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Wondrous is a subtle and profound [word of] praise.
"Wondrous body" commends the beauty of the inconceivable Dharma.
True Suchness is the essence of all Dharma.
Whether among the defiled, the pure, the sentient or non-sentient multitudes, its nature remains unchanging.
Thus, it is called the wondrous body of Dharma-nature.
Time rushes by so easily! For Tzu Chi middle schools, elementary schools and kindergartens, we have been watching their graduation ceremonies. These are such touching and heartwarming scenes. During [the ceremony], although the kindergarteners are very young, when teachers lead the students onto the stage, just seeing their entrance is very moving. These small children come forward, one after the next, in a neat and orderly line. Behind them are the elementary students, followed by the middle schoolers, and then the older children, who are in high school, follow behind them. After graduation, they will apply to universities. There is a great difference in their sizes and statures, but the scene as a whole was so beautiful!
The ceremony was in our Jing Si Hall in Hualien, where we saw them all [form a line]. As the ceremony started, the teachers called out the students' names, and the principal awarded them their certificates, all in a very orderly fashion, giving them their certificates, one by one. The students came on stage one at a time and reverently paid respect to their teachers. This [is truly a sign] of their education. The only real education is one that imparts propriety. Seeing them enter in a refined and courteous way [filled me] with joy. The way they showed respect to their teachers and accepted their teachings is truly admirable. By carrying themselves properly and politely, they left no room for criticism. Their truly orderly [conduct] made for a beautiful ceremony.
Words of praise were on everyone's lips for the final kindergartener [who came on stage]. This kindergartener, this very young child, spoke using Taiwanese pronunciation, she spoke Taiwanese very well. Everything that this child expressed had so much emotion, respect and truth in it, as she expressed her gratitude and respect. When she bowed to [everyone], it was different from the other children. Although everyone was well put-together, her [own] orderly conduct had a kind of indescribable reverence and etiquette. I could sense that, if she can grow up to be well-cultivated, growing up in this kind of environment and continuing to receive this kind of education, this child will be very extraordinary.
I heard that this was the child of one of our hospital's doctors. Indeed, thinking of this, I felt comforted. Why is it that, in Hualien, we wanted to establish elementary and middle schools? It was for our medical personnel who came from all over [Taiwan to work here]. They cared a lot about their children's education. As these staff were all very young, we needed a kindergarten for [their children], and we also needed elementary and middle schools. So, it was for the sake of our personnel that we first established an elementary and middle school for them.
Now, as we saw, not only do our staff's children [attend], but so do the children of our Tzu Chi volunteers. The principal of the middle school accompanied both the parents and children [on stage]. One parent stood up to express her gratitude. She said that she herself had been one of the first students in the nursing school, and now her child is in [our] middle school. [This shows] how quickly time has passed. First, she studied at our nursing school, and since graduating, she is now serving in our hospital. After she got married and had a child, her child was educated at our school. This is just how it ought to be.
It was for our medical staff in Hualien, for our schools and teachers, that we established these schools, and now, we can see the fruits of our efforts. [Watching] each class that graduated from our university, middle school and primary school, as well as the Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology, truly filled me with joy.
We first built these schools for the sake of our colleagues in our Medical and Education Missions, and to witness the success [of their children], I am very grateful. I am grateful they were willing to come to Hualien and for the education our schools [provide]. [All of this brings to mind] the years and the aspirations that we must not forget. Indeed, after giving rise to this aspiration, all the time we spent to bring it to fruition has now already borne this fruit, and I am [grateful] for all that we have done.
This is our history, the sutra [of our lives]; this is how Tzu Chi's sutra treasury came to be, so we must not forget everything that Tzu Chi has done in the world to cultivate people's talents. From the very first graduating class, [one of] our nursing school graduates [of 2019] now works in central Taiwan as the deputy superintendent of a public hospital; [she] was in our first graduating class.
Now the talents of [these students] have already earned them great accomplishments wherever they have gone. Wherever they work, they are well-adapted and carry themselves properly. They understand how to educate [others] with love. This [makes them] Bodhisattvas; having truly educated everyone [in this way] [has made them] Bodhisattvas. That kindergartener even said, "I am a little Bodhisattva." Indeed! Our older and younger Bodhisattvas are educated equally well.
As we continue on, let us listen mindfully.
Wondrous is a subtle and profound [word of] praise. "Wondrous body" commends the beauty of the inconceivable Dharma. True Suchness is the essence of all Dharma. Whether among the defiled, the pure, the sentient or non-sentient multitudes, its nature remains unchanging. Thus, it is called the wondrous body of Dharma-nature.
"Wondrous is a subtle and profound [word of] praise." This is "wondrous." This word "wondrous" is subtle and intricate. Its meaning is deep and profound; thus it is worthy of being called "wondrous." If we want to explain this word, "wondrous," even several months of explanation would fail to cover it all. Condensed into a simple sentence, it is "a subtle and profound [word of] praise." It is so subtle that our eyes cannot detect it, like true emptiness. As they are so deep and profound, how far do principles spread? [The principles] which spread to every corner can all be described with the word "wondrous."
"'Wondrous body' commends the beauty of the inconceivable Dharma." Very shortly, we will see "wondrous body" in the sutra passage. This [refers to] the Dharma-body. How do we praise the perfect harmony of the Dharma-body of True Suchness? The beauty of the Dharma-body is indeed inconceivable and beyond words. This inconceivable Dharma is intricate and wondrous; this is what "wondrous body" [refers to].
So, "True Suchness is the essence of all Dharma. Whether among the defiled, the pure, the sentient or non-sentient multitudes..." The essence of this Dharma is truly wondrous, [thus it is] the wondrous body. This also [refers to] the nature of True Suchness, which is the essence of all Dharma. Even "among the defiled," the unenlightened beings, our nature of True Suchness still remains. Even [covered in] the dust of defilement, we are still replete with True Suchness, for it is no less in ordinary beings and no greater in noble beings.
For unenlightened beings like ourselves, our True Suchness is buried and covered deeply beneath our ignorance and afflictions, so our True Suchness cannot manifest. [However], it remains within us, just like the [parable of] the precious jewel that was always on the poor son's body, [even though] he was never aware of it. It is the same idea. So, "True Suchness is the essence of all Dharma. Whether among the defiled [or] the pure...." The defiled refers to unenlightened beings, [so True Suchness is found among] noble beings, spiritual practitioners and all sentient beings, which [includes both] humans and animals.
"Among the non-sentient multitudes, its nature remains unchanging." Whether it is a [particular] teaching or the Dharma-nature of True Suchness, this wondrous body is found everywhere. Both the sentient and non-sentient beings are replete with this [wondrous essence of] Dharma. We have discussed this [previously]. Whether they are worldly phenomena or the workings of our minds, [all things undergo] formation, existence, decay and disappearance. All things with form [are like this]; this process encompasses them all, and the Dharma within them is of a subtle and wondrous nature. It is the same for human beings. [And] apart from humans, how many species of living beings are there in total? [The amount] is incalculable. [The number of] living beings, of all shapes and sizes, is incalculable. We cannot name them all. Of [all] sentient and non-sentient beings, indeed we cannot completely [name] them all.
"Its nature remains unchanging." Just as humans have a human nature, animals have their own nature too. Even the birds that fly, fish that swim, animals that crawl on the land and so on, have their ways of living based on physics and biology. They have their own way of living. So, their way of living is also [governed by] different principles. Can we call a dog a person? We cannot. It is a dog; so naturally, it has a dog's form. Thus, the Buddha taught that the true principles are inseparable from the law of cause and effect.
Every teaching that the Buddha gave is encompassed by the karmic law of cause and effect. Every seed carries its genes, and when the right causes and conditions converge, [the seed] will grow and take form. As the seed of a tree begins to germinate, it gradually grows bigger. In the future, this seed will become a tree, while the future of another seed is to become a rice stalk or a vegetable. Each one is different. This is its basic [nature], which is its Dharma. Thus, a seed is a "cause" which [requires certain] "conditions," and as various causes likewise converge with different conditions, [a variety of phenomena] will come into being.
So, [all things have] a nature, principles and the nature of True Suchness. [All beings on] Earth have this True Suchness. True Suchness is the wondrous true principle, and many names are used to describe this final, singular [concept]. This is the True Dharma, [which is] "the unsurpassed, extremely profound, subtle, and wondrous Dharma." In our "Verse for Opening a Sutra," doesn't it mention "the unsurpassed, extremely profound, subtle, and wondrous Dharma"? Even by giving this Dharma a variety of names, we still cannot completely explain it, for it is inconceivable. The wondrous body of this Dharma-nature is inconceivable, [for it contains] true, wondrous principles.
Now, let us read the sutra passage that we have discussed before.
"All Buddhas and Hearers, Buddha-children and Bodhisattvas, whether alone or among people teaching the Dharma, will all manifest."
[To impart] these seeds to Hearers, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, [because] they are all human, the Buddha had to teach them according to their capabilities. Whichever seeds of causes and conditions were suited to them, He thus taught them according to their capacities. Therefore, for all humans alike, the Buddha had to have a way [to teach them]. This is why the Buddha had so many ways of teaching the Dharma [to different people]. Thus, for each [topic], He gave many teachings, and used different methods to teach various principles. This was the Buddha's [approach to] teaching.
Continuing on, the next passage says,
"Though they have yet to attain the flawless, wondrous body of Dharma-nature, because of their pure ordinary body, all will be reflected within them."
Though they have yet to attain the flawless, wondrous body of Dharma-nature: Those who uphold the sutra have yet to attain the flawless, wondrous body of intrinsic Dharma-nature.
"Though they have yet to attain the flawless, wondrous body of Dharma-nature...." This summary we just [read] tells us of the wondrousness of [this] body. The subtle and wondrous teachings of the nature of True Suchness were imparted to us by the Buddha according to our capabilities. [To Him], the most important thing was for us all to earnestly engage in spiritual practice to eliminate our ignorance. [He wanted us to] extinguish our afflictions so that we might finally become flawless. To be flawless means to be without afflictions, such that only the Dharma resides in our hearts. To be free of defilements [means we are] pure. Then, the subtle, intricate Dharma will manifest.
However, while the Buddha was teaching, "they had yet to attain the Flawless." This was like graduation ceremony for our. Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology. [Those students] have grown up now, and their graduation ceremony was so dignified. Now, as they go out, they can start their careers. As for the elementary and kindergarteners, we must continue to educate them. Once they are educated, they may attend the University of Science and Technology or our Tzu Chi University, [and thus], they ascend to the next level. A different education leads to different results. The way that we impart teachings to them follows a teaching method that is suited to their own capabilities.
Thus, those who have not taken courses are like spiritual practitioners who are not at that level, who still have ignorance and afflictions. Because they have not heard the principles, they have not yet eliminated their ignorance and afflictions, so they have yet to reach the flawless [state]. [This is] "the wondrous body of Dharma-nature." Thus, we still have yet to attain this wondrous body of Dharma-nature, for we do not yet fully comprehend the Dharma, nor have we attained this flawless [state]. [Many] people are like this, despite their earnest [efforts].
Thus, "those who uphold the sutra" must learn it through great efforts. In the course of their studies, they read and uphold the sutra, and they very mindfully contemplate its contents. [People like this are] those who uphold the sutra. [But, they] "have yet to attain the flawless, wondrous body of intrinsic Dharma-nature." This is like how we all make great efforts to listen to and read the things we must, but we still lack a clear understanding in spite of our mindfulness.
So, continuing on, it says, "Because of their pure ordinary body, all will be reflected within them."
Because of their pure ordinary body, all will be reflected within them: Because of their transcendent sense organs and pure ordinary body, they will behold the ultimate truth within their body. Whether wholesome, unwholesome, noble or unenlightened, all forms and appearances will be reflected [within their body].
What this verse section is saying is that, "because of their transcendent sense organs and pure ordinary body, they will behold the ultimate truth within their body." Although we still have not attained that refined and wondrous intrinsic nature, as it has not yet manifested in us, we are still very diligent in seeking to understand the principles it contains.
Previously, I have often said that spiritual practice is like putting on armor before entering a battlefield. This is something we have discussed before. So, in [our] spiritual practice, we need to challenge ourselves. We have many habitual tendencies and much ignorance, and as we must earnestly seek to tame [them all], we must focus our efforts.
Now, we have reduced our past habitual tendencies. By increasing our efforts and focus, we have caused our sense organs to be purified. These pure sense organs are [what] "transcendent sense organs and pure original body" [refers to]. This is like how, as we ordinary beings engage in spiritual practice, we still possess an ordinary physical body, but within our spirit and consciousness, we have already taken the Dharma to heart. We are working earnestly and diligently. We still have this [human] body, and we use [it] to engage in spiritual practice. "If we do not transform ourselves in this life, in which lifetime will we transform ourselves?" We must cherish and make use of our present body. Now that we have listened to the Buddha-Dharma, we must earnestly seize the time we have here to diligently listen to the Dharma and earnestly seek to comprehend it.
Do we not recite the Three Refuges every day? After we "comprehend the Great Path," we must form the supreme aspiration. When we "delve deeply into the sutra treasury," we must unceasingly awaken our ocean of wisdom. Our hope is to have the chance to hear and pass on the Dharma. Hearing the Dharma, teaching it and passing it on in the future is the [objective of our spiritual practice]. Now we must reach the point of comprehending the Great Path.
So, "They will behold the ultimate truth within their body." Now, we are making use of our bodies to earnestly listen to the Dharma and mindfully take it to heart and to carefully understand the sutra's meaning as we read it. This requires us to be very mindful. "Whether wholesome, unwholesome, noble, or unenlightened, all forms and appearances will be reflected [in their body]." What is wholesome, and what is unwholesome? When it comes to the noble and the unenlightened, [if we take time to consider them carefully], we can understand these clearly. [Using] our ability to distinguish, what is "right" and what is "wrong" are both very clear to us, so this will be reflected in our bodies.
The body-root can also possess the faculties of all Five Bodies. To reflect everything in the world within the body is a faculty of the physical body. To reflect all the way up to the summit of existence within the body is a faculty of the heavenly body. To reflect all Two Vehicle practitioners within the body is a faculty of the wisdom body. To reflect all Bodhisattvas within the body is a faculty of the Dharma-body. To reflect all Buddhas within the body is a faculty of the Buddha-body.
"The body root can also possess the faculties of all Five Bodies." Our body root can actually also have the faculties of Five Bodies. Do you know that the Buddha was also born in this world? Everyone knows that the Buddha was born in the world as human. However, He thought differently from everyone else. The thoughts we have follow our environment and are [accordingly] defiled by it. As the Buddha grew over time, He wondered, "Why is life like this? Why is the environment like this? Why do people grow old, get sick and die? Why are some wealthy while others are poor? "Why are people distinguished by caste?" [He focused on] these inequities. In order to [understand] these matters, He sought the true principles [behind them]. Thus, with His [human] body, the Buddha used it to seek out the truth. Later, this same body was transformed into the Five Bodies.
"The Five Bodies reflect everything in the world within the body." This [refers to] the physical body. This physical body, the body given to us by our parents at birth, is the body we use for our spiritual practice. Only after cultivating this body did He teach many past principles, [such as] the heaven, human and hell realms we know today. The Buddha taught all of this.
So, all of the principles [He] manifested "reflect all the way up to the summit of existence within the body." Previously, we also discussed the forms and appearances in the Heaven realm, from Great Freedom Heaven to Brahma Heaven, and [all the way up] to Peak Heaven. There are so many different heavenly realms, all with very different ways of living. So, [all beings there have] heavenly bodies, [which are] the bodies used by [heavenly beings].
[The body which] "reflects all Two Vehicle practitioners within the body" is the wisdom body. [The practitioners of] the Two Vehicles, the Hearers and Solitary Realizers, began to comprehend the suffering of life. The Four Noble Truths the Buddha spoke of and the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence were all very clear to them. They understood the relationship between the material world and their bodies, as well as their [connection to] the world of living things. So, the body they use is called the wisdom body. [In turn, the body which] "reflects all Bodhisattvas" is the Dharma-body. Bodhisattvas do not merely know [the Dharma]; they also walk the path of the Six Paramitas. As they go among people in the world to transform sentient beings, they are approaching [the state of Buddhahood].
Maitreya Bodhisattva will be the future Buddha, who has yet to come, and Manjusri Bodhisattva was a Buddha in the past, but they are both called Bodhisattvas. They came to Sakyamuni Buddha's. [Dharma-assembly] to support him, and they also came to the world to teach people. So, a Bodhisattva [uses] a "Dharma-body." [The body which] reflects all Buddhas is the Buddha-body. The Buddha-body is the name that [we use for] this world's fundamental teacher, whom we recognize as Sakyamuni Buddha. [The time of] Sakyamuni Buddha was more than 2000 years before our own, or about 2500 years ago.
The future Buddha, who is yet to come, will be Maitreya. But [His time] is still very far away from now. So, presently, our fundamental teacher is still Sakyamuni Buddha. Everything He taught us, [including] these faculties of the Five Bodies, can be cultivated by us ordinary beings; we begin at [the stage of] unenlightened beings, [before reaching] the small and middle vehicles, the Bodhisattva vehicle and the Buddha Vehicle. So, these Five Bodies that we can make use of encompass the Ten Dharma Realms. [In] the Ten Dharma Realms, we use the Five Bodies.
The Ten Dharma Realms are the Six Unenlightened Realms and Four Noble Realms. We know all about [them] and discuss them often. The Six Unenlightened Realms include the Heavenly, Human, Asura, Hell, Hungry Ghost and Animal [Realms]; these are the Six Unenlightened Realms. And what about the Four Noble Realms? The Hearer, Pratyekabuddha, Bodhisattva and. Buddha Realms make up the Four Noble Realms. [Beings in these realms] are free from the unenlightened mind and have cultivated pure, undefiled hearts.
Throughout the Ten Realms, the myriad aspects of nature manifest momentarily. One or many, they all accommodate one another; great or small, they are unobstructed. When all things do not impede one another, this means that everything is without hindrances.
The Ten Realms [refers to] the Ten Dharma Realms. "The myriad aspects of nature" are all so numerous, [yet], "one or many, they all accommodate one another." These things all exist in harmony with each other. [We could never] count all of the many plants and trees in the forests of this world, so how can they all accommodate each other? [As it says], "Great or small, they are unobstructed."
Oceans meld into oceans, earth melds into earth and each forests melds into [the next], and [though] they are all distinct, they all [coexist] in our present world; "great or small, they are unobstructed." [Even for something as] small as a flower or a drop of dew, the dew does not obstruct the ocean, just as the ocean does not obstruct the dew drop, and neither does the tiny flower or blade of grass obstruct the greatest forest; "great or small, they are unobstructed." Thus, "[All] things do not impede one another," [means] none of these obstructs the others. "This means that everything is without hindrance." [Likewise], there are so very many principles in this world, yet each one contains its own truth. However, these many truths do not obstruct one another. This is like how, [when we use] our eyes, our ears do not hinder [the function of] our eyes, nor does our nose obstruct our mouth; everything has its own place, and each has its own principles and functions too. This can all be found in the Buddha's teachings.
The Buddha's flawless, pure Dharmakaya is as complete as the universe. In other words, the Ten Dharma-realms comprise the Buddha's flawless, pure Dharmakaya. All sentient beings of the Ten Dharma-realms are all retained and reflected one by one within the Buddha's flawless Dharmakaya.
"The Buddha's flawless, pure Dharmakaya is as complete as the universe." Only the Buddha's pure and flawless. Dharmakaya is as complete as the universe. His Dharmakaya [comprises] the entire universe. This vast space of the universe [functions] in harmony, like the Dharma realms, accommodating all things contained within. In other words, "the Ten Dharma Realms are the Buddha's flawless, pure Dharmakaya." [His] entire Dharmakaya encompasses all within it. We must mindfully seek to comprehend this.
"All sentient beings of the Ten Dharma Realms are all retained and reflected one by one within the Buddha's flawless Dharmakaya." By understanding one principle, we can understand all principles. So, [if we can] delve deeply into "the Buddha's flawless Dharmakaya," every single [principle] will manifest for us.
[Next, it says],
Bodhisattvas above the Ten Grounds can realize this accordingly. Only Buddhas can be perfect and complete.
The Buddha is most perfect and flawless. No matter the depth and perfection that a Bodhisattva [can achieve], they still have yet to attain Buddhahood. This is why it is so rare for a Buddha to appear in the world. However, the Buddha definitely was a Bodhisattva who completed [His spiritual practice], [reaching] each stage of cultivation until attaining the highest level, [which is that of] a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva. Dharmakaya Bodhisattvas then perfect themselves to attain the fruits of spiritual cultivation.
Although people who uphold the sutra are still unable to reach this state, because they excel at upholding this sutra, they are able to resonate with this faculty of fruition. This precisely demonstrates how extraordinary the power of this sutra is. The merits of their body-root is complete.
[As for], "[those] who uphold the sutra," such people have not yet reached this state, so they have yet to attain the Buddha's same state of perfection, nor the Dharma-nature of a Bodhisattva. They do not fully understand the principles and truths, but because they joyfully uphold the sutra and gain an understanding from the text, they use their own body to practice upholding the Dharma. So, "They are able to resonate with this faculty of fruition." [Because] this fruition has a corresponding cause, [although] we are very diligent, we do not yet thoroughly understand [the Dharma]. For each cause, there is a corresponding effect, which is able to resonate into the future. [Due to this law of] cause and effect, the causes of a Buddha will naturally lead to the fruition of Buddhahood.
However, [it is by this same] process that a seed becomes a sprout, then a small tree and in the future, it will thus become a great tree. All it takes is [a certain] cause, and it will grow to take on a certain form. We have made the great aspiration to follow the Bodhisattva Path to attain Buddhahood. With this kind of determination, we can naturally and unceasingly forge ahead on the path toward Buddhahood. This is how [we will begin to] reflect the merits of upholding the sutra. What do we use to uphold the sutra? [We use] our bodies; we use our body-root to accept and uphold it. There are five types of bodies, the physical body, Dharma-body, and so on, all the way to the Buddha-body.
This body is always [the final stage]. Although the body[-root], as we have discussed, [only possesses] "the 800 merits of the body," if we are sincere [in our spiritual practice], none of our accomplishments are attainable without our bodies. Our bodies are replete with the Five Roots, [but] the eyes, ears, nose and tongue are all contained within the body[-root].
The eyes have 800 [merits], and the ears have 1200. In fact, the merits of [our] Six Roots together make 6000 merits. In summary, we must mindfully seek to comprehend this. We must be earnest and diligent with our bodies. Among the Six Roots, [the body is] the Fifth Root; after that, there is also the mind-root. All phenomena must be analyzed in terms of the convergence of the Roots and Dusts if we are to comprehend the principle of true emptiness and wondrous existence. The true body, which is pure and wondrous, is the Dharmakaya. So, we must mindfully seek to understand the principles of this wondrous body. We must always be mindful.