if we truly want to thoroughly understand, then we need to listen, contemplate and silently cultivate ourselves. After listening, we must contemplate and earnestly calm ourselves. After we experience these things, we exercise both compassion and wisdom. Life is truly suffering. We have encountered and seen the appearances of all kinds of impermanence and suffering in the world. We have experienced this. Not only have we experienced it, we have also gone and found ways to help those who are truly suffering. We go and comfort them and help them become free from sorrow and suffering.

For example, [in 2018], a Puyuma Express train [was in an accident] traveling from the north to the south. People onboard were very happy. [In particular], there were two [groups] on the train. In one [group], a coach had led 20 students to Korea for a competition. The whole trip had gone smoothly. They won a medal and were very happy.

Their return from Korea to Taiwan went smoothly. They boarded this train in Taipei and were going back to Taitung. After leaving Taipei, it came to a station around Su'ao and suddenly [derailed]. Six people passed away and one was in intensive care unit. Their school was in Beinan. They had all been so happy and excited. It was a small school from the countryside; for it to go to Korea to compete was a really big deal for them! [No one] expected that in the evening they would receive such news. They were originally going to be celebrating in the next morning, but the atmosphere had turned quite tragic. This was a middle school in Beinan.

Life is impermanent. There was another family there as well. More than 10 people had traveled all the way from Taitung to Taipei for a wedding reception. They were all joyful and felt that everything had gone quite well. They were very joyful, and on their way back, they were taking a particular train. All of a sudden, there was a loud noise. Perhaps they had been resting on the train when that loud noise happened. Perhaps it woke them from their slumber. After they woke up panic-stricken, perhaps they were never able to come back again. Faced with such impermanence in life, who knows how long it will take for people to [overcome] the heartache?

There were also six Dharma masters from the Abode who just happened to be returning to the Abode from Taipei on that day. They were just on a different train. The Puyuma Express was running in front of them, and the train behind was the one that our group of Dharma masters were riding on. When their train had gotten near the area, around Luodong, the train stopped and [the staff] told everyone that the train ahead had derailed, so the track was impassable. They asked the passengers to disembark. We called them from the Abode out of concern. "Is everyone alright?" They replied, "We are fine," We did not know if they were fine at first. "If you are fine, then since you are there, perhaps you should stay in Luodong to care for those brothers and sisters there." They had also thought of this and replied, "Yes, we will do that." They quickly [dropped off] the luggage at our [service center]. After dropping off their luggage, they immediately began to [care for people] and get an understanding of the situation there. They also began to dedicate themselves to [relieving] that state of pain and suffering. The circumstances were quite chaotic, and the rescuers were gathering one after another.

Even under such chaotic circumstances, they were still able to act in an orderly way. Tzu Chi volunteers prepared what was necessary and found ways to help. The rescuers needed hot drinks as the night came closer and closer, so they tried to get them something hot to eat. In Luodong, Yilan and Su'ao, [volunteers] all came together. Whether they were volunteers or donating members, they all had many moving stories. As soon as the incident happened, [they said], "Tell us what we can do. We can join in to help. Whatever you are short of, we can get them for you." In this way, people demonstrated the warmth of the community. These heart-warming stories were reported after [the incident].

Why was everyone so passionate? In a Da Ai TV report, I heard many of our donating members saying, "This is what our Master told us; as we have seen, human life is impermanent, so we should promptly do whatever is needed. What reason is there for waiting? Since we have the causes and conditions, we must hurry." We can see that many people had heard the Dharma. Having heard it, their hearts opened and they became understanding. They understood and felt the suffering of others and the pain of others. This is what learning the Dharma is about. Only by having more understanding will we be able to truly find a way to provide people with what they need. "When we are replete with wisdom from listening," we exercise both compassion and wisdom. Because there is much suffering in the world, "we feel others' pain and suffering as our own."

When this incident happened, what should we have done? We had to immediately exercise our strength and [determine] how to bring people and material goods together. We had to quickly bring them together. So, we had to exercise both our compassion and our wisdom. When we are most needed, we must immediately dedicate ourselves to helping others. We unconditionally provide what is needed. By exercising compassion and wisdom in this way, we are "practicing loving-kindness with wisdom." Through our wisdom, we become aware that something has occurred. Then, with our wisdom, we quickly show our compassion. So, by being able to apply [our wisdom] to promptly helping others, "Our blessings will be infinite."

[The accident] was not something they created, but something that suddenly happened. If they did not listen to the Dharma regularly, they might have said, "Wow! How terrifying! We had better stay away from there." Because of their understanding, Because they cultivated the Dharma and took it to heart, when this accident occurred, everyone came together; they did not run away. Everyone came together and exercised their strength. Since they regularly listen to the Dharma, they knew to be giving. "There is nowhere to buy this thing right now. I cannot help physically, but I can give material goods." This was how people helped. With "loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity," in times like this, we simply give of ourselves. This is why. "By practicing loving-kindness with wisdom, our blessings will be infinite." We must quickly go to help others.

This is how we take action after listening to the Dharma. We must put the Dharma to use. This is how we begin to act after listening to the Dharma. We must understand the Dharma; we listen to the Dharma in order to apply it and thoroughly understand it.

This previous sutra passage says,

"When these people hear this Dharma, they all attain Arhatship. They become replete with the Six Spiritual Powers, the Three Insights and the Eight Liberations."

They attain the Three Insights and Six Spiritual Powers. This is what it is like in the world; we regularly make use of the Dharma. Having attained the Three Insights and and the Six Spiritual Powers, we can naturally, earnestly resolve many matters.

"But as to that final, fiftieth, person who hears a single verse and takes joy in it, this person's blessings far surpass theirs, beyond description by analogy."

All of us understand this now. The first person heard and taught [the Dharma] and passed it down until the fiftieth person. This means that these 50 successive people had all heard it. Even by hearing one sentence, they could thoroughly understand the principles. They "hear a single verse and take joy in it." Upon hearing it, they rejoice, open their hearts and become understanding. After hearing it, they become joyful and take [the Dharma] to heart in this way. They can take the Dharma to heart and put it to use in the world. The merits and virtues of this are great. Since they cultivate it internally and practice it externally, the merits and virtues [they gain] are great.

The sutra passage then continues,

"For hearing it in turn like this, they will attain infinite blessings. This is to say nothing of the one in the Dharma-assembly who is first to hear it and take joy in it."

People pass down [the Dharma] until it reaches "the fiftieth person." The person at the very end can corroborate what the person at the very beginning [heard]. The very first person finds out from the very last person that this teaching remains consistently the same from beginning to end. When it comes to the first person who first listened to the Dharma, what he heard might be a certain way. When it reaches the fiftieth person, [if what he heard] remains the same, the Dharma that the fiftieth person heard is the same as what was heard by the person who heard it when it was first taught. How people at the end acted was the same as the way people acted at the start. They engaged in cultivation themselves and also encouraged others to do so. After listening to it themselves, they also encourage others to do the same. By encouraging others to listen to the Dharma, the merits and virtues are also infinite.

This is what the next sutra passage says:

"Suppose there are people who encourage another person, guiding them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, saying, 'This sutra is profound and wondrous It is rare to encounter in millions of kalpas.' Accepting instruction, this person goes to listen, even for just a moment. As for the blessed retributions of these people, I will now explain them to you in detail."

After listening ourselves, we then go on to encourage others to do so as well. There is merit and virtue in personally listening. Because we put the teachings into practice and attain realizations in the depths of our hearts, we go on to invite others to go and listen. We "guide them to listen to the Lotus Sutra" and say, "This sutra is profound and wondrous." After listening, they realize the sutra's profundity, its subtlety and its wonder, [thinking], "I can apply this. [The sutra] is rare to encounter in millions of kalpas."

Suppose there are people who encourage another person, guiding them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, saying, "This sutra is profound and wondrous. It is rare to encounter in millions of kalpas": They encourage another person and guide them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, telling them that this sutra is profound, wondrous and rare to encounter.

In this way, we listen to it and feel great joy. "They encourage another person and guide them to listen to the Lotus Sutra, telling them that this sutra is profound, wondrous and rare to encounter." This sutra is truly quite long. For us to listen to its entirety and understand the true principles within, it is indeed rare.

This explains that if we seize our time to cultivate and uphold the Dharma, follow the virtuous acts and good deeds of others, earnestly listen to the Dharma and diligently advance, then we are people who listen to, contemplate and practice the Dharma ourselves, as well as people who encourage others to listen to and uphold the Dharma.

This passage is trying to explain that we should seize the moment and cultivate the Dharma ourselves. We should accept and uphold it, while also following in the good deeds of others. When we see others accept and uphold the Dharma, we rejoice and follow them in doing the same. If they do good deeds, then we also follow them in doing so. We "follow the good deeds of others" and "earnestly listen to the Dharma." People earnestly listen to [the Dharma] and encourage us to listen to it. We are also very joyful and go on to encourage others to listen to it. We encourage others to listen to the Dharma and "diligently advance." Not only do we encourage one person, but we encourage others as well. We constantly encourage others to listen to the sutra. If they can listen to everything clearly, then [they attain] merits and virtues.

"We are those who listen to, contemplate and practice the Dharma ourselves." We constantly encourage others to listen, and after everyone hears the Dharma, they must contemplate its content and constantly advance diligently. We listen to, contemplate, practice and encourage others to listen to and uphold the Lotus Sutra. We engage in cultivation ourselves like this and also constantly encourage others to listen and engage in practice like this. We do good deeds ourselves, teach others to do them or rejoice when we see others do them. This is what the entire sutra passage has been encouraging us to do.

Accepting instruction, this person goes to listen, even for just a moment. As for the blessed retributions of these people, I will now explain them to you in detail: The first people have accepted the teachings, and the others follow them to listen briefly. As for their blessed retributions for this, I will now explain them clearly.

"Accepting instruction, this person goes to listen, even for just a moment. As for the blessed retributions of these people, I will now explain them to you in detail." These people's blessed retributions are great. [The Buddha] wanted to earnestly explain them one by one in great detail. The people who had accepted the teachings before came to listen to the Dharma according to their karmic conditions. When someone encourages us, we go and listen to the Dharma. People encouraged us, so we listened. "As for their blessed retributions for this, I will now explain them clearly." When someone encourages us, we go and listen to [the teachings]. Because we listened, we now have these blessed retributions, which [the Buddha] will explain one by one.

When it comes to the true Great Vehicle, every single sensory phenomenon is a teaching of the Middle Way. The mountainous landscape is His pure body; the stream's sounds are His eloquent tongue. Everything that exists is teaching us all at once. The wondrous Dharma of ultimate truth is also a unified whole. When we hear the sound of the wondrous Dharma, we are listening to the Dharmakaya speak. The sounds of nature are ever-present, even if we hear them only for a moment.

So, when it comes to "the true," the true Great Vehicle, "every single sensory phenomenon" is a teaching. Furthermore, it is a teaching of the Middle Way. This is because, in our daily living, when it comes to the things our noses smell, things that our mouths eat or things that our bodies feel, these are the Six Sense Organs connecting with the Six Sense Objects. As for these Six Roots and these Six Dusts, can we say that they are real? Can we say that they are illusory? They are neither real nor illusory. Yet, we must make use of them. So, we call them [teachings of] the Middle Path.

"The mountainous landscape is His pure body; the stream's sounds are His eloquent tongue." Whatever we hear around us, whether it is a human voice or the sound of a bird, the sound of a train or the sound of silence, we can perceive all of these things; we can hear them all. With the different sounds in our daily living, [such as] the uninterrupted sound of a stream flowing, we treat them as "the eloquent tongue." Even a constantly flowing stream contains teachings within it. So, "Everything that exists is teaching us all at once." There are sounds from all things in the world. When it comes to these sounds, do they exist or not? In fact, existence and non-existence are both part of the Middle Way. We cannot be attached to the sounds of all things in the world.

"The wondrous Dharma of the ultimate truth is also a unified whole." Our ultimate truth is the principles of the Middle Way. These are always complete and are never lacking. This is because the true principles of the universe are always complete and never lacking. "When we hear the sound of the wondrous Dharma, we are listening to the Dharmakaya speak." What we hear are very natural teachings; this Dharma is very true, very natural. We are not attached to the true Dharma; otherwise, with so many sounds, if we were to remain attached to all of them, how could we possibly take them all in? They continue to pass by. There are all kinds of wondrous things and sounds in the world. This is the Middle Way.

With the Middle Way, we treat [all sounds] as the sounds of wondrous teachings. We must not think of them as being noisy; we must not think of them this way. We must think of them as the sounds of nature; we must think of them this way. When things bump into each other, they certainly make sounds. Movements in the world produce sounds. This is what nature is like. So, we must treat these as wondrous sounds, as if the Dharmakaya were teaching us the Dharma. All kinds of principles are contained within them. "The sounds of nature are ever-present." These very natural sounds are present. This is very natural.

"Even if we hear them only for a moment" or hear them suddenly, [they are ever-present]. We should try to understand all of this more. This is called "calm contemplation." After listening to the sutra, we must seek to understand what the Dharma is. In fact, the Dharma exists within our daily life. The Six Dusts that our Six Roots connect with, the sounds [we hear], are all very natural. There are principles contained within them too. When things hit each other, how could there be no sound? There certainly is. Whether it is the sound of a train or the sound of a bird and so on that we hear, all of these are sounds of nature.

The next sutra passage says,

"Lifetime after lifetime, they will be free of any ailments of the mouth. Their teeth will never be gapped, yellow or black. Their lips will never be too thick, shriveled or deformed. They will be free of all repulsive features. Their tongues will never be dry, dark or short. "Their noses will be tall, long and straight, their foreheads broad, smooth and even. Their facial features will all be dignified."

We are just reading over this sutra passage like this. We have already explained it in the long form prose. Let us recall it for a moment so that we will be clearer about this. The principle is the same. "Their tongues will never be dry, dark or short. Their noses will be tall, long and straight, their foreheads broad, smooth and even." This means that we should put effort into forming good affinities with others. If we form good affinities with others, then our appearances will naturally be pleasing.

If people seek the joy of Nirvana and tranquility, their karma of speech must be pure and free of evil. They must abandon frivolous debates and uphold sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness. They must never engage in false speech and must have faith and joy in all the Dharma they hear. By forming good affinities among people, they will attain a dignified appearance.

People seek ways for their minds to become free. When we truly eliminate all kinds of afflictions, we enter great Nirvana. Great Nirvana is a state of ultimate peace. It is not [something we enter] when we die. Instead, it is a state of ultimate peace. We eliminate all our afflictions completely. Only in the Buddha's spiritual state of mind is this possible. When we [attain] the joy of tranquility and stillness, there will not be any noisy sounds in our minds. Any clamorous sounds the Buddha hears are actually subtle and wondrous sounds to Him, since they are sounds of nature teaching us the Dharma. For the Buddha, there are no sounds that are noisy.

"Their karma of speech must be pure and free of evil." If we want our minds to be pure, [our karma of speech] must be pure and free of evil. We must be able to "abandon frivolous debates and uphold sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness." Our minds must abstain from frivolous debate. In the voices we hear and the words we speak, we must earnestly apply sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness. We must not engage in harsh speech. We may hear many noises around us, but what we say to others must be very reasonable and be of sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness. We should not engage in frivolous debate. [Things we say] are also part of the sounds of the world. Although the world outside may be noisy, when we ourselves speak, we must say things that are valuable and reasonable. So, we must have sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness. We should be very sincere and speak with integrity so that people can have faith in the true principles. This is how we should be.

So, "We must never engage in false speech." If we engage in false speech, [people will say], "This is how he speaks. Whatever he says, take it with a grain of salt." Speech like this is just like noise, and it causes afflictions and ignorance in others. Without any matters that are false or unreal for us to talk about, we will never speak of such things. So, when people listen, there will be no words that they do not believe in or like. If we speak honestly, then everyone will believe us and will enjoy listening to what we have to say because it is completely true. By having good affinities with others, we attain a dignified appearance. What does it mean to have a beautiful appearance? What is most important is to have good affinities. If we form good affinities with others, having good affinities is better than being good-looking.

In short, there is so much noise in our world. We must find ways to bring purity to our minds. The state of the Buddha's mind is one of tranquility and stillness. So, He treats what He hears as the true principles of the universe. This is what the true principles are like. Whether something is good or bad depends on how we [interpret it]; the natural principles just sound like this. So, if we listen to the world's natural principles with a natural state of mind, then we will awaken our wisdom and our deep faith and understanding, and our minds will enter tranquility and clarity. Thus, with the Dharma, it depends on how we listen to it, so we must be very mindful.