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Prologue:

If it’s the Dharma Nature School, then the Three Vehicles are provisional and the One Vehicle is actual. The Dharma Flower says: “In the lands of the Buddhas of the ten directions, there is only the Dharma of the One Vehicle, without two and without three – unless the Buddha speaks expediently.” It also says: “I first use the Three Vehicles to guide living beings, and afterwards only with the Great Vehicle save and liberate them.”

Commentary:

So far we’ve been discussing the Dharma Mark School, which considers the One Vehicle to be provisional and the Three Vehicles to be actual. However, if it’s the Dharma Nature School, which we’re going to discuss now, then the Three Vehicles are provisional Teaching, and the One Vehicle is actual Teaching – the exact opposite of the way it is in the Dharma Mark School.

In the Dharma Flower Sutra there are some passages of text which support the outlook of the Dharma Nature School as being right. In the Sutra it says: “In the lands of each and every one of the Buddhas of the ten directions, there is only the Dharma of the One Vehicle that is true.”That’s why the Dharma Nature School maintains the One Vehicle is actual, “without two and without three.” It has no second or third – only the one and foremost.

Another explanation is that “without two” means without the Two Vehicles of Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions;” and that “without three” means not only are the Vehicles of Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions provisional, even the Bodhisattva Vehicles is. So there’s also no Dharma of Three Vehicles – just the one Buddha Vehicle with no further Vehicle. Then why did the Buddha talk about Two and Three Vehicles? That’s explained in the next line: “unless the Buddha speaks expediently” of the Two and Three Vehicles. If you make that exception, then there are also two and three. But this is just, as it’s said:

There are not two roads for returning to the source;
But expedients have many doors.

When you become a Buddha, there is only the one road, not more; yet there are numerous expedient Dharma doors. So, if Dharma is spoken expediently, there can be tow, or three, or four or five. You can speak as many expedient Dharma doors as you are able to distinguish.

It also says: “I (the Buddha) first use the Three Vehicles of Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions and Bodhisattva to guide all of those living beings so they won’t be so anxious and scared and will feel like being vigorous. And afterwards, after speaking of Three Vehicles, only with the Dharma of the Great Vehicle save and liberate them,” so every last living beings becomes a Buddha. The Buddha’s original intention was that all living beings accomplish Buddhahood.

Prologue:

Because the nature is only one, it therefore says: “all Buddhas, doubly complete honored ones, know that Dharmas are constant and without a nature.” furthermore, the third roll says: “…of one mark and of one flavor, ultimate Nirvana characterized by constant, still extinction.”

Commentary:

Because the Buddha nature is only one, single nature, and

All living beings have the Buddhanature;
All are capable of becoming Buddhas.

It, the Dharma Flower Sutra therefore also says: “all Buddhas, doubly complete honored ones, know that Dharmas are constant and without a nature.” “Doubly Complete Honored Ones” will be explained below. All Buddhas know that all dharmas are empty – characterized by emptiness, which is what “without a nature” means.

Furthermore, in the third roll of the Dharma Flower Sutra it says: “… of one mark, not characterized by duality, and uniformly of one flavor. That is ultimate Nirvana which is characterized by constant, still extinction” – meaning it is without marks, be they worldly or world-transcending characteristics. It is the Pure Land of Constant Stillness and Light.

Buddhas are called “Doubly Complete Honored Ones” because they are complete in blessings and complete in wisdom. It is their cultivation of blessings that makes them complete in blessings, and their cultivation of wisdom does the same for wisdom. One cultivates blessings by benefiting others, and cultivates wisdom by benefiting oneself – which is benefiting self and benefiting others.

If you are interested in cultivating wisdom I’ll tell you how. Printing Sutras, propagating the Buddhadharma, turning the great Dharma wheel are all examples of ways to cultivate it. And example would be if when the Sixth Patriarch's Sutra is about to be printed you decide, “I’ll sponsor the printing of 50 copies.” No matter what, you have to stay out in front of people and not lad behind. If there are, say, 500 people and you are out ahead of them all, then in the future your wisdom will surpass all of theirs. In cultivating blessings, if there are 1000 people involved in a meritorious action and you are ahead of them all in doing it, in the future your reward of blessings will be greater than that of all the 1000 people.

You may ask, “But what can I do? I don’t have any money to give.” Just do what others cannot do and are unwilling to do. For instance, if in the temple no one wants to sweep the floor and you do it, that is adorning your blessings. If no one wants to cook and you cook that also augments your adornment of blessings, as does boiling water when no one else wants to.

Those kinds of blessings are limitless and boundless, and cannot be reckoned in numbers. If you sweep the floor and make everyone feel the Buddhahall is very clean and pure and adorned so they give rise to a resolved for Bodhi, then invisibly you are adorning ;your blessings. On the other hand, if you read and recite Sutras a lot, that will increase your wisdom and intelligence. Reciting Sutras, holding mantras, and bowing to Sutras are ways to cultivate wisdom, for wisdom comes from the Sutras which have Prajna in them to make you wiser.

The reason “Doubly Complete Honored Ones” are mentioned attachment all is with the hope that we all become Doubly Complete Honored Ones as well. It’s not that only the Buddha has a chance; all of us can do it too – but it has to be completely. Otherwise you won’t be a Doubly Complete Honored Ones, because you won’t have enough. Enough, and you’re doubly complete honored. All should pay careful attention to this, and also be careful not to end up complete in crying and complete in stupidity.

Prologue:

The Nirvana also says: “The Buddha nature is called the One Vehicle. The lion’s roar is called decisive proclamation. It decisively proclaims that all living beings have the Buddha nature, and that all who have minds will certainly be Buddhas.” In chapter thirty-three it also says: “All living beings identically have the Buddha nature, identically the One Vehicle, identically one liberation, one cause and one fruition, identically one sweet dew. All will attain permanence, bliss, true self and purity, which is called ‘one flavor.’”

Commentary:

In the Nirvana Sutra it also says: “What is meant by the Buddha nature? The Buddha is called the One Vehicle. The Dharma of the One Vehicle is just the Buddha Nature; and it is true suchness, the basic substance of the Buddha nature. What is meant by the lion’s roar? The Teaching of the lion’s roar is called certain and decisive – not unfixed – proclamation and clear declaration.

It decisively proclaims that all living beings have the Buddha nature, the seeds and qualifications for the One Vehicle. They are all endowed with the self-nature of true thusness. And so it is stated that all living beings who have minds, who have sentience, will certainly be able to become Buddhas.” It’s stated as absolute fact. In chapter thirty-three it also says something virtually the same: “All living beings identically have the Buddha nature. All are capable of becoming Buddhas.

They are all identically endowed with the Buddha Nature of the One Vehicle, and they identically will be able to obtain the sovereign comfort of one liberation. Their cause is one and the same cause, and their fruition is one and the same fruition. That they identically have one sweet dew means they identically have one and the same Buddha Nature. All living beings should and will attain the four virtues ofNirvana which are permanence, bliss, true self and purity -- for which reason this is all summed up in one name and called ‘one flavor.’”

Prologue:

Moreover, the third roll of the Dharma Flower says: “After my crossing to extinction there will further be disciples who have not heard this Sutra and who do not know and are unaware of what is practiced by a Bodhisattva. They themselves, with regard to the merit and virtue that they have obtained, will have the thought of crossing to extinction, that they should enter Nirvana.

I, in another country, will be a Buddha and have yet another name. although those people have the thought of crossing to extinction, of entering Nirvana, still in that other country they will seek the wisdom of a Buddha, and will come to hear this Sutra; and it will be only through the Buddha Vehicle that they will obtain crossing to extinction,” and so forth.

Commentary:

Moreover, in the third roll of the Dharma Flower Sutra Shakyamuni Buddha himself also says: “After my crossing to extinction and entry to Nirvana there will further be very many disciples of the Buddha who have not heard this, the Dharma Flower Sutra. And they will be people who do not know and understand or have the wisdom to do so, and who are unaware of, unenlightened to what is practiced by a Bodhisattva – the doors of practice of the Six Paramitas and the ten thousand conducts which Bodhisattvas cultivate.

They themselves, however, with regard to the merit and virtue that they have obtained through cultivation, will think their merit and virtue is perfected. So they will have the thought of crossing to extinction, that they themselves should enter Nirvana.” “Nirvana” here is the stillness in “tending towards stillness.” Shakyamuni Buddha goes on to say, “I, in another country…” This could also be interpreted as “in a country with residue,” as in the second of the Four Lands.

The Four Lands

  • The Land Where Sages and Commoners Dwell Together
  • The Expedient Land with Residue
  • The Land Adorned with Actual Retribution
  • The Pure Land of Constant Stillness and Light

He says, “In another country – a land with residue – I will be a Buddha and have yet another name. I won’t be called Shakyamuni Buddha but something else. And then although those people have the thought of their own merit and virtue being such for crossing to extinction, and think of entering Nirvana, they nevertheless cannot become Buddhas.

That’s because they are Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers who have stopped half-way down the road in the transformation city, and are no longer going forward to make progress. They don’t intend to reach the treasure trove, and so although they think they enter Nirvana, they don’t obtain Nirvana’s four virtues of permanence, bliss, true self and purity. Still, in that other country they will go on to seek the wisdom of a Buddha, and will come to hear this Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra; and it will be only through having cultivated the Buddha Vehicle that they will be able truly and actually to obtain the position of crossing to extinction,” and so forth. There are many passages of Sutra text make the same statement.

Prologue:

Roll ninety-five of the Wisdom Shastra also says the same thing. It makes clearly known that those tending towards stillness will certainly turn their minds around. In the Dharma Flower Shastra, among the four kinds of Sound Hearers, because the roots of those in the two categories of the fixed and those of overweening pride have not yet ripened, Bodhisattvas bestow predictions upon them, and expediently cause them to bring forth the mind.

Commentary:

Roll ninety-five of the Great Perfection of Wisdom (Maha-Prajna-Paramita) Shastra also says the same thing as the passage cited above. It makes clearly known that those Sound Hearers tending towards stillness will certainly turn their minds around away from the small and towards the great, and bring forth the mind for Bodhi. There is also what it says In a work called the Dharma Flower Shastra about two among the four kinds of Sound Hearers.

The Four Kinds of Sound Hearers

  • Fixed Sound Hearers
  • Sound Hearers of Overweening Pride
  • Sound Hearers Who Have Retreated From the Bodhi Mind
  • Transformationally Responding Sound Hearers

Because the roots of those in the two categories of the fixed Sound Hearers and those Sound Hearers of overweening pride have not yet ripened, they cannot become Buddhas.

Fixed Sound Hearers are simply withered sprouts and sterile seeds and are self-ending Arhats who only know about themselves and do not know about teaching and transforming living beings. Sound Hearers of Overweening Pride forever feel they are higher than anyone else. For example, the five thousand Bhikshus who withdrew when the Buddha spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra were all Sound Hearers of Overweening Pride.

There are also Sound Hearers who once resolved their minds on Bodhi and practiced the Bodhisattva Way – for awhile. But then they stopped and turned back, like Shariputra who decided to walk the Bodhisattva Path but met someone who wanted his eyes. He concluded it was to hard, so he gave up his resolve for Bodhi. He brought forth the Bodhi mind 20,000 Buddhas ago, yet to this day he is still a Sound Hearers – One who has Retreated from the Bodhi Mind. You can find examples of this among Bhikshus right here in our Way Place; and so cultivation is not easy.

There are several well-known examples of Tranformationally Responding Sound Hearers:

Inside concealing their Bodhisattva conduct,
Outside manifesting Sound Hearers bodies.

One such is Purnamaitreyaniputra who, although a Sound Hearer on the outside, inside is walking the Bodhisattva Way. Another is the Venerable Ananda who has vowed to go and be the attendant to any of the limitless Buddhas who appear in the world. The vow made by Rahula is that he will be the eldest son for anyone who becomes a Buddha throughout the ten directions and the three periods of time. The roots of the first two categories -- Fixed Sound Hearers and Those of Overweening Pride – are not yet mature. And so Bodhisattvas instead of the Buddha bestow the predictions Dharma upon them, and expediently cause them to bring forth the mind for Bodhi.

Prologue:

Since it says “have not yet ripened,” it makes clear that they certainly will ripen. What they expediently cause them to bring forth is just the Bodhi Mind. One cannot determine that a shastra is wrong just because it does not accord with one’s own school.

Commentary:

Since it says “have not yet ripened,” they are like grains that have been planted in the ground. Even though right now they are not ripe, they have been planted in the earth and in the future are sure to mature. It therefore makes clear that for the moment they may be Fixed Sound Hearers and Sound Hearers of Overweening Pride with roots that have not ripened; but in the future their roots certainly will ripen. What they, the Bodhisattvas, expediently with clever devices cause them to bring forth is just the Bodhi Mind. One cannot merely because it does not accord with the principles and Teachings of one’s own school determine and say that a shastra is wrong. That’s impermissible.

Teaching and transforming people is extremely hard. You think someone is going to cultivate, but then they just don’t cultivate. You think someone will follow the rules, but then they don’t. Occasionally they think something that violates the rules is in accord with them, and sometimes they think something that accords with the rules is against them. That is what happened with those who went to Taiwan to take the precepts. And so I now make a “decisive proclamation,” which is the “lion’s roar,” that after this no one will go to take precepts in Taiwan any more so it won’t happen again.

Prologue:

The second, fourth and seventh rolls of the Lankavatara all identically say that the Two Vehicles have no actual Nirvana; that it is only due to the power of Samadhi, and that afterwards they will certainly obtain unsurpassed Bodhi. The doctrine in the Dharma Flower Shastra is also the same as this. All are false speakings of Nirvana, and so they say “Samadhi.” The Shrimala Sutra also says: “When all those of the Two Vehicles are said to obtain Nirvana, that is expedient on the part of the Buddhas.” Moreover, the Unsurpassed Reliance Sutra and the Jewelled Nature and Buddha Nature Shastra all say of the Two Vehicles’ entry to extinction that beyond the three realms they undergo further change. In the Secret Adornment Sutra, the Two Vehicles ultimately are without the utter severance of eternal extinction.

Commentary:

The second, fourth and seventh rolls of the Lankavatara Sutra, which the Buddha entered the capitol city Lanka to speak, all identically say that the people of the Two Vehicles have no real achievement of the fruit of actual Nirvana. Then what do they have? Those passages in the Sutra say that it is only due to borrowing the power of being able to enter Samadhi and:

Extinguish their bodies and put an end to knowing

They make their person as if non-existent, and get rid of knowing and awareness. And those passages also say that afterwards the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions have not actually entered Nirvana without residue but have just stopped and taken up residence in the transformation city, not going on to the treasure trove. Yet nontheless in the future they will certainly be able to obtain unsurpassed Bodhi – great Nirvana. For now, however, they can’t do it.

That’s what the Lankavatara Sutra says, and the doctrine in a work called the Dharma Flower Shastra is also the same as this just described in it overall outlines. All are false speakings of Nirvana. Even though called “Nirvana,” it’s not true and actual Nirvana Without Residue. It’s called “Nirvana to encourage people. But it’s just the attainment of a kind of power of concentration so there is a very free and easy, comfortable state within Samadhi which is very blissful. Nonetheless it’s not true entry to the four virtues of the Buddha’s Dharma Body which are the four great perfections of permanence, bliss, true self and purity, and so they say “Samadhi.”

Then there is The Shrimala Sutra which also says: “When all those of the Two Vehicles are said to obtain Nirvana, that kind of talk is an expedient Dharma door established on the part of the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time, and is not ultimate.”

Moreover, the Unsurpassed Reliance Sutra and the Jewelled Nature Shastra (by ratnamati) and Buddha Nature Shastra (by Vasubandhu Bodhisattva) – those two Shastras -- all say of the Two Vehicles’ adherents’ entry to the extinction of Nirvana that it is not the attainment of ultimate Nirvana. They say that beyond the three realms – the Desire Realm, the Form Realm and the Formless Realm -- they undergo further change. “Change” is another name for birth and death. Arhats have ended share-section birth and death, which is that of each person’s own share (a body) and section allotted lifespan.

However, they haven’t ended change birth and death: the continual production and extinction of thought after thought in the mind, in which every shifting thought is an instance of birth and death. To say they further undergo change birth and death indicates they have not yet obtained the virtue of the fruit of ultimate Nirvana. In the Secret Adornment Sutra (Ghanavyuha Sutra) it says that the people of the Two Vehicles ultimately are without the virtue of utter severance like fire without a trace of ashes of eternal extinction. They can’t obtain the fruit of ultimate Nirvana in which there is no more birth and death of false thinking.

The three Realms were just mentioned, and all living beings are found within them. To transcend the three Realms is to reach the Pure Land of Constant Stillness and Light, and it is to enter Nirvana Without Residue. But even though the Fixed Nature Sound Hearers and the Sound Hearers of Overweening Pride get beyond the three Realms, because the measure of their minds is small they cannot obtain ultimate Nirvana, and so much further undergo change birth and death.

The first of the three Realms is the Desire Realm, desire being what is defiled and not pure. All living beings within that Realm are born from sexual desire and die because of it, and revolve in the impurity of sexual desire rebirth after rebirth. The seeds and habits involved in their birth from sexual desire lead to their undergoing death from sexual desire as well. Take a look attachment any kind of living beings – is there one without thoughts of emotional desire? Any time there is emotional desire there is defilement and one is impure. That’s why people who cultivate the Way need to:

Purify the mind and diminish desire.

They must keep their minds pure attachment all times and always be without thoughts of desire, decreasing and diminishing it. The reason people in the world get into trouble is form letting thoughts of greed and desire arise. When that happens they create all kinds of impure causes, and so reap all kinds so impure results. If you investigate it carefully, people have their own kind of desire, and so do creatures – each living beings, every kind of animal, has its own brand of craving. Any living being that has awareness, feelings and emotions has desire. But if you can have awareness, feelings and emotions yet be free of desire, then you have reached your basic substance, which is pure.

In the Desire Realm there is the greed of sexual desire, but living beings in the Form Realm do not have desire. Nonetheless they are still greedy for form and color and so still have a kind of attachment, no longer to desire like beings in the Desire Realm, but to form. Beings it the Formless Realm have gone beyond that and are no longer attached to form, but then become attached to formlessness and so are not yet able to attain liberation, for they still have hang-ups. If any attachments remain, whether to desire, to form or to formlessness, one cannot transcend the three Realms.

People can be very intelligent yet still be unable to put down desire. They may have every intention of letting go of it, but when it comes right down to it they don’t let go. They may want to and want to be rid of it, but then not get rid of it, and instead become confused all over again. That happens because one lacks true and actual wisdom. If you had that kind of wisdom, you would put down desire the way you say you will.

You would use the wisdom sword and sever emotional desire with one thrust of the blade. But you don’t have the sword of wisdom, so you cat cut free and continue to be dragged around in the three Realms. One life your emotion is lighter and you’re born in the Form Realm. Another degree purer and you’re born in the Formless Realm. But then while there our thoughts of desire flare up again. You fall into the same old bad habits and start craving desire some more, and return to the Desire Realm. You keep making the rounds of the Desire, Form and Formless Realms over and over again on the six-spoked wheel of the six paths of rebirth: gods, asuras, people, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings, and you never get out. That’s why the ancients said:

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

There’s no more peace to be found in the three Realms than there is in a house that’s going up in flames. If you want to escape form them, you have to work hard and cultivate every single instant, and learn the skill of purifying the mind and diminishing desire.

It’s not easy to escape the three Realms – when you don’t know the way to do it, that is. Once you know the method, you can escape from them. The ancients had a gatha which describes this:

The six desire heavens all have the five signs of decay.
The heavens of the third dhyana have the disaster of wind.
Even if one cultivates to Neither Thought Nor Non-thought
It’s not like going to the West and coming back again.

Where we live right now is included in the six desire heavens, all of which experience the five signs of decay. Although they are discussed elsewhere, we may as well repeat them here for those who are not familiar with them, and for people who once knew what they were but have forgotten. There may also be people who haven’t forgotten the, but don’t remember them clearly, so if asked what the first sign of decay is would answer by giving the firth, or if asked the firth would reply wit the third.

The Five Signs of Decay

  • One’s floral wreath wilts
  • Ones’ clothes become dirty
  • One’s body begins to stink
  • One’s armpits begin to sweat
  • One does not remain in one’s seat

The five signs of decay are the indications that a god is about to die. That first concerns the wreaths of flowers that gods wear on their heads. The flowers don’t grow out of the ground or in the air, but spontaneously appear. When you’re born in the heavens you are adorned with a floral wreath on your head which is far more beautiful than crowns of precious jewels worn by kings on earth. However, when the five signs of decay appear, the flowers all dry up and the wreath falls from your head. Up to that time the flowers are always fresh and lovely, but when your time is up, the wreath disappears.

The next sing is that one’s clothes become dirty. Gods don’t wear the same kind of garments as people heavenly raiment is extremely light, incredibly beautiful, and never has to be washed. You don’t have to take it to the Laundromat to wash it and put it through the dryer. Even though those labor-saving devices save a lot of time, gods basically don’t need them and don’t have that kind of trouble. Their clothes simply stay clean and new all the time – until the five signs of decay appear and trouble comes along. Then their clothes get dirty and can’t even be washed clean.

Also, the gods always smell good -- their bodies give off a kind of fragrance because they’ve cultivated pure Brahma conduct, held the five precepts and practiced the ten wholesome deeds. From not killing they have the precept fragrance of not killing. Not stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false speech and not taking intoxicants each have their own precept fragrance too.

It’s not as among people who either smell like cattle or goats or reek of fish, and who let out a stench worse than a latrine when they remove their clothes, stinking like foxes or dogs. People don’t smell clean and nice because they don’t hold the precepts, so their bodies have a disagreeable odor. If they eat onions or garlic, they have that kind of smell, but most of the people here don’t eat those kinds of things, and so this room doesn’t smell like that.

I do have one disciple, though, who is really fond of onions. I asked him one day, “Why do you eat so many onions?”

He said, “I don’t. I don’t eat them. I really don’t.” He insisted on denying it.

I said, “Okay, never mind. Just forget it if you don’t want to admit it.”

Some time went by, and then probably he got enlightened. He came back and knocked on my door and said, “I told you a lie.”

“Why did you want to lie?” I asked.

He said, “I didn’t want to tell you the truth.” After that he gave the details of his onion-eating and said he repented and wanted to be a good disciple in the future. Whether he will be or not we’ll find out later.

Anyway, if you eat a lot of onions, your body will stink of onions. If you eat beef you will smell like cattle, mutton and you’ll smell like a sheep, pork and you’ll smell like a pig – and you’ll smell like a dog if you eat dog meat. If you eat a great deal of some kind of flesh, in the future you’ll become that kind of creature, because you join forces with it and form one substance.

The reason the gods don’t reek like cattle, sheep, pigs or dogs is because they hold the precepts and are strict vegetarians. That’s why they are reborn in the heavens and always smell of perfume – until the third sign of decay appears, which is that their bodies start to stink and they lose their pleasant smell. When that happens the other gods avoid that god like the plague, holding their noses and giving him or her dirty looks as they go the other way.

Unlike people, gods don’t ever perspire, and don’t need fans – until the fourth sign of decay appears and their armpits start to sweat. Then they have b.o. and the other gods won’t have anything to do with them, which indicates they are about to fall. So there they are sweating and stinking and then they go nuts and don’t know what to do with themselves. It’s uncomfortable sitting so they stand up, bounce around, then sit down again – only to get right back up.

That’s the sign known as not remaining in their seats. Gods for the most part are seated in Samadhi, but when their time is up they are like someone learning to meditate who can’t stand sitting any more and has to get up and walk around. The god gets up and down but doesn’t feel any better walking or standing than sitting, and is uncomfortable no matter what he does. Then the god falls. If his good karma ripens, he becomes a wealthy and respected person. If it’s his bad karma, he turns into an impoverished ghost, a poor animal, or a destitute hell-being – it’s not fixed. That’s how the six desire heavens have the five signs of decay.

Then in the heavens of the third dhyana, when the disaster of wind arises, you have to fall. Even if you were to cultivate and reach the Heaven of Neither Thought Nor Non-Thought, it would not be as good as going to the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, and coming back again.

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