FLOWER ADORNMENT SUTRA
by Tang Dynasty National Master Ching Liang
using taped material by Bhikshuni
FROM THIS, ONE KNOWS THAT THE SMALL AND THE GREAT EACH HAVE FOUR DOORS, WHILE IF ONE MERELY SAYS THERE FIRST WAS EXISTENCE AND THEN EMPTINESS, WITH EACH, ONE ONLY GRASPS THE MEANING OF ONE DOOR.
FROM THIS, ONE KNOWS THAT THE SMALL AND THE GREAT EACH HAVE FOUR DOORS. The principles gone through before, make it clear that both the Great Vehicle and the Small Vehicle, each have four doors, the four Predications. WHILE IF ONE MERELY SAYS THERE FIRST WAS EXISTENCE AND THEN EMPTINESS, If the first period was just the teaching of existence and the second period was just the teaching of emptiness. WITH EACH, ONE ONLY GRASPS THE MEANING OF ONE DOOR. You just get one door of each, and there wouldn't be room for the principle of blending fusion and interpenetration.
IF ONE SAYS THAT WHAT FALLS WITHIN THE THIRD PERIOD CAN ONLY BE CALLED "REPROACH AND ACCLAIM." THEN IT CANNOT ALSO BE THE PERMANENT.
IF ONE SAYS THAT WHAT FALLS WITHIN THE THIRD PERIOD CAN ONLY BE CALLED "REPROACH AND ACCLAIM." THEN IT CANNOT ALSO BE THE PERMANENT. To insist upon there only having been reproach of the Sound Hearers and extollation of the Bodhisattvas during the third period would not be to refer to the Teaching of the Permanently Dwelling.
YET THE VIMALAKIRTI SUTRA SAYS, "THE" BUDDHA'S BODY DOES NOT ACT." And "DOES NOT FALL UNDER ANY NUMERATION. CONTEMPLATE THE BODY AS REAL MARK: CONTEMPLATION OF THE BUDDHA IS ALSO THUS," AND HOW CAN THAT NOT BE THE PERMANENT?
YET in the VIMALAKIRTI SUTRA it says, THE BUDDHA'S BODY DOES NOT ACT." And DOES NOT FALL UNDER ANY NUMERATION." You can't fathom the Buddha's body in terms of numbers. There's no way you can express it in words or conceptualize it in thought, for it won't fit into that kind of reckoning. "CONTEMPLATE THE BODY AS REAL MARK." For example, you contemplate the Buddha's body as characterized by real mark which is no mark-- "CONTEMPLATION OF THE BUDDHA IS ALSO THUS." The way you contemplate the Buddha's body is the same as the way you contemplate the Buddha, AND HON CAN THAT NOT BE THE PERMANENT? How could you say that was not the permanent. It's got to be permanent.
THE PRAJNA ALSO SAYS, "THE WISDOM OF THE TWO VEHICLES IS LIKE A FIREFLY'S LIGHT. THE BODHISATTVAS' WISDOM IS LIKE THE LIGHT OF THE SUN," AND HOW IS THAT NOT REPROACH AND ACCLAIM?
In 600 rolls that comprise THE GREAT PRAJNA SUTRA, there is a phrase that ALSO SAYS, "THE WISDOM OF THE TWO VEHICLES IS LIKE A FIREFLY," meaning it is as faint as the light given off by a firefly. Although it has a bit of light at night, during the daytime it has none. That's another way of saying the wisdom of the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions is very, very slight, that they lack great knowledge and great wisdom, great vows and great powers--that their states are very tiny and their wisdom just that small. In that same comparison "THE BODHISATTVAS' WISDOM IS LIKE THE LIGHT OF THE SUN." In other words, they have great wisdom, It talks that way in the GREAT prajna SUTRA, AND HOW IS THAT NOT REPROACH AND ACCLAIM? Isn't that a case of there also being teaching by reproach and acclaim, which is supposed to fall only in the fourth period, the Prajna period? For it, in the same way, finds fault with the Sound Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions while extolling the Bodhisattvas for their great knowledge and wisdom. So isn't that a teaching of reproach and acclaim? Then how can you say that only the third period was the teaching of reproach and acclaim?
It can be seen from this section of the Prologue that no matter how right you are, if someone wants to say you're wrong they can uncover some fault in you, by the same token, they can see you as having no faults even if you're wrong if they want to see you as right. The principle of the Buddha's teaching is the same.
IF ONE SAYS THE FOURTH PERIOD ONLY REVEALED IDENTICAL RETURN, AND DID NOT YET EXPLAIN THE PERMANENT, THE LIFE-SPAN CHAPTER SAYS, "PERMANENTLY DWELLING AND NOT EXTINGUISHED." ALSO, THE EXPEDIENTS CHAPTER SAYS, "WORLDLY MARKS ARE PERMANENTLY DWELLING, AND SO FORTH--HOW IS THAT NOT THE PERMANENT?
IF ONE SAYS, hypothesizes National Master Ch'ing Liang, supposing you were to say, "THE FOURTH PERIOD ONLY REVEALED IDENTICAL RETURN." Here it's not the (T'ien T'ai) fourth period which is Prajna, but the fourth period which they call the Teaching of identical return. If you insist that it only set forth the teaching principle of returning the three to take refuge with the one, AND DID NOT YET EXPLAIN THE PERMANENT, still not caking clear the principle of the permanently dwelling--well right now I'll tell you a thing or two! IN THE LIFE-SPAN CHAPTER OF THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA, there is a phrase which goes "PERMANENTLY DWELLING AND NOT EXTINGUISHED." You were saying the teaching of identical return didn't yet reveal the permanently dwelling Buddha nature? Well, here's that very same DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA talking about him being permanently dwelling and not extinguished, his lifespan being infinite and unending, never destroyed. How can that not be the permanent? Can you claim that's not talking about the permanent? ALSO, THE EXPEDIENTS CHAPTER SAYS, "WORLDLY MARKS ARE PERMANENTLY DWELLING." It says not only is the Buddha's life everlasting, but the worldly marks also are permanently dwelling, AND SO FORTH. AND HOW IS THAT NOT THE PERMANENT? So how can you say there has to be a teaching of the permanently dwelling fabricated after the teaching of identical return? Identical return is to the permanently dwelling, and it's to the permanently dwelling that there is identical return-- if it wasn't returning to the permanently dwelling, then where would it return to?
AS TO THE FIFTH, TAKING THE NIRVANA AS THE PERMANENTLY DWELLING, FOR THE TEACHING WITHIN IT, IT CAN BE THAT WAY. It was said that the NIRVANA within the fifth period constituted the teaching of the permanently dwelling. To call it the teaching of the permanently dwelling will work if you just mean the principles given in the NIRVANA SUTRA, BUT THE TIME OF THE NIRVANA ALSO CAN BE SEEN IN THE SMALL VEHICLE. The Small Vehicle Period also talks about Nirvana with its characteristics. FOR INSTANCE WITHIN AGAMAS, the "Incomparable Dharma" Sutras, the Tripitaka teachings for the Small Vehicle, in which, IT TALKS ABOUT THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE THUS COME ONE'S NIRVANA. In the AGAMA SUTRAS, it also talks about the Buddha eating broth from fungus on Chandana wood, having a backache afterwards, and between the twin Sa1a trees in Magadha entering the Transcendence Samadhi, and in the fourth Dhyana entering the Fire Light Samadhi and through its power burning his body and ending his awareness, only leaving sharira behind in the world for people to make offerings to. And so in the AGAMA SUTRAS it already talked about this, and so in the teaching for the Small Vehicle there are also the marks of the Nirvana. So if you try to say there is no teaching of the permanently dwelling in the Small Vehicle Teaching, and that it's only in the nirvana sutra, that is not quite right.
IF THE INITIAL ONE IS THAT OF HUMANS AND GODS, ALTHOUGH THE TRAPUSHA SPEAKS OF THE PRECEPTS AND WHOLESOME ACTS, WHEN HE ATTAINED THE WAY, THAT WAS ALL CONNECTED WITH THE THREE VEHICLES. AND BECAUSE THAT SUTRA SAYS, "TRAPUSHA OBTAINED PATIENCE WITH THE NON-ARISAL OF DHARMAS", THAT FURTHER CONTRADICTS THE SECRET TRACES SUTRA IN WHICH THE THREE VEHICLES ARE SPOKEN OF IN THE SECOND WEEK.
IF THE INITIAL ONE IS THAT OF HUMANS AND GODS, The first, says National Master Ch'ing Liang, that if one starts with a teaching of humans and gods at the very beginning, ALTHOUGH THE TRAPUSHA SPEAKS OF THE PRECEPTS AND THE WHOLESOME ACTS WHEN HE ATTAINED THE WAY, THAT WAS ALL CONNECTED WITH THE THREE VEHICLES. Trapusha and Bhallika were two laypeople who were the first to know the Buddha had accomplished the Way. When the Buddha first sat under the Bodhi Tree at midnight, he saw a bright star and enlightened to the Way, he then continued sitting there not rising from his seat, while seven days passed. Those two laymen were very skilled at divination and could know anything that was going on from their divination. They realized from the signs that the Buddha had become a Buddha, that a great Sage among humans and gods was appearing in the world, and so they went to where the Buddha was and requested that the Buddha speak Dharma for them. In the TRAPUSHA SUTRA it says that 500 merchants went there with them, all of whom became enlightened at that time. The layman Trapusha acquired the patience with the non-arisa1--the non-production of Dharmas. Many of the merchants obtained the First or Second Fruit of Arhatship, and many of the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division became enlightened.
Although the trapusha
SUTRA spoke the principles of the precepts and the wholesome
acts, many attained the
fundamental purity of the four elements, the basic purity of the
five skandhas and the six
organs and all kinds of experiences of purity, and it caused
Trapusha to attain the
THESE FIVE PERIODS AND SO FORTH, ARE FAULTY IN THAT THEY WERE ALL FIXED IN TERMS OF TIME. ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT THEY ARE NOT FIXED, SPEAKING FOR THE MOST PART, THEY ARE REASONABLE.
THESE FIVE PERIODS AND SO FORTH, which corresponded to:
1. The teaching of the existence
ARE FAULTY IN THAT THEY WERE ALL FIXED IN TERMS OF TIME. Since they are rigidly fixed as cut-and-dried equivalents of time-slots, their principles do not hold up too well. ASIDE FROM THE FACT THEY ARE UNFIXED, SPEAKING FOR THE MOST PART, THEY ARE REASONABLE. As long as one realizes that it could be said that way and could not be said that way.
TWO, VINAYA MASTER KUANG T'UNG OF THE LATTER WEI, WHO RECEIVED HIS TRAINING FROM TRIPITAKA MASTER BUDDHASHANTA.
In TWO, the second, there was VINAYA MASTER KUANG T'UNG OF THE LATTER WEI Dynasty. A Vinaya Master is thoroughly versed in the Vinaya Store and in the precepts. In every move he makes his actions are based on the precepts which he never at any time violates. Dharma Master Kuang T'ung was a Vinaya Master WHO RECEIVED HIS TRAINING FROM TRIPITAKA MASTER BUDDHASHANTA.
In Buddhism, to become a Dharma Master, a Vinaya Master or a Ch'an Master, you need to have received a transmission of Dharma from a place you've studied in order to become that kind of Master. If no one has seated and certified you, you can't simply close your doors, declare yourself a Patriarch and assume you are enlightened. Someone else must certify you and transmit the Dharma pulse to you. Vinaya Master Kuang T'ung received his transmission from Tripitaka Master Buddhashanta.
Tripitaka Master Buddhashanta was a native of India, who cultivated with four fellow practitioners. The other four were vigorous day and night, not lazy for an instant, at all times watching over their minds so they retained proper mindfulness and never had any false thinking. Pretty soon the four of them opened enlightenment and certified to the fruit. The only one left who had not was Tripitaka Master Buddhashanta who had not, the reason being that he was a bit lazy most of the time instead of vigorous. He didn't want to recite Sutras or bow to the Buddha--it's not actually that he didn't want to, he did want to but he was somewhat lazy, enough that when the others certified to the Way he hadn't. But then he was very sorry, "All the other cultivators have attained the Way and certified to the fruit, and only I have "no knowing and no attaining." He was so remorseful, he decided to destroy himself "to seek the Way." One idea he had was to jump into the ocean to try and get enlightened by dying. Wouldn't you say that was stupid? Once you're dead, what enlightenment can you open? That's really opening a dead enlightenment. Then he thought he would burn up his body, for if he jumped into the water and drowned and his body was left bobbing around in the water yet he hadn't opened enlightenment, that wouldn't be so great. But to burn his body with fire wouldn't be too bad--then whether he got enlightened or not his body at least would be gone.
Probably there wasn't gasoline in those days, so he decided to use oil to burn himself. However, he didn't have any money to buy oil, so he borrowed money from a friend to do so. His friend asked him "Why are you buying so much oil?" He explained, "We were five fellow cultivators and the other four became enlightened and certified to the fruit, but not me. It's because in the past I didn't work hard, but was lazy. So now I intend to burn up to avoid being a useless leftover."
His friend said, "Don't do that. In Cultivation everything's a matter of prior cause and subsequent effect. When the causes you planted in the past come to fruition then you'll naturally become enlightened. If you destroy your body before the causes are ripe, you'll never get enlightened. The way I see it is that your causes and conditions really lie in China. In China there are two disciples waiting for you to come teach and transform them. If you go and teach those two disciples how to cultivate the Way, then you'll be able to certify to the fruit."
When he heard what his
friend had to say, he believed
it, and so he went to China. It was right during the Latter Wei
Dynasty, the time of Emperor Wen. He went to Hsiao
and received the two disciples.
One was the Venerable Dharma Master Ch'ou
and the other was Vinaya
Master Kuang T'ung.
After taking those disciples he certified to the Way. That is a brief account of Tripitaka
Master Buddha shanta's causes and conditions.
HE ALSO ESTABLISHED THREE TEACHINGS, THAT IS GRADUAL, SUDDEN, AND PERFECT. THE FIRST IS FOR THOSE WHOSE ROOTS ARE NOT YET RIPE. IT STARTS BY SPEAKING OF IMPERMANENCE, THEN AFTERWARDS SPEAKS OF PERMANENCE, FIRST OF EMPTINESS, AND AFTERWARDS OF NON-EMPTINESS, AND SO FORTH. IN THAT WAY THERE IS GRADUAL SUCCESSION, AND SO IT IS CALLED GRADUAL. TWO, FOR THE CATEGORY OF THOSE WHOSE ROOTS ARE RIPE, A SINGLE DHARMA DOOR DECLARES FULLY BOTH PERMANENCE AND IMPERMANENCE, BOTH EMPTINESS AND NON-EMPTINESS, AND SO FORTH. ALL ARE SPOKEN TOGETHER, WITHOUT GOING THROUGH THE GRADUAL AT ALL, AND SO IT IS CALLED SUDDEN. THREE, FOR THOSE WHO HAVE PENETRATED THROUGH THE SUCCESSIVE STAGES TO THE BUDDHA'S STATE ABOVE THERE IS SPEAKING OF THE THUS COME ONE'S UNOBSTRUCTED LIBERATIONS, THE VIRTUES OF THE ULTIMATE FRUITION, THE UTMOST PERFECTION OF SECRET AND SOVEREIGN DHARMA DOORS, AND SO IT IS CALLED PERFECT.
HE ALSO ESTABLISHED THREE TEACHINGS. Vinaya Master Kuang T'ung also set up three kinds of teachings, THAT IS, GRADUAL, SUDDEN, AND PERFECT. What did he mean by THE FIRST, gradual teaching? IT IS FOR THOSE living beings WHOSE ROOTS ARE NOT YET RIPE. IT STARTS BY SPEAKING OF IMPERMANENCE, THEN AFTERWARDS SPEAKS OF PERMANENCE, FIRST OF EMPTINESS, AND AFTERWARDS OF NON-EMPTINESS. Impermanence is true emptiness, and permanence --non-emptiness--is wonderful existence. So it discusses the Dharma door of true emptiness and wonderful existence. It starts by talking of the principle of emptiness, then after that, explains how it is non-empty, but rather there is wonderful existence within it. IN THAT WAY THERE IS GRADUAL SUCCESSION, AND SO IT IS CALLED GRADUAL. It discussed like that step by step, and that's why it's given the name gradual teaching.
TWO, FOR THE CATEGORY OF THOSE WHOSE ROOTS ARE RIPE, living beings whose faculties have already matured, A SINGLE DHARMA DOOR DECLARES FULLY BOTH. A single Dharma door includes the two doors of emptiness and existence. The principles of both PERMANENCE AND IMPERMANENCE, BOTH EMPTINESS AND NON-EMPTINESS, AND SO FORTH are spoken of simultaneously. ALL ARE SPOKEN WITHOUT GOING THROUGH THE GRADUAL AT ALL, the elucidation of the principles is not step by step. There isn't simply explanation of emptiness or simple talk of existence by itself. Rather, emptiness and existence are non-dual, AND SO IT IS CALLED SUDDEN.
THREE, FOR THOSE WHO HAVE PENETRATED THROUGH THE SUCCESSIVE STAGES TO THE BUDDHA'S STATE ABOVE. The third is for the living beings--the Great Bodhisattvas--who have just about reached up to the same state as the Buddha's. For them THERE IS SPEAKING OF THE THUS COME ONE'S UNOBSTRUCTED LIBERATIONS. It describes how the Buddha is basically UNOBSTRUCTED and obtains the LIBERATIONS, THE VIRTUES OF THE ULTIMATE FRUITION, THE UTMOST PERFECTION OF SECRET AND SOVEREIGN DHARMA DOORS. Those virtues of the fruit are perfectly interpenetrating without obstruction to the utmost degree, as well as being incredibly secret and sovereign Dharma doors, AND SO IT IS CALLED PERFECT. That's why he called it the perfect teaching, setting up the three doors of gradual, sudden and perfect.
THIS IS ALSO SIMPLY SAYING THAT THE MANNER OF TEACHING ADHERED TO A SEQUENCE.
Previously it was talking of how Dhanna Master Kuang T'ung set up three kinds of teachings, the gradual, sudden and the perfect.
His teacher was Tripitaka Master Buddha shanta, who wanted to commit suicide because he'd been cultivating the Way so long without any success. Since his teacher had such a great attachment of mind, Dharma Master Kuang T'ung had a lot of attachments. He insisted the teaching contained a step by step sequence, going from the Small Vehicle to the Great Vehicle, then from the Great Vehicle to the Buddha Vehicle, the Small Vehicle being Sound Hearers and those Enlightened to Conditions, the Great Vehicle, the Bodhisattvas, and the unsurpassed Buddha Vehicle, the Buddha. He said it certainly was that way, so he set up a gradual teaching. Then he said there are cases of sudden enlightenment when someone very rapidly becomes a Buddha, which he called the sudden. Then he said there was also a perfect teaching, for the gradual is not full and complete, not perfectly interpenetrating without obstruction, and the sudden is very special, also not perfectly interpenetrating without obstruction.
So he set up the
dharma FLOWER SUTRA as the
perfect teaching, the Agamas
and Vaipulya belonging
to the gradual,
to the sudden, since it's
the contemplation of emptiness. He differentiated among the
sutras very clearly,
so not a strand was out of place but all
was in perfect order--1ike
the threads in a piece of fabric. At the time he must have thought, "My division
into teachings is most brilliant."
However, here is National
Master Ch'ing Lianq
a commentary criticizing
him by saying, THIS IS ALSO
SIMPLY IN SAYING THAT THE MANNER OF TEACHING ADHERED TO A SEQUENCE. This is nothing but basing
oneself on the way in
which the teaching was presented to say that there was a "before"--the
an "afterwards", the Dharma Flower
That was to base the teaching on the time sequence but the theory and principle
are not that way, there isn't any of it that comes only
at a fixed time because,
The Buddha contemplates
the potentials and bestows the teachings, Speaking the Dharma according
to the person.
THE MEANING IS CLEARLY THAT THOSE WHO NOW ARE CAPABLE OF RECEIVING THE SUDDEN CERTAINLY RECEIVED TEACHINGS IN THE PAST, SO THEIR ROOTS ARE SAID TO HAVE RIPENED. TO SAY THAT THERE IS PENETRATION ABOVE MEANS ALL OF THOSE BEFORE THE GROUNDS. THE DIVIDED STEPS LEADING TO THE BUDDHA'S STATE ARE JUST THOSE ABOVE THE GROUNDS. THIS ALSO CONNECTS WITH PRINCIPLE.
National Master Ch'ing Liang adds a further commentary saying THE MEANING Dharma Master Kuang T'ung had in mind IS CLEARLY THAT THOSE WHO NOW ARE CAPABLE OF RECEIVING THE SUDDEN CERTAINLY RECEIVED TEACHINGS IN THE PAST. The "now" he is talking about is not, however, the "now" of right now, but the time of the T'ang Dynasty. If viewed from the perspective of our present time, his "now" is the past for us, You have to realize National Master Ch'ing Liang is one of the ancients, not a contemporary of our scientific, atomic age with its electronic devices and all the other technological developments. Although I said I had the T'ang Dynasty tape recorder, but rather that what was said remains in empty space. If you can hear the tape in empty space, then there's no past or present. As soon as you turn on the akash recording you can hear anything from several tens of thousands of great kalpas. This is not something occult and mysterious--it's just the way it is. But if you don't know how to turn on the tape recorder, there's no way you can hear National Master Ch'ing Liang saying to the living beings of his time, the T'ang Dynasty, whose potentials are ripe for the sudden teaching had to have been taught by the gradual teaching prior to that. That's what enables them to accept the sudden teaching now.
Having reached this point, I'll talk to you a little about opening enlightenment and how it's done. It's like opening a lock, say on a door. You have to have a key to get it open. The key was made to fit the lock, and that's what opens it now. How do you find the key? It's by using effort at your cultivation, constantly keeping yourself at it, investigate dhyana and sitting in meditation, reciting the Budddha's name, holding mantras, reciting Sutras--in all of that you're looking for the key. When you find it, you'll open the lock in your mind. What's that lock? It's ignorance. It locks you up in the dark. See how when the door's open there is light but lock it and everything's dark. If you can break through that ignorance, using a key or any method whatever, you open the lock. Ignorance--lack of c1arity--is just darkness. The reason you're not clear about anything is that ignorance is locking you up, so you don't get enlightened. He says it must be the case that those presently capable of accepting the dharma of the sudden teaching were previously taught by the gradual teaching, and that makes sense. In opening enlightenment, for example, you're doing so today is not just from today, but from having looked for the key day after day trying to open your ignorance. When you finally find it and get the lock open, then the door in your mind opens and the light of wisdom shines through. So today's enlightenment depended on your cultivation and planting of seeds. If you hadn't planted those causes in the past, you wouldn't be able to obtain the fruit of opening enlightenment today. So Shakyamuni Buddha,
For three asamkhyeyas
blessings and wisdom.
It took him that long
in the past cultivating so that this life
If he hadn't cultivated before, he wouldn't have been able to do that. He might have had to wait until several hundred years in the future to become a Buddha.
So don't say, "I didn't cultivate in the past, so it's useless for me to cultivate now. It's not very interesting to have to wait several thousands of great kalpas. I want to open enlightenment and become a Buddha now." It's possible. It's possible. It all depends on you. All you have to do is cultivate now, and you'll become a Buddha in the future. Your wish to cultivate now didn't just pop up right now, it's from your having planted those causes already. That's why this life, although you run here and there, you haven't been able to run outside the range of Buddhism. So, some people study the Buddhadharma for awhile, and then run off and turn and spin all over the place, covering a lot of territory, and then run back. Once back, they feel it's still not all that interesting, and so they run off again. This keeps going on, so they:
come without coming and go without going,
Concerning how those who can now receive the sudden must have been taught before it is:
When the root is mature,
TO SAY THAT THERE IS PENETRATION ABOVE MEANS ALL OF THOSE BEFORE THE GROUNDS. Before the Ten Grounds there are the positions of Ten Dwellings, the Ten Conducts, and the Ten Transferences. THE DIVIDED STEPS LEADING TO THE BUDDHA'S STATE ARE JUST THOSE ABOVE THE GROUNDS They are about equivalent to the Buddha's position. Equal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment which come after the Ten Grounds. THIS ALSO CONNECTS WITH PRINCIPLE. It can be put that way.
-to be continued-