By Nhat Quan
Phrase: Entering the Tathagata's house means to say, if you want to become a Buddha, you must enter the Buddha Dharma house to practice in order to become a Buddha in the future. The idiom Entering the Tathagata's house is saying enough:
- Enter the Tathagata's house, put on the Tathagata robe, and sit on the Tathagata throne
This is the principle of the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra is a very noble sutra, which summarizes all the teachings that Buddha taught his disciples for 49 years. Before preaching this sutra, because the backgrounds of his disciples were not the same, he used many means to lead them gradually to the Way of the One Vehicle. When the basis of sentient beings matured, the Buddha spoke directly to the One vehicle. Although the teaching of One Vehicle is profound, it does not mean that it denies all the methods of means that the Buddha said before but just wants to say that the previous methods are steps, and means to teach sentient beings about the One Vehicle. Similarly, if you're going to enter a big house, you must step up the stairs sequentially, go through the corridor and then enter the big house.
Similar to a doctor, after understanding the disease, understanding the medicine, and how to cure it, will the patient take this medicine or another medicine? The Buddha too, with wisdom, clearly saw the bases and meritorious deeds of sentient beings, and then, depending on the basis and meritorious deeds, used one method or another, rather than teaching all the dharmas at once at the time. For example, when a person has diarrhea and abdominal pain, the doctor tells him to abstain from milk and only gives him medicine to treat stomach pain, and then recovers, the doctor tells him to drink milk to strengthen himself. If you do not know, then you will wonder, why did the first doctor say not to drink, but then the doctor told the patient to drink milk?
Buddha, too, previously only spoke about the Four Truths, the Twelve Causes and Conditions, and Selflessness so that sentient beings could reduce their suffering and liberate birth and death from samsara. When ego-clinging has been destroyed but dharma-clinging has not been eliminated, enlightenment has not yet been finalized, so the Buddha again taught and destroyed dharma-attachment for complete liberation. But there are disciples who think that, before the Buddha taught the Four Truths to attain Nirvana, now the Buddha says that it is only a means, on the contrary, he also says that there is a dharma higher, that Dharma called One Vehicle. Thus the Buddha said before different, after different. Because of that, in the Dharma Flower Assembly, there were 5000 arrogant monks who did not believe, were disgruntled, got up, and went out. By the way, you know enough, the Lotus Sutra is a sutra of the highest vehicle, the Buddha said to bring disciples to the One vehicle, to enter the Buddha vehicle, only for those who have matured abilities.
Therefore, whoever writes, records, maintains, reads, recites, and speaks this sutra will have immeasurable merit. If it weren't for great faith, in cultivating good roots from countless eons, it would have been difficult to do this. So the Buddha said,
- Whoever preaches this Sutra, that person has planted a good root for many kalpas.
But in order for the preaching of this sutra to be fully beneficial for both oneself and others, the preacher needs to meet all three qualities as taught by the chapter of Dharma Master in the sutra. That is at the Tathagata's house, wearing the Tathagata robes and sitting on the Tathagata throne:
- The Tathagata's house is the mind of great compassion.
- Tathagata's robe is gentle and patient.
- The Tathagata's seat is all the dharmas of emptiness.
a. House of Tathagata:
Beings in the Three Realms is the house created by their own karma: illegal karma, greed, hatred, delusion, and afflictions. Now if you want to speak the Lotus Sutra, don't stay in that house, but make your home with compassion. Kindness is giving people joy, compassion is saving suffering for all sentient beings. To be happy to see living beings in peace, to save suffering when seeing sentient beings suffering. If parents see their children happy and healthy, they give them more clothes, shoes, cars, etc. to make them happier, or to be happy with them, that's kindness. But when it's sick, taking care of it, giving it medicine to cure it, and giving it rice and porridge is called compassion.
The Buddha too, for sentient beings who have good karma, used kindness to teach because the good in the three worlds has not yet been liberated, so he brought good deeds out of the world to make them practice, that kindness. But for those sentient beings who are bound by karma and suffering, then the Buddha uses the methods that teach you to practice to eliminate karma and to end suffering, which is compassion. But doing that compassion is not a day or two. In the Sutra, there are three levels of compassion:
- Compassion based on awareness of the suffering of sentient beings
- Great compassion based on sameness essence.
- Uncaused compassion
1- Compassion based on awareness of the suffering of sentient beings
It is compassion that depends on the sign of reciprocity, which means that it will arise with predestined conditions. For example, if you see sentient beings suffering, you will feel compassion. When the scene of suffering is over, your compassion will disappear. Compassion based on awareness of the suffering of sentient beings is compassion that arises and has extinction, has a relationship.
2- Great compassion based on sameness essence.
As Buddhas, Bodhisattvas see that all living beings are closely related to each other. For example A trader, a farmer, a teacher, a student, a housewife... These people, if you look at them one-sidedly, you can see that they have nothing to do with each other because each person doing a job. But the truth is that all of them have a survival relationship, helping each other. Such as:
- People who work in the fields have rice, potatoes, corn... Thanks to that, traders can trade to make a profit and raise their families and children to study. Children who study well, use words to serve people…. Understood like this, there is no longer the nature of defying common interests but protecting individual interests.
Your current knowledge is due to many people over many generations have passed. In the same way, even though the Buddha has passed away, his teachings are still effective in helping sentient beings to enlightenment, still a good condition, a good method for those who practice. Thus, between Buddha and sentient beings, between people in a country or more broadly, humanity in the world, after all, there is a relationship with each other, called coincidental co-arising, or dharma world, which is what the principle of mutual dependence and achievement. Based on morality:
- That dharma realm coincides with the same origin and generates compassion, it is called Great compassion based on sameness essence.
This endlessly interwoven principle of interbeing is always present in things and is never interrupted, or limited, so compassion based on it also has no birth and death, no limit, no distinction between person, body, primitive, human, or animal. Or you have Buddha nature, other people, other sentient beings also have Buddha nature. You and other people and sentient beings are separate from each other, but Buddha's nature is inherently one. Like the right arm, the left arm, though different, is the same body. So when the left arm is injured, the right hand is anointed based on that body identity, not this distinction. Great compassion based on sameness essence.
3- Uncaused compassion
Higher than all loving-kindness is Unconditional Loving-kindness, which is compassion that does not rely on any reasoning to arise, does not wait for an object, and is unconditional. Like the sun shining, it does not calculate to choose this place, it will shine down, and that place will not shine down. The latter two virtues of compassion are as vast as the universe of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, and you as a Buddhist only practice Compassion based on awareness of the suffering of sentient beings, but those are also goals that you aspire to so that later you will also have Great compassion based on sameness essence and Uncaused compassion like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Thus, the home of sentient beings is a contest for profit, although hiding in an empty mountain to reduce the hustle and bustle, because it is quiet for too long, it is impossible to prevent the false mind. If you take the body of the four elements as your home, you will increase your defilements. Should take the mind as a home, it is a formless house. Therefore, those who follow the Buddha must first develop a mind of great compassion, regard all sentient beings as their only children, save them equally, and leave not a single sentient being who cannot become a Buddha, let alone harm them. If you enter a house of great compassion, you will live with the Tathagata and be close to the Buddha. A compassionate mind is the house of the Tathagata, in which those who follow the Dharma Flower Sutra or speak the Dharma Flower Sutra, must practice in order to speak the Sutra to be complete. That is the first condition.
b- Tathagata's robe
Once you have entered the Tathagata's house, you must wear the Tathagata's clothes. If the clothes are beautiful, you will increase greed; if the clothes are bad, you will be bored and confused. Therefore, you must take the mind as a garment to break all obstacles. If you meet someone who is rebellious and abusive to you, then you should be gentle against them. When you meet a martial artist who dominates violence, you will use patience to deal with it. If you can wear the gentle and patient clothes of the Tathagata, all demonic obstacles will become effective support. Even if you go through a hundred bitter, thousand spicy times, you will not change your mind.
Like saying that the Tathagata's robes are soft, loving speech, not just having compassion. If you keep relying on yourself to have compassion, that is, to have compassion for people, and then say whatever you want, say unpleasant words or harsh attitudes, that's not okay. There are mothers who love their children, but also because of that compassion, they often beat and scold their children, do not speak gently to teach, or teachers beat their children out of love for students when they do wrong homework...
Such a lack of compassion is often painful. So in addition to compassion, it is necessary to have loving speech that makes people love to listen. The Lotus Sutra is the ultimate vehicle, hard to believe, difficult to understand, and difficult to explain, so if you keep speaking in rough words, sentient beings will not be able to hear it. Like a very good medicine that is too bitter, it has to be coated with sugar to give it to a child to drink. Sentient beings are similar to the Buddha Dharma. The Flower Sutra is the ultimate bitter medicine. If you don't wrap a layer of sugar that is gentle and patient, it will be difficult for sentient beings to drink.
During the Buddha's life, he was always gentle and patient. As he once went for alms, he met an evil person who stopped and cursed. He still stood silently to listen to him finish, then calmly asked:
- Are you sure your relatives come to visit your house?
He replied:
- Yes, why not.
He continued:
- Every time they come to visit, maybe you bring gifts and cakes to eat?
The other replied:
- Have.
And he continued:
- If they don't eat, who does the gift go to?
The other replied:
- Well, it's about me.
Then the Buddha said:
"In the same way, just now, you have used vulgar words to scold Me, but if I do not accept them, those words must return to you.
So I advise you not to use rude words towards anyone, but to use gentle words. Through gentleness and patience, the Buddha enlightened that person. Because the person who scolds you always has a bias, or because they see your appearance that they don't like. Either because your actions affect their rights, or because they misheard or misrepresented you. To get rid of anger, delusion, and jealousy, you need to be gentle, patient, and calm to deal with, but if you respond quickly, it is like adding fuel to the fire. But the patience of the Buddha is patience in wisdom, patience to teach, as when he asked the person who scolded him. This virtue is very necessary to overcome all difficulties. Forbearance has three things:
1- Forbearance before the hateful insults, specializing in causing human suffering to you.
2- Forbearance towards things that inadvertently bring you suffering, such as heat, cold, hunger, and thirst. If a practitioner of the Way half quits practicing because he can't stand these obstacles, it's because he doesn't have patience.
3- This is the highest humiliation. Because of knowing the dharmas are inherently unborn. If you are not born, the insults and insults people say to you will not work. For example, someone scolded:
- You're an idiot
Every single word is not a scolding, just because you bring the mind to distinguish, compare, and connect it, accept the unborn as birth, so it's uncomfortable. As in the Lotus Sutra, a practice of humility and patience is taught through the example of Sataparibhuta, a Bodhisattva who goes out to meet everyone respectfully bows, and says:
- I respect you very much, I do not dare to be condescending because you who practice the Bodhisattva path will later become Buddhas.
Some people are happy to hear it because it is a blessing. Some listeners were also indifferent because they did not understand what he wanted to say. But some people were angry because they thought that he was infuriating them, so they scolded him and beat him. But he still kept a calm mind towards everyone because he knew that everyone had a Buddha nature, knew that anyone who heard the Lotus Sutra would become a Buddha because the sutra taught:
- If there is one person who hears the Lotus Sutra, there is no person who does not become a Buddha
Therefore, Venerable Sataparibhuta has insight for three reasons:
- All sentient beings, either in the present, in the past, or in the future, will inevitably hear the Lotus Sutra once, and if they hear it, they will one day become a Buddha. Because he knows this well, he respects all.
- The second reason for His reverence. He respects everyone as he respects his understanding, that understanding is that every living being has a Buddha nature.
- Third, respecting everyone means respecting the Buddha's teachings, and being humble to everyone. If he despises people, that is to say, he despises the Buddha's teaching but also despises his understanding.
One image of that Sataparibhuta is enough to make you give up your pride. And instead of talking nonsense, arguing in vain, letting the mind wander around, it is also beneficial to recite the Sutras, and practice according to the Sutras. But if you don't destroy pride and practice humility, you lose a lot of the merit of reciting. Chanting and reading sutras is not enough, it is also necessary to pay attention to learn to practice the spirit of the sutra, let alone talk to people. Self-recitation is difficult, and speaking to others is even more difficult.
If you know its true nature is non-birth, then you don't need to scold anyone, and if anyone scolds you, it doesn't make any sense at all, so where can you get angry and miserable? Everything else, too, is unborn. Believing that there is no shame in calling it without-born dharma-forbearance.
c. Tathagata's throne
Having entered the Tathagata's house and already wearing the Tathagata's robes, there must be a seat for dignifiedness. Normally in the four positions: walking, standing, lying, and sitting, you often change. Although sitting cross-legged on the meditation bed, nothing is uninterrupted, so the use is limited. Therefore, if you do sit, you must contemplate that all dharmas are not for a seat. Not only six gunas are:
Form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and dharmas are all void outside, but the six senses: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind inside are also empty.
Not only are the dharmas of competing for fame and gain of the world empty, but also worldly practices such as great compassion, gentleness, and forbearance are also absent. No here means no-self-nature of dharmas. All dharmas have no self-nature, because they are not self-nature, so they cannot be obtained, not completely empty. The Buddha abides in that vacuum, so it is called sitting on the Tathagata throne. The Diamond Sutra says:
- How many sentient beings I have saved to enter Nirvana without remainder, saving countless boundless beings like that, I really don't see any sentient beings being saved.
His whole life was saved, but he did not see any sentient beings being saved, so his teaching of saving birth was complete. Because if you just look at it based on the fake appearance, you will see infinitely many sentient beings, how can you save them all? But the Buddha is in the non-self-nature, in the unborn of the dharmas, so he can no longer see the appearance of sentient beings, where can there be more or less? Therefore, when he spoke the Dharma to one person, it was the same as speaking to many people, because he brought the enlightened mind to an equal mind and spoke the Dharma. Standing on that equal thought, even if there was only one listener, he would not be troubled. There were many followers, and he was not overjoyed. Sentient beings hear that joyfully and excitedly, He also does not take it as joy. Listening to him lazily, He did not get angry. Listening indifferently, he did not cling to anything. That equally liberating attitude of the Buddha towards these three classes of people who listen to the Dharma is called the three great compassion. Thanks to his understanding of the dharma of emptiness, and staying in that great compassion, he was able to speak about the dharma to save sentient beings for 49 years. Otherwise, the teaching of saving birth will be treated by lazy people, who do not like to study will make them depressed.
In short, entering the Tathagata's house, wearing the Tathagata robes, and sitting on the Tathagata's throne are the three virtues, the three conditions for the ultimate completeness of the life, upholding, reading, chanting, and speaking of the Lotus Sutra.
To do so, you must make a vow to enter the Tathagata's House, wear the Tathagata's robes, and sit on the Tathagata's throne:
- Entering the Tathagata's house, make a vow from now on not to give up great compassion.
"Wearing the Tathagata's robes, then make a personal vow here and there to never leave the robes of gentleness and patience."
- Sitting on the Tathagata's throne, from here on, every thought and every thought in the Dharma of emptiness is very clear.
A cultivator can practice these three learnings and be diligent, then even with a single thought in your mind, you can also go straight to the ten directions and three Buddhas' lives, which are not far away. Using this mind to recite the Buddha's name, then call this mind the Buddha Mind. Using that mind to visualize the Buddha, then call it the mind to become a Buddha. This is the basis of the Buddha's Recitation of the Samadhi, the ultimate goal of attaining the right concentration.
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