Wednesday, September 20, 2017
".., and scenes of death fill our eyes. Corpses pile up in mounds like observation platforms, and dead bodies lie side by side like planks on a bridge."
"All the while some put their whole faith in the “sharp sword” of the Buddha Amida and intone the name of this lord of the Western Land; others believe that hearing the name of the Buddha Medicine Master will “heal all ills” and recite the sutra that describes this Thus Come One of the Eastern Region. Some, putting their trust in the passage in the Lotus Sutra that says, “His illness will be wiped out and he will know neither old age nor death,” pay homage to the wonderful words of that sutra; others, relying upon the sutra passage that reads, “The seven disasterswill instantly vanish, and the seven blessings will instantlyappear,” conduct ceremonies at which a hundred priests expound the sutra at a hundred preaching platforms. There are those who follow the esoteric teachings of the True Word school and conduct rituals in which they fill five jars with water, and others who devote themselves entirely to seated meditation and try to perceive the emptiness of all phenomena as clearly as the moon. Some write out the names of the seven guardian spirits and paste them on a thousand gates, others paint pictures of the five mighty bodhisattvas and hang them over ten thousand thresholds, and still others pray to the heavenly gods and earthly deities in ceremonies conducted at the four corners of the capital and on the four boundaries of the nation. Taking pity on the plight of the common people, the rulers carry out government on the national and local levels in a benevolent manner.
But despite all these efforts, they merely exhaust themselves in vain. Famine and epidemics rage more fiercely than ever, beggars are everywhere in sight, and scenes of death fill our eyes. Corpses pile up in mounds like observation platforms, and dead bodies lie side by side like planks on a bridge.
If we look about, we find that the sun and moon continue to move in their accustomed orbits, and the five planets follow the proper course. The three treasures of Buddhism continue to exist, and the period of a p.7hundred reigns has not yet expired. Then why is it that the world has already fallen into decline and that the laws of the state have come to an end? What is wrong? What error has been committed?" -- Nichiren
In the SGI Quarterly, there is an article on a woman fighting to eradicate landmines in Africa. Many African landmines are manufactured by SGI's partner Mitsubishi. SGI's rhetoric and exhibitions of peace and preserving Article 9 at all costs ring hollow for supporting Shinzo Abe and partnering with Mitsubishi.
The SGI religion over a period of several years conferred great benefit upon living beings but when we exposed SGI's many lies, it began to collapse before our very eyes
All the professional photographs and videos of smiling SGI members in the world doesn't change the fact that SGI pseudo-Buddhism is not Nichiren's Lotus Sutra Buddhism.
"You may pile up dung and call it sandalwood, but when you burn it, it will give off only the odor of dung. You may pile up a lot of great lies and call them the teachings of the Buddha, but they will never be anything but a gateway to the great citadel of the hell of incessant suffering.
The stupa built by Nirgrantha Jnātaputra over a period of several years conferred great benefit upon living beings, but when Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha bowed to it, it suddenly collapsed. The Brahman Demon Eloquence taught from behind a curtain and for a number of years succeeded in fooling others, but Bodhisattva Ashvaghosha berated him and exposed his falsehoods. The non-Buddhist teacher Ulūka turned himself into a stone and remained in that form for eight hundred years, but when Bodhisattva Dignāga berated him, he turned into water. The Taoist priests for several hundred years deceived the people of China, but when they were rebuked by the Buddhist monks Kāshyapa Mātanga and Chu Fa-lan, they burned their own scriptures that purported to teach the way of the immortals." [Repaying Debts of Gratitude].
We refurbished the antique cherry wood Butsudan [my wife and me] yesterday. We bought the Butsudan for $600. Probably it is equal to the $2500 to $3000 three door butsudans being sold on the net. I thought it was ~ 135 lbs. More likely, according to the shipper, it weighed 250 pounds or more. One of the innermost doors was off its hinges and the front door's latch was unattached to the door. We attached the latch and with GREAT difficulty we attached the door to the interior housing. It actually seems as secure as the undamaged door. Amazed, even the roof of the Butsudan is decorated with Buddhist art. Nancy polished the Butsudan. There are almost no scratches.
I took out the Gohonzon which was unmoved for 4 years. I did not scroll it up. Incredibly, it felt like it weighed 5 pounds [but it is only paper with a soft wooden dowel]. The hook is way above what can be seen. One shot and it was enshrined perfectly without so much as a millimeter off. Strangely, the original dowel that seemed slightly crooked [off several degrees from the 90 degrees from the plane of the long body of the Gohonzon], now seemed at a perfect 90 degree angle.
I knew the Gohonzon was finally home. I shed a few tears and chanted for 45 minutes.
One may process their own copy of the Nichiren Gohonzon of their choice up to ~ 6' x ~ 4' feet for ~ $100. I will help you [depending on your faith]. Certainly, for ~ $50.00 one may create, buy, or have bestowed upon a copy of a Nichiren scroll Gohonzon up to ~ 2' x ~ 1' comparable to:
Such a Gohonzon puts to shame the one piece mass produced SGI Nichikan Gohonzon and you do not have to wait 15 years for a large Gohonzon. It all depends on the thinness or thickness of your faith.
It’s the standard Soka Gakkai/Taisekeji tactic to muddle, confuse and unbalance any logical criticism of their “reading between the lines” approach to Nichiren’s orthodox religion. And if that tactic isn’t working, they resort to character assassination. It amounts to “bullying” any and all opposition.
"Then, the World-honored One said to Kasyapa: " O good man!
The body of the Tathagata is one that is eternal, one that is
indestructible, and one that is not supported by
various kinds of food. It is Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-
honored One! We do not see such a body as you say. What we
see is one which is non-eternal, destructible, of dust, one
supported by various kinds of food. Why? Because you the
Tathagata are about to enter nirvana now". The Buddha said to
Kasyaps: "Do not say that the body of the Tathagata is not
strong, easy to break, and is one of the common mortal. O good
man! Know that the body of the Tathagata is as indestructible as
that which stands for innumerable billions of kalpas. It is no body
of man or heaven, none that fears, none that is supported by
various kinds of food. The body of the Tathagata is one that is no
body and yet a body. It is one not born and one that does not die
out. It is one that does not learn or practice. It is one innumerable
and boundless and one that does not leave behind footsteps. It
knows not and has no form to represent. It is one ultimately pure.
It shakes not. It receives not, nor does it do. It stays not, makes
not. It is tasteless and unmixed. It is an 'is' and yet is not one
created. It is no action, no fruition. It is none that is made, none
that dies. It is no mind; it is one not countable. It is the all-
wonderful, one eternal, and one not presumable. It is no
consciousness and is one apart from mind. And yet it does not
depart from mind. It is a mind that is all-equal. It is not 'is'; yet it is
one that 'is' There is no going and no coming; and it yet goes and
comes, It breaks not. It is one indestructible. It snaps not and
ceases not. It does not come out, nor does it die out. It is no
master and yet a master. It is not one that exists; nor is it that it
does not exist. It awakes not, nor does it see. It is no letter, and is
not no letter. It is no dhyana and is not no dhyana. It is not to be
seen and well to be seen. It is no place and is yet a place. It is no
abode and is yet an abode. It is not dark and not bright. There is
no quietness and yet there is quietness. It is non-úpossession,
non-receiving, and non--giving. It is pure and untainted. It is no
quarreling and is never to fight. It is a living and is no living. It is
no taking and no falling. It is no law and is not no law. It is no field
of weal and is not no field of weal. It is non-ending and does not
end. It is separating and is a total ending. It is void and is apart
from void. Though not eternal, it is not that it moment after
moment dies out. There is no defilement and muddling. There is
no letter and is apart from letter. It is no voice and no talking. It
is~no practicing and learning. It is no praising and no weighing. It
is not one and is not different. It has no form and characteristic.
All are grand adornment. It is not brave and is not afraid. It is no
quietness and is not quiet. It is heatless and is not hot. It is not to
be seen; there is no form to represent. The Tathagata succors all
beings. Not emancipating, he well emancipates beings.` There
being no emancipation, there is the awakening of the beings.
There being no enlightening, he truly delivers sermons. There
being no two, he is immeasurable and is incomparably equal.
Being as flat as space, there is no form to represent. Being equal
to the nature of beings, he is not the 'not-is'", nor is he the 'is'.*
He always practices the one vehicle. He sees the three of the
beings and does not retrogress, does not change, and cuts off all
roots of illusion. He does not fight or touch. He is non-nature and
yet abides in nature. He does not merge and does not disperse.
He is not long and not short. He is not round and not square. He
is no group, sphere, or realm, and yet he is the group, sphere,
and realm. He is non-augmenting and is not lessening. He is no
victor, and yet is not one vanquished. The body of the Tathagata
is perfect in such innumerable virtues. There is none that he
knows, none not known. There is none that is seen and none that
is not seen. It is not that there is any creating and not that there is
no creating. It is non-world and is not non-world. He does not do
and is not non-doing. He is none to depend upon and is not none
to depend upon. He is not the four great elements, nor is he no
four great elements. He is no cause and is not no cause. He is no
being and is not no being. He is no sramana, no Brahman. He is
the lion, the great lion. He is nobody and is not nobody. We
cannot express. Other than the oneness of the Law, no counting
is possible. At the time of Parinirvana, he does not enter
Parinirvana. The law body of the Tathagata is perfect in all such
innumerable wonderful virtues. O Kasyapa! Only the Tathagata
knows all such phases of existence. All are beyond what
sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas may know. O Kasyapa!
The body of the Tathagata is made up of all such virtues. It is no
body supported or nourished by various foodstuffs. O Kasyapa!
The virtue of the true body of the Tathagata is such. How could it
suffer from illnesses, the pain of illness, and insecurity. How
could it be as brittle as the unburnt earthen wares? O Kasyapa!
The reason why the Tathagata manifests illness and pain comes
all from his desire to subdue beings. O good man! Know now that
the Tathagata's body is one that is adamantine. From now on,
think exclusively of this signification. Never think of a body
supported by food. Also, to all beings, say that the body of the
Tathagata is a law body".
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored
One. The Tathagata is perfect in all such virtues. How could it be
that such a body suffers from illness and pain, impermanence,
and destruction? From now on, I shall regard the Tathagata's
body as of the eternal law body and the body of peace, Also, to
all others, I shall speak of as such. Yes, indeed, the Tathagata's
law body is adamantine and indestructible. And, yet, I do not
know how it could come out to be thus". The Buddha said to
"By the right upholding of the Right Law, one obtains this
adamantine body O Kasyapa! As I have in the past well guarded
the Law, I now am blessed with perfecting this adamantine body
which is eternal and indestructible. O good man! One who
upholds the Right Law does not receive the five precepts and
practice deportment, but protects with the sword, bow, arrow, and
halberd those Bhikshus who uphold the precept and who are
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored One!
If a bhiksu is away from protection, lives alone in the open, in the
graveyard, or under a tree, I say that such a one is a true bhiksu.
Any bhiksu whose eyes turn to protection is, we may know, a
bogus priest". The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say 'bogus'.
There may be a bhiksu who goes where he will, gets satisfied
with his personal needs, recites sutras, sits, and meditates.
Should any person come and ask of the Way, he will give
sermons. He will speak about giving, of, precept bserving,
virtuous acts, and say that one should covet but little, and get
satisfied. But he is not able to raise a lion's cry over the doctrine,
is not surrounded by lions, and is not able to subdue those who
act evil. Such a bhiksu cannot work out the profit of his own, nor
is he able to assist others. Know that this person is indolent and
lazy. Though he may well uphold the precept and stick to pure
actions, such a one, you should know, can do nothing. Or there
may be a bhiksu whose utensils may be full. And he upholds the
prohibitive precepts, and always raises a lion's cry, and delivers
wonderful sermons on such as sutra,* geya,* vyakarana,* gatha,*
udana," itivrttaka," jataka,* vaipulya," and adbhutadharma.* He
thus expounds all these nine types of Buddhist sutras.* He gives
benefit and peace to others. So, he says:'Prohibitions are given in
the nirvana-sutra to Bhikshus, which say that they should not
keep menials, cows, sheep, or anything that goes against
prohibitions. Should Bhikshus keep such defiled things, they must
be taught not to. The Tathagata has stated in the sutras of
various schools that any bhiksu who keeps things as such must
be mended just as kings correct ill acts and that they must be
driven back to secular life'. When a bhiksu raises such a lion's
cry, any who breaks the precept, hearing this, will all get angry
and harm this priest. If this person dies by this, he is to be called
one who upholds the precept and who benefits his own self and those
of others. Because of this, kings, ministers, prime ministers, and
upasakas protect those who deliver sermons. Any person who
protects the Right Law should learn things thus. O Kasyapa! Any
person who thus breaks the precept and who does not protect the
Right Law is to be called a bogus priest. One who is strict to rules
does not get such a name. O good man! In the past, in the
innumerable, boundless, asamkhyas of kalpas past, there came
out in this town of Kusinagara a Buddha who was the Alms-
deserving, the All-enlightened One, the All-accomplished One,
the Well-gone, the All-knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best
Trainer, the Teacher-of-Heaven-and-Earth, the Buddha-World-
honored One, l and whose name was 'Tathagata of Joy- and-
Benefit-augmenting'. At the time, the world was wide and
gloriously pure, rich and peaceful. The people were at the height
of prosperity and no hunger was felt. He looked like the
bodhisattvas of the Land of Peace and Happiness. That Buddha-
World-honored One stayed in the world for an innumerable length
of time. Having taught the people, he entered Parinirvana
between the twin Sala trees. The Buddha having entered nirvana,
the teaching remains in the world for innumerable billions of years
and in the last part of the remaining forty years the Buddhist
teaching was not dead yet. At the time, there was a bhiksu called
'Enlightened-Virtuous',who well upheld the precept and who was
surrounded by many relatives of his. He raised a lion's cry and
preached all the nine types of the sutras. He taught and said:
'Keep no menials man or woman, cows, sheep or whatever might
go against the precept'. At the time, there were many Bhikshus
who were acting against the precept. Hearing this, they
entertained ill-will and came upon this bhiksu, blandishing swords
and staffs. At the time, there was a king called 'Virtuous'. He
heard of this. To protect the Law, he came to where the bhiksu
was delivering sermons and fought against the evil doers so that
the bhiksu did not suffer. The king, however, received wounds all
over the body. Then, the bhiksu Enlightened-Virtuous, praising
the king, said: 'Well done, well done, O king! You are the one
who protects the Right Law. In the days to come, you will become
the unsurpassed utensil of the Law'. The king listened to the
sermon and was rejoiced. Then, he died, and was born in the
country of the Buddha Aksobhya* and became his first disciple.
The subjects of this king, the relatives and soldiers were all glad
and did not retrogress in the bodhimind. When the day came to
part from the world, they were born in the land of Buddha
Aksobhya. At the time when the Right Law is to die out, one
should act and protect the Law like this. O Kasyapa! The king at
the time was I; the bhiksu who delivered the sermon was Buddha
Kasyapa.* O Kasyapa! One who guards the Right Law is
rewarded with such an innumerable fruition. That is why I today
adorn my body in various ways and am accomplished in the
indestructible law body"
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said again to the Buddha: 'World-
honored One! The eternal body of the Tathagata is, as it were,
one carved in stone". The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "O good
man! Because of this, Bhikshus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas
should all the more make effort and protect the Right Law. The
reward of protecting the Right Law is extremely great and
innumerable. O good man! Because of this, those upasakas who
protect the Law should take the sword and staff and protect such
a bhiksu who guards the Law. Even if one upholds the precept,
we cannot call this person one who upholds Mahayana. Even if
one has not received the five precepts, if one protects the Right
Law, such a one can well be called one of Mahayana. One who
upholds the Right Law should take the sword and staff and guard
Bhikshus''. Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored One!
If all Bhikshus are to be accompanied by such upasakas with the
sword and staff, can we say that they are worth the name of a
teacher, or is it that it is not worth such? Or is it the upholding of
the precept or not?" The Buddha said to Kasyapa: "Do not say
that such persons are those who break the precept. O good man!
After I have entered nirvana, the world will be evil-ridden and the
land devastated, each pillaging the other, and the people will be
driven by hunger. At suck a time, because of hunger, men may
make up their mind, abandon home, and enter the Sangha. Such
persons are the bogus priests.
Such, seeing those persons who are strict to the precepts, right in
deportment, and pure in action, upholding the Right Law, drive
such away or kill or cause harm". Bodhisattva Kasyapa said
again to the Buddha: "O World-honored One! How can all such
persons upholding the precept and guarding the Right Law get
into villages and castle towns and teach?" "O good man! That is
why I permit that those who uphold the precept can be
accompanied by the white-clad people with the sword and staff.
Although all kings, ministers, rich lay men, and upasakas may
possess the sword and staff for protecting the law, I call this an
upholding of the precept. You may possess the sword and staff,
but do not take life. If things go thus, we call it the first-hand
upholding of the precept". Kasyapa said: "Any who protects the
Law abides in the right view and expounds widely the Mahayana
sutras. He does not carry the bejewelled parasols of the kingly
persons, the oil pot, the unpolished rice, and the fruit and melon.
He does not come near the king, minister, or the rich for profit. He
does not flatter to the danapatis, and is perfect in deportment,
and crushes out those who break the precept and who do evil.
Such a one is the so-called teacher who upholds and protects the
Law. He is the true good teacher of the Way. His mind is as wide
as the sea". "O Kasyapa! Should there be a bhiksu who, for
profit, speaks to others about the Law, the people and the
relatives of this person also follow the example and greedily seek
profit. This person thus spoils people. O Kasyapa! In people,
there are three kinds, which are: 1) precept-breaking impure
priest, 2) ignorant priest, and 3) pure priest. The precept-breaking
mixed-up priest is easy to break, whereas the precept-observing'
priest cannot be broken just by profit.
"Why is one a precept-breaking mixed-up priest?" A bhiksu may
be upholding the precept. But for profit, he sits, stands up, goes
and comes with the precept-breaking people and is in friendly
terms with them and does things together. This is the precept-
breaking, Hence, 'mixed-up'
"Why do we say that a priest is ignorant? A bhiksu may be living
in a quiet place. All sense-organs are not proper; the mind is dark
and slow at working, He desires little and begs alms. On the day
of admonition and freedom, he cannot teach all people the pure
confession; seeing many people breaking the precepts, he
cannot teach them the pure confession. Yet, he sits together with
others, talks about the precept, and seeks to be free. Such a one
is an ignorant priest.
"Who is the pure priest? There is a bhiksu, a priest whom a
hundred thousand billions of Maras cannot break. Now, this
bodhisattva is pure in nature and can train the two kinds of priests
stated above and make them live among those who are pure. He
is the unsurpassed great teacher who well protects the Law, the
one who well upholds the precept. He knows well the light or
grave of precept-upholding and adjusts and benefits people. He
does not know what is not the precept-upholding; what he knows
is what concerns the precept.
"How does he do to adjust beings? For example, the
bodhisattva, in order to adjust people, always gets into the village
any time, and visits the places where widows and prostitutes live.
He lives there for long years. This is what sravakas cannot do.
This is what is to be called to adjust and benefit beings.
"How does he know what is grave? Now, if one sees that the
Tathagata admonishes and prohibits, one should not do it
thereafter. The things like the four grave offences are what the
priests must not do. Against this, if purposely done, this tells that
such a one who does is no more any priest, no son of the Sakya.
This is the 'grave'
"What is the 'light'? One acts against light ill deeds and thrice
one gets admonished. Then, one stops doing it again. This is the
'light' We say 'non-vinaya which is not proved'. One praises and
says that one may receive and take impure things, and says that
one accords with the word, and one does not stop doing.
"We say 'right vinaya which is rightly responded'. This is rightly
to. learn the vinaya, not to come near what goes against breaking
the vinaya and spiritually to share pleasure. Thus, one sees that
one accords with the vinaya. Thus, one well understands what
one ought to do as a Buddhist and one well expounds. This is
what the vinaya says that one well' understands the one letter.
The same goes well with upholding the sutra. O good man! The
Buddhist Law is innumerable and hard to fathom. The same is
also the case with the Tathagata. He is beyond knowing".
Bodhisattva Kasyapa said to the Buddha: "O World-honored One!
It is thus, it is thus. It is as you the holy one say. Unbounded and
incomprehensible is the Buddhist Law. So is also the case with
the Tathagata. All stands beyond comprehension; so is also the
Tathagata. Thus, I know now that the Tathagata is eternal and
indestructible and that there is no changing with him. I shall now
study well and expound it widely to people"
Then, the Buddha praised Bodisattvas Kasyapa and said:
"Well said, well said ! The body of the Tathagata is adamantine
and indestructible. You, bodhisattva, have now the right view and
right understanding. If you thus clearly see, you will see the
adamantine and indestructible body of the Tathagata just as you
see things reflected in a mirror" -- Nirvana Sutra
"In the joint message by HSD [High School Division] leaders Yin Chung Keong and Anna Kang Pei Huon, they encouraged HSD members to study hard and make true friends.
It's apparently a problem all over, in other words, because for all their talky-talk, there's no genuine friendship within SGI:
Based on 20 years in the SGI cult and wasted years of time in the magic chant to the SGI no-honzon scroll, I can say that I never was able to make any real long term genuine friendships in that time and after leaving the cult. SGI members never wanted to meet up to do fun stuff like go sailing or play sports. In contrast, I have much better time meeting real life friendships in business and social groups that have zero religious spiritual basis. People in sailing clubs are more down to earth and fun to be with.
That's for sure. I noted the same thing. When I joined in 1987, there were so many activities that we were always together, but only in the context of meetings, practices, and other organizational activities. It was uncommon to do anything else, like even just seeing a movie. All normal social stuff was pushed way back in order to accommodate the SGI cult's incessant demands on our time.
SGI is like a workplace. People who work at the same place become "friends" because they're at the same place for long periods of time together and it's more pleasant and productive to be friendly. But when they get together, say for lunch, they all talk about the workplace - the politics, their coworkers, projects, etc. - because that's what they have in common. If one leaves for a different workplace, they may still get together for lunch once or twice with their former coworker friends, but they quickly find they have little to talk about except the old workplace. Their former coworkers can't talk about the new workplace, so getting together with them is always looking backward. They'll soon be replaced by NEW work friends from the new office.
It's the same with SGI. What passes for "friendship" in SGI is showing up for the same meetings and maybe chatting a little bit afterward or having a potluck after a meeting. It's calling each other to coordinate plans for a meeting. It's just like a "work friendship" - that's the only thing you have in common.
So if you quit, even if you just move away, there's nothing left to base a friendship in. I was surprised and hurt when I left where I started practicing - I'd been a YWD HQ leader and had felt I had close relationships with all the active YWD there - and no one wanted to keep in touch. One stayed in touch because she was trying to get me to pay her for "rolfing" (nope), and another got very nasty when it became clear that I now wanted a mutually supportive relationship instead of just petting and patting her like her own personal cheering section. When I brought up something I was interested in, she replied with, "Nobody wants to talk about that." It was just her and me; obviously I did! Yay SGI O_O
People in SGI have only SGI in common, nothing else. That, more than anything, demonstrates why a person who leaves should not expect to remain in contact with SGI people - once someone leaves, they no longer have anything in common, and it's what you have in common that forms the basis for a friendship." -- Blanche Fromage
THE EIGHT-FOLD TEACHINGS
The great teacher T'ien T'ai of China (538-597) was able to penetrate Shakyamuni's full intention in the sutras. Accordingly, T'ien T'ai divided the sutras into categories on the basis of content. These categories are the Eight-Fold Teachings and the Five Periods, and he used the Three Analogies to elucidate them.
The Eight-Fold Teachings are divided into:
1) the Doctrines of Conversion (including Hinayana, Shared, Distinct, and Perfect Teachings), and
2) the Methods of Conversion (consisting of Sudden, Gradual, Secret, and Variable teachings).
If we compare a sutra to medicine, then Doctrines of Conversion list the contents, while Methods of Conversion explain how to use the medicine. .
Sudden Teachings are doctrines that a Buddha expounds in a direct, undiluted manner. Directly after his enlightenment, without first assessing who would or would not understand these teachings, Shakyamuni preached the Flower Ornament (Kegon) Sutra as a Sudden Teaching to gauge his audience's capacity. He expounded major aspects of the truth, and accomplished Bodhisattvas might have had the capacity to recognize that truth and gain immediate entry into a form of enlightenment.
For those unable to comprehend the above-mentioned truth immediately, Shakyamuni employed the Gradual Teachings to prepare them slowly for higher teachings.
Hearing a Secret Variable or Clear Variable Teaching, each person in an audience learns something according to their capacity. In the case of Secret Variable Teachings, the term "secret" is used because one cannot know what the audience has grasped; "secret" does not indicate that teachings are "hidden". When C!ear Variable Teachings are expounded, each listener can be sure that a Hinayana practitioner will comprehend the teachings from a Hinayana perspective and that a Mahayana practitioner will grasp them from a Mahayana point of view.
THE FIVE PERIODS AND THREE ANALOGIES
After establishing the Eight-Fold Teachings to categorize Shakyamuni's teachings, T'ien T'ai grouped them into Five Periods based on the time in which the Buddha expounded particular doctrines, which in turn were based on the listeners' capacity, growth, and development. To compare and contrast the Five Periods, he used the Three Analogies:
1) the Three Illuminations, which show how various positions of the sun from dawn to noon relate to Shakyamuni's teachings;
2) the Parable (in the Lotus Sutra) of the rich man and his poor errant son, who after many years away from home accidentally comes to his father's house but fails to recognize his father and his home;
3) the Five Flavours: milk, cream, curdled milk, butter, and ghee, which characterize the progression of Shakyamuni's teachings.
I. In the first sutra he preached, the Flower Ornament (Kegon) Sutra, Shakyamuni employs the Sudden method of teaching, since it reveals major elements of truth suddenly" without prior groundwork for the listeners. The Buddha can then gauge the audience's level of understanding. All people are taught indiscriminately.
This sutra represents dawn (First Illumination), when the sun's rays first pierce the night, illuminating the highest regions of a mountain. As the sun's first rays can only reach the mountaintop, the Kegon Sutra could only be grasped by Bodhisattvas of the highest level, those "regally attired" who were offered immediate entry to a form of Buddhahood. In the Parable from the LotusSutra, the rich man (Shakyamuni), wanting to welcome his son (the people) into his estate (enlightenment), sends one of his officials to do so. However, the son, intimidated by such an opulent environment, declines this invitation. As the first of the Five Flavours, the Sudden (Kegon) Teaching is likened to milk, which in its raw state is a pure, nourishing substance containing all essential ingredients for growth (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water). While it is sometimes called the perfect food, ironically, many cannot digest raw milk.
II. After 21 days of preaching the Flower Ornament Sutra, Shakyamuni saw that some could not grasp its truth. Travelling to "Deer Park", he preached the Agama Sutras. During this 12 year period of preaching, known as the Period of Deer Park Hinayana doctrine, including gradual, secret, and variable methods, was taught. The Agamas contain such teachings as the Four Noble Truths and The Twelve Links of Causation, which were aimed at those of the two vehicles (learning and realization).
In the Second Illumination, the sun's rays now reach down into the depths of the valley. In the Parable from the Lotus Sutra, the rich man again tries to invite his son into his estate by sending a humbly dressed worker as messenger, rather than a court official. The second flavour of this teaching is cream, which is more palatable and acceptable to a wide range of people than milk. Those of Learning and Realization might attain a form of enlightenment through these sutras, but since the teaching is Hinayana, they could only reach the level of Arhat, gaining entry for themselves alone.
III. In the 16 year Period of Expansion (Hoto), Hinayana, Shared, Distinct, and Perfect doctrines were widely taught. Shakyamuni used gradual, secret, and variable methods. Admonishing Hinayana practitioners for maintaining a selfish practice, he emphasized a Mahayana concept of Ku to raise listeners' awareness beyond the realm of Hinayana; this gave rise to many sects, such as Hosso, Jodo, Zen, and Shingon.
In the first part of the Third Illumination, the sun is now higher in the sky; its rays have begun to illuminate the open fields, indicating an emergent proliferation of Buddhist teachings. In the Parable from the Lotus Sutra, the father assigns the son menial work to raise his awareness (of where and who he is) gradually. The third flavour is likened to curdled milk: though nutritious, it is tart.
IV. In the Period of Wisdom (prajna), which spanned 14 years, Shakyamuni emphasized pure Mahayana teachings in expounding the six paramitas (almsgiving, keeping the precepts, forbearance, assiduousness, meditation, obtaining the wisdom). He preached shared, distinct, and perfect doctrines, while using gradual, secret, and variable methods of conversion. In the second part of the third illumination, the sun's rays have spread more widely over the fields but remain limited in scope. At this point in the Parable from the Lotus Sutra, the father gradually increases the level of his son's responsibilities to further his awareness. The fourth flavour is butter, which is produced by mechanically transforming cream into a solid mass. Butter is a rich, flavourful, satisfying food.
V. The fifth and final stage is the Lotus-Nirvana Period, during which the Lotus Sutra was preached for 8 years and the Nirvana, for the day and night before Shakyamuni's passing. Not communicating merely with those of the three vehicles (Learning, Realization, and Bodhisattva), Shakyamuni expounded a Perfect doctrine to open the door of enlightenment to all people, regardless of their capacities. Similarly, in the Parable, the rich man finally opens his estate completely to his son, who then enters without hesitation. The son realizes that he is in a position to inherit and accept his father's domain. In this third part of the third Illumination, the sun is directly overhead (at noon); its rays illuminate and embrace all comers of the mountain, valley, and fields without discrimination. The fifth flavour is ghee, the richest of all. Highly prized in India, ghee is a symbol of purity. To make it, one heats butter slowly until all water content has evaporated (reduction), while milk solids are mechanically removed. What remains is a deep amber coloured oil, termed "clarified butter". This represents the clear, pure teaching of the Law.
The Lotus Sutra is the teaching that enables all to gain entry to the condition of enlightenment, regardless of the listeners' respective capacities. This great harvest" gathers all people in one great lesson. Pointing again to the Lotus Sutra's Truth, the Nirvana Sutra acts as Shakyamuni's "net" to gather the last of those who need to be directed to the highest teaching.
Nichiren Daishonin considered T'ien T'ai's organization of sutras crucial, because it enables people to focus on what is profound in Buddhist doctrine and to avoid the error of embracing partial truths derived from lesser teachings.