02 Sep Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 42
(Last week we ended with: The “flower” represents the maturation or effect, precisely the “cause”. What is the effect? It is the result from karmic retribution of the law of cause and effect. Cause and effect are concurrent, indicating that the Buddha-nature has never been lost. Presently, every one of us is like the lotus bud, still in the muddy water same as the lotus root in the mud but has not yet germinated. Why? Because there is no Prajna. It grows slowly and grows out of the water.)
Last time I explained, what does it mean when the lotus grows out of the water? One attains the status of Arhat of Hinayana School; the 4th Arhatship which is equivalent to the level of graduating elementary school.
Arhatshipt tiers: Srotapanna (1st arhatship), Sakadagami (2nd arhatship), Anagami (3rd arhatship) and Arhat (the 4th) are the four cultivation tiers which have been given provisional names in Buddhism; however, all of you need to understand some Buddhism terminology otherwise many things are hard to explain.
At what level has an Arhat realized the Buddhist truth? We have explained before, he is able to exit the Threefold Worlds (Triloka – the universe is divided into three worlds of karmic rebirth of desire, form and formless) and the six realms of reincarnation. He no longer transmigrates in our Milky Way Galaxy and no longer enters a mother’s womb in preparation for rebirth into this world.
Where does he stay? He stays beyond the Threefold Worlds and the six realms, and he has attained the 9th level of meditative concentration – the state of Samadhi. He can enter a mother’s womb for rebirth into this world as he wishes. If there exists the true conditioning cause (predestined affinity), he can still be reborn into this world again. But he does not want to come back; he is scared of our Threefold Worlds (Triloka) and the six realms of reincarnation, he perceives our world has been severely defiled. Therefore, he has not given rise to the great aspiration (for enlightenment), unlike the Bodhisattva.
We are talking about Hinayana Arhats who have self-terminated one’s fate of rebirth and death, but selfishly is unwilling to come back to help others. Therefore, Buddha advises them to give rise to the great aspiration for enlightenment:
Even if you have ended and released; there remain infinite beings that are just like who you were before, how could you not help?
So, Buddha tells Buddha and Bodhisattva to manifest an image. What kind of image? It is called the Mahyana Bodhisattva. Guan-Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara) is the representation of Mahayana Bodhisattva with infinite mercy and infinite compassion to help the needy and relieve the distressed; that is how it becomes.
Guan-Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara) represents wisdom and mercy. The average person only knows that she is with infinite mercy and infinite compassion, but realistically she uses wisdom to lead the way. She is originally “Tathagata of Brightness of Correct Dharma 正法明如來” who has become Buddha already at an earlier time, and now appears in the Bodhisattva form to enlighten us.
Therefore, from a “phenomenal characteristic” perspective, those Buddha Bodhisattva who come to our world do what? They are here to perform; their performances make you have enlightenment. He behaves the same way as us: if you play cards, he also plays cards; if you like to go to dance halls or casinos, he goes there too behaving the same way as you to help you imperceptibly. When there is any opportunity and circumstantial cause, he will use it to help you get enlightened.
So, we just explained the word Flower to mean the lotus flower. Guan-Yin Bodhisattva represents arising from the filthy mud but without being tainted by defilement.
Referring to what was previously mentioned about the Arhat who has just come out of the water, the bud has not blossomed yet. Guan-Yin Bodhisattva’s (Avalokitesvara) flower is in full bloom expressing that she can receive and lead all living beings. The fragrant aroma of that glorify lotus flower produces a kind of feeling, where all living beings who sees it fills with delight, right away wishing for us to also turn into the lotus flower. This is Buddha Bodhisattva using the means of wisdom to meet and lead all living beings.
What else does the Flower represent? It represents merit. We also explained the merits earlier, it is the energy field achieved by the purified mind without defilements; that kind of radiant energy field is called “merit”.
In general, when we recite Sutras, worship and repent to Buddha has merits. We constantly emphasize “merit”; in fact, for an average person who recites Sutras, worships and repents to Buddha, one does not have merit. Why? They do so with a varied mind filled with gossip, and chaotic and disorderly religious ideas; it does not have merits.
The mind has not been purified of defiling illusion, and still has expectations. After my repentance, my karmic-hindrance can be reduced, my family will be peaceful and happy; this is the religious way. The teaching of the Buddha is not. The Buddha teaching is by means of the purified mind to be the first. The purified mind when doing anything is called “merits”; if the mind has not purified to do anything, then you cause karma.
Like when we were students, and there was homework assigned to be written in exercise notebooks, the written notebooks are the leftover tracks of arising thought in the mind; this formed the energy called “making karma”. Buddha Bodhisattva do not have this, their body and minds are purified of defiling illusion. They also create karma, but what kind? The pure karma. Pure karma does not have any repercussions. Good karma and bad karma both have repercussions.
A person who creates both good and bad karma ends up at the Three Wretched Realms (hell, hungry ghosts and animals) to enjoy. If one does completely virtuous deeds, one ascends to the heavenly world. One who does 50% virtuous deeds, then one will be in the human world. If the virtuous deeds are 30%, 20% or even 10%, then one descends to the three wretched realms – animals, hell and hungry ghosts. If you create “pure karma”, you depart from the six realms of reincarnation and will no longer be dragged into the six realms of existence; furthermore, you can take on any material shape to come back to help all living beings of the six realms of reincarnation.
Some people have said: “People who cultivate the Pure Land Buddhism, they go to the Bliss World of Amitabha Pure Land and do not come back”. They were wrong about this. People go to the Bliss World of Amitabha Pure Land to recover one’s pure essence, and then return to our world to help all living beings. Since a day in the Bliss World of Amitabha Pure Land is equivalent to 1.344 billion earth years, if one stays there even one second and returns to our world it would all be changed. It does not mean he does not come back; it is the difference of time, and the disparity is too huge.
This being the case, we are using the “lotus flower” as representation: when the flower blooms, does not the lotus seed at the center of the flower? So, the fruit also ripens representing to become Buddha is both cause and effect interacting concurrently. You make the vow now that “I want to become a Buddha”, then the “cause and effect” is set and only it has not manifested yet. Waiting until your lotus blooms precisely, it will unfold now. Therefore, the lotus flower represents Buddha’s merits. This is called: The Great, Omni-directional and Extensive of the Buddha’s Flower Adornment《大方廣佛華嚴》. Adornment means glory, solemn.
(上星期講到: 「花」表示報 – 就是「因」。「果」是什麼？就是因果業報那個果 – 結果。「因果同時」，表示佛性沒有失去過。現在，每個人就像花苞，蓮花還在汚泥當中，在蓮藕的汚泥當中，還沒有發芽。為什麼？還沒有「般若」。慢慢長，長出水面了。)
上次講長出水面是什麼？是小乘阿羅漢，小學畢業 – 四果羅漢。
上次也解釋過功德，是心清淨、沒有汚染而所成就的磁場 – 那個光明磁場叫「功德」。
善、惡業，如果都造，將來到三惡道去享受。造全善到天界。造百分之五十的善，做人。如果百分之三十、二十、十，就到三惡道 – 畜道、地獄、餓鬼去了。如果造「淨業」，離開六道，永遠不會再跟六道有牽扯。而且你還可以化身，化身回來渡六道輪迴的眾生。