摘要： It was just after midnight. Master woke up again to read...
It was just after midnight. Master woke up again to read. He sent three SMS messages instructing on the deeper meaning of the Dharma when the clock had just turned five.
“The stages of the path to enlightenment is the same as the idea of the Lotus Sutra, which sets aside the expedient dharmas to speak the true Dharma, and unites the three vehicles into one. Taught by the Buddha in the last few years of his life, the doctrine in the Lotus Sutra is ultimate and makes plain the whole truth. The ancient Chinese patriarchs were very wise. Take Great Master Zhizhe for example. He broke down and sequenced the textual organisation with the Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches. As a result, we are able to have a deeper understanding of the integrity and systematisation of the stages of the path to enlightenment. For instance, he wrote Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra. Later generations explained the Lotus Sutra mainly based on his annotations. Textual organisation itself is a way of annotation, but many people are not aware of it. Then how can they understand the stages of the path to enlightenment well? What a pity!”
Sometimes, one sentence presents a complete section itself . Reading the sutra and annotations separately will disrupt the meaning of the sutra. In ancient times, annotations were separated from the sutra since patriarchs dared not to include their own understandings alongside with the sutra, hence the tradition of “separating sutra with its commentary. However, in order to understand the annotation, constant referencing to sutra and commentaries were necessary, so in later times, in need of minimizing the trouble of finding them in different locations, people started to compile sutras and commentaries together.
The Essence of The Lotus Sutra by Master Ou Yi made incredible contribution by combining Master Zhizhe’s Buddhist philosophy and his outlines on the sutra texts in one place. However, this type of effort was not appreciated by many since people found the annotations hard to understand, hence regarding them an encumbrance for the reader. With time, annotations were removed from the later volumes and only the scriptural texts remained. Is it an indication that our understanding has truly progressed or regressed?
We often lay aside and neglect books like The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra and Fahuahuiyi (The Essence of the Lotus Sutra). On one hand, they are indeed difficult to read as far as their language is concerned. Yet language is the basis for us to understand what the patriarchs meant to say. So, if you fail to understand the language, you cannot understand the meaning. On the other hand, we may think that reading only the sutra is enough, why bother any more with commentaries?
Master sometimes shares with us his insights after reading sutras or commentaries, which indeed can be precious spiritual nutrition for us. By doing so he wishes to nuture us, bodily and mentally, with benefits of the Dharma. Without the guidance of a good teacher, the teaching of the stages of the path to enlightenment cannot be penetrated, even by the wise.