THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Four Doors

Prologue:

Now riding on the power of the teachings of principle, in general there open up Four Doors. One, the great intention put together and taken apart. Two, ancient and present disagreements and concurrences. Three, divisions into schools and Establishments of Teachings. Four, mutual union in fused interconnection.

Commentary:

Now riding on the power of the teachings of principle. To ride – like riding a horse, or taking a boat ride – means availing oneself of what you could call the power of the teachings of principle of the Great Vehicle, not the small one, but what actually means to be directly mounted upon the power of those teaching of principle. In so doing, in general there open up Four Doors. The power of the teaching of principle, when explained in a summary fashion, turns out to have four doors. Of them, one, the first, is the great intention put together and taken apart. The First Door tells how the great intention underlying the teaching of principle is divided up and put back together. Two, the second, is ancient and present disagreements and concurrences. “Ancient” means what’s past, and “present” is talking about right now – the “right now” of the T’ang Dynasty, however, not the right now of today. The “present” for them is the past for us, for this is an old tape recording made during the T’ang Period, and we have to count their “present” as ancient, not contemporary. Our “now” will turn into the past for those of the future. Here, ancient and present are considered in the light of what is not agreeable and what is – meaning whether the opinions of those who commented on the Flower Adornment Sutra were right or not. Three, divisions into schools and establishments of teachings. This means what Schools were differentiated, and which Teaching were set up. Four, mutual union in fused interconnection. The fourth door unites them all, forging steel, making them into one.

One: The Great Intention

Put Together and Taken Apart

Prologue:

Now the first, for in the flow of propagation and explanation by both the western region and in the eastern expanse, they took the sagely speech of one generation and either opened it into schools and divided teaching, or else explained the texts of Sutras, and in all of that there were gains and losses.

Commentary:

This is the beginning, and so it says now the first, the first door of taking apart and putting together, for in the flow of propagation and explanation by both the western region and the eastern expanse… The “Western Region” is India, and the “Eastern Expanse” is China – since India lies west of China, and China is to India’s east. China is also called the “Floral Expanse.” In the propagation of the Buddhadharma and explanation of the Proper Teaching by the Dharma Masters who constituted that flow – because this is not talking about water flowing east or west, or about the Buddhadharma flowing from India to China, but the Dharma Masters – they took the sagely speech of one generation, the Buddha’s one life.

The Buddha spoke the Dharma for 49 years in over 300 assemblies, and the Sagely words that flowed forth during that single lifetime are called the Buddha’s one generation of teaching of principle in the Sutras. “Sagely speech” means what was said by the Sage – the Buddha – not what some ordinary person said; but this also includes some things that Bodhisattvas said, and Arhats and gods. Yet when you come right down to it, they had been sealed and certified by the Buddha so that what they said could be considered a Sutra or Shastra. They took the Sagely Speech of one generation, which basically was one – the Dharma Flower Sutra and the Flower Adornment Sutra discuss Consciousness only, Dharma Marks, yet the T’ien T’ai School is based upon the Dharma FlowerSutra, and the Hua Yen School is based upon the Flower Adornment Sutra – and each Dharma Master set up a little school of his own.

However, you shouldn’t think, “Ah! In the future I’ll set one up too. I’ll become a School.” Just your having that thought right now is a false thought. It’s when you truly reach the level that you can start a School that you start one. When you haven’t gotten to that point, you can’t have that kind of false thinking. You say, “Well, then I won’t start a School.” It also won’t work not to set up a School.”

You still have to establish one – but only when you reach that level, not before. When is that? It’s when you give God an order and God agrees. When you say, “God,” and God says, “Yes,” and when you call on earth and earth also consents, is the time when you can do it. It’s when the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division aid and support you, and run your publicity campaign saying, “This is a Patriarch who is establishing a School.”

They send the faithful disciples dreams of visions of you, or all manner of responses. The eightfold division may tell them, “Hurry up and go listen to the Sutra lecture.” The people may not have intended to go hear a Sutra lecture at all, but in a dream someone say, “How come you aren’t going to hear the Sutra?” Such and such a person is lecturing it.”

This is as when Dharma Master Yin Kuang was lecturing a Sutra in Shanghai and nobody came to listen. He was a Dharma Master of such long standing and had been in seclusion for 18 years, yet when he went to Nanjing to lecture Sutras, only one person came to listen. He figured that was not bad to have one person come, and that he would lecture for him. One day when he got down from the Dharma seat he asked the man, “How do you feel about what I lectured?”

His hope was that the man would say, “I really like to hear you lecture Sutras. You really speak well.” But this man said just the opposite. He said, “I basically haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about. I’m just waiting o put the chairs away after you finish lecturing so they won’t take up so much space.” As soon as that registered, Dharma Master Yin Kuang thought to himself, “Oh, and here I thought this was someone who knew my sound who was here to listen to the Sutras, but actually he was just doing his job – putting the chairs away. So the sooner I got down from the seat the better he liked it, and would have preferred I never lectured at all.”

After that he decided not to lecture Sutras anymore, but somehow – it’s not quite known how – the laypeople in the Laypeople’s Association of Shanghai all knew about the Way virtue of Dharma Master Yin Kuang, and how he had been in seclusion on F’u T’ou Mountain for 18 years, and they asked him to come lecture the Amitabha Sutra. At that time there was a girl student who didn’t know anything about the Laypeople’s Association or the Elder Master Yin Kuang or anything but who had a dream in which she saw a person who told her,

“You should go to Shanghai to listen to the Amitabha Sutra. Great Strength Bodhisattva is going to be lecturing the Amitabha Sutra there in the laypeople’s assembly, so hurry and go there to hear it.” The girl basically had no understanding of the Buddhadharma, and had never heard of anything called the Amitabha Sutra or any Great Strength Bodhisattva, but she saw this very clearly in her dream. The next day she looked in the papers, and sure enough there was an announcement of how Dharma Master Yin Kuang was going to be lecturing the Amitabha Sutra at the Laypeople’s Association in Shanghai, so she went there and listened. It made a lot of sense to her, and she took refuge with Dharma Master Yin Kuang right then and there. After that, she told the Elder Dharma Master Yin Kuang,

“To start with I didn’t believe in the Buddha, but I had a dream in which I was told that Great Strength Bodhisattva was going to be lecturing the AmitabhaSutra here in the Shanghai Laypeople’s Association, and the next day I looked in the papers and it turns out there was a piece of news that said Elder Dharma Master Yin Kuang would be lecturing the Amitabha Sutra here.” At that time he said to her,

“I don’t permit you to tell anyone else about the dream you’ve just described to me. You can’t tell anyone you dreamed that Great Strength Bodhisattva was lecturing the Amitabha Sutra in the Laypeople’s Association in Shanghai, to avoid having people think of slandering.” In fact, the student didn’t tell anyone, until three years later when Elder Dharma Master Yin Kuang had passed away, she made it common knowledge. So Elder Dharma Master Yin Kuang, is the Thirteenth General Patriarch in the Pure Land School. He had that kind of response, for he was a transformation body of Great Strength Bodhisattva, and the Thirteenth in the succession of Pure Land Patriarchs – yet he didn’t start a splinter sect.

Right now all these Great Bodhisattvas wanted each to start Schools of their own, and so they either opened it into schools and divided teachings, such as the T’ien T’ai Teachings and the Hsien Shou Teachings, and Consciousness Only – Dharma Marks – so many Teachings, or else explained the texts of Sutras. That is, they made commentaries to elucidate the Sutras. In other words, one thing they did was to take a given Sutra text, and make it the basis for opening a School and dividing up a certain number of Teachings: 1) Store, 2) Initial, 3) Final, 4) Sudden, 5) Perfect. And in all of that there were gains and losses. Each had its good points – “the gains” – and its shortcomings – the “losses.”

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