THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Disagreements and concurrences
First – China
The second, ancient and present disagreements and concurrences, in contrived division having two parts: First, discussion of this land, afterwards explanation of the western region. Now to begin, although the explanations are many, in general to arrange them under a number of representatives, one defines five doors.
The second of the four doors explaining all the establishments of teachings on the part of the schools which are not the same, is ancient and present disagreements and concurrences. “Ancient” refers to what was past and “present” what was contemporary with the T’ang Dynasty, not what is right now. “Disagreements” means what is in contradiction to the purport of the Sutras, while “Concurrences” means what goes along with the drift of the Sutras without opposing it – in contrived division having two parts. This is not an obvious distinction to make, but rather a very forced division into two kinds: First, discussion of this land, the disagreements and concurrences in China, and afterwards explanation of the western region. After that India will be talked about, because even though the Buddha came from India, in the explanations of Sutras by the Dharma Masters who came later there are both disagreements and concurrences.
Now to begin, although the explanations are many, in general to arrange them under a number of representatives, one defines five doors. Even though the methods of explaining found in the various commentaries by the various Dharma Masters of different schools amount to numerous commentarial lineages, we can’t talk about them all. We have to simplify them into their main family lines, and to do that “one carves out five doors.” Just as determining family lineages calls for carving ranks and engraving names on tablets, these too are ordered and ranked, and turn out to fall without five doors.
One, establishing the one-sound teaching. That is, that the teachings of the Thus Come One’s single generation did not depart from a single sound. Nonetheless this has two masters: one, Bodhiruci of the latter Wei who said, “The Thus Come One’s single sound simultaneously declares ten thousand, and sets forth both great and small.” Two, Dharma Master Kumarajiva of Yao Ch’in who said, “The Buddha’s one perfect sound is level and equal and non-equal. Without deliberation he universally responds, and the potential themselves hear it differently. It is not that the sound he speaks inherently declares great and small. Therefore the Vimalakirti Sutra says, “The Buddha uses a single sound to proclaim the dharma, and living beings each have their individual understandings.”
One, establishing the One-Sound Teaching. In dividing up the five doors, the first door is that of the One-Sound Teaching, the Teaching spoken by the Buddha with a single sound. That is, that the teaching of the Thus Come One’s single generation did not depart from a single sound. This is to say that the principles of Shakyamuni Buddha’s one generation teaching were not apart from one sound. But nonetheless this has two masters, two Dharma Masters who are One, Bodhiruci, “Desire for Bodhi” of the latter Wei who said, “The Thus Come One’s single sound simultaneously declares ten thousand.” Within that one sound there are ten thousand differentiations, “And it sets forth both great and small.” At one and the same time it speaks the Dharma of the Great Vehicle and that of the Small, so the great and the small are both declared together inside that single sound. All living beings hear it at the same time and all understand, yet this is not saying the Dharma spoken by the Buddha has great or small to it. It means that people of the Great Vehicle hear it as Great Vehicle doctrine, and those of the Small Vehicle hear it as principles of the Small Vehicle. That is what Bodhiruci said.
Two, Dharma Master Kumarajiva of Yao Ch’in. You can see from this that National Master Ch’ing Liang must not have been very happy with Bodhiruci, so that’s all he calls him, he says “Dharma Master Kumarajiva,” and in fact in the Chinese he only uses two characters of his name and doesn’t say his name in full, out of respect for Dharma Master Kumarajiva, who said, “The Buddha’s one perfect sound is level and equal and non-dual.” I like what Dharma Master Kumarajiva said too. He said that although the Buddha’s was just one sound, it was a perfect sound, not an incomplete sound. And in speaking to each and every living being it was totally fair, equal, and impartial. It didn’t have two meanings, and it had no great or small. It was totally perfect and singularly wonderful.
He said, “Without deliberation he universally responds.” He doesn’t have to think anything over or deliberate, yet enables a universal response to take place and everyone to obtain its advantages. “And the potentials themselves hear it differently.” The “Potentials,” the living beings who listen to the Sutras, all obtain advantages according to what kind of living being they are. Human beings hear it and bring forth the resolve for Bodhi. Ghosts hear it and it decreases their karmic obstacles. “It is not that the sound he speaks inherently declares great and small.” It isn’t to say that the Buddha basically pronounced the Great Vehicle and the Small Vehicle in the Dharma he spoke. That was not the case. Therefore the Vimalakirti Sutra says, “The Buddha uses a single sound to proclaim the Dharma.” The Buddha speaks the wonderful Dharma with just one sound, “And living beings each have their individual understandings.” The living beings understand the principles spoken by the Buddha according to what kind of living beings they are and how much wisdom they have. This second way of putting it is a more perfect explanation – it concurs more than what Bodhiruci said before, which was more in disagreement than in accord with principle.
The principle discussed in the Chapter on the analogy of Medicinal Herbs in the Dharma Flower Sutra is just about the same as this. In that Chapter it says that the Buddha is like a great cloud which universally covers over all living beings, and when it rains, the large trees obtain more moisture, while small trees take in less, whereas the plants and grasses receive an amount proportionate to their size. Each obtains the amount that suits it. That principle is really the same as the one set forth by Dharma Master Kumarajiva here.