FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA
Prologue by Tang Dynasty
Bhikshunis Heng Yin & Heng Tao
NONETHELESS, ALTHOUGH THE FLOWER ADORNMENT HAS ACCORDINGS WITH ALL LIVING BEINGS EACH SEPARATELY TAMED AND SUBDUED, THOSE ARE ALL CLEVER EXPEDIENTS CONGRUENT WITH THE NATURE, AT ONE TIME SUDDENLY PROCLAIMED. AND ALTHOUGH THE NIRVANA AND SO FORTH SPEAK A SINGLE ABSOLUTE, THEY ARE EITHER MATCHING THE PROVISIONAL BY REVEALING THE ACTUAL OR ASSEMBLING DIFFERENCES TO RETURN THEM TO SAMENESS. ALL THUS COMES ONES EITHER SPEAK OR DO NOT SPEAK THEM, SO THEY ARE THEREFORE CALLED CIRCUITOUS.
This section of text explains the principle of the circuitous teaching, and says, NONETHELESS, ALTHOUGH THE FLOWER ADORNMENT HAS ACCORDINGS WITH ALL LIVING BEINGS EACH SEPARATELY TAMED AND SUBDUED. Even though in the text of the Flower Adornment Sutra it talks of according with the individual types of living beings in order to tame and subdue them, nevertheless THOSE ARE ALL CLEVER EXPEDIENTS CONGRUENT WITH THE NATURE. What is spoken is congruent with the nature. The clever and expedient wonderful Dharma flows forth from within the self-nature, and so it is AT ONE TIME SUDDENLY PROCLAIMED. That is true especially since every single Buddha must speak the Flower Adornment Sutra. No Buddha after becoming a Buddha, fails to speak that Sutra. AND ALTHOUGH THE NIRVANA AND SO FORTH, even though Sutras such as the Nirvana Sutra or the Dharma Flower Sutra SPEAK A SINGLE ABSOLUTE, that is, actual Dharma, THEY ARE EITHER MATCHING THE PROVISIONAL BY REVEALING THE ACTUAL, they may either just be speaking and revealing the actual teaching to those of the provisional teaching, or they may be just speaking the provisional teaching, or just speaking the actual teaching. Although when they speak provisional teachings, that is done for the sake of the actual teaching, nevertheless they don't speak the actual teaching at the same time. And when they speak the actual teaching, although it is spoken for the sake of the provisional teaching, still they don't speak the provisional and actual at the same time. They speak them separately. It also says, OR ASSEMBLING DIFFERENCES TO RETURN TO SAMENESS. They bring together all the differences to come back to the principle of identity. ALL THUS COME ONES, EITHER SPEAK OR DO NOT SPEAK THEM. Some Buddhas speak those Sutras, but others don't. Sun Moon Lamp Light Buddha for example, speaks the Dharma Flower Sutra in the morning, and then enters Nirvana that evening at midnight without speaking the Nirvana Sutra. Those are Sutras which some Buddhas may speak while other Buddhas may not, SO THEY ARE THEREFORE CALLED CIRCUITOUS, the circuitous teaching.
In K'an Ting Chi (), written
by Dharma Master Hui Yuan, it said
IF IN TERMS OF SHAKYAMUNI AS THE
HOST, THEN THE TEN BODIES HAVE NOT YET
BEEN MADE TO APPEAR; WHILE IF THE TEN BODIES
ARE THE HOST, THEY CERTAINLY INCLUDE
IF IN TERMS OF SHAKYAMUNI AS THE
HOST, should one be considering the
Dharma Body, the Reward Body, and the
Transformation Body of Shakyamuni Buddha as the Host,
THEN THE TEN BODIES HAVE NOT YET BEEN MADE
TO APPEAR. In that case it will not have
been possible to make all of the ten bodies
appear. WHILE IF THE TEN BODIES ARE THE HOST,
if one considers the ten bodies of
Nishyanda Buddha to be the Dharma speaking Host, then
THEY CERTAINLY INCLUDE SHAKYAMUNI. Within
them will be included the
Transformation Body of Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, it
says that the lesser response body of
Shakyamuni Buddha--that is, the appearance as
a six foot tall elder Bhikshu--does not
include the supreme response body, that is, the
ten bodies of Nishyanda Buddha. While the
supreme response body is not included in
the lesser response body, when the supreme
body--the ten bodies of Nishyanda--is the
Dharma speaking Host, it does include the
lesser response body which is Shakyamuni
IN GENERAL THERE ARE SAID TO BE FOUR DIFFERENCES. The areas of difference, if described in very general terms, are said to be four in number. ACTUALLY THE DIFFERENCES ARE MANY. In fact, they are different in very, very many respects, EXACTLY AS DETERMINED. The principles used to determine this by the several Dharma Masters just discussed can't be wrong. It is just as they decided it was. The K'an Ting Chi deliberately said their judgements were wrong, but was not necessarily right in saying that.
IT IS ONLY THAT INSIDE OF THE
CIRCUITOUS THE PROVISIONAL AND ACTUAL
ASPECTS OF THE DHARMA ARE SIMPLY NOT YET
IT IS ONLY THAT INSIDE OF THE CIRCUITOUS, that right inside of the windy, circuitous teaching, THE PROVISIONAL AND ACTUAL ASPECTS OF THE DHARMA ARE SIMPLY NOT YET REVEALED. The circuitous teaching, which they call the provisional teaching, doesn't make it obvious or explain the fact that the Dharma is either provisional Dharma or actual Dharma.
FOUR, THE HERMIT-SCHOLAR OF THE CH'I DYNASTY LIU CH'IU. The Ch'i Dynasty followed the Sui Dynasty. A "hermit scholar" is someone who lives alone hidden away someplace where people are scarce, and who doesn't like to have dealings with worldly people. However, it's not easy to be a hermit. It's not to say that one lives where there is no one else and doesn't see anyone, and if one wants to sleep one sleeps, eats when one pleases, and does whatever one likes; that one wears clothes if one wants to or doesn't wear any clothes if the mood strikes one, according to one's own whims. Someone like that is a lazy scholar, not a hermit scholar but a taking-it-easy scholar in a place like that, which is useless. A hermit-scholar is someone who lives alone and cultivates with true effort there, not hoping others will know he is a cultivator. Should the person be a lazy scholar or a taking-it-easy scholar, even though he lives in the mountains with no one else around, what would you say he does? All day long he quarrels with himself, fights and wages war on himself. He finds fault with his own eyes, thinks his nose is wrong, and has a lot of objections to his own mouth. In other words, he finds this thing and that wrong with himself, and is always getting mad at himself. This hermit named Liu Ch'iu, however, WHO devoted himself to the study of the Flower Adornment Sutra, as a result of studying it ALSO ESTABLISHED TWO TEACHINGS, GRADUAL AND SUDDEN. What he said was THAT IS, THE FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA IS CALLED THE SUDDEN TEACHING. For him, only the Flower Adornment Sutra could be classified as sudden teaching, WHILE ALL THE REST ARE CALLED THE GRADUAL. Other Sutras he felt were only the gradual teaching, BECAUSE BEGINNING IN THE DEER PARK, when the Buddha in the beginning spoke the Dharma for the Five Bhikshus in the Deer Park, turning the wheel of the Dharma of the Four Truths three times for them, and speaking the Tripitaka Teaching, which was the start, AND afterwards speaking the Connective Teaching, then the Separate Teaching, and finally the Perfect Teaching, ENDING BETWEEN THE TWIN TREES, when Shakyamuni Buddha entered Nirvana beneath the twin trees, THEY GO FROM SMALL TO GREAT. All of that is a gradual and slow progression from the Small Vehicle to the Great Vehicle Teaching, introducing it bit by bit, and so that is all gradual teaching.
YET THIS SUTRA, LIKE THE NEWLY ARISEN SUN, FIRST ILLUMINES LOFTY MOUNTAINS, WHICH IS JUST THE MEANING OF SUDDEN. THE KINDLY DRAGON LETTING FALL RAIN TESTIFIES TO THE MEANING OF GRADUAL. WITH RESPECT TO PRINCIPLE THIS CAN BE MAINTAINED. THE GRADUAL IS IN TERMS OF THE FIVE PERIODS, AS WILL BE ASCERTAINED IN ORDER IN WHAT FOLLOWS.
The hermit scholar just discussed
said the Flower Adornment Sutra was
the Sudden Teaching, YET THIS SUTRA, LIKE
THE NEWLY ARISEN SUN, FIRST ILLUMINES LOFTY
MOUNTAINS. The Flower Adornment Sutra is
like the sun that has just come up, whose light
first strikes the highest mountain peaks. In
this world, the sun comes up at different
times in different places, so the sun can be up
in one place but not yet up in another. That
is parallel to there being some places where
the Proper Dharma is present, and others
where it is the Dharma ending age, WHICH is all
symbolic. The newly arisen sun first
shining on high mountains IS JUST THE MEANING OF
SUDDEN, the Sudden Teaching. The Flower
Adornment Sutra was taught to transform the Great
Bodhisattvas, the Great Knights of the Dharma
Body, those of the Ten Dwellings, the Ten
Conducts, the Ten Transferences, the Ten Grounds,
1. the Flower Adornment Period.
These WILL BE ASCERTAINED IN ORDER IN WHAT FOLLOWS.
We were just talking about the
Hermit Scholar Liu Ch'iu—the character Ch'iu ()
THE THIRD, ESTABLISHING THREE KINDS OF TEACHINGS, WHICH ALSO HAS THREE REPRESENTATIVES. ONE, ALL THE DHARMA MASTERS OF NAN CHUNG, WHO IDENTICALLY ESTABLISHED THREE TEACHINGS, THAT IS, TO THE PREVIOUS GRADUAL AND SUDDEN THEY ADDED THE UNFIXED TEACHING.
Now we've reached THE THIRD door of the five doors in ancient and present disagreements and concurrences in China. Just before this was establishing two kinds of teachings, and this one is ESTABLISHING THREE KINDS OF TEACHINGS, WHICH ALSO HAS THREE REPRESENTATIVES, three groups of Dharma Masters who held to this. ONE, ALL THE DHARMA MASTERS OF NAN CHUNG, WHO IDENTICALLY ESTABLISHED THREE TEACHINGS. Nan Chung was an area of China south of the Yangtze River. THAT IS, TO THE PREVIOUS GRADUAL AND SUDDEN, which were two kinds of teachings, THEY ADDED THE UNFIXED TEACHING. "Unfixed" means that it's not necessarily the gradual teaching or the sudden teaching. It was established to cover those texts.
BECAUSE WITHIN THE GRADUAL THERE WAS FIRST THE SMALL AND AFTERWARDS THE GREAT, YET THE ANGULIMALYA SUTRA WAS SPOKEN INSIDE OF THE SIX YEARS, IN ORDER TO FORSTALL THIS DIFFICULTY, THERE WAS THEREFORE SET UP THE UNFIXED.
Why was the category "unfixed" set up? It was BECAUSE it was feared people might become attached to how WITHIN THE GRADUAL Teaching THERE WAS FIRST THE SMALL AND AFTERWARDS THE GREAT. First the Small Vehicle Teaching was spoken, and after that the Great Vehicle Teaching was taught, YET there is a certain Sutra called THE ANGULIMALYA SUTRA which WAS SPOKEN INSIDE OF THE SIX YEARS, the six year period devoted to speaking the small first before the great. IN ORDER TO FORESTALL THIS DIFFICULTY, to counter objections such as "This Sutra is not necessarily gradual teaching, but it's also not certain that it's sudden teaching," THERE WAS THEREFORE SET UP THE UNFIXED teaching to quell difficult arguments.
THAT IS, THAT THERE ARE SEPARATE, INDIVIDUAL SUTRAS WHICH ALTHOUGH NOT INCLUDED IN THE SUDDEN, STILL EXPLAIN THAT THE BUDDHA NATURE PERMANENTLY DWELLS, SUCH AS THE SHRIMALA, THE GOLDEN LIGHT, AND SO FORTH, THESE ARE ONE-SIDED, UNFIXED TEACHINGS.
THAT IS, the way the unfixed teaching was set up was to say THAT THERE ARE SEPARATE, INDIVIDUAL SUTRAS, solitary instances of single Sutras WHICH ALTHOUGH NOT INCLUDED IN THE SUDDEN teaching, STILL EXPLAIN THAT THE BUDDHA NATURE PERMANENTLY DWELLS. They talk about the permanently dwelling Buddha Nature which according to conditions does not change, and which does not change yet accords with conditions. Sutras SUCH AS THE SHRIMALA - Devi Sutra, THE GOLDEN LIGHT SUTRA, AND SO FORTH, speak that way. THESE ARE ONE-SIDED, UNFIXED TEACHINGS. These teachings, are not the substance and principles of the Middle Way but incline either toward permanence or annihilationism. Since they are one-sided, they can't be used all the time. They are occasional ways of talking, and so are set up as teachings unfixed in meaning: the unfixed teaching.
WITHIN THE GRADUAL THERE IS OPENING AND UNITING, ON THE PART OF ALL MASTERS NOT THE SAME. PERHAPS THEY ONLY MADE A DIVISION INTO TWO, THOSE BEING THE HALF AND WHOLE.
WITHIN THE GRADUAL THERE IS OPENING AND UNITING. The gradual, then, does not simply stay the gradual, but may get opened up into the sudden or into the unfixed, becoming three kinds. ON THE PART OF ALL MASTERS it is NOT THE SAME. Each of these Dharma Masters had his own outlook and his own theory, and so it differed. PERHAPS THEY ONLY MADE A DIVISION INTO TWO. THOSE BEING THE HALF AND WHOLE. It may be that they only divide it up into two teachings:
The Whole-word teaching =
These were discussed before.
OR PERHAPS THEY MADE A DIVISION INTO THREE, AS DID DHARMA MASTER CHI OF WU CH'IU MOUNTAIN. THAT IS, THAT IN THE TWELVE YEARS PRIOR, IT WAS FROM SEEING EXISTENCE THAT THE WAY WAS OBTAINED, AND SO IT IS CALLED THE TEACHING OF THE EXISTENCE OF MARKS.
AFTER THE TWELVE YEARS, REACHING TO THE TIME OF THE DHARMA FLOWER, IT WAS FROM SEEING EMPTINESS THAT THE WAY WAS OBTAINED, WHICH IS CALLED THE TEACHING OF MARKLESSNESS. AT THE VERY END THERE WAS TWIN ILLUMINATION OF HOW ALL LIVING BEINGS HAVE THE BUDDHA NATURE AND ICCHANTIKAS CAN BECOME BUDDHAS, WHICH IS CALLED THE TEACHING OF THE PERMANENTLY DWELLING.
OR PERHAPS THEY MADE A DIVISION INTO THREE, AS DID DHARMA MASTER CHI OF WU CH'IU MOUNTAIN. He was one person who divided up the gradual into three kinds of teachings. Wu Ch'iu Mountain is just Hu Ch'iu Mountain, the same place where the Venerable Sheng spoke Dharma and the rocks bowed their heads. Dharma Master Chi lived in that area and he said, THAT IS, THAT IN THE TWELVE YEARS PRIOR, IT WAS FROM SEEING EXISTENCE THAT THE WAY WAS OBTAINED. That is, there wasn't emptiness, and it was from seeing existence that one obtained the Way, AND SO IT IS CALLED THE TEACHING OF THE EXISTENCE OF MARKS, that there are marks. This was the Small Vehicle Teaching, whereas marklessness was the Great Vehicle Teaching. Some people say he called it this because within the Small Vehicle only the emptiness of people is taught and not the emptiness of dharmas. Actually, both are found in the Small Vehicle. For instance it says, "There is no old age and death, nor is there anyone who ages and dies." Their saying there is no old age and death is the emptiness of dharmas, while there not being anyone who gets old and dies is the emptiness of persons. That means one has to have already certified to the emptiness of both persons and dharmas to certify to the fruit of Arhatship. However he gave it the name "Teaching of the existence of marks" because in his opinion, it still had dharma marks within it.
AFTER THE TWELVE YEARS, REACHING TO THE TIME OF THE DHARMA FLOWER up to and including the time of the Dharma Flower Sutra IT WAS FROM SEEING EMPTINESS THAT THE WAY WAS OBTAINED. WHICH IS CALLED THE TEACHING OF MARKLESSNESS. It teaches emptiness, and that means the absence of marks. AT THE VERY END, THERE WAS TWIN ILLUMINATION OF HOW ALL LIVING BEINGS HAVE THE BUDDHA NATURE. In the very final period, explanations in the Nirvana Sutra become the illumination of both extremes, because it says that all living beings can become Buddhas, revealing both the Buddha nature of all living beings, AND that ICCHANTIKAS CAN BECOME BUDDHAS. Icchantikas are those of insufficient faith. They don't believe anything you tell them. They are mentioned in the beginning and the end of the Nirvana Sutra but in the first volume of that Sutra it says icchantikas don't have the Buddha nature and so cannot become Buddhas.
Later, when the second volume of the Nirvana Sutra arrived on the scene, it revealed that the icchantikas did have the Buddha nature and so could become Buddhas, WHICH IS CALLED THE TEACHING OF THE PERMANENTLY DWELLING. The teaching of the Nirvana Sutra, the very last Sutra spoken by the Buddha, is the teaching of the permanently dwelling, not the teaching of the existence of marks or the teaching of marklessness.
THIS IS LARGELY THE SAME AS THE TEACHING OF THE THREE PERIODS BY TRIPITAKA OF T'ANG, AS WILL BE DISCUSSED UPON REACHING THE WESTERN REGION'S EXPLANATIONS.
In the preceding section it talked about the teaching of the existence of marks, the teaching of marklessness, and the teaching of the permanently dwelling. THIS, the principles upon which those three teachings were established, IS LARGELY THE SAME AS THE TEACHING OF THE THREE PERIODS BY TRIPITAKA OF T'ANG. During the T'ang Dynasty, when Emperor T'ai Tsung was on the throne, there was Tripitaka Master Hsuan Chuang who had mastered all three Stores, those of Sutras, Vinaya, and Shastras. He went from China through Siberia on foot to India to seek the Buddha's Sutras. At that time transportation was inconvenient and he went through a great many dangerous situations before he reached India. After a 14 years stay in India, he returned and translated the Great Prajna Sutra as well as a great many other Sutras. The T'ang Dynasty was an extremely flourishing period for Buddhism. Dharma Master Hsuan Chuang, " the Tripitaka Master of T'ang," made an enormous contribution to Buddhism, and he established three periods: the period of the existence of marks, the period of marklessness, and the period of the permanently dwelling, which virtually coincides with the three teachings of existence of marks, marklessness, and the permanently dwelling, AS WILL BE DISCUSSED UPON REACHING THE WESTERN REGION'S EXPLANATIONS. When we come to the section of text which talks about India this will be discussed in detail.
TRIPITAKA MASTER PARAMARTHA, BASED UPON THE GOLDEN LIGHT, ESTABLISHED THE TEACHING OF THE THREE CIRCUITS OF TURNING, ILLUMINING, AND MAINTAINING, WHICH WAS ALSO LARGELY THE SAME AS THIS.
Furthermore, during that time there was a Dharma Master known as TRIPITAKA MASTER PARAMARTHA, "True Meaning" or "True Principle," who had also penetrated the three Stores of Sutras, Vinaya, and Shastras. BASED UPON THE GOLDEN LIGHT Sutra, he ESTABLISHED THE TEACHING OF THE THREE CIRCUITS OF TURNING, ILLUMINING, AND MAINTAINING, WHICH WAS ALSO LARGELY THE SAME AS THIS. In general, his three teachings were based on the same principle as the teachings of the existence of marks, marklessness, and the permanently dwelling.
YET THERE WERE MINOR DIFFERENCES IN THE DIVISIONS OF TIME. THAT IS, IN THE SEVEN YEARS PRIOR THERE WAS SPEAKING OF THE FOUR TRUTHS, WHICH HE CALLED THE CIRCUIT OF TURNING THE DHARMA WHEEL. AFTER SEVEN YEARS THERE WAS SPEAKING OF PRAJNA, WHICH COMPRISED THE TWO CIRCUITS OF TURNING AND ILLUMINING, BECAUSE EMPTINESS WAS USED TO ILLUMINE EXISTENCE. AFTER THIRTY YEARS TURNING, ILLUMINING, AND MAINTAINING WERE COMPRISED, BECAUSE THE PAIR OF ILLUMINING EMPTINESS AND EXISTENCE WAS USED TO MAINTAIN THE PREVIOUS TWO.
YET THERE WERE MINOR DIFFERENCES IN THE DIVISIONS OF TIME. The way he determined the periods of time was somewhat different from the system used before. THAT IS, he said that IN THE SEVEN YEARS PRIOR, the seven years after the Buddha had accomplished Buddhahood, in the Dharma he spoke THERE WAS SPEAKING OF THE Small Vehicle Dharma of THE FOUR TRUTHS: Suffering, Accumulation, Extinction, and the Way, WHICH HE CALLED THE CIRCUIT OF TURNING THE DHARMA WHEEL. Dharma Master Paramartha termed that the period of Turning the Dharma Wheel. AFTER SEVEN YEARS, seven years after the Buddha had accomplished Buddhahood, THERE WAS SPEAKING OF PRAJNA. The Buddha spoke the Great Prajna Sutra in 600 roles, WHICH COMPRISED THE TWO CIRCUITS OF TURNING AND ILLUMINING. Within it there is both Turning the Dharma Wheel and Illumining the Dharma Wheel, BECAUSE EMPTINESS WAS USED TO ILLUMINE EXISTENCE. AFTER THIRTY YEARS, TURNING, ILLUMINING, AND MAINTAINING WERE COMPRISED. "Thirty years" is a rounded figure representing the 22 years during which the Buddha spoke the Prajna Sutra plus the previous seven years. There, Turning the Dharma Wheel, Illumining the Dharma Wheel, and Maintaining the Dharma Wheel were all together, BECAUSE THE PAIR OF ILLUMINING EMPTINESS AND EXISTENCE WAS USED TO MAINTAIN THE PREVIOUS TWO. "Maintaining" refers to the dual illumination of emptiness and existence--emptiness not obstructing existence, and existence not obstructing emptiness, true emptiness being wonderful existence, and wonderful existence being true emptiness. That is it brought to light those two principles and maintained the previous two Dharma Wheels.
to be continued -