The Prose & Verse of The Lotus Sutra

Chaper 2 - Ways & Means

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From The true spiritual aspect of reality in all things... (Shoho Jisso): This is the very deep sphere1 of the spiritual realm. Because it is inconceivable, it is inexpressible.

Kuang Chai2 said that the discussion of this begins with a single phrase that expresses the dual wisdom:

All Things (Shoho): This refers to the sphere of the provisional wisdom. Because there are the three that are threefold3 and not one, the Sutra speak of 'All things'. In the three different aspects the doctrines are most revealed. They directly adapt to the different capacities of the audience, which has the three different kinds of people. Therefore one recognizes that the three that are threefold are provisional.

The True Spiritual Aspect of Reality (Jisso): This is the sphere of the real wisdom. Because it is the one principle that is beyond any falsehood, it is called the 'true spiritual aspect of reality'. In the four unities4, everywhere there is the single principle. Because the principle is the source, it is the real wisdom.

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1. The deep sphere: Also translated as the deep 'object'; the spiritual realm, the object of worship. The Buddha in the ten worlds of the mind - The spiritual realm beheld in the eye of enlightenment.

2. Kuang Chai: (Literally 'House of Light') Monastery led by Fa-Yun (466-529 CE) during Liang Dynasty, famous for lectures on The Lotus Sutra. Chih-I here refutes many of their interpretations.

3. The three that are threefold: Chih-I used three as a metaphor for that which is provisional, that which is the manifestation; there were The Three Vehicles, The Three Truths, The Three Provisional Doctrines, the Three Siddhanta etc. These three are distinguished from and then reunited with the one, which represents that which is real, that which is the source - The One Vehicle, The Single Mind, The Total Doctrine, The Siddhanta of the Highest Significance, etc. Here Chan-Jan refers the three that are threefold as to the Three Vehicles in terms of the Three Provisional Doctrines, the Three Persons (the spiritual capacities of the Three Vehicles) and their Three Causalities.

4. The four unities: of the Total Doctrine:
Unity of Principle, which is revealed in the Ten Spiritual Realms
Unity of Doctrine, which is revealed in the Five Periods of Doctrine
Unity of Practice, which is revealed in the Observation of the Mind
Unity of Person, which is revealed in the Six Identities with Enlightenment

5. The Three Vehicles:
a. Sravakas (spiritual disciples) learning the Four Truths and attaining spiritual knowledge
b. Pratyekabuddhas (the spiritually self-awakened) mastering the Twelvefold Wheel of Causality and Conditioning and mastering their own liberation from attachment to karma and retribution
c. Bodhisattvas perfecting the Six Paramitas, inspiring the mind and practicing the path of the Great Vehicles
Here Kuang Chai sees the provisional wisdom being limited to the Three Vehicles (and the first five aspects) and the real wisdom being limited to the enlightenment of the Buddha (and the last four aspects). In this view they are mutually exclusive.

6. The Six Perfections:
a. Generosity, giving of oneself (S. Dana)
b. Morality, embracing the precepts (S. Sila)
c. Endurance, patience (S. Ksanti)
d. Diligence (S. Virya)
e. Mental concentration, meditation (S. Dhyana)
f. Spiritual insight, wisdom (S. Prajna)

7. The beginning is the appearance of enlightenment: This may be likened to first seeing the Buddha, hearing the Dharma, etc. The end is the retribution of enlightenment: This is attaining the ultimate enlightenment, the Body of Reward (S. Sambhogakaya), the life of virtue and wisdom.


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