Venerable Master Yinshun (1906-2005)
Venerable Master Taixu (1889-1974)
Ven. Master Jen Chun ( 1919-2011)
Buddhism for Human World:A Teaching that is in accordance to the Acceptance Level of the People從依機設教說明人間佛教Explaining Buddhism among Mankind as a Religion Suited to Conditions
A talk given in 1952 to the monastic residents of a monastery named Jing Ye Lin (淨業林)in Jiang Su (江蘇), • Recorded by Ven. Jenchun • Included in Buddha in Human Realm (佛在人間), pp.29-73. • Translated into English by Dr. Beng Tiong Tan (陳玟中) (Selected Translations of Miao Yun, Part VI, pp.44-190)
Riding the Buddha Vehicle through History: Buddhist Vehicles and Buddhist History in the Thought of Ven. Master Yin-Shun • By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi • Tzung-Kuen Wen • email@example.com
Various purposes of Buddhist teachings • Characteristics of Buddhist Vehicles • How Buddhism assimilated and rejected Indian religious practices. • A general picture of the historical development of Buddhist teachings. • Human-centered Buddhism and Human Bodhisattva • What suggestion Human-centered Buddhism can provide to Buddhism in the west.
Content • 1 Establishment of Doctrines and Vehicles in Accordance to the Acceptance levels of Sentient Beings • 1.1 Purposes of Various Doctrines • 1.2 Classifications of Doctrines and Vehicles • 1.2.1 Five Vehicles • 1.2.2 Three Vehicles and One Vehicle • 1.3 Historical Development of Buddhism • 1.3.1. Ven. Taixu’s Three Classifications of Mahāyāna • 1.3.2. Three Periods in the Historical Development of Buddhism
2 Analysis of Various Vehicles that are Tailored to the Temperaments of Sentient Beings • 2.1 Human Vehicle and the Celestial Vehicle based on Human Vehicle • 2.1.1 Religious Culture of India at the Time of the Buddha • 2.1.2 The Buddha’s Attitudes Towards Indian Religious Practices • 2.2 Śrāvaka Vehicle Based on the Human and Celestial Vehicles • 2.2.1 Śrāvaka Vehicle and Six Indian Religious Practices • 2.2.2 The Relationship between Śrāvaka Vehicle and Human-Celestial Vehicle
2.3 Bodhisattva Vehicle Based on the Human-Celestial and Śrāvaka Vehicles • 2.3.1 Two Types of Bodhisattva in Jātaka • 2.3.2 The Close relationship between Mahāyāna Dharma and Lay Disciples. • 2.3.3 How Mahāyāna Buddhism Assimilates Indian Celestial Practices • 3 Conclusion
1. Establishment of Doctrines and Vehicles in Accordance to the Acceptance levels of Sentient Beings
1.1 Purpose of Various Doctrines • Buddhist doctrines were tailored to accommodate to the spiritual levels of sentient beings. • The Four Siddhāntas as explained in the Mahāprajnā-pāramitopadeśa Śāstra (Great Treaties on Perfection of Wisdom), represent the four purposes of various doctrines given by the Buddha, after taking into account the dispositions of individuals.
Worldly Siddhānta • Aim: draw out the interest or fulfill the wishes of the hearer. • Method: teach things listeners are familiar with or desire for • Examples • While meeting with a farmer he first talk about farming. • Following the Indian customs • Reciting hymns of praise after accepting offerings • The Buddha is called the teacher of celestial beings and human (śāstā deva-manuṣyāṇām) • Lay disciples are allowed to offer gifts to the deities. • Mahāyāna’s skillful means: “[The Bodhisattvas courtesans ] First lead them with the hook of desire, Then cause them to enter the Buddha’s wisdom.”
Individually adapted Siddhānta • Aim: to encourage the audience to cultivate wholesomeness • Medthod: To teach in accordance to individual spiritual level so that wholesomeness will be cultivated • Example • For people reluctant to give gifts, explain the benefits of alms-giving . • Different from Worldly Siddhānta • Not to draw interest nor to fulfill wishes or desires of the listener. • Teachings given are not necessarily familiar to the audience, but surely consistent to Buddhist morality
Therapeutic siddhānta • Aim: to restrain listeners from unwholesome deeds • Example • The Buddha teaches the contemplation of bodily impurities (aśubha-bhāvanā) for people with strong lust and greed; • Mindfulness of Loving-kindness (maitrī-smṛti) for people with strong hatred; • Mindfulness on Dependent Origination (pratyayatā-pratītyasamutpāda-smṛti) for people with strong ignorance; • Mindfulness of Breathing (ānâpāna-smṛti) for people whose mind wanders a lot; • Mindfulness of Elements (dhātu-prabheda-smṛti) for people with strong self-attachment.
Why are there these two purpose i.e., cultivating wholesomeness and restraining from unwholesomeness? • Restraining from unwholesomeness • From not only bodily and verbal unwholesome deeds but also mental defilements. • Example1: for one who is willing to practice alms-giving only • Example 2: for one who abstains from bodily and verbal wrong deeds only… • The reasons why some practices are praised while others are criticized
Supreme-Truth Siddhānta • Aim: to reveal the highest truth, the reality perceived and realized by the Buddha himself. • Teachings delivered with this supreme-truth siddhānta are the heart of Buddha’s Dharma. • Nāgārjuna: The first three Siddhanta may be sabotaged and wrecked, the Supreme-truth Siddhanta cannot be wrecked in any way. • Take the teachings of Worldly Siddhanta as an example: • It depends on situations (customs, ability, dispositions), so it is flexible. • Its effect varies. • It serves as a skilful means.
As to the other two siddhantas: to cultivate wholesomeness and to restrain from unwholesomeness • The principle is the same, the ways to practice vary depending on time, regions, and individuals. • Ex.1 the path of ancient sages: Noble Eight-fold Path • Ex. 2 Morality • The teachings of the Buddha are just like the prescription given by a doctor to patients. • patients - prescription; hearers- Buddhist teachings • Buddhism adapted itself to various conditions in India. • When it spread to China, Japan, and South East Asia, it surely changes itself due to its adaptations to these places.
In conclusion, when one is spreading Buddha Dharma, in order to match the teachings of the Buddha with the spiritual capacities of the audience , one should • Pay attention to these four siddhantas • Know the difference between the first three and the last one • Not ruin the message of Buddha Dharma by misunderstanding skilful means as ultimate truth.
1.2 Classifications of Doctrines and Vehicles • Diversity of spiritual capability and dispositions - diversity of Buddhist teaching. • Buddhist teaching is also called “yāna”, vehicle. • Vehicle can take people from one place to another • The Buddhist teachings can carry people who put them into practice from the human realm to celestial realm, or even from the realm of worldling to the realm of sages. • The Buddhist doctrines can be classified as “five vehicles”, “three vehicles” or “one vehicle”.
1.2.1 Five Vehicles • They are 1. Human Vehicle, 2. Celestial Vehicle, 3. Śrāvaka vehicle, 4. Pratyekabuddha Vehicle, 4. Bodhisatva Vehicle or Buddha Vehicle. • Every vehicle has three aspects, i.e. 1. arousal of mind (aspiration), 2. goal, and 3. mthods • Five Vehicles can be regrouped into three vehicles: Human-Celestial Vehicle, Śrāvaka Pratyekabuddha Vehicle and Bodhisattva Vehicle.
Human-Celestial Vehicle • 1. Arousal of mind: “mind of improvement” • Lives in human realm or celestial realm are relatively better than in the other four realms. • Some come to Buddhism in order to improve their present condition in this life. • They wish for better health, wealth, knowledge ….. • 2. Goal: is to have more happiness in the present life and better rebirth in future lives. • 3. Methods: righteous human conducts, such as alms-giving, observing precepts. • If one practices with the “mind of improvement”, no matter how profound teachings he might learn, the result will be limited to rebirth in either human realm or deity realm.
Śrāvaka Pratyekabuddha Vehicle • The dispositions of the practitioners in these two vehicles are similar. • 1. Arousal of mind: “mind of escape” • Rebirth in the human or deity realm is suffering. Everything in the world is impermanent and thus unsatisfactory. • 2. Goal: to stop rebirth in saṃsāra and attain Nirvāṇa • 3. Methods: emphasis on abandoning one’s own defilements. • With the “mind of escape”, people will gain only the fruitions of Small Vehicle even though they may practice the teachings of Mahāyāna
Bodhisattva Vehicle • 1. Arousal of mind: • Bodhisattvas know the suffering of rebirth and death, but they also know that sentient beings suffer as much as they do, so they feel sympathy for sentient beings, and thus arouse Bodhicitta based on great compassion. • 2. Goal: Help sentient beings and attain Buddhahood. • 3. Means: practice the wholesome deeds that are beneficial to oneself and others • Buddhism does not go beyond these five vehicles. To follow the teachings of the Buddha without aspiration and practices of anyone of these five vehicles, is just fake. It does not avoid the suffering of awful realm.
1.2.2 Three Vehicles and One Vehicle • Human-Celestial Vehicle • not the core teachings of Buddhism • mundane, secular, worldly, • Similar motivation and practices are found in other religions (Confucianism, Taoism, Christianility, Islam)and disciplines. • Not show the uniqueness of Buddha Dharma • Three Vehicles (Śrāvaka, Pratyekabuddha, bodhisattva ) • the core teachings of Buddhism • world-transcending, unworldly
One Vehicle refers to the One Great Vehicle. • The difference between “One Vehicle” and “Bodhisattva Vehicle (Great Vehicle)” • Doctrine of Three Vehicles: practitioners of any one of the three vehicles will all enter Parinirvāṇa eventually. The attainments of Arahants and Pratyekabuudha are ultimate, final. • Doctrine of One Vehicle: Arahants and Pratyekabuudha will turn from Small Vehicle to Bodhisattva Vehicle, which is the only one path, and attain Buddhahood eventually . • Tow approaches to the Great Vehicle: 1Directly Entering the Great Vehicle; 2 Returning to the Great Vehicle
Debates on Three Vehicles vs One Vehicle • The fundamental issue is whether the attainments in the Two Vehicles (śrāvaka, pratyekabuddha) are ultimate, last or final, beyond which no other exists or is possible. • The relationship of these Vehicles can be showed in a figure.
According to the doctrine of One Vehicle • The Three Vehicles are just expedient means. The Small Vehicle does not exist, and there is in fact only one vehicle, the Great Vehicle. • While realizing the nature of sameness of all dharma (samadharmatā), all practitioners converge in the same One Vehicle. • Therefore, the Prajñāparāmitā Sūtra says, All Buddhist saints will definitely accept the Mahāyānic teachings of perfection of wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā) • The Lotus Sūtra says, If aspirants of śrāvaka vehicle don’t have faith in the Mahāyāna, they must be conceited. Though they view themselves as arahants, they are not.
According to the doctrine of Three Vehicles • Doctrine of Two Vehicles and Doctrine of Bodhisattva Vehicle are both supramundane teachings. • But, the doctrine of Bodhisattva Vehicle is praised as the supreme among supramundane teachings. Because a bodhisattva works to help other sentient beings attain Buddhahood. It’s the unification of great wisdom, great compassion, great vow and great practices. • From the perspective of human-celestial Vehicle, • Bodhisattva Vehicle is the unification of mundane practices and supramundance practices. • While being engaged in worldly events, Bodhisattvas are disenchanted with the world.
1.3 Historical Development of Buddhism • From the perspective that every Buddhist will eventually return to the One Vehicle, the three vehicles are in fact nothing but three types of Mahāyāna. • These three types of Mahāyāna do exist in the historical development of Buddhism in India.
1.3.1. Ven. Taixu’s Three classifications of Mahāyāna • Ven. Master Taixu had briefly explained these three types in his article “How do I classify and evaluate all the Buddhist doctrines.” • According to Ven. Taixu, there is only One Vehicle, the Mahāyāna, all sentient beings will attain Buddhahood in the end. • His divided the history of Buddhism into three periods: • 1 through Śrāvaka Vehicle to Mahāyāna • 2. through Celestial Vehicle to Mahāyāna • 3. through Human Vehicle to Mahāyāna
The Period of True Dharma • The first 500 years from the death of the Buddha (390 BC) • Most Buddhists follow Śrāvaka Vehicle in the very beginning. After having realized noble fruits of Śrāvaka, they turn to Mahāyāna. • For example, according to the Lotus Sūtra, bhikṣu and bhikṣunī ,who are either trainees (śaikṣa) or byeond-training (aśaikṣa), all made a resolution to attain Buddhahood and help sentient beings. • This trends continued even after the first five hundred years. Some people are recorded, such as Nāgājuna Deva Asaṅga Vasubandhu. • They might not have realized the fruits of the Śrāvaka Vehicle before they turned to Mahāyāna, but generally speaking they went forth and were fully ordained in the schools of Śrāvaka (Mainstream Buddhism).
They might learn the doctrine of Śrāvaka Vehicle before they came to learn Mahāyāna doctrine. • Or they appear as a member of Śrāvaka schools while practising the Bodhisattva Path. • Most of the monastic Bodhisattvas fall into this category. • These Boddhisattvas who practiced the Two Vehicles before entering Mahāyāna are wisdom-oriented. • They emphasize wisdom, don’t have enough compassion • They practice meditation diligently and earnestly desire for attainment of arahatship. • On the Bodhisattva Path, these Wisdom-predominant Bodhisattvas progress much slowly due to their compassion being less intense.
The Period of Semblance Dharma • It’s during the third 500 years after the death of the Buddha. • Buddhists mostly advanced to the Great Vehicle through the practices of Celestial Vehicle. They can be called Celestial Boddhisattvas. • Unlike Monastic Bodhisattvas, they were familiar with the deity (theistic) teachings of Brahmanism, and integrate these teachings as an expedient means into Buddha Dharma. • As a result, visualization of Buddhas or Boddhisattvas are equated with visualization of deities. For example, In Tantric Buddhism, Iṣṭadeva(tā) (tutelary deity) are represented by the images of Yakṣa, Rakṣa or Brahamā. • Celestial realms become the ideal world. • The Two Vehicles were given a lower status in Buddhism.
The Period of Degenerate Dharma • It’s after 1500 years of the Buddha’s death, Ven. Taixu says. • Buddhists enter the Bodhisattva Path by the practice of Human Vehicle. • Attainment of Śrāvaka fruits is rare. Even Buddhists in the countries of Southern Buddhism emphasize such secular activities as education and charity. • Following the practice of Śrāvaka in forests is criticized as being selfish and running away from reality. • Devotion to the practice of Celestial-Vehicle Bodhisattva Path with the emphasis on dealing with sexual desires is reproached as superstitious and absurd • It seems that the suitable way is to follow the Bodhisattva Path through the teaching of Human Vehicle.
Ven. Taixu’s way of classifying bodhisattvas into three types is very meaningful: Human, Celestial, and Two-vehicle Bodhisattvas. • Two-Vehicle Bodhisattvas attach importance to wisdom • Celestial Bodhisattvas lay stress on faith (Pure Land Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism represent the practice of Celestial Bodhisattva) • Human Bodhisattvas put emphasis on loving-kindness and compassion and engage in various altruistic activities. • According to *Mahāprajñāpāramitopadeśa Śāstra, a bodhisattva may have more wisdom, compassion, or faith and effort. It’s true that a true bodhisattva should be equipped with all these three qualities, but with regard to the approach to Mahāyāna, there are these three different ways.
1.3.2. Three periods in the Historical Development of Buddhism • These three periods mentioned above can also be discerned in the historical development of Indian Buddhism of 1500 years.
First Period– Early Buddhism Use the mandalas to Illustrate the differences in the doctrines and intended hearers between the three periods.
First Period (Early Buddhism) • In Early Buddhism, the monastic sangha was the center. • The Buddha and his great disciples all lead a monastic life. • The unique attribute of this monastic life is liberty and freedom. They live a simple life, being content with whatever they have access to with respect to clothing, food and dwelling. They devote themselves to destroying defilements in the wilds. • In the middle ring, there are lay disciples from all walks of life. • They perform generosity and keep precepts, fulfill their obligations to their family, society and country. They also practice meditation with a emphasis on loving-kindness meditation. • They are able to win liberation from samsara, but they are not in the position of maintaining Buddhism.
The out-most layer consists of spirits and deities, ranging from Śuddhāvāsa deva (Deity of Pure Abode) to ghost and animals. • In Āgamas and Vinayas, devas, asuras, gandharvas and yakṣas sometimes came to join the dharma assembly, some came to protect Buddhism from being disturbed by evil spirits. They played only a insignificant role. They are characterized by two quality: greed and anger. The Buddha always taught them not to hurt people due to their strong greed and anger. • Monastic liberation is placed on the center of this period of Buddhism, where the disciples, inwardly, were devoted to meditation and wisdom, and outwardly, concerned for the outside world. There is less superstitious expedient means.
The Second Period • Mahāyāna Buddhism arose to gain its popularity around 500 years after the death of the Buddha. • The center of Buddhism hand changed. Lay disciples occupy the center of Buddhism in this period. Bodhisattvas such as Mañjuśrī,Avalokiteśvara, Samantabhadra, Vimalakīrti, Sudhana and Sadāprarudita, all appear as lay disciples. • The Vairocana Buddha, considered as the dharma body in Mahāyāna Buddhism was presented as a layman wearing hairs in a bun and a crown, with many precious decorations. • These Buddhas and Bodhisattvas display the virtues of great compassion, great wisdom and great practice and great vow. They are shown to emphasize such teachings as the six kinds of perfection and the four ways of favoring .
Four Ways of Favoring • catvāri saṃgraha vastuni • four methods of propitiation/attracting /winning/favoring1. Dāna - almsgiving (布施)2. Priyavacana - loving speech (愛語)3. Arthakriyā - conduct and action that benefits other (利行)4. Samanārthatā - co-operation with others (同事)