THOUSANDS OF YEARS OF TRADITION have shown that there is no substitute for oral instruction.  What is more, we in the West have long been hampered in our study of Buddhism by the lack of both adequate texts in English and qualified interpreters to transmit traditional explanations.  Even though a few teachers have come to the West, there still remain the problems of access and linguistics.  This work provides a solution to these problems by presenting in English translation what was originally a lectured commentary in Chinese.

Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua, founder of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, has been delivering oral commentaries on Buddhist texts for many years.  Although based in an age-old tradition, he reveals the Buddhist tradition in a manner that speaks not only to specialists and historians but to all those faced with the continuing problems of human existence in a modern age.  All the Master’s lectures since 1968 have been recorded and are being translated, this book being the second in a series of his collected lectures.

That the Master’s lectures are truly effective in terms of the real aim of Buddhism, which is to bring about a change in the lives of the audience, is quite obvious to those who have experienced his teaching.  On several occasions during this lecture series, particularly when he discussed the depths of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s filial practice in past lives, many members of the audience were moved to tears.  This is not, of course, to say that the Master’s style evokes weeping only; on many occasions his lively wit introduced a humorous and lighthearted mood in the assembly.

Unfortunately, in the transformation of a spoken lecture to the printed page, most such effects are necessarily lost.  We have tried as much as possible to retain the flavor of the spoken word while avoiding some of the tedium that can come from a mere verbatim transcription.  On the other hand, as we tried to approach the conventions of written English, we have dropped some of the more trivial scholarly niceties.  Thus the reader will not find Sanskrit and Chinese words set off by italics; they will be presented as any other word in context and explained.

The good points of the translation are due to the combined efforts of all the member of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, the Buddhist Text Translation Society, the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions, and the editorial staff of Vajra Bodhi Sea, in whose journal these lectures first appeared.  Any errors or faults are, of course, solely the translator’s responsibility.


American Bhiksu Heng Ching

Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, San Francisco

Earth Store Bodhisattva’s Birthday,

AUGUST, 1973


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The Buddha told Empty Space Store Bodhisattva, “Listen attentively, listen attentively, I shall enumerate and describe them to you. If there are good men and women in the future who see Earth Store’s image, or who hear this sutra or read or recite it; who use incense, flowers, food and drink, clothing, or gems as offerings; or if they praise, behold, and worship him, they shall attain twenty-eight kinds of advantages:

They will be remembered and protected by gods and dragons.
Their good roots will increase daily.
They will accumulate superior causes of wisdom.
They will not retreat from Bodhi.
Their food and drink will be abundant.
Epidemics will not touch them.
They will not encounter disasters of fire and water.
They will not be trouble by thieves.
They will be respected by all who see them.
They will be aided by ghosts and spirits.
Women will be reborn as men.
If born as women they will be daughters of kings and ministers.
They will have upright and proper appearances.
They will often be born in the heavens.
They may be emperors or kings.
They will know their past lives.
They will attain whatever they seek.
Their families will be happy.
All disasters will be eradicated.
They will eternally be apart from the paths of karma.
They will always arrive at their destination.
At night their dreams will be peaceful and happy.
Their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind.
They will receive the blessings from their past lives.
They will be praised by the sages.
They will be intelligent and their roots will be keen.
They will have magnanimous, kind, and sympathetic hearts.
They will ultimately attain Buddhahood.

"If I do not go to the hell to help the suffering beings there, who else will go? ... if the hells are not empty I will not become a Buddha. Only when all living beings have been saved, will I attain Bodhi." -Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

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