Sutra:

AND HE SAYS TO THEM, "ALL OF YOU!  TAKE NO DELIGHT IN DWELLING IN THE BURNING HOUSE OF THE TRIPLE WORLD. DO NOT LUST AFTER VULGAR AND EVIL FORMS, SOUNDS, SMELLS, TASTES, TANGIBLE OBJECTS.  IF YOU ATTACH TO THEM GREEDILY AND GIVE RISE TO LOVE FOR THEM, YOU WILL BE BURNT.  YOU SHOULD QUICKLY ESCAPE THE TRIPLE WORLD AND OBTAIN THE THREE VEHICLES, THE SOUND HEARER, PRATYEKA BUDDHA, AND BUDDHA VEHICLES.

Outline: This is part two of fitting the analogy of using the carts. 2. Fitting together praising the three carts is rare. It further divides into three parts of which this is the first: a. the fitting together with the demonstration turning of the wheel of the four holy truths.

Commentary:

And he says to him, Sakyamuni Buddha says...This phrase was added by Ananda the Venerable when he compiled the Sutras. He says, "All of you! Take no delight in dwelling in the burning house of the Triple World." Why does Sakyamuni Buddha say "All of you!"? He is talking to the thirty children and the five hundred people. He's also talking to you and me and all living beings of the present. Don't go thinking that we are being left out. We are included in "All of you." Thus, Sakyamuni Buddha says to you, me, and them, "Take no delight in dwelling in the burning house of the Triple World." Don't think it's such great fun living in the burning house, because it's really miserable, in the realm of desire, the form realm, and the formless realm, the suffering is extreme. It's not fun and games by any means. Here the Buddha is talking about the first of the Four Holy Truths, the truth of suffering. Don't delight in it. It is suffering. There are limitless kinds of suffering, but living beings take suffering as bliss, and that which is obviously bliss they take as suffering. For example sometimes in the world, if you are competent, you can take bad situations and make them turn out for the good. If you don't know how to do things, then in doing good things, you mess them up. Suffering is suffering, but living beings take it as bliss. Basically, something may be blissful, but they take it as a form of suffering. Living beings are characterized by this kind of inverted thinking. Living beings are inverted, and in their confusion, they don't know to turn back. They walk down the road of confusion and don't look back. That's the truth of suffering and so here all living beings are told not to hang around in the burning house.

      "Do not lust after vulgar and evil forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects." Don't be greedy. Don't lust after the vulgar, the coarse, and vile, evil, rotten...What's rotten? The suffering: The affliction: It disturbs our mind and nature and erodes our wisdom, making us stupid. Forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects are the objects of the five senses, also called the five desires. "Forms" refers to visible matter, what is in front of us and has material form. Sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects have no material form, but all five states delude living beings. Some beings are deluded by forms, defiled by objects of form. Others are confused by sounds and like music. Others like to smell fragrances, and some like tastes. Others like physical contact and all are confused by these states and defiled by them. "Defiled" means they are not clear and pure. The realms of the five sense objects confuse living beings completely. But if you can have no thought with regard to the state then:

If you see affairs and awaken, you can transcend the world;

If you see affairs and are confused, you fall beneath the wheel.

If, in a situation, you can wake up, that's just transcending the world. But if the situation gets out of hand, and gets control over you, then you will fall. I always say,

The eyes see external forms, but inside there is nothing;

The ears hear the sounds, but the mind knows it not.

Facing a situation, to have no thought

Means you are not turned by that state.

This means that you control the situation and not vice-versa. If you reach this level, then the objects of form, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects cannot move your mind. If you see them and give rise to greed and love, then you have been confused by that state.

If you attach to them greedily, to the states of the five sense objects and give rise to love for them, give rise to love and attachment, attached and enamored of them then--craving is a kind of emotional loving response. When you see something going on then you get attached, you give rise to love and views. Most people think that love is very important. Really, it's the very thing, which keeps you from ending birth and death and becoming a Buddha.

The nature flows out and becomes emotion.

Emotion flows out to become desire.

This emotional love is the root of birth and death and the source of outflows. If you can be without thought of emotional love, you can attain to the non-outflow state. As long as you have emotional love, you cannot attain the state of no-outflows.

You will be burnt. Burnt by what? The fire of love. Love is a total burn. This passage of text refers to the second of the Four Holy Truths, that of Origination. If you have emotional love, you will give rise to affliction. If you have no emotional love, no thoughts of love and desire, then there is no affliction. Why do you have emotional love? Because you see your body as too important. You want to indulge in physical pleasures and this is the greatest of all mistakes. Sakyamuni Buddha cultivated bitter practices in the Himalayas. Why? Why did he go to realize the Way beneath the Bodhi tree? It was just because he was able to sever once and for all the thoughts of love and emotion, which all worldly folk possess. He got rid of them and was thereby able to certify to the fruit and sever all affliction. He said:

This is suffering, its nature is oppressive.

This is origination its nature is seductive.

This is extinction, its nature is certification.

This is the Way, its nature is cultivation.

This was the first turning of the wheel of the Four Holy Truths, the Demonstrative Turning, in which he pointed the Four Truths out to living beings.

      You should quickly escape the Triple World and obtain the Three Vehicles, the Sound Hearer, Pratyeka Buddha, and Buddha Vehicles. He said, "You," that is you, plural, all of you should quickly escape, don't linger here in the triple world, and continue to neglect your original home. Get out! Right now. Move: The more you dilly-dally around the farther you will fall. Escape the burning house and obtain the three vehicles, Sound Hearer, Pratyeka Buddha, and Buddha Vehicles.

The Sound Hearers cultivate the Dharma of the Four Holy Truths and awaken to the Way when they hear the Buddha's sound. Pratyeka Buddhas are also called Conditioned Enlightened Ones. In the spring they watch the white flowers bloom, in the fall they watch the yellow leaves fall. Seeing the natural process of growth and decay, they cultivate the Dharma of the Twelve Causal Links and attain the fruit. When they are born during the time a Buddha is in the world, they are called Conditioned-Enlightened Ones. When they are born at a time when there is no Buddha in the world, they are called solitarily enlightened ones. Pratyeka Buddhas, most of them, live deep in the mountain valleys and have little contact with the outside world. They cultivate on their own to certify to the fruit.

The Buddha Vehicle..."Buddha" as those who have heard Sutras lectured know--is a Sanskrit word which means "enlightened." Enlightenment is of three kinds: self-enlightenment, the enlightenment of others, and the perfection of enlightenment and practice. Self-enlightenment distinguishes the Buddha from common folk. Common folk are unenlightened. They are unawake, unaware. Awakened, they are different from common folk, but not only do they enlighten themselves, and benefit themselves, they enlighten and benefit others as well and this distinguishes the Buddha from those of the Two Vehicles who cultivate only for themselves--the perfection of the first two kinds of enlightenment results in the third kind of enlightenment: the perfection of enlightenment and the practice (of enlightening others.)

Perfect in the three enlightenments,

Complete with myriad virtues

One is therefore called: The Buddha.

That's the Buddha vehicle. The Buddha Vehicle surpasses the Sound Hearer, Pratyeka Buddha, and Bodhisattva Vehicles. The Dharma Flower Sutra says, "There is only the Buddha Vehicle. There are no other vehicles." Previously, the three vehicles were provisional dharma. Only the Buddha vehicle is absolutely real dharma, the real Dharma. So now in the Dharma Flower Assembly the Buddha opens the provisional to manifest the real and sets the expedient dharmas he previously used aside, to manifest the genuine Buddha Vehicle.

Sutra:

I NOW GIVE MY PLEDGE FOR THIS AND IT SHALL NEVER BE PROVED FALSE. YOU NEED ONLY DILIGENTLY AND VIGOROUSLY CULTIVATE. THE THUS COME ONE, USING THESE EXPEDIENT MEANS, LEADS ALL CREATURES.

Outline: This is the second of the Three Turnings, the Certification Turning.

Commentary:

      In the second turning of the Three Turnings of the Four Holy Truths, the Buddha testifies to his own attainment of certification. He says,

1.    This is suffering. I already know about it. I donít need to know anything more.

2.    This is origination. I have already cut it off. I donít need to cut it off anymore.

3.    This is extinction. I have already certified to it, I need not certify any further.

4.    This is the Way. I have already cultivated it. I need not cultivate it any more.

Sakyamuni Buddha says, "I now give my pledge for this I guarantee this matter." What matter? It is the matter of becoming a Buddha. That is, if you cultivate according to the Great Vehicle, I guarantee that you will become a Buddha. I give you my pledge. And it shall never be proved wrong. It is most certainly not false. You need only diligently and vigorously cultivate. All you living beings must not be lazy and should cultivate. Use all your energy to go forward with vigor practicing the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma. In the Great Vehicle, one opens up the provisional to reveal the real and manifests the true, real mark. But you must diligently cultivate. If you aren't diligent and vigorous in your cultivation, although it is the Great Vehicle, it will not benefit you. It is like speaking about food and not eating it, or like counting someone else's money. There is a saying,

If all day long you count up others' wealth,

When you haven't got a half a cent yourself--

If in the Buddhadharma you fail to cultivate

You're making the exact same mistake.

In the Surangama Sutra read, "It is like talking about food. It will never make you full." If you go to a restaurant and merely read the menu without ordering anything to eat, saying, "This is really good. That's even more delicious: That's a supreme taste treat:" but all you've done is read the menu--if you read it all day without eating a bite of food--your stomach will still be empty. You can't get full by talking about food.

You can't get rich by counting up others' money. A bank teller counts up several million dollars a day, but none of it belongs to him, and when he gets off work, not a dollar of it is his. This verse is pointing to the fact that if you just have an intellectual understanding of the Buddhadharma, but do not cultivate according to its methods, it is just like counting up someone else's money. You are making the same mistake. Itís the same paradox. You gain nothing for yourself. If you sit at home sighing over how good some Italian bread is or some French bread, talking about how good it is with butter and cheeseótalking, talking--this does nothing for your hungry stomach. You can't just talk and not do anything. If you want any return you have to put in the effort, you have to do it. Otherwise, you attain nothing. Thus the text-here says, "You need only diligently and vigorously cultivate."

You must be vigorous with your body. This means bowing to the sutras, reciting the Buddha's name, reciting the Sutras, meditating, or reciting mantras. In general, you have to keep occupied because if our minds don't have anything to do they get unreliable and start doing a lot of false thinking. They are like monkeys. Monkeys are always goofing, running east and west, up and down trees all day long. Our minds are a lot like monkeys, too. The mind has to have some work to do. There it will settle down and not indulge in so much false thinking.

One must not only be vigorous with the body, but with the mind as well. Keep your thoughts to the point. The Buddhadharma has to be actually practiced. It is useless to merely talk about it. So I often say,

Spoken wonderfully, spoken well,

If you do not walk down it,

It's not the Way.

You have to put in the work. Then you can attain benefit. This requires vigor.

The Thus Come One, using these expedient means, leads all creatures. The Thus Come One uses the expedient dharmas of the Three Vehicles to lead living beings. "Lead" here means to induce, or in other words to "cheat." How does Sakyamuni Buddha cheat us? He doesn't cheat us in a false way but in a true way. He cheats us right into ending birth and death: If he didn't cheat us we would not know how to end birth and death. How can we prove that the Buddha cheats living beings? The Buddha is the great Elder. The children are in the house being burned by the fire and the Elder says, "Oh no! Hurry up and come out. I have a sheep cart, and a deer cart, and an ox cart: They are all right outside the door." But in reality there are no sheep, deer, or ox carts there at all. Is he cheating us? Children like to play with the carts and when they hear about them they run out of the house. Sakyamuni Buddha thinks, "Well I have so much wealth, I might as well give them a cart since I promised I would." And then he gives each of them a great cart. In the beginning he was using expedient devices to lead the children out of the burning house. Later when they got out and he gave them the great cart, he was no longer being expedient; he was opening the provisional and giving the real--the Great Vehicle Dharma. He was no longer "cheating" them because he taught the genuine Buddhadharma. "Lead" in the text carries the meaning of "to induce." It's like the tale of the time the Buddha saved the child with his empty fist. The child, unaware of the danger, went crawling towards a well and was about to fall in. The Buddha used an expedient method. He said, "Little child, come back. I have here in my hand a piece of candy. Come on, Iíll give it to you." Kids love candy and so the child scrambled back. Did the Buddha have a piece of candy in his hand? No. He saved the child with his empty fist. Though he didnít have candy in his hand, he eventually went and got a piece for the child and so he didnít cheat the child after all. Thatís what is meant by the phrase "to lead" here in the text. He uses expedients, he gives them what they like, plays on their fondnesses. Living beings play up to each other for selfish reasons but the Buddha does so to induce and teach and transform living beings, donít forget. ďI donít want Sakyamuni Buddha to cheat me," you say. Then keep on being a living being for awhile. Hah. If you feel you havenít been one long enough, then continue to be one. If you donít want to be a living being, if you feel "Now I want to understand the Buddhadharma and become a Buddha," then you will have to let Sakyamuni Buddha cheat you. You canít avoid it.