THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

Three, the Separate Teaching. “Separate” means not held in common, for it expresses what is not in common with those of the two Vehicles. This teaching directly explains the principle of the limitlessness of the Four Truths, inasmuch as causes and conditions are false names. It actually teaches Bodhisattvas, and does not involve the two Vehicles. Therefore, the Sound Hearers by his seat were as if deaf and blind.

Commentary:

Three, the third, the Separate or “Special” Teaching, is not the same as other Teachings, either the Connective Teaching which comes before it, or the Perfect Teaching which follows it. “Separate” means not held in common. The Separate, special Teaching speaks of wisdom not held in common, for it expresses what is not in common with those of the two Vehicles. It is Dharma for teaching Bodhisattvas, and so the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions (the Two Vehicles) are unable to hear this kind of Dharma. This teaching directly explains the principle of the limitlessness of the Four Truths. The Separate Teaching – Prajna – talks of the emptiness of both people and dharmas, inasmuch as causes and conditions, since empty, are false names. It discusses how there is limitless Suffering, limitless Accumulation, and how Extinction and the Way are principles which are also limitless. This principle, however, is not one that Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions are able to know, and so it actually teaches Bodhisattvas, and does not involve the Two Vehicles. This Dharma is directly and fundamentally for Bodhisattvas. The Two Vehicles don’t have a share in it. Therefore, the Sound Hearers by his seat were as if deaf and blind. When the Buddha spoke Prajna, they were like people who couldn’t see or hear anything. That is, they couldn’t understand when the Buddha spoke Prajna – principles which are similar to those of the Flower Adornment Sutra.

Prologue:

The reason it is not called the uncommon but is called the separate is equally to sort it out as not the perfect. That is because the individual causes remain quite distinct, and the individual fruits do not interfuse. They are cultivated by passing through something separate, so one does not reach perfect interpenetration of causes and the fruit.

Commentary:

The Separate Teaching is the Prajna Period, so couldn’t’ be called the “Uncommon” Teaching instead? No. The reason it is not called the uncommon but is called the separate is that “uncommon” means not in common with the Two Vehicles, while “separate” is equally to sort it out as not the perfect. You might think that if it’s not common to the Two Vehicle – but that’s not the case. If you simply call it the Uncommon Teaching, that wouldn’t indicate it as distinct form the Great Vehicle. You couldn’t distinguish from the name that it was not common to the Perfect Teaching, but would only know that it was not in common with the Stores Teaching and the Connective Teaching. So calling it the Separate Teaching shows it’s not connected or identical with what came before it or what comes after it. It’s special, and to call it that is to equally sort it out as not the Perfect Teaching. Why is that? It’s because the previous Connective Teaching could be cultivated by all Three Vehicles, whereas this, the Prajna, is just cultivated by Bodhisattvas – which also makes it different form the Three Stores (Tripitaka) Teaching.

That is because the individual causes remain quite distinct, and the individual fruits do not interfuse. The fruitions of the Separate Teaching do not interpenetrate with the fruitions of the Perfect Teaching. They are cultivated by passing through something separate. One goes through something very separate and special when one cultivates Prajna, so one does not reach perfect interpenetration of causes and the fruit. Through his Teaching one cannot reach the point where the cause is just the fruit and the fruit is just the cause, cause and fruition being non-dual. It has that difference form the principles of the Perfect Teaching in which upon the cause one knows the fruition, and at the time of the fruit one knows the cause. Without that unobstructed interpenetration, there is no way that:

The cause includes the sea of the fruits.
The fruit penetrates to the causal source.

Since that kind of principle of unobstructed interpenetration and perfect fusion cannot operate within it, it’s called the Separate Teaching.

Prologue:

Four, the Perfect Teaching, “Perfect” because its meaning is that of not inclining to either extreme. This teaching directly explains inconceivable causes and conditions, the Two Truths and the Middle Way, the totality of specifics and principle which is not to either side and is not separate. It only teaches people whose faculties are of the sharpest, highest caliber, and so it is called the Perfect.

Commentary:

Four, the fourth Teaching established by Great Master Wise One, is the Perfect Teaching, which is the unobstructed interpenetrating perfection of Bodhi, it is called “Perfect” because its meaning is that of not inkling to either extreme. It is the ultimate meaning of the Middle Way. This teaching directly explains inconceivable causes and conditions, the Two Truths. Here it is the Non-Acting of the Four Truths, which is very perfect, interpenetrating, and unobstructed. It presents the Two Truths – Truth in the Primary Sense and Relative Truth – and it presents the Middle Way, the Truth of the Middle among the Three Truths of Absolute, Relative, and Middle. The Three Truths interfuse so that what is true in the primary sense is just the relative, and is also just the Middle Way between them.

It also presents the totality of specific and principle, so that speaking from the point of view of specifics there is unobstructed perfect interpenetration, and that same unimpeded interfusion occurs when talking form the vantage point of principle. It is that totality which is not to either side and is not separate. It doesn’t belong to the one-sidedness of the Connective Teaching, or to the separateness of the Separate Teaching. It’s the Perfect Teaching of unobstructed interpenetration where in one Middle is just each and every Middle, one false is just each and every false, and one absolute is just all absolutes.

It only teaches people whose faculties are of the sharpest, highest caliber. The Perfect Teaching instructs the most intelligent of people, those who immediately open enlightenment upon hearing this Teaching, and so it is called the Perfect Teaching. That’s why it is said:

If perfect people cultivate the Dharma,
There is no dharma that is not perfect.

Whatever dharma is cultivated by those with wisdom whose disposition is that of the Great Vehicle is perfect Dharma, while fore those whose disposition is that of the Two Vehicles, even the perfect is not perfect. Here it’s called the Perfect Teaching because it’s perfect even if it’s not, since it’s cultivated by those of perfected faculties. But if you spoke about is Dharma doors to those of the Two Vehicles, they wouldn’t understand them. In that case, perfect Dharma would then become imperfect Dharma.

Prologue:

The Flower Adornment Sutra says: “To display the power of sovereign mastery he speaks for them the perfect, total sutra. All the limitlessness living beings completely receive predictions of Bodhi,” and so forth.

Commentary:

In the Flower Adornment Sutra there are a few lines of text in which it says, “To display the power of sovereign mastery,” in order to make appear th power of uncalculated, uncontrived, perfect, interpenetrating, unobstructed, comfortable self-mastery, “He speaks for them the perfect, total sutra.” For all living beings the Buddha speaks the perfect Sutra Teaching, so-called because there is nothing it fails to include and comprise. “All the limitlessness living beings completely receive predictions of Bodhi,” and so forth. The Buddha tells every one of them that they, along with all sentient beings, in the future are certain to become Buddhas. That’s why when the Buddha accomplished Buddhahood he sighed three times and said:

Strange indeed, strange indeed, Strange indeed!
All living beings have the Thus Come One’s virtue Characteristic, and wisdom.
It is only due to false thinking and attachment that they do not certify to them.

All of them have the same kind of virtue, characteristics, and wisdom that the Thus Come One has, and it’s just their false thoughts and attachments that prevent them from opening enlightenment and being Buddhas too. In the Shurangama Sutra it says:

When the mad mind stops, that very stopping is Bodhi.

Why aren’t we able to display our power of comfortable self-mastery or speak the perfect, total Sutra? Why can’t we bestow prediction of Bodhi upon living beings? It’s because our mad mind is too huge and hasn’t stopped. If you stop it, you certify to the virtue, characteristics, and wisdom of a Thus Come One, and perfect the wonderful fruit of Bodhi of your own self-nature.

Prologue:

In the separate, the teachings, the principles, and so forth are all separate. In the perfect, the teachings, the principles, and so forth are all perfect.

Commentary:

In the Separate Teaching, the teachings, the principles, and so forth, that is, the Wisdoms, the Severances, the Conducts, the Positions, the Causes, and the Fruitions, are all such that they belong to the Separate Teaching. In the Perfect Teaching, the teachings, the principles, and so forth, that is, the rest of the eight – the Wisdom, Severances, Conducts, Positions, Causes and Fruitions – are all of the Perfect Teaching. That explanation is according to the teaching doctrines.

Prologue:

Furthermore, these four teachings arise due to the Three Contemplations. Because form the false one enters emptiness, the substance is divided into differences, and there are the first tow teachings. Form emptiness one enters the false , and from the false one enters the middle, so the Separate Teaching arises. By the Three Contemplations in one thought, the middle is attained, and the Perfect Teaching arises.

Commentary:

Furthermore, these four teachings, the principles of the Store Teachings, the Connective Teaching, the Separate Teaching, and the Perfect Teaching, arise due to the Three Contemplations of empty, false, and Middle. One contemplates Emptiness, Falseness, and the Middle Way. The Contemplation of Emptiness is performed by those of the Two Vehicles who, however, only know of the emptiness of people, not that of dharmas; so they still fall to the side of existence. Bodhisattvas not only know the emptiness of people, but also that of dharmas – they do not yet perceive the Middle Way; so they still fall to the side of emptiness. Those that incline to the side of existence contemplate falseness. Those that incline to the side of emptiness contemplate emptiness.

In the Contemplation of the Middle Way, emptiness does not obstruct existence, nor does existence interfere with emptiness. The very emptiness is existence, and existence itself is emptiness. That emptiness is not to be found apart form existence, but it’s right within it. Those of the Two Vehicles make a distinction between emptiness and existence, considering them two separate things. Bodhisattvas know that existence does not necessarily exist, but do not yet realize emptiness is not necessarily empty. They have not yet reached the Middle Way in which true emptiness does not obstruct wonderful existence, and wonderful existence does not obstruct true emptiness. It’s not to say that the world is obliterated to become emptiness and that when that happens it is a great disaster. The Buddha understands the Middle Way, which does not mean smashing existence to reveal emptiness, or smashing emptiness to return it to existence. Rather, right within existence he knows that it is emptiness.

This is the same as the way we people have the Buddhanature. To have it doesn’t mean the person has to die for the Buddhanature to come alive. Rather, if you cultivate, then it is when you are born as a person that your Buddhanature will reveal itself. That’s again true emptiness not obstructing wonderful existence, and wonderful existence not obstructing true emptiness – Emptiness, Falseness, and the Middle Way. When one is empty, all are empty. With one false, all are false; and with one true – true means middle – so, with one Middle, all are the Middle Way.

It’s from not having attachments that one can have emptiness and existence mutually unobstructed so that true emptiness itself is wonderful existence and the other way around. You shouldn’t divide them up the way those of the Two Vehicles do, dividing them smallest particle imaginable seven more times to reach emptiness. They take a mote of dust bordering on emptiness – the equivalent of an atom – and divide it into seven particles, which means it disappears and one reaches emptiness. That’s how they smash existence to return to emptiness, but that’s too much trouble. Emptiness is right within existence. If you can achieve that state, then how would you still have greed, hatred, or stupidity? There would be nothing at all, and you would have no more desire. No longer would you want to do one thing today and another the next, like thinking of leaving home today and changing your mind tomorrow.

It’s right within form that there is emptiness. That’s why it says in the Heart Sutra:

Form itself is emptiness;
Emptiness itself is form.

All you need to do is recite those two phrases to understand, and nothing needs to be said. Since form itself is emptiness, then why be greedily attached to form? What need is there to be moved by the beauty of forms? Even the most beautiful colors and shapes are empty – are emptiness – so why should you have a need for them or crave them? You can do without them because they are empty. And you don’t have to say a person dies and is buried in the earth, decomposes and turns into emptiness. That’s not it. Rather, the very form itself is empty.

You say, “I don’t believe this. You can feel there’s a body.”

Well, who’s feeling it? Who can feel it?

You say, “I feel it.”

Then why is there a time when you can’t feel it? If you can feel it, you should be able to do so forever. But then why does there come a time when you don’t know to feel it? Think that one over.

Because from the false one enters emptiness, the substance is divided into differences. From the Contemplation of Falseness one enters into the Contemplation of Emptiness. “falseness” here refers to existence, while “Emptiness” refers to emptiness. From existence one enters into emptiness, and then the substance of the Contemplation if divided into dissimilar parts; and there are the first two teachings. Those tow are the Tripitaka Teaching and the Connective Teaching. From emptiness one enters the false, and from the false one enters the middle, so the Separate Teaching arises. Out of the Contemplation of Emptiness, that of Falseness arises, so one enters into existence. Then from the Contemplation of falseness, one enters the Contemplation of the Middle – which is that of the Separate Teaching.

By the Three Contemplations in one thought the Middle is attained. The very emptiness is falseness and is itself the Middle – there is no sequence to the Three Contemplations. There’s no past, no future, and no present. The merit and virtue of limitless aeons is perfectly accomplished in one single thought, and limitless aeons are not apart from a single thought. When those Three Contemplations are made in a single thought, the Middle is attained, and the Perfect Teaching arises. When a perfect person cultivates the Dharma there is no dharma that is not perfect. Great Master Wise One established the Perfect Teaching in which the very cause is the effect – the fruit – and the fruit itself is the cause, in unobstructed in interpenetration and perfect fusion.

However, this is not as in other religions where there is no regard for the interconnection of cause and effect and which lack clarity about what is cause and what is effect. The principle of the Perfect Teaching is such that:

The cause includes the sea of the fruit.
The fruit penetrates to the causal source.

The positions of the fruition extend through to their source in the cause. That’s why the Perfect Teaching is called inconceivable – you can’t use your mind to think of it or thought to conceptualize it. It is unthinkably perfect and wonderful – totally perfect and unique.

Prologue:

Moreover, these four teachings are not necessarily confined to just one work, for within a single work, many are included.

Commentary:

Moreover, although Great Master Wise One established these four kinds of teachings based upon the Dharma Flower Sutra, nonetheless these four kinds of teachings are not necessarily confined to just one work. They aren’t limited to the Dharma Flower Sutra alone, and the particular Teachings don’t fall neatly within the bounds of particular Sutras; for within a single work, many are included. Some Sutra include two kinds, some three, some four; and so the Store, connective, Separate and Perfect Teachings are absolutely not confined to given Sutras. If you understand the principles of the Teachings, you’ll discover which kinds of Teachings are inside a single Sutra and why the Buddha spoke them.

When one leaves home to cultivate the Way; one must be humble and easy-going. One can’t be arrogant and conceited and think, “I’m better and smarter than everyone else.” If you think that way, that’s really your stupidity. If you’re arrogant and conceited you won’t be able to cultivate the Way. Not only that, but it will be easy to fall to the hells. Why is it that even though people cultivate they are unable to enter Samadhi or get enlightened? It’s just from being blocked by pride and arrogance. If you have that kind of attitude, don’t expect to accomplish your work in the Way.

Take a look attachment Ever-Not-Slighting Bodhisattva, who was Shakyamuni Buddha in a previous lifetime on the causal ground. Whenever he saw people he bowed to them and said, “I do not dare slight you. You are going to be Buddhas.” When he bowed to people they hit him and cursed him and kicked him, but he kept on bowing to the people he saw. He did speed up his bowing thought, and then he’d jump up and say, “I do not dare slight you. You are going to be Buddhas.” After that he’d run away.

Among Dharma peers, those who left-home later must respect those who left home before them. You especially cannot be jealous, envious, and obstructive saying, “I don’t like anyone to be better than I am.” If you’re someone who is jealous of others, in the future you will certainly fall. I’ll tell you exactly where. First you’ll fall into the hells, then when that is over you’ll turn into a hungry ghost. After that you’ll be an animal – but what kind? You’ll fall to a filthy place, be a bug in a latrine – a dung beetle – because you stink too badly.

Basically I don’t like to speak this kind of Dharma, but I see that if I don’t discuss it there are people who are sure to go running off to just that place. After I’ve said this, if they change the error of their ways and turn over a new leaf, it may not be so dangerous. But anyone who is jealous and who doesn’t change will turn into a bug in a filthy place. So everyone should be very careful. I’m telling you this, but whether you believe it or not is up to you. If you believe it that’s fine, and it’s even finer if you don’t. It’s my responsibility to inform you of the causal retribution involved. After that, if you keep on the same way, there won’t be any question of courtesy in your case.

Prologue:

This is even more the case if one uses the four kinds of teaching methods to gather them in, that is, the Sudden, the Gradual, the Unfixed, and the Secret. The Sudden and the Gradual are as per the previous venerable Chi. The latter two pertain to the different understanding of a single sound. If there is mutual knowing that is called the Unfixed, and if there is no mutual knowing that is called the Secret.

Commentary:

This is even more the case if one uses the four kinds of teaching methods to gather them in. Here it discusses the outcome of going on to use the four means of bestowing the Teaching to include the previous Four Teachings established by Great Master Wise One, namely the Store, Connective, Separate and Perfect. That is, they are the Sudden, the Gradual, the Unfixed, and the Secret. The Sudden and the Gradual are as per the previous venerable Chi. They are the same as what he established, which was discussed before. The latter two – the Unfixed and the Secret – pertain to the different understandings of a single sound. Basically the sound is the same, but it is differently understood.

The profound see what’s profound.
The shallow see what’s shallow.

Those who have wisdom see it as having inconceivably many wonderful principles, and stupid people also see it as being very wonderful Dharma.

If there is mutual knowing then there is a single wondrous sound which living beings each understand according to their kind. Their comprehension of the principles corresponds to what kind of being they are. That means people of the Small Vehicle understand it as Small Vehicle Dharma, while those of the Great Vehicle hear it as Great Vehicle Dharma. Nonetheless, those of the Small Vehicle know the benefits obtained by those of the Great Vehicle, and those of the Great Vehicle are aware of the benefits those of the Small Vehicle obtain.

While the profound se the profound and the shallow see the shallow, they all know about each other, and in that case it is called the unfixed. Unfixed Dharma doesn’t mean you talk about something one way, and then you say it’s some other way, like saying something is alive and a little later saying it’s dead. Rather, it means that the benefits that beings with differing faculties obtain from the self same principle are not the same, and yet they know that about each other. That’s what’s called Unfixed Dharma, for it’s not all one way. And if there is no mutual knowing that is called the secret. In this case, one person doesn’t know about the other and vice versa. Those of the Small Vehicle, even though they are listening, don’t know the Dharma being spoken for those of the Great Vehicle, while those of the Great Vehicle don’t know the Dharma being spoken for those of the Small Vehicle. Something is spoken for one person without the other person knowing it, and something else is spoken for other person without the first person realizing it. When there is no mutual knowledge it is called Secret Dharma, due to that lack of knowing. It’s not that the Dharma itself is secret, but that beings have differing faculties, so those with wisdom know more and those without wisdom understand less – yet they don’t know that about each other. Then it’s Secret Dharma.

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