Shastra on the Door to Understanding the Hundred Dharmas

Explanation of the Title



Since I cannot sing, I will talk a bit. The hundred dharmas are derived like this: one becomes ten, and ten become one hundred. The hundred dharmas divide into:

1. Eleven Form Dharmas.

2. Eight Mind Dharmas.

3. Fifty-one Dharmas Belonging to the Mind.

4. Twenty-four Activities Dharmas Not Interactive with the Mind.

5. Six Unconditioned Dharmas.

Each kind in each of these categories will be explained in the Shastra proper. They will not be explained in detail now, during the explanation the title. If we explained them thoroughly right now, there would be nothing to discuss when we got to the Shastra. So, now the kinds and numbers of each are mentioned, and if you understand all about them from that, then you do not have to come back to listen further. But if you do not understand what they are all about yet, then you will have to continue to listen more about them.

People will go home wondering, “What did he mean by eleven kinds of form

dharmas, and eight kinds of mind dharmas? That Dharma Master just brought up their names, but he did not tell us anything about them. I really do not want to go back and listen again; but then, there will always remain in my mind this matter that I never got clear about. I’m going to have to go listen.”

So now you see why, when introducing the title, we do not go into detail. That is logical enough, wouldn’t you say?

Someone who lectures on the Sutras and Shastras has to have a pattern to his talks. He has to have good timing. Then there will be no way for those seriously interested in hearing the Shastra to fail to come and listen. If, of course, the person has the attitude, “I’m not the least bit interested in learning what you mean by a hundred dharmas, or a thousand dharmas or a million dharmas. I don’t even care about a single dharma,” then there is nothing to be said. But if you are someone who would like to understand the Buddhadharma, then you are definitely going to want to come and listen.

“Door to Understanding” means not being confused, not being muddled, and not being ignorant. It means clarity, clarity about the path of these hundred Dharma-doors, which enable one to cultivate.

“Shastra” is a Sanskrit word that means discussion, discourse. We can use that interpretation here and say that this explanation of the Shastra is also a discussion, and that anyone who does not agree with the way I explain it can bring up his or her own theories, and we will discuss them. That means, if you have questions, I can answer you.

A discourse refers to an expression of one’s principles. You say what yours are, and I say what mine are, and then we can discuss them and investigate the Dharma. However, the Dharma I speak is not my Dharma. What I express is the Buddhadharma.

If anyone thinks that I am speaking incorrectly, all you have to do is bring up your reasons, and we will investigate them. I can meet any of your objections. You can come at me with objections, and I can answer them all. That includes all the people in the entire world, no matter what their nationality. Anyone at all can bring up his or her principles, and we will hold a huge symposium. I can answer any question put by any person throughout the ten directions.

“Aha!” you wonder. “How can people come from the ten directions? I can see them coming from four directions or eight directions, but from ten?” Well, now we have airplanes, so suppose someone lands right here in a helicopter, he has come from the upper direction, right? And someone out of a submarine from the sea is equivalent to coming out of the earth, right? So I say again, anyone throughout the ten directions can ask any question they want and we will hold a large symposium to discuss the Buddhadharma.

It makes no difference what religion they subscribe to—Buddhism or any other. If they have a question, they can come and ask it. If they have some difficulty, I will use my sword of wisdom to slice right through it for them. I will slice out their tongues, if need be. Then they will not be able to say anything more. You should be clear about this, however. I will slice out their tongues of foolishness, leaving their tongues of wisdom. I will remove their tongues of foolishness and replace them with tongues of wisdom. I am capable of making tongue transplants, as well as brain transplants. If their brains are unclear, I can give them a new set.

Now we will discuss the word “shastra.” You will remember I said before that the hundred dharmas must be expressed. Why is that? If they were not expressed, there would be no shastras. Shastras are discussions of which there are five types.

Five Kinds of Discussions in Shastras  

1. Right and wrong.

2. Deviant and proper.

3. Good and evil.

4. Cause and effect.

5. Defilement and purity.

First of all, they distinguish what is right and what is wrong. Right is right, and wrong is definitely wrong. One must not take what is right as wrong, nor should one take what is wrong as right. So we discuss things, and in this way come to understand them clearly. For people who enter monastic life, cultivation is right, and failing to cultivate is wrong.

The second thing that shastras discuss is what is deviant and what is proper. What is deviant is definitely deviant, and what is proper is decidedly proper. You must not take what is deviant and consider it to be proper, nor take what is proper and consider it to be deviant. That is another reason why there must be discussions. The third reason for discussions is to distinguish good from evil. Good is good, and evil is evil. You cannot regard what is good as being evil, nor regard what is evil as being good.

The fourth function of shastras is to discuss cause and effect. A cause is decidedly a cause, and an effect is definitely an effect. You cannot call a cause an effect, nor an effect a cause. You must make your discriminations clearly.

The fifth aspect of shastras is to clarify defilement and purity. Defilement is defilement, and purity is purity. You must not take defilement to be purity nor take purity to be defilement. You must not be upside down. And so the function of shastras is to discriminate these clearly.

However, it is true that right can turn into wrong, and wrong can become right. If you get rid of what is wrong, then you are right. If you dispense with what is right, you are wrong. The other four meanings also contain this qualification.

Shastras have the above five functions and are thus able to delineate dharmas quite precisely. We can also say, however, that the right is not apart from the wrong and vice-versa. What is right is wrong; what is wrong is right. What is good is just evil, and what is evil is just good. What is deviant is itself proper; what is proper is itself deviant. What is cause is just effect; what is effect is just cause.

What is defilement is just purity; what is purity is just defilement. So now you see that when it comes to discussion, you can discuss things any way you want. It is just to be feared you do not have anything to discuss. You say right is wrong and wrong is right? Well, let us see how you explain that. That is the way questions are investigated. “How is it done?” you ask. If you do not know, then you have to study. After you study you will know it yourself. That is the wonder of it. If you only know a little Buddhadharma, you cannot recognize that there is a lot of it. But if you know a lot of it, you cannot say there is only a little. This has been a general explanation of the title: The Shastra on the Door to Understanding the Hundred Dharmas. Discussion finished!

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