THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

In terms of Dharma this is called the branch-tips arising from the root, because with regard to the one Buddha Vehicle, by way of discrimination there are said to be three, for the eighteen and the basic two all issue forth from the Great Vehicle. In terms of potentials, each are potentials of one kind. It is not that for one potential there is before and afterwards, great and small.

Commentary:

In terms of Dharma this is called the branch-tips – the Three Vehicles of Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas -- arising from the one fundamental root – the One Vehicle. Therefore it says, because with regard to the one Buddha Vehicle, which is fundamentally all there is, nonetheless because of the differing dispositions of living beings by way of discrimination there are said to be the three different Vehicles listed above. The reason for that is the eighteen Schools and the basic division into the two major types of Schools in the Small Vehicle all issue forth from the Great Vehicle. You could also say this refers to the Eighteen Dharmas Special to a Buddha, which are basically not common to the Two Vehicles or to Bodhisattvas either. Only the Buddha Vehicle has them, and yet these principles are all basically Great Vehicle Buddhadharma.

The Eighteen Dharmas Special to a Buddha

In terms of potentials, each are potentials of one kind. Each kinds of living beings is of a single potential. Those of the Small Vehicle are potentials for the Small Vehicle, those of the Great Vehicle are potentials for the Great Vehicle, and those of the Three Vehicles are potentials for the Three Vehicles. It is not that for one potential there is before and afterwards, great and small. It’s not talking about the potential of a single category of living being when it says that there is a before and an afterwards, or that there is small or great. Rather, at one and the same time there is before and afterwards, great and small, suited to all the varieties of potentials. When there is said to be before and afterwards, small and great, it’s not talking about a single kind of potential having them.

Prologue:

Three is the door of gathering the branch-tips to return them to the root. Relying upon the Limitless Meanings, the first period is speaking the small, next speaking the middle vehicle, and in the last period speaking the great. Therefore, the Dharma Flower also speaks of first turning the Four Truths, and although the Deep Secret and the Wonderful Wisdom are two further periods with the three and the one not the same, still they all begin with the small and end with the great.

Commentary:

Three is the door of gathering the branch-tips – the Three Vehicles -- to return them to the root – One Vehicle. Relying upon the principles spoken in the Limitless Meanings Sutra, it says that the first period is speaking the Dharma of the small Vehicle, next, when speaking of the Small Vehicle is over, then speaking the Dharma of the middle vehicle. And in the last period, when done with speaking the Middle Vehicle, there is speaking the great Vehicle Dharma – and that’s how there is a division into Three Vehicles. Due to those considerations, therefore, in the Dharma Flower Sutra it also speaks of first turning the Dharma Wheel of the Four Noble Truths in the Deer Park near Benares. And although the Deep Secret Sutra and the Wonderful Wisdom Sutra are spoken as are two further periods with the account of the three Vehicles and the one Vehicle not being the same, still they all begin with the speaking of the small Vehicle and end with speaking of the great Vehicle.

Prologue:

Four is the door of non-obstruction of the branch-tips and the root. It first brings up speaking that shines on the very tops of the kings of mountains, which clarifies that if it were not for the root there would be no trailing branch-tips. Afterwards it points to the different streams returning to the great sea, which clarifies that if it weren’t for the branch-tips there would be no returning to the root. Therefore, root and branch-tips intermingle, while bestowing and depriving are reciprocally sustained – which is skill–in-means indeed to draw in living beings!

Commentary:

Four is the door of non-obstruction of the branch-tips and the root, in which the very root is the branch-tips and the very branch-tips are the root. The root doesn’t gather in the branch-tips, nor the branch-tips gather in the root. They are mutually non-obstructive. You can say it’s the root or say it’s the branch-tips. The fourth door is of nothing being fixed or exclusive about it. How is it put? It says that there was speaking of the Great Vehicle, without any fixed succession of prior and latter.

It first brings up speaking that shines on the very tops of the kings of mountains, meaning the time when the Flower Adornment Sutra was spoken, which was like the newly arisen sun first shining on the lofty mountains, which clarifies things so people will understand that if it were not for the root there would be no trailing branch-tips. Branch-tips cannot exist unless they grow from the root, so there must first be a root for there to be branch-tips trailing down from the branches, for example of a tree. That part of the doctrine is made clear, and then afterwards it points to the different streams returning to the great sea. It makes explicit how the myriad streams – all other kinds of water which are smaller than the sea, such as river, lakes, creeks and streams – must return to the ocean. Their water wasn’t salty to begin with, but when they return to the ocean they all have one identical salty flavor, which clarifies that if it weren’t for the branch-tips there would be no returning to the root. The branch-tips are represented by the lesser streams, that have to go back to the sea – it couldn’t happen without them.

Therefore, root and branch-tips intermingle. There is root within the branch-tips and branch-tips within the root, neither interfering with each other, while bestowing and depriving are reciprocally sustained. Giving and taking away help each other out. It’s a constant give and take of bestowing and then snatching away. This is talking about how when the Buddha speaks the Dharma he:

Contemplates the potentials to entice with teachings,
And according to the person speaks the Dharma.

Some people can become enlightened through Great Vehicle Dharma, and so he gives such people principles of the Great Vehicle. Others are due to open enlightenment through Small Vehicle Dharma instead, and so he takes back the Great Vehicle Dharma and speaks a little Dharma of the Small Vehicle. That’s an example of bestowing and depriving being reciprocally sustained. It’s correct to give it, and it’s also right to take it back. Both the bestowing and the taking back are the Buddhadharma. This is also:

Prescribing the medicine according to the illness.

The medicine is given when you’re sick. You take it, get well, and then the medicine is removed so you wont’ continue to take it, which wouldn’t work. For example, if you catch cold you take some Yin Ch’ao tablets, but you shouldn’t continue to take them once you’re cured. That’s bestowing and depriving being reciprocally sustained, which is skill–in-means indeed to draw in living beings! This truly is clever employment of expedient methods to teach and transform living beings and draw in and hold them. It’s not saying that it’s necessarily good to give it to you or that it’s good to take it back. You have to do it right whichever way you do it, and then either way will be correct. But if you do it wrong, then either way will be wrong.

Prologue:

Therefore, in ordinary discussion there are in general five positions. One is the fundamental One Vehicle, as in the Flower Adornment Sutra. Two is the Small Vehicle of secret intent. Three is the Great Vehicle of secret intent. Four is the open revelation of the Three Vehicles. The above three are as in the Deep Secret. Five is the One Vehicle that demolishes any other, as in the Dharma Flower. The above four doors interpenetrate without obstruction, and so before and after have no before or after, being just before and after of no before or after.

Commentary:

Therefore, in ordinary discussion there are taken as a whole in general five positions. If you make detailed distinctions there aren’t just five, but five positions gives the overall picture. One is the fundamental One Vehicle. That speaks from the point of view of the root, not the point of view of the branch-tips, and presents the fundamental Dharma door of One Vehicle. This is Dharma of the Sudden, as are principles spoken in the Flower Adornment Sutra. Two is the Small Vehicle of secret intent. The meaning is very secret and hidden. Three is the Great Vehicle of secret intent. Four is the very clear and open revelation in which Dharma of the Three Vehicles is spoken. The Teaching principles of the above three – the Small Vehicle of secret intent, the Great Vehicle of secret intent, and the open revelation of the Three Vehicles – are the same as what is said in the Deep Secret Sutra. Five is the One Vehicle that demolishes any other – any that are not the same as it.

There is only the Buddha Vehicle, and not other Vehicle beside it. This doctrine is as is spoken of in the Dharma Flower Sutra. The above four doors interpenetrate without obstruction. There’s o resistance or opposition among them. They interfuse with no interference, and so before and after have no before or after. The doctrines interpenetrate and don’t obstruct or block each other, so although there may be talk of before and afterwards, time really has no before or after, being just before and after of no before or after. Even though there’s said to be no prior and subsequent, prior and subsequent still exist from the point of view of ordinary living beings’ discriminating minds. However, that before and afterwards is false and illusory, and really no such sequence exists.

Prologue:

Five is the door of unfixed according with potentials. Of the above four doors, the first explains the potentials of three kinds as constantly fixed form beginning to end. The next door explains potentials of five kinds as constantly fixed at different times. The third door explains potentials of one kind as being the profound of the shallow itself. The fourth door explains potentials of two kinds, the first being potentials for hearing the sudden, and those afterwards being potentials for going from the shallow to the deep. There is one further kind, those of unfixed potential, who might from the Small Vehicle then enter the Three Vehicles, and afterwards enter the One Vehicle. And there are also those who from the small directly enter the One Vehicle. Or there may be those of many kinds of potentials, who according as they hear a single phrase have different understanding which are not the same.

Commentary:

Five is the door of unfixed according with the opportunities presented by the potentials of living beings. There is discussion of the Small Vehicle for living beings whose dispositions are suited to it. Teaching principles of the Middle Vehicle are spoken for living beings for whom the Middle Vehicle is appropriate. For living beings whose dispositions and potentials are suited to the Great Vehicle, the Great Vehicle is spoken. That’s why it’s unfixed – it’s not necessarily a particular way.

Of the above four doors – the Door of difference of the Root and Branch-tips, the Door of Branch-tip Arising form the Root, the door of Gathering the Branch-tips to Return them to the Root, and the Door of Non-Obstruction of the Branch-tips and the Root -- the first explains the potentials of three kinds as constantly fixed form beginning to end. The Door of difference of the Root and Branch-tips treats living beings whose dispositions are suited either to the Small Vehicle, the Three Vehicles or the One Vehicle as seeming to be fixed all the time.

The next door explains potentials of five kinds as constantly fixed at different times. The Door of Branch-tip Arising form the Root treats the five kinds of potentials – Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions, Bodhisattvas, Those Unfixed, and Those Without the Nature – as being at different times but always being fixed.

The third door explains potentials of one kind – just potentials for the One Vehicle -- as being the profound of the shallow itself. The Gradual Teaching leads those of the Small Vehicle into the Great Vehicle.

The fourth door explains potentials of two kinds, the first being potentials for hearing the sudden Teaching, and those afterwards being potentials for going from the shallow to the deep. There is one further kind, those of unfixed potential, who might from the Small Vehicle then study and enter the Three Vehicles, and afterwards study and enter the One Vehicle. And there are also those of unfixed potential who from the small Vehicle directly enter the One Vehicle. Or there may be those of many kinds of potentials, who according as they hear a single phrase have different understanding which are not the same. One phrase of Dharma spoken by the Buddha may mean one principle, or it may mean one spoken sentence. But living beings according to their kind each understand it their own way.

The Buddha speaks the Dharma with a single sound.
And living beings understand it according to their kind.

That is, those of the Great Vehicle comprehend the wonderful doctrines of the Great Vehicle. Those of the Middle Vehicle understand it as doctrines of the Middle Vehicle, while those of the Small Vehicle say, “Oh, that’s Small Vehicle doctrine.” Their different dispositions make for different outlooks and understandings.

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