THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

From this one knows that the above quoted Great Prajna, Deep Secret, and other Sutras all were spoken before the speaking of the Dharma Flower. And because the time before was long, he termed them “fixed nature” and “without the nature.” Yet they were not forever fixed or forever without it.

Commentary:

From this preceeding discussion in the Prologue text one knows that the above quoted passage from theGreat Prajna Sutra, the Deep Secret Sutra, and other Sutras all were spoken before the speaking of the Dharma Flower Sutra.

The Agamas took twelve years, the Vaipulya either.
Prajna was discussed for twenty-two years.

Twelve plus the eight years it took the Buddha to speak the Vaipulya teachings makes twenty years. Add on the twenty-two in which the Prajna Sutras were spoken and there are forty-two years. The Great Prajana Sutra and the Deep Secret Sutra were during that time before the Lotus Flower Sutra was spoken. And because the time before when he was still employing expedients was long, even if we subtract a year and consider it forty-one, that still was a very long time. Therefore, he talked of Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers who during that forty-one year period just wanted to be self-ending Arhats, who feared being disturbed and didn’t want to do anything. They just sat there and waited. When it was time to eat, they opened their mouths and ate. When it was time to sleep, they closed their eyes and slept. It was not a bad deal – they didn’t have to do anything attachment all. That went on for forty-one years while the Buddha spoke Sutras and watched them, saying to himself, “It’s incredible how you can hope to get away with that!” So he called them “Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers” and “Sound Hearers without the seed nature,” to tell them not to be Sound Hearers who just open their mouths attachment mealtime, close their eyes attachment bedtime, and sit there like blocks of wood the rest of the day, differing only by inhaling and exhaling. That’s why he scolded them and termed them “fixed nature” and “without the nature.” Yet they were not forever gong to be Fixed Nature Sound Hearers or forever without it, the seed nature. so you see, it’s as was said before: in the future icchantikas will become Buddhas, too.

The first half of the Nirvana Sutra said icchantikas lack the Buddha nature, but the last half said they have it. When the time-boundary had been reached, they had it. The Nirvana Sutra came after the Dharma Flower Sutra, and was spoken in a single day and night. Those two Sutras took the Buddha a total of eight years to speak. That’s why we had to subtract a year form the forty-two years before, because the Buddha spoke Dharma for forty-nine years, and if we added these eight, people would object that it totaled fifty years and didn’t work. Actually, it’s just a general description when it says the Buddha lectured Sutras and spoke Dharma for forty-nine years, discussing Sutras in over three hundred assemblies. But I anticipated the difficulty and made sure to reduce the figure by a year attachment the start.

Today three of the four who went to Taiwan to take the precepts are coming back, losing one and having anther run off. One was lost in Taiwan and one ran off in Hong Kong to lecture Sutras – for originally five went over. I told them that when they got on the plane they should recite the Great Compassion Mantra a lot, or there might be an accident. That’s because I had something like a dream in which I saw two people carrying hand grenades get on the plane and destroy it, preventing my three disciples from returning – which wouldn’t do. So I told them to recite the Great Compassion Mantra with the hope that the Greatly Compassonate Gwan Yin Bodhisattva would protect them so they could get back, and their mantra recitation would keep the grenades from exploding, the plane from being harmed, and their lives out of danger. It’s a good way to take care of it, but I don’t know if they’re going to recite. If they pretend to have stomach aches or headaches and don’t take that plane back, then they’re not great heroes – just useless people who ae scared to die.

One of my disciples loaned me a book, and I’ll tell you: in the entire thing there’s only one sentence of truth. The rest is useless, but that one phrase has a lot of value. It’s the one that says when you sit in full lotus not to be afraid of your legs hurting. That’s absolutely right. You shouldn’t fear the pain, for once you do, it won’t go right, and your work can’t be brought to success. If you aren’t afraid and act like nothing was happening when your legs hurt, then you can have some success. That’s an extremely useful line.

“Prajna” is a Sanskrit word which is left in Sanskrit, belonging to two of the categories of terms not translated.

The Five Kinds of Terms Not Translated

There are three types of Prajna

The Three Kinds of Prajna

Because “Prajna” has those three meanings, it belongs to the first category of terms not translated because they have many meanings. It also belongs to the second category of honored terms not translated out of reverence, for saying “wisdom” would make it sound rather common-place. Sanskrit terms are not translated for other reasons. For example, secret terms, such as mantras, would no longer be secret if they were translated, for everyone would understand. The mantra lines Po Chye Fan Sa Dan Two Bwo Da La Na Mwo Tswei Du Di aren’t translated since they’re secret. “Nirvana” is kept as is and not translated because that’s how the ancients rendered it, and people kept it up. Then, if there was the name of something which exists in India but not in China, there was no way to translate it, so they kept the name in the original language. It’s a good idea to remember these categories, because they won’t be relisted every time the subject comes up. In fact, I’m likely to ask you to list them attachment any time, and if the person asked doesn’t remember, we’ll know he or she is very lazy and doesn’t pay the least bit of attention to the Sutras.

Prologue:

All the shastras are simply established in accordance with the Buddha’s expedients and so term them “fixed” and “without”. Therefore, such shastras as the Jeweled Nature and the Buddha Nature all speak of the cause of icchantikas’ having slandered the Great Vehicle, and based upon limitless time say they are without the Buddha Nature. Yet these shastras are not stating that icchantikas ultimately lack the pure nature.

Commentary:

All the doctrines spoken by the shastras are simply established in accordance with the Buddha’s dharmas of expedients and so they term them, the “fixed” – nature Sound Hearers, the Sound Hearers of Oveweening Pride, and icchantikas, those “without” the Buddha Nature. Therefore, such shastras as the Jeweled Nature Shastra and the Buddha Nature Shastra all speak of it this way. They talk about the cause of icchantikas – those of insufficient faith who forget what’s lectured and forget the vows they’ve made, the good roots they’ve planted, and what they’ve said they would do – that’s the meaning of not having sufficient faith. Here the cause is their having slandered the Great Vehicle Sutra. Some people, for example, say, “The Shurangama Sutra is inauthentic.” People who claim “The Dharma Flower Sutra isn’t authentic either” are doing the same thing, and the people who protest, “The Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra is a forgery” are slandering Great Vehicle Sutras, too. You also find people saying, “When you translate the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra and the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, you should leave out all those Bodhisattvas. Why keep them in? Don’t translate them.” That’s like certain scholar-translator who has been heard to recommend leaving out the entire chapter on the Coming Into Being of Worlds in the Flower Adornment Sutra. Doing that is just like leaving off a person’s constitute the cause which is slandering the Great Vehicle. And those Shastras are based upon limitless time – a very long time -- for example, the forty-two-or rather forty-one years from the time the Buddha accomplished Buddhahood and started speaking Dharma. During that whole period the Fixed Nature Sound Hearers didn’t change their way of thinking or go forward to make progress. That’s why the Shastras say they are without the Buddha Nature. Yet these shastras are not stating that icchantikas ultimately, till the end of time, are going to lack the Buddha’s clear, pure nature. That’s not what they mean.

There’s a book in circulation which purports to tell a true Buddhist story, but is really a fantastic piece of fiction. It says there once was an eighteen year old shramanera (male novice) who set out to travel and study attachment various temples. When he left, his teacher told him that no matter what, he shouldn’t have any thoughts of sexual desire, and he remembered that. One evening it was getting dark, so he stopped attachment a temple. A young Shramanerika (femal novice) of about seventeen opened the door and said that her teacher was away. The shramanera replied that in that case he would spend the night outside if it was okay. He didn’t say it didn’t make any difference. She gave him permission, but as she looked more closely she saw the Shramanera was very good looking and started getting interested in him. So she said, “You don’t need to stay outside. There’s an empty room inside you can use.” He came in, but he bolted the door of the room from inside. In the middle of the night the Shramanerika knocked on the door and said she wanted to come in and get some things.

He replied, “You can’t come in tonight. Wait till tomorrow and then I’ll open the door.”

She stood outside the door and cried, “If you don’t let me in, I’ll die right out here.”

The Shramanera held firm and said, “Even if you die, I’m not going to open the door.”

The story says that the Shramanerika was then burned by the fire of sexual desire and died on the spot, and that her entire body turned black. Now, just think it over. Could that really happen? Would she actually burn to death from the fire of desire? The entire thing is floating shadows in the air. Pure fantasy, but the book states it as fact. It goes on to say that when her teacher came back the next day and found his disciple burned to death, he had the Shramanera arrested on charges of rape and murder. But the coroner’s report was that the cause of death was the fire of desire burning her to death, and so the court ruled the novice innocent and let him off. Now really, how could the coroner know she’d been burned to death by sexual fire? You could only fool kids with that kind of thing.

This evening we’ll be purifying the boundaries, and tomorrow we’ll begin the Buddha Recitation Session.

With one recitation of the Buddha’s name
All together accomplish Buddhahood.

If you have time, come and participate, but you don’t need to force it if you don’t. if during these seven days people are very intent in their recitation of the Buddha’s name, in the future you will all accomplish Buddhahood. We hold only a very few recitation session during the year, reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha or that of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, so you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to become steeped in this practice as a group. For the accumulated sounds of your own recitation and everybody else’s will cause “Amitabha Buddha” and your mind to become one. Thus in the future it’s certain Amitabha Buddha won’t leave you behind in the Saha World, but will personally take you off to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

Prologue:

If one maintains that the Dharma Flower is teaching of the second period, which, in order to draw in those not fixed in the Two Vehicles, speaks of all accomplishing Buddhahood, not yet stating that those of fixed nature will not accomplish it; and if one therefore calls it of secret intent, and not the final meaning, why would one also determine the Dharma Flower was teaching of the third period? Who indeed would dare decide the Dharma Flower was not final?

Commentary:

If, hypothetically, one maintains that the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is teaching of doctrine spoken by the Buddha during the second period which, in order to draw in those not fixed in nature as of the Two Vehicles – those who were neither Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers nor Sound Hearers of Overweening Pride -- speaks of all living beings having the Buddha Nature and having the capacity for accomplishing Buddhahood, but not yet stating that those Sound Hearers of fixed nature will not be able to accomplish it; and if one therefore calls it a Teaching of secret intent, and not a clear statement of the final meaning, not ultimate doctrine, in that case why would one also determine the Dharma Flower Sutra was teaching of the third period? How can they do that? It would not be right. Who indeed would dare decide the Dharma Flower Sutra was not Teaching of the final meaning? Who would have the gall? That’s how National Master Ch’ing Liang shows what he thinks of all the erroneous fixings of time periods he’s discussed up to now. He means the way they set up the Teaching was not reasonable and not in accord with the Buddhadharma.

Prologue:

In the Wonderful Wisdom Sutra and the Liang Compendium Shastra, within the establishment of the Proper Dharma, both place the One Vehicle after the Three Vehicles. Therefore, among the works of Tripitaka Master Paramartha, the Record of Differing Opinions says, “After thirty-eight years, such sutras as the Understanding the Deep Secret were spoken.” The Limitless Meaning says, “After forty years, he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra.” From this one clearly knows that the Dharma Flower came afterwards. Therefore that sutra says it is at the time right before his end.

Commentary:

In the Wonderful Wisdom Sutra – the Prajna Sutras, “Prajna” being “Wonderful Wisdom” -- and the Liang dynasty translation by Dharma Master Paramarthay of the Compendium Shastra– the Mahayanasamgraha Shastra, written by “Unattached” Asanga Bodhisattva, within the establishment of the Proper Dharma, both place the One Vehicle as having been spoken after the Three Vehicles, and not the other way around. Therefore, among the works of Tripitaka Master Paramartha there is one volume called the Record of Differing Opinions in which he brings up some particular points. That work says, “After thirty-eight years, such sutras as the Understanding the Deep Secret (Sandhinirmochana Sutra, entitled in Tripitaka Master paramartha’s translation) were spoken by the Buddha.” The Limitless Meaning Sutra also says, “After forty years, he spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra.” Forty years went by before the Buddha spoke the Dharma Flower Sutra, which he spoke attachment the very end along with the Nirvana Sutra. From this one clearly knows, based on those statements in the Sutras, that the Dharma Flower Sutra came afterwards, attachment the very end of the forty-year period. And the Dharma Flower Sutra sets forth the principle of the One Vehicle, which had not been stated prior to the speaking of that Sutra. Therefore, the very text of that Dharma Flower Sutra itself says it is being spoken by the Buddha at the time right before his end; and after it he speaks the Nirvana Sutra.

Some people don’t understand the opening of the Five Eyes, and say it’s just a state. The Five Eyes can open if one applies one’s efforts to the utmost while investigating dhyana. When those eyes are open, there are no obstructions and nothing blocks them. You can see through walls and look inside and see how the elements earth, air, fire, and water totally combine into the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys, the skin, blood, flesh, sinews and bones that make up the body. Then you can realize the body is basically unreal so you won’t be attached to it, which is to obtain liberation. Once liberated, you have no impeding obstructions.

Inside there is no body and mind,
Outside there is no world.
One contemplates the mind inside, and there is no mind.
Outside one contemplates the appearances and there are no appearances.
One contemplates the objects afar, and there are no objects.

There is nothing at all. There is just the Great Bright Treasury of Light. You say there’s a Buddhahall? Where is the Buddhahall? Where is the Buddha? There are no living beings, and there are no Buddhas.

You may say, “Then isn’t that the end? Not even Buddhas – what can one do about it?” why do you want to ask what to do about it? To do anything about it would be to put a head on top of a head. It would be riding on the donkey to look for the donkey. You’d just be finding something to do when there was nothing to do. And there’s nothing that can be said. If you speak even a single word, Great Bright Treasury of Light what can be said?

But most people don’t understand, and when it happens just call it a state. Actually, it’s the opening of the Five Eyes. They call it a state because they’ve never had their Five Eyes open, so they lack experience. Anyone who’s experienced it knows:

The heavenly eye penetrates and is unobstructed;
The flesh eye is obstructed and does not penetrate;
The Dharma eye only contemplates the mundane;
The wisdom eye understands true emptiness.
The Buddha eye is like a thousand suns.
Their illumination is different, but their substance is not.

When you understand that, then there aren’t any problems. If you don’t understand, you think, “Oh, those are just states.” What states? For example, when you sit in meditation and see what’s inside your flesh and bones. What? There’s nothing attachment all. It’s a false combination of the four elements.

You may say, “But with my clothes on I can see my bones! What’s that all about?” What’s it all about? It’s all about nothing. To ask what it’s all about is to be busy about nothing. It’s making trouble for yourself.

The eyes see shapes and forms, but inside there is nothing.
The ears hear defiling sounds, but the mind does not know.

What would you say that was all about?

Prologue:

But if one does not believe the Dharma Flower comes last, it is, at any rate, believable that the Nirvana comes right at the end – and doesn’t it use One Vehicle and One Nature to demolish the three and the five?

Commentary:

The previous discussion was based upon the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra’s having been spoken right before the Buddha entered Nirvana. But if by some chance one does not believe the Dharma Flower Sutra was spoken attachment the very end and so comes last, it is at any rate, believable that the Nirvana Sutra comes right at the end, when the Buddha is on the point of entering Nirvana. That is certainly not wrong -- and doesn’t it, the Nirvana Sutra, also use discussion of how there is only the One Buddha Vehicle and the One Nature to demolish the Three Vehicles and the Five Natures, saying they do not exist? They are refuted in the Nirvana Sutra, as well.

Prologue:

If one makes Prajna the second period and the Dharma Flower period three, that might work in principle. But it would in turn entail the internal contradiction of having the Deep Secret, which universally introduces tending towards all vehicles, in the third period, whereas the Dharma Flower demolishes the three.

Commentary:

The Nirvana Sutra demolishes the Three Vehicles of Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas, along with the Five Seed-Natures:

The Five Seed Natures

If one makes the Prajna Sutra belong to what is taught in the second period and the Dharma Flower Sutra belong to what is spoken in period three, that might work in principle. Doctrinally speaking you could do that, but even so another problem would arise. It would in turn entail the internal contradiction of what was said in the Third Period refuting itself and destroying its own stated principles. It would be that of having the Deep Secret Sutra, which universally introduces tending towards all vehicles, tending towards Still Extinction, in the third period, whereas the Dharma Flower Sutra demolishes the three to reveal the One. The Dharma Flower Sutra breaks through the Three Vehicles to bring to light the One Vehicle, so it won’t work to have it fall in the third period, too.

Prologue:

From this one clearly knows that the Deep Secret’s three periods are not able decisively to determine all the sagely teaching, because it does not yet come at the very end. Furthermore, it merely is revealing doctrine for one kind when it makes a division into three, the doctrine being as discussed before. Looked at from the perspective of the Dharma Flower, there ought to be four periods, because the One Vehicle demolishes the previous Three Vehicles.

Commentary:

From this, the previsously discussed principles, one clearly knows that the Deep Secret’s reckonings of three periods are not able decisively to determine all the sagely teaching spoken by the Buddha during his entire generation. The reason you can’t base yourself upon the Deep Secret Sutra to make that judgment about the Buddha’s Teachings is because it does not yet come at the very end. That Sutra wasn’t one of the last spoken by the Buddha. It was spoken before when a lot of the doctrines were expedient Dharma doors, not ultimate Dharma. Furthermore, it merely is revealing doctrine for one kind of living being that requires a certain kind of teaching Dharma suited to its potential when it makes a division into three Periods. It was not intended as ultimate, the doctrine being as discussed before. This has been talked about already in the Prologue.

Looked at from the perspective of the Dharma Flower, if you compare the Dharma Flower Sutra and the Deep Secret Sutra, there ought to be four periods. Those tow Sutras cannot be placed in the same period, because the One Vehicle teaching demolishes the previous Three Vehicles. The Dharma Flower Sutra states that there is only the one Buddha Vehicle, besides which there are no other Vehicles, that is, that all living beings have the capacity to become Buddhas. Prior to it, that had not been said. By revealing that doctrine, it demolished the previous Three Vehicles of Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattva as being expedient Dharmas and not ultimate.

The Buddha spoke a great many Sutras during his generation of teaching, and right now it’s the T'ien T'ai Teachings established by Great Master Chih Che, “Wise One,” that accord best both with principle and with the potentials of living beings. And he based himself upon the Dharma Flower Sutra in establishing them, for that Sutra was spoken by the Buddha attachment the very end so its doctrines are very perfect and complete. Prior to it the Sutra he spoke were expedient Dharma, but the Dharma Flower Sutra opens the provisional to reveal the real. There are also the Teachings established by National Master Hsien Shou (Dharma Master Fa Ts’ang), which are based upon the Flower Adornment Sutra. Although the Buddha spoke that Sutra attachment the very start, its doctrinal principles are most vast, and so the Five Teachings he established are also very total and full, and the doctrines all-encompassing. But doctrines like those of the Deep Secret Sutra herein discussed do not cover the full range, and so National Master Ch’ing Liang makes a special point of analyzing those principles.

What follows is an account of what happened when the three monks returning from receiving the precepts in Taiwan got on the plane.

“When we boarded the plane, there was a bomb squad checking all of the baggage with electronic screening devices. We got on the airplane, and started taxiing, and I just said very quietly to the other two monks, ‘All right, recite.’ And we began – which we’d begun before, but we really began in earnest. We took off and we got off the ground okay, so that much was done…”

Prologue:

If one maintains that there are two Buddha Natures, one being the nature in principle, and the other being the nature in practice, and that the nature in principle is definitely possessed, whereas the nature in practice may perhaps not be possessed, it is possible to speak that way. Therefore, the Nirvana says: “or there may be possession of the Buddha Nature on the part of people with good roots, while people who are icchantikas do not have it – which is just the nature in practice. Or there may be possession of the Buddha Nature which the two kinds of people both possess, which is just the nature in principle.”

Commentary:

The Prologue has discussed the Dharma Flower Sutra which was spoken at the very last, and demolished the preceeding Three Vehicles, revealing how there is only the one Buddha Vehicle and no other Vehicles. But if one maintains that there are two kinds of Buddha Natures, one being the nature in principle, and the other being the nature in practice; and if one says that the nature in principle is definitely possessed by all living beings, whereas the nature which is cultivated in practice may perhaps not be possessed, it is possible to speak that way. Therefore, the Nirvana Sutra says: “or there may be possession of the Buddha Nature on the part of living beings who are people with good roots, while people who are icchantikas do not have it – which is just the Buddha nature cultivated in practice. Icchantikas don’t cultivate so they don’t have that kind of Buddha Nature. Or there may be possession of the Buddha Nature which the two kinds of people, icchantikas and people with good roots, both possess -- which is just talking about the Buddha nature in principle, how from the vantage point of principle all living beings have the Buddha Nature.”

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