FlowER ADoRNMeNT SUTRA
Prologue by Tang
The Prologue has been discussing the Two Stores: The Sound-Hearer Store (Small Vehicle) and the Bodhisattva Store (Great Vehicle). Bodhisattvas cultivate the Six Paramitas, which lead one to the Other Shore if one cultivates them truly. For example if you truly practice giving, you don't just give away wealth external to the body, but even give away your body's internal wealth. External wealth means countries, cities, wives, and children, a11 of which you give away. Shakyamuni Buddha could have been a wheel-turning sage king, but he didn't do it. He left home to cultivate the Way, externally renouncing his country and his house, his wife and his son, Rahula.
Inner wealth means head, eyes, brains, and marrow which he could also give away. If someone wanted his head, he could give the person his head. If someone thought they needed his eyes, he could give up his eyes too. If someone needed the brains in his head, or the marrow in his bones, he could renounce them --that internal wealth. For the sake of the Dharma, he forgot about himself. In order to seek the Great Vehicle Buddha Dharma, he renounced thousands of lives. That is to practice the Bodhisattva-Way.
You say, "But that's really hard. It may be possible to give away one's country, house, wife, and children, but how can one give away one's own head? It's also not easy to give away one's own eyes." Right. That's why having to give away his eyes made Shariputra retreat from his resolve for Bodhi, so it's no wonder you say they can't be given up. Yet, even if they're impossible to renounce, if you can't renounce, you can't obtain. If you could renounce, you would obtain. If you could give, you would receive. If you do give, you get--what? You obtain the unsurpassed fruit of Bodhi, and reach the other shore. So you should give and get. You can't give or get, but if you could give and get, then that would be to reach the other shore. You say, "I can't get myself to give." Then you won't get--how could you? You say, "There's something to this principle, but doesn't it say in the Heart Sutra 'no knowing and no obtaining'? What's that all about, then?" Well, if you give, then that's not obtaining. You can explain it that way. The Heart Sutra is talking about Prajna, which has no marks. You can't compare the "obtaining" involved in giving with the "obtaining" of Prajna. Both are "obtaining," but one is Mr. Smith obtaining and the other is Mr. Jones obtaining. The obtaining may be the same, but the practice has a bit of difference to it. So, if you give to the ultimate, that means you give away what you can't give up, then whatever you want can be yours. An example is someone who basically can't give up his body to the Buddhadharma, thinking of leaving home and then not doing it, over and over again. Then when the person's profuse emotions get a little less thick, and the opportune conditions ripen, the person decides to leave home in a matter of a few hours. That's renouncing and obtaining. If you can give, you can get; if you can't give, you can't get.
The second Paramita is holding precepts. When you hold precepts, you should do so to the utmost; otherwise you won't reach Paramita-- you won't make it to the other shore. Patience, the third, is the same way. If you cannot stand something and say, "Aha, I can't take it, I can't stand it," if you stand it, then you have taken it. If you stand it, then you've stood it. Who tells you not to stand it? Who tells you not to bear it? All of that is just upside-down thinking and false thoughts--being unable to put down the "self." You say, "I can't stand it! I can't bear it!" If you didn't have an I, who would you say stands it and bears it? Who holds the precepts? If there is no I there is no mark of self and so no mark of others, no mark of living beings, and no mark of a life-span.
Talking about this is all well and good, but when the test topics are posted, you're unable to compose the essays. You forget all about this. You have to be able to pass the tests, say, "It's just a case of having nothing to do and finding something to do," and "That's the way things are," and write your essays.
Vigor is the same. You need to be vigorous about what you can't be vigorous and say, "What I simply cannot do, I shall do!" Do it, and you have done it. It's just a difference in one word. There's really nothing to it. Dhyana samadhi works the same. You say, "I just keep sitting here and I can't enter samadhi." You still know you haven't entered samadhi, so how could you enter samadhi? Sitting there is just sitting there. Even if you fall asleep, just keep it up. Don't pay any attention. That's entering samadhi. If you keep thinking, "Why don't I enter samadhi? How come I haven't gone into samadhi?" your false thought will chase samadhi away. Samadhi says, "He's always thinking about entering samadhi, and that won't do. We just won't let him do it." By having one false thought after another, you defeat yourself.
The sixth Paramita is wisdom. No one can say, "I can't be wise." You can say, "I can't give, I can't hold precepts, I can't be patient, I can't be vigorous, I can't have samadhi, but you don't say, "I can't be wise." Are you stupid? Everyone says to himself, "I have wisdom." People think they're not bad in this respect, that everyone should notice how clever they are. The saying goes, "Anyone can say that he is clever." Sometimes people say, "I'm sharp," meaning "smart." Of course there's another way to explain sharp and that is to be like a knife that can ki11 people with its sharpness. Everyone thinks he has wisdom, but it's only if you can use it that it is wisdom. If you can't it's not.
THEN SINCE THESE TWO VEHICLES ARE IDENTICAL IN PRINCIPLE AND FRUITION, THEY ARE COMBINED.
THEN SINCE THESE TWO VEHICLES, the Bodhisattva Vehicle and the Sound Hearer Vehicle, ARE IDENTICAL IN PRINCIPLE AND FRUITION, being different in name but not in their fruit of principle, therefore THEY ARE COMBINED. They are put together and mentioned as one. You could also say the Two Vehicles means the Sound Hearer Vehicle and the Vehicle of Those Enlightened to Conditions, that they are identical with each other in principle and fruition, and so combined. Here, though, it refers to the Two Stores of Sound Hearers and of Bodhisattvas.
IF ONE MAKES DISTINCTIONS BASED UPON THE TEACHINGS AND THE PRACTICES, THEN THEY ARE OPENED OUT TO THREE VEHICLES, AND CONSTITUTE THREE STORES, AS IN THE UNIVERSAL TRANSCENDENCE AND SO FORTH SUTRAS. FURTHERMORE, BECAUSE THOSE ENLIGHTENED TO CONDITIONS FOR THE MOST PART DO NOT RELY ON THE TEACHINGS AND APPEAR WHEN NO BUDDHA IS IN THE WORLD, AND WHEN A BUDDHA IS IN THE WORLD ARE GROUPED WITH THE SOUND HEARERS, THERE IS SIMPLY A DIVISION INTO TWO, THAT BEING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GREAT AND SMALL, HALF AND WHOLE.
IF ONE MAKES DISTINCTIONS BASED
UPON THE TEACHINGS AND THE PRACTICES, THEN
THEY ARE OPENED OUT TO THREE VEHICLES, AND
CONSTITUTE THREE STORES. The Three Stores are
those of Sound Hearers, Those Enlightened
to Conditions, and Bodhisattvas.
Furthermore, the Vehicles of Those Enlightened to
Conditions and of Sound Hearers can be combined
so there are Two Vehicles -- the Sound Hearer
Vehicle and the Bodhisattva Vehicle, also
called the Two Stores: the Sound Hearer Store
and the Bodhisattva Store. Why is that? IT IS BECAUSE THOSE ENLIGHTENED TO CONDITIONS
FOR THE MOST PART DO NOT RELY ON THE
TEACHINGS. Those Enlightened to Conditions
cultivate the Twelve Links of Conditioned
Co-production and enlighten to the Way, AND APPEAR WHEN NO BUDDHA IS IN THE WORLD. When there
isn't a Buddha in the world they are called
those Solitarily Enlightened, AND WHEN A
BUDDHA IS IN THE WORLD they are called Those
Enlightened to Conditions, so they don't
necessarily rely upon teachings and doctrines to become enlightened. When there is a
Buddha, such as Shakyamuni Buddha, in the
world, then THEY ARE GROUPED WITH THE SOUND
HEARERS. They are not set apart and called
Those Solitarily Enlightened or Those
Enlightened to Conditions, but are just called
Sound Hearers with the rest. For that
reason, THERE IS SIMPLY A DIVISION INTO TWO.
Sometimes there are just Two Stores,
those of Bodhisattvas and Sound Hearers, the
Sound Hearer Store eclipsing the
distinction between the Two Vehicles of Sound
Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions, THAT
BEING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GREAT AND
SMALL. HALF AND WHOLE. That amounts to the
difference between the Great Vehicle and the
Small Vehicle, the Half Word Teaching and the Whole Word Teaching.
The Great Vehicle Teaching is called the Whole Word Teaching,
The Agama Period's Teaching is that of Half Word,
The Prajna and Dharma Flower-Nirvana Periods' Teachings are Whole Word Teachings.
This is also like the fact that a small child, if told to study books studied by adults, won't be able to do it. It can only be taught to read at children's level, word by word, such as "one," "two," "three," "four," bit by bit until it learns to recognize short, simple words, "half-words" as compared to longer, more complex words, the "whole words." (Note: the terms apply to Chinese characters. The child first learns the simple radicals, the "half-characters," and afterwards learns to combine them into "whole characters."
The Small Teaching and the Initial Teaching are "Half-Word" Teachings.
The Final Teaching is partly Half-Word Teaching and partly Whole Word Teaching.
The Sudden Teaching and the Perfect Teaching are both Whole Word Teachings.
The Final Teaching is a "Revelation of the Whole to the Half."
It makes clear the Whole Word Teaching to those of the Half Word Teaching. That is the distinction as applied to the Five Teachings of the Hsien Shou School. When applied to the Four Teachings of the T'ien T'ai School,
The Store Teaching and the Connecting
The Separate Teaching and the
The Hsien Shou and T'ien T'ai Schools are largely similar and only slightly different in their methods. In studying the Buddhadharma, one needs to start with the Ha1f- Word Teachings and then go on to the Whole Word Teachings. That's what's known as proceeding in order and making gradual progress, advancing step by step.
THE SECOND, CLARIFYING WHAT IS
CONTAINED. WITHIN THE THREE STORES, THIS SUTRA
THE SECOND, CLARIFYING WHAT IS CONTAINED. The Prologue has been discussing what the Stores are, and now begins to explain in which Stores it is contained. WITHIN THE THREE STORES, THIS SUTRA PROPERLY IS ONLY CONTAINED IN SUTRAS. This, the Flower Adornment Sutra, is contained within the Sutra Store, YET IT HAS CONNECTIONS WITH THE OTHER TWO. "The other two" means Vinaya and Shastras, and this Sutra is connected with them too. That is BECAUSE THE TEN TREASURIES AND SO FORTH CHAPTERS within the Flower Adornment Sutra EXTENSIVELY SET FORTH PRECEPTS. The Ten Treasuries Chapter of the Flower Adornment Sutra broadly reveals and explains the precepts; AND it is also BECAUSE THE ASKING FOR CLARIFICATION AND SO FORTH CHAPTERS SET FORTH DOCTRINES OF THE SHASTRAS. Within this Sutra, The Bodhisattvas Ask for Clarification Chapter in very many places discusses doctrines belonging to the Shastra Store. Those are examples of how the Flower Adornment Sutra in a great many passages is connected with the other two Stores: The Vinaya Store and the Shastra Store.
IF MOREOVER ONE DIVIDES THE TEACHINGS OF THE SUTRAS ON THE BASIS OF DOCTRINES, THEN THERE ARE TEN STORES IN ALL. The meanings in the Sutras can be distributed among Ten Stores which are: The Sutra Store, the Shastra Store, and the Vinaya Store. Each of these Stores also contains all three of these Stores so that makes nine Stores. Then you add a miscellaneous Store and you get ten. THIS IS BECAUSE IT IS COMPLETE WITH HOST AND ATTENDANTS APPEARING INFINITELY. Within it there are said to be Host and attendants repeated infinitely and inexhaustibly. It is complete with that principle AND it is also BECAUSE THE TEACHINGS AND MEANINGS INTERFUSE. Another reason is that the teachings and the principles interpenetrate without obstruction. WITHIN THE TWO STORES -- the Sound Hearer Store and the Bodhisattva Store-- IT IS ONLY THE BODHISATTVA STORE. The Flower Adornment Sutra belongs to the Bodhisattva Store, BECAUSE IF ONE DISTINGUISHES PROVISIONAL AND ACTUAL teachings, IT IS ONLY CONTAINED IN THE ONE DIVISION OF THE BODHISATTVA STORE. Why is that? It is because of THE PROVISIONAL NOT CONTAINING IT. The Provisional Teaching does not contain the Actual Teachings and the Bodhisattva Store is Actual Teaching.
IF ONE CONSIDERS THIS IN TERMS OF CONTAINING, THEN THIS SUTRA ALSO
This Sutra is comprised in the Bodhisattva Store, and yet ...IF ONE CONSIDERS THIS IN TERMS OF CONTAINING, if one just looks at the element of containing involved, THEN THIS SUTRA ALSO CONTAINS EVEN THE SOUND HEARERS. The Flower Adornment Sutra- also even takes in the Sound Hearer Vehicle. Why? It is BECAUSE IT CAN INCLUDE LIMITLESS VEHICLES. This Sutra is both vast and great and infinitely fine and subtle, and there is nothing it does not include and take in. Whether the Great Vehicle, the Small Vehicle, or the single highest Buddha Vehicle, all are comprised within this Sutra. Limitlessly many Vehicles all find their place inside it. THE SORTING OUT OF PROVISIONAL AND ACTUAL, a detailed discussion of what is provisional and what is actual, WILL BE EXPLAINED LATER IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TEACHINGS. The section of the Prologue concerning the setting up of teachings will make this clear. THIS ENDS THE EXPLANATION OF THE STORES IN WHICH IT IS CONTAINED. The Stores have been explained, but not yet the Teachings.
THE SECOND, CLARIFYING THE TEACHINGS IN WHICH IT IS CONTAINED. THE TEACHINGS FALL INTO TW0 CATEGORIES: ONE, THE TWELVE- FOLD TEACHING OF CHARACTERISTICS HELD IN COMMON, WHICH ALSO DIVIDES INTO THE GREAT AND THE SMALL. THIS WILL BE EXPLAINED LATER IN THE TEN TREASURIES CHAPTER.
THE SECOND, CLARIFYING THE
TEACHINGS IN WHICH IT IS CONTAINED. Within the
The Teachings in which it is contained, FALL INTO TWO CATEGORIES: ONE, THE TWELVEFOLD TEACHING, OF CHARACTERISTICS HELD IN COMMON. That characteristics are held in common means they are common to all Sutras--to all canonical works--and that it is twelvefold means there are twelve divisions to it, not eleven or thirteen. The number is precise and each division is distinct and different; each is an independent Teaching on its own. Together they make up the twelvefold teachings, yet one division is not the same as another. They are the Twelve Divisions of the Canon which the verse lists:
Prose, Presumptive Verses, and Predictions;
Interjections, Spontaneous Speakings Unrequested;
Causes and Conditions, Analogies, as well as Past Lives' Deeds;
Deeds of This Life, Expansions,
the Hitherto Unknown;
Explanations, together make twelve terms,
As in the Great Shastra, number thirty-three.
Together they constitute the Twelvefold Teaching, WHICH ALSO DIVIDES INTO THE GREAT AND THE SMALL, the Great Vehicle and the Small Vehicle. Right now we won't try to determine which of the twelve divisions are Great Vehicle and which are of the Small Vehicle. If you want to know, THIS WILL BE EXPLAINED LATER IN THE TEN TREASURIES CHAPTER.
Today I'm not going to discuss the
Twelve Divisions of the Canon, but talk about
Buddhism instead; what region it belongs to,
where it came from. Buddhism has no place that
it comes from, and no place that it goes to. You say, "That's not right.
Buddhism comes from India. Shakyamuni Buddha was
born in India." Buddhism isn't Indian,
nor is it Chinese. It isn't Japanese, and it's
not Ceylonese or Burmese or Thai.
Buddhism is the world's. It belongs to the entire
planet, and it's the Buddhism of all people,
or all living beings. If you try to confine
it to India or China or Japan or Thailand
or Burma or Ceylon or Vietnam or Cambodia, you
are wrong. That's because Buddhism
teaches living beings, and living beings form
one category, with no distinction of
national boundaries. Every living being has
the Buddha nature, and so every country has Buddhism. So Buddhism isn't America's
Buddhism either--but the customs of each
country alter the external aspect of Buddhism
somewhat. But what is the basic, fundamental
character of Buddhism? It is simply instruction
for people in how to recognize true
principle, how to eliminate selfishness and
establish what is public, to have a
public-spirited, unselfish attitude, and not set up
barriers of nations and lands, races or clans,
not make distinctions of self and others.
We ordinary people who are studying the Buddhadharma should get rid of our attitudes of selfishness and self-benefit. If you don't rid yourself of selfishness and self-benefitting, then even if you are a Buddhist, I don't consider you one. Why not? It's because you fundamentally do not understand Buddhism. If you did, then you shouldn't have selfish and self-benefitting attitudes. So, to tell if someone is a Buddhist or not, just see if the person is selfish and out for self benefit. You may say, "Dharma Master, the principles you lecture sound just fine, but right now you are in charge of Gold Mountain Temple. What if someone came along and wanted to take charge, would you let them or not?" Of course. Any time you want to come and do it, I will immediately hand it over to you. All you have to do is want to. I absolutely would never say, "You can't, it's mine." It's not mine. I don't have anything at all. After this, I extend a million percent welcome to anyone who wants to come and be Abbot of Gold Mountain Temple. And this absolutely is not deceptive talk.
Ultimately, what is the Buddhadharma? What is not the Buddhadharma? If we were to give Buddhism another name, what would be a good name for it? I'll tell you. Buddhism is just the Teaching of living beings. If there were no living beings, there wouldn't be any Buddhism. And the Teaching of living beings is just the Teaching of the mind. Every person has a mind, and it is that teaching. That teaching is not obtained from outside. You have it to start with. If you believe that teaching, you have that teaching, and if you don't believe that teaching, you still have that teaching, because everyone has a mind. You can't say you don't have a mind. If you didn't have a mind, that teaching wouldn't exist, and without that teaching there wouldn't be living beings. And if there were no living beings, there wouldn't be Buddhas either. That's the name I give it: the Teaching of Living Beings, and the Teaching of the Mind--Buddhism. The three names refer to the same thing. I also give it a very simple name: the Teaching of People. It's the Teaching of every person--every person's religion--whether the person believes in it or not. It's not that the religion doesn't exist if you don't believe in it. Whether you believe in it or not, there is that religion. But if you do, you should study Buddhism, for by so doing, you can not only be an average person, you can be a good person, a worthy person, and even a sagely person. And if you study this Teaching you can be a Bodhisattva, an Arhat, and ultimately become a Buddha. Becoming a Buddha occurs when a person returns to the origin and goes back to the source. Everyone came from the Buddha. We've just taken the wrong road, and so the farther we go, the further away we get; and the farther away we are, the less we are able to return home. So we keep bobbing and sinking in the sea of rebirth. We remain "outsiders." We are but paupers. When you go home, then you obtain your rightful inheritance. So Buddhism is the Teaching of Living Beings, the Teaching of the Mind, and Teaching of People. Now that I've told you these names, you wonder why you didn't think of them yourself. Don't forget them, and when people ask you what Buddhism is, you can use them to answer. But if I ask you another time, you can't just parrot back those answers, because there is no fixed Dharma.
When you study Buddhism, what in
fact do you study? You study
Enlightenment, going back to the origin, returning to
the source. It means enlightening to what you
are not enlightened to. It means
enlightening your greed so you are not greedy; enlightening your anger so you're not angry;
and enlightening your stupidity so you
are not stupid. It means eradicating the
three poisons of greed, hatred, and
stupidity, and increasing the three non-outflow
studies of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom.
When you eradicate the three poisons, you
tighten your karmic obstacles. When you increase
in the three non-outflow studies, then
your wisdom--Bodhi--grows bigger every day. So
we who study the Buddhadharma shouldn't get nervous and wonder, "Why aren't I
enlightened yet?" Why do you want to be enlightened?
When you get enlightened, you still have to
eat and wear clothes and steep. It's just that:
TWO, ALL THE ESTABLISHMENTS OF TEACHINGS ON THE PART OF THE SCHOOLS, WHICH ARE NOT THE SAME, AND WILL NOW BE EXPLAINED IN GENERAL.
There are two categories of Teachings, one that of characteristics held in common, that is, the Twelvefold Teaching talked about before, which itself has both Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle to it, and which will be discussed in detail in the Ten Treasuries Chapter. Now is TWO, the second category, of THE ESTABLISHMENTS OF TEACHINGS ON THE PART OF ALL THE SCHOOLS, WHICH ARE NOT THE SAME. "All the schools" means the various schools of Buddhism: the T'ien T'ai School, the Hsien Shou School, the Dharma Marks School, the Consciousness Only School, and many more. Every school has its own theories according to which it determines the Teachings, and so each school is not the same. One has its creed, and another has its, and so they are said to be different--yet they are the same, because they are all Buddhist. They aren't externalist teachings. It's just that they have different things they go by. The principles of the Teachings are largely similar and only slightly different, AND THEY WILL NOW BE EXPLAINED IN GENERAL. Right now a general overview will be given of them, because a detailed discussion would take far too much time.
-to be continued next issue