26 October 2010

Contemplation: The Great Cloud

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take up the following as your object of contemplation:

The King of the Dharma,
The destroyer of delusive existence,
Appears in the world
And keeping in mind the aspirations of sentient beings
Teaches the Dharma in various ways
According to the wishes of sentient beings.
The Tathagatha is greatly distinguished,
And his wisdom is profound.
He has been silent for a long time
And intentionally has not taught the essential in haste.
Those who are wise
Will be well convinced when they hear it;
Those who are not wise will have doubts
And remain perplexed for a long time.
That is why, O Kashyapa, the Tathagatha teaches
According to the capacities of sentient beings,
And enables them to attain the correct perspective
By using various illustrations.
O Kashyapa, you should know
That it is as if a great cloud
Arises in the world and covers everything.
This beneficent cloud contains moisture
And bright lightning flashes from it.
The sound of its thunder shakes the earth afar
And gladdens the people.It conceals the sun
And cools the earth.
The spreading cloud hangs so low,
As if it could be touched.
Everywhere, equal and immeasurable
The rain pours down and moistens the earth.
Grasses, herbs, large and small trees,
All kinds of crops, seedlings, sugar cane and grapes
Growing in the depths of the mountains,
In precipitous valleys,
All are watered, and completely nourished by the rain.
The dry earth is moistened everywhere
And the herbs and trees grow up thickly.
Out of this could the same rain
Waters these grasses, trees and shrubs
Each according to their capacities.
All the trees, small, medium, or large
Are able to grow in accordance with their capacities.
The luster and colors of the roots, stems,
Branches, leaves and flowers
Are all freshened by the same rain.
Each of these, although receiving the same moisture,
Reaches a greater or lesser size
In accordance with their different
Dispositions, characteristics and natures.
The Buddha is exactly like this.

(from Chapter 5 of the Lotus Sutra as we recite it at the Tendai Buddhist Institute)

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