THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Contents * Door 1 * 2 * 3 * 4 * 5 * 6* 7 * 8 * 9 * 10 * previous * next ***Preface

Two Teachings

Prologue:

The Second, establishing two kinds of teachings. This itself has four representatives. One, Tripitaka Master Dharmakshema of the Western Ch’in who established the Half and Whole Teaching, the Sound Hearer Store being the Half-Word Teaching. And the Bodhisattva Store being the Whole-Word Teaching. Dharma Master Yuan of Sui also established the same thing.

Commentary:

Of the five doors explaining the ancient and present disagreements and concurrences in China, the first door established the One-Sound Teaching, while the second door now is establishing two kinds of teachings. This, the setting up of two types of Teachings, itself has four representatives, four Dharma Masters. One, the first representative, was Tripitaka Master Dharmakshema of the Western Ch’in, who established the Half and Whole Teachings. “Dharmakshema” is Sanskrit and translates, “Dharma Abundance,” meaning the Buddhadharma which he studied and practiced was extremely abundant. This Dharma Master was of the Western Ch’in period, and he set up a teaching mark, saying that there was the Half-Word Teaching and the Whole-Word Teaching.

The Sound Hearer Store being the Half-Word Teaching, and the Bodhisattvas Store being the Whole-Word Teaching. The Half-Word Teaching was Small Vehicle Dharma, while the Whole-Word Teaching was Great Vehicle Dharma. You can also say that the Half-Word Teaching is the Provisional Teaching, while the Whole-Word Teaching is the Actual Teaching. Therefore, the Whole-Word Teaching includes the Provisional Teaching within it, yet the half-Word Teaching does not include the Actual Teaching in itself. So the Half-Word Teaching is the Sound Hearers Store, and the Whole-Word Teaching is the Bodhisattvas Store. Dharma Master Yuan of Sui also established the same thing. At the time of the Sui Dynasty, there was Great Master Hui Yuan of Tung Lin Temple, the First Patriarch of the Lotus Society, that is, the Pure Land School. He was very learned. Everyone was afraid of him for he was very fierce. When he was discussing some pint he could demolish your argument in a few words, and so people all feared him. He too set up a Half-Word and a Whole-Word Teaching, the same as just described.

Prologue:

This text is then based on the Nirvana, which hides the fact that it is intended as a connecting of characteristics aimed at revealing the great to the small. It does not yet within the great reveal the existence of provisional and actual, yet it also includes Half and Whole .

Commentary:

This text is then based on the Nirvana. The section of Prologue just discussed is based upon the teaching substance set up in the Nirvana Sutra, which hides the fact that it is intended as a connecting of characteristics aimed at revealing the great to the small. The Half- and Whole- Word Teachings discussed in the Nivana Sutra constitute a teaching substance in which there is revelation of the Great Vehicle to those of the Small Vehicle. From the small a connection is made with the great, and from the provisional a connection is made with the actual, the intention being that of connecting characteristics. One links up the teaching marks. However, it does not yet withinthe great reveal the existence of provisional and actual. It doesn’t yet inside of the Great Vehicle talk about how there is a provisional and an actual, yet it also includes Half and Whole. Even though it doesn’t state that there is provisional and actual, it nonetheless includes the existence of the statement of a Half-Word and Whole-Word Teaching. Therefore, even though it doesn’t come right out and say it, it still includes the principles of provisional and actual – of there being a Half-Word Teaching and a Whole-Word Teaching.

I talked just now of the Great Master Hui Yuan, and it was he who introduced the Dharma door of recitation of the Buddha’s name, during the Sui Dynasty. He went to Mount Lu, where there wasn’t any water, so he plunged his tin staff into the ground, and when he drew it out, fresh water came gushing forth, creating a spring of very sweet water. He had lots of magical kinds of responses befall him. At the time there were tigers on the mountains, and they took refuge with him (one in particular…) Everyone was afraid of him, but they feared his Way virtue. It wasn’t, as I said before, that he was fierce. He was very kind and compassionate to everyone, but since they all respected him, they stood in awe of him, because his Way virtue was high and lofty. This Dharma Master was the First Patriarch of the Pure Land School, whose transmission he began. It held up reciting the Buddha’s name as its rule. At the very end he saw the Three Sages of the West – Amitabha Buddha, Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, and Great Strength Bodhisattva – come and ask him three times before he went. The first time, he didn’t go. The next time he didn’t go either. But the third time he saw Amitabha Buddha really and truly coming to ask him to go, and so he told everyone, “On such and such a day at such and such a time I’m going to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.” He had that kind of response, and so after that, people recited the Buddha’s name.

Now it’s the Dharma Ending Age, and when that happens people study reciting the Buddha’s name to end birth and death. However, right now in America it’s the Proper Dharma Age, so does that mean we shouldn’t recite the Buddha’s name? No. You can recite the Buddha’s name just the same. Don’t we recite the Buddha’s name at morning and evening recitation? The Dharma door of recitation of the Buddha’s name can be practiced during the Proper Dharma Age. The Dharma Semblance Age too, and is even more necessary during the Dharma Ending Age. When the Dharma comes to an end, at the very last when everything else is gone, the Amitabha Sutra remains in the world for another hundred years, then disappears. After that, the six-syllable vast name Na Mo O Mi Two Fwo, “Namo Amita Buddha,” stays in the world for another hundred years and crosses over limitless and boundlessly many living beings. At the final point, the two syllables “Na Mwo” go too, and people just recite “O Mi Two Fwo, O Mi Two Fwo,” which lasts in the world another hundred years, and crosses over an unbounded number of beings. So in the final state of the end of the Dharma only “Amita” is left in the world; yet the people who know about it are very few. Right now in the world, there are countries whose people know about reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha, yet others where the people have never even heard the sound of his name. That’s because living beings have different kinds of karmic obstacles, and different causes and conditions.

Some people say that Great Master Hui Yuan was a transformation body of Amitabha Buddha, since he spread the Dharma door of reciting the Buddha’s name, while others say that he was a transformation body of Shakyamuni Buddha, since he maintained the Proper Dharma. People made those guesses, but I just say he was Great Master Hui Yuan.

Prologue:

Two, Dharma Master Yen of Sui who established the two teachings, Gradual and Sudden. That is, for those who are potentials for gradual enlightenment, the great arises due to the small, and what is established includes all three Vehicles. It is therefore called gradual. For those who are potentials for the sudden it goes directly to the great, not due to the small, and so it is called sudden. Although it is in terms of the potentials that there are said to be gradual and sudden, still the Dharma spoken does not go beyond half and whole.

Commentary:

Two, Dharma Master Yen of the Sui Dynasty, who established the two teachings, Gradual and Sudden. “Gradual” refers to studying step by step, while “Sudden” means suddenly having accomplishment. If it’s the gradual, one goes for example from the Tripitaka Teaching to the Connective Teaching, the Special Teaching, and afterwards the Perfect Teaching – according to the T’ien T’ai system. The Hsien Shou system describes it as starting with the Small Teaching, then going on to the Initial Teaching, the Final Teaching, the Sudden Teaching, and the Perfect Teaching, again studying step by step. The Sudden Teaching refers to suddenly opening enlightenment and immediately becoming a Buddha, achieving immediately understanding. Here it says, that is, it is for those who are potentials for gradual enlightenment, for opening enlightenment bit by bit.

So you can see there are big enlightenments and small enlightenments. A small enlightenment would be for example, when you have eaten and are full and realize, “Oh, eating can cure hunger! How wonderful!” That’s a small enlightenment. An example of a bid one is when you wake up in the morning and say, “Oh! Basically last night I was sleeping! And I had a dream in which I did so many things! Oh! Basically human life is just a dream! We do this and that, but all of it is dreaming!” That’s opening a big enlightenment, wouldn’t you say? That’s even more wonderful. Having small enlightenments and bigger enlightenments is termed “gradual,” and in that case the great arises due to the small. Great enlightenment arises from the small which grows larger bit by bit. It’s like a child that grows up, gets old, then dies – for you could say “sudden” was dying. That’s because one’s faults all die, along with all the false thinking generated by one’s own stupidity. All at once they are cut off, and so the great comes about due to the small, and what is established includes al three Vehicles. The teaching which is established has the Sound Hearer Vehicle, the Conditionally Enlightened Vehicle, and the Bodhisattva Vehicle. It’s therefore, called gradual. That’s why the name given to it is “gradual.”

For those who are potentials for the sudden , on the other hand, it goes directly to the great, right to the Great Vehicle, not due to the small. It doesn’t go from where the small is on to where the great is, and so it is called sudden. One immediately becomes a Buddha. It’s as when Shakyamuni Buddha was born he was able to stand. He pointed one finger to the heavens and one to the earth and said, “In between heaven and earth only the Buddha is honored.” That’s a case of the sudden.

One Upasaka asked me, “How could he have done that?” I asked him, “Why couldn’t you do that? That’s your answer.” In other words, he didn’t believe Shakyamuni Buddha could have done it, and I was answering:

“Of course you don’t believe he could, because you can’t. If you were able to do it, you’d believe it.” It was very simple, and he didn’t have anything to say, he likes to use logic, so I answered him logically.

Although it is in terms of the potentials that there are said to be gradual and sudden, still the Dharma spoken does not go beyond Half and Whole . Even thought the emphasis is put on the potentials here, the teachings involved are summed up by saying there is the Half-Word Teaching and the Whole-Word Teaching in the Dharma spoken.

Prologue:

The third, Dharma Master Yin of the early T’ang who also established two teachings: One, the Circuitous Teaching, that is the Sutras of Shakyamuni, because they follow the nature of potentials and according to a plan break attachments, such as the Nirvana and so forth. Two, the level road teaching, that is the Sutras of Nishyanda, because they follow the dharma nature and speak with comfort and ease, like the Flower Adornment Sutra.

Commentary:

The third of the four representatives who established two kinds of teachings was Dharma Master Yin of the early T’ang Dynasty who also established two teachings:One, the Circuitous Teaching. “Circuitous” means that it is windy, round-about, not direct. That is for example, first speaking the Tripitaka Teaching, then the Connective Teaching, after that the Separate Teaching, and finally the Perfect Teaching, rather than starting out by speaking the Perfect Teaching. It is therefore circuitous teaching, that is the Sutras of Shakyamuni, the Sutras spoken by Skakyamuni Buddha, because they follow the nature of potentials, go along with it, and according to a plan break attachments. Their following the nature of potentials means contemplating the potentials and enticing with teachings. They take a look at the factors of potentialities and speak the appropriate Dharma; and they plan the Dharma they speak so that it will break all the attachments of living beings, such as the Nirvana and so forth. Sutras such as the Nirvana Sutra are examples of that. Two, the level road teaching, that is the Sutras of Nishyanda, the Sutras spoken by Nishyanda Buddha, because they follow the dharma nature, they don’t comply with the potentials in what they say, but rather they are speech congruent with the nature – they speak the Dharma in accord with the Dharma nature and therefore speak with comfort and ease. There is nothing contrived about them. They don’t contain such thoughts as, “What kind of Dharma should I speak in order to cross you over?” What is said is “congruent with the nature” – the Dharma flows forth straight from the self-nature, like the Flower Adornment Sutra. The Flower Adornment Sutra is spoken in accord with the self-nature, and doesn’t involve such considerations as, “If I speak this Dharma, will living beings be able to accept it or not?” It’s not Dharma that is spoken after contemplating the potentials – the Dharma is spoken congruent with the nature, flowing forth from the self-nature. The Flower Adornment Sutra is speech congruent with the nature.

Prologue:

Moreover, these two teachings in general have four differences: One, differences of hosts. That is because there is a difference between the transformation body of Shakyamuni and the ten bodies of Nishyanda. Two, differences of place, because there is a difference between the wooden tree and grass seat in the Saha Realm and the jeweled trees, the precious throne, and so forth in the Flower Treasury Realm.

Commentary:

Moreover, these two teachings, the two kinds of Teachings just introduced, that is, the Circuitous Teaching and the Level Road Teachings – which you could also call the Level and Direct Teaching – in general have four differences. Four differences can be seen in overview: One, the first kind, is differences of hosts. There are differences between the host who speaks the Flower Adornment Sutra and the host who speaks other Sutras. That is because there is a difference between the transformation body of Shakyamuni Buddha, which manifests the appearance of a Bhikshu of regular size, and the ten bodies of Nishyandra Buddha who is 10,000 feet tall. The ten bodies were discussed before.

Two is differences of place,because there is a difference between the wooden Bodhi tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha appeared as an elder Bhikshu and sat upon a single lucky grass seat in the Saha – “Able to Be Endured” – realm, and so forth, and when Shakyamuni Buddha made appear the 10,000 foot high Nishyandra Buddha bodies and the Jewelled trees of the seven precious gems, the precious throne, and so forth in the worlds of the Flower Treasury Realm just to speak the Flower Adornment Sutra. The places were not the same. However, the World systems of the Flower Treasury are not separate from the location in the Saha World, for when he spoke the Sutra, right within the Saha Realm it became the worlds of the Flower Treasury.

Prologue:

Three, differences of assemblies, because there is a differences between the speaking for the Sound-Hearers and Bodhisattvas and it being spoken identically only for the Bodhisattvas and those of the Ultimate Position. Four, differences of speaking, because there is a difference between the speaking confined to a location and the speaking that extends throughout the ten directions.

Commentary:

Three , the third kind of difference, is the differences of assemblies. That is because there is a difference between the speaking for the Sound-Hearer and Bodhisattvas, between the Sutra being spoken for the Sound-Hearers and Bodhisattvas together, and it being spoken identically only for the Bodhisattvas and those of the Ultimate Position. The manner of speaking and the principles spoken only at the same time for the Bodhisattvas and those of the Ultimate Position, that is Bodhisattvas of the Tenth Ground, are different from what is spoken for the Sound-Hearers and Bodhisattvas together, so the assemblies of current potentials are different. Four, is that there are differences of speaking. The method of speaking is not the same, because there is a difference between the speaking confined to a location, that is speaking which is limited to the Seven Places in the Saha World, and the speaking that extends throughout the ten directions. There is a difference between the speaking that penetrates all the worlds of the ten directions to the limits of empty space and the Dharma Realm, and the speaking that is confined to a manifestation of the Seven Places of the Saha World, which were discussed before.

Prologue:

These are determinations based upon the manner of transforming.

Commentary:

These are determinations based upon the manner of transforming. Here the kind of teaching it is, is decided on the basis of the manner in which the teaching is bestowed.

Prologue:

Nonetheless, although in the Flower Adornment there is according with all living beings each being separately tamed and subdued, those are all clever expedients congruent with the nature, at one time suddenly proclaimed; and although the Nirvana and so forth speak a single absolute, they are either matching the provisional by revealing the actual or assembling differences to return them to sameness. All Thus Come Ones either speak or do not speak them, so they are therefore called Circuitous.

Commentary:

This section of text explains the principle of the Circuitous Teaching, and says, nonetheless, although in the Flower Adornment Sutra text there is talked of according with all the individual types of living beings each, because of that, being separately tamed and subdued, still those are all clever expedients congruent with the nature. What is spoken is congruent with the nature. The clever and expedient wonderful Dharma flows forth from within the self-nature, and so it is at one time suddenly proclaimed. That is true especially since every single Buddha must speak the Flower Adornment Sutra, and no Buddha after achieving Buddhahood fails to speak that Sutra.

And although the Nirvana and so forth, even though Sutras such as the Nirvana Sutra or the Dharma Flower Sutra speak a single absolute, that is, actual Dharma, they are either matching the provisional by revealing the actual; they may either just be speaking and revealing the actual teaching to those of the provisional teaching, or they may be just speaking the provisional teaching, or just speaking the actual teaching. Although when they speak provisional teachings, that is done for the sake of the actual teaching, nevertheless they don’t speak the actual teaching at the same time. And when they speak the actual teaching, although it is spoken for the sake of the provisional teaching, still they don’t speak the provisional and actual at the same time. They speak them separately. It also says, or assembling differences to return them to sameness. They bring together all the differences to come back to the principle of identity. All Thus Come Ones either speak or do not speak them. Some Buddhas speak those Sutras, but others don’t. Sun Moon Lamp Light Buddha for example, speaks the Dharma Flower Sutra in the morning, and then enters Nirvana that evening at midnight without speaking the Nirvana Sutra. Those are Sutras which some Buddhas may speak while other Buddhas may not, so they are therefore called Circuitous, the Circuitous Teaching.

In the K’an Ting Chi, written by Dharma Master Hui Yuan, it said that these four different methods of explanation were incorrect, and that the terms “Circuitous Teaching” and “level road teaching” weren’t right. Here National Master Ch’ing Liang is proving that they aren’t necessarily wrong.

Prologue:

If in terms of Shakyamuni as the host, then the ten bodies have not yet been made to appear; while if the ten bodies are the host, they certainly include Shakyamuni.

The location in the Saha has not yet fused with the Flower Treasury, whereas the location in the Flower Treasury certainly fuses with the Saha.

In general there are said to be four differences. Actually the differences are many, exactly as determined.

Commentary:

If in terms of Shakyamuni as the host, should one be considering the Dharma Body, the Reward Body, and the Transformation Body of Shakyamuni Buddha as the Host, then the ten bodies have not yet been made to appear.

In that case it will not have been possible to make all of the ten bodies appear. While if the ten bodies are the host, if one considers the ten bodies of Nishyandra Buddha to be the Dharma speaking host, then they certainly include Shakyamuni . Within them will be included the Transformation Body of Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, it says that the lesser response body of Shakyamuni Buddha – that is, the appearance as a six foot tall elder Bhikshu – does not include the supreme response body, that is, the ten bodies of Nishyanda Buddha. Although the supreme response body is not included in the lesser response body, when the supreme body – the ten bodies of Nishyanda – is the Dharma speaking Host, it does include the lesser response body which is Shakyamuni Buddha.

The location in the Saha, when Shakyamuni Buddha speaks other Sutras in the Saha World, in the Country Magadha, has not yet fused with the Flower Treasury. It can’t have fused and combined with the World Systems of the Flower Treasury, whereas the location in the Flower Treasury, within its seas of world systems, certainly fuses with the Saha. It is certain to include the Saha Wrold within it. So when the Flower Adornment Sutra is spoken, although it is spoken in the Saha World, nevertheless the seas of world-systems of the Flower Treasury are made to appear. When other Sutras are spoken in the Saha World however, there is no manifestation of the worlds of the Flower Treasury. The Saha can’t fuse and combine with the worlds of the Flower Treasury, yet the worlds-systems of the Flower Treasury certainly can fuse and unite with the Saha World. But in the Saha World, unless the Buddha manifests his spiritual powers, the worlds of the Flower Treasury won’t appear.

In general there are said to be four differences. The areas of difference, if described in very general terms, are said to be four in number. Actually the differences are many. In fact, they are different in very, very many respects, exactly as determined. The principles used to determine this by the several Dharma Masters just discussed can’t be wrong. It is just as they decided it was. The K’an Ting Chi deliberately said their judgments were wrong, but was not necessarily right in saying that.

Prologue:

It is only that inside of the Circuitous the provisional and actual aspects of the Dharma are simply not yet revealed.

Four, the hermit-scholar of the Ch’i Dynasty Liu Ch’iu who also established two teachings, gradual and sudden. That is, the Flower Adornment Sutra is called the sudden teaching, while all the rest are called the gradual because, beginning in the Deer Park and ending between the Twin Trees, they go from small to great.

Commentary:

It is only that inside of the Circuitous, that right inside of the windy, Circuitous Teaching, the provisional and actual aspects of the Dharma are simply not yet revealed. The Circuitous Teaching, which they call the provisional teaching, doesn’t make it obvious or explain the fact that the Dharma is either provisional Dharma or actual Dharma.

Four, the hermit-scholar of the Ch’i Dyanasty Liu Ch’iu. The Ch’i Dynasty followed the Sui Dynasty. A “hermit-scholar” is someone who lives alone hidden away some place where people are scarce, and who doesn’t like to have dealings with worldly people. However, it’s not easy to be a hermit. It’s not to say that one lives where there is no one else and doesn’t see anyone, and if one wants to sleep one sleeps, eats when one pleases, and does whatever one likes; that one wears clothes if one wants to or doesn’t wear any clothes if the mood strikes one, according to one’s own whims. Someone like that is a lazy scholar, not a hermit-scholar but a taking-it-easy scholar, in which case his living alone is useless. A hermit-scholar is someone who lives alone and cultivates with true effort without hoping others will know he is a cultivator. Should the person be a lazy scholar or a taking-it-easy scholar, even though he lives in the mountains with no one else around, what would you say he does? All day long he quarrels with himself, fights and wages war on himself. He finds fault with his own eyes, thinks his nose is wrong, and has a lot of objections to his own mouth. In other words, he finds this thing and that wrong with himself, and is always getting mad at himself.

This hermit named Liu Ch’iu, however, who devoted himself to the study of the Flower Adornment Sutra, as a result of studying it also established two teachings, gradual and sudden. What he said was that is, the Flower Adornment Sutra is called the sudden teaching. For him only the Flower Adornment Sutra could be classified as sudden teaching, while all the rest are called the gradual. Other Sutras he felt were only the gradual teaching, because beginning in the Deer Park, when the Buddha in the beginning spoken the Dharma for the Five Bhikshus in the Deer Park, turning the wheel of Dharma of the Four Truths three times for them, and speaking the Tripitaka Teaching, which was the start, and afterwards speaking the Connective Teaching, then the Separate Teaching, ending between the Twin Trees, when Shakyamuni Buddha entered Nirvana beneath the twin trees, they go from small to great. All of that is a gradual and slow progression from the Small Vehicle to the Great Vehicle Teaching, introducing it bit by bit, and so that is all gradual teaching.

Prologue:

Yet this Sutra, like the newly arisen sun, first illumines lofty mountains, which is just the meaning of sudden. The kindly dragon letting fall rain testifies to the meaning of gradual. With respect to principle this can be maintained. The gradual is in terms of the five periods, as will be ascertained in order in what follows.

Commentary:

The hermit-scholar just discussed, said Flower Adornment Sutra was the Sudden Teaching, yet this Sutra, like the newly arisen sun, first illumines lofty mountains. The Flower Adornment Sutra is like the sun that has just come up, whose light first strikes the highest mountain peaks. In this worlds the sun comes up at different times in different places, so the sun can be up in one place but not yet up in another. That is parallel to there being some places where it is the Dharma Ending Age, which is all symbolic. The newly arisen sun first shining on high mountains is just the meaning of sudden, the Sudden Teaching. The Flower Adornment Sutra was taught to transform the Great Bodhisattvas, the Great Knights of the Dharma Body, those of the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Conducts, the Ten Transferences, the Ten Grounds, and Equal Enlightenment, and those Great Bodhisattvas are similar to lofty mountains. The kindly dragon letting fall rain out of kindness and compassion testifies to the meaning of gradual. That is symbolic of and evidence for the meaning of the gradual teaching. With respect to principle this can be maintained. The gradual is in terms of the five periods as listed.

  1. The Flower Adornment Period.
  2. The Agama Period.
  3. The Vaipulya Period.
  4. The Prajna Period.
  5. The Dharma Flower and Nirvana Period.

There will be ascertained in order in what follows.

previous * next * Contents***Preface

return to top