Zen Meditation on the Great Flower Adornment Scripture, Class 1

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In this series of meetings, we will study and see how Zen is the key unlocking the innumerable meanings of this oceanic scripture. We will also explore how the sutra opens and illuminates our simple Zen practice of just sitting, standing, and walking together through birth and death for the welfare of all worlds. Each session will begin with quiet sitting which will flow into some dharma talks and group discussions.


AI Summary: 



This recording is intended to be shared with class members only.



Sometimes the topic of the series is like something quite simple, like... At least easy to say. The text is Great Compassion. And we had a series of classes on the Great Compassion, and our text was from a treatise by the great Bodhisattva Sangha, which is called It's called The Ornament of Mahayana Sutras, or Mahayana Sutra Ornament. And the section on compassion was 17 verses. Sometimes we have just, you know, one idea that we focus on in the series. And bring out various aspects of it. In this case, we have a vast and complex scripture.


The things that are found in this scripture can also be found in other scriptures, but perhaps no scripture has as much as this one, even though parts of it can be found in other scriptures. And the scripture actually is comprised of several scriptures. So it's a huge undertaking to enter into the dharma realm of this scripture. Not long after our last series here in the yoga room, I was thinking of what next to be studying and meditating on with this and other assemblies. And since it was fast approaching my 80th year,


actually 80th birthday, and also looking back on 50, 56 years of practice, it occurred to me that maybe I have 10 more years. And so maybe I could take on some big project if I have 10 years. And then the thought of taking on the big project of exploring this vast scripture came to me. And so I brought that forth and I have been bringing that forth since June. And there's many threads or many elements that lead to this choice, to this commitment to study this scripture.


I don't know what the main one is, but I think it might be that I feel that this scripture will help us understand our simple Zen meditation practice, which we call sitting. But also, our just sitting practice has the power, has the capacity to actually unlock the truth of this sutra. So our simple practice can unlock this vast and complex dharma realm and this vast and complex dharma realm can show us how great our Zazen practice is.


When we first hear, when I first heard of just sitting, I thought that's good enough for me. If that's the practice to become a really good person, I'll train at that. And I didn't need to know how great it was. It was okay with me that it was simple. However, now I see that it was simple, but that I didn't understand. I didn't understand the practice. You could say, oh yes, you did understand it because you practiced it. Maybe the best understanding of it is to practice it. But at the same time, now I see things that are this practice that I didn't see before. And this sutra is helping me see how great this sitting we're doing is.


And studying this scripture has been very uplifting for me in my simple daily practice of sitting upright with the assembly. Every morning that the assembly gathers, I'm almost always able to be there. And now I feel, as someone said, I feel my sails are filled with inspiration from this scripture. I'll be telling you about this indefinitely. You will all be receiving a digital version of a translation


of this scripture by the great translator Thomas Cleary. And this translation that you'll be receiving in book form is about 1,500 pages. And you will not only be receiving the translation, but introduction and commentary. There are other translations, but I just want to start with this one. And you do not have to read this sutra in this class. I do not... I do not... What's the word? I do not expect you to read it. And, however, I know some of you are already reading it, which is wonderful. And if you do read it,


I have some things to say to you. Or if you're thinking of reading it, I have some... some caveats, some admonitions. So, about 54 years ago, I did my... I entered my first practice period at Tassahara Zen Monastery. And that leader of the practice period was supposed to be our dear teacher Suzuki Roshi. And I heard that he was going to come down to the practice period and he was going to be giving teachings inspired by the Lotus Sutra. The previous practice period he had already started to do that. And so I started to study the Lotus Sutra.


And many of you heard the story before, but at the beginning of the Lotus Sutra, the assembly, the Great Assembly is described. And I was reading a translation, an English translation from Sanskrit, and the translator put all the names of the bodhisattvas and the disciples. He put their names in Sanskrit, which they were originally. He left them in Sanskrit. So, to read this script, this translation, I had to read these Sanskrit names. Quite a few of them. I don't know how many, but approximately, I would say five or ten pages. Okay, did you register that? And I started reading, but at this moment,


I'm a little embarrassed to tell you that in the middle of reading the names, I decided I had enough, and I stopped reading the Lotus Sutra. I was not enjoying it, and somehow I didn't feel like skipping it. I didn't feel like skipping over the part I didn't like and going on. I just thought, not now. And also, Suzuki Roshi had not come to Tatsahara yet to encourage me to go, to keep trying. I did not force myself to read that scripture. And as it turns out, Suzuki Roshi was sick, and he never made it to the practice period. So, we never did have the teachings of Lotus Sutra, and that was that. However, after a year or so,


I remembered the sutra, and I went back to it, and I opened it up, and again, I was not interested, and I closed it. And again, later, not a year later, but a few months later, I opened it again, and no, and then later I opened it again, and finally, yes. Finally, I was ready to plunge into this experience, which was so strange to me. So strange. And I, and, you know, I kept going, and I kept going, and I didn't read the book all the way straight through, I just read, I just read long enough to get to a point where I heard the sutra saying to me,


and the sutra was saying to me, please close this sutra and go out of your room and help people. And I didn't hear it say this, which I'm mentioning to you, and after you help them, you can come back and read some more. But that's the way I read it, I didn't read it straight through, I read it in, what would I say, sort of bite-sized pieces that I found interesting and inspiring, and that would usually be as much as I would do, and that way I moved very slowly through the scripture, and I finally finished it. And then after that, over the years, I kept going back to it. So now we're approaching this sutra, which is much bigger. It's about ten times as long


in the full translation. It's about 2400, and the Lotus Sutra is about 400, and I guess that's about six times as long as the Lotus Sutra. And at the beginning of the sutra, let me tell you, the beginning of this sutra is a description of an assembly, like this one. And this description of this assembly is much more extensive than the description of the huge assembly at the Lotus Sutra. I think the Lotus Sutra had 80,000 bodhisattvas in it. This one has much, much more than 80,000. The Lotus Sutra, as I said, describing the assembly and telling us the names of some of the bodhisattvas in that assembly is a few pages.


The description of this assembly is about 40 pages. So, if you try to read this scripture, you might have the experience that I had that you just are losing interest in reading the names of more of the participants in this assembly. And this first, the first book of the sutra is 100 pages long. And in that first book, there are many categories of beings, male and female deities, many kinds of spirits, all these beings, and many bodhisattvas.


And then for each category, the sutra tells you 10 leaders of each category. It tells you the name of the 10 leaders. In this case, it's been translated into English. So you have these like 50 categories of beings, and for each category, you have like 10 leaders of the much larger assembly of that type. And each of these 10, after they're mentioned, then the sutra goes through and goes back through all the all the groups and has each of the 10 leaders of each of the 55 types of beings. It has each of those 10 leaders by the power of the Buddha in whose assembly they are present. They tell us about the Buddha. So the first chapter


is this great assembly, and the great assembly tells us about the Buddha who is sitting at the center of the assembly. And the Buddha is sitting at the place where the Buddha first awoke, and this assembly is occurring, all these beings are here with the Buddha at the time of the Buddha's first awakening. And this great awakening then imbues, inspires, embodies the great assembly to have many, many verses, many, many verses, and each verse, wow, each bodhisattva, each of the leaders


gives 10 verses. So there's many, many verses. This chapter is 100 pages long. Many, many verses telling us about how grand the Buddha is. So, this in some sense is a warning about just the first book, and if you are daunted by it, I would say you're in good company. Many people who try to read this find it daunting. Not everyone, some people just, just get in the boat and go. But many people are daunted, find it irritating, tedious, et cetera, et cetera. And if you do, don't, I would recommend you do not push yourself. Do not make the experience unpleasant by pushing yourself. And I hope that our,


that our sessions will encourage you to listen to the teachings in whatever way works for you. The teachings will be brought out in these sessions. I wish to explore this sutra, and I feel it's so big that I, I don't, I feel comfortable approaching it anyway because it's so vast. There's no particular point of entry that I feel we have to use. However, I will be going from the beginning forward. I'm not going to jump ahead to more interesting places than, for example, the names of the people in the assembly, just like I do in this class. I don't skip ahead of your names to talk about something more interesting than your name. And there is actually nothing more interesting


than your name. According to this scripture. This scripture says your name, your name contains boundless universes of, and the universes are full of innumerable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. That's in your name, this sutra says. So we don't jump over your name to get to this sutra, which tells us that we shouldn't jump over your name. We should respect each person's name, each person's face, because each person's face and each pore of each person's face and each molecule and atom in each person's face, according to this sutra, embraces innumerable Buddha lands containing innumerable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This, the full name of this sutra


is not, is great. I would say great, extensive Buddha flower adornment scripture. And Kastanahashi told me he prefers splendor to adornment. So we could also say Buddha, excuse me, great what do you call this? Mahayana extensive Buddha flower splendor scripture. This scripture shows us the great, in a great and extensive way, it shows us the splendor of the Buddha and showing us that


it adorns the Buddha. And us, and we study it and discuss it, our study and discussion of the sutra is also adorns and glorifies this great awakening which is at the center of this scripture. The Lotus Sutra is proposed as the teaching that the Buddha gave as Buddha was about to enter into Nirvana. As the Buddha was about to enter into Parinirvana. It's the last teaching or almost the last teaching of the Buddha. This is the first teaching of the Buddha. This teaching occurs right away as the Buddha just attained awakening. I


I [...] don't want to tell you or suggest to you what kind of problems you're going to have when you study this scripture or what kind of joy you're going to have. I would like you to have your own experience. But I also I think I'll just I'm going to stop now because I do not want to influence your initial any of you who are starting to study it. I don't want to influence it by telling you any more about my experience as I have studied it. I don't want you to think you should have an experience like mine. I mean you can think that but I don't want to encourage that. I want you to have your own experience of engaging with it. And I also have


stories of other people reading it too but I don't want to tell you about their experience. I want you to have your own. Later I'll tell you about theirs. And then another thing I'd like to talk to you about is how are you going to read it. So one way to read it is to open the book and read it. Another way is to open the book and sing it or speak it out loud. I do not know how this scripture what came to be you know written down at some point. I think that before this sutra was written down it was said. That's what I think.


Some people might agree with me. That before it was written down it was said. And I would also and I also imagine that when it was first said it was sung. So I imagine that this sutra comes from a state of concentration. A samadhi. That people of ancient times in India maybe even at the time of the Buddha's initial awakening entered into a state of collected undistracted concentration. And in this concentration


in this samadhi beings experienced this sutra. In this samadhi beings met the Buddha face to face. Now of course they could have been with the Buddha the historical Buddha but this again this sutra occurs right at the time of awakening. So some beings could have been at that first awakening of the Buddha and entered into samadhi with the Buddha and from that samadhi the sutra came. Another possibility is that in the 3rd or 4th century in India practitioners


of the Buddha way entered into samadhi and in that samadhi they witnessed and met the Buddha at the time of the Buddha's initial awakening and received the inspiration from the Buddha. And from that inspiration from that meeting they were patted on the head and they came from the samadhi and they started singing and their singing was sung in these verses and then these verses were written down and then people wrote summaries or commentaries on the verses and that became the sutra. This is one imagination I have of how it happened and I think the Lotus Sutra I imagine the Lotus Sutra is the same that people entered into samadhi they met the Buddha face to face


the Buddha patted them on the head and said okay you can teach and they sung the Lotus Sutra and after they sung it in these verse forms people wrote more narrative or prose versions of the verses and that became the sutra. . . . And the samadhi they entered I'm proposing to you right off the samadhi they entered is the samadhi of our family of our particular family of the ancestors of our family their samadhi is


the samadhi of this sutra. This sutra tells us about the samadhi practice of our ancestors in which they met Buddha face to face and where Buddha patted them on the head and said now you can teach and then they came forth and taught. . . . Another reason why I wanted to explore start exploring this sutra is that I heard that this sutra was did have a big influence


or effect on our meditation practice. In particular our particular family style which sometimes is called Soto Zen that particular style of practice was very strongly influenced by this sutra. Of course it was also influenced by the Heart Sutra the Diamond Sutra the Lotus Sutra but during the last 50 some years that I've been practicing I have already gone through with people the Heart Sutra the Diamond Sutra the Lotus Sutra and the large Paramita Sutras. I've already done that and talked about how those sutras are really telling us what our practice is.


Okay? Did you get that? But I have not entered into the Lotus Sutra the Avatamsaka Sutra the Flower of Dharma Scripture and contemplated and explored how that sutra is actually very even maybe more important in our practice than the other ones. Some time ago I I went through some commentaries some studies of a collection of Zen koans called the Book of Serenity. So in the 90s in the 90s and early part


of this century we had a series of classes at Gringold studying the Book of Serenity. Some of you attended those meetings. They went on for about 14 years. We went through the Book of Serenity which has 100 cases case by case. Book of Serenity is only 400 pages long. We read it bite-sized piece at a time for 14 years. After that set of classes was done I became aware that the person who compiled the book his name is Hongzhi Zhengjue he collected the stories and he wrote the verses. I became aware that he was particularly using these selections


of these cases to demonstrate the teaching of this sutra. The central teaching of all these Zen koans that he collected was this sutra and his verses are also verses celebrating this sutra. I heard way back when at the beginning of my time of study I heard that the sutra had an influence on our practice influence on the Zen school but this particular these particular dissertations helped me see that this sutra is particularly important for this koan collection that is the most central koan collection of our school. So this is another reason


why I wanted to study this sutra with various assemblies because it is so much what our teaching is, it is teaching us what our practice, it is teaching us what our practice actually is. Our practice is simple but our practice is also vast and inconceivable. Our practice is conceivable it is simple, it is concrete, it is a human body sitting on a seat and that's it. Nothing more. Nothing more than that. It is your name, our practice is your name nothing more. However our simple practice contains boundless universes and this sutra is helping us understand how great our practice is.


But the greatness is nothing other than our simple concrete human effort. Our simple concrete human effort includes boundless universes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. So when I started reading the sutra in this last few months in the first book on page 129 of Cleary's translation the first verse on page 129 he says something like clearly observe the teaching of the king of teaching or maybe clearly observe the teaching of the king of truth or something like that and I thought


I wonder if by any chance he is I wonder if by any chance that verse which is on page 129 of the sutra I wonder if that's actually the verse that's in the first case of the book of Serenity. So I went to the Chinese and sure enough that verse is what is said what is said in the first case of the book of Serenity. So in the book of Serenity it frames that verse a little bit by saying something like one day the world honored one got in the seat. Sat in the seat


and Manjushri struck the gavel and said clearly observe the dharma of the king of dharma the dharma of the king of dharma is thus this is the fundamental teaching of Soto Zen the teaching of thus the teaching of thus the teaching of thus of your face the teaching of thus of your nose the teaching of thus of your pain of your pleasure of your ideas the thusness of everything in our life that is the teaching of the king of dharma that is the dharma of the king of dharma that is the dharma of the queen of dharma that is the dharma of the sovereign of dharma what is it? It is the teaching of thus


this is from the Lotus Sutra this is from the Avatamsaka Sutra maybe it's someplace else in some other sutra but there it is this we also have a text which we have just had classes on in the yoga room called the Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi it's a song it's verses and the name of the and the first the first verse is the teaching of thusness the same thing the teaching of thusness, same Chinese characters that are in the Book of Serenity and that are in the Sutra so our school our ancestor who wrote that Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi


his first thing he says in that poem is also the first case of the Book of Serenity and it's also in the Sutra clearly observe the dharma of the king of dharma the dharma of the king of dharma is just sit so these are some of the things that are leading me to what is it to invite you to enter this ocean this ocean of worlds this ocean of dharma worlds that this sutra is bringing up and one more thing I want to tell you


before you start reading the scripture okay in the first book after giving you this long list of long description of this assembly telling you all these different types of beings you know city spirits, city deities country deities fire deities air deities, mountain deities all these different types of beings after telling you all about them then as I said before it goes back through the groups in reverse order and it takes the first the first of the group and it says in I think in clear it usually says in power imbued with the power of the Buddha


imbued with the power of Buddha imbued with the power of Buddha for each of these beings who gives a song it says before they give it before they give you their song their praise their their splendor of Buddha before they do that it says empowered excuse me imbued with the power of the Buddha imbued with the spiritual power of the Buddha imbued with the mystic power of Buddha okay these beings can tell us about Buddha because they have been imbued with the power of Buddha by the Buddha who they are sitting with but I want to tell you about that Chinese character that's translated by Cleary as imbued and you might want to write this down that character can be translated as imbued


that's a perfectly good translation it's one of the meanings of the character is to be imbued another translation says aided by aided by the awesome spiritual power of the Buddha another translation assisted by assisted by the awesome power of the Buddha we can see and we can tell people about the Buddha assisted by the awesome power of awakening we ordinary people we ordinary spirits can sing of the Buddha's splendor another translation is receiving the Buddha's


receiving the Buddha's awesome power so one is imbued with the other is receiving it another translation would be inheriting the Buddha's awesome power all these beings in the assembly are inheriting this the Buddha's bestowing it bequeathing this to all beings so that they can see the Buddha receiving inheriting supported helped aided imbued assisted in the presence in this assembly we can speak of the inconceivable awakening by the power of that awakening so if you read this


if you get that far you will see over and over such and such a leader of this group imbued with remember also received so when the Buddha imbues when the Buddha imbues we receive when the Buddha aids us we inherit okay so I was very glad that I looked up that character it's a very important character it actually has both sides it has the Buddha imbuing and the being and the Bodhisattva receiving the Buddha imbuing and the Bodhisattva receiving the Buddha bequeathing


and the Bodhisattva inheriting the character has both those sides the giving and the receiving which is the essential essential to the such to to thusness okay so that's maybe enough to start with how are you are you okay you're welcome to tell me how you're doing or tell other people how you're doing and I'll be there too you you


you make it sound like great fun for me thank you it'd be great fun for all poets they've just been laughing it's so simple and so vast all at the same time this is this is wonderful news I haven't opened the book I don't have the book and I can imagine along with you it will make the imagining really you know vivid and yeah that's how I feel at the moment okay thank you so much I hope I'm not going to overwhelm if I actually open it but you've given you might overwhelm as possible I'm not telling you you should but you might


I look forward to being surprised I may not just start at the beginning I may you know ruffle through it I mean I don't even you can do whatever you want with it can it be just in our imaginations I mean where do we get the copy of the book you're sending it's going to be sent to you by it's going to be emailed to you oh well okay thank you very much Gay, Amanda's sending it to Gay and Gay's sending it to you this is oh my computer it's going to come to your computer okay I hope I won't weigh it down and it'll still work I think it'll be okay I'm sure you do thank you if you can contain boundless universes your universe your computer can too okay who's next next Hi Rob


Good evening Kim Hi Great Assembly I was interested because I've had a little bit of exposure to the Lotus Sutra but not much to this the Flower Adornment Sutra but you sort of described them as the beginning and the end of the Buddha's life is that what you said? well not the beginning of Buddha's life the at the moment of Buddha's awakening when this sutra occurs and the Lotus Sutra is like the Buddha's about to depart and the Buddha's like saying you know after I go you know things are going to be tough so blah blah blah so the Buddha's giving kind of there's another sutra called the Mahaparinirvana Sutra which is also given at the time that Buddha's passing away but the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra is saying you know I'm about to leave you know so we need people to


take care of this sutra after I go and so I was just sort of curious to know how you would characterize the difference of these I guess it's the leaving or the beginning I would say the difference is that this sutra goes a lot more into everything so everything in the Lotus Sutra is in this sutra but this sutra then goes into everything in the Lotus Sutra and the Lotus Sutra emphasizing something is something that's in this sutra but it highlights it more than this sutra does and what it highlights is that everybody is a bodhisattva and everybody is on the same path in the same practice in the same awakening that's the Lotus Sutra is really emphasizing that


and the Lotus Sutra is also you know those are the unique that the Lotus Sutra was the sutra that most strongly said one and also the Lotus Sutra predates it says it's going to at the end of the Buddha's life but it's actual composition and appearance in the world predates this scripture by maybe 400 years so the Lotus Sutra comes first even though it's talking about the Buddha's final teaching but this sutra goes into this sutra is about going into great depth with everything and it does so by being you know six times as long this sutra is more about interpenetration and mutual inclusion of everything


that point is in the Lotus Sutra but this sutra draws it out and immerses us in that reality so I would say the Lotus Sutra is contained in this and this is contained in the Lotus Sutra however this is different from the Lotus Sutra just like you're contained in everything and everything is included to you but you're not exactly the same as for example Berry so we're all included in Berry not just us but everything is included in every particle of Berry but still Berry is different from you as you may have noticed yeah that was a good example thank you thank you I'm looking forward to it greetings great teacher


greetings great assembly would you please tell me what thus or thusness means what does it mean it means freedom and peace for all beings when realized okay okay I had something else but it went away it'll come back yeah exactly thank you hello


hello great assembly um I thank you for inviting us to check in and I want to express my resistance to sitting this evening and I was listening to your sharing and I was I noticed I was amazed at your enthusiasm and I felt deeply encouraged and I just wanted to express my appreciation for your wholehearted practice and supporting us


in this space that can be difficult um and if we just care for that difficulty um perhaps um it passes and did you say it passes um is that what you said yeah that's what it feels it feels like it passes and then it arises that is a possibility and also if you don't take care of it it also might pass but is that just a distraction then is that just um a lack of a concentrated mind um you were talking about resistance right yes so if you take care of your kind


to your resistance it might pass it might it probably will but if you don't take care of it it will also pass okay but if you do take care of it whether it passes or not you will enter it and discover innumerable unbounded buddha lands in your resistance according to the sutra okay and if you don't take care of it you'll stay out you'll stay on the surface of it and you won't discover that your resistance your resistance to whatever includes boundless buddha lands full of buddhas and bodhisattvas you will not enter it you will stay away from it because you don't want it because you don't want to take care of it


you want something other than resistance so taking care of this resistance you will discover taking care of this resistance you will enter into samadhi with this resistance and by this samadhi with this resistance you will see this resistance includes all lands everywhere but it also might pass your resistance but before it passes it might open up boundless buddha lands according to this sutra it is possible well that's what I was going to ask you it sounds like samadhi right well take care of is another word for samadhi samadhi as this take care of means right it's a lot involved there but all that together means that we're like totally here and we're undistracted


and we're with what well for example in your case we're with resistance and it could be resistance to sitting it could also be resistance to the sutra which is telling you what to do with that resistance mhm so the sutra is very clearly telling you what to do with your resistance right and your resistance comes and goes but whenever it's always offering you the opportunity to practice this teaching and where I am with that is the four line verses and I don't seem to be able to move beyond the first maybe four pages when I am reading I'm just staying with those like it for me you know I read the first


verse as you know of the sutra and the first verse of the sutra is the buddha body pervades all the great assemblies including this one and now it pervades all the people in this great assembly but it pervades every atom of every person in this assembly going back to the verse I expanded it sorry the first verse the dharma body of the buddha the body of the buddha pervades all great assemblies it fills it fills the dharma realm without end it is quiet it is beyond all natures it is ungraspable and it can appear through the welfare of the world that's the first verse you don't have to go beyond the first verse if you can


if you want to the first verse is enough for a lifetime but if you agree if you can do four that's okay I don't mind hello Rev hello Gayatri and hello to everybody the great assembly you know I mostly raised my hand so I could say hello to you and say thank you that's a perfectly good reason but I also have some other things going on in my head which I wanted to bring forth so you know when you were greeting everybody and you said welcome


so and so and welcome so and so and so I was watching you and sort of bowing with you and you know the end of every name and before the next welcome there's a little pause so I was sort of trying to just stay in that little pause between every welcome that you were doing and there's a way in which there's a little bit of like this kind of like an opening from inside just a little bit of like that like a space, something and it's the same idea I think when we say in meditation pay attention to the pauses between the inhalation and exhalation or like when you chant Om they say pay attention to the silence after the Om you know, so you chant Om and then silence, Om, silence


like that and so there's a way in which the mind kind of has an opportunity to open to something so I was kind of wondering whether you know when in these sutras like in the Lotus Sutra and in this one you know they list all the hundreds of names and categories and the bodhisattvas and pages and pages and pages I mean I could just flip and say I can skip all of this and just what is it really saying but I think the way you're describing the sutra is it's almost like a sacred text which is to be like respected and read you know with that kind of concentration and dedication and you read every word you know every Sanskrit word, every bodhisattva name and at some point whether you know it's the resistance or something it's like


like maybe it's designed to do that maybe that kind of exposition of this kind of infinities and like the mind is not things that we can't grasp with the mind that it's kind of creating an opportunity for the mind to find that little space or something that was sort of a thought that came to me whether the way it's written itself is designed to create that condition I wonder what you think about that I guess I would feel like yes but also I feel like you're putting too much over on the side of the sutra the sutra is going to make this happen but it's not the sutra that makes it happen it's you meeting the sutra when you meet this sutra that relationship


is what creates what the sutra is about but the sutra is offering you something to be friends with and if you're friends with this sutra that friendship is what the sutra is about but the sutra isn't designed to do something, the sutra is offered and you can say it's an offer, it's a designed offering but it's not going to create the thing by itself it's offering to you it's a gift to you it's something that it can imbue you that you have to meet it you have to receive it so I don't want to put it over the sutra is this way the sutra is actually saying that this sutra, the sutra is saying that the teaching of the sutra is thus, which means that the teaching of the sutra is thus, is not that the sutra


is something by itself separate from you the sutra is not something out there teaching Gayatri, the sutra is not other than you, that's the teaching of the sutra and of course the sutra is a friend who wants you to wake up to the reality of suchness but you also are a friend to wake you also are a friend to the sutra and you can wake the sutra up because the sutra is dead without you but you don't create the sutra and the sutra doesn't create you however, you both include each other and you both are friends to each other in reality that's what the sutra says and you can say that too if you want to okay


okay thank you, thank you Hi Red Hi Great Assembly Hello Jim I wanted to say a couple of things one is thank you I think you may have maybe you remember my emailing you I'd seen and heard sprinklings of the sutra throughout your talks over the years and for you to sort of embark on this journey starting at the beginning I really appreciate and wholeheartedly want to join into that and I also wanted to say that just from a mechanistic perspective and maybe you can give me some feedback


that I've experimented with actually listening to the sutra recited using YouTube which there are some complete recitations of the sutra in English? Yes, in English and there's also captions with that and my experience with that is just with the intent of having pretty much what you were saying, joining and having the sutra enter me listening to it in that concentrated state I almost feel like it enters my empty body and echoes inside of it


so there's sort of a subconscious harmony that happens in the listening and I'm so used to reading prose and struggling with words and distractions but just not striving or struggling but just letting the sounds enter it actually does sound like a song the repetition and that harmony and the other thing that I notice is that during my days the echoes sort of come back to me with things that I see, encounters that I have people I talk to there are little things that come up during the day and that frequency is sort of there in the background that just gets touched and I notice something maybe different that came from


the sutra so I just wanted to share that and maybe that's a mechanism for folks to experiment with I don't know if that's appropriate or not to sort of absorb this but I'm curious of your thoughts I feel fine about it and can you explain to people how to do that well if they want to do that sure I just went to YouTube and typed flower adornment sutra chapter one and then chapter two three four and I started in July when you or June when you started this with chapter one and you can select the chapter and some of them are longer than others but it's very easy to get to okay so I totally support that and I thank you


for telling us about this I think some other people are listening to it in Chinese some other people in this assembly are listening to it in Chinese and also another person is listening to I think it's it's a piece of software that can read queries the PDF of queries translation so somebody else is listening to somebody read the sutra by this software so all that all this is fine with me the more the better from my perspective thank you for telling us about that and your your experience thank you Jim thank you


hi good evening good evening well yeah I'm having a good time tonight listening to you and then I got the book out because we got the book here and I've read about 10 pages of it and so I I thought you made it sound more monotonous than it actually is the opening did you say how many pages I thought you said something like 40 pages of names of beings but no it's less than that anyway people can see for themselves but I just wanted to say that it's not as monotonous as somebody might think listening to your introduction tonight and it's pretty fun you know yeah I am very happy you're having fun so but I want to just


just illustrate how it's fun okay great thank you thank you so well first of all the first line you know it says you said that it's supposed to have been what he spoke when he immediately upon coming out of his enlightenment and it says here that he was in the land of Magadha and the state of purity at the site of enlightenment having just realized true awareness and then it says the ground was solid and firm and I thought yeah the ground in Magadha I've seen it it's solid and firm but I was thinking dirt you know like it's dirt and that's probably where he was when he woke up but then it says the ground was solid and firm made of diamond adorned with exquisite jewel disks and myriad precious flowers so here we go and so it doesn't it's not really a matter of whether literally he said this when he arose from his enlightenment or whether somebody


wrote it down in the fourth century we're already away from the dirt of Magadha anyway I wanted to mention that and also he's not talking this is the narrator is not the Buddha yeah right we're being told about this by somebody yeah right good to keep in mind and then I'll just say a moment about the names the names are so fun you know there's a lot of variety among them and if you look at them you say whoa I just tell a few like there were well the crop spirits have appropriate names like gentle superb flavor pure light of seasonal flowers increasing vitality and then the river spirits this is the last I'll do have names like


everywhere producing swift currents universally purifying springs and streams dust free pure there's so much interesting variety and so I thought you know like one of the things this is about I don't know if I thought of this or read it somewhere but that since there are infinite ways to practice every one of these names could be like a way to practice yeah so that's one of the great things about this assembly is it tells us about diversity yeah diversity diversity diversity there's so many ways to practice and also we're just hearing ten of a large assembly so even hearing these ten gives us a feeling of diversity imagine if we heard of all of the all of the river spirits this author is a wise enough author not to try to do that


ten is a good number yeah yeah so enthusiasm has struck again okay that's all thank you for sharing your enthusiasm thank you good evening this is sort of a comment on what Gayatri said or a follow up to that my experience of this sutra is that it's really well structured for devotional practice and we don't use that word very much in Zen but it's definitely you know in Asia bhakti is a big way of approaching these things and I think


this sutra really calls that forth and it's so big and overwhelming it's kind of the only way to meet it is in that spirit because otherwise it's just too much so I'm wondering what you thought about devotion and devotional practice and Zen well I would say we have this practice we call it just sitting and this sutra is showing us how utterly devotional just sitting is it's you know it's expanding the devotion without end and if I can just briefly say this I hope to go into more detail about this later but early Buddhism is sometimes described


as a rationalistic philosophical approach to reality but even in the early sutras this is really about you know meeting Buddha face to face through devotion and that's the early teaching but the Mahayana is I wouldn't say you know when you read the scriptures which sound rationalistic you don't understand what it looked like to be there with the people who were practicing at the same time as that scripture they were practicing devotion in relationship to this rationalistic philosophy so the context is somewhat missing and in Mahayana the emotional side of the practice becomes more apparent however when people


approach just sitting when they first do like me I didn't think of it as devotional I have come to see just sitting more and more as devotional and people have told me over the years about my devotion to the sitting but I didn't think of it as a devotional practice but it is so you're right and Zen is of course devotional but I would say Buddhism is devotional and people who think it's not are just they step too narrow a view of what they're reading like for example people often say didn't the Buddha say don't just believe what I'm saying because I said it verify it for yourself and some people say be a light unto yourself right but Buddha is talking to people


and when he says that and these people who are listening to him are devoted to the Buddha they're listening to totally devoted and the Buddha is saying you verify this yourself and they say yes sir and they go to work but it's in that relationship that he's saying this and a lot of people don't realize that this isn't a face to face meeting that he's saying don't believe this just because I said it and be devoted enough to me to verify it for yourself do that do me a favor yes yes teacher I'll do that so I'm saying Zen is totally devotional and we're devoted to this immense Dharma inconceivable Dharma and through that devotion we can realize the inconceivable vast teacher of reality oh


one more question because it's 844 844 no sorry I thought you were going to pose a question yeah I'll be very quick I just wanted to say and I told you this a couple of weeks ago I found reading the introduction which is rather lengthy very illuminating and encouraging so much so I haven't gotten to reading the actual sutra yet but I've really benefited from reading the introduction thank you for sharing that sharing your benefits with us thank you you're welcome and so this is a start a start on the ocean okay we put our toes in a little bit so I hope the great assembly is inspired


to continue this wonderful study and now in accordance with this sutra we dedicate the merit of this meeting to all beings and places so that they can realize the Buddha way beings are numberless we vow to carry them to nirvana afflictions are inexhaustible we vow to cut through dharma doors are boundless we vow to enter them all the Buddha way is unsurpassable we vow to become it thank you so much everybody happy joyful study of reality