THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

Inasmuch as the Nirvana bases itself on the nature in principle in making clear that all equally possess it, it therefore says that all who have the mind are certain to be Buddhas. It does not say that all who have practice are certain to be Buddhas. If one maintains that the nature in principle being certainly possessed allows those tending towards stillness not to have accomplishment, then that contradicts the principle of the teaching. From this one knows the statement that icchantikas do not become Buddhas is because upon becoming Buddhas they are not ichantikas, and was simply reproach and acclaim for the current time.

Commentary:

Inasmuch as the Nirvana Sutra bases itself on the Buddha nature in principle in making clear that all living beings equally possess it, the Buddha Nature, it therefore says that all who have the mind are certain to be Buddhas. “Mind” here means the Buddha Nature in principle, and any who have it are said to accomplish Buddhahood. nonetheless it does not say that all who have practice are certain to be Buddhas. If one maintains the preceding doctrine, that the nature in principle being certainly possessed so that all definitely have the hope of becoming Buddhas, and yet allows those Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers tending towards stillness not to have accomplishment, to enter Nirvana without becoming Buddhas, then that contradicts the principle of the teaching. To accept that they enter the still extinction of Nirvana and don’t accomplish Buddhahood contradicts that doctrine, because the Nature in principle means that all will be Buddhas.

From this one knows that the statement that icchantikas do not become Buddhas is because upon becoming Buddhas they are not ichantikas. To be sure, as long as they are icchantikas they can’t become Buddhas; but when they become Buddhas they are no longer icchantikas. And so the statement that icchantikas can’t become Buddhas doesn’t mean they never do become Buddhas. It’s just that as long as they remain icchantikas they are unable to turn back from the small and turn towards the great; and that inability to change their way of thinking prevents them from being Buddhas. But when they are able to turn their minds around – turn back from the small and turn towards the great, turn back from self and turn towards others and transfer the merit and virtue they have created to all living beings – then they will accomplish Buddhahood.

Therefore, the statement that icchantikas don’t become Buddhas was simply reproach and acclaim for the current time. It put icchantikas down with the intention of rousing them to repent and reform since they would think, “Oh, I’m an icchantika, with insufficient faith, so I can’t become a Buddha. Well then, I won’t be an icchantika anymore! I’ll start believing.” They change, and no longer are icchantikas. Or there are Bodhisattvas on the point of retreating from their Great Vehicle resolve. But as soon as they hear the Buddha say that living beings with insufficient faith, icchantikas, Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers, can’t become Buddhas, they don’t retreat from their resolve after all. “Reproach” is causing the icchantikas themselves to repent and reform, and “acclaim” is getting the Bodhisattvas to keep bringing forth the Great Vehicle resolve for Bodhi. It’s the method of either commending them for being good, or censuring them for being wrong.

A person, for example, may be studying the Buddhadharma with a great deal of vigor, but you still say he isn’t vigorous. That quells his arrogance, because it’s to be feared that someone who is vigorous will start to think he or she is fantastic along such lines as: “See how vigorous I ma.” “I also don’t hold money.” “I don’t talk with women.” “I also eat just one meal a day.” The “I’s” pile up in a massive heap that blocks the Way. To prevent that, one uses the Reproach method, and still maintains the person isn’t vigorous, for people very easily become arrogant.

Prologue:

If one maintains that the Dharma Flower’s belief in the One Vehicle after entry to Nirvana is just on the part of provisionally transformed Sound Hearers, the provisional certainly is transformation of the actual, and without the actual, whose transformation is it? Furthermore, would that not mislead the one kind of living being who is timorous and weak and prefers extinction? From this one should know that all tending towards stillness is merely pre- Dharma Flower intention.

Commentary:

If one maintains that the Dharma Flower Sutra’s talking about how living beings are only able to have belief in and cultivate the One Vehicle Dharma after the Buddha’s entry to Nirvana, is just talking about it happening on the part of provisionally transformed Sound Hearers who basically are not Sound Hearers attachment all but just appear in transformed bodies… if that’s what you want to say, well you should realize the provisional certainly is transformation of the actual, and without the actual, whose transformation is it? Provisional transformation and skillful expedients later on return to the real land actual Teaching. Or you could say, that what basically is real transform into the provisional, so the provisional is a transformation of the actual. Also, if there is no real or actual, whose transformation is it? If there’s no underlying real Teaching as the substance, then who is doing the talking? The person who tries to maintain the starting thesis is acting as his or her own defense attorney; but one would be wrong to defend that case.

Furthermore, if you say that, would that not disappoint and mislead the one kind of living being who is timorous and weak and prefers extinction; who gets scared upon hearing how long it takes for Buddhahood and decides not to cultivate? There is also the kind of person who falters and fears upon seeing how hard it is to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, who would also be misled. For if that kind of Bodhisattva knows that even though living beings have entered extinction, the extinction is not forever nor is the Samadhi, then that Bodhisattva continues to maintain his Great Vehicle Bodhi resolve. From this, these various reasons, one should know that all doctrines which speak of beings tending towards stillness are doing so in order to teach the kind of living being who prefers extinction. All such doctrine is merely pre- Dharma Flower intention. It was spoken prior to the Dharma Flower Sutra, which demolishes the three to establish the one. After it, the Three Vehicles doctrine is broken, and there is only One Vehicle.

Above, it said, “The provisional certainly is transformation of the actual, and without the actual whose transformation is it?” You could just as well say, “The actual certainly is transformation of the provisional, and without the provisional whose transformation is it?” If you think of it from both directions you’ll understand the principle. Also, there’s nothing fixed about it. It’s simply setting forth the doctrine. You shouldn’t be all rigid and inflexible and insist, “That’s precisely how it is.” How do you know it’s precisely that way? It’s being precisely that way is an attachment.

Prologue:

Moreover, the Shrimala Sutra says: “if the Thus Come One accords with what they like and expediently speaks, that is the One Vehicle and there are no Two Vehicles, for the Two Vehicles enter the One Vehicle. The One Vehicle is just the vehicle in the primary sense.” Its intention is to clarify that it is according with wishes and expediently that he speaks of Two Vehicles. One clearly knows that it is just the One Vehicle, and that there simply are not two. If one does not grasp this intention and connects the prior “expediently” with the following “One Vehicle” in reading it, and abruptly determines that the One Vehicle is expedient, one’s delusion simply is too deep.

Commentary:

Moreover, the Shrimala - devi Sutra says: “if the Thus Come One accords with what they like and expediently speaks, that is the One Vehicle and there are no Two Vehicles.” That Sutra states that when the Buddha establishes false expedients adapted to the likings of living beings when he speaks the Dharma, it’s still the one Buddha Vehicle. If the Buddha says there are Two Vehicles of Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions, he is speaking expediently.

They don’t exist, “for the Two Vehicles must also return to and enter the One Vehicle” – and what is meant by that? “The One Vehicle is just the vehicle in the primary sense of the term; and it is Truth in the Primary Sense.” Its intention is to clarify that it is according with wishes and hopes of living beings and expediently that he, the Buddha, speaks of Two Vehicles. From that passage in the Sutra one clearly knows – or should -- that it is just the One Vehicle, and that there simply are not two. There is no Dharma of Two Vehicles. If one does not grasp this intention or understand this principle, and connects the prior word “expediently” with the following words “One Vehicle” in reading it – if one interprets the passage as reading: “If the Thus Come One accords with what they like and expediently says that there is One Vehicle and that there are no Two Vehicles” – and if one abruptly determines that it means the One Vehicle is expedient – then one is wrong. The One Vehicle is not an expedient, and if one garbles the passage and so misconstrues the syntax that one thinks the Buddha was speaking expediently in talking of the One Vehicle, then one’s delusion simply is too deep. One has really got it wrong. It’s also possible to misread passages in the Chapter of the Conduct and Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva so that the meaning is distorted in a similar way.

Prologue:

Furthermore within that sutra it extensively demolishes the Two Vehicles, stating they do not have Nirvana. It further says: “This sutra cuts off all doubts and is of absolute and final meaning: the entry to the way of the One Vehicle” – so how could it be saying the One Vehicle is expedient?

Commentary:

Furthermore within that Shrimala-devi sutra it extensively demolishes the Two Vehicles. It discusses attachment length how the Two Vehicles of Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions do not exist, stating they do not have entry to Nirvana – which means they cant become Buddhas or obtain the four virtues of the Buddha’s Dharma Body which are 1) Permanence, 2) Bliss, 3) True Self, and 4) Purity. It, the Shrimala-deviSutra, further says: “This sutra cuts off all doubts so all delusions disappear, and is a Sutra of absolute and final meaning, not non-final doctrine. It spells things out very clearly, saying it is the entry in the future to the way of the Dharma of the One Vehicle” – so how could it attachment the same time be saying that the One Vehicle is expedient? It isn’t. The One Vehicle is not expedient.

Prologue:

And if it did have expedient speech, it would still be before the Dharma Flower – besides which it hasn’t any, has it?

Commentary:

And if it did have expedient speech, expedient Dharma doors, it the Shrimala-devi Sutra, would still be a Sutra that was spoken before the Dharma Flower Sutra was spoken – besides which it hasn’t any, has it? What is more, there basically is no expedient Dharma spoken in that Sutra.

Prologue:

The Dharma Flower says: “This Sutra is hard to believe and hard to understand. Since even while the Buddha is in the world it incurs much hatred and jealousy, how much the more will that be so after his crossing to extinction.” How true its words are! Anyone who clings to Three Vehicles and Five Natures and does not believe in One Vehicle and One Nature is deeply pitiable!

Commentary:

In the Dharma Flower Sutra it says: “This, the Dharma Flower Sutra is one that is hard for people to believe in and hard for them to understand – because it’s too wonderful, and speaks in detail doctrines that were not discussed before. The Dharma Flower Sutra itself says: “Since even while the Buddha is in the world it incurs much hatred and jealousy from people who feel animosity and envy towards it. That’s because it speaks doctrine that’s too wonderful – about how every living beings has the Buddha nature and is capable of becoming a Buddha. Therefore, how much the more will that be so after his crossing to extinction. If there are that many people against it while the Buddha is still present, it’s bound to be even worse later on.” How true its words are! This Sutra really speaks true and actual words that are genuine and not false. Anyone who stubbornly clings to the existence of Three Vehicles and Five Natures as being correct, and who does not believe in the Dharma of One Vehicle and the One Buddha seed-Nature, is too deeply pitiable! The Thus Come One says such people are lamentable.

Prologue:

Therefore in part two of The Hundred Analogies Sutra the analogy of the king changing the village’s Five Yojanas to Three Yojanas, as an analogy for expediently speaking of the one as three, and people afterwards only believing the three and not believing the one, is the same phenomenon.

Commentary:

Therefore in part two of The Hundred Analogies Sutra which is composed entirely of examples that are not factual, the analogy is given for how the Buddha basically speaks the Dharma of One Vehicle, but in order to teach people whose disposition is for the Small Vehicle, he divides it into three. Then when he’s done speaking of Three Vehicles and talks about the one, the people of Small Vehicle don’t believe it and protest, “The Buddha never said anything like that.” the analogy in the Sutra is of the king changing the village’s Five Yojanas to Three Yojanas. The King’s capital city was located five yojanas away from a certain village which had exceptionally fine water. A small yojana is forty li, a medium-sized yojana is sixty li and a large yojana is eighty li. (A li is about a third of an English mile). Probably these were small yojanas, so it was two hundred li away. The King commanded the villagers to bring water from their village to the capital every single day. The villagers complained that it was too much work, and were thinking of moving away. But the village mayor had a talk with them and said, “Don’t move. I have a plan. I’ll discuss this with the King and request him to change the five yojanas to three. Three yojanas is not all that far, don’t you think, and it wouldn’t be so hard on you – isn’t that right?”

The villagers said, “Can he really change them from five into three?”

The Mayor said, “He can. I’ll go talk the matter over with him.”

When the mayor presented his plan, the King said, “Okay, we’ll call them three.” Now basically the distance was five, but he decreed it was three yojanas—one hundred twenty li. Afterwards when the citizens brought water they didn’t feel it was so hard, because he had said it was closer, and a King’s words are believable. And they didn’t move away.

In the analogy, the false three yojanas stand for the Three Vehicles which are just as false, and the actual distance of five yojanas stands for the One Vehicle which the people of the Three Vehicles won’t believe in if you tell them that’s what they basically are. After the King’s decree, if someone had told the villagers that the three yojanas were really five, they wouldn’t have believed it either and would have protested, “But the King decreed they’re three, so they must be.” That Sutra’s analogy – of the King changing the village’s five yojanas to three yojanas -- as an analogy for expediently speaking Dharma of the basically one Vehicle as divided up to make three, and people afterwards only believing the three Vehicles and not believing the one, is the same phenomenon.

If there are mistakes in translation during lectures or in speaking Dharma, you should bring them up right away, or else people will learn wrong, and it will continue wrong, and the Orthodox Dharma will start to lean. And don’t collect material from garbage cans to lecture, but from what we are actually investigating. Lecturing shouldn’t simply be reading, either, for that’s too rigid. In the same vein, the bell song should be chanted, not simply said. There’s no reason to be embarrassed. You shouldn’t have a mark of self but decide, “Good or bad, that’s the way it’s being chanted.” This is a time when you can get away with “having no one in your eyes.”

Prologue:

The above has been in terms of how the two schools each differ as to what they are based on, which leads to contradictions between them. But if explained as a unit they also do not contradict one another.

Commentary:

The discussion above in the Prologue has been in terms of how the two schools each differ as to what they are based on. The Dharma Nature School and the Dharma Marks School differ as to the particular doctrines they establish. Some take as their point of departure the One Vehicle as being provisional and the Three Vehicles as being actual, whereas others put it the other way around. Some say there is one nature and one Vehicle, while others speak of Three Vehicles and beings without the nature. Each of the two Schools is founded with a differing outlook, which leads to contradictions between them if the differences are emphasized in making comparisons with the other School. But if the two are explained as a unit, in their individual doctrines, when reconciled and blended, they also do not contradict one another. When one gets down to fundamentals, each is correct in certain respects, and taken as a whole both Schools seem good. But if you oppose them to each other, either one has areas in which it is wrong. As it is said:

Combined, both come out pretty well;
Slandered, both are harmed.

It is possible to reconcile their differences if you do so in a spirit of unity; but if you tear them apart, neither school can stand.

Prologue:

That is, when following potentials there are three, but in terms of Dharma there is one. Of the unripe there are five, but at the root there is non-duality. Entry into principle means dispensing with the pair, and then the three and one are both gone. But when considering the Buddha’s manner of teaching, there can be either three or one.

Commentary:

That is, when following potentials there are three Vehicles to correspond to the living beings who have dispositions suited to either the Sound Hearers Vehicle, the Conditionally Enlightened Vehicle, or the Bodhisattva Vehicle. But if you talk in terms of Dharma, then there is only the one Vehicle. It was just said expediently that there are three. Of the living beings whose roots are still unripe there are five kinds of natures: 1) Sound Hearer, 2) Conditionally Enlightened, 3) Bodhisattva, 4) Unfixed, and 5) Lack of the Nature. But at the root, the basic Dharma, there is non-duality. There aren’t two or three – just one. Entry into principle means dispensing with the pair of one and three, and then the three and one are both gone. If you talk in terms of principle, there isn’t even a “one,” let alone a “three.” There isn’t anything at all.

Not a single dharma is established.
Not one dharma can be obtained.

You can’t set up a dharma of “one” or obtain a dharma of “the one.” But when considering the Buddha’s manner and expedient modes of teaching living beings, then there can be said to be either three Vehicle or one.

Prologue:

Therefore, when competing there is attachment to rights and wrongs, but with penetration there is no debating between adversaries. The Great Collection’s five categories may be different, but none is apart from the dharma realm. In the Nirvana each speaks of personal causes, but the Buddha allows it as not improperly spoken. The remaining doctrines will be combined later on.

End of Ancient and Present Disagreements and Concurrences

Commentary:

Therefore, when competing with one another there is attachment on the part of each to one’s own rights and the other’s wrongs. But with penetration there is no debating between adversaries to defend one’s own position. The Great Collection Sutra’s five categories may be different from each other, but none of them is apart from the dharma realm and Nirvana. In the Nirvana Sutra each speaks of personal causes from his own personal history. But the Buddha allows it as not improperly spoken. The Buddha permits them to talk that way. The remaining respects in which the doctrines of the schools differ will be combined and reconciled in detailed discussion later on. This is the End of the second major section, called Ancient and Present Disagreements and Concurrence.

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