Wondrous Lotus Sutra 靜思妙蓮華
Permeated by the Fragrance of all Dharma
From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:
>> "We must diligently listen, contemplate and practice, and we will be permeated by the fragrance of all Dharma. We must uphold precepts, Samadhi and wisdom to acquire the fragrance of these three practices. We must go among people to cultivate the Six Perfections. With common understanding, vision and action, we must make vows and uphold our aspirations."
>> "Those who uphold this sutra, despite dwelling here, will also smell all the celestial fragrances from the heavens above, such as the fragrances of the parijataka and kovidara trees and the fragrance of the Mandarava flower, the fragrance of the Mahamandarava flower, the fragrance of the Manjusaka flower, the fragrance of the Mahamanjusaka flower, sandalwood, agarwood, all kinds of scented powders and various floral fragrances." [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 19 - On Dharma Masters' Merits and Virtues]
>> When it comes to all the scents emitted from that convergence of heavenly fragrances, they will smell and know them all. They will also smell the bodily fragrances of heavenly beings, such as the fragrance of Sakro-devanam Indra in his supreme palace as he enjoys the pleasures of the Five Desires... [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 19 - On Dharma Masters' Merits and Virtues]
>> When it comes to all the scents emitted from that convergence of heavenly fragrances, they will smell and know them all: Having brought together countless virtues, [Sovereign Sakra] has attained a heavenly body in retribution. This is the fragrance that emits from the convergence of countless virtues. Sovereign Sakra lives in the Hall of Wondrous Dharma, where he gathers [heavenly] beings to discuss whether things accord with the Dharma or not.
>> They will also smell the bodily fragrances of heavenly beings, such as the fragrance of Sakro-devanam Indra: This refers to the fragrance of each of those heavenly beings. Sakro-devanam Indra is Sovereign Sakra, who reveres the Buddha, listens to the Dharma and serves as a great Dharma-protector.
"We must diligently listen, contemplate and practice,
and we will be permeated by the fragrance of all Dharma.
We must uphold precepts, Samadhi and wisdom
to acquire the fragrance of these three practices.
We must go among people
to cultivate the Six Perfections.
With common understanding, vision and action,
we must make vows and uphold our aspirations."
We must be more mindful! Indeed, we must be very diligent when learning the Buddha's teachings. In order to diligently study the Buddha-Dharma, everyone must mindfully put it into practice. As Buddhist practitioners, this is our direction and our goal. We must diligently listen and practice. Do we learn the Dharma from listening, reading, reciting or comprehending it? Whether we learn through reading or recitation, we also need to listen more. When we read, we do this on our own. When we have the time and the interest, we read all sorts of things.
Listening is different. What teachings are we listening to? We listen to the Dharma I am teaching right now on a fixed, daily basis, and everyone listens together. When it comes to listening to this sutra and the Dharma that I teach, everyone must focus with single-minded resolve and listen earnestly, according to the order [it is presented in]. Once we are done listening, we must also earnestly contemplate it so that we can take what we hear [to heart]. We must experience what we hear in order to understand it. Do I understand this phrase? If I cannot understand it, if its meaning seems too profound, I need to "retain it." To "retain" it means to keep it in our memory. Right now, we do not have the time to inquire about the meaning of a sentence, and we might not really understand it. Yet, we must still commit this phrase to memory while our ears continue to listen.
So, [as we] "listen," we need to listen mindfully. We cannot say, "Yes, I have [heard this before]. Master, I have heard [what you have to say]." We cannot be content with just listening.
After listening, we also need to "contemplate." Once this Dharma lecture comes to an end, when we leave the lecture hall, we need to recall it from memory. When it comes to certain phrases and teachings, we must continue to contemplate them and keep trying to comprehend them. Through contemplation, we will clearly understand all we have learned. Once we know and understand it, we must continue; once we know and understand it, we must then begin to engage in spiritual practice. So, this is what it means to "listen, contemplate and practice." Since we have heard and understood [the Dharma], now we can actualize it by putting the teachings into practice. This is called "listening, contemplating and practicing." For us to be able to listen, contemplate, and practice like this requires us to listen constantly. This is just like placing our clothes next to fragrant herbs. When we often draw near these fragrant places, our bodies, including our clothes, will be permeated by this fragrance, and we will acquire this fragrance.
By the same principle, if you cook with too much oil in the kitchen, the smell of oil will be very strong. When we have just left the kitchen, sometimes people can smell this on us. "Were you in the kitchen? What kind of dishes were you cooking? You smell like oil!" It is just like this; it is the same idea. If we remain in that place a little longer, our body will acquire that scent.
If we remain in a place of spiritual practice for a long period of time, our mannerisms and actions will be as dignified as a place of spiritual practice. When we leave that place of spiritual practice, we will likewise be influenced by other habitual tendencies. There is an old saying, "Those near red dust become red; those near black ink become black." The principle is the same.
Hence, "We will be permeated by the fragrance of all Dharma." When we draw near to fragrant places, naturally, our bodies, demeanor, bearing and actions will also acquire the characteristics of "listening, contemplating and practicing," the ample virtues of spiritual cultivation. "We cultivate our mind, refine our character, and correct our behavior." After listening to so many teachings, we grow accustomed to this lifestyle in our place of spiritual practice. Our physical conduct naturally takes on the same [essence] as this spiritual community. The principle is the same.
"We must uphold precepts, Samadhi and wisdom to acquire the fragrance of these three practices." Everyone knows about precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. "Precepts" means we need to follow the rules. For lay practitioners who practice at home, they must uphold the foundational precepts; in addition to the Five Precepts, they also need to uphold the Ten Good Deeds. For Buddhist practitioners who practice at home, if they uphold the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Deeds, they are considered "good people." Those who can do this are "upholding the precepts." [If we do this], our hearts will be free of guilt, for we will have done nothing shameful. For example, [if someone asks], "Must we abide by the Five Precepts?" [We will say], "Yes, we must not kill or steal. We must not engage in sexual misconduct. We must not tell lies or engage in flattery." We must uphold these Five Precepts against killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication.
What about the Ten Good Deeds? The Ten Good Deeds extend beyond the Five Precepts. We must not use our body to kill, steal or commit sexual misconduct. These are the three precepts [of the body]. Not killing is a fundamental [rule] for all of us. Not stealing also concerns our bodily conduct. Of course, we also need to control our bodies [by following] the rules of conduct for husbands and wives. There are four [precepts] regarding our speech; we must abstain from lying, flattery, gossip and harsh speech. And then there are [precepts] regarding our minds; we must abstain from greed, anger and ignorance. We [should] be able to practice these three good deeds of the body, the four of speech and three of the mind. If we can [practice] all three [sets] of these foundational precepts, which serve as an extension to the Five Precepts, then we are practicing the Ten Good Deeds. Thus, the Five Precepts and Ten Good Deeds are the fundamental [precepts] for [all] Buddhist practitioners to uphold. Monastic practitioners in particular must not deviate from the Five Precepts. They must absolutely accept and uphold them. The Ten Good Deeds are even more relevant to our everyday lives, so we must uphold and practice them all.
In addition, monastic practitioners have even more precepts and regulations. There are 250 precepts for bhiksus and over 300 precepts for bhiksunis. There is an even more detailed list for [bhiksunis] that contains 500 precepts. In summary, practicing and upholding the precepts is an enormous task, for all our thoughts and actions and so on must abide by these precepts. When we are able to follow all these precepts in our inner cultivation and external practice, by upholding these precepts, our minds will attain Samadhi. Then, there will be no worldly matters that can influence us. We will inevitably have worries, but our afflictions will be non-existent.
Aren't worries and afflictions the same thing? They are different, even though they sound similar. Afflictions are our deeply ingrained habitual tendencies. As for our worries, the things [we worry about] are those which have not reached a conclusion. "I am very worried about this." This pertains to [concrete situations, like] work. Afflictions, however, are groundless fabrications, or they [arise] because we cling to the past and refuse to let go of our former wealth, fame or status. Although time has passed, we are still reluctant to give up our position of recognition and status. This causes us to give rise to many afflictions. When we leave our status and recognition behind, we feel very disappointed. We still want to hold onto this power, so we refuse to let go. These are "afflictions." The world's afflictions are inseparable from greed, anger and ignorance, which are intangible. There are tangible and intangible afflictions.
What about our "worries"? They are not [afflictions]; they just [pertain to] things we have to do. Will we be able to accomplish these things? "[We] can do it! We must work diligently, and we must quickly find people [to join us]." Together, we will be able to accomplish this task. However, before we accomplish it, we will still be worried about it. Once we have completed this task, everyone will give rise to great joy. In this way, no afflictions will form in our minds. We always say we must give without expectations, but we also need to be grateful. To take the next step, we let go of the last one; [then], we will have not be worried. When we are free of afflictions, we will also be free of worries. Does everyone understand this? Afflictions are things in our minds that we cannot let go of. [This includes] things from the past, things that have yet to occur, things we cannot let go of and things that we make up out of nothing; these are all "afflictions."
[But] when it comes to our jobs, our worries [might pertain to] our many duties. So, we often say that worries and afflictions are different. In order to learn how to reach Samadhi, we need to eliminate our afflictions. We must eliminate our afflictions, [for they are] groundless fabrications. [Our attachments to] the past, present and future, as well as our interpersonal conflicts, are all purely fictitious. If we can hear them with our ears, they are not afflictions. When we do what we must, we let it go and our minds will remain calm. When we encounter things, our minds should not be filled with afflictions, cravings for [things] and so on. None of this is right. If we have a lot of afflictions, our minds will not be able to settle.
The Buddha-Dharma tells us to cultivate the Four Great Vows. [This means] we must make vows. "I am doing this thing because it is my life's vow. I will do my best. I will resolve any difficulties that arise. Once they are resolved, I can relax. If they are unresolved, I will put my heart [into solving them], and nothing in the world will be [too] difficult." Our resolve, our vows, must remain firm. Without [firm resolve], how could the Buddha keep doing this, lifetime after lifetime? Lifetime after lifetime, we must make the Four Great Vows. Once we have made these vows, as we come and go from this world, we must never depart from these aspirations. "We vow to deliver all sentient beings. We vow to eliminate all afflictions. We vow to learn the Buddha-Dharma. We vow to attain Buddhahood." These vows remain with us lifetime after lifetime. [Maintaining them requires] Samadhi. Thus, the benefit of upholding the precepts is that we can cultivate Samadhi, enabling us to steady our minds and make these vows lifetime after lifetime. When our minds are in Samadhi, we will not retreat from our spiritual aspirations when we run into obstacles.
This is the path we must follow. When the road gets bad, we must pave it. We call this "paving the road and opening the way." This is what we call "the Bodhisattva-path." Our minds must always remain in Samadhi, for this is our foundation as spiritual practitioners. [This brings us to] "wisdom." When we are determined, nothing in the world will be difficult for us. With wisdom, we treat all sentient beings equally. We must not be biased in any way. We must treat everyone with impartial love. [We must not say], "I hate this one," or "I prefer to protect him because I care about him more." No, [everyone] is equal. Aside from loving human beings, we also need to cherish the lives of all objects. This is known as "impartial love."
The Buddha's goal is to save sentient beings. [Our goal as] Buddhist practitioners is also to save and transform sentient beings. So, we must "cherish all life with gratitude, respect and love." We must [cherish] all life with impartial love. This takes wisdom, which includes both discerning wisdom and impartial wisdom. I mentioned this to everyone in the past. So, we must "acquire the fragrance of these three practices." We must constantly seek to become permeated by these three practices by constantly putting them into action. In our daily living, [these practices] must never be absent. If we are able to do this, our daily living will fully accord with the precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. [We need] rules to live by, we need Samadhi to deal with matters and [we need wisdom] to treat all things impartially; we should be able to accomplish all this in life. This is "the fragrance of [the] three practices."
[These are all] easily [applied] in our lives. For our whole lives, we must study the Buddha-Dharma thoroughly; we must deeply immerse ourselves in the precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. All sutras are inseparable from the precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. All the Buddha's teachings are inseparable from the precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. [They are intended] to teach us to follow rules, to teach us not to be distracted and to teach us how to deal with people and matters. These are all [encompassed by] precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. When we "go among people to cultivate the Six Perfections," we also need precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. So, when we go among people to "actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions," this is inseparable from "listening, contemplating and practicing," [as well as] "precepts, Samadhi and wisdom." If we want to go among people to practice the Bodhisattva-path, we must firmly abide by these three practices.
We all seek understanding from the Buddha-Dharma. With this understanding, it is even more [important] to put our common understanding into common action. We need common understanding, vision and action. If we do not put the teachings into action, then no matter how much we know, it will be of no use. Therefore, we all must "make vows and uphold our aspirations." Then, we can diligently advance upon this path.
In ancient times, during the Buddha's lifetime, King Prasenajit's wife was called Lady Mallika. His wife, Lady Mallika, had faith in the Buddha and promoted the Dharma. She "listened, contemplated and practiced" and upheld "the precepts, Samadhi and wisdom." Although she was living comfortably in the palace, she still listened to the Dharma very earnestly and put the teachings into action. Later on, during that time, there was a great merchant who specialized in overseas trade. He often sailed on the seas in search of treasure. As he was sailing in the middle of the ocean, the sea god suddenly emerged from the water. When the sea god emerged, he was holding a bowl of water in his hands. He said to the merchant, whose name was Bhallika, "Since you are sailing on my ocean, you must first come to understand me. I will ask you some questions, and if you can answer them, I will let you sail away, and your ship will pass safely. If you fail to answer, your ship will not pass." "What is this about?" [cried Bhallika].
Holding this bowl of water, the sea god asked the merchant, "Look at this bowl of water. Let us compare the water in the bowl in my hands with the water in the sea. Does my bowl have more water in it, or does the sea have more water?" Bhallika was also a devout Buddhist. He concentrated a bit, and then he answered, "Of course, the bowl in your hands has more water." The sea god then said, "How can you say that? The sea is so huge that it can hold an infinite amount of ships. How can the bowl of water in my hands compare with the water in the sea?"
The merchant Bhallika replied, "It is because what I need the most right now is a bowl of fresh water that I can drink, for it can save my life. Although there is so much water in the sea, I cannot drink any of it." Bhallika continued, saying, "If you can be happy with my answer, that would save my life. By the same principle, although the water in the ocean can carry my ship across the sea, it cannot save my life. Thus, I think the water in the bowl that you hold in your hands [is greater]." The sea god said to him, "Indeed, you have shown your respect for me. [I feel] I am respected by you, so I can let you pass."
This story is also a metaphor for our minds. When [the sea god] changed his mind, he not only spared [Bhallika's] life but also presented to him the treasure of the sea, the fragrant coral, which he gave to Bhallika. When Bhallika received the treasure of the sea, this coral, he found it was very fragrant. The fragrance was so strong [it filled] the boat. In this way, Bhallika traversed the sea with ease. Bhallika thought, "I have acquired this fragrant thing. It is so precious. Yet, as I am just an ordinary person, what virtues and abilities do I have that [make me worthy enough] to keep it? In truth, I do not know how to store it, nor do I have the virtue [to be worthy of it]. Why not offer it to the king as a national treasure?" So, he offered the coral to the king.
After seeing this beautiful and fragrant coral, the king felt that to store this object away in the treasury would also be a pity. He felt that this treasure must adorn a beautiful woman. To find the prettiest woman in the palace, he decided to hold a beauty contest. [The king had] so many consorts in the palace, and he wanted to see which one was prettiest. So, he sent out a message to everyone, saying, "Come, let me choose who will be able to obtain this treasure." Everyone was greatly excited by this. In their finest outfits, everyone dressed themselves up beautifully and gathered together at the appointed time.
As the king [took note] of one after the next, he found that Mallika was missing. "Where is Lady Mallika? Why isn't she here?" The king asked people to call for her. Perhaps she had not heard about it, so he sent someone to the palace to get her. Lady Mallika said, "I cannot go out today." The messenger then reported back to the king. The king sent another messenger, and then another. When the third messenger arrived, Lady Mallika still showed no interest in the coral. "I am grateful for the king's kind offer. This is something that everyone ought to cherish and seek to obtain."
The king was becoming a bit annoyed. However, he held a special love for Lady Mallika. So, the king declared, "She must come and see me regardless." Lady Mallika sensed the king's determination. So, she came out [to meet him]. She [came out] dressed very plainly. Completely unadorned, she was dressed very plainly. When she arrived amidst these gorgeous and glamorous women, the king's eyes lit up. In her plainness and simplicity, she [appeared] very pure and holy. A great purity [emanated] from her entire body. So, the king gave rise to a sense of respect.
The king said, "Why did you refuse to come here? Why are you dressed like this? Why didn't you dress up today?" She replied, "Dear King, today is my fasting day. So, I cannot put on any floral fragrances today. These are the precepts I need to follow. I cannot wear any fragrance, make up or jewelry on my body. This is my commitment to the Buddha's teachings. I must abide by the precepts." The king said, "Is abiding by precepts that important to you? Between me and the precepts you abide by, which is more important?"
Lady Mallika replied, "The Buddha's teachings are more important. Because my karma is very severe, lifetime after lifetime, my passions run deep, but my virtues are meager. Thus, I have been born as a woman. I want to earnestly engage in spiritual practice to approach the state of Buddhahood. I want to engage in spiritual practice so that my body and mind will be pure, and my morals, virtues and actions will all be perfect. I want to follow the path. When it comes to my aspiration, I must put the teachings into practice. I need to follow the precepts. My body must follow these rules to walk the path. This is my life's vow, which [will also affect] my wisdom-life in the future. So, following the precepts is more important."
The king replied, "Since the precepts are more important to you, I have great respect for you. Come, only you can obtain this fragrant coral. I offer this fragrant coral to you." Lady Mallika said, "I cannot accept this because today is my fasting day." The king said, "Since I have spoken, it must be done. You are my favorite. If you do not accept it, what should I do?" She replied, "You can follow me to present this to the Buddha. Only the Buddha is worthy enough to accept something so precious."
The king thought [to himself], "Hm, seeing the Buddha is a good idea. I want to know what kind of person He is. How could He have gotten my wife to respect Him so much? Even if it cost her her life, she would uphold the precepts." So, the king really wanted to learn what kind of person the Buddha was. The king followed his wife to pay a visit to the Buddha. As soon as he saw the Buddha, the king's heart was filled with reverence. He prostrated himself in admiration and listened to the Buddha teach the Dharma. From that moment on, he started to become one of the Buddha's great Dharma-protectors.
This is how the precepts can inspire everyone. Therefore, upholding precepts is very important. Upholding the precepts can give rise to the fragrance of the Dharma. Therefore, precepts, Samadhi and wisdom are very important. "Listening, contemplating and practicing" are indispensable. "Listening, contemplating and practicing" help us take the Dharma to heart. "Precepts, Samadhi and wisdom" help us put the Dharma into practice. We must go among the people to cultivate the practice of the Six Paramitas. We must be just like Lady Mallika, who, by using this approach, was able to transform the king, [causing him] to enter the Buddha-Dharma and become the greatest Dharma-protector. This is the fragrance of the precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. This requires everyone to respect [the Dharma] with reverent minds. [With common] understanding, vision and action, we must put it into practice.
Does this relate to the previous and subsequent sutra passages? Yes, it does.
"Those who uphold this sutra, despite dwelling here, will also smell all the celestial fragrances from the heavens above, such as the fragrances of the parijataka and kovidara trees and the fragrance of the Mandarava flower, the fragrance of the Mahamandarava flower, the fragrance of the Manjusaka flower, the fragrance of the Mahamanjusaka flower, sandalwood, agarwood, all kinds of scented powders and various floral fragrances."
Speaking of all these fragrances, several days ago, we also talked about the fragrances of all good deeds. When all good deeds come together, they form the fragrance of virtue. This is captured in the analogy of all the fragrances in the world, such as the various fragrances of the grasses, trees, flowers and so on. The following sutra passage says, "When it comes to all the scents emitted from that convergence of heavenly fragrances..."
When it comes to all the scents emitted from that convergence of heavenly fragrances, they will smell and know them all. They will also smell the bodily fragrances of heavenly beings, such as the fragrance of Sakro-devanam Indra in his supreme palace as he enjoys the pleasures of the Five Desires...
Whether it is all the fragrances in the world or all the fragrances of all the flowers, fruits and trees in heaven, our nose will "smell and know them all." [When] all these fragrances can be heard by our ears and smelled by our noses, then, we can understand them all. We can use our ears to [perceive] this flower. Yes, this flower is so fragrant! So, the ears can function as eyes, and our eyes can function as ears. [Our eyes] can see this flower and also serve in the place of our nose-root. In the past, we discussed how our eyes and ears work together. They can also work together with the nose, as long as our minds are calm.
Continuing on, the sutra passage says, "They will also smell the bodily fragrances of heavenly beings, such as the fragrance of Sakro-devanam Indra in his supreme palace as he enjoys the pleasures of the Five Desires."
Previously, it said, "When it comes to all the scents emitted from that convergence of heavenly fragrances, they will smell and know them all." These entities are non-sentient; plants and trees are all non-sentient. Now, this next part discusses the bodies of sentient beings, the bodily fragrances of heavenly beings. Speaking of heavenly beings, [the Buddha] introduces Sakro-devanam Indra first. [The fragrances] from his body, from the place he resides in and from his surrounding environment are all presented [in this passage].
When it comes to all the scents emitted from that convergence of heavenly fragrances, they will smell and know them all: Having brought together countless virtues, [Sovereign Sakra] has attained a heavenly body in retribution. This is the fragrance that emits from the convergence of countless virtues. Sovereign Sakra lives in the Hall of Wondrous Dharma, where he gathers [heavenly] beings to discuss whether things accord with the Dharma or not.
"Having brought together countless virtues, [Sovereign Sakra] has attained a heavenly body in retribution." The reason Sakro-devanam Indra is able to live in such a great environment is because he has so many virtues. He upheld the Five Precepts and Ten Good Deeds in the world for countless lifetimes; he is replete in them. Upholding the Five Precepts and Ten Good Deeds, his body was able to attain such great blessings. This is because his mind is free of afflictions. He practices the Ten Good Deeds and upholds the Five Precepts. This is "the convergence of countless virtues." With this convergence of countless virtues, he was able to receive the karmic retribution of becoming a heavenly being. Hence, "This is the fragrance that emits from the convergence of countless virtues."
So, where does this Sovereign Sakra live? He lives in a heavenly palace called the Hall of Wondrous Dharma. His palace is called "the Hall of Wondrous Dharma." Inside the Hall of Wondrous Dharma, he constantly gathers many heavenly beings. "In accordance with the Dharma," they all must come to this meeting. Heavenly beings also [gather] to meet. What kind of meetings do they hold? They meet about whether worldly beings are abiding by the Dharma, whether heavenly beings are following the rules and whether people in the world follow the Dharma. This is what Heaven is like. People in heaven also have their own [tasks], which means they must abide by the Dharma.
So, each heavenly king has a unique role. Based on which practice they cultivate, we can smell their unique bodily fragrance.
They will also smell the bodily fragrances of heavenly beings, such as the fragrance of Sakro-devanam Indra: This refers to the fragrance of each of those heavenly beings. Sakro-devanam Indra is Sovereign Sakra, who reveres the Buddha, listens to the Dharma and serves as a great Dharma-protector.
Sakro-devanam Indra is Sovereign Sakra. He reveres the Buddha, listens to the Dharma and serves as a great Dharma-protector.
He is able to abide by the Dharma and follow the teachings and [rules of] etiquette. From the Right Dharma in heaven to Right Dharma in the human world, he follows all the rules. Yet, "in his supreme palace... he enjoys the pleasures of the Five Desires." This also has a fragrance.
...in his supreme palace as he enjoys the pleasures of the Five Desires...: As his retribution, he became a heavenly lord dwelling in a heavenly palace. The fragrance of enjoying the heavenly pleasures of the Five Desires is his retribution for doing the Ten Good Deeds. The pleasures of the Five Desires: This enjoyment is his retribution. When Sovereign Sakra enjoys these pleasures, every evening, there are 8000 heavenly maidens who serve him, and he transforms into 8000 bodies to enjoy them.
As a heavenly lord, Sakro-devanam Indra is still attached to heavenly pleasures. He is still doing his best to enjoy his pleasures and his blessings. Therefore, inside that heavenly palace, he enjoys these desires and pleasures. In that place, there is a certain fragrance that can be smelled by the nose. This is the [blessed] retribution that comes from practicing the Ten Good Deeds. Therefore, he also has these blessings. He is able to fully enjoy the pleasures of the Five Desires. So, "This enjoyment is his retribution."
"When Sovereign Sakra enjoys these pleasures, every evening, there are 8000 heavenly maidens who serve him." Sovereign Sakra also transforms into 8000 bodies to enjoy these pleasures. These are his heavenly pleasures, the pleasures he enjoys in heaven. To achieve this, he had to [uphold] precepts and cultivate blessings in the world. This kind of supreme goodness requires the convergence of countless virtues. Only with this supreme goodness was he able to acquire the blessings [needed] to receive his reward body, which had the [necessary] karma retributions to be born in heaven. In heaven, Sovereign Sakra also leads many heavenly beings. [So], it is in this way that those who cultivate the Ten Good Deeds are rewarded by being reborn into heaven and enjoy the many pleasures there.