Printing Sutras

Printing Sutras

In the hasty withdrawal of Sangha members from the mainland, many Dharma treasures had to be left behind. Among these were many copies of the sutras. Aware of the critical shortage of Dharma in Hong Kong, the Venerable Master continually contributed toward the printing of hundreds of thousands of volumes of sutra texts, and constantly urged others to join in this meritorious work. It is through the Buddhist sutras that the doctrines of Buddhism are expressed, and by printing and reprinting the texts people can accrue blessings and can benefit countless numbers of living beings. Sutras are like indispensable lamps on a dark road, like food for famine-stricken people. If there were no sutras, gods and men would be plunged in perpetual night. Therefore to translate, print, and circulate Buddhist sutras of the entire Tripitaka is to preserve the very lifeblood of one's own wisdom. Consequently, the Master initiated the reprinting of the Universal Door Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Earth Store Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, the Surangama Sutra, the Heart Sutra, the entire Avatamsaka Sutra, and many others. The Buddhist Lecture Hall became the publisher of thousands of editions of texts.

Although the vow to print sutras may seem a simple matter on the surface, carrying it out required a vast measure of strength, forbearance, magnanimity, and wisdom. At the end of the twenty-four-volume set of the Avatamsaka Sutra printed by the Buddhist Lecture Hall, there appears this statement by the Master, entitled "Reflections upon the Completion of the Printing of the Great Expansive Buddha Avatamsaka Sutra."

Reflections upon the Completion of the Printing of
the Great Expansive Buddha Avatamsaka Sutra

"I, who lived humbly in a hut by my mother's grave, have read many sutras. When I first read the Lotus Sutra, I was mad with delight. I knelt and recited it for seven days and seven nights, forgetting to sleep, forgetting to eat, until eventually blood flowed from my eyes and my vision dimmed. Then I read the Surangama, thoroughly investigating the Great Samadhi and quietly cultivating it: the three stoppings, the three contemplations, neither moving nor still. I began to obtain a single-minded profound stillness, and penetrate the numeral nature. When I read the Avatamsaka, the enlightenment became boundless in its scope, indescribable in its magnificence, unsurpassed in its loftiness, and ineffable in its clarity. National Master Ch'ing-liang said,

'Opening and disclosing the mysterious and subtle,
Understanding and expanding the mind and its states,
Exhausting the principle while fathoming the nature,
Penetrating the result which includes the cause,
Deep and wide, and interfused,
Vast and great and totally complete.'

It is certainly so! It is certainly so!

At that time I could not put down the text, and bowed to and recited the Great Sutra as if it were clothing from which one must not part or food which one could not do without for even a day. And I vowed to myself to see to its vast circulation.

"Then, when Vinaya Master Tz'u-hang completed the stillness, those who had studied with him, and others, participated in a seven-day Avatamsaka Sutra Recitation Session held at this Hall. At that time they decided to print this sutra, but because the Dharma-ending Age abounds with obstructions, two of three laymen began scheming about taking control and running the operation for a profit. Their attempts were all unsuccessful, however, and the printing of the sutra was postponed. What a pity that it had to drag on so long that now I have had to oversee the printing personally in order that the vows made by the people who attended that session can be fulfilled. I hope that the Good and Wise Advisors both here and abroad who have subscribed to this sutra will excuse Lun for his ineptness in handling this matter. I could wish for nothing more than that.

Respectfully,
Mountain monk Shih To Lun
Buddhist Lecture Hall, Hong Kong
Headquarters for the printing of the
Avatamsaka Sutra
July 16, 1957