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THE FIRST DOOR
The Causes and Conditions for the Arisal of the Teaching
To begin with, causes and conditions. When the Sage sets forth a Teaching, it must be for a reason. Sumeru and the mighty ocean, because of causes great, are stirred and swayed. Now the mountain of the Thus Come One’s virtue of smelted gold sways, the sea of wisdom deep and vast is stirred,, not due to slight conditions. Therefore, in the Sutra text it says, “Not for one condition, not for one concern, do Thus Come Ones appear and attain accomplishment.” Their appearance basically is for the sake of the Great Flower Adornment.
In this passage, National Master Ch’ing Liang presents a general discussion of causes and conditions: To begin with, Causes and Conditions. The First of the Ten Doors discusses the causes and conditions for the arisal of the Teaching. When The Sage sets forth a Teaching, when the Sage, that is, the Buddha, sets forth this kind of teaching, it must be for a reason. There has to be a reason, a motivation, for him to be able to establish that Teaching. It is the same as the fact that Sumeru and the mighty ocean, because of causes great, are stirred and swayed. It takes the very greatest of strength, the very greatest of spiritual penetrations, to sway Mount Sumeru and to stir the mighty ocean. So, too, is it that Now the mountain of the Thus Come One’s virtue of smelted gold sways. What would it take to sway the Buddha’s mountain of Way virtue, that solid mass of virtue which I refined and smelted to the ultimate? The sea of wisdom deep and vast is stirred, not due to slight conditions. They are not minor causes or trivial conditions, not slight ones at all.
Therefore, in the Sutra the it says, “Not for one condition, not for one concern,” not due to one kind of cause, nor for the sake of one kind of matter, “Do Thus Come Ones appear,” do Buddhas come into the world “And attain accomplishment.” It is not for one matter, not for a single reason, that the Buddhas appear in the world. Their appearance basically is for the sake of the Great Flower Adornment. When a Buddha appears in the world, it is in order to speak the Great Flower Adornment Sutra, and for that reason these causes and conditions are especially great. All of you think it over. If the causes and conditions had not been great, why would the Flower Adornment Sutra have been stored away in the Dragons’ Palace, to be transmitted among people only after six hundred years had gone by? Therefore, these kinds of causes and conditions are all inconceivable states.
First come causes, then conditions, each opening ten meanings, which represents infinity.
First Come causes, then conditions, each opening ten meanings, which represents infinity. Right now, to start with, the Ten Causes will be discussed, and afterwards the Ten Conditions will be explained. Why is it that ten kinds are discussed instead of eleven or nine? it’s because ten is a round number, easy to remember and use in calculations. The same consideration lies behind the Western decimal system, also based on ten. “Ten” here represents an infinite number of tens, an inexhaustible series. One becomes ten, ten become hundreds, hundreds become thousand, thousand become millions, and so forth. ten, then, is used symbolically in order to express the concept of infinity.