Red Lotuses Burst Forth All Over the Earth

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


That you are still pursuing your work so diligently, reciting the Buddha’s name in spite of the cold weather, is a sure sign of your sincerity; if you were not serious you wouldn’t be able to continue in this cold.

Through whirling snow on icy cliffs, whitening the sky,
Red lotuses burst forth today, in bloom all over the earth.
In infinite layers the Buddha’s light illumines all without end;
Each syllable of the Buddha’s name nurtures the Dharma-source.
In a finger snap the work is done just as you had wished,
And disasters wrought in lives gone by in a flash are melted away.
In contemplation, still and pure, find constant happiness;
Superior persons’ accomplishments in the end are caused to bear their fruit.

Here in the chill of the Great Hall it is we who are the cold cliffs and whirling snowflakes which fill the sky. Although the air is white with snow it is still possible for red lotus flowers to appear, because our recollection of the Buddha’s name causes them to bloom. The flowers are not the small ones we are used to seeing, but they are as large as carriage wheels. Each person who recollects the Buddha will in the future be born within lotus flowers such as these. When the flower opens, one will see the Buddha and awaken to the patience with the non-production of dharmas.

The Buddhas of the ten directions will emit light with which they will give us a physical examination; as if taking X-ray to see if we have any illnesses. The examination takes place because we are filling out immigration papers for entry into the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Whenever you recite the Buddha’s name you plant a seed in the field of the Dharma-nature. Reciting is also like applying fertilizer, for if you recite a lot and are sincere, your lotus will be a superior grade and the fruit will be superb. If your recitation reaches the level of single-minded concentration, then on the verge of death you will be without sickness and pain, just as if you had entered Ch’an samadhi. You will be reborn in the Western Land from within the lotus. You will be reborn in the Western Land from within the lotus which you have nurtured. If you do not recite, the flower will wither from lack of nourishment.

If you continually apply effort, your wish will be fulfilled and you will be reborn in the flick of a wrist. Your karmic obstacles from past lives will instantly melt away so that you obtain the still, bright, pure, and permanent joy. When this happens, the superior person’s job is done, his work perfected, and all his wishes fulfilled.

The most important point of recitation is to recite to the state of no false thoughts, white and pure like snow, complete spotlessness. So the verse speaks of “whirling snow on icy cliffs.” The cold cliffs represent one’s false thoughts, while whirling snow melting away represent one's return to the origin. The pure self-nature can give birth to the red lotus because the red lotus is born from pure, undefiled people.

There is a simple analogy used to describe the Dharma-door of Buddha-recitation: a living being in the three realms is like a worm caught in a section of bamboo who is trying to bore his way out. In the practice of other Dharma-doors, one must crawl out step-by-step. For example, in practicing Dhyana, one must practice sitting meditation but it is easy to fall into the wrong paths. In following the Vinaya School, one must memorize volumes of rules and follow them without fail. Those who cultivate the Teaching School must read and recite the Sutras and lecture on the dharma. They have to “divide the doors, discriminate the classes, articulate the schools, apportion the teachings”; and so it is said,

“Endlessly discriminating names and marks,
Like trying to count the grains of sand on the beach, will only hang you up.”

(Song of Enlightenment)

Cultivating the Secret School is more troublesome, one must pass through many stages: first stage, second stage, third stage, fourth stage; one has to ascend each stage in order to realize the fruition (of one’s cultivation). The step-by-step process is like the progress of the worm who gnaws his way up through section after section of the bamboo. There is, however, another worm in the bamboo who is smart enough to gnaw his way straight through the side of the stalk. The sections of bamboo represent the difficulties encountered as one tries to leap out of the triple realm. Escaping through the side is like the Dharma-door of reciting the Buddha’s name. You get out of the triple realm and gain rebirth in the Western Land, packing your karma from past lives with you. This does not mean, however, that you can continue to create offense-karma and expect to take it with you to the Pure Land. If someone thinks that he or she can bring along newly created karma and gain rebirth in the Western Land, then he or she will unrestrainedly commit all bad karma, which is called “clearly knew it was wrong but intentionally violated the prohibition”, this violation is even more intolerable. Even the greatly compassionate Amitabha Buddha himself has no way to save him or her.

Strange. In meditation, I was confronted by a woman who wished to argue with me about the earthquake. When her efforts proved futile she began to cry, whereupon I said, “The earth will not quake until such time as three suns rise in the west and set in the east.” These words caused her great sadness and she walked away. However, her spiritual penetrations were not small and before long three suns rose from the west and set in the east, and at that moment the earth was on the verge of quaking. I recognized this, however, for what it was and immediately said, “This is all empty and false. It is not true.” As soon as I said these words the whole thing dissolved.

Do you think this was false or not? I can assure you it was false. What is true is recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s name. Through recitation of the Buddha’s name you can end birth and death, and then even if the sky falls in or the earth erupts, you need not be concerned. The Dharma door of mindfulness of the Buddha is of utmost importance, for by means of it you can conquer all disasters and difficulties.

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