The Flower Adornment Sutra with Commentary

Chapter Four : The Coming into Being of Worlds

Commentary by the Venerable Master Hua


The formation, dwelling, decay, and emptiness of a kalpa that a world goes through are caused by beings’ false thoughts. Not only these kalpas, everything that exists is brought into being by beings’ false thinking.


Beings’ false thoughts are so numerous that they cause the world to come into being.  The earth, the moon, and the sun are all made from false thinking.


“I don’t believe that,” someone may say. “According to science, there are certain conditions that bring about these phenomena. They are certainly not just a product of false thinking.”


If you deny this statement, I won’t insist on my point.

But let’s consider the chicken and the egg. An egg is not a chicken to begin with. But if you place 15 or 20 eggs together, the mother hen will have a false thought. She thinks, “If I incubate these eggs, I’ll have a bunch of little chicks.”


That’s the way hens are. If there’s only one egg, she won’t incubate it. But if there are many eggs, the hen will stop laying eggs and will sit on the eggs in order to bring more chicks into the world.


She sits on her eggs day after day. By instinct, she uses her beak to turn every egg over several dozen times a day—turning them every hour or so. Why? Because if she didn’t turn the egg, the embryo would stick to the eggshell and the chick wouldn’t be able to separate from the eggshell when it hatched.

Having a pointed beak, you would think the hen might easily break he egg when turning it. But she’s pretty scientific about it. She puts her beak under the egg and turns it from below, rather than touching it from the top. She turns every egg like that very evenly.


After 21 or 22 days, the chicks hatch. At this time, the little chick will break the eggshell with its beak and come out. You see, the egg yolk transform into the chick’s belly, which is replete with all five organs.


How do the chicks come into being? It is the result of the mother hen’s false thinking. She had the false thinking about hatching the eggs, and succeeded in the end. You see, is it not made from false thinking?


So the Shurangama Sutra says, “Womb-born beings are born because of emotion. Egg-born beings are born because of thought. Moisture-born beings come in response to union. Transformationally-born beings arise from separation.”


The principle is very clear. From observing how a mother hen hatches her chicks, we can see that the chicken’s world is made from false thinking. Likewise, the worlds of horses, cows, dogs, people, and all other beings are also made from false thinking.


Vajra Bodhi Sea No.472

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Q: Can Buddhist disciples eat eggs?
A: Why bother asking me this question when you know you simply have a yen for rich foods?


Q: Why can't vegetarians eat eggs?
A: Eggs hatch without a rooster or a hen. Not knowing about this before and without any proof, people used to say that eggs do not hatch without chickens to roost them. Why do people who eat eggs have this theory? It is because they want to eat eggs. Chickens lay eggs with or without the rooster. The Shurangama Sutra tells us that "eggs are created by thought alone."


The Vajra Strikes: Part 1.  A Collection of Q & A's with the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

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Do not think,

"That good deed is trivial. I'm not going to do it. This bad deed is really minor. I'll go ahead and do it. It doesn't matter."

For example, you think,

"I'm vegetarian, but it won't matter if I eat an egg."

But in the future when you are reborn as a chicken, you will know that it was because you ate chicken eggs. If you are not clear on these small matters, then you are

"mixing good and evil, and the retribution is never off."

That would not be fun.  


--The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua (Nov 9, 1988).  The Shurangama Sutra Is a Demon-spotting Mirror.  Lecture presented at Yuan Heng Monastery, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.