Total Pageviews

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Failing to make distinctions

"When teachers of the Flower Garland school come to interpret the passage in the Flower Garland Sutra that reads, “The mind, the Buddha, and all living beings—these three are without distinction,” they take it to refer to three things, the one mind [of the individual], the enlightenment [of the Buddha], and the lack of enlightenment [of living beings]. In interpreting this passage, they are borrowing the terminology found originally in The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

The Great Teacher Nan-yüeh in his interpretation of the two words “wonderful” and “Law” in the title, the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law, borrows this same passage from the Flower Garland Sutra and takes it to be referring to the wonderful nature of the three elements [living beings, Buddha, and mind]. The Great Teacher T’ien-t’ai Chih-che adopts the same interpretation." -- Nichiren

The mistaken interpretations of the SGI and the Zen School can be traced back to the way in which they interpret such passages of the earlier Sutras. They are no different than the teachers of the Flower Garland School who misinterpret the above passage of the Flower Garland Sutra to mean that there are no distinctions between the unenlightened mind, the enlightened mind, the Buddha, and all living beings. The lack of distinction refers to their wonderful nature or Myoho, not to their phenomenal aspect. Distinctions and non-distinctions are two aspects of the fundamental Law of Myoho. To fail to make distinctions, to fail to point out errors of thoughts and desires, mistaken teachings, and evil men, is to abandon the teaching appropriate for this defiled age.


  1. "The mind, the Buddha, and all living beings—these three are without distinction,” so the Buddha meant the total opposite when he made that statement.

    We extol the virtues of people we like, but speak of others' shortcomings, explaining them clearly and exhaustively, until everyone knows that they have more than just this one shortcoming; they are also flawed in many other ways. It is as if we are afraid that this person's flaws are not clear to everyone. - This was what the Buddha referred to as an afflicion.

  2. Through correcting wrong thought, we act as a parent to the offenders and to those whose offenses are slight, the sangha compensates for each others shortcomings:

    "In one place after another for the sake of living beings they acted as great and good guides and teachers, as great guides and teachers. Because living beings are blind, they knew how to act as eyes for them. For the deaf, the noseless, the dumb they acted as ears, nose, and tongue. Where capacities were lacking or defective, they knew how to supply and mend them; where there was disorder, chaos, and confusion, they brought the great remedy of correct thought." -- Immeasurable Meanings Sutra