THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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The Reasons for Not Dividing

Prologue:

Moreover, the undividedness of the intention in general has five reason: One, because principle basically has one favor, and different paths return to the same place. Therefore it cannot be divided. Two, because one sound universally responds, and one rain universally nourishes. Three, because originally the Sage’s basic intention was for the sake of a single matter. Four, because with regard to each and every text, the multitudes of understandings are not the same. Five, because the many modes of speaking Dharma form tributary streams.

Commentary:

Moreover, the undividedness of the intention in general has five reasons . In the previous section of text it began to discuss the first door, The Great Intention Put Together and taken apart, and said there were those who opened it up into Schools and divided it into Teachings, while others explained the texts of Sutras and how in all those various interpretations there were gains and there were losses. Now it talks about why the Great Meaning is undivided, there being in general five reasons. One, because principle basically has one flavor, and different paths return to the same place. The first way it is not divided is from the point of view of its principle. There is only one true principle, and so it is said to be of a single flavor – the one flavor of truth. Also, “different paths return to the same place.” There are different roads, but they all lead back to true principle. This is just:

A single root divides into ten thousand ramifications;
Ten thousand ramifications return to a single root.

Different paths all going back to the same place is the same idea: they are not the same road, but they all lead to the same destination. They all reach the principle and substance of the limits of reality.

It’s as in America there can be lots of people wanting to go to Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C. standing for the principle and substance of ultimate reality. To reach it, one can take any one of many roads starting from any spot in each of the four directions and eight intermediate points. One doesn’t necessary have to begin the trip from San Francisco, or start out from New York City or Chicago. You can take any of a number of roads located in any direction, and reach Washington, D.C. That illustrates how principle is of a single flavor, an in this example Washington, D.C. is the single-flavor principle, while all other cities are the starting points of different roads which return to the same place. They go from Washington, D.C. to different places, but they all lead one back to that one same city. Therefore it cannot be divided. That’s the first reason there isn’t any division into this one and that one.

Two, because one sound universally responds, and one rain universally nourishes. The second reason is because: The “one sound is the Buddha’s single sound, and that it universally responds” means living beings understand it according to their kind. The sound is one, but the methods of speaking are not the same. The gods hear the single sound as speaking Dharma for them. Since animals understand, hungry ghosts can comprehend it too, and it makes asuras not have their usual strong inclination to fight.

The Buddha speaks the Dharma with a single sound,
And living beings understand it according to their kind.

One sound universally responds, and “one rain universally nourishes.” One kind of rain falls, but it nourishes all the myriad things everywhere, making them all delighted and causing them to flourish. In the Medicinal Herbs Chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra, the analogy is of how Bodhisattvas receive the Bodhisattva Dharma rain, Arhats the Arhat rain of Dharma, and those Enlightened to Conditions obtain the Dharma rain of those Enlightened to Conditions. Ordinary living beings receive the Dharma rain of ordinary living beings – each receives the Dharma rain that suits it, so one rain universally nourishes and moistens every living beings.

Three, because originally the Sage’s basic intention was for the sake of a single matter. Before it talked about one sound universally responding and one rain universally nourishing – both constituting another meaning of undividedness. The third is the basic fundamental intent of the Buddha – what the Buddha originally meant. It was for the sake of a single matter that he appeared in the word. As the Dharma Flower Sutra says:

“Only due to the causes and conditions of one great matter did he appear in the world. That is, to open, disclose, make enlighten to and enter the knowledge and vision of a Buddha.”

It was to cause all living beings to turn back from confusion and take refuge in Enlightenment – that great concern. That’s because the Buddha had himself attained perfect, great Enlightenment, and so he wanted to cause all living beings to also obtain that perfect, great Enlightenment. Therefore another reason it cannot be divided is because the Sage’s original intention was for the sake of a single matter.

Four, because with regard to each and every text, the multitudes of understanding are not the same. The fourth is that even though any given passage will be the same from Sutra to Sutra, it is understood in a multitude of ways. You have your explanation of it, and I have mine. It works the same with written commentaries: your commentary won’t be the same as mine. Each has its good points and is bad points, so they are not the same.

Five, because the many modes of speaking Dharma form tributary streams. The fifth is that there are all kinds of ways of speaking Dharma – which gets to be really mixed up. In ways of discussing a single kind of dharma. When the Dharma is coming to its end, Demon Kings speak a thousand kinds of dharmas for one kind of dharma, saying “This is this Dharma, and that is this dharma,” until they’ve come up with a thousand different interpretations and you’re totally lost and don’t know which of the thousand are right. They say they’re all right, but not to speak of recognizing them, you can’t even remember them clearly.

For example, he’ll talk about one dharma, such as ignorance, and discuss it a thousand different ways so you can’t possible understand it. These “form tributary streams,” that branch off the central flow, run off into dry beds, thus marking the end of the Dharma. The “stream” here doesn’t refer to the central flow transmitted by Dharma Masters before; it means run-offs. The Dharma runs away – to where it can’t be seen, forming tributary streams that end up at the furthest extremity from the source. How can the demons speak a thousand kinds of dharmas when the basic source is one? It’s by running off into tributaries to come up with dharmas. Streams branch off and disappear. Rather than flowing to return to the great sea, they trickle away and dry up. With this last aspect – the many modes of speaking Dharma forming tributary streams – we have the five meanings of the undividedness of the intent.

Prologue:

Due to those five reasons, therefore it cannot be divided. To divide it would be to lead one to become emotionally caught up in heterodox doctrines, and to engage in contentions over rights and wrongs. For that reason it is better not to divide it.

Commentary:

Due to those five reasons given in the previous text, therefore it cannot be divided. Those five aspects make it indivisible. To divide it would be to lead one to become emotionally caught up in heterodox doctrines. A forced division would not be in accord with basic Buddhadharma. “Emotionally caught up” means one’s impressions join with heterodox doctrines, or stir them up. “Heterodox doctrines” are deviant teachings – side doors and externalist ways – dharmas which are not in accord with the Buddhadharma. Confucius said:

To apply oneself to heterodox doctrines is injurious indeed.

If you investigate such off-the-track principles and start making discriminations, it’s bound to be harmful. You’ll find your feelings converging with unorthodox outlooks instead of with the Proper Dharma, and you’ll begin to engage in contentions over rights and wrongs. Once you hold heterodox doctrines, then you have rights and wrongs. You say yours is right and the other person’s is wrong, but he says his is right and yours is wrong. Each speaks from his own point of view, maintaining his own correctness and your error, and no one will admit to being wrong. That’s to “engage in contentions” – squabbles and debates – in which each person makes a case for himself and fights off the opposition. Once that starts, there are rights and wrongs. For that reason it is better not to divide it. Inasmuch as once one divides it up one runs off to heterodox doctrines – side doors and off track ways – and the fighting starts, therefore it’s a while lot better not to divide it up. Discriminations really should not be made, according to these five reasons. The next passage of text is going to match them with five reasons for making divisions.

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