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Expedient Devices

Chapter 2



If, when I met with living beings,
I taught them just the Buddha Path,
Those lacking wisdom would be puzzled;
Confused, they would not accept the teaching.

K4. Mentioning the five turbidities.
L1. General explanation of the obstacle of the five turbidities.


If, when I met with living beings: Previously it said, “…leading them into the Buddha Path.” The Buddha has led living beings to opening, demonstration, awakening, and entering of the Buddha’s knowledge and vision. In these lines the Buddha is talking about himself. He has rightly certified to the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self:

1. One body can manifest limitless bodies. That is, one Buddha can turn into countless numbers of Buddhas.

2. One body the size of a mote of dust can completely fill the great thousand world systems. Why? It is because it is free!

3. The Buddha-body can lightly float to distant places. For example, it can lightly float, just like a balloon, right up into space. The balloon can fly a long ways to distant places. The balloon, however, is just an analogy. Actually, this is just the free and wonderful functioning of the Buddha’s spiritual penetrations, which enable him to rise lightly in the air and travel to very distant regions.

4. He can manifest limitless kinds of living beings, which always dwell together in one land.

5. All the sense faculties may be used interchangeably. I explained this when I lectured The Shurangama Sutra. The eyes can eat and the ears can talk! The six sense organs—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind—all function with the functions of the other five. Each organ can be used in six ways. The eyes can see and hear; they can also eat and taste. They all can be used interchangeably. Would you say this was wonderful or not?

6. He obtains the suchness of all dharmas, without the thought of dharmas. Dharmas are empty.

7. The meaning of one verse may be explained throughout limitless eons. The doctrines contained in a single verse may be explained for limitless, boundless great eons, and still the meaning will not have been spoken to the end.

8. The body pervades all places, like space. Although it fills all places, it is just like empty space. When I explained The Shurangama Sutra, I said that the Buddha was nowhere present and nowhere not present. Where would you say he is? He is everywhere. Where would you say he is not? He is nowhere at all.

We say that the Buddha is like empty space. What does this mean? Take a look at empty space: It has no shape or form. The Buddha’s body fills all places in the same way. We are all living in the substance of the Buddha’s spirit. The Buddha is like a big person who fills up the space between heaven and earth. We live on the Buddha’s body the way small bugs live on ours. Sometimes, when we do not bathe for long periods of time, we might get lice. In northern China, they have tiny lice and fleas. But the lice and fleas do not know what the people they live on are like. They cannot see the people, even through they are living right on their bodies. We dwell in the Buddha’s Dharma-body in the same way. We cannot see it. Why not? It is because we are right within it. In China, there is a saying,

Why cannot you see the face of Lu Mountain?
It is just because you are standing on Lu Mountain.

Lu Mountain in Jiang Xi, is one of China’s most famous scenic spots. It has a lovely view, verdant forests, and breathtaking waters. Why can’t you see Lu Mountain? It is because you are standing right on it! If you backed away from it, you would be able to see it.

And why can’t we see the Buddha’s Dharma-body? It is because we are contained within it. Basically, there is not any place that is outside the Buddha’s Dharma-body. That is why there is no way we can get outside of it.

Then how can we see the Buddha’s Dharma-body? We must apply effort in cultivating the Way. When we accomplish Buddhahood and are one, non-dual, with the Buddha, we will know what the realm of the Buddha’s Dharma-body is like.

The Buddha has attained the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self. He teaches and transforms living beings according to his intent, and, however he speaks the Dharma, he is correct.

I taught them just the Buddha path. So the Buddha uses the miraculous functioning of spiritual penetrations, the Eight Great Freedoms of the Self. Those lacking wisdom would be puzzled. Although the Buddha is compassionate in teaching and transforming living beings, those without wisdom, the stupid people, cannot understand him. If he taught them the One Vehicle, they would surely misunderstand him. Stupid people, no matter what you tell them, always waver between doubt and belief. Why do they waver? Confused they would not accept the teaching. They are too deeply submerged in their confusion. When you speak the Buddhadharma to them they are not able to accept it.

Everyone can know the events of his or her past lives. You can know what you did in the past. How can you know? Take stock of yourself; take a look at yourself the way you are now. If you have a great deal of compassion, then in former lives you did not kill many living beings. You did not violate the precept against taking life. Having a compassionate heart just means that you do not have a temper. You look upon everyone as you would your own blood relatives. You cherish others as you cherish yourself. If you have that kind of compassion, it means that in former lives you did not kill.

If you do not have compassionate concern for living beings, then in past lives you did kill. It is like taking a look at yourself in the mirror to see what you look like.

If you are extremely hateful, then in past lives, you killed living beings. Those who like to kill have big tempers and a great deal of fire-energy. From these two indications, you can figure out your own set of causes and effects. You can know what you did in previous lives by looking at what you are doing right now. So, a few days ago some soldiers came to visit and they asked, “Do you believe that people can become animals?”

I said, “If you act like an animal, you are an animal. If you act like a person, you are a person. You do not have to worry about what you will become in the future. If, in this present life, you do things that animals do, then you are an animal. If you do the deeds people do, then you are a person. If you do the deeds of a Bodhisattva, you are a Bodhisattva. If you observe the precepts of a Bodhisattva and practice the Bodhisattva Way, then you are a Bodhisattva. Although you are just a junior Bodhisattva, one who has newly brought forth the Bodhisattva resolve, if you do the acts of a Buddha, you are a Buddha. If you sneak around like a ghost, then you are a ghost. Just take a look at what you do. Everything is made from the mind alone—that is the principle at work here.

How is it that you are able to come here and listen to the Buddhadharma? It is because in former lives you believed in Buddhism and so now you like to hear the Sutras lectured. Those without good roots would hear the lectures and think, “What a lot of nonsense; how boring!” and run off. So you see, everyone can have the Penetration of the Knowledge of Past Lives.


I know that these living beings
Have never cultivated good roots.
They are firmly attached to the five desires,
And, out of stupidity and love, become afflicted.

Because of all their desires,
They fall into the three evil paths,
They turn on the wheel in the six destinies,
Suffering utter misery.

They take a tiny form in the womb;
Life after life, it continues to grow.
With scanty virtue and few blessings,
They are oppressed by scores of sufferings,
They enter the dense forest of deviant views,
Those of existence, non-existence, and the like.

They become dependent on those views—
Sixty-two of them in all.
Deeply attached to illusory dharmas,
They cling to them firmly and cannot let them go.

Arrogant, they brat of their loftiness;
They are flatterers, their hearts insincere.
Throughout ten billion eons,
They never hear the Buddha’s name,
Nor do they hear the proper Dharma.
Such people are difficult to save.

L2. Specific description of the five obstacles.


I know that these living beings, have never cultivated good roots. Who are “these living beings”? They are those lacking in wisdom, those confused beings who refuse to be taught by the Buddha. In former lives, they did not cultivate good roots, and so they are stupid. Those people who have cultivated good roots are intelligent, not stupid.

“Do I have good roots or not?” you ask.

Do not ask whether or not you have good roots. Ask whether or not you choose to cultivate in accord with the Dharma. If you rely upon the Buddhadharma to cultivate, practice and uphold it, and keep the precepts, then even if you did not have good roots, you would develop them. If you do not cultivate according to Dharma, and, having taken the precepts, fail to observe them, and you do no good deeds, then you would soon have no good roots at all. There is a saying about selfishness:

If I could benefit all under heaven by pulling a single hair out of my head,
I would not do it.

Selfish people would not do a good deed the size of one single hair to benefit someone else. If they could benefit everyone in the whole world by pulling out just one hair from their heads, they would not do it. They think, “Well, if I pulled out one of my hairs it would hurt a lot and what difference does it make to me whether or not everyone under heaven gain benefits anyway? So what? What is in it for me? I am not going to do it.” If you are like that, if you do not cultivate in accord with the Dharma, then even if you had good roots, you soon would have none. If you cultivate in accord with the Dharma, then even if you do not have good roots, you will get them. Do not ask whether or not you have good roots.

I will tell you something even more profound: If you did not have good roots, there is absolutely no way that you would be able to come and hear the Buddhadharma. You would not have the necessary causes and conditions to study Buddhism. For example we, who are listening to the Buddhadharma now, especially to The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra in past lives have all planted good roots. But you should not ask.

I am not going to answer your question, either. Why not? If I said you had good roots you would get arrogant and say, “Look at me! The Dharma Master says I have good roots, and no doubt my good roots are not small.” You would get stuck-up. On the other hand, if I said you had no good roots and that, in fact, in your last life you were a pig or something. This life you are a person and that is why you are so stupid. You would think, “Oh, last life I was a pig. Now I am a person, but it does not mean much. I think I will do a few rotten things and go back to being a pig.” Such people always feel like there is nothing going on. When they have eaten their fill, they go to sleep. So I cannot tell you whether or not you have good roots.

Instead of asking me, ask yourself whether or not you can cultivate in accord with Dharma. If you can, then even if you do not have good roots, you are getting them. If you do not cultivate in accord with Dharma, then, even if you have good roots, you are losing them.

The Buddha knew that these people had never in past lives planted good roots.

They are firmly attached to the five desires. They are stuck. They cannot break through their desire for forms, sound, smells, tastes, and tangible objects. There is another list of the five desires: Wealth, form, fame, food, and sleep. It is said:

Wealth, form, fame, food, and sleep
Are the five roots of the hells.

If you get attached to any one of the five desires, it can drag you right down into hell. So we say that they are the five roots of the hells. You could also call them five chains. They are like heavy chains that drag you into the hells.

Some people are greedy for wealth. They crave material possessions to the point that they would do anything at all, regardless or whether it was right or not, to get what they want. Basically, one should not covet wealth, which is not rightfully gained. But such people have no conscience in matters of material gain.

Form refers to beauty, especially the attractions of the opposite sex. This is the easiest matter in which people transgress. No matter who they are, when men and women meet, their first thought is to determine whether the other person is beautiful or ugly. Such questions are always foremost in people’s minds.

If people are not greedy for wealth or forms, they may be greedy for fame and get locked in the chains of fame. They enjoy nothing but running around promoting themselves in all kinds of ways, advertising themselves. A certain layman had a card printed saying that he was president of such and such organization, head of such and such a group, and so on. The entire card was covered with his titles. What for? When you take a look at his card and see all his fancy titles, you are supposed to be very impressed. That is the way fame is, really important to people.

There are others who do not care for wealth, form, or fame, but guess what? They love to eat! They do not eat their own food either, but specialize in cheating other people out of meals. When they hear there is a party, they crash the gate, sit down, and eat their fill—a fish eye concealed among the pearls. Because of this, everyone looks down on them as gluttons and they are objects of scorn wherever they go.

Those who are not greedy for wealth, form, fame, or food, may be greedy for sleep. They can go without eating, but they would not hear of missing their sleep. They sleep and sleep until their brains get all stuck together and they lose all their wisdom. They sleep themselves into stupidity. In Hong Kong and Taiwan people sometimes sleep to death! Why? It is because they like to sleep. They sleep to death feeling extremely happy. They are not aware of anything at all and die in their sleep, painlessly. That is the fifth root of the hells.

Therefore, once you understand the Buddhadharma, you should reform your bad habits. If you cannot reform all five of them immediately, you can do it slowly.

And, out of stupidity and love, become afflicted. Because they cling to the five desires, they give rise to stupidity and grow attached to them. Because of their craving for the five desires, they think up all kinds of ways to obtain them. When their efforts are frustrated, they give rise to affliction. Why does affliction arise? It is because they have no wisdom. They do not see their state clearly; they do not understand one should reflect upon the principle and, returning the light, awaken to the futility of one’s actions. Not only do they fail to wake up, they get afflicted.

Because of all their desires, they fall into the three evil paths. Greed for food, greed for sleep, greed for fame, scheming for wealth, and lusting after forms—all these various evil modes of behavior generate afflictions. Because they are afflicted, they grow stupid. Because they are stupid, they fall into the three evil paths: the hells, the animal realm, and the realm of hungry ghosts. They looked upon the five desires as too important. Unable to free themselves, they let the chains of the five desires drag them into the three evil paths.

They turn on the wheel in the six destinies. Around and around they go on the wheel in the six paths of rebirth. Suddenly they are in the heavens, suddenly they are on the earth; suddenly they are cows, and suddenly they turn into horses. Suddenly they are hungry ghosts, and suddenly they become asuras. They revolve around and around in the six paths because they planted the causes to revolve on the wheel. Suffering utter misery. Having planted the causes, they must suffer the retribution of turning on the wheel, all the misery and wretchedness of the six paths of rebirth.

They take a tiny form in the womb. They may be born from a womb. Perhaps they are born as a human being or perhaps they are born as a cow, a horse, a pig or—a mouse! See? Some people are afraid of mice. If you are afraid of mice, then do not do bad things. If you do bad things, you may just end up in the rat pile yourself as a friend of the mice. Look at mice: They are dirty, filthy. You would better be careful. Mice are also born from wombs, you know.

Life after life, it continues to grow. Taking a womb to be reborn—in one life they take one kind of womb, and in the next life they take another kind of womb. From small creatures, they turn into large creatures. From large creatures they turn into old creatures. In general, their karmic obstacles continue to grow. The retribution of their evil karma increase, life after life; it does not decrease. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Finally, how large it gets, no one knows.

With scanty virtue and few blessings. They have very little virtue; therefore, their blessed retribution is also very small. They are oppressed by scores of sufferings. They undergo all the different kinds of sufferings, the three sufferings, the eight sufferings, the limitless sufferings. They enter into the dense forest of deviant views. They run into the thickets of deviant views. So many of them! How can they ever find their way out again? Those of existence, non-existence and the like. “Existence” refers to the view of permanence and “non-existence” refers to the view of annihilationism. The dense forest of deviant views refers to the general list of sixty-two views. They become dependent on those views—they strike up a friendship with all these views and come to depend upon them. Sixty-two of them in all. There are a lot these views, but generally they can be listed under sixty-two categories.

And what are the sixty-two views? I have not explained them before, but now I will. You have all heard of the five skandhas: form, feelings, thought, activity, and consciousness. Those of outside religions think: “Form is large and I am small. Form pervades the Dharma Realm. I am very small and am within the form.” This is really stupid. How could they run inside of form? How in the heck! It is ridiculous and it does not make sense. But they make up this theory anyway and say, “Form is great and I am small. I am within form.” That is theory number one.

Another outside religion comes up with the theory, “Form is small and I am great. Form is within me.” This is the exact opposite of the first theory. Ultimately, what form is, they do not know, but form jumped right into them! That is theory number two.

Another outside religion has this deviant view: “Form is just me.” That makes three. Another outside religion says, “Form is apart from me.” They have nothing to base their deviant views on. But that makes four of them:

1.         Form is great. I am small. I am within form.
2.         Form is small. I am great. Form is within me.
3.         Form is me.
4.         Form is apart from me.

These four propositions apply to the remaining for skandhas as well. For example:

1.         Feeling is great. I am small. I am within feeling.
2.         Feeling is small. I am great. Feeling is within me.
3.         Feeling itself is me.
4.         What is apart from feeling is me.

The same four propositions apply to thinking, activity, and consciousness. The four propositions apply to the five skandhas make a total of twenty views.

These twenty views are of the present. The same twenty may also be applied to the past and to the future. Thus, the twenty views times the three periods of time make a total of sixty views.

What about the remaining two views?

They are simply the view of permanence and the view of annihilation. It is mentioned in the Sutra text as the view of existence and the view of non-existence.

These sixty-two views make no sense at all, really. Do not ask me how they arrived at them. They basically have no principle behind them. They are just set up as deviant views. If you look for some principle behind them, you will fall into deviant views yourself. There is no principle behind them, but we should know what they are. We should also know that they are based on no principle whatever.

Deeply attached to illusory dharmas, those of outside ways are deeply, profoundly attached to these illusory dharmas. And what are they? The sixty-two views.

They hold them tightly and cannot let them go. They insist that their views have principle. “That is the way it is,” they say. “I am great and form is small,” and so on. They are stubbornly attached and refuse to change. This is like certain people who are superstitiously attached to their own religions. They do not seek out true principle; they do not pay any attention to whether it is right or wrong. They hold tightly to their beliefs with solid faith, faith even stronger than faith in the Buddha or the Dharma Masters. If you tell him to change he says, “No way! These dogmas are revealed by our infallible patriarchs and they cannot be changed. If you change them you’ve committed a mortal sin. You are damned to hell and lightning might even strike you dead! I cannot change the dogmas. I must believe in this religion.”

I have something to tell all of you: Whoever does not believe in what I say may be reassured that you will not be struck dead by lightning. If you do not believe in the Buddha, you will not be struck by lightning either. Go ahead and refuse to believe. Later, when you have thought it over clearly, you will come back and believe. Now, if because you are confused, you believe in outside religions, that is all right, because when you finally wake up, you will come back to Buddhism. Why do I say this? It is because no matter what religion you believe in, it does not surpass Buddhism. All religions are contained within the Buddhadharma. However, there are long ways around, and there are short cuts. If you believe in other religions, you will have a longer walk. If you believe in Buddhism, you have got a head start. If you believe in Buddhism you will understand sooner, get enlightened faster, and become a Buddha first thing. So I have a lot of disciples who listen to the Sutra for a while and then run off. I do not pay any attention to them. If you want to run, then run. When you have run enough, you will come back. Before you have run enough, of course you are going to want to run. But it is no problem. It is just like the five thousand who walked out. It is also like eating. When people are full, they do not care to eat. Once they get hungry, they start thinking about food again. One’s attitude toward the Buddhadharma works the same way. If you think you do not need the Buddhadharma, if you are not hungry for it, you may run off. When you have run until you are hungry again, you will come back for some more.

Those of outside religions cling to their deviant views and cannot let them go.

Arrogant, they brag of their loftiness. They are haughty and self-satisfied. They are always up on a soapbox praising themselves. “Have you seen me? Me, me, me—hah! You cannot compare with me. Anything you can do I can do better!” That is to hold oneself in high esteem, to put oneself up on a pedestal. This is like a certain person who came here and said that he was extremely high-minded. This is just “bragging of one’s own loftiness.” What is the point of doing that anyway? If your heart is filled with pride, you are turning your back on the Way. Students of the Way should be respectful of others. At all times they should cultivate an attitude of humility.

They are flatterers, their hearts insincere. What is flattery? It is being a synchophant. When they see the Governor coming, they open the car-door for him, pour his tea, and light his cigarettes. They simply cannot do enough for him. They are not even that respectful towards the Buddha! When they see a high official coming, they invariably find a way to rub elbows with him. They are not sincere. They are not straightforward. For example, basically they may be out to borrow money from you because they know you have got it, but they do not come out directly and say, “I would like to borrow some money from you.” What do they say?

“Ah, today I need a little money. I think I will go ask so and so if I can borrow it from him.” They say this hoping that you will “volunteer” to help them out. Their tactics are round about, crooked, and devious.

Throughout ten billion eons, they do not hear the Buddhas’s name, nor do they hear the Proper Dharma. They do not hear the Buddha’s name and they do not have a chance to listen to the Sutras. Why not? They lack good roots.

Those of you who are able to listen to the lectures on the sutras all have good roots. People without good roots might come and sit for a minute, but they would soon feel like they were sitting on needles. “Ouch!” They would hurry and get up and run away. Why? It is because they have no good roots, and they cannot sit for even a second before running off.

Here in San Francisco we lecture the Sutras every evening. I ask you, are those who do not come here to listen to the Buddhadharma in the majority or are those who do come in the majority? This question is like the one the Buddha asked his disciples. He picked up a handful of earth and said, “Take a look. Is there more dirt in my hand or is there more on the ground?”

The disciples answered, saying, “Naturally there is more dirt on the ground and less in the Thus come One’s hand.”

The Buddha said, “Those who obtain a human body are like the dirt in my hand; those who lose the body of a human being are like the dirt on the earth.” Those who lose their human body and are unable to return in their next life as a person are as many as the vast amount of dirt on the Earth. Instead of being reborn in a human body, they fall instead into the three evil paths and become ghosts or animals.

Now, I can make an analogy, too. Those who come to listen to the Sutra lectures are like the dirt in my hand. Those who do not come to listen to the Sutras are like the dirt on the Earth. See how rare they are? Those who come to hear the Sutras are like gold. They all have good roots. Those who do not come are like dirt. You all have a very rare opportunity to listen to the Dharma. In all of America, you will not find another Buddha Hall where the Sutras are lectured every night. They may lecture once a week, but here we lecture every single night. This is really inconceivable. In the future you are all destined to become the pioneers of American Buddhism.

Such people are difficult to save. People like this, people without good roots, are especially hard to take across. In San Francisco, with its population of several hundred of thousands of people, only these twenty or so are really determined to listen to the Sutras. Rare indeed! Those without good roots are hard to save. You can teach them the clear, correct, principles of the Buddhadharma. They will listen and know that you are correct, but they will still oppose you. Would you say this was strange or not? Why does this happen? It happens because they have no good roots. If they had good roots, they would listen to the Buddhadharma and put it into practice.

In China, at Gold Mountain, there was one they called the “Living Buddha.” He listened to the Sutras, and no matter which Dharma Master was lecturing, he would kneel and place his palms together, reverently listening to every word. Would you say he was sincere or not?

They called him the “Living Buddha” because one time he jumped off the top of the Gold Pagoda and when he hit bottom, nothing happened—he did not die. He was able to cure people’s illnesses, too. He used “Paramita soup,” as medicine. Paramita soup was what he called the water he had just washed his feet in. He would add some fragrant ashes or some sawdust to it and give it to the sick person to drink. Once the sick person drank it, he would be cured.

In the West it is extremely rare to be able to attend a Dharma Assembly such as this one. Today, I spoke with my disciples about how important it is to lecture on the Sutras. In the future, in the Dharma-Ending Age, the Buddhist Sutras will disappear. The paper will remain, but the words will just fade away, and you will not be able to read them. The first Sutra to disappear will be The Shurangama Sutra. That is why, in coming to the West to spread the Dharma, I first lectured The Shurangama Sutra, the Sutra for developing wisdom. If you look into the doctrines discussed in the sutra you will find that they are truly much more wonderful than any theories propounded by modern day science or philosophy, as the doctrines in the Sutra are ultimate.

Now that I have finished lecturing The Shurangama Sutra, I am lecturing The Dharma Flower Sutra. When I have finished lecturing it, I intend to lecture The Avatamsaka Sutra for you. That is even more wonderful! The Dharma Flower Sutra is called the king of Sutras, but The Avatamsaka Sutra is really the king of the kings of Sutras. The Avatamsaka is like a Gold Wheel-turning sage king, and the Dharma Flower is like a Silver Wheel-turning sage king. The Shurangama is like a Copper Wheel-turning sage king. They are the three kings among the Sutras.

Where did The Avatamsaka Sutra come from? After the Buddha realized Buddhahood, the first thing he did was to speak this Sutra. When he spoke it, those of the Two Vehicles could not hear him. They could not even see him. It is said,

They had eyes, but could not see the Nishyanda Buddha.
They had ears, but could not hear the Perfect, Sudden Teaching.

The Buddha manifested a ten thousand feet high body to speak the Sutra, and although they had eyes, they could not see it. They had ears, but they could not hear the perfect, sudden teaching. Those of the Two Vehicles could not understand it, and only the Great Vehicle Bodhisattvas were clear about it. Later, it was taken by the Dragon King to the Dragon Palace and it disappeared from the human realm. Later, the Fourteenth Patriarch, Nagarjuna, “Dragon Tree,” Bodhisattva, who had mastered all worldly literature, used his spiritual penetrations to go down to the Dragon Palace to take a look at their Tripitaka. There he found the three volume set of The Great Avatamsaka Sutra. The first volume contained chapters in number equal to dust motes in ten great trichiliocosms. The second volume had twelve hundred chapters and four hundred and ninety-eight thousand eight hundred verses. The third volume contained forty-eight chapters and one hundred thousand verses. The standard Chinese edition translated during the Tang Dynasty by Tripitaka Master Shiksananda, contains thirty-nine chapters.

Since he had no way to remember all of it, he only memorized the last volume. When he came back, he wrote it out. He read it once and remembered it perfectly. His memory was extremely good. That is where The Avatamsaka Sutra came from.

So, when we have finished The Dharma Flower Sutra, we shall hear The Great Avatamsaka Sutra. Having heard the three kings of Sutras and understood them, you will then be able to understand all the other Sutras on you own, without having them explained to you. Here in the West, the Buddhadharma has just begun to flourish. It is fitting that the Great Vehicle Dharma be propagated in order to teach and transform the Great Vehicle Bodhisattvas. Do not see yourselves as insignificant. You are all ones who in the past made vows agreeing to come to America with me to help me propagate the Buddhadharma. That is why I have now met with you extremely intelligent Westerners who come here every day to study the Buddhadharma; this is because of a far-reaching affinity, a cause which goes way back, and which was planted long, long ago. I am telling you the truth; you should not disbelieve it.


Therefore, Shariputra,
I set forth expedients for them,
Speak of the way to suffering’s end,
And demonstrate Nirvana.

Although I speak of Nirvana,
It is not true extinction.
All dharmas from their origin,
Are ever marked by still extinction.

When the Buddha’s disciples have walked the Path,
In a future age they will become Buddhas.
I possess the power of expedients,
And demonstrate the Dharma of Three Vehicles.

All the World Honored Ones,
Speak the Dharma of One Vehicle.
Now all of you assembled here,
Should cast your doubts aside.
The speech of all Buddhas is the same:
There is only One Vehicle, not two.


L3. Explains that Small Vehicle is spoken because of the five turbidities.
L4. Explains that Small Vehicle is spoken for sake of Great Vehicle.
K5. Verifying the validity.


Therefore, Shariputra, I Shakyamuni Buddha, say that people are all difficult to save. Why are they difficult to save? Simply because they are too stupid. They are so stupid that if you teach them the genuine Dharma, they do not understand it. They doubt it and wonder, “That is what you say, but I do not know if it is true or not. I do not know if that is the true Dharma.” I set forth expedients for them. I set up some provisional, expedient Dharma-doors, and speak of the way to suffering’s end. I speak the Three Storehouse Teaching so they may leave suffering. So it is said,

Know suffering,
Cut off origination,
Long for extinction, and
Cultivate the Way.

Everyone should know that everything in this world is suffering. Knowing suffering, you should end suffering. That is why I speak this Dharma-door of ending suffering. I speak the Dharma of the Four Holy Truths and demonstrate Nirvana. “Demonstrate” means that I instruct the Small Vehicle people in the method used to certify to the wonderful fruit of Nirvana: permanence, bliss, true self, and purity.

Although I speak of Nirvana, I teach the wonderful Dharma of non-production and non-extinction. It is not true extinction. However, that dharma which I speak for those of the Two Vehicles is not the genuine, ultimate Dharma of still extinction. All dharmas from their origin. Why do I say that it is not the ultimate Dharma of still extinction? It is because all dharmas basically, from where they begin, from their origin are ever marked by still extinction. The basic substance of the Dharma is still and extinct. It is “thus, thus.”

When the Buddha’s disciples have walked the Path. I have spoken the Small Vehicle dharma for these people to cultivate. However, after they have cultivated the Small Vehicle dharmas to perfection, they must still return from the Small and go towards the Great, and walk the Bodhisattva Way in order to be genuine disciples of the Buddha. When they have cultivated the Bodhisattva Way to perfection, then in a future age they will become Buddhas. In a future life they will certify to the Buddha-fruit. If, in the very beginning, you tried to teach them to cultivate for the Buddha-fruit, to practice the Six Perfections and the Ten Thousand Conducts, they would be frightened. They would think such cultivation was too difficult.

I possess the power of expedients. I set up provisional devices. After I spoke The Great Avatamsaka Sutra, seeing that those of the Two Vehicles could not understand it, I set up expedient devices. And demonstrate the Dharma of Three Vehicles. I demonstrate the Dharma-doors of the Vehicle of the Hearers, the Vehicle of the Conditioned Enlightened Ones, and the Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas.

All the World Honored Ones, although I teach the Three Vehicles, my ultimate aim, my final goal, is still to cause all living beings to become Buddhas. Not only do I speak the highest Buddha Vehicle, but all of the World Honored Ones throughout all the worlds in the ten directions, all the Buddhas, speak the Dharma of One Vehicle. They return the three to the one and open the provisional to reveal the real. They set aside the teaching of the Three Vehicles to reveal the One Vehicle, the real teaching.

Now all of you assembled here, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, Upasikas, ghosts and spirits, all of the gods and dragons and the rest of the eightfold division, should cast your doubts aside. Get rid of your doubts; you should not harbor doubts concerning The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.

Do not be like a fox who has doubts about everything. When foxes cross the river when it has frozen over, they take a step and then cock their ears, listening to hear if the ice creaks. Will it hold them, or will it crack and dump them into the river? They take a step, listen, take another step, and listen some more. Although they do not hear a sound, they still do not believe. With each step they have to listen again. Foxes are full of doubt.

Those who believe in the Buddha, but who do not have good roots, will half believe and half disbelieve. Their faith is not real because they have not cast their doubts aside. Now, all present in the assembly are exhorted to cast their doubts aside.

To put it another way, why is it that some people half believe in the Buddhadharma and half disbelieve? It is because they are stupid. If they had prajna wisdom, they could not possible have doubts. But, because they lack prajna wisdom, even you speak the true Dharma for them they hear it as false dharma. If you speak the subtle Dharma for them, they hear it as coarse dharma. They do not have the Dharma-selecting eye. That is why they give rise to doubts.

The speech of all Buddhas is the same. There is only one vehicle not two. The Buddhas of the ten directions say the same things. Why is that? They speak only the One Vehicle, the Buddha Way, the One Buddha Vehicle and the true real wisdom. There are not two vehicles. There is no Hearer Vehicle, no Conditioned Enlightened Vehicle, and no Bodhisattva Vehicle. The Buddhas speak only the One Buddha Vehicle. They speak the Dharma-door of the Real Teaching; they do not speak the provisional teaching. This is called “opening the provisional to reveal the Real.”

They put the provisional, clever expedient device Dharma-doors off to one side and speak only the wonderful doctrine of the Real Mark. So now, the Hearers and the Conditioned Enlightened Ones should return from the small and go towards the Great, to cultivate and practice real wisdom. If they do not put down the provisional wisdom, they will not be able to understand real wisdom. There is only one not two vehicles. There is only the Buddha Vehicle.

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