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The LAw Of Expediency...... The True Entity Of All Phenomena...

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Posted by Glenn on December 26, 2000 03:27:25 UTC

Mr. Yanniru You wrote:
The Buddha in chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra distinguishes between the Law of Three and the Law of One. The law of one in his words is the highest law. However, he was unable to teach it to his disciples because of their limitations.

So he finally decided to continue teaching the law of three as all other Buddhas had done in the past. This decision is called the law of expediency- to teach on the level of the persons being taught. When he made this decision, the past Buddhas from all ten directions appeared to him exclaiming that he had now reached the highest. This is all in chapter 2 of the Lotus Sutra.

The message I get from this is that it is more than acceptable to teach on any level by any means. So there is no one way as our Buddhist friend is trying to convince us. Of course, that is just his level and apparently it works for him.

Essentially the law of expediency, which is the cornerstone of the Lotus Sutra, frees us from any dogma. There is not just one way. There is only one highest realization which the Buddha attained but could not express.


The sutra teaches that the LAw to which the Buddha has awakened is the "rarest and the most difficult-to-understand law(LS2,24). In the "Expedient Means " Chapter of the lotus sutra, The LAw all Buddhas have attained is expressed as " the true entity of all Phenomena". Shakyamuni declares, " the true entity of all phenomena can only be understood and shared between Buddhas. The enunciation of the "Ten factors of life " represent the true entity of all phenomena and Nicheren Daishonin defined it as " Nam Myoho Renge kyo"(the essence of the Lotus sutra).
When Shariputra request 3 times to expound the true teaching of the Buddhas. Shakyamuni then reveals that " One great reason" that Buddhas appear on the world is to open the door to the Buddha wisdom for all people, to show it to them, to cause them to awaken to it and gain entry to it. That is the fact that the Buddha seek to open the door of Buddha wisdom(the state of Buddhahood)to living beings means that living beings already posseses the Buddha wisdom inherent in their lives. The reason they posseses the Buddha wisdom is that they are originally Buddhas. Shakyamunis words are in fact a great decleration that all living beings are worthy of supreme respect. The Buddha then reveals that the 3 vehicles of Learning , realization, and Bodhisattva are no more than expedient means while the One Buddha vehicle of Buddhahood offers the only way true to enlightenement. In this Chapter Shakyamuni explains that 3 vehicles are expedient means to lead people and reveal the truth to the One Buddha Vehicle. This is referred to as " the replacement of the 3 vehicles with one Buddha vehicle ". The One Buddha vehicle, on the other hand, is the Buddha's true intent and purpose.

We could say that " Expedient means " are an educational method or technique to lead people toward the attainment of Buddhahood. The spirit of the Lotus sutra is to bring the enormous potential of each Human being into fullest flower, and it is for that purpose that the Buddha uses expedient means.

There are different kinds of expedient means that exist in Buddhism. In the Hokke Mongu(Words and phrases of the Lotus sutra), Chih-i identifies three types:(1) the functional-teaching expedients (2) truth-gateway expedients (3) the secret and mystic expedient. of these 3, says Chih-i(200 B.C.), a great Buddhist scholar, the last is the expedient means of the "Expedient Means" Chapter.
Functional teaching expedeints are the various teachings expounded according to the differing capacities of people, the function of these teachings serving to bring appropriate benefit to each person. Truth-gateway expedients are teachings that form a gateway for entering the truth-hence, the name "truth-gateway"
Neither of these 2 types of expedient means of this Chapter 2. They are 2 aspects of the expedeint means taught in the provisional pre-lotus sutra teachings. The functional-teaching expedients represent the aspect of bringing immediate benefit, while the truth-gateway expedients represent the aspect of people leading to truth.
We could cite the instance of shakyamuni's denunciation of those 2 vwhicles, who contented themselves with inferior etachings, as having both these two aspects. It was a truth-gateway expedeints in that it directed the followers of the 2 vehicles to the truth, yet at the same time it also had the aspect of a functional-teaching expedients in that it brought them the benefit of awakening them from their self-absorption.

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