V 11-12 Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Ten Great Action-Vows 普贤菩萨十大行愿
Disclaimer: The translations are not official nor endorsed by 2OR, so please just treat it as a ‘fan-based’ translation. The Buddha-Dharma is profound. No matter how you convey it, it won’t be completely perfect. Because the Buddha-Dharma is an experience, it’s an awakening 【佛法深奥无比，怎么写，都不会是究竟圆满。佛法是一种悟】. Please enjoy, and I hope it serves as a good filler until the official English version comes out.
In this chapter, Master expounds about the ‘Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance’. Many people asked Master, “Master, why is the last line of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance ‘O’ Holy Samantabhadra Bodhisattva of great action’? Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Amitabha Buddha and Gautama Buddha are very great. Why do we call out ‘O’ Holy Samantabhadra Bodhisattva of great action’ three times in the end?” Master will explain a bit. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva made and practised ten great action-vows, that’s why we call, “O’ Holy Samantabhadra Bodhisattva of great action.” Why do we recite the ‘Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance’? It is so that we recall the vow we made to ourselves that we must reform our behaviour and put it into action. The greatest quality of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva is action, that’s why we call His name at the end of the ‘Eight-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance’. It’s a gesture of wanting to learn and uphold the spirit Samantabhadra Bodhisattva and His ten great action-vows.
The first great action-vow is ‘to respect all Buddhas’. When you are sincerely respectful towards the Buddha, your mind will visualise, your body will bow, and your words will be filled with admiration. You kowtow before Guan Yin Bodhisattva because you respect Her. You bow and put your hands together when you’re with Master because you respect him. Everything comes from your respect towards them, that’s why Buddhists must learn to be respectful.
Take note, ‘Every Dharma has no birth, every Dharma has no cessation’. What does that mean? It’s when a person has reached a point where they feel that everything in this world has no beginning and no end. ‘If one could understand thus, the Buddhas would regularly manifest before thee.’ If one could see through and think clearly, then that line applies. But many people explain that they don’t understand the Buddha-Dharma because it’s complicated. That’s why Master has to explain in plain terms so that it’s easier to understand. ‘Every Dharma has no birth, and every Dharma has no cessation. If one could understand thus, the Buddhas would regularly manifest before thee.’ If you could regularly understand this world, then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will regularly be by your side. In other words, you have thought clearly about this world. You realise that everything is empty, anything that’s born or created will die or become destroyed. Anything that’s used for a period will gradually disappear. Isn’t that right? When you’re married, you will still argue, is that right? You have children, but they will soon leave you when they have grown up. When you realise that this world is always in a state of non-birth and non-cessation, then the Bodhisattvas will appear before you.
The second great action-vow is ‘to make praises to the Thus Come One Buddha’. The Thus Come One is to immovable. It refers to our mental form of non-birth and non-cessation. Do you know that our minds have a form? And that form has not changed at all since ancient times. Think about it, from the annals of history to the present, has human minds ever truly changed or evolved? Although it fluctuates but is it still the same human mind. It is capable of developing countless virtuous things, yet it is also capable of developing countless evil things. That’s why from a state of non-going and non-coming, it’s also capable of going and coming.
‘To make praises to the Thus Come One Buddha, your body follows etiquette, your mouth makes praises and your thoughts are filled with respect’. The three karmic vehicles (body, speech and thoughts) are all used as an offering to the Buddha. The body must behave and conduct itself with etiquette. The words that come from your mind should be praises of other people. Your mind should only have thoughts developed from respect towards others, and not used to think how to gain from others. The three karmic vehicles (body, mind and speech) are all used as an offering to the Buddha. So not only should one offer water and fruits to the Bodhisattvas, but your mind should also be used as an offering to them. In plain terms, as long as you don’t commit unwholesome deeds, you are abiding by reason and the Dharma, and you are already offering to the Thus Come One Buddhas. When you are a good person, aren’t you already offering to the Buddhas? Good people are liked by the Bodhisattvas, right? When you treat Master well, aren’t you offering to him? When Master sees you well-behaved, honest and practising Buddhism well, won’t he be happy? Isn’t that the same as him receiving your offerings?
The third great action-vow is ‘to practise profoundly the giving of offerings’. What does that mean? It’s to offer yourself completely to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three periods of time and treat them all very respectfully. So not only are you upholding the precepts of your body, speech and thoughts, you are also offering your wealth and offering yourself to propagate the Dharma. Master asks you, when you are treating others with respect, isn’t that a form of offering to them? If you saw somebody and said, “Hello,” and give them a bow, aren’t you offering to them? If you see Guan Yin Bodhisattva, even if you didn’t buy any fruits to offer to Her, but if you sincerely prostrate before Her, aren’t you offering to Guan Yin Bodhisattva?
When you praise the Buddhas, praise yourself and others, that’s a kind of offering. Also, when you persuade others to recite sutras when you encounter them, or recite sutras or the Buddhas’ Holy Name when you meet others, that’s also a kind of offering. Many Buddhists say, “Amitabha,” when they encounter others. And when they leave, they also say, “Amitabha.” That’s also a kind of offering. Since we are practising Guan Yin Citta, we could say “Gratitude to Guan Yin Bodhisattva,” instead. Many of Guan Yin Citta disciples would first say, “Gratitude to Guan Yin Bodhisattva,” when they come up to ask questions. All of these actions are known as Dharma offering, or giving of the Dharma.
Next, Master explains the phrase ‘treat the suffering of illness as a healer’. When many people fall ill, they’re in greater suffering and have thoughts like, “How could I be so unlucky? Everywhere in my body is painful.” On the contrary, what should be the right way to think? That is to treat the suffering of illness as a healer. You should think that the illness is a sign that you have to be aware of an aspect of your health or lifestyle, so in the future, you know how to treat and maintain it better. That’s why it can be considered as a healer. What about the phrase ‘To show the right path to the lost’? If a person who recites sutras become lost, then you should point the correct path for them to take.
One should illuminate those who are in the dark. Let those who are poor become aware of the hidden treasure that they possess. Everybody possesses a wisdom-life, the Buddha gave it to us. But we don’t know how to utilise our wisdom-life to improve our lives, and instead, we are pursuing external things to improve it. That’s why there’s a phrase ‘Nothing is fixed when one pursues external Dharma’. You shouldn’t keep doing that. Everybody possesses an internal Buddha in the form of compassion. You should give wholeheartedly when the situation calls for it. Dharma offering is where one prays to the Buddha or propagates the Dharma to others. It’s the action of spiritually awakening others and guiding them on the right path as propagated by the Thus Come One Buddha.
In this chapter, Master has expounded about the first three great action-vows of the O’ Holy Samantabhadra Bodhisattva of great action. His other seven great action-vows include ‘to repent and reform all karmic hindrances’, ‘to follow and rejoice in merit-virtues’, ‘to request the turning of the Dharma wheel’, ‘to request the Buddha to remain in this world’, ‘to always study with the Buddha’, ‘to live in accordance with other sentient beings’, and ‘to universally transfer merit-virtues to others’. Master will talk about it later. Next time, he will talk about meritorious deeds. There are different kinds of meritorious deeds; one of them are mundane meritorious deeds with outflows. Do you know what that is? Examples are building bridges and fixing roads, charitable activities, making offerings to monks, building temples and monasteries etc. All of these activities are categorised as mundane meritorious deeds with outflows. Then you might be eager to know what are the supramundane meritorious deeds with no outflows. Master will talk about it next.