THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

Moreover, at first, in order gradually to break the externalists’ spontaneity and so forth, he discussed the dharma of arisal from causes and conditions as absolutely existent.

Commentary:

Moreover, in establishing the Teachings, Dharma Master Wisdom Light set up a Gradual Teaching in which at first the Buddha was extensively breaking up the doctrines of side-doors and outside ways. What does that mean?

The Buddha spoke all Dharmas
Because there are all minds.
If there were not all minds,
What use would Dharmas be?

That’s why it’s said:

If one wishes to completely understand
All Buddhas of the three periods of time,
One should contemplate the nature of the Dharma Realm:
Everything is made from mind alone.

Those of the outside ways however, don’t believe the principle that:

The myriad Dharmas are only from the mind.
Just mind is the myriad Dharmas.
The reason for their name is that:
They seek for dharma outside of the mind,
And so are called “outside ways.”

What Dharma can you say is not produced from the mind? Yet they deny it, maintaining that all Dharmas come from outside not from within the mind. That’s like being a camera that can only take pictures if external things, and cannot return the light and reverse the illumination to take pictures of itself. So externalists seek outwardly for the Way.

The Buddha, according the Dharma Master Wisdom Light, in the First Period spoke what he did in order to break the externalists’ spontaneity. The doctrine of spontaneity is, for example, saying, “Who made the rivers? They came about spontaneously.” It means making an appeal to “Nature.” Outside-way doctrines of holding precepts of cows and dogs is referred to by and so forth. He, the Buddha, discussed the Dharma or arisal from causes and conditions to refute those theories of spontaneity. He described everything being a result of causal factors as absolutely existent, saying there really is that Dharma.

Why shouldn’t make distinctions between one Way Place and another – for Buddhism has no such distinctions for this and that, self and others. Since we are all Buddhists, my heart is always with other temples although I am not there. Even if externalists build Way Places, it’s better for there to be another Way Place than for there not to be one, and that’s even more the case when they are Buddhist. I’m always telling you:

The world is three steps long,
The universe not one foot wide.

Ours is a shrinking planet, due to increased ease of communications. People who wish to go see if the moon is square in other places are welcome to do so.

Prologue:

Next, in order gradually to break the Small Vehicle’s attachment to arisal from conditions as actually existent, he spoke of the “dependent on something else” as seeming to exist. Yet because of their fear of that true emptiness he still retained false names in order to guide them. In the last period, then the ultimate, he said “arisal from conditions” is empty, having the one flavor of sameness.

Commentary:

The first Gradual Teaching was to refute the outside ways’ knowledge and views of spontaneity. Afterwards, the Next, Gradual Teaching was in order gradually to break the Small Vehicle’s attachment to arisal from conditions as actually existent. Those of the Small Vehicle understood that everything is produced due to causes and conditions, but considered that production something factual, and developed an attachment to it. To break it he, the Buddha, spoke of the Nature That Arises “dependent on something else” as seeming to exist but really not existing. Yet because of their fear of that true emptiness he talked in terms of “seeming to exist,” without totally declaring its emptiness, and taught the Three natures discussed before. Those of the Two Vehicles – the Small Vehicle – are unable really to comprehend the principle of true emptiness, so if you tell them how all is empty and there is nothing they get scared. They say, “Isn’t that annihilationistm? And then what am I doing cultivating?” to avoid alarming them he still retained false names in order to guide them.

In the last period, then the ultimate and perfect doctrine, he said “arisal from conditions” is empty. The Buddha said:

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

Basically there is none of that, all having the one flavor of sameness of the principle of emptiness – there being no other principles.

Prologue:

This succession of three is as is stated in Shastra Master Wisdom Light’s explanation of the Prajna Lamp Shastra, based upon the Great Vehicle Wondrous Wisdom Sutra.

However, those two sets of three periods certainly are not able to determine the teachings of the single generation. That is because each has elements which, since confined, contradict each other, because each was separately given for one kind of potential.

Commentary:

This succession of three Teaching Periods is as is stated in Shastra Master Wisdom Light’s explanation of the Prajna Lamp Shastra (Prajna-pradipa-mula-madhyamaka-vritti), based upon the Great Vehicle Wondrous Wisdom Sutra. He used the principles in the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, calling its wisdom “wondrous” – inconceivable.

However, those two sets of three periods which were established certainly are not able to determine the teachings of the single generation of the Buddha. That is because each has elements which, since confined, based on and attached to something, contradict each other. The doctrines based on one Sutra may not mesh with doctrines in another Sutra, but be mutually exclusive, because each was separately given for one kind of potential. The problem is that they set up each period as teaching a single kind of living beings with a certain kind of potential.

This year (1971) the Sino-American Buddhist Association is sending a Dharma Master to the Orient to propagate the Buddhadharma, the first time an American Dharma Master goes to the East to spread the Dharma. Don’t look on this lightly – it’s a very important event. It is the first time the Buddhadharma goes from West to East, and you should know the causes and conditions involved are great.

Then there is the matter of the relationship between left-home people and laypeople. Laypeople are supposed to be protecting the Triple Jewel, not tearing it down by talking about the faults of individual Bhikshus or Bhikshunis, which is impermissible. I’ve told you before that laypeople are not supposed to call left-home people by their names, and disciples should not call their teacher by name. When laypeople see left-home they should put their palms together with utmost respect and reverence. It shouldn’t be that after you have been together for a long time you fail to respect the Triple Jewel and show no reverence for left-home people. It’s an especially great mistake to spend your time trying to find things wrong with the left-home people. Novices absolutely should listen to what the Bhikshus tell them, and laypeople absolutely cannot get angry at left-home people. If you do, you are certain to fall into the hells, so you need to know this. I don’t like to tell people they are supposed to respect me, but it is the case that laypeople should put their palms together when they see left-home people. That doesn’t just mean their teacher; they should also respect their peers who have left-home, and can’t look down on them.

You laypeople have been here so long you can’t tell if the left-home disciples here have cultivation and Way virtue or not, since with the passage of time none of it seems unusual to you. You think, “So they only eat once a day? Well, maybe they steal food to eat. Otherwise why would they always be running to the kitchen?” all of you laypeople have those kinds of thoughts, I know. Yesterday we had people from Taiwan and Hong Kong come here to the Way Place. That’s because when several of the left-home people from here went to New York, it inspired great faith in them. They had never before seen a left-home people who only eat one meal a day and always wear their precept sash. You’re so used to it you don’t think it’s special, but they’ve never encountered that kind of thing before and so they came all the way from New York to this icebox to see for themselves. You should wake up a bit. Don’t look right at the Buddha and fail to recognize it’s the Buddha and then try to find him when he’s gone – it won’t be easy to find him if you miss him like that.

For an individual person to accept offerings made to the temple as a whole and then spend them however they feel like, even if it is on food for everyone to eat, is entirely wrong. Not going through the financial office means one looks down on the people in the office and is trying to set oneself up as the boss who doesn’t have to tell anyone else about things. That’s a habit of arrogance and conceit. Maybe the person is not clear about what he or she is doing and might do it once or twice; but it’s not permissible for someone to be that way all the time, and especially not to take over as the one and only boss. For example, we have a rule that when anyone makes phone calls on the temple phone, that person has to write down their own name, who they called and where. Not to do so is, again, feeling that one is the boss and so doesn’t have to do what other people say is supposed to be done. That’s looking down on the people in the office, which is just looking down on the Way Place. And if you do that, you’re not a Dharma protector of the Way Place.

Prologue:

The doctrine in the Deep Secret Sutra gives a taste of Prajna to the one category of those who, upon hearing of the sameness of emptiness, would deny cause and effect and would not understand that emptiness and existence are non-dual. For that reason the third period for them divides the singleness of Dharma into doctrines of emptiness and existence. Its Wondrous Wisdom Sutra, then, because of one category of those who upon hearing discussion of the three natures become confused about consciousness only and are not yet able to dispense with the mind, and who upon contemplating “arisal from conditions” fix upon its seeming to exist, therefore cases them to dispense with both the mind and states, so that specifics are just truth. If one grasps that intention, then they are not mutually opposed.

Commentary:

The doctrine and meaning in the Deep Secret Sutra gives a taste of the flavor of Prajna to just the one category of living beings. They are those who, upon hearing the Prajna Teaching of the sameness of emptiness, would deny there was any such thing as cause and effect. Having fallen into attachment to either extreme of permanence or anihilationism, they would say, “Since all is equally empty, no result follows upon cause, so there’s no need to cultivate the cause to certify to the fruit. If everything is empty, why should one cultivate?” and they would not understand that emptiness and existence are non-dual, that:

Emptiness itself is existence, and
Existence itself is emptiness.
Emptiness is just existence,
Existence is just emptiness.
True emptiness is just wonderful existence.
Wonderful existence is just true emptiness.

-- how basically there is no difference between them and they are not two different things.

For that reason the third period for them divides the singleness of Dharma – the non-duality of emptiness and existence -- into doctrines of emptiness and existence. Its Wondrous Wisdom Sutrahas a different doctrine from that of the Deep Secret Sutra, and then, because, again, of just one category of living beings presents its particular Teaching. That one category is those who upon hearing discussion of the three natures – the Nature Everywhere Calculated and Attached to, the Nature That Arises Dependent on Something Else, and the Perfectly Accomplished Real Nature -- become confused about consciousness only. They don’t understand the principle of how:

The Three Realms are only from the mind.
The myriad dharmas are consciousness only.

Instead, they develop further attachments and so are not yet able to dispense with the “emptiness” in the mind, and who because of that, upon contemplating “arisal from conditions” fix upon its seeming to exist. Their contemplation of everything arising due to conditions leads them to the conclusion that arisal from conditions is actually existent, whereas that is not necessarily the case. Therefore the Teaching in the Wondrous Wisdom Sutra cases them, those kinds of beings, to dispense with both the mind and states so that:

Inside there is no body and mind,
Outside there is no world.

It also teaches that when one forgets both mind and states, specifics are just truth – principle.

Phenomena themselves are noumenon,
And noumenon itself is phenomena.

Specific (phenomena) do not obstruct principle (noumenon), and principle does not obstruct specifics. Phenomena and noumenon are non-dual, and so it’s right within fundamental, noumenal emptiness (principle) that the wonderful existence of specifics is found. That wonderful existence is not found anywhere else but within true emptiness, and true emptiness is not in any way separate form wonderful existence. They basically are one.

Each of those two, the Deep Secret Sutra and the Wondrous Wisdom Sutra, is speaking Dharma for just one kind of living beings, different Dharma in each case. Their Dharma would not match the potentials or tally with principle for any other kind of being, but does for that one kind. They are not addressing themselves to all living beings in general. If one grasps that intention, then they are not mutually opposed. If you can understand that principle, there won’t be any contradiction between those two Sutras, and you won’t be attached to one extreme or another. If you fail to understand that the doctrines in each of those Sutras are designed just for those kinds of beings, you will have such attachment and feel neither is correct. In the light of the principles discussed above, however, the doctrines in each fuse and interpenetrate. That’s why in investigating the Buddhadharma you need to understand the principles in a great many Sutras to arrive at in-depth comprehension.

I’ll give you some examples of speaking a certain kind of Dharma for a certain kind of being, to make it clearer. When you encounter a living beings who has a lot of greed, you need to speak Dharma of eliminating greed to that being. Upon meeting a being with a lot of anger, the Dharma you need to speak is how not to have anger. If the being in question is stupid, you speak the Dharma of how not to be stupid. However, you have to know something more. If you start right out by telling a greedy person not to have greed, that person will find it very hard, because the root of greed has deeply planted itself in his or her mind, and won’t be easy to pull out. The method to use in that case is to take yourself as the example in speaking Dharma. You say, “I sued to have so much greed, I was greedier than anyone. Wealth, sex – you name it, I was greedy for it. I even thought the more garbage the better, and was preparing to amass a pile of shit high as Mount Sumeru. But then I reflected, ‘When I die, what’s going to happen to all that stuff? Forget about the excrement – even the gold and silver I won’t be able to take along.’ That was enough to stop my greed. I started giving things away, everything I owned.”

The person thinks, “Hum, that does make sense. When I die, will I be able to take these things with me? No.” and he ceases to be greedy. It works the same with anger and stupidity. For example, there may be someone with a huge temper who spews fire the minute he opens his mouth. If you tell him, “Wow! You sure have a big temper. That’s not good you know, and you ought to get rid of it,” that makes him even angrier. His “fire of ignorance and tiger spirit” all come out – meaning he gets really mad. So you have to tell him, “Anger is not such a bad thing. If you have a big temper everyone is afraid of you – not just people but even ghosts don’t dare get near you. I sued to lose my temper all the time, until I realized that as angry as I could get, it didn’t help my any, and didn’t help anyone else either. After that I tried being compassionate and kind, and didn’t get mad anymore.”

The person hears that and thinks, “Hey, here’s someone who had such a huge temper any got rid of it, so probably I can do the same thing,” and he does.

If you tell a stupid person that he is stupid, he won’t believe you, because he’s stupid. He’d have to have wisdom to believe you. Being stupid, he doesn’t believe anything you tell him, whether it’s correct or not. He lacks the power of judgement and always has foxlike doubts which delude him. So, don’t even try talking to him; just act. Do things well and truly. The people who went to New York did that. And use actual skill to influence him. He’ll see for himself and think, “That’s not bad! They wear their precept sashes – that’s how left-home people should be!” their disbelief will turn to faith. So, some came from New York to see if you were putting on an act or if you would be the same back here – and found you were the same, except in this icebox. Just before leaving the person said to me, “Ah! This is true cultivation! It’s not the same where I come from.”

I said, “It’s not a question of the same or not the same. It’s just that everyone here is afraid of the heat and so wants to live in an ice-building.”

That’s how you speak a given Dharma suited to a given person. When you teach and transform living beings you can’t do it by getting angry – or by not getting angry. When it’s time to get angry you get angry, and when it’s not time to get angry you practice patience. You also have to use Vigor, and can’t neglect dhyana-samadhi or wisdom. That means first you have to stop being greedy yourself, so you’re perfectly pure without the least desire for fame or profit, and then you’re certain to have success.

(To the disciple who is about to leave to give lectures in Taiwan) Although what I said tonight is very superficial, you should try to remember how to teach living beings with greed, those with anger, and those with stupidity. Also, use unimpeded eloquence, not the impeded kind you used awhile back. What to I mean? At that time there were more than ten people at Gold Mountain Monastery, and three people in Chinatown holding a Ch’an session. A layperson had brought some cheese to cook with the next day, and you took half of it for just the three of you. When I mentioned it you said, “But I took the smaller half!” That’s “impeded” eloquence. If you use that on stupid people they won’t realize what’s going on; but you’ll run into obstructions with people who are wise. So don’t use your mind – use true and actual wisdom. Your mind just talks about principle, whereas your wisdom recognizes it. Your mind rationalizes and says, “I haven’t done anything wrong, how can you say such a thing?” It defends you. But wisdom is rational and accepts, saying, “You say I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. You say I’m not good, then I’m not good.” Endure toil and resentment. That’s unimpeded eloquence.

A person called not long ago and complained that she had suffered and been bullied so much she felt like abandoning her faith in the Buddha. I said to her on the phone, “Then stop believing in the Buddha as fast as you can – that would be the very best thing to do. If you believe in the Buddha you simply take a loss, but if you don’t believe, everything will go well for you.” She didn’t know what do say to that. When she came here and wanted to go into how she’d been bullied so much I told her, “Now you know that being bullied is hard to take, so why did you bully people in the past? If you hadn’t bullied people, how could they bully you? As is the cause so is the effect! You’ve believed in the Buddha so long, why do you still not understand the principle of cause and effect? If you don’t scold people, people won’t scold you. If you don’t beat them you won’t get beaten. The reason you are bullied is that you were yourself a bully, and so now you deserve it.” She just stared at me, and I said, “ If you don’t want to be bullied, stop believing in the Buddha right now! If you believe, you’re going to have to take it! You’ll have to continue your work and can’t retreat!”

As to those going to take the precepts in Taiwan trying to get the mealtime lengthened and the people not agreeing, they never should have made a fuss about it when it didn’t happen. They could simply have stopped eating – that’s what I would have done; even gone without water.

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