THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Four Teachings

First representative

Prologue:

The Fourth, establishing Four Teachings. In general there are Four Representatives: One, Dharma Master Kuang Chia of the Liang Dynasty who, based upon Roll Two of the Dharma Flower, set up Teachings of the Four Vehicles. That is, the three carts by the door are the Provisional Teachings of the Three Vehicles while the equal bestowal at the crossroads is the actual teaching of the Great Vehicle.

Commentary:

The Fourth, is more Dharma Masters establishing Four Teachings, in general there are Four Representatives, whereas in detail there would be many. One, the first, is Dharma Master Kuang Chia of the Liang Dynasty. His name can be translated “Lit up House;” maybe his house caught on fire, or else it can refer to the light of wisdom from his self-nature. You can explain it either way you wish.

A Dharma Master takes the Dharma as his Master, and also gives the Dharma to others. He was one who, based upon Roll Two of the Dharma Flower Sutra , set up teachings of the Four Vehicles. That is, the Three Cart by the door, the three sheep cart, the deer cart, and the ox cart are the provisional, expert and temporary Teachings of the Three Vehicles, the Sound Hear Vehicle, the Vehicle of Those Enlightened to Conditions, and the Bodhisattva Vehicle. All three of them are empty, false, and not actual. The Elder had called out to the children in the burning house saying, “Hurry up and come outside. There are three carts: an ox cart, a huge sheep cart, and an enormous deer cart, all really pretty. If you sit in those carts you can go wherever you want and play.” But even though he said that, those three carts didn’t really exist. They were made up by the Elder to lure the kids out of the burning house. Probably Dharma Master “Lit-up House” saw the burning house in the Dharma Flower Sutra and figured, “Where there’s fire, there’s light,” and took that name.

If you ask me, he should have reversed the order and made it translate “House Polished-Off.” That would be in tune with the expression in Ch’an of not even having a place for the awl. It goes:

Last year I was poor, but I still had enough, space to place an awl.
This year I’m so poor there isn’t even an awl.

Having a place to fit an awl you can call having a house, a place of dwelling. Not even having an awl is having no place of dwelling. The house, being polished off, has burned to the ground. Then what? One must have no place of dwelling, that is, no attachment. Then one unites with empty space. The house being polished off is no longer lit up – it’s gone. It’s the same principle as:

One should produce that thought which has no place of dwelling.

But the book all have it the other way, so we may as well leave it as is. He said the Three Vehicles were false since they were expedient dharmas, while only the equal bestowal of Great White-Ox Cart on every one of the kids at the crossroads is the actual teaching of the one Great Vehicle. “Equal bestowal” of the one Buddha Vehicle is opening the provisional to reveal the actual. The earlier promise of Three Vehicles was the bestowal of the provisional for the sake of the actual. The Three Vehicles were spoken for the sake of the Buddha Vehicle. The Three Vehicles are expedient Dharma and only the Buddha Vehicle is true and actual Dharma. Yet if he had started out by telling them of the Buddha Vehicle, none of the kids would have known what he was talking about. That’s why he first talked about Sound-Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas, and only afterward, told those of the Three Vehicles about the Buddha Vehicle. When the Provisional Teaching is no longer needed, he speaks of the Buddha Vehicle which is true, actual, and not false. That was his “equal bestowal at the crossroads.”

Prologue:

Since the ox cart by the door is also the same as the sheep and deer, in that none can be got at, in that they have no substance, and in that all the sons demand them, from this one knows that the three are false in substance, being but expedients.

Commentary:

Why are all Three Vehicles said to be false? Since the ox cart by the door is also the same as the sheep and deer carts, in that none can be got at, then they are all analogies with no true substance to them. There weren’t any sheep, deer, or ox carts outside. The Elder just said there were to get the kids out of the burning house so they wouldn’t be killed in the blaze. To do so he established a clever, expedient device, pretending those three carts were right outside the door. The ox cart was just as much a fabrication as the other two, even though it stands for the Bodhisattvas. Since it was a skillful and expedient Dharma door, how much the more so were the Sound-Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions merely expedient. All had that in common. It wasn’t that the Bodhisattva Vehicle was real and the other two weren’t. The ox cart didn’t exist either, in that none can be got at. All three carts were not there, in that they have no substance, and in that all the sons demand them. All Three Vehicles were made up by the Elder. The children had run out of the burning house of the three realms.

The three realms have no peace,
Just like a burning house.

The children hadn’t realized it was dangerous, so it took the promise of three carts to trick them out of the house. Once out the door, there were no carts to be found, and they wanted them. They said, “You told us you’d give us carts, so where are they?” That is, the Buddha had talked of the Dharma doors of the Three Vehicles as leading to certification to the four fruits of Arhatship and the ending of birth and death. They were still in the transformation city. They didn’t know yet of the ultimate Dharma, the One Buddha Vehicle. They didn’t realize that the Three Vehicles had been falsely established, and that only the Buddha Vehicle was real.

When the Elder tricked the children into coming out the door and they wanted the carts from him, the Elder thought to himself, “These children have already left the burning house. I told them there were carts, and now I have to give something to them. I won’t give them sheep, deer, or ox carts, but will give all of them a Great White-Ox Cart.” The Great White Ox Cart is actual – it really exists. But its true existence comes from the Elder’s having told a falsehood. He said there were three carts by the door, but when the kids wanted them, he gave them a Great White-Ox Cart. Although we say he lied, in the end he did give something to them, so it doesn’t count as lying, but was an expedient Dharma door. That’s why it says from this one knows that the three Vehicles, those of Sound-Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas are falsely established, false in substance. They have no actually being but expedients used as Dharma doors to save living beings.

All living beings are greedy for nice things to play with. If you give a child a toy, it’s overjoyed. But you shouldn’t give children new toys – used ones will do. Even their clothes, baby carriages, and high chairs, shouldn’t be new. That’s because when a child is born you don’t know if it has cultivated in its past lives, and whether it has good roots or the blessings for that reward. Even if it does, one should let the child use them gradually; don’t make it use them up all at once. If you give the child old things, it will have a longer life. If it was to have a short lifespan, it will lengthen. This has no scientific basis you may object, but it does have a philosophical one, and is a sound principle. If you just give the child new things to use, you decrease its reward of blessings. Then when it grows up, if it was supposed to have money, it will be poor. If it was due to have a long life, it won’t live all that long. So give it old things.

To be sparing with clothes increases blessings.
To be sparing with food lengthens life.

It’s best for you to economize on clothing and wear old things – that way you’ll have more blessings coming to you. If you are frugal with food you’ll live longer, so now our eating only one meal a day means we can live a lot longer. Most people eat three times a day and we could expect to, but instead we just eat once, and end up eating less. That saves a lot of food, so if we were to live to 50, we can live to 150. This is a very obvious principle.

You may say, “I’m not interested in living that long, so I’m going to eat three meals a day.” That’s okay too. A lifespan isn’t all that good a thing. If you have no mark of a lifespan, then keep right on eating three meals a day. Anyway, give a child old clothes, old food, an old house to live in, and an old cradle. And when you speak Dharma for average living beings who haven’t cultivated, you can speak some old Dharma for them – don’t tell them about new methods. Once they’ve grasped the old dharmas, you can tell them about new ones. However, when I say “old methods,” I really mean “tough dharmas,” really solid and tangible ones, so when they receive the dharmas they can cultivate them. By “new dharmas,” I mean “mind dharmas.” Start by speaking very concrete and tangible dharmas, and afterwards tell them of mind dharmas. The tough, tangible dharmas are provisional dharmas, the dharmas of the three carts. When the Elder told the children about the three carts, if was like lassoing them with a rope and pulling them out the door. There was no cord to be seen, but that one sentence was enough to get them to run out the door – that’s substantial dharma. Then tell them of mind dharma – Buddhadharma – which is actual Dharma, and is also the Great White-Ox Cart.

Right now the children are all upset that I’ve been saying to give them old clothes and food – food no one else wants to eat. But don’t go get it out of garbage cans. Actually I don’t mean “old” in that sense, but rather that when possible, you should be conservative. “Old” just means don’t overdo it or underdo it.

Prologue:

For the former three to be the three Vehicles, and the latter one to be the one Vehicle is not a deviation from the principle of the teaching. But if one only says the Dharma Flower is the actual, then one disregards all the Prajna, along with all the other Great Vehicle Sutras of Ultimate Meaning.

Commentary:

As we’ve been discussing, for the former three to be the three Vehicles, the sheep, deer and the ox carts, which are false in substance, and the latter one, the Great White-Ox Cart, which is actually really, to be the one Buddha Vehicle, as an explanation is not a deviation from the principle of the teaching. It isn’t wrong, and doesn’t contradict it. But if one only says the Dharma Flower Sutra is the true and actual, and maintains there was no actual when there were the Three Vehicles and before the time of the Dharma Flower Sutra, then one disregards all the Prajna, the Prajna Teachings; for the presentation of Real Mark Prajna was opening the provisional to reveal the actual. So to say that would contradict the principles of all the other Great Vehicle Sutras of Ultimate Meaning. For example, it said in the Limitless Meaning Sutra, “The Buddha at all times spoke both great and small.” That’s why you can’t talk about this in too fixed a way.

Prologue:

From this one knows that the previous great also had provisional and actual. The Dharma Flower merely gathers in the previous provisional. Therefore, the three are said to be empty in substance. The previous actual did not interfere with the expedient, and so it is not gathered in.

Commentary:

From this that’s been talked about, one knows that the previous speaking of the Great Vehicle also had both the Provisional Teaching and the Actual Teaching. The Dharma Flower Sutra merely gathers in the previous Provisional Teaching to return it to the Actual Teaching. So there was Actual Teaching even before; it’s just that it appeared to be lesser degree. Therefore, the three Vehicles are said to be empty in substance, falsely established with no actuality. The previous speaking of the Actual Teaching did not interfere with or contradict the expedient dharmas, and so it is not necessary for it to be gathered in to return along with the Three. Therefore, it’s not just the Dharma Flower Sutra that is Actual Teaching. There was the actual even before it. Even within the Prajna and Vaipulya Periods there were places wither the Actual Teaching was spoken. The only difference is that there wasn’t any opening of the provisional to reveal the actual.

Prologue:

If it is a case of gathering in the provisional to return it to the actual, then that is assembling the three to make them one. If one breaks open the small to reveal the great, then that is assembling the two to return to the one.

Commentary:

If it is a case of gathering in the provisional to return it to the actual, then that is assembling the three to make them one. It’s gathering in the three – the Great and the Small Vehicle of the Bodhisattvas, the Sound-Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions – to return them to the one, the Buddha Vehicle. If one breaks open the Small to reveal the Great Vehicle Dharma, then that is assembling the two of the Small Vehicle – the Sound-Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions – to return to the one Bodhisattva Vehicle. That explanation is also possible.

Prologue:

If one opens the provisional to reveal the actual, then the three are the one, and there is no other further “one.”

Commentary:

If one opens the provisional to reveal the actual, then the previous three, the Sound-Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas, are themselves the one Buddha Vehicle. Before it had been divided up to make Three Vehicles but basically they are one Vehicle. The reason for the division was that living beings have differing dispositions. Some people like the dharmas of the Four Noble Truths, but other’s aren’t so fond of them and won’t listen. Yet if you talk to them about the Twelve Conditioned Links they say, “Not bad! This has a lot to it.”

They believe and start cultivating them. Some people not only have no interest in the Four Noble Truths, and react to the Twelve Links by saying, “All of ‘this’ conditioning ‘that’ – ignorance conditioning on and on until old age and death is pretty boring,” and don’t want to listen.

But maybe you talk to them about the Six Paramitas of a Bodhisattva and tell them, “You ought to practice giving, for that’s cultivating blessings. And you ought to hold the precepts, for that gives rise to samadhi. You should be patient to the point of crossing to the other shore – if you’re not patient you can’t get to the other shore – but should also be vigorous instead of doing something useless like sleeping all day long and snoring. And you also need to investigate dhyana and cultivating samadhi, which will lead you to have great wisdom, Prajna.”

They did not believe in the Four Noble Truths or Twelve Links, but at this they say, “Not bad! I’ll cultivate the Six Paramitas,” and they bring forth the great resolve of a Bodhisattva. Basically, all of that is one and cannot be divided, and now it’s all brought back together.

It’s like taking some milk and dividing it into three different glasses. Three people could each drink one glass, or one person could drink all three glasses, and it would be the same. It’s just that if his or here capacity was not that great it might burst his or her stomach. So the Buddha starts by dividing things up into smaller amounts for you, and when you’ve polished that much off, he pours you out some more. That’s just what’s going on.

So, if one opens – dispenses with – the Provisional Teaching in order to make the Real Teaching appear, then the Three Vehicles unite into one Vehicle, and there is no other further “one.” There isn’t any additional One Vehicle beyond and outside of the Three Vehicles. Although it is said to be the Buddha Vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle is the union of the Three Vehicles. Basically they are the Buddha Vehicle. Divided there are three, put together there are one, and that “one” is not something over and above the three.

Prologue:

Therefore, that Sutra says, “What you are now walking, that is the Bodhisattva Way.” And “all that has been paid out and taken in is known by him.”

Commentary:

Therefore, that, The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra says, “What you are now walking, that is the Bodhisattva Way.” You are cultivating:

Benefiting oneself, benefiting others;
Enlightening oneself, enlightening other;
Crossing oneself over, crossing over others.

It’s cultivating the Six Paramitas and the ten thousand practices. In the Dharma Flower Sutra the Buddha told them, “Don’t now figure that what you are cultivating is the Small Vehicle. All of you are living beings who are walking the Bodhisattva Path and cultivating Great Vehicle Dharma. Now all of you can become Buddha provided you use effort and cultivate. You’re not far from Buddhahood.” In the same Sutra, the Elder announced, “ and all that has been paid out and taken in, all the wealth and property, is known by him, the poor son.” The poor son represents the Small Vehicle who hadn’t known the extent of the wealth of Buddhadharma. But now the Elder is passing on the inheritance of all his wealth and holdings to the poor son, which stands for the Buddha bestowing all the wonderful Dharma of the Great Vehicle upon those of the Two Vehicles. And the Two Vehicles now unite into the third – the Bodhisattva Vehicle – with the goal of the One Buddha Vehicle now in evidence.

Time passes quickly. The poor son swept dung for twenty years, which went by in the blink of an eye. Sweeping out dung stands for getting rid of our false thinking, dispelling coarse delusions, fine delusions, and delusions of ignorance. Bit by bit we clean them up from limitless kalpas up to the present we have become too accustomed to defiled dharmas, and know very few pure ones. So we have to use some effort and dispel the false thinking – the dung. Since you don’t eat very much, how can you be producing so much excrement? Even if you do eat a lot, it would be better to make less excrement. This is not real excrement but means your false thoughts, and what you eat is the food of Dharma. Since you eat so much Dharma food, you should clean up the false thinking a bit, and not strike up so much of it all the time. People in the world should do more merit and virtue and commit fewer offenses. The doing of merit and virtue is cleaning up your house, while committing offenses is making it dirty. So, if you know at all times to keep your house of your mind clean, that’s the skill of dispelling false thoughts. Your stupidity increases in direct proportion to the amount of false thinking you have, 10% stupidity for 10% false thinking, 100% stupidity for 100% false thinking, even up to 1000% and 10,000% stupidity.

We have so many troubles and difficulties because in the past we weren’t able to do merit and virtue. So now nothing turns out right. But if you’re able to do a lot of merit and virtue, you will naturally obtain happiness, and won’t have suffering and trouble.

Prologue:

If one dispenses with the provisional to establish the actual, the meaning is said to make four. This is like taking three dots and making them into some one other thing: the separate dots are not that other thing, yet the other thing is comprised of the three dots. Previously the three were separate, and the one totally unites them, and so making four is without error.

Commentary:

If one dispenses with the provisional to establish the actual Teaching, the meaning is said to make four. If one does away with the Provisional Teaching in order to set up the actual, there would seem to be four separate entities involved. If you take that one and add to it the previous three, it seems to mean it makes four. But actually they had been divided into three and are now united into one. This is like taking three dots and making them into some one other thing. You put them together and make one thing out of them, which seems to be something other than what one had before. The separate dots, when not put together, are not that other thing, yet the other thing is comprised of the three dots. It’s made from the juxtaposition f the three dots. Previously the three were separate.

The Three Vehicles talked about before – Sound-Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas – were three separate things; and the actual teaching did not unite the provisional Teaching which were divided up so there were Sound-Hearers distinct from Those Enlightened to Conditions, also different from the Bodhisattvas. Since they were not united, the Actual Teaching did not contain the principles of the Provisional Teaching. Now the one totally unites them. Now they form some one other thing, in which the provisional is the actual and the actual is the provisional, both included in that “one.” The Three Vehicles now form the Buddha Vehicle, and so making four is without error. It’s okay to say that means there are four, and you won’t be wrong.

Prologue:

If one bases oneself upon how previously it had not yet been clearly stated that all are endowed with the Thus Come One’s knowledge and vision, and that the seeds of spoiled roots are now said certainly to accomplish it, then there is a difference now from what came before. There is support in the texts, and the meaning is also very perfect.

Commentary:

If ones bases oneself upon how previously, prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra, it had not yet been clearly stated that all living beings are endowed with the Thus Come One’s knowledge and vision, the virtuous characteristics of the Buddha’s wisdom, then one will find differences in the teaching. At that time it had not been said that Sound-Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions could become Buddhas the way it had been said for the Bodhisattvas. And yet in the Dharma Flower it’s clear that the seeds of spoiled roots are now said certainly to accomplish it. The “spoiled roots” refer to those of the Two Vehicles. Now in the Dharma Flower Sutra, is says that all living beings can become Buddhas and predictions are given to the Sound-Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions. Since this had not been revealed in the previous Agama, Vaipulya, and Prajna Periods, then there is a difference in what is being said now from what came before, isn’t there? You can’t claim they’re the same. There is support for this in a great many places in the texts, and the meaning as is stated in the Dharma Flower Sutra, that all living beings have the Buddhanature and are capable of becoming Buddhas, is also very perfect without defect, and so believable.

End of the Second Door, Part One

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