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Schools and Teachings
Divided and Established
Three, establishments of teachings and division into Schools. This has two parts: 1) division into teachings based on doctrines, and 2) division into schools based on teachings.
Now the first, division into teachings based on doctrines. Of kinds of teachings there are five, just as established by Hsien Shou. For elaboration there is a separate treaties. On the whole they are identical with T'ien T'ai, only adding a Sudden Teaching. Now attachment first this will use them, and afterwards combine and make connections. If there are unsatisfactory places, it is hoped that they will be corrected.
The five teachings are: one, the Small Vehicle Teaching; two, the Initial Teaching of the Great Vehicle; three, the Final Teaching; four, the Sudden Teaching; and five, the Perfect Teaching.
The first is the equivalent of the T'ien T'ai Stores Teaching.
The text has now reached Three, establishments of the principles underlying teachings and division into Schools based on adopting a set of teachings. This third section has two main parts: 1), the first, is division into teachings based on doctrines. It means using the doctrines in the Sutras to set up teachings, because teachings cannot exist without doctrines, and 2), the second, division into schools based on teachings. Branches are founded upon teaching principles adopted.
The name “Sino-American Buddhist Association,” for example, illustrates the use of doctrine to establish a teaching. The doctrinal part of the name is “Sino-American Buddhist,” which indicates that it is Buddhists from both Chung Kuo ( China) and America together, “Association” is the part that represents the Teaching. When the Sino-American Buddhist Association opens a separate Branch Association, e.g. the Hong Kong Branch of the Sino-American Buddhist Association,that is an example of using the Teaching to found a school. If you understand this example, you will easily understand the principles in the section, Establishments of Teachings and division into Schools.
Now the first. We’ll start with division into teachings based on doctrines. Of kinds of teachings there are five, those Five Teachings being just as established by Hsien Shou. However, here it’s not actually a discussion of the, so just an overview will be given, and for elaboration there is a separate treaties, The Treatise on the Five Schools, which can be consulted for details.
On the whole they, the Hsien Shou Five Schools, are just about identical with the Teachings of the T'ien T'ai School, only adding a Sudden Teaching which doesn’t exist in the four of T'ien T'ai: the Stores, Connective, Separate and Perfect Teachings. Now attachment first this will use them, the Five Teachings of Hsien Shou, and afterwards combine and make connections, so there is interpenetration and perfect fusion and people will easily understand.
National Master Ch’ing Liang then says: “If there are unsatisfactory places, it is hoped that in the future they will be corrected by people with great intelligence and wisdom, and virtue.” But stupid people can’t correct them, for they would change them to something stupid, and each alteration would be stupider and more wrong. It has to be someone with loftier wisdom than National Master Ch’ing Liang. He was so quick-witted that he could take in seven lines of print attachment a single glance and never forgot anything that passed before his eyes. If you don’t feel you match up, be careful not to make changes, or you will create offenses.
Besides, the National Master is being courteous in saying this, instead of having the smug attitude, “Not one word can be added or subtracted from what I’ve written. No one can make any changes in it.” Actually, only a Buddha could make revisions, for National Master Ch’ing Liang was Flower Adornment Bodhisattva.
What are the five teachings? They are: one, the Small Vehicle Teaching, which is the beginning Teaching, so then why is two called the Initial Teaching? It’s because the second is the Teaching which starts to present of the Great Vehicle. Three is the Final Teaching of the Great Vehicle.
Four is called the Sudden Teaching, “sudden” because it doesn’t follow a prescribed sequence, but is that of immediate penetration and sudden enlightenment. That is, a person is supposed to have to study the Buddhadharma step bys step, first taking refuge, then taking the Five Precepts, and afterwards the Eight Precepts, the Bodhisattva Precepts, then leaving home, taking the Novice Precepts, the Bhikshu Precepts, the Bodhisattva Precepts as a left-home person, etc. but instead, the person gets enlightened before even taking refuge. That’s the Sudden Teaching.
The Great Master the Sixth Patriarch is an example. As soon as he heard the customer recite, “One should produce that thought which is nowhere supported,” he understood. And he had never studied the Buddhadharma before. Places in the Sutras where people are immediately enlightened upon hearing the Dharma are called the Sudden Teaching. And five is the Perfect Teaching of the total unobstructed interpenetration of perfect Bodhi, perfect enlightenment. In it, whatever way one speaks is correct.
When a perfect person speaks the Dharma,
No dharma is less than perfect.
Both the Teaching and the person are perfect, so when the person speaks Dharma,
At every point one meets the Way.
He could say something basically unreasonable, but it would turn out to have principle which you couldn’t fail to believe – it would be so meaningful. An example is the Ch’an School, for basically it’s not at all right to scold or hit anyone. But if you can see the wrong as right, then it can help you, and your skill has just about made it. In the Perfect Teaching, nothing is lacking. It’s as total and complete as the moon when it’s full.
The first, the Small Vehicle Teaching of Hsien Shou, is the equivalent of the T'ien T'ai Stores Teaching. There was a long discussion before about how it shouldn’t be called the Three Stores Teaching, the Teaching for the Small Vehicle. But it’s the same thing.
Two, the initial teaching, is also called the divisional teaching. That is because the Deep Secret’s second and third teaching periods together allow that neither category of those whose natures are fixed in either one of the Two Vehicles accomplishes Buddhahood. They now are therefore joined to form a single teaching.
The First Teaching is called the Small Vehicle in the Hsien Shou School, in the T'ien T'ai system called the Stores Teaching. Two is the initial teaching of the Great Vehicle, and with it the Great Vehicle Sutras begin. Since it is the initial door to the Great Vehicle and forms the boundary between the Small and Great Vehicle, it is also called the divisional teaching – one reason attachment any rate.
That is in addition because of the Deep Secret Sutra’s second and third teaching periods, which together allow that neither category of those whose natures are fixed in either one of the Two Vehicles accomplishes Buddhahood. Fixed-Nature Sound Hearers and Fixed-Nature Conditionally Enlightened Ones stop half-way in the transformation city and say, “This suits me just fine. I’m not interested in going any further. I’m content with what I have.”
They neither seek the Buddha Way above,
Nor do they transform living beings below.
What use is there in that? That’s why the Buddha called them:
Sterile seeds and withered sprouts,
Rotten seeds that won’t grow and sprouts that have dried up, because for them:
Above there is no Buddhahood to seek,
Below there are no living beings to save.
They say, “I’m just going to accomplish my own fruit position, and that’s it. I’m not paying attention to anybody else.” The Deep Secret Sutra “allows” that neither of those two types accomplishes Buddhahood – which means the Sutra doesn’t recognize them as being able to do so. And so they, the two kinds of Teaching in that Sutra, now are therefore joined to form a single teaching. Because it has those two joined parts, it is sometimes referred to as the “Divisional Teaching,” along with the reason given before; or else it could be termed the “Joined” or “United” Teaching – but it isn’t.
Because it does not yet exhaust the principles of Great Vehicle Dharma, it is therefore set up as first. Since it has those who do not become Buddhas, it is therefore termed “Divisional.”
Because it, the Initial Teaching, still has Fixed Nature Sound Hearers and Conditionally Enlightened Ones who do not accomplish Buddhahood, it does not yet exhaust the principles of Great Vehicle Dharma. It has not yet spoken them all, so it is therefore set up as first. Even though the Initial Teaching is the first door to the Great Vehicle, since it still has those icchantikas of fixed nature who do not become Buddhas, and the principle of the Great Vehicle is that all living beings have the Buddha nature and are capable of being Buddhas, it is therefore termed “Divisional.” It’s Great Vehicle all right, but still makes those kinds of discriminations about who does and who doesn’t accomplish Buddhahood. It divides living beings from the Buddha, another and more essential reason it is called “Divisional.”
Three, the Final Teaching, is also called the Actual Teaching. Because those who have Fixed Nature in the Two Vehicles and icchantikas without the nature all will become Buddhas, it then exhausts the utmost expression of the Great Vehicle, and so is set as final. Since it coincides with true principle, it is therefore called the actual.
Three is called the Final Teaching since it is the end of teaching the Great Vehicle. It is also called by another name, the Actual Teaching, since whereas the previous Initial Teaching only talked about emptiness, it now discusses existence: the Middle Way between wonderful Existence and True Emptiness which is the genuine teaching.
Because in it those who have Fixed Nature in the Two Vehicles of Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions, and icchantikas – beings of insufficient faith without the seed nature for Buddhahood -- all will be able to become Buddhas, while the previous teaching said they couldn’t, it then exhausts the utmost expression of the wonderful principle of the Great Vehicle, revealing it all. The Great Vehicle is called a “Vehicle” because it transports ordinary beings to the Buddha position. It is called “Great” because there is no living being it fails to transport to Buddhahood. It speaks the Dharma of the Great Vehicle to the end, and so is set as final Teaching of the Great Vehicle. Since it coincides with true and real principle and is identical in substance with truth itself, it is therefore called the actual Teaching.
Inasmuch as the above two teachings both rely on the gradual and successive cultivation to accomplishment of grounds and positions, they are collectively called the gradual.
Inasmuch as the above two teachings, the Initial, “Divisional” Teaching and the Final, “Actual” Teaching, both rely on the gradual and successive cultivation to accomplishment of grounds and positions, progress in them is bit by bit and step by step. It’s not like taking a bus, boat or plane to arrive attachment one’s destination, but means one cultivates some today, some more tomorrow, and also more the next day, until one gradually opens enlightenment and successfully accomplishes every living being’s original position: the ground of Buddhahood. For that reason they, those two Teachings, are collectively taken as a group and called the gradual Teaching. Gradual progress has to be kept up, however, for if you retreat it’s not even gradual.
Four is the Sudden Teaching, in which if only a single thought is not produced, that is called the Buddha. Because it speaks without reliance on positions or succession, it is therefore set as sudden.
Number four is the Sudden Teaching, “sudden” meaning cultivation that does not depend on rules. It does not, however, mean not following the rules. Rather, in contrast to the previous Gradual Teaching of step by step cultivation:
At the time of bringing forth the first resolve,
One right then accomplishes Proper enlightenment.
One becomes a Buddha as soon as one decides to do so – it’s that fast. Taking the analogy of going to New York, if you walked there that would be the Gradual Teaching. But if you went by boat or bus or train you would arrive a lot faster than you would by going on foot. And if you took a plane it would require even less effort and time. As it is said:
The butcher puts down his knife, and immediately accomplishes Buddhahood.
That’s the Sudden Teaching. Someone may be a butcher, a killer of pigs, cattle, sheep, cats, dogs or mice, and have created a great deal of bad karma. But if he is able to toss away his blade and not slaughter anymore, he becomes a Buddha on the spot. Wouldn’t you say he was getting quite a bargain and that he had it pretty easy attaining Buddhahood? What you need to know is that when he tossed his knife away it was a case of a single thought not being produced.
Doesn’t the text say that the Sudden Teaching is one in which if only a single thought is not produced, that is called the Buddha. He didn’t have any evil thought arise, and put down the knife. He realized what he had done before was wrong, and never killed again. That made him interactive with the Buddha’s wisdom so he became a Buddha. And yet, “That is called the Buddha” does not necessarily mean accomplishing Buddhahood. It means the certain possibility of becoming a Buddha.
Because it, the Fourth Teaching, speaks without reliance on positions or succession, it is therefore set as sudden. The person in the example was a butcher, a position from which one should not be able to go straight to Buddhahood, for you could say a butcher is an icchantikas of insufficient faith, or even worse. What enabled him to become a Buddha was that he had one true thought of repentance and reform. It doesn’t mater who you are:
Offenses great enough to cover heaven
Once reformed will be no more
Your offense karma could be so huge it fills all of empty space, and you could still repent of it. But it has to be true. You can’t just superficially mouth the words but in your mind think, “I’m not wrong but you say I am, so all I can do is admit it to show I’m not going to argue.” That won’t work. You must truly know in your own mind what you have done wrong for it to be called real repentance and reform. There are some lines of verse that put it very well:
Offenses arise from the mind, and must be repented by the mind.
If the mind if forgotten, the offenses are no more.
Mind forgotten, offenses gone, both of them are empty.
That is what is called true repentance and reform.
The offenses are created from your mind, from ignorance. It talked before about the body having ignorance as its cause. Some people even become enlightened by making that contemplation, and certify to the fruit of Arhatship from having that true understanding. So you need to repent with your mind, not your mouth. If your mind is forgotten, the offenses too are gone. When both the mind and the offenses are empty and no longer exist, then that is true repentance and reform.
There are four lines that come before those in the verses of repentance that go:
All the evil karma that I have made
From beginningless greed, hatred, and stupidity,
That has been produced from body, speech, and mind,
I now repent of and reform entirely.
One states, “The offense karma I have created in this lifetime is not the whole story – there has been too much of it lifetime after lifetime up to now. Why did I do it? It’s because going back endlessly I haven’t been able to rid my mind of greed or hatred and stupidity. But now I want to repent of and reform all the offense karma I have ever created in body, speech and mind.” If you don’t repent of your offenses, they don’t go away. But once you repent and reform they are empty and gone.
The Dharma of the Sudden is that of immediate enlightenment in the present lifetime, but it’s based on lots of gradual cultivation through the lives before. The butcher, for example, had been cultivating and cultivating and was on the verge of enlightenment, but got confused again and started killing pigs. That went on for awhile until his good karma ripened. Then he put down his blade and immediately became a Buddha. That’s Sudden Dharma – instantaneous enlightenment in this life but due to amassing lots of good roots in previous lives. The sudden therefore derives from the gradual. It’s just that no one saw the gradual cultivation, but the sudden enlightenment is clearly visible.
As the Visheshacinta says: “When one obtains the proper nature of all Dharmas there is no going just from one ground to the next ground.” The Lankavatara says: “The start is the eighth ground,” up to and including, “What succession is there in nothing whatsoever?” And so forth. Since it is not the same as the previous gradual cultivation of successive positions, and not the same as the perfectly fused endowment with virtues afterwards, it is therefore called the sudden.
As the Visheshacinta-Brahma-Paripriccha Sutra says: “When one obtains the proper nature of all Dharmas.” “All dharmas” means each and every dharma, and it means one dharma – the one sudden dharma, or all dhamras spoken by the Buddha. “The proper nature” mans the dharma of sudden enlightenment.
When it is obtained, “There is no going just from one ground to the next ground.” There is no confinement to rules that insist on progress being one Ground attachment a time, First Ground on to Second Ground, Third Ground, fourth Ground, Fifth Ground, Sixth Ground, Seventh Ground, Eighth Ground, Ninth Ground and Tenth Ground. Rather, one ay go from the First Ground to the Tenth, or else form the Tenth Ground to the First, going and returning without the bit-by-bit cultivation in fixed order of the Gradual Teaching. The meaning if the same as that of immediately becoming a Buddha.
Also, the Lankavatara Sutra says: “The start is the eighth ground.” It’s the Ground of Not Moving right form the beginning. The verses in that Sutra go into detail about how there is no reliance on succession. If you want to make a thorough study of the Buddhadharma, you can look up the names of the Ten Grounds and learn what they are.
The general idea is that the Sudden Teaching is independent of any such fixed order, and so it says, up to and including, “What succession is there in nothing whatsoever?” And so forth – there are many more lines of verse besides the two quoted by the Prologue.
Since it is not the same as the previous gradual Teaching’s step-by-step cultivation of successive positions, one doesn’t have to take as much time or expend as much effort. It’s something like the speed of a computer, or of a rocket that arrives attachment the moon almost as soon as it’s launched. And it is also not the same as the Perfect Teachingof perfectly fused endowment and adornment with ten thousand virtues afterwards. For that reason it is therefore called the sudden Teaching.
When you go home to visit your family, it shouldn’t be a casual matter. You should influence your parents to believe in the Buddha, which is the greatest meritorious and virtuous deed you can do. I’ll tell you about how I was able to tell falsehoods as a child, even before growing up. I wanted to bow to my parents every day, but was afraid they would forbid it because I couldn’t say it was something everybody did – for no one did it except attachment New Year’s. then I thought of an expedient method which involved a fabrication. When I bowed and they asked me, “It’s not New Year’s Day, why are you bowing to us?” I replied, “Ah, last night I had a dream in which the Buddha or a Bodhisattva told me my offense karma was so heavy I would die soon unless I bowed to my parents every day. I don’t believe the dream, but I am afraid of dying!” When my parents heard that they said, “Well, go ahead,” and let me do it.