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

Four Teachings

Second Representative

Prologue:

Two, T'ien T'ai’s Wise One of the two periods of Ch’en and Sui, who carried on the transmission from Great Master Sse of Nan Yao. He established Four Teachings which are: One, the Three Stores Teaching. This teaching explains the principle of the production and extinction from causes and conditions of the Four Truths.

Commentary:

Two, the second Dharma Master who established Four Teachings, is T'ien T'ai

Mountain’s Great Master Wise One. T'ien T'ai, “Platform of heaven”, is the name of a very lofty range of mountains in Chung Kuo, “the Central Country”, that is China. It was so called because it seemed by ascending that mountain one could reach the heavens. The Dharma Master’s name was actually Chih I, but it was the custom in Chung Kuo to avoid using personal names out of respect for the individual. People held in high esteem were often referred to by the name of the place they were from as in this case where “T'ien T'ai” is used. Also, only one character of the Master’s name occurs in his title “Wise One,” and it is not employed in a personal way, which is another way of showing respect. It was the Emperor who first referred to him thus. He once exclaimed, “Ah, you are indeed a Wise One!” in response to the Great Master’s wisdom and unimpeded eloquence, and afterwards people called the Master “Wise One” instead of by his personal name. That two forms of respectful address are employed indicates the great esteem in which the Master was held. The Master really knew how to talk, and once discussed the single word “wonderful” for ninety days. Some people say he was a reincarnation of Shakyamuni Buddha. But whether he was an incarnation of Shakyamuni or Amitabha Buddha, or of Manjushri or Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, in that lifetime his name was “Wise One.”

The Master was of the time of the two periods Ch’en and Sui. The Ch’en dynasty’s final monarch took refuge with him, and so did one ruler of the Sui dynasty, which had two monarchs, Wen and Yang. Both of them believed in Buddhism, but Yang of Sui was a terrible Emperor. Before taking the throne he was King of Chin, and at that time receive the Bodhisattva precepts transmitted to him by Great Master Wise One. After receiving the precepts however the Emperor didn’t hold them, and even killed his own father. He did many other terrible things. For example, he was extremely fond of women and was a voyeur. In Chung Kuo he made a canal with human labor, and when it was done he used to have 1000 naked men and 1000 naked women pull his barge along the canal with ropes as they stood on either shore. Just when they were pulling with all their might, he would take a knife and cut the ropes so they all fell in heaps on both banks. Seeing them in disarray like that, he would laugh and laugh. Yang was a cruel king and lacked the Way. He was the worst king of Emperor, yet he bowed to Great Master Wise One as his Teacher. Nevertheless, he failed to offer up his conduct in accord with his teachings, and so eventually was assassinated by Emperor T’ai Tsung who overthrew him and set up a new dynasty, the T’ang.

Great Master Wise One was one who carried on the transmission of the Dharma from Great Master Sse of the Nan Yao region, not T'ien T'ai. A “Great Master” is one who acts as a Teacher of humans and gods. His full name was Hui Sse, and Nan Yao is the name of a mountain range in the Hu Nan area of Chung Kuo. Again, he is called by the one character “Sse” and said to be “of Nan Yao,” the place name, out of respect.

When Great Master Wise One went to pay his respects to him, Great Master Sse said to him, “Oh, so you have come. We listened to the Dharma Flower Sutra together on Vulture Peak at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha.”

As soon as Great Master Wise One heard that, he realized, “Yes, that’s right. We did investigate the Dharma Flower Sutra together at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha.”

Afterwards, Great Master Wise One had a state. He was reading the Dharma Flower Sutra and reached the section in which Medicine King Bodhisattva burns his body as an offering to the Buddhas, the passage where it says:

This is true vigor. This is called a true offering of Dharma.

He suddenly enter Samadhi, right while reading the text, and was able to see the Dharma Flower Assembly on Vulture Peak with Shakyamuni Buddha still speaking the Dharma and the multitudes of Bodhisattvas, Sound Hearers, and those of the eightfold division listening to the Dharma Flower Sutra.

Do you think he failed to understand that state when he saw it? Not necessarily. But he still went and asked his Teacher about it. Wearing his robe and sash and putting down his bowing cloth, he prostrated himself on the ground with the utmost true respect, and then described his state.

Great Master Sse said, “Really good. Really good. If it were not you, it would not be certified to, and if it were not me, it would not be recognized.” He meant, “You’ve already understood and obtained the deep, profound, wonderful meaning of the Dharma Flower, the Dharani of a Single Revolution, the One-Turning uniting and Holding. However, if it hadn’t been you, that state would not have been certified to. And if you hadn’t asked me about it but had gone to someone else, no one would have understood it, and they would have said you’d caught a demon.”

After being sealed and certified by Great Master Sse, Great Master Wise One went back and worked even harder at reading and reciting the Dharma Flower Sutra. He used it as the basis for establishing the T'ien T'ai School, which is now know in America. That is how he continued the flow of the Dharma pulse which he received from Great Master Hui Sse of Nan Yao.

Hearing how he told Great Master Wise One that they had been together listening to The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra in the assembly of Shakyamuni Buddha, we should all pay attention. All of us, not just one, listened not only to the Dharma Flower Sutra, but to the Shurangama Sutra and the Flower Adornment Sutra together on Vulture Peak, and so in this area where there is no Buddhism we again have the opportunity to investigate the Buddhadharma together. Don’t’ look upon these as slight causes and conditions – they aren’t. Every single day we experience inconceivable states here, but you aren’t paying attention and so you don’t realize it. All of you have lived at Nan Yao, but you’ve forgotten. The mountains are very high and afford a good view…

So all of you should get enlightened fast – slowly won’t do – and realize what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s why left-home people rub their heads three times at the start of each day, to ask themselves, “Why is it I don’t have any hair? Where did it go? Why didn’t’ I want to have any? Oh, it’s since I’m a left-home person, and so I shouldn’t have false thoughts all the time and not follow the rules – or why would I have left-home?” It’s the Dharma Ending Age in Asia right now, and the Proper Dharma should appear in America, so all of you left-home people should recognize yourselves and shy you are here.

He, Great Master Wise One, in establishing the T'ien T'ai School – also called the T'ien T'ai Teachings – established Four Teachings which are:

The Four Teachings:

One, the first of those, is what he called the Three Stores Teaching, which discusses the Small Vehicle and crosses over Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions. The Agama Sutras form the substance of that Teaching, for they present the Small Vehicle. This teaching explains the principle of the production and extinction from causes and conditions of the Four Truths. There are four aspects to the Four Truths:

The Four aspects to the Four Truths:

In each case it refers to:

The Four Truths:

But there are those four distinctions in their relation to dharmas of production from causes and conditions. The Four Truths of production followed by extinction, then further production and so forth concern production and extinction dependent on causes and conditions. They are therefore:

The Four Truths Realted to Dharmas of Production from Causes and Conditions

In the Small Vehicle of Sound Hearer and Those Enlightened to Conditions, the first of those is discussed.

Prologue:

It directly teaches the Small Vehicle and incidentally instructs the Bodhisattvas.

Commentary:

It, the Three Store Teaching set up by Great Master Wise One, directly teaches the Sound Hearer and Those Enlightened to Conditions of the Small Vehicle, and that’s not all it does. It also incidentally instructs the Bodhisattvas. That’s why in the Agama Sutras Shakyamuni Buddha gives Maitreya Bodhisattva his prediction, yet without saying what is meant by the Bodhisattva Way, how to cultivate it, or how many aspects there are to the Bodhisattva Way. Since that wasn’t discussed, it was incidentally, not direct instruction for Bodhisattvas. The meaning was implicit, but the Bodhisattva Way was not talked of straight out.

Prologue:

Two, the Connective Teaching. “Connective” means “Identical,” because the Three Vehicles identically receive it.

Commentary:

Two, the second kind of Teaching, is the Connective (“Common”) Teaching. “Connective” means “identical,” so why not call it that? It’s because it’s connective with what came before as well as what comes after, being in part identical with each, and because the Three Vehicles identically receive it. The Sound Hearer, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and the Bodhisattvas can all study this Dharma of the Connective Period, which belongs to the Vaipulya category. The Connective Teaching connects with the previous Three Stores (“Tripitika”) Teaching, as well as with the subsequent Prajna Period, which is the Separate Teaching. The Connective Teaching is the initial door to the Great Vehicle, the beginning of the presentation of Great Vehicle Dharma, which makes it, the Vaipulya category, acceptable to al three Vehicles.

We who study the Buddhadharma shouldn’t just study “Head-mouth Zen,” and think being able to speak a few sentences of Buddhadharma is what it means to be a Buddhist disciple. You have to use what you’ve studied, go put it into practice. If you’re not going to apply it, you shouldn’t study it. If you know the Way, you should cultivate it – otherwise what’s the point of knowing it or studying it? There may be many aspects to the Bodhisattva Way, but I don’t believe not doing morning and evening recitation is one of them. The only kind of a way that is walking is the lazy one. When you left-home to cultivate the Way, not only when you’re a novice should you try to keep ahead and at least not fall behind in your practice, but also as a Bhikshu or Bhiksuni you must be diligent. If you live in the temple and don’t work outside, you should do morning and evening recitation. If you don’t you should be very repentant and reform. You can’t rationalize and say, “It doesn’t matter if I miss it today. I’ll start doing ti again tomorrow.” In all you do you should progress. If you start out being lazy as a novice, you will be even less vigorous as a Bhikshu or Bhikshuni, and you’ll never bring your Way karma to accomplishment – for it takes the cultivation of all kinds of Dharma doors to have success.

Prologue:

This teaching explains the principle of the Non-production of the Four Truths, inasmuch as causes and conditions are just emptiness. It is the initial door to the Mahayana.

Commentary:

This, the Connective Teaching, explains the principle of the Non-production of the Four Truths, inasmuch as causes and conditions are just emptiness. All four Teachings are illustrated in a verse spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha:

The Dharma of production from conditions,
I proclaim is just emptiness.
On the one hand it is called false names,
On the other called the meaning of the Middle Way.

The previous Store Teaching is equivalent to the line that says dharmas are produced from causes and conditions. The Connective Teaching is equivalent to the line that proclaims they are just emptiness. The Separate Teaching is expressed by their being on the one hand called by false names. The Perfect Teaching is their on the other hand being called the Ultimate meaning of the Middle Way.

The second principle, that of the Connective Teaching, is that of the non-production from causes and conditions of the Four Truths – non-production just being emptiness. It is illustrated in the second line of the verse:

… I proclaim are just emptiness.

In the Three Stores Teachings, only people are empty, no dharmas, and they retain an attachment to dharmas. With the Connective Teaching, both people and dharmas are empty, and those two attachments are gone. The principle of the Four Truths in this case is that Suffering, Accumulation, Extinction and the Way in their very substance are not produced. It is the initial door to the Mahayana, the beginning of the Great (Maha) Vehicle (Yana) – but it is not entirely that either. It connects the previous Small Vehicle with the Great Vehicle which follows, and so involves all Three Vehicles of Sound Hearer, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas.

Prologue:

It directly teaches Bodhisattvas and incidentally connects with the two Vehicles. The Great Category also says, “If one wishes to obtain the Sound Hearer Vehicle, one should study Prajna Paramita,” and so forth.

Commentary:

It directly teaches Bodhisattvas. The previous Store Teaching directly taught those of the Small Vehicle, and only indirectly the Bodhisattvas. The Connective Teaching, though, is aimed right at the Bodhisattvas and incidentally connects with the two Vehicles, the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions. In The Great Category Prajna Sutra it also says, “If one wishes to obtain the Sound Hearer Vehicle, one should study Prajna Paramita.” It tells you that If you want to obtain the result position of a Sound Hearer, you should study wisdom, and then you’ll reach the other shore, and so forth. That is, there are also the rest of the Six Paramitas. “And so forth” also means that form Prajna Paramita you can obtain the position to which you aspire – to just that of a Sound Hearer, but also of One Enlightened to Conditions or a Bodhisattva.

The Six Paramitas:

Prologue:

Moreover, the teachings, the principles, the wisdoms, the severances, the conducts, the positions, the causes, and the fruitions all connect with the shallow and the profound. They are not identical with Prajna held in common, which is only held in common by the shallow.

Commentary:

It has just talked of how one should study Prajna, which is going to be discussed in detail now, so the text says: moreover, the teachings, the principles, the wisdoms, the severances, the conducts, the positions, the causes, and the fruitions all connect with the shallow and the profound. The Teachings connect with both the shallow and the deep. The same holds true for the Principles, the Wisdoms, the Severances, the Conducts, the Positions, the Causes, and the Fruitions. They are not identical with Prajna held in common, which is only held on common by the shallow, that is, only common to the Small Vehicle and not common to the Great Vehicle.

The Eight Aspects of Teachings Applied to the Connective Teaching:

When people left-home to cultivate the Way, it’s not known who has what kinds of causes and conditions. Perhaps one has created offense karma in previous lives, or perhaps one has wholesome merit and virtue. That’s why when you left-home, and especially when you are preparing to receive the precepts, you should constantly keep watch over yourself, return the light and reverse the illumination, and bring forth great repentance and reform. Don’t let yourself become arrogant or jealous. You should always be thinking of Giving, Holding precepts, Patience, vigor, Dhyana-samadhi and Prajna Wisdom, and never forget them. If you remember Wisdom, you shouldn’t run off to stupidity. Remembering Dhyana-samadhi, you shouldn’t run off to scatteredness. Remembering vigor, you shouldn’t run off to laziness. Remembering Patience, you shouldn’t run off to arrogance. Remembering Holding Precepts, you shouldn’t run off to violating the precepts. Remembering Giving, you shouldn’t run off to stinginess. If you can always wake up that way, you can forge yourself a perfect and complete bright Vajra Jeweled Sword.

To prepare for receiving the complete precepts, whenever you have time you should bow to the Buddhas seeking the vajra bright jeweled precepts. In this country Buddhism is just beginning, and you must be models for others – not just their leaders with nothing to back that up. You should show people a good way to be by how you are, and then later on people will imitate you. Set your thoughts aside and seek the aid of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas so that you can receive the vajra jeweled precepts. It would be best if you bowed in the temple every chance you get, and seek repentance. If you are lax all the time instead, when you go to take the precepts you will have demonic obstacles – maybe go insane or have an accident and be unable to take the precepts. If that happens, it’s because you aren’t seeking the precepts according to the Dharma, and even if you seek them you won’t receive them. So you should earnestly seek repentance and reform, and bring forth the great resolve for Bodhi, thus eradicating your offenses.

previous * next * Contents***Preface

return to top