THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
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Prologue:

In the first, the root and branch-tips are simultaneous, and initial and final are of one kind, each without different speakings.

Commentary:

In the first, the beginning Door of difference of the Root and Branch-tips, the root and branch-tips are simultaneous. They exist at the same time instead of one after the other, and initial and final Teaching are of one kind. That is, those of the Small Vehicle keep studying, hearing, and understanding the Small Vehicle in the one sound spoken by the Buddha, whereas living beings with dispositions suited to the One Vehicle regularly hear teaching of the One Vehicle within it, so the initial and final are said to be one kind according to each kind, each without two different kinds of speakings.

Prologue:

Moreover, there are three positions: one, if within the Small Vehicle, then Ajnatakaundinya is saved first and Subhadra last, and in between there is also only speaking of the Small to benefit the Small, as in the sutras of the four Agamas and the Vinaya In Five Divisions; Two, if in terms of the Three Vehicles, then the Initial and Final speak of the three, collectively benefiting three potentials, as in such sutras as the Secret Traces; three, if in terms of the One Vehicle, then Initial and Final are only spoken for those with potential for the Perfect, with the Perfect as their culmination, as the Flower Adornment, and so forth. Within it there is no connection with the Small Vehicle. Furthermore, it gathers in the nine times, encompassing before and afterwards, so it even more is without differences of speakings.

Commentary:

Moreover, there are three positions of Small Vehicle, Three Vehicles, and One Vehicle. One is that if taken as being within the Small Vehicle, then Ajnatakaundinya is saved first and Subhadra last, and in between there is constantly only speaking of the Small Vehicle Dharma to benefit the people of the Small Vehicle. This is as in the sutras of the four Agamas and the Vinaya In Five Divisions which are to rescue adherents of the Small Vehicle. Two is that if one speaks in terms of the Three Vehicles, then the Initial and Final speak of the three Vehicles Dharma, collectively benefiting the three potentials. It benefits Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened to Conditions and the Bodhisattvas. This is as the doctrines expressed in such sutras as the Secret Traces Sutra and so forth. Three is that if one speaks in terms of the One Vehicle, then Initial and Final are only spoken for those with potential for the Perfect, with the Perfect as their culmination, the wonderful Dharma of utmost interpenetration and perfect fusion. That is as in the Flower Adornment Sutraand so forth. Within it, the Flower Adornment Sutra, there is no connection with the Small Vehicle, even though it includes the Small Vehicle. Furthermore, it the Flower Adornment Sutra, gathers in the nine times.

The Nine Times

 

The Flower Adornment Sutra speaks of ten times, opening out into the tenth time being all of the above nine times. The Sutra itself is the tenth time, so it is said to include the other nine times, encompassing before and afterwards, so it even more is without differences of speakings.

Keeping one’s accounts straight is no easy matter. So:

Don’t think that leaving home is an easy thing to do.
It comes from a long history of planting for Bodhi.

Don’t look lightly on leaving home – without good roots there’s no way to do it. While the Buddha was in the world, all the disciples who left home under the Buddha had great good roots. Living beings who lacked good roots had no way to leave home. Even if they wanted to it wouldn’t work out. At that time there was an old man who arrived to leave home under the Buddha, at a time when the Buddha was away and not in the Jeta Grove.

When the great Arhats heard the man wished to leave the home life, they contemplated his causes and conditions from previous lives. Arhats can se as far back as 80,000 great kalpas, and in this case they saw that in all that long a time the old man had not planted the tiniest trace of good roots. So they said to him, “You can’t leave home because you haven’t planted good roots or seeds for Bodhi.” The old man had planned to be able to leave home in his old age and eat ready-cooked food and wear ready-made clothing, never expecting that it would be so hard and he would not be accepted. So after hearing that he left, crying as he walked. When he reached the Ganges River, he decided to jump in. right when he was about to do it, the Buddha came up behind him and said, “Old virtuous one, what are you about to do?”

The old man said, “I wanted to leave home under the Buddha but the Buddha was not in the monastery, and the Buddha’s disciples said I didn’t have any good roots and wouldn’t accept me. Now I’m so old and food, clothes and dwelling are a real problem, so I’d rather jump in the Ganges River and die and forget the whole thing.”

The Buddha said, “You shouldn’t jump in the Ganges River. I’m the Buddha, the Buddha is me. I’ll accept you to leave home and no one will dare object.”

The old man said, “You’ll let me leave home?” so the Buddha took him back with him and he left home. All of the great Arhats were really opposed to this and said, “He doesn’t have any good roots and he get s to leave home.” But not long after that the old man certified to the Fruit. So the Arhats asked the Buddha, “He doesn’t have any good roots, so how can he leave home and certify to the Fruit?”

The Buddha said, “Ah. You can only see what has happened inside of 80,000 great kalpas, but you still don’t know anything about what’s beyond 80,000. Longer than 80,000 great kalpas ago, this old man was a wood-cutter. He was collecting firewood on the mountainside one day when a tiger came along that planned to eat him. The wood cutter climbed up a tree, but the tiger was very smart and started gnawing at the trunk of the tree. When it was just about gnawed through, the old man in the tree saw he was about finished and cried out, “Na Mwo Buddha!!!” That one cry of “Na Mwo Buddha!!!” scared the tiger away so it didn’t eat him. Now the good roots planted by that one cry of “Na Mwo Buddha!!!” have matured and he’s come to leave home.”

Prologue:

Moreover, these three kinds, depending on how their dispositions are fixed at this time, constantly hear the Dharma of one kind as above. Therefore all that the Buddha proclaims covers both initial and final, nor does it have before or afterwards.

Commentary:

Moreover, these three kinds – the preceding Teachings of the Small Vehicle, the Three Vehicles, and the One Vehicle respectively -- depending on how their dispositions are fixed at this time, constantly hear the Dharma of one kind as above. “At this time” means in their present life, and their dispositions being fixed doesn’t mean they are Fixed Nature Sound Hearers. Rather it means the kind of disposition they are settled inf or this lifetime. It doesn’t mean they necessarily had that kind of root-nature in past lives or that they will be disposed in a particular way in the future. But depending on what they are like in the present life, they hear speaking of Dharma either as the Small Vehicle Teaching, the Three Vehicles Teaching or else the One Vehicle Teaching as was talked about before.

Therefore all the Dharma that the Buddha proclaims covers both initial and final, nor does it have before or afterwards. This means that in his lifetime at the beginning the Buddha spoke the Teaching of the Small Vehicle, and was still speaking Dharma of the Small Vehicle Teaching at the end of his career. He was speaking the Teaching of the Three Vehicles from the start, and at the end was still speaking the Teaching of the Three Vehicles. He started out speaking the Teaching of the One Vehicle, and at the very end was also continuing to speak the Teaching of the One Vehicle. That’s because living beings of each category of disposition heard their own kind of Dharma, and that’s how it covered both initial and final and had no before or afterwards. It’s not that the Buddha first spoke the Small Vehicle and afterwards the Great Vehicle; or that he first spoke the Great Vehicle and afterwards spoke the Small Vehicle. Rather, the Dharma spoken during the entire generational Teaching of the Buddha was always speaking the same kind of Dharma. It’s not that he first spoke the Small Vehicle and then didn’t speak it anymore; or that he first spoke the Great Vehicle and then didn’t speak it anymore. It’s that each kind of living beings heard the Dharma suited to it, so all teachings covered the beginning and the end and there was no before or afterwards.

Prologue:

Two, the door of branch-tips arising from the root has five kinds which are as follows. The first is speaking the great for the Bodhisattvas. Two is for Those Enlightened to Conditions. Three is for the Sound Hearers. Four is for living beings with good roots. Five is for those of deviant Samadhi. This is as in the detailed discussion found in the manifestations chapter’s analogies of the sun illumining the high mountains and first accomplishment on the part of the three thousand, which clarifies how there is first the great and afterward the small.

Commentary:

Two is the door of the branch-tips – the Three Vehicles -- arising from the root – the One Vehicle. The preceding door talked of how all covered both initial and final with no before or afterwards, but now there is before and afterwards. See how packed with meanings the Buddhadharma is? You can discuss the same thing in different ways and all of it is full of principle. But you have to be able to talk; otherwise, even thought he principles are there, you wont’ be able to express them. But if you can speak them, then

Every point is the Way.
Left and right, one meets the Source.

The fountainhead is wherever one turns, and so there is this second door of speaking the Small Vehicle based upon the Great Vehicle, which Dharma has five kinds. What are they? The first is speaking the great – the Flower Adornment Sutra -- for the Bodhisattvas, the Great Knights of the Dharma body, right at the outset. This is as when the sun first rises it shines first on the high mountains – which stand for the great Bodhisattvas.

Two is for Those Enlightened to Conditions, Pratyekabuddhas, speaking the Small Vehicle Dharma of the Twelve Links of Conditioned Co-production.

Three is speaking the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths for the Sound Hearers.

Four is speaking the Dharma of the Five Precepts and the Ten Goods for living beings with good roots.

Five is speaking Dharma for transcending the world for those of outside ways who practice deviant Samadhi. This is as in the detailed discussion found in the manifestations chapter’s analogies of the sun. The sun first rising represents the Buddha first speaking the Flower Adornment Sutra and illumining the high mountains, which stand for the great Bodhisattvas, and first accomplishment of the Fruit on the part of the three thousand Bhikshus. That chapter in the Sutra explains this at length, which clarifies how there is first spoken Dharma of the great Vehicle, and afterward Dharma of the small Vehicle is proclaimed.

Within the Buddhadharma faith is a matter of causes and conditions. If a person has the appropriate affinities, then even if you don’t speak well, the person will believe. But if someone has no affinities with you, then no matter how well you speak they won’t believe. Also the person needs to have good roots to be able to have faith. Therefore there’s a matched couplet that goes:

Heaven’s rain, though vast, does not moisten grass that has no roots.
The Buddha’s door, thought great, does not save people who are not good.

Even though rainfall may cover a vast area, it will only revive grass that has roots. If the grass lacks roots altogether, no matter how heavy the rainfall it won’t come back to life. In the same way, as wide-open as the door of the Buddhadharma is, it’s extremely difficult to save people who are not good. Although it’s said:

The butcher puts down his knife and immediately becomes a Buddha,
He does have to put it down. If he doesn’t, there’s no way he can accomplish Buddhahood.

For example, perhaps one of the left-home people translates well, but then a layperson lets him know that he thinks he’s the best translator, and is telling people to wait and come on the night he’s translating. The translator might have been experiencing a bit of response, but as soon as he hears those words of praise he starts to have arrogant thoughts like, “I translate best. So-and-so says I’m the best translator, and waits to come on the day I’m translating. That’s fantastic.” He becomes arrogant and that covers over his wisdom.

Ordinarily when he didn’t know anything like that was going on and didn’t think, “I want to translate well,” he did a good job of translating. But now he uses thought, he has a false idea in front of him that goes, “I’ll translate well, and after I’ve translated all those people will understand the Buddhadharma.” As soon as he thinks that way it obstructs his wisdom, and he doesn’t translate well anymore, for the wisdom he had to start with is blocked by that false thought. Therefore, lay people should absolutely not talk about how this Dharma Master is good and that one isn’t or about which Dharma Masters have Way virtue and which don’t cultivate. As soon as you say one of them has Way virtue, he or she starts to think, “Upasaka so-and-so says I have Way virtue. Hey, my Way virtue is not slight. I do have a bit of cultivation.”

This is what happened to National Master Wu Ta (penetrating enlightenment). I’ll tell you about him. In the Han Dynasty he was a great general but he was jealous of a fellow general an so he framed him on false charges and had him executed. His name at the time was Yuan Nang, and the person he had killed was called Ch’au Ts’o. After killing Ch’au Ts’o he felt very sorry and repented, and he left home to cultivate. Ch’au Ts’o’s ghost wanted revenge but couldn’t find him, since he had left home and was cultivating, so he waited ten lifetimes for his chances. But in every one of those ten lifetimes Yuan Nan left home and cultivated ascetic practices and all sorts of Dharma doors. He didn’t do anything wrong during the first nine of those lifetimes, and his wisdom became more lofty in each life. In the life he was called Wu Ta his wisdom was especially lofty, and so the Emperor bowed to him as National Master, as his Teacher. The Emperor had a special seat for lecturing Sutras and speaking Dharma carved for him out of sink-in-water sandalwood, which basically was reserved exclusively for imperial use. As soon as National Master Wu Ta took his seat, he became arrogant and felt his head was in the heavens while his feet were on the earth. He thought to himself, “How many Dharma Masters are there in this world who can sit in a precious seat of sink-in-water sandalwood?”

As soon as he had that single thought of arrogance, the ghost of Ch’au Ts’o arrived on the scene, and the Dharma protectors didn’t protect him but left him, due to that thought of arrogance. That allowed the vengeful ghost to come and pull him off the Dharma seat, hitting him on the leg as it did so. That made a human-faced sore on his leg. The eyes, ears, nose and mouth were all there, right on his leg. It wasn’t just the outline of a mouth – it really could eat, and it demanded meat. Wu Ta himself was a vegetarian, but the mouth wanted meat and hurt unbearably if it didn’t get it. So you see, that one thought of arrogance let the avenging ghost find him, but Wu Ta didn’t know he had that illness due to his arrogant thought.

Now long before he had contracted that human-faced sore, he had met the Venerable Kanaka who dwelt on Mount Omei and who manifested as having an illness to save National Master Wu Ta. He seemed to have ulcers all over him that oozed pus and blood, and National Master Wu Ta cared for him for many days until he was cured. Then the Venerable Kanaka said to him, “After this, if you have some problem you can’t resolve, you can look me up. Come to where I am and I’ll help you.” So when he developed the human-faced sore, he suddenly thought of the Venerable Kanaka and went to Szuchwan and found him.

When the Venerable Kanaka was preparing to use Samadhi water to cleanse it, the human-faced sore spoke up and said, “After you cleanse him what about me?” it was the ghost speaking.

The Venerable Kanaka said, “What about you? I’ll cross you over. When will this enmity between you cease? Whenever you give up your desire for revenge, then I’ll cross you over.”

When the ghost heard that he would be crossed over, it agreed and set National Master Wu Ta free, and when Samadhi water was used on the human-faced sore, it was cured.

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