THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Therefore, the Tushita verse says, “and seeing the Buddha is also that way. It must be from multitudes of good karma.” The Buddhas of the ten directions addressed forest of merit and virtue saying, “and seeing all Bodhisattvas is also due to the power of the multitudes of good roots.” Moon of liberation said, “This assembly has no defilement. Their resolution and understanding are completely bright and clear,” and so forth. These are all responses in accordance with potentials.
Therefore, the Tushita verse says, “And seeing the Buddha is also that way.” A gatha in the Tushita Heaven Chapter says the causes for seeing the Buddhas are the same way. There must be responses according to potential, such causes, for one to see the Buddha. The causes must be good causes. “It must be from multitudes of good karma.” Without good causes, you won’t see the Buddha, nor will you hear the Dharma or encounter the Sangha.
The Buddhas of the Ten Directions addressed Forest of Merit and Virtue, spoke to the Bodhisattva Forest of Merit and Virtue, saying, “And seeing all Bodhisattvas is also due to the power of the multitudes of good roots.” It’s not just to see the Buddha that you need good causes; you require them to see Bodhisattvas as well. Without good causes, not only will you not see Buddhas, you won’t even see Bodhisattvas. Then, too, Moon of Liberation Bodhisattva said, “This Assembly has no defilement.” He said, “Now the multitudes in this Dharma assembly have no defilement, no filth. Their resolution and understanding are completely bright and clear.” Being without defilement, they are pure and are totally resolute and intelligent. That is, these potentials are just about to ripen, and so a response will occur.” And so forth means principles like the ones just mentioned. These are all responses in accordance with potentials. All are examples of a stimulus and response meshing in the Way.
To describe the stimulus of potentials at great length, they are as discussed within the fourth, the potentials covered by the teaching. And yet the stimulus of potentials extends through present and future. All assemblies of current potentials are simply the present. Those who now hear are potentials of the future.
To describe the stimulus of potentials at great length, if one goes into detail, a great deal can be said. They are as discussed within the fourth, the potentials covered by the teaching. The Fourth Door, The Potentials Covered by the Teaching, discusses the potentials, the living beings taught and transformed, at greater length. It is also referring to the Fourth Teaching, the Sudden Teaching, for they are potentials covered by the Sudden Teaching.
And yet the stimulus of potentials extends through present and future. It covers the present potentials and the potentials of the future. What are the present potentials? They are all the assemblies of current potentials. All assemblies of current potentials are potentials of the present. What time is meant by those assemblies? It means the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, which is referred to as “the present.” That is just the past for us of the present time. We now are what was previously the future, while our future is going to be the present for those of the future. That is why it says that all assemblies of current potentials are simply the present. All of the assemblies of current potentials at the time when the Buddha speaks The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra are the Great Master of the Dharma Body, that is, the Bodhisattva of the Six Positions:
They are what is referred to as the present. That present is the present of what, for us, is the past, not our present time.
Those who now hear are potentials of the future. We were the future for that time, and so when the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, he already knew all of us not particularly sincere people would be going through the motions of studying and practicing the Buddhadharma and listening to the Flower Adornment Sutra here and now. However, there are some who really do intend to study and practice, whereas others are just following along. Those who now are just following along are those who will study and practice in the future. Those who now study and practice are people who in the past were just following along. Before, they just dropped in to the Dharma Assembly to see what was going on. When they got there, as soon as they took one look, they were frightened out of their wits: “Studying Buddhadharma is out of the question! It’s too hard!” and they ran away. They kept running and running, but they couldn’t run outside the Dharma Realm. So, as it turned out, now they’re studying and practicing. They ran long enough, and returned to study and practice the Buddadharma. Also, right now some have come to follow along and, having taken a look, have run off. Eventually, though, when they have no place further to run, they will run back here. In that way, those following along right now are the potentials of the future, whereas those studying and practicing right now are present potentials. This is the stimulus of potentials.
Four, to act as the root of the teaching. That is, without the sea there would be no hidden flows; without the root there would be no suspended branch-tips.
Four, to act as the root of the teaching. The Fourth Cause is for the sake of the basic root of the Teaching. This is the fourth reason the Buddha should speak The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. This can be likened to the sea, and so it says, that is, without the sea there would be no hidden flows. If there were no great sea, there would be no hidden flows of water above and below the earth, from the cardinal points and the eight directions, returning to the sea. Without the root there would be no suspended branch-tips. If you don’t’ attain to the basic root of the Teaching, you have no way to know the ends of the branches. This also refers to the sudden being based upon the gradual. Gradual, step by step methods are spoken for the sake of the Sudden Teaching. Also, this is a described by the T’ien T’ai School.
For the sake of the actual,
He bestows the provisional.
Then the provisional is opened
to reveal the actual.
He speaks provisional dharmas for the sake of the actual Dharma. When he opens up the provisional dharmas, the actual Dharma is disclosed. The “root” is actual Dharma, while the “branch-tips” are provisional dharmas. If there were no true and actual Dharma, he would not be able to speak the provisional. Therefore, without the root there would be no suspended branch-tips. With no root, how could there be any foliage? If there were no sea, it couldn’t take in the smaller streams. This also mean that all other Sutras are like smaller streams, whereas The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is like the great sea. Didn’t it say before:
Of multitudes of texts it forms the copious source,
the great fountainhead?
It also said:
While companies of Sutras comprise its retinue.
That was just saying that without the sea there would be no hidden flows. So it is for the sake of the root of the Teaching that he speaks The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. It is the root of the Teaching.
Intending to follow the potentials, he gradually bestowed the branch-tip teachings. But first, to reveal the root Dharma, he suddenly proclaimed this Sutra.
Intending to follow the potentials, Shakyamuni Buddha wished to instruct the potentials, that is, the living beings whom he had been teaching and transforming for limitless great kalpas, and who he needed to teach and transform. Therefore, he gradually bestowed the Branch-tip teachings. Bit by bit he had to start by speaking the branch-tip teachings. But first, prior to bestowing the branch-tip teachings, that is, the Small Teaching, the Initial Teaching, and the Final Teaching, which the T’ien T’ai School called the Tripitake Teaching, the Agama and the Vaipulya Periods, to reveal the root Dharma, to explain the fundamental and essential Dharma, he suddenly proclaimed this Sutra. He at the outset very quickly proclaimed the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra.
This is further of two kinds: One, to disclosed the root of the gradual. The Appearances Chapter says, “As when the sun first rises, it initially lights up the lofty mountains.” Two, to gather in the branch-tips to the root, “As the sun, when it sets, again lights up the lofty mountains.”
Now we are discussing the Fourth Case, to act as the Root of the Teaching, and this is further of two kinds. One, to disclosed the root of the gradual, to open up the gradual dharmas to reach the basic, root Dharma. In the Appearances Chapter of The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra there is a passage of text that says, “As when the sun first rises, it initial lights up the lofty mountains.” When the sun comes up in the morning, it shines first upon Mount Sumeru, the Iron Ring Mountains, the Seven Vajra Mountains, and other such lofty mountains. “Lofty mountains” are an analogy for the Great Knights of the Dharma Body, the Great Bodhisattva of the Ten Faiths the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Conducts, the Ten Transferences, and the Ten Grounds. When the Buddha first accomplished the Way, it was like the sun first coming up. He spoke Dharma first of all for the Great Bodhisattvas, speaking the inconceivable Dharma of the Great Flower Adornment Sutra the way the sun first shines upon the highest peaks. That was opening the provisional to reveal the actual, speaking true and actual Dharma first of all, which was disclosing the root of the gradual.
Two, to gather in the branch-tips to the root. The second was to return the Small Vehicle to the Great Vehicle, persuading the Small Vehicle Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions both to return to the Great Vehicle. That was to gather in the branch-tips to return to the Great Vehicle, the root, “As the sun, when it sets, again lights up the lofty mountains.” What is this like? It is as when the sun, about to set, shines once again on the highest peaks. The sun definitely does not say to itself, “I’m going to shine on the high mountains first, and then illumine the level ground.” It doesn’t make those kinds of discriminations, but shines everywhere its light will reach. The Buddha is that way too. When the Buddha, at first, spoke the Great Flower Adornment Sutra and taught all of the Bodhisattvas, he didn’t make discriminations about whom his teaching would reach. It was just because the Bodhisattvas had Great Vehicle root natures that they obtained that wonderful Dharma of the Great Vehicle, in the same way that, because they are high, the lofty mountains catch the first and last light of the sun.
Because there is nothing which does not flow forth from this Dharma Realm, and nothing which does not return to this Dharma Realm.
The basic root stands for the Dharma Realm. All the myriad existing dharma flow forth from the Dharma Realm. That is known as the one being able to transform into the limitless, because there is nothing which does not flow forth from this Dharma Realm, and nothing which does not return to this Dharma Realm. The limitless returns to the one. Didn’t we say before that the Dharma Realm is so great there is nothing beyond it, and so small there is nothing within it? Discussed in large terms, there is smaller. Ultimately, is it large or small? It isn’t large and it isn’t small. There isn’t a single dharma which doesn’t come forth from the Flower Adornment Sutra, nor is there any dharma which fails to return to within the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra. Therefore it is the Dharma of the Dharma Realm, which includes each and every dharma within it. And so studying the Dharma of The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra is just studying the Dharma of out own self-nature, for our self-nature is identical with the Dharma Realm.
People who study the Buddhadharma need to study The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra because it is the Dharma of the Dharma Realm. Old people should study this Dharma of the Dharma Realm because they have little time left to live in this world. “Because there is nothing which does not return to this Dharma Realm,” they should find the Dharma Realm. Young people should study this Dharma too, “because there is nothing which does not flow forth from this Dharma Realm.” They should study this Dharma which has flowed forth from within the Dharma Realm. When you have mastered this Dharma, then those of you who were not filial to your parents will know how to be filial to them. Those who were unable to benefit others will know how to do so, for to cultivate the Bodhisattva Way one must benefit oneself by benefiting others.
The Sutra’s good points are extremely many. Do you want your parents to live longer? You may say, “I would like to be filial, but I’m afraid my father is going to die soon.” It doesn’t matter. Come and study the Flower Adornment Sutra. Flower Adornment Bodhisattva fulfills all wishes. It you want your parents to have long lives, he will grant your wish, and you’ll be able to be filial longer. If you hope your parents will not have any accidents or illnesses, then study the Flower Adornment Sutra, and listen to the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra, then speak a little Dharma for your parents and get them to give rise to fewer afflictions. That will decrease their illnesses too, for sickness comes from afflictions. If you have no affliction, you won’t get sick. So, if you want to be filial to your parents, hurry up and study the Flower Adornment Sutra.
If you want to assure your future and have everything you do be successful, you again should study the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra, the Dharma of the Dharma Realm. Once you have mastered it, you will be able to do whatever you undertake. Whatever your job, your boss is certain to be happy with you and say, “He’s really a bright kid. He takes what he does seriously, not like your average person who is good at eating but lazy when it comes to work.” After hearing the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra, you shave off your beard, get a hair-cut, wear suitable clothing, and everybody who sees you says, “He’s a fine young man. He doesn’t take drugs, or drink or smoke. He has a bright future ahead of him.” Then they all help you out, and everything turns out the way you want it to:
Auspicious and as-you-will.
That all comes from having listened to the Flower Adornment Sutra, which is the meaning of there being nothing which does not flow forth from this Dharma Realm.
Also, there is nothing which does not return to this Dharma Realm. After you have mastered being a person and being a Bodhisattva, in the future you will become a Buddha. See what great advantages it has. Therefore, all of you who have come to listen to the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra are the finest of young people, leaders of the world. In the future, you should lead the world, because this world is going bad. Nobody knows how to do good, or how to be a good person. If you try to be a good person, they say, “Hey, he’s gone nuts!” But if you act like a drunken ghost with them, running around all day long, always mixed up in being born drunk and dying in a dream, they say, “He’s all right,” and they approve of you. If you try to be good they say you’re bad, whereas when you turn bad they say you’re good. How did the world get so messed up? Why has everyone gone mad? It’s because they have never heard the Flower Adornment Sutra. If you listen to the Flower Adornment Sutra, it cures your madness. Would you say that was wonderful or not? That’s the great benefit it has for the present age.
There are some people who would like to be filial to their parents. However:
The tree wished to be still,
but the wind does not stop.
The son wished to be filial,
but his parents are gone.
They say, “I would like to be filial to my parents, but my father and mother have already died. I’m like a tree that would like to hold still for awhile and not wave around all the time, but a huge wind keeps blowing and makes the tree move to and fro. I would like to be filial to my parents, but since they aren’t around, I don’t want to study the Dharma of the Dharma Realm, The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. When my parents come back to life, I’ll study it.” That’s not necessary. Although your parents have died, their souls are still in existence. If you master this Dharma, you can save their souls. It’s the same.
When I was talking just now about being filial to one’s parents and hoping they have a long life, there was someone who said to himself, “This Dharma can’t be used in this day and age. I would like my parents to die sooner. Why? As long as they are alive, I can’t inherit it. Wouldn’t that be better? It might be “better”, but in the future when you have children, your children won’t stop at just hoping you’ll die sooner, they’ll even take a gun and shoot you saying, “Before you stole our grandparents’ money, and now we’re getting eve.” Then how much better off will you be? So don’t have those kinds of thoughts.