2019.07.11 Immeasurable Blessings from Spreading the Dharma 宏通是法 其福難量

 

Wondrous Lotus Sutra  靜思妙蓮華




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2019.07.11

Immeasurable Blessings from Spreading the Dharma

宏通是法 其福難量

 

From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:

>> "[The Buddha] hopes sentient beings will listen to the Dharma themselves and encourage others to do so. Thus, when the Buddha taught the Dharma, He hoped all lands throughout the ten directions would unite to form one Buddha-land. This would certainly cause the earth to shake. He wanted sentient beings to see, hear and teach the Dharma so [the world] would become as extraordinary as the place the Buddha taught the Dharma."

>> People will rejoice in seeing them. Their breath will never be foul. The aroma of the udumbara flower will always flow from their mouths. Suppose someone goes to a monastery in hopes of hearing the Lotus Sutra and, listening but for a moment, takes joy in it. I will now tell you their blessings.  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> "In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, acquire wondrous elephants, horses, chariots and jeweled palanquins and even ride in heavenly palaces. Suppose, in a place where the Dharma is taught, they encourage others to sit and listen to the sutra; by their blessed karma, they will attain the seat of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king."  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, acquire wondrous elephants, horses, chariots and jeweled palanquins, and even ride in heavenly palaces: In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, and they will attain vehicles such as elephants, horses, chariots and palanquins. If they are born in heaven, they will be able to ride in heavenly palaces.

>> Suppose, in a place where the Dharma is taught, they encourage others to sit and listen to the sutra; by their blessed karma, they will attain the seat of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king: They advise others to sit and listen to the sutra; by virtue of the blessings they receive for this, they will be born as heavenly beings or sit in the place of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king.

>> "This is to say nothing of those who listen single-mindedly, explain the sutra's meaning and practice according to the teachings; their blessings will be limitless."  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 18 - On Taking Joy in Others' Merits and Virtues]

>> This is to say nothing of those who listen single-mindedly, explain the sutra's meaning and practice according to the teachings; their blessings will be limitless: With a focused mind, they listen quietly, explain its meaning and practice the sutra according to its teachings. Thus, their blessings will be limitless.

>> They listen to it, even for just an instant. Their merits and virtues are such that when they are born again, they will be able to live together in the same place with dharani-Bodhisattvas: Dharani means retaining all teachings and upholding all goodness. This is the common practice that all Bodhisattvas cultivate.

>> This Chapter on the Merits and Virtues of Joy and the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues [teach us the following]: We must listen to the Dharma, personally uphold it and also advise others to listen to it. Those who can give rise to deep faith and understanding and accept this wondrous Lotus Sutra, even if they listen to it for merely an instant, are rarely encountered in millions of kalpas. Those who uphold it themselves like this and encourage others to practice and uphold it, widely spreading this Dharma, will have limitless blessings.

>> Previously, in Chapter 17, everyone in the assembly who listened [to the sutra] attained all kinds of merits, virtues and benefits. The Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues distinguishes how these merits and virtues differ in terms of depth.

 

"[The Buddha] hopes sentient beings will listen to the Dharma themselves and encourage others to do so.
Thus, when the Buddha taught the Dharma,
He hoped all lands throughout the ten directions
would unite to form one Buddha-land.
This would certainly cause the earth to shake.
He wanted sentient beings to see, hear and teach the Dharma
so [the world] would become as extraordinary as the place the Buddha taught the Dharma."

This chapter is Chapter 18, which is quickly coming to its conclusion. Everyone must put their hearts into understanding. What is Chapter 18 of the Lotus Sutra trying to tell us? What is the meaning, the teaching, within? We must be very mindful and listen closely to gain understanding of it deep in our hearts.

Now, I tell everyone that I teach the Dharma only with the hope that you all will take the Dharma to heart and be able to share it with everyone so that others can put it to use. We understand it ourselves and share it with other people. Likewise, they will also understand and put it to use themselves. Everyone can understand and apply the teachings. This is the Dharma the Buddha wanted to spread. He hoped that sentient beings would all [spread the teachings], and not just to one or two people. He hoped it would be to "fifty people," fifty generations. Does it end at fifty generations? "Fifty generations" is simply an analogy to explain our everyday living with the Five Roots and Five Dusts. Are we clear on what these roots and dusts are in our everyday lives? If our consciousness connects with these roots and dusts, while remaining clear, then naturally, we will not easily lose our way. So, we must earnestly use [our consciousness] and listen well.

Thus, "[The Buddha] hopes sentient beings will listen to the Dharma themselves and encourage others to do so." This is the Buddha's intent. Chapter 18 is telling everyone that we must earnestly spread the Dharma accurately. We pass it from one person to the next, pass it down generation after generation without deviation; this is the hope. "Thus, when the Buddha taught the Dharma," He taught it in hopes that those who came later would likewise teach the Dharma with utmost sincerity and the same intent as the Buddha's. When the Buddha taught the Dharma, His hopes for His disciples were that they would teach as they were taught and people would mindfully accept it. This was His state of mind.

So, "All lands throughout the ten directions would be united." He hoped that everyone would share the same resolve in receiving it. This is "the one Buddha-land." "This would certainly cause the earth to shake." When the ground of your mind, my mind and everyone's mind is able to unite, it is inevitable that the ground will shake. Look at how, from ancient times [until now], the mountains, rivers and plains have changed. The characteristics of the earth change. For example, when there are earthquakes, an area will collapse, and another area will be thrust up. Parts of land that had once been separated will suddenly be united; what was once united is later broken apart. This land has, from ancient times, always gone through these merges and separation. It always changes.

The Buddha also had great hopes that the ground of sentient beings' minds would now be united from its past separation. This is because we all intrinsically have Buddha-nature. Why is everyone unable to return to their own intrinsic nature of True Suchness? Everyone is engaging in spiritual practice, practicing at the same time, yet we are unable attain [awakening] at the same time. This is due to ordinary beings' perspectives, views and understanding having gone astray. With these deviated perspectives, even when it comes to listening to the Dharma, each person hears it their own way. Our views and understanding are different. How much of the Buddha-Dharma are we actually able to take to heart? Everyone has different opinions, views and understanding. In this case, being able to spread and pass down the Buddha-Dharma accurately in this world is very difficult.

So, "He wanted sentient beings to see, hear and teach the Dharma so [the world] would become as extraordinary as the place the Buddha taught the Dharma." This was his hope, for everyone to share the same mind as the Buddha. If we use an unenlightened mind, there will be biases in the ground of everyone's mind. So, we must hope that everyone's mind can come together and unite. Look at how when the Buddha taught the Dharma. As He was about to teach the Lotus Sutra, the ground shook. Indeed, teaching the Dharma is able to influence the ground of people's minds. Because our nature of True Suchness still remains unmoved, we must quickly shake and awaken [this nature]. This is the same principle. Now we are talking about uniting the ground of our minds. It needs to be moved in order to unite. He hoped that sentient beings will have the Buddha's mind; it turns out that the Buddha's mind is also the mind of sentient beings. The mind, the Buddha and sentient beings are no different [in their nature]. The Buddha hoped to truly manifest how there are no differences [in these three].

"He wanted sentient beings to see, hear and teach the Dharma." Whether they had the understanding and views of the Buddha or of sentient beings, He hoped that when sentient beings heard the Buddha's understanding and views, their views and understanding would unite with the Buddha's. So, with the Buddha-mind, He taught sentient beings the Dharma. Sentient beings could then receive the Dharma. As they receive the Buddha's teachings, they accept and follow it with faith and also spread the Dharma. It is the same Dharma. As first-generation practitioners, we spread the same [Dharma]. With the Buddha-mind, the Buddha opened His heart and taught the Lotus Sutra. We must also open our hearts to receive the Buddha's teachings, and when we receive the Buddha's teachings, we must sincerely practice according to the Dharma that the Buddha practiced. We engage in practice ourselves and encourage others to practice. We hear the Dharma ourselves and open our minds to be understanding. Then, we encourage others to listen, opening their minds to understand as well. We hope that everyone will use this Dharma, practicing it correctly.

We have also said that after passing it down to the fiftieth person, looking back, it is no different from that of the first person. This is the meaning here. If there is a difference here and there with each generation deviating, then a slight deviation can take us far off course. What will the Dharma teachings be like if they deviate for fifty generations? It is very worrisome that the Dharma might go astray.

So, now Chapter 18 is reaching its conclusion. We need to look at what was taught before and see if [our understanding] has deviated? Has the Dharma we listen to today deviated from what was taught in ancient times, the Buddha's lifetime? Times have changed. Of course, times change; what about the Dharma? The Dharma cannot change. The Dharma responds to the times and adapts to the modern times. But the spirit and ideals are the same. When the Buddha taught the Dharma then, it cannot be the same as how we teach now. For example, the Buddha spoke an Indian language in India. The population back then was very small. Times were completely different from today.

We have said before that the total population of India back then has been calculated and investigated with modern technology, and the population of India at the time was the same as the population of Taiwan in 2018. Taiwan is so small, and India is so large; so we can see how small the population was. When it comes to the Buddha teaching the Dharma, though the numbers recorded in sutras were great, they were speaking of a spiritual [realm].

This is similar to the planning meeting for the medical mission. The topic was on the cranial nervous system. Why do people have mental illnesses? How do brain tumors develop? Times are progressing. How do we perform surgery nowadays in treatment? In the past, the entire brain had to be opened up. Now that is not necessary. There are minimally invasive operations. With such a large brain and tumor, how can [the tumor] be removed with minimal cuts?

Today, tumors do not even require surgery. A medication can be inserted to be present with that tumor, and that malignant tumor will disappear. This is a sign of our times. When people fall ill now, there are all kinds of treatment methods. Previously, when it came to birth, aging, illness and death, if people were ill, then they waited for death.

Now, when people fall ill, they can pursue all kinds of treatment options. Those critically ill can still be saved. In the past, those who had strokes were completely immobile and bedridden while they received treatment. They were unable to walk until they had surgery and did physical therapy. There was a young woman who was like this. No matter where she went for surgery, it was always unsuccessful. Later, the doctors at Tzu Chi Dalin Hospital were able to perform surgery on her. After surgery, they had her go to physical therapy. Her physical therapy showed clear progress. Even more so, she was able to walk. And more than that, she was able to run. And she could run like an athlete. There was no difference. She could hike up mountains or walk on flat ground. This is amazing. How could people have been able to do this in the past? Once they were paralyzed, they lived like that to the end of their days. But people's lives in this era are totally different.

Now the population is large and thoughts are complicated. Living in these times is not at all easy. As we all interact, there are differences in our bodies and minds. There are many uneven differences and inequalities to the extent that there are many disputes. As the population is denser, matters become more complicated. The closer we are to each other, the more conflicts we have.

Isn't this what we spoke of before? This is our manner of speech as well as the appearance of our five [sense] organs. It is all about our eyes, tongue, nose, teeth and lips; they are all in this general area. All of these were described for us. We look at things in different ways. Previous generations saw things very simply. There were not many people either. Everything on the earth was very natural. And there was not much to talk about, because talking with people was not easy. People had to go closer to each other to speak. From far away, they couldn't hear each other. This is not the case in our era. We can sit here and with the use of technology, we can transmit [sound] thousands of miles away. For example, everyone can hear and understand what I say in this sentence. Everyone can listen at the same time. "Yes, I am very happy. I will remember these words. I will also pass them on." That is how it is now.

Or with one word, everyone feels so worried. They spread this worry. I say that this is how the modern times are. [Some will say], "I have this kind of problem; I am worried." Others will say, "It is not just your problem. I have this kind of problem too." People help each other reflect on their issues. We also hear this teaching and think of our interactions with certain people or how some people had certain disputes. Some listen to the Dharma but do not apply it. They use the Dharma to create disputes with people. This also happens. Everyone has their own state of mind. Everyone hears and uses the Dharma differently. Some people, after hearing the Dharma find it very useful for themselves. After hearing the Dharma, they change their past mistakes in life. Some people use the Dharma to attack others. This also happens. To sum it up, people's minds are very different and "uneven." The Buddha hopes that the ground of everyone's minds will be level.

So, we have previously said that we must place importance on cause and effect. How do we form good affinities with people? An affinity is [good] when we see each other, and we are very happy to talk to each other. When you have a good affinity with me, you will want to see me often.

How do we form this kind of relationship? The Buddha attained Buddhahood through forming blessed affinities. He created blessings among people and had very good affinities with people. These continually accumulated until in the end, when His causes and conditions were replete, He attained Buddhahood. In every lifetime, He was always teaching and transforming sentient beings, benefiting people. This is how to cultivate the Buddha-Dharma. As we listen to the Dharma, we also hope to be equal to the Buddha. We transform our minds by turning from the minds of ordinary beings to practicing the Bodhisattva-path. In the end, we also hope to create blessed affinities and be replete with the causes and conditions to attain Buddhahood. This is being a Buddhist practitioner. We are not just learning to be Bodhisattvas; we are practicing the Bodhisattva-way in hopes of attaining Buddhahood in the future. So, all of us also have great expectations. We do not want to have appearances that lead people to feel disgust for us or to have evil speech which is like foul breath; we must not do this. So, I hope that everyone will work hard to form good affinities.

Thus, the previous sutra passage says, "People will rejoice in seeing them. Their breath will never be foul."

People will rejoice in seeing them. Their breath will never be foul. The aroma of the udumbara flower will always flow from their mouths. Suppose someone goes to a monastery in hopes of hearing the Lotus Sutra and, listening but for a moment, takes joy in it. I will now tell you their blessings.

If we do not speak harsh words in speech, then there is no foul stench. If our speech is evil, those words will stink. This is [like] a foul stench. So, we must be like the fragrance of the udumbara flower; every word we speak will be good, and people can take them to heart. They will also be able to turn their afflictions into Bodhi. This is the fragrance of the udumbara flower. This "will always flow from their mouths." As for words that help people, we should say them often. Speaking kind words help everyone eliminate their ignorance, eliminate afflictions and attain Bodhi. This is also something we must learn.

So, "Suppose someone goes to a monastery in hopes of hearing the Lotus Sutra and, listening but for a moment, takes joy in it." We may hear someone teaching the Dharma and afterwards, we often draw near this person who can teach the Dharma. For some people who listen for a brief time, it does not take them long to understand, because they often go and listen. If they often go listen, after only a moment, with one phrase, they will be able to understand many things. A mind like this is joyful, filled with Dharma-joy. Those who encourage others to listen rejoice. Those who listen to the Dharma also rejoice. So, "I will now tell you their blessings." Now we will begin to talk about their blessings.

After this, the sutra passage goes on to say,

"In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, acquire wondrous elephants, horses, chariots and jeweled palanquins and even ride in heavenly palaces. Suppose, in a place where the Dharma is taught, they encourage others to sit and listen to the sutra; by their blessed karma, they will attain the seat of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king."

These people, after hearing the Dharma, after a moment of listening, will rejoice. What are the blessings of this kind of person after hearing the Dharma? Now, [the sutra] is telling us.

In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, acquire wondrous elephants, horses, chariots and jeweled palanquins, and even ride in heavenly palaces: In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, and they will attain vehicles such as elephants, horses, chariots and palanquins. If they are born in heaven, they will be able to ride in heavenly palaces.

"In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings." In this life, listening to the Dharma brings us great joy. We take the Dharma to heart and rejoice whenever we think of this Dharma. The principles are constantly in our hearts. When we attain the Dharma, our hearts rejoice.

This is "acquiring wondrous elephants, horses, chariots." In the past, for transportation, people rode horses and elephants, or used horses or elephants to pull a cart. Wealthy people had elephants, horses and carts to use as means of transportation. The inside [of vehicles] was lavishly decorated. They were "jeweled palanquins." The cart had a seat, and that seat was decorated very beautifully. Do you see people nowadays using a sedan chair? Those are called palanquins, and inside of these palanquins, the decorations, seat etc., had jewels and such to decorate.

"And even ride in heavenly palaces." Some did not merely ride on elephants and horse carts. No. They brought the entire palace. These are heavenly beings; they were born as heavenly beings. People in this world may be wealthy, with beautiful vehicles for transportation which cost tens of millions each and are decorated very nicely. But these are still not as nice as [the transportation] of heavenly beings who even bring their palaces with them. They do not even need to move themselves. They just travel with their palaces. This is not at all easy [to attain]. How many blessings must we cultivate to enjoy such blessings as humans or heavenly beings? So, "In their next life, they will be born among heavenly beings, and they will attain vehicles." These things are vehicles of transportation. "Elephants, horses, chariots and palanquins" are seats which they will ride on. "If they are born in heaven, they will be able to ride in heavenly palaces." This is how they come.

Suppose, in a place where the Dharma is taught, they encourage others to sit and listen to the sutra; by their blessed karma, they will attain the seat of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king: They advise others to sit and listen to the sutra; by virtue of the blessings they receive for this, they will be born as heavenly beings or sit in the place of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king.

"Suppose, in a place where the Dharma is taught, they encourage others to sit and listen to the sutra; by their blessed karma, they will attain the seat of Sovereign Sakra, King Brahma or a wheel-turning sage king." They exhort others to sit and listen to the sutra. "Come, come here and sit. Come listen to the sutra." Or, when someone comes in, we quickly make a seat for them, taking a chair and giving it to them to sit in, so they can easily sit and focus on listening to the sutra. "By virtue of the blessings they receive for this..." Simply by moving a seat and giving someone a place to sit down, the blessings they receive will be to "be born as heavenly beings." Because we are very earnest in helping people to come and listen to the sutra, the one hearing the sutra will be very touched. This person will also be able to take this Dharma and pass it on to others. This is transmitting the Dharma. The blessed retribution of spreading the Dharma is a very great blessed retribution.

"Or sit in the place of Sovereign Sakra..." In the future we may be born in a heavenly palace. This is like Sovereign Sakra or King Brahma. This way of living is so free and at ease. As for, "wheel-turning sage kings," If they come to this world, they will again have the causes and conditions for a long lifespan, living in a peaceful country where people are in harmony. When good kings lead a country, they can teach and transform sentient beings to use the Dharma to cure themselves. This is an analogy of where the wheel-turning sage kings sit. This is what we talked about in the Lotus Sutra. They exhort others to sit, leading them to sit. Or they take a chair and invite them to sit. All of these bring merit and virtue.

Everyone wonders how this can be. To truly practice until attaining Buddhahood is not that easy. Is it really as simple as taking a chair and giving it to someone to sit in? Can blessings be so easily obtained? In that case, we do not need to engage in spiritual practice. When we say it is "simple," this means we must constantly engage in practice. This is how sincere our spiritual practice must be. We must be able to humble ourselves. At anytime, we can offer our seat to someone or bring a chair for them to sit in because we earnestly engage in practice, practicing what we should, listening to the Dharma we should listen to and doing the things that we should do. No matter what someone's background, we must treat them with reverence, not skipping over anyone. We hope everyone can sit at ease and listen so they do not mishear. It is saying that we who engage in spiritual practice very willingly must also sincerely invite others to come listen. When people come to listen, we joyfully help them listen to the Dharma and listen to it at ease. This shows our supreme, unsurpassed sincerity and it shows that we are well-cultivated. When we are able to do these things, we will naturally attain great merits and virtues.

Sometimes we may see people who are very accomplished come into this foundation. They are still very willing to direct traffic for the Faith Corps or help people move things. They do everything that everyone else is doing. No one knows their status, but they do more than anyone else. Doing recycling work, they are covered in sweat, but they do it joyfully. Then they go home and change [clothes]. Wow, they are CEO's of large institutions! They have these kinds of blessing and still come back to create more blessings. Due to their high status, everyone praises them for how they humble themselves to bow and pick up things discarded by others. They pick them up and recycle them, doing this kind of lowly task. This is greatly praised by others. The principle is the same. We may have cultivated ourselves a long time, but we are able to do very humbling tasks. This is "sincerity."

Next, the sutra passage says,

"This is to say nothing of those who listen single-mindedly, explain the sutra's meaning and practice according to the teachings; their blessings will be limitless."

This passage is telling us that we do not simply give someone a seat, bringing a chair for them to sit in so that they feel at ease in hearing the Dharma. We also wholeheartedly listen ourselves. Our minds do not deviate at all. From beginning to end, we are listening. Listening wholeheartedly to the sutra, we let nothing slip away. Then all of the Dharma will enter our minds. It will not only enter our minds, we will also "explain the sutra's meaning." We listen to the sutra very closely; from worldly matters and principles to world-transcending Dharma, we can converge with the true principles. This is not at all easy. So, we "practice according to the teachings." By listening wholeheartedly, we will also be able to explain them. After we explain them, we ourselves will be able to put the teachings into practice. This kind of blessing is limitless.

This is to say nothing of those who listen single-mindedly, explain the sutra's meaning and practice according to the teachings; their blessings will be limitless: With a focused mind, they listen quietly, explain its meaning and practice the sutra according to its teachings. Thus, their blessings will be limitless.

So, this is Samadhi. Through spiritual cultivation, we have attained a mind that is very focused, that does not deviate nor give rise to discursive thoughts. We listen to the Dharma wholeheartedly from beginning to end, not letting anything slip away. Having this "focused mind, they listen quietly." We must quiet our minds to listen; [we need] minds tranquil and clear. With such still and clear minds, we listen to the Dharma. After listening, we explain according to the Dharma. In the Buddha's heart, His original intent was to teach this sutra. This is the sutra that the Buddha treasured. Now He was finally expounding it freely. This is a very joyous thing. The Buddha finally has an opportunity to teach it. So, we must listen with a tranquil mind.

We must explain this sutra that the Buddha kept in His heart. We must explain the meaning and principles on behalf of the Buddha. Though the times have changed now, the original ideals and principles are unchanged. However, people and matters have changed. Following the current state of people and matters, we must explain this sutra that the Buddha treasured in His heart. We explain its meaning; after listening to the Dharma with a very tranquil mind, we explain the meaning of this sutra that was held in the Buddha's heart.

"According to its teachings" means just like the sutra says. We must "practice according to it." "Thus our blessings will be limitless." If we can follow this principle, if we can fully converge with it in its entirety, then we will not stray from the Dharma. Thus, according to its meaning and principles, we can expound everything very clearly. This really is not easy, and it will bring limitless blessings.

This is to say nothing of when "they listen to it, even for just an instant." Before we said, "They listen to it, even for just an instant." This person's "merits and virtues are such that when they are born again, they will be able to live together in the same place with dharani-Bodhisattvas."

They listen to it, even for just an instant. Their merits and virtues are such that when they are born again, they will be able to live together in the same place with dharani-Bodhisattvas: Dharani means retaining all teachings and upholding all goodness. This is the common practice that all Bodhisattvas cultivate.

In the past, we have been permeated [by the Dharma] over a long time. We understand it. Now, we have these causes and conditions. Even those who encourage people to listen to the Dharma, have continuously listened to the Dharma since the past. Those who were encouraged to listen to Dharma have also been permeated by it in the past. So, the causes and conditions have converged for everyone to listen together in that place. At the same time, "They listen to it, even for just an instant." In the past [we may have] listened to so much. We may not understand all passages clearly, but for this sutra passage today, we understand; we are very clear. Our Dharma-joy is replete, and when we are born again, we will be able to live together in the same place with dharani-Bodhisattvas.

We have discussed "dharani" before. To "retain all teachings" is called "dharani." We "retain all teachings," and we must "uphold all goodness." This is being a Bodhisattva. It is knowing all Dharma, not letting any slip away. It is also making aspirations and vows to practice the Bodhisattva-path. It is upholding all goodness. All goodness means creating blessings for people and transforming sentient beings. So, when it comes to the Buddha's teachings, [we] "retain all teachings." We understand [them all] because now, when we listen to this phrase, it resonates with our capabilities, and we finally understand it all. Because of this, we must take all the teachings and apply them to walk the Bodhisattva-path. Thus, we are "retaining all teachings and upholding all goodness." This is the place where all Bodhisattvas practice the Dharma together, where everyone needs to practice together.

This Chapter on the Merits and Virtues of Joy and the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues [teach us the following]: We must listen to the Dharma, personally uphold it and also advise others to listen to it. Those who can give rise to deep faith and understanding and accept this wondrous Lotus Sutra, even if they listen to it for merely an instant, are rarely encountered in millions of kalpas. Those who uphold it themselves like this and encourage others to practice and uphold it, widely spreading this Dharma, will have limitless blessings.

So, the Chapter on the Merits and Virtues of Joy, the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues, these two sections, have now concluded. They remind us that these are the merits of taking joy. Previously, Chapter 17 distinguished the various merits and virtues. Now this chapter is on taking joy in other's merits.

So, "We must listen to the Dharma, and personally uphold it." We listen to the Dharma in this place. After hearing it, we uphold it ourselves and further "encourage others to listen to it." We further advise others to listen to the Dharma. "They can give rise to deep faith and understanding." We listen ourselves and exhort others to listen so that everyone can deeply understand the meaning contained in this sutra. In this way, we can accept and understand it. After understanding it, we are able to have a very profound realization of the Wondrous Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra. This is to help us be able mindfully experience [its truth].

So, "Even if they listen to it for merely an instant," even if this is just a brief encounter, this is "rarely encountered in millions of kalpas." We really need to understand this. It is a brief encounter. We just said this. In the past, we have continually listened. We need to listen to the sutras for a long time. Although we did not understand, we still listened. We continued to listen until now. With this one phrase, "Oh, I finally understand." This is listening very patiently. So, we listen until this very important moment when we understand this phrase.

It turns out that the key to the meaning of this entire sutra is like this. Thus, "Even if they listen to it for merely an instant, this is rarely encountered in millions of kalpas." Indeed, this sutra is rarely encountered in millions of kalpas. "Encouraging others to practice and uphold it, widely spreading this Dharma, will [bring] limitless blessings." We practice and uphold it ourselves, as well as encourage others to practice and uphold it. Taking these vast principles and then further spreading them widely is really not at all easy. This definitely brings limitless blessings!

So, in Chapter 17, everyone who gathered in the assembly [and] "listened [to the sutra] attained all kinds of merits, virtues and benefits." At that time, after they listened, they also attained benefits. The Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues distinguishes how our merits and virtues differ in terms of depth.

Previously, in Chapter 17, everyone in the assembly who listened [to the sutra] attained all kinds of merits, virtues and benefits. The Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues distinguishes how these merits and virtues differ in terms of depth.

The above passage describes all kinds of blessings and virtues, distinguishing and measuring them. Now the merits and virtues of encouraging others to listen to the Dharma are being measured.

To sum it up, however we read or listen to the sutra, when the timing and our capabilities converge, that is the realization of our mind. Most importantly, in listening to the sutra, we must bring together our Roots and Dusts and Consciousnesses. At all times, the ground of our minds is united with everyone's. The mind we had before as ordinary beings was always fluctuating. Now, after listening to the sutra, we must [contemplate] how we cultivated in the past, how much we practiced. We must also be even more reverent, humble ourselves and so on. All of this demonstrates our sincerity, a sincere mind that is non-retreating. Even a tiny amount [of this sincerity] brings great merits and virtues. So, everyone must always be mindful.