Systematic and Practical
WHY EMPHASIZE THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF MEDITATION IN THE THREE-YANAS-IN-ONE?
A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi
C. M. CHEN
Written Down by
REVEREND B. KANTIPALO
First Published in 1967
HOMAGE TO THE PRECIOUS DHARMA IN THE
HINAYANA, MAHAYANA AND VAJRAYANA
WHY EMPHASIZE THE WHOLE SYSTEM OF MEDITATION
A day of sunshine and
warmth after most of the rains had finished, seemed to promise well for this
important subject. With our host, who was greatly pleased to speak upon the
unity of the Dharma, we quickly cleared up some matters outstanding from
previous talks. This finished, Bhante sat rosary in
hand to listen, while the writer's pen was posed to try to catch Mr. Chen's
meaning and secure it captive on paper, so far as can be done with such elusive
and exalted matters...
is to answer the question in our title but before doing so, we should explain
the meaning of our homage and its bearing upon our subject.
A. The Dedication
himself has said that the Dharma existed before him (as previous Buddhas had also preached this
), and in this sense the
Buddha is produced by the Dharma. The Dharma is the central Jewel of the Triratna and according to Tibetan tradition, it is more precious than the Buddha. Some examples to emphasize the primacy of
the Dharmaratna are seen in the Tibetan practice of
never placing an image on a Dharma-book: the Buddha is never placed over the
Dharma. The arrangement of shrines follows this, and the sacred Tripitaka is never stored below the figures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but is placed above or to one
side. Again, in Tibetan books, images are not usually printed in the center of
the page, the words of the Dharma occupy the middle and pictures are placed at
the doctrine of all the three yanas, the first
importance is given to the timeless Jewel of the Dharma.
1. What does "Dharma"
definitions have been made and to each one we should give our earnest obeisance.
phenomenon, interior or exterior, psychological and physical, all are called "dharmas." Besides these dharmas,
we can find nothing else, for no "thing" or event lies outside this
system. The subject of meditation, its objects, and conditions for meditation
all are included. Without understanding the Dharma, Buddhist meditations cannot
be practiced. Among the five definitions, this is not the main one, but its meaning
is very vast in extent.
worldly laws and mundane Buddhist rules are called "Dharma." The law
is thus the many regulations and precepts of the Vinaya and the different sila taught by the Buddha, which
are the preparation and true foundation of meditation. Mostly these are Hinayana doctrine; we should deeply respect it and be
grateful to our teacher for having made so firm a foundation for his Dharma.
However, the meaning here is still not the main definition.
doctrines taught in the three yanas is the principal meaning. Here are included all the
teachings of the Buddha found in the Tripitakas of
the Hinayana and Mahayana. We shall talk about the
meditations practiced in all three yanas, these being
the subjects for several succeeding chapters. These various doctrines should
receive our humble and sincere reverence.
The Truth, or Bhutatathata. This is
where Dharma has been recognized with profound insight as Dharmata,
the true nature of everything. This is a narrow definition of the term, but all
our meditations aim at this realization, and here also we should offer our deep
e. The Wisdom
of the Buddhas, or the Dharma considered as Perfect
Enlightenment. This is our goal to which we make profound worship and towards
which we earnestly strive.
Mr. Chen paused a moment
and then said:
Now we come
to the second great division where a general explanation is given of the
Three-ways-in-one and its relation to meditation.
B. The Why and Wherefore of Three-in-one (Triyana)
"I was requested by
you," the yogi said to the writer, "and by Bhadanta Sangharakshita about a month ago to talk upon this
subject of Triyana meditation. The Buddha's custom
was to ask disciples questions although he was already all-knowing (Sarvajna), in order to teach them and benefit others in the
future, so although you know the subject of Triyana well enough already, I could only obey your request. Already Bhante here has his temple named Triyana and knowing this, I guessed that his conception might be the same as that
presented here: of the Three-vehicles-in-one."
We have to
consider the whole system of the three yanas, not
each one separately. The three yanas are certainly
mentioned in the Lotus Sutra (Saddharma Pundarika Sutra) but the three-yanas-in-one
as found in this book is rather different. The Buddha wanted the three not
separate but united. He said that no three yanas can
be found, only one. Thus to make our meaning quite clear, we usually avoid the
term "Triyana" and use the terms
"Three-yanas-in-one." This stresses that
the three are continuous from one to the other; they are three stages of one
path. In truth, there are neither three yanas separately, nor is there only one. To think of each as complete in itself is to
fragment the unity of the Dharma, and to talk of only one might imply the
claimed superiority of one particular school's doctrine over others. We shall
discuss this in detail later.
In our case,
we have three-in-one, which seem separate. Why are they separate? Because of the different stages of meditators and the degrees of practice suitable for them. Thus some are skilled, some
unskilled, some neophytes and some experts; this the Buddha knew and arranged his teachings accordingly, saying: first take this (Hinayana) and after that comes Mahayana, and from that go
on to the Vajrayana.
Why are the
three united? They are so because the Buddha taught many teachings over a long
period, and these collectively are called "the Triyana."
Without seeing truly how they are related, people will be confounded. These yanas are not two ways or three, but follow from one
another in a certain sequence forming different levels of the same path. And
so, for these reasons, we should try to see the unity of the three, and unite
these three-in-one in our practice.
at this point object, saying, "Why not talk about the five yanas?" In answer we should say that to begin with the
five ways have already been mentioned (See
V, C. 4) and then give a
The first two
of the five are the preparation, the skin and flesh and not the main part or
heart of meditation.
two are both Hinayana. These yanas should be considered as one.
The last one
concerns the Bodhisattva career, but teaches only the exoteric doctrines. The Vajrayana must still be added.
the system of the three yanas is less in number than
five, but more comprehensive in range.
Now we come
to the point-by-point answer to the talk's opening question, "What is the
reason why we propound the whole system of Three-yanas-in-one?"
between Yanas and Schools
purpose is to get rid of nonsensical arguments between the various yanas and schools. We should consider a number of examples
a. Hinayana versus Mahayana
The Hinayana generally, (though now only the Theravadins of the Southern Buddhist tradition remain as an
independent school), do not admit the Mahayana Sutras to be the sayings of the
Buddha. Let us examine a number of points in this connection.
i. Some Hinayanists say that the canonical literature of the
Buddha-word but the invention of Nagarjuna or Asvaghosa. But those believing this should know that even
if the Mahayana teachings were revealed by these sages, there is still good
reason to have faith in them. The Buddha has many bodies, one of which is
called the "Nisyandakaya" (from Chinese we
get the meaning, "Equal throughout"). This body is an impartial outflowing; a flowing everywhere of the preaching Buddha,
even into the heavens and descending to hells. The Buddha, creating human
appearances, causes them to do whatever he wishes, and so is unlimited by
conditioned circumstances and has appeared in other realms; for example, in the
world of dragons (Nagaloka).
recorded that at first, Nagarjuna, who was very
intelligent but proud, wanted to establish his own religion as he was not
satisfied with the Hinayana teachings of the Buddha.
It was his conceit which caused him to think of establishing a religion
superior to Buddhadharma.
Naga-king invited him to come to his palace and read the extensive teaching
left there by the Buddha. Nagarjuna read the Avatamsaka Sutra and by this was converted to the Mahayana.
This great sutra he brought back with him to the human world.
If all the
sutras of the
were composed without the grace of the Buddha, why then did Nagarjuna not establish his own religion as he first intended?
Not only have
the great teachers of the past discovered the Buddha's Teachings, I myself was
asked by a divine voice during my meditation, "You should repeat the Sutra
of the Dragon-king Buddha." This discourse I had never seen separately
printed and had not taken any care to study, although I had read the Tripitaka four times. I took out this sutra and studied it,
finding therein many excellent doctrines and holy instructions. In this work,
the Venerable Sariputra, the first in wisdom among
the disciples and present at the deep teachings of sunyata in the Heart Sutra, followed the Buddha to his preaching in the naga palace. Listening, he realized that he had never heard
such an excellent discourse in the human world. Then he asked the Buddha why he
had not preached this highest truth among human beings. The Buddha then warned
him not to look down upon or dislike the state of dragons. He said that there
were many Bodhisattvas, bhiksus, and upasakas there who, through the commission of a little
evil, fell into this watery realm. The nagas being to
some extent prepared, the Buddha was able to leave with them many more
doctrines than could be taught in the world of men.
we should not forget that the Buddha foretold the coming of Nagarjuna in the Lankavatara Sutra, saying that after eight
hundred years have passed, such a sage will arise. The Buddha sent him so that
he might cause the Dharma to flourish. It is also written in Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra that Nagarjuna was a Buddha in the past named
"Buddha of Mysterious Clouds." Asvaghosa was once a Buddha as well, and in a past aeon bore
the name of "Great Light."
ii. As the
followers of Hinayana may doubt that Nagarjuna himself wrote these scriptures, therefore we
cannot give these teachings as proof that he did not do so. Now, Buddhism is
simply a religion of Truth and certainly not one of blind faith and
superstition. The Buddhist is always encouraged by his teacher to find out
where the highest truth has been taught most clearly; he may compare the Hinayana and Mahayana teachings and a thorough examination
may determine that he prefers the latter to the former, thinking that in the
latter the truth preached is complete, whereas the truths of the former are not
ultimate. It is the exoteric Buddhist tradition to believe the truth but not
who said it: truth (but not the person) is the most important. Supposing Nagarjuna had established a religion with a teaching going
further than the Buddha's preaching in the Hinayana,
then we should believe Nagarjuna and not Buddha,
since the former would then have taught a more complete truth.
In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, a list of Four Reliances are given: First, our faith relies on truth and not on persons; second, we
believe in the truth itself but not in letters and words of scriptures; third,
we believe in the ultimate but not in the incomplete truth; and finally, we lay
stress on wisdom (prajna) and not on mere
should prove for themselves that the Mahayana canonical discourses are
Buddha-word by making a thorough and unbiased comparison.
iii. In the
Mahayana, it is never said that Hinayana is not
Buddha-word. It is said that the Buddha preached the Lesser as foundation for the Great Vehicle, and this despite the fact that the
Mahayana is already so complete. The latter does not at all mind admitting and
indeed respecting the Hinayana, so why in their turn
should the Theravadins be so narrow in their outlook?
iv. If the
four Agamas are carefully read, then in some places we do find references to
Bodhisattvas, the three yanas (of disciples, solitary Buddhas, and Fully Enlightened Ones), past Buddhas, and other subjects often thought of as treated
only by the Mahayana. The Agamas are not only the teaching of the Sravakas, though principally concerned with them.
well-known invocation to the Buddha Sakyamuni widely
used in Theravada lands (in Pali: Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa),
there are significant meanings to the three epithets of the Buddha. The first
is Bhagavat (the Excellent One among men): this title
belongs to the position of cause, representing the human body appearing among
mankind but exalted above them. Second is Arhat (the
Worthy One): this is in the position of course, since the Buddha practiced as
an arhat and bhiksu himself, by his own life showing the way to enlightenment. The third is samyaksambuddha (the Fully Enlightened One): this is the
aim of the Bodhisattva, which is in the position of consequence.
teachings of the Agamas do not mention clearly the six paramitas,
still the elements can be discovered. For instance, in the Dharmapada,
a Hinayana work, are found the following verses on
world it is good to serve mother
And good to
serve father as well,
Good it is to
serve the monks
good to give to the Noble Ones."
the miserly fare not to heaven worlds
Nor indeed do
fools praise liberality,
But the wise
man rejoices in giving
And by such
acts alone, he becomes happy hereafter."
importance is also given to sila as may be seen from
the many stanzas on this subject in the Dharmapada:
to do good, restrain your mind from evil.
slow to do good, his mind delights in evil."
none find out the faults of others
Nor what is
done or left undone by them.
should only see
What is done
and not done by oneself."
speak harshly to anyone,
spoken to thus will retort.
speech is hurtful;
in this world
Takes what is
addicted to taking strong drinks—
Such a man
digs up his own root (of goodness) in this very world."
wise are controlled in body,
speech are they,
controlled in mind (as well).
are well controlled in every way."
is also praised in this book:
like a broken gong, you utter nothing,
Then you have
reached Nirvana, for anger is unknown to you."
and patience are the highest penance,
supreme,' proclaim the Buddhas,
others bodily, one is not a monk.
One is not a
recluse oppressing others."
three paramitas (virya,
energy; dhyana, meditation; and prajna,
wisdom) are to be found mentioned often in Hinayana texts as desirable spiritual qualities, if not as perfections. Though we may
trace these qualities going by the same names in both yanas,
yet there is a difference in their underlying philosophy.
qualities are not paramitas since they lack the
teaching of nonegoism (of both persons and dharmas). The Hinayana philosophy
of an atomic theory of indivisible particles and the idea of similarly
indivisible instants of time in which "minds" arise, abide, and
decline, make this teaching incomplete. Why should these little ideas of
permanence be clung to?
(Mr. Chen here refers
particularly to the Sarvastivada Abhidharma theories of matter and time with which Theravada Abhidharma has something in common.)
Buddha first preached to those of undeveloped faith and therefore encouraged
his hearers to prove his doctrines of sunyata by
analysis until there remained only particles regarded as unbreakable. Only
later was he able to teach the full voidness teachings to those who could understand them in their own nature and without
recourse to analysis.
In his lifetime
among men, comparatively long though it was, the Buddha could not complete the
preaching of the Dharma. It was necessary for others, by the power of the Tathagata, to reveal to the world the more advanced
teachings when the time was ripe. Such teachers were, for instance, Asvaghosa, Nagarjuna, and all the
other great sages upon whom he has in the past and may in the future bestow his
Dharma as he wishes.
poor in Enlightenment, I myself have received many doctrines bestowed by the Dharmakaya in the holy light of meditation. Among all of my
Dharma-treasures seen in the holy light, there were only a few mudras (sacred hand gestures) that have been proved by my
Chinese guru. He imparted to me some mudras from the
Japanese Tantra by correspondence after I had seen
them among my Dharma-treasures in the holy light and most of them have never
yet been proved by my gums from
as some had died while others were not with me in my hermitage. These mudras were not uncaused, nor were they made by myself, If
I should claim they were self-made or made by me, it would be a great lie
against the Dharma, for all of them are treasures from the Buddha's grace. A
lie of such magnitude should bear the punishment of falling into the hells.
Mr. Chen assured us:
I never tell
a lie about Dharma, and if indeed my statements about the Dharma revealed to me
in meditation are such, may I at once fall into hell!
history, only 450 years passed between the Buddha's Parinirvana and the birth of Asvaghosa. In the meanwhile, Manjusri, who had so often heard the Lord preach, remained
purposely on this earth so that the works of Asvaghosa were undoubtedly blessed by the inspiration of this Bodhisattva's presence and
by the Dharmakaya. The knowledge of an intelligent
Brahmin was turned towards the Buddha's teachings and, blessed in this way, he
wrote the Mahayana-sraddhotpada Sastra.
The Buddha indeed intended this for the development of the Mahayana.
great Councils of the Hinayana (according to Sarvastivada tradition) at Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kusumapura, and Kubha (or Kasmir), we do believe
to be true. In the Mahayana also there have been councils held by Manjusri. It is recorded in the last chapter of the Prajna-paramita Sastra that he
was commanded by the Buddha shortly before his Parinirvana to collect together all the Mahayana teachings. For the faithful there can be
no doubt about this as this sastra was written by the
famous teacher Nagarjuna himself would be dare to
tell a lie? To convince the sceptical is more
difficult, as they may point out that this work was composed by a champion of
Mahayanists have sometimes said that the Vajrayana is
not the Word of the Buddha. They have been called "heretics," or "outsiders,"
like followers of Brahmanism. Such statements are the work of the ignorant.
Unfortunately, very few understood well the old Vajrayana tradition in
since knowledge of it was confined to a few only—to the Emperor and his
court—and did not influence society in general. The three sages from
taught it in the Tang dynasty, Vajrabodhi, Amoghavajra, and Subhakarasinha,
knew the Vajrayana very well, but as it was
restricted to a few people, the unlearned say that it is not Buddhism: they do
not know properly. This must be emphasized because we want to make very clear
the whole and complete system of the yanas,
The Sutras on
which the old Chinese Vajrayana school was based
(which is the foundation for the present Shingon-shu in
), are also
translated into Tibetan, so Chinese Mahayanists should not think that they were
Why do they not read the Chinese Tripitaka? There are
good translations of both the Vajrasekhara and Mahavairocana Sutras, the canonical bases of the Vajrayana of China and
. If Mahayanists suspect the
authenticity of the Vajrayana, why do they not read
. The Japanese Tantra versus the Tibetan Anuttarayoga
writers on Shingon have said that the highest yoga of
the Tibetan Tantras is not the Buddha's teaching. It
has also been said that Padmasambhava was not a true
Buddhist but rather a follower of Brahmanism! (Even some Gelugpas of great learning have said this.)
authorities have rebuked the fourth yoga because of its secret Third Initiation
yogic practices, saying that these are very bad, immoral, and so forth. They
also hold that the fourth yoga is included in the third (the Yoga-tantra, with its teachings of Vajradhatu and Garbhadhatu), and that this third yoga is not
But on both counts they are not correct: firstly, the subjects dealt with in Anuttarayoga are only touched upon in the third tantra-group; secondly, Tsong-khapa in his sNgag-rim deals fully with the Yoga-tantra teaching, though admittedly it is not as stressed as
The fourth yoga was not, they must recognize, taken to
there by the three tantrika sages. Kumarajiva, the great translator, certainly knew
these most secret teachings and practiced them but he did not teach them to
A story told
about this teacher runs like this: he was envied by some monks who practiced
exoteric Mahayana doctrines, since he carried out the Third Initiation with
many beautiful companions. Once he invited all these monks to tea. He arranged
a cup and a needle before each visitor and asked them to take the needles with
their tea. Nobody had the courage to do so, at which he collected all the
needles, swallowed them, and again sent them out from the pores of his skin by
his power attained through the Third Initiation. Afterward, no one dared speak
against him or to feel envy toward him.
Then Mr. Chen advised:
must practice the lower three parts of the Tantras and then the Tantra especially taught in
. I have
written a long essay on this subject, entitled "The Japanese Yogi for His
Advancement Should Learn Anuttarayoga." There I
have advised the Japanese tantrikas to study the Anuttarayoga with the first three yogas since the Tibetans' emphasis on the fourth tends to lead to a neglect of these
ago, a famous Chinese monk, Da Yong, took ten of his
thus exemplifying the way. At first he studied and practiced in
the three yogas taught in Shingon.
Not feeling satisfied with the results of this meditation, he then went to
learned the Anuttarayoga. His knowledge in the Tantras complete, he was able to help many monks and lay people
understand the Vajrayana.
Only when one
has studied everything one may criticize, but not before.
they surely all believe in the three yanas but there
is a little conflict from differences in doctrine between the New Sect (Gelugpa) formed upon the teachings of Tsong-khapa,
and the Old Sects (Nyingmapa, Kargyupa, Sakyapa, etc.). We should examine these conflicting
points and see whether or not they can be "harmonized."
Tsong-khapa does admit
that the Great Perfection of the Nyingmapa or any
other Mahamudra realization cannot be attained unless
one has first practiced the third initiation which empowers one to meditate
using the divine yogic union. He did not want to separate these and said one
may only attain the fourth initiation (for instance, Mahamudra)
after practicing the third. The Nyingmapas, however,
teach two ways: one of liberation and the other of vajra-love
practice. Both, claim the teachers of the Red Sect, can lead their
practitioners to Full Enlightenment in this life.
Another point controverted by Tsong-khapa related to the teaching of a Chan Master named "Mahayana Monk", who,
hundreds of years before, had taught in
. During his stay great
numbers of tantrikas followed him, causing some
Tibetan and Indian monks' concern. They therefore invited the Indian pandit-bhiksu Kamalasila to come
and debate with the Chan teacher. This resulted in the Council of Lhasa, after
which, due to the king's instructions, Mahayana Monk had to flee, leaving only
one shoe behind in
that Chan emphasizes nondiscrimination; indeed, it teaches that if one clings
to discrimination there is no possibility of enlightenment. He brought
quotations from a hundred sutras and sastras to
support his assertion.
Tsong-khapa on this
point reasons: if there is no discrimination, how can one investigate the
truth? Without investigation, how will there be any practice of samapatti?
highest truth there is no discrimination; all is ultimately sunyata.
However, the great Geshe's mistake was to regard Chan
as a yana of cause, which it
is not, being truly a vehicle of consequence. I have written "An Essay on Tsong-khapa's Lam-rim," in which both sides are
Further, the Chan
Master said, "If one meets an Enlightened Master, then immediately one
realizes Chan (which belongs to the final Truth and not to immature samapatti).'' Tsong-khapa said,
though, that this applies only to sages and not to neophytes. The Chan, however
of one who has attained in this way is just like that of a sage and never again
resembles the neophyte's samapatti. If it is admitted
that theirs is the same Chan as that of sages, then one should agree that the
nondiscrimination of the Chan practitioners is quite right. Chan has never used
a common meditative way such as samatha or samapatti. If it did, then discriminations to investigate
the truth would certainly be necessary, as Tsong-khapa emphasized.
I have often
had the thought that if Tsong-khapa was an emanation
(nirmanakaya) of Manjusri,
why did he emphasize something different from the Old Sect? Once I was in Lu Huo, Xi Kang hermitage and in my meditative light I saw
upon my head the light body of Manjusri, which was
transmuted into the light body of Tsong-khapa. Since
then, I do believe that he is the emanation of that Bodhisattva. Then I tried
to find out what were his reasons for refuting the views of the Old Sect.
In Tsong-khapa's time, the conditions were bad among the old
schools, with married teachers living a life of eating and drinking, having
married just for pleasure (as contrasted with taking a dakini for Tantric practice); bhiksus, too, were not
adhering to their rules. Evil men, saying that they were Tantric teachers, took
advantage of the Doctrine for worldly gain and pleasure. Tsong-khapa was determined to change the situation. Without him, to whom we should all be
very, very grateful, there would be no Buddhadharma in
He emphasized practice, just as the old schools had, but also urged that the
preparations necessary for it were numerous and take long to perform. He taught
that one should complete these before actual practice, so that one is truly
ready. In this way, he taught the importance of first acquiring merits, and
laid less emphasis on wisdom, which was stressed in the older schools.
Tsong-khapa also said
that the difference between an Arhat and a Buddha is
that the Buddha has more merits than the Arhat, who
is also deficient in sunyata realization. As to sunyata itself, he taught that it is the same in Hinayana and Mahayana.
should not directly practice Mahamudra. First collect
merits, and after that practice the first, second, and third yogas, coming finally to the fourth. Tsong-khapa shows so clearly in his teachings, as in his Stages of the Path, that we should
go step by step, each level the foundation for the one following. Without this
teaching, it is doubtful whether there would now be any Buddhism now in
; so we must
again express our gratitude.
However, I do
not agree with him that Hinayana and Mahayana teachings
on sunyata are the same. In the two yanas, the purport of sunyata is
the same but its power to penetrate good and evil differs. The sunyata of the Hinayana is like a
shallow river upon which only small boats can sail; but rivers lead down to the
sea, which is like the voidness taught in the
Mahayana. It may be compared to a great ocean upon which even the largest
vessels may float without obstruction.
conflicts are settled by our practice of the Three-ways-in-one system of meditation
outlined here. Before we finish this section, one more nonsensical dispute
should be mentioned.
have been many schools, and each one has tried to make a division of the
Buddha's teaching to account for the numerous and apparently diverse methods
found within it. In southern
three schools tried to do this, and in the north were seven; all these arose
before Tian Tai. Only one monk, Fa Min of the Tang dynasty, made a division into two: the exoteric or Nirmanakaya teachings; and the esoteric, originating from
the Sambhogakaya. In general, however, nobody heeded
the Vajrayana and, instead of incorporating it, left
it to form a separate sect. All the teachers made their divisions with only one
object: to raise it above the other schools. This, we can say, is just
sectarianism. Thus, we find each school proclaiming one or two scriptures as
the highest teaching of the Buddha: the Tian Tai say
it is the Lotus Sutra, but the Hua Yan claim it is the Avatamsaka, and so
We can settle
all these disputes in a very nice way by our practice of the Three-in-one.
of the Buddha's Doctrine
reason why we should propound the system of Three-ways-in-one is that we
emphasize to the utmost the development of the Buddha's doctrine itself. If we
wish to make any division of teachings, it should be according to known
historical facts—an objective division, not a subjective one based on our own
preference of school. We should not follow ideas such as those of the Hua Yan, who say that only a day or two after the Sambodhi of Gautama, he preached the Avatamsaka Sutra and then, since no one understood, gave a "beginner's" course
in the Agama Sutras. Who can prove this? Does not this classification rather glorify
the school which made it? We should not like to do this.
first preached to the five bhiksus in the
This is according to all historical accounts, which state that the Sutra called
"The Turning of the Wheel of the Law" (Dharmachakra pravartana) was the first taught by the Buddha.
Buddha's parinirvana, history again definitely
records that 450 years passed before Bhadanta Asvaghosa revealed and established the Mahayana.
when the Mahayana was flourishing, the Siddha Nagarjuna obtained the Vajrayana teachings from the Iron Pagoda in South India, according to the Chinese and
Japanese tradition (see also App. I, Part Two, B, 1). However, the Tibetans say that the heavens opened and the Vajrayana scriptures then descended. Even among them we find the old and new, with the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) teachings admittedly the latest.
of teachings is shown in history and there is no good reason for us to turn
these matters to our own advantage, this way or that. Our classification should
only show the unity of the whole tradition, making it clear that the three yanas are aspects of the One Way. Certainly, as a believer
and practitioner of the Three-in-one, I believe the Buddha preached the Hinayana personally in his Nirmanakaya;
the Vajrayana in his Sambhogakaya;
and some of the Mahayana personally while alive on earth, while other Mahayana
scriptures were derived from his Dharmakaya through
his outflowing bodies (Nisyandakaya)
as Asvaghosa and Nagarjuna.
Nature of the Teachings
point to emphasize here is the inherent nature of the various teachings.
knew well that people love worldly things; therefore, he first gave teachings
on such subjects as the four fundamental mindfulnesses,
the need for renunciation, the stress on morality, the fact that pain and
pleasure are inextricably bound together, the reason for this, and the Way out
of this tangle taught in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path.
All these factors were not merely taught by him, but lived and realized in his
life. Especially is this true of renunciation, of which he gave a wonderful
example to all by leading the life of a bhiksu.
renunciation is well-developed and one knows the pain associated with the
world, then only lacking are the aspiration to save others (bodhicitta)
and the thorough comprehension of sunyata. Hence,
establishment in the Mahayana is necessary.
must spend much time to help all sentient beings; and, though it is said in the
Bodhisattva precepts that wisdom-beings should meditate three times a day,
Bodhisattvas are mostly concerned with universal salvation.
the preaching of the third yana.
Regarding the most important principle of sunyata, in
the Hinayana it is not complete, and in the Mahayana
it is only realized psychologically; thus, the Vajrayana must be developed, where sunyata is understood in the
complete psychophysical sense.
We must have
such a sequence of teachings as this, and then we can receive Full
Sequence of Meditations
We are now
concerned with the third reason that supports our Dharma of Three-in-one. For
in meditation itself, we should follow the order of these vehicles and unite
within our realization all three of them.
meditate on the Truth of Duhkha, then will follow a
thorough renunciation. Some desire is conquered in this stage. However, of the
two inner obstacles, the veil of sorrows (klesavarana)
is destroyed, while the veil of knowledge (jneyavarana)
one should go on to practice the complementary Mahayana teachings of the paramitas and realization of sunyata with regard to both the person and events. After such practice, both inner and
outer obstacles are easily destroyed: the klesa-veil
and most of the jneyaveil are torn down.
Defilements—both jneya and klesa—are of two
kinds, acquired (already destroyed in Mahayana meditations) and innate, and the
latter are very hard to meditate away. While the former are psychical, the
latter pertain to the body, and it is very difficult to still the subtle
movements they cause in the mind with their ultra-fine energies. By the
Mahayana teachings it will indeed take a long time to do this; it is possible
however, by the methods of practice given in the Third Initiation of Anuttarayoga, to rid oneself completely of these very
subtle obstacles. This is done by the discovery of the innate wisdom, only
possible in the Vajrayana.
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[Related works: Why I Emphasize Three-Yanas-ln-One CW27:No.13