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Establishments of Teachings


Two, all the Establishments of Teachings on the part of all the schools, which are not same, and will now be explained in general.


There are two categories of Teachings, one that of characteristics held in common, that is, the Twelvefold Teaching talked about before, which itself has both Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle to it, and which will be discussed in detail in the Ten Treasuries Chapter. Now is two, the second category, of the establishments of Teachings on the part of all the schools, which are not the same.

“All the schools” means the various schools of Buddhism: the T’ien T’ai School, the Hsien Shou School, the Dharma Marks School, the Consciousness Only School, and many more. Every school has its own theories according to which it determines the Teachings, and so each school is not the same. One has one, creed, another has another, and so they are said to be different – yet they are the same, because they are all Buddhist. They aren’t externalist teachings. It’s just that they have different things they go by. The principles of the Teachings are largely similar and only slightly different, and will now be explained in general. Right now a general overview will be given of them, because a detailed discussion would take far too much time.


The sea of Teachings pours out profoundly.
The cloud of Dharma extensively unfurls.
The light of wisdom has no bounds.
The wondrous eloquence is inexhaustible.


The sea of Teachings pours out profoundly. “The Teachings” means the Dharma handed down that was spoken by the Buddha, the clouds of the Buddhists Teachings as vast as the sea, and so are called “the sea of Teachings.” This is a sea that has no bounds to it, no banks, and in the same way the Buddhist Teachings have no bounds. The sea of teachings is so deep that no one can determine its depth. The great sea and the Buddha’s Teachings are both that way. The great ocean does not reject small streams. All rivers, lakes, streams and pools, mighty currents as well as tiny creeks flow into the sea; and once having flowed into the sea, they don’t flow out of it again. Therefore it is said:

The thousand streams all return to the sea,
But the sea does not return to the thousand streams.

That is all other religions, be they side-doors or outside ways, eventually will return and take refuge with Buddhism; yet Buddhism will not go on to take refuge with some other religion. The reasons is that other religions are too limited – their doctrines are too narrow and their scope too confined. They are not limitless and boundless. The sea of Teachings, then pours out and the clouds of Dharma extensively unfurls. “Dharma” means the Buddhadharma, which is like a cloud. It’s also like rain. Clouds can shade the myriad creatures, so they all become refreshed and cool. Rain moistens the myriad creatures, so they all increase and grow. “The myriad creatures” just means all living beings: all sentient and insentient beings. The cloud of Dharma extensively unfurls, going everywhere and filling everything to benefit all living beings and cause their good roots to grow deeper every day and their Bodhi to become daily more perfected.

The light of wisdom has no bounds. What is the size of the light of wisdom? It is so great there is nothing beyond it, and so small there is nothing within it. If you say it’s great, there’s nothing greater; and if you call it small, there is nothing smaller either. There are no fixed boundaries to the light of wisdom. The wondrous eloquence is inexhaustible. “Wondrous eloquence” means inconceivable and unobstructed eloquence of which there are four types:

  1. Unobstructed eloquence of Phrasing.
  2. Unobstructed eloquence of Dharmas.
  3. Unobstructed eloquence of Meanings.
  4. Unobstructed eloquence of Delight in Speech.

With unobstructed eloquence of phrasing, what one says is both well-stated and pleasing to hear. With unobstructed eloquence of dharmas, one dharma calls up limitless dharmas, yet those limitless dharmas all come back to a single dharma. The one is the limitless, and the limitless are also the one. They are infinitely limitless, one and yet not one. From a single dharma infinite dharmas are produced, yet they are not many. Limitless dharma also return to a single Dharma, yet they are not few. With the unobstructed eloquence of meanings, one can also discuss principles in an unobstructed way; and with the unobstructed eloquence of delight in speech, one enjoys speaking the Dharma.

Why does a given person speak Dharma so well? It’s because he likes to speak the Dharma. Why does another person not speak the Dharma very well? It’s because he doesn’t like to speak the Dharma, so when you suggest he speak he says, “I’m not going to talk.” When you encourage him to practice, he says, “I can’t speak Dharma,” making a face. You don’t know if he wants to laugh or cry. Maybe he actually does want to talk, and is just saying he doesn’t want to. Or he was intending to speak, but once you tell him he’s supposed to, he refuses. That’s not unobstructed eloquence, there is no way to exhaust the principles expressed, and no way to come to any end or boundary of the light of wisdom. They are inexhaustible.


By verbalizing what is wordless, there is explanation of principle cut off from words. By transforming what is changeless, there is response to infinite potentials.


Basically true and actual principle is such that nothing can be said. By verbalizing what is wordless, anything which is spoken is not true and actual, because for it to be spoken, it has to because something expressible in words. However, if you simply don’t talk about that which words cannot express, no one will ever understand it. Therefore, one has to resort to using words and language, so there is explanation of principle cut off from words. Then one can describe the principle of there being nothing which can be said. What principle is that? It is the principle and substance of real mark, the principle of real mark which has no mark. There is no way to express that principle in words, but does that mean one doesn’t talk? No. You still have to speak a little principle in order to reveal it.

This is also like the bright pearl concealed within your clothing. Basically it does not need to be talked about – you should simply know about it. But due to your confusion and lack of awareness, someone else has to tell you, “You have a priceless pearl within your clothes, so why don’t you use it?” After they tell you about it, you are able to use the precious pearl.

The pearl itself doesn’t do any talking. It would never say, “I’m a precious pearl inside your clothes – why don’t you use me?” It can’t do that. Someone else has to talk about it. The principle cut off from words is that way too. Someone has to point it out to you and say, “Your inherent Buddha nature is not different from that of the Buddha. If you cultivate, you are certain to become a Buddha. Why is that? It’s because you are endowed with the Buddha nature for becoming a Buddha, which means you are also endowed with the seeds of the Buddhanature.

By transforming what is changeless, there is response to infinite potentials. Basically in the substance and principle of true mark, the real mark of true suchness, nothing can be said – and it doesn’t change.

According to conditions it does not change.
It does not change yet accords with conditions.

It constantly accords with conditions, yet it constantly never changes. It never changes, and yet it always accords with conditions. It’s that way. And so it uses changes of non-change, the changes and transformations of changelessness, the movement of non-movement – which is nothing other than stillness. That is, you see it as if moving, but its basic substance does not move. For cultivators, this means that upon seeing a state, you are not moved by that state – then that’s the change of what has no change. You’re not moved. It may look as if the person moves, but he doesn’t, because his skill in samadhi is thick and deep. That’s why according to conditions without changing, and there is response to infinite potentials. There is intertwining of response and the Way. As it says:

Prayers issue forth from a thousand places,
And in a thousand places there is response.

There is response to potentials. In a thousand places someone calls out to Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva comes to the aid of those thousand people. If ten thousand people call out to Kuan Shih Yin, then Kuan Yin Bodhisattva helps ten thousand people solve their problems. But you have to have faith. If you don’t, you won’t have any response. If you do believe, the response will come. The response is like an electric lamp – if it’s plugged in and you turn on the switch, the light will go on. If you haven’t plugged in the cord, and just turn on the switch, it won’t go on because it’s not in contact with the electric current. The light in that case has no place it comes from, and no place it goes to. But plug it in, and it will come or go as you will. That’s an intertwining of response and the Way. That analogy may not fit the case exactly, but forced as it is, if you think about it, you’ll see that response operates in about the same way.

Here, there is response to infinite potentials. Say you rigged it to ever so many extension cords. Then all over San Francisco there would be light in every house. Electricity would reach all those locations – which would all have light: the response. The way the Buddha responds is the same. If you have faith, you’ll have a response, for he can respond to infinite potentials.


What the ultimate position contains is hard for ordinary sentients to measure out .


What the ultimate position contains is hard for ordinary sentients to measure out. The ultimate position, the utmost rank, is the position of the Tenth Ground. Such as Bodhisattva is able to take in the Dharma of the Flower Adornment Sutra completely. He can totally accept those principles, whereas the Ninth Ground Bodhisattva is not completely able to. There is a further analogy for this. It’s like the rain made to descend by the great Dragon King Sagara – only the great sea can hold it. No other place can take that rain, because there’s just too much of it. The Flower Adornment Sutra is like the sea in being able to receive all the lesser streams. And only a Bodhisattva of the Tenth Ground – the ultimate position – can contain the Flower Adornment Sutra. Again, a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva himself is like the great sea in being able to take in all small streams.

When you lecture the Flower Adornment Sutra, however you lecture it, it has principle to it. Don’t lecture it in a stiff and rigid way – make it come alive. Lecture it whatever way makes sense to you. You can lecture it one way and then another, and in each case it will make sense. It just has to match up. We now are lecturing the Flower Adornment Sutra, but it doesn’t really count as lecturing it. If it were truly lectured, then every single word, if discussed in detail, would contain infinite and inexhaustible esoteric and wonderful principles. There would be no way to speak them all, so we just talk about the meaning in general. We’re not Tenth Ground Bodhisattvas, so how could we lecture it completely? I’m lecturing it, and I’m not a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva, and those of you listening to it aren’t Tenth Ground Bodhisattvas either, so we can only know a little bit of it.

It’s as when you drink your fill of the water of the ocean and assuage your thirst – afterwards there’s still just as much water in the sea. It didn’t decrease. It’s not that you and I each drink a belly full of sea water, and then the ocean is several gallons less. It doesn’t work like that. If doesn’t decrease at all. So when we lecture the Flower Adornment Sutra, we can lecture it and lecture it, yet I still haven’t spoken it, and you still haven’t heard it. That’s because if you had heard it, you would have been enlightened long ago. And if I had spoken it, I would have long ago become enlightened.

Neither you nor I have become enlightened, but today we understand a little bit of it, tomorrow a little more, and the next day a little more than that. We deep adding up those understandings, and in the future, one day we’ll become enlightened. Just wait – you have to have perseverance and patience. Don’t get anxious and say, “He’s been lecturing it so long!” If you live to the age of sixty, you don’t think it’s a long time, so why do you think a nine year lecture series on the Flower Adornment Sutra is long – especially in the West where senior citizens “think young” and jog and dance. Why don’t you instead like listening to the Flower Adornment Sutra even more the more you hear it? When I lecture it, the more I lecture, the more I like to. So I keep lecturing and lecturing.

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