THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
The Third, Dharma Master Chi Tsang from the end of the Sui and the beginning of the T’ang, who based upon the fifth roll of the Dharma Flower, set up Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheels: One, that “from the time they first saw me and heard what I said, they immediately believed and accepted it, and entered into the Thus Come One’s wisdom” constitutes the Dharma wheel of the fundamental root. Two, that “casting aside their former study and practice of the Small Vehicle” constitutes the Dharma wheel of the branches and branch-tips. Three, that “I now also cause them to hear this sutra, the dharma wheel of gathering in the branch-tips to return them to the root.
The third, representative is Dharma Master Chi Tsang, who live from the end of the Sui Dynasty and the beginning of the T’ang Dynasty, who, based upon the fifth roll (Chapter Fifteen), of the Dharma Flower Sutra, set up Three Turning of the Dharma Wheel. What were they? One, that the passage in the Dharma Flower Sutra where Shakyamuni Buddha says, “from the time they first saw me and heard what I said, they immediately believe and accepted it, and entered into the Thus Come Ones’s wisdom” constitutes the Dharma wheel of the fundamental root. That part of the Sutra text is speaking of the basic root Dharma door. Two, that the passage of that Sutra where the Buddha says, “casting aside their former study and practice of the Small Vehicle” which they had to do to believe and accept what the Buddha told them, is making reference to the time when they did study and practice the lesser vehicle, and constitutes the Dharma wheel of the branches and branch-tips. The analogy is of the branching of a tree ending in the tips of the branches, which stand for dharmas for crossing over those of the Small Vehicle. Three, that the passage of Sutra text that says, “I now also cause them to hear this Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra, and enter into the Buddha’s wisdom, “constitutes the Dharma wheel of gathering in the branch-tips to return them to the root. It brings the branch-tip dharmas of the Small Vehicle back to return to the basic root Dharma of the Buddha Vehicle. This is to cause all living beings to turn back from the small and return to the great, bring forth the resolve of the Bodhisattva, and perfect the accomplishment of Buddhahood.
Dharma Master Chi Tsang established those three kinds of Dharma wheels based upon the Dharma Flower Sutra, and you could say that they were right; but could also object that they were wrong. For now, I’ll talk about some common-sense matters. In this world, everything, whether good or bad, is to cause you to wake up. The good is to get you to enlighten to the good, the bad to make you enlighten to the bad. If you can wake up to both the good and bad, then you’ll have no problem or trouble. But if you don’t wake up to the good, and get attached to the good, and don’t enlighten to the bad but attach to it, those are both attachments and you won’t be able to accomplish your work in the Way. For that reason, whether things go well – the way you want them to – or go badly, against your wishes, try to see through them as just being worldly phenomena and of no real importance. Don’t be so attached to them; see through them.
All conditioned dharmas are
Like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows.
Like dew and like a lightning flash:
Contemplate them thus.
Dew is unreal, and so is lightning. When you’ve seen through it all, you then have to put it down. If you keep hanging on to it – attached to this and clinging to that – you won’t be free. See through and put down everything whether good or bad, and you’ll have freedom and ease.
This determination is entirely based upon the manner of teaching. In terms of the Dharma there is only great and small. Moreover, the Dharma Flower is opening and revealing the root and the branch-tips for just one kind. If one where to make a fixed determination of the sagely teaching of the single generation, the meanings bestowed would not be exhausted, because before the Dharma Flower there was also the great. And as to the prajna and so forth being branches and branch-tips, there is also the limitless meanings which says, “ because the Buddha at all times spoke the great and small.”
Before it talked about how Dharma Mater Kuang T’ung and Dharma Mater Chi Tsang both set up teachings. This determination of theirs, the principle upon which they did that, is entirely based upon the manner of teaching. It’s to talk of the events in the Buddha’s teaching career. In terms of the dharma itself, there is only Great and Small – just two kinds.
Moreover, the Dharma Flower Sutra is opening and revealing the root and the branch-tips for just one kind. For those whose faculties are especially ripe, it opens the provisional to reveal the actual, opens the near to reveal the far – the principle of opening the branch-tips to reveal the root. If one were to make a fixed determination of the Sagely Teaching of the single generation, if you tried to categorize everything the Buddha taught in his lifetime just using the Dharma Flower Sutra, the meanings bestowed would not be exhausted. National Master Ch’ing Liang is saying that you would not have covered all the implications by any means. Why not? It’s because you’re trying to say that the Dharma Flower Sutra is the teaching in which the branch-tips are collected to return to the root, and that non-Dharma Flower Sutra time was all branch-tips teaching.
However, before the Dharma Flower Sutra there was also the Great Vehicle Teaching. And as to your trying to get away with the Prajna period and so forth – the Vaipulya period – being branches and branch-tips Dharma only, and not Great Vehicle Dharma, there is also the Limitless Meaning Sutra in which it says, “Because the Buddha at all times spoke the Great and Small.” The Buddha spoke Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle in all periods, and so how can you claim there’s a Basic Root Teaching, a Braches and Branch-tips Teaching, and a Teaching of Gathering in the Branch-tips to return them to the root? At every time there was Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle, and so you can’t be too rigid and fixed in your theories.