Who are Buddhas? We read in the Flower Adornment Sutra, “Sentient or insentient, all attain wisdom.” So all beings that have self-awareness and all things such as plants and minerals are Buddhas-to-Be. With respect for all beings and things, not just the present Buddhas, we will foster the heart of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. His heart is different from that of most Bodhisattvas.
Buddhist practitioners are respectful to the Buddha, but this respect may not be completely sincere. Why not? If we are listening to a lecture, but suddenly think of an important appointment or have a call on our mobile, what will we do? We will leave the hall immediately to go attend to business or answer the telephone call. So, our respect and belief are not genuine. If we were truly sincere and respectful, we would regard attendance at the lecture as our prime concern. But in fact, if we are listening to a talk on the sutra and someone tells us that there is a business opportunity that will make us a million US dollars, we will immediately leave the lecture
The profound respect of Universal worthy Bodhisattva is perfectly genuine, regardless of whether it is for Buddhas, sentient beings or insentient objects. Why? He understands that they all have a Buddha nature. Therefore, offending a sentient being is offending a Buddha. Thus, we too should respect all beings.
Then how do we act towards tables and chairs? They are also to be respected as beings, for everything is the result of the joint force of all causes. What is the right way to show respect for all things? Prostrate to it three times a day? No, that is the way of a Buddhist idiot. To show respect to material objects, we just keep them orderly and clean. For example, books go neatly into a bookcase. When doing something, we are earnest and responsible, trying to do it the best we can. We treat people, matters and objects with equal respect. This is the virtuous way of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. This is the expanded and perfected way of the Six Paramitas, and therefore the most perfect and effective way for Buddhist Cultivation.