Monthly Archives: June 2015

Day 8 Wielding a Sword of Wisdom (page 157)

Sound the Dharma thunder; beat the Dharma drum;
Spread the clouds of compassion and scatter ambrosia.
Where the elephant king treads the favors are boundless,
The three vehicles and five natures are awakened.

Ambrosia is the fourth image in this stanza. Supposedly, ambrosia is a magical nectar that grants immortality to the person who drinks it. Buddhadharma is like ambrosia. If you drink ambrosia, your physical body will not die. If you embody the teachings of Buddhism, then your wisdom will be eternal.

A person who has revealed true wisdom and uses it to spread Buddhadharma to help sentient beings is called an elephant king. The elephant, especially a white elephant, is an auspicious animal. Queen Maya dreamt about a six-tusked white elephant at the time of Buddha’s conception. The elephant king is a special, spiritual elephant that is not bound by worldly conditions. It flies above the world. A great Ch’an practitioner is an elephant king. Even though he lives among humans and other sentient beings, he is not subject to suffering. Like the elephant king, the enlightened Ch’an practitioner is not affected by the restrictions of the mundane world. He rises above them and helps all those who have karmic affinity with him.

Originally, only the Buddha was an elephant king, but his disciples who followed in his footsteps became elephant kings as well. Buddha was a prince, but he did not want to grow up to be a king. Others tried to persuade him to abandon his desire to become a monk, but he refused to listen. In the course of his practice, he was attacked by legions of demons. Some came as soldiers who tried to frighten him. Others came as beautiful women who tried to seduce him. He prevailed in every situation. He was not attached to the power of kingship; he was not attached to fear of pain and death; he was not attached to desires of the flesh. He transcended all worldly desires and became an elephant king. He became the Buddha. If a person cannot achieve what the Buddha achieved, then he is not an elephant king. He is a baby elephant who wields a sword that cuts only turnips.

The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 157)