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THE TEN CAUSES
The Causes, Ten interpretations:
In the initial discussion of the causes, what are the Ten Interpretations?
One, because the Dharma should be that way.
Two, because of the fulfillment of past causes.
One, because that is just the way the Dharma is. That is should be that way means that’s just the way it is. It has causes and conditions. Two, the second of the Causes and conditions for the speaking of the Flower Adornment Sutra, is that the Buddha, upon making up his mind to cultivate, resolved that in the future he would speak a Sutra whose state was inconceivable. There were those kinds of causes on the causal ground, and so it is because of the fulfillment of past causes. “Fulfillment” here refers to the fact that on the causal ground he made that kind of vow, and consequently he now speaks this kind of great Sutra. “Because the Dharma should be that way” also means that when each and every Buddha becomes a Buddha, he must first speak the Flower Adornment Sutra.
The Way of every Buddha is the same. Buddhas are all identical. Whenever any Buddha becomes a Buddha, he first speaks the Flower Adornment Sutra. He may not speak other Sutras. That is one meaning of “because the Dharma should be that way.” And it also means that all of the Buddha-dharma is within the Flower Adornment Sutra, and that the Flower Adornment Sutra is the way the basic substance of the Dharma is. The Dharma is basically that way, and it is brought into being from vows made in the past.
Three, because of according with the stimulus of potentials.
Three, the Third Cause, is because of according with the stimulus of potentials. “According with” means following along with. “Potentials” means the living beings that are to be taught and transformed. Responding to potentials means speaking Dharma suited to particular potentials, the kind of Dharma that rescues those kinds of living beings. It is the inconceivable, wonderful Dharma spoken in The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, which rescues all living beings who have great roots and are great vessels.
Four, to act as the root of the teaching.
Five, in order to display the virtues of the fruit.
Four, the fourth kind of Cause, is to act as the basic root of the single, most superior Vehicle, the Final Teaching. Five, the Fifth Cause, is in order to display, to make evident, the virtues of the fruit, upon fruition, which are the virtues of becoming a Buddha.
Taking precepts is extremely important in Buddhism.
Living beings receive the precepts of the Buddha,
And thereby enter the position of a Buddha.
Therefore, those of you who are able to take the precepts should keep them, and then you will certainly be able to open great wisdom, and obtain the advantages of Buddhism. After taking refuges, you no loner fall into the three evil paths. Trees grow taller day by day and year by year, and it’s the same way when people study the Buddha-dharma. you do not feel that you have grown at all in a single day, but you have grown at all in a single day, but you have grown a great deal. All of you should then particularly bring forth the thought for Bodhi, and go forward with courageous vigor.
Six, in order to discuss the positions.
Seven, in order to speak of supreme conduct.
Eight, in order to set forth true Dharma.
Nine, in order to reveal the causal nature
Ten, to benefit the present and the future.
Six, in order to discuss the positions. The Sixth Cause discusses just what the fruit-positions are to which one attains. Seven, in order to speak of supreme conduct. One has to cultivate the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Conducts, the Ten Transferences, the Ten Grounds, Equal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment, those most supreme doors of conduct, which the Seventh Cause discusses. Eight, in order to set forth true Dharma. The Eighth Cause sets forth and displays the true and actual, wonderful Dharma. Nine, in order to reveal the causal nature. All living beings possess the cause for becoming Buddhas, yet if that is not revealed to them, they remain unaware of it. Therefore, the cause of all living beings becoming Buddhas is now revealed. Ten, To benefit the present and the future. The Tenth Cause is to bring benefit to all living beings in the present and the future. However, the “present” spoken of by National Master Ch’ing Liang is the time of the T’ang Dynasty, whereas the “future” is our present time.
It says the Dharma is that way. The way of Sagely Kings is broad and level, from high antiquity their rule the same; the single vehicle’s door to the mysterious, to which all Buddhas identically certify. Therefore, of all Buddhas, the Dharma is that way: In infinite worlds they always turn the Wheel of Dharma which is infinite that way, causing all living beings to return to the origin and go back to the source. To the exhaustion of the boundaries of the future they do not rest.
It says the Dharma is that Way. The First Cause is that the Dharma should be that way. That cause is now explained. The Way of Sagely Kings is broad and level, from high antiquity their rule the same. The way of kingship of all under heaven is level and equal. “From high antiquity” means that reaching back such an extensive period of time, such leaders have always based their actions upon that rule; the single vehicle’s door to the mysterious. The Flower Adornment Sutra is the “Single Vehicle’s door to the mysterious” and wonderful, to which all Buddhas identically certify. All Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time testify to that inconceivable state.
Therefore, of all Buddhas, the Dharma is that way: In infinite worlds all of them teach in just that way. In so many places, they always turn the wheel of Dharma which is infinite that way. They all constantly turn the great Dharma wheel of the Flower Adornment Sutra, with its multi-layered and inexhaustible principles, which are just “that way.” What are they doing always turning the Dharma wheel? They are causing all living beings of the ten directions and the three periods of time to return to the origin and go back to the source. “ To return to the origin” is to go back to their original face. “To go back to the source” is to return to their own source, which is also the source of all Buddhas. The source of all Buddhas is just the source of living being’s own self-nature. To the exhaustion of the boundaries of the future they do not rest. They constantly turn the inexhaustible Dharma wheel and do not rest. Therefore, this is the First Cause, namely, because the Dharma should be that way.
Therefore, in the inconceivabilities chapter it makes clear that all Buddhas are able in a single body to make manifest by transformation heads as many as fine motes of dust in ineffably ineffable Buddha kshetras; and that every tongue emits as many sounds; up to and including texts and meanings of phrases, each one of which completely fills all Dharma realms without exhaustion.
Therefore, in the inconceivabilities chapter it makes clear... A passage occurs in the Inconceivabilities Chapter of the Flower Adornment Sutra, in which it is explained that all Buddhas, how the states of all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time, in teaching and transforming living beings, are inconceivable and infinitely many in number. All of those Buddhas are able in a single Buddha body to make manifest by transformation heads as many as there are fine motes of dust in ineffably Buddha Kshetras. Here “heads” just means bodies, and “ineffably ineffable” means they are far too many to express; and that every head transforms as many tongues. For each and every head, that is, in each and every Buddha’s person or body, there manifest by transformation tongues as many as fine motes of dust in number. And that every tongue emits as many sounds. Those tongues emit sounds to the number of fine motes of dust, sounds of speaking Dharma. The Buddhas:
All bring forth the appearance of a vast and long tongue.
Up to and including texts and meanings of phrases. “Up to and including” is a summarizing expression, which comprises sounds and heads and tongues and so forth to all texts and all of the meanings and principles contained in each sentence or phrase, each one of which completely fills all Dharma Realms without exhaustion. the texts and meanings of phrases completely fill all Dharma Realms without exhaustion, that is, they are infinite. The Buddhas never rest, and so the more Dharma is spoken, the more there is; and the more there is, the more there is to speak. The speaking, layer upon layer and inexhaustibly, fills all Dharma Realms, not just this one Dharma Realm of ours, and at no time does the speaking come to an end.
That being so, the place taken up is the tip of a hair, horizontally comprising Dharma Realms, time taken up is a kshana, vertically exhausting seas of kalpas. Places all at once arise. Time constantly arises. Do not adduce other causes.
That being so, as a consequence of the principles previously described, the place taken up is the tip of a hair. Therefore, now in discussing place, the place taken up is the tip of a fine hair in a single hair pore, horizontally comprising Dharma Realms. horizontally extended, it comprises Dharma Realm which, despite their large size, can be located upon the end of a single strand of hair. If one discusses the duration of time, time taken up is a kshana. Time takes one kshana. Within one kshana there are ninety-six instances of birth and death, and a kshana is a very short interval of time. The time taken is a span as short as a kshana. Vertically exhausting seas of kalpas. Extend vertically, it exhausts kalpas of such number that they are like seas.
Places all at once arise. Places then suddenly arise, which means that the limitlessly many Dharma Realms all come into being, all appear, at one and the same time. This happens in the same way that the moon enters the “hundred” streams. That is, the moonlight is reflected in all bodies of water at the same time; it does not appear first in one then in another. Dharma Realms arise simultaneously in the same manner that moonlight appears in waters, and that kind of state is called sudden arisal.
Time constantly arises. “Constantly” means always and forever, eternally, continuously and unceasingly. There is no temporary cessation. That means:
Vertically exhausting the three boundaries.
Horizontally pervading the ten directions.
The “three boundaries” are the boundary of the past, that of the present, and that of the future. There is then vertical exhaustion and horizontal penetration, sudden arisal and constant arisal. Places are described as all at once arising, while time is described as constantly arising. Do not adduce other causes. Do not anticipate or employ other kinds of causes to represent this.
Yet in compliance with seeing and hearing, there are said to be the distinctions of first accomplishment and nine assemblies. All the kindly and compassionate ones, in the midst of infinity, summarize this transmission.
Still discussing the First Cause, it goes on to say: yet in compliance with seeing and hearing, there are said to be the distinctions of first accomplishment and nine assemblies. That is, taking into account the discriminations made by living beings into what they see and hear, it is said that the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the Bodhimanda when the Buddha first accomplished Proper Enlightenment, and that the last of the Nine Assemblies was when the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken in the Jeta Grove. Basically, there is no first or last. From the point of view of truth and emptiness, the state of the Flower Adornment Sutra is one of no beginning and no end, no first and no last. First can be moved to last, and last can be moved to first. People do not understand this kind of state, and so this multi-layered inexhaustibility is an ineffable wonder. If they understood, it would not be wonderful.
All the Kindly and Compassionate Ones, that is the Buddhas, because of their kindness and compassion, find a way to speak the wonderful Dharma which there is no way to speak; so they in the midst of infinity, within this state of infinitely multi-layered inexhaustibility, summarize this transmission. They explain just a few of the inconceivable principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra, transmitting them to the world so that they circulate among people.
When brought to search in this, one sees un-bounded Dharmas, like peering through a keyhole and seeing endless space. Now these times and places both are infinite. one place is all places, one time is all times.
Some people are objecting to what was said above, because they think it is totally impossible for what is ahead in time to move back, and what is back to move ahead. now I’ll give you an example of how that can be done. When we at present go to see plays about the past, we can see everything that people did and said in the past. The kinds of clothes they worse, the kinds of things they used, and everything else can all be seen. Isn’t that a case of moving what was back ahead? How can what is ahead in time be moved back? We now do a lot of imagining of such things as how we will soon be able to go to the moon and planets. We also speculate that with the progress of science, our present television and radio will soon evolve to enable people to talk together as if in person over distances of several tens of thousands of miles. Isn’t that moving the future back? What’s ahead can be move back, and what’s back can be moved ahead.
This is like a motion picture film, which incorporates movement and stillness. It is still before you show it, and no one knows what the film is. Suppose the film is investigating dhyana. Until it’s shown, no one knows what dhyana is being investigated there. Now the text says, when brought to search in this, if you are caused to search into the Flower Adornment Sutra, one sees unbounded Dharmas. You will see limitless and boundlessly many wonderful dharmas and inconceivable states. What is this like? It is like peering through a keyhole or looking out of a tiny window, and seeing endless space. You can see throughout all space. Even though the opening is very small, still, looking out of it, you can see space that is boundless in extent.
Now these times and places both are infinite. Why are the places and times under discussion described as being vertically exhaustive and horizontally pervasive? It is because they are the same as looking out from the space delimited by a keyhole and seeking infinite space. Therefore, the times and places are described as being infinite. One place is all places. In a single location you can pervasively fill all places. One time is all times. There is no past, no present, and no future. There is totality, entirety of substance. If you understand that kind of inconceivable state, the uses you will have from it will also be inconceivable.