5. The Ekayana Doctrine that Teaches the Ultimate Reality.--This doctrine teaches us that all sentient beings have the Real Spirit of Original Enlightenment (within themselves). From time immemorial it is unchanging and pure. It is eternally bright, and clear, and conscious. It is also named the Buddha-nature, or Tathagata-garbha. As it is, however, veiled by illusion from time without beginning, (sentient beings) are not conscious of its existence, and think that the nature within themselves are degenerated. Consequently they are given to bodily pleasures, and producing Karma, suffer from birth and death. The great Enlightened One, having compassion on them, taught that everything in the universe is unreal. He pointed out that the Real Spirit of Mysterious Enlightenment (within them) is pure and exactly the same as that of Buddha. Therefore he says in Avatamsaka-sutra: "There are no sentient beings, the children of Buddha, who are not endowed with wisdom of Tathagata; but they
[1. A. 'The perfect doctrine, in which eternal truth is taught by the Buddha.'
2. The ultimate reality is conceived by the Mahayanist as an entity self-existent, omnipresent, spiritual, impersonal, free from all illusions. it may be regarded as something like the universal and enlightened soul.
3. Tathagata's womb, Tathagata being another name for Buddha.
4. The book was translated into Chinese by Buddhabhadra, A.D. 418-420.
5. The highest epithet of the Buddha, meaning one who comes into the world like the coming of his predecessors.]
cannot attain to Enlightenment simply because of illusion and attachment. When they are free from illusion, the Universal Intelligence, the Natural Intelligence the Unimpeded Intelligence, will be disclosed (in their minds)."
Then he tells a parable of a single grain of minute dust containing large volumes of Sutra, equal in dimension of the Great Chiliocosmos. The grain is compared with a sentient being, and the Sutra with the wisdom of Buddha. Again he says later: "Once Tathagata, having observed every sort of sentient beings all over the universe, said as follows: 'Wonderful, how wonderful! That these various sentient beings, endowed with the wisdom of Tathagata, are not conscious of it because of their errors and illusions! I shall teach them the sacred truth and make them free from illusion for ever. I shall (thus) enable them to find by themselves the Great Wisdom of Tathagatha within them and make them equal to Buddha.'
Let me say (a few words) about this doctrine by way of criticism. So many Kalpas we spent never meeting with this true doctrine, and knew not how to trace our life back to its origin. Having been attached to nothing but the unreal outward forms, we willingly acknowledged ourselves to be a common herd of lowly beings. Some regarded themselves as beasts, (while) others as men.
[1. The all-knowing wisdom that is acquired by Enlightenment.
2. The inborn wisdom of the Original Enlightenment.
3. The wisdom that is acquired by the union of Enlightenment with the Original Enlightenment.
4. One of the famous parables in the sutra.
5. According to the Buddhist literature, one universe comprises one sun, one moon, one central mountain or Sumeru, four continents, etc. One thousand of these universes form the Small Thousand Worlds; one thousand of the Small Thousand Worlds form the Middle Thousand Worlds; and the Great Thousand Worlds, or Great Chiliocosmos, comprises one thousand of the Middle Thousand Worlds.
6. This is not an exact quotation of the sutra.]
But now, tracing life to its origin according to the highest doctrine, we have fully understood that we ourselves were originally Buddhas. Therefore we should act in conformity to Buddha's (action), and keep our mind in harmony with his. Lot us betake ourselves once more to the source of Enlightened Spirit, restoring ourselves to the original Buddhahood. Let us cut off the bond of attachment, and remove the illusion that common people are habitually given to.
Illusion being destroyed, the will to destroy it is also removed, and at last there remains nothing to be done (except complete peace and joy). This naturally results in Enlightenment, whose practical uses are as innumerable as the grains of sand in the Ganges. This state is called Buddhahood. We should know that the illusory as well as the Enlightened are originally of one and the same Real Spirit. How great, how excellent, is the doctrine that traces man to such an origin!
[1. The passage occurs in Tao Teh King.
2. A. 'Although all of the above-mentioned five doctrines were preached by the Buddha Himself, yet there are some that belong to the Sudden, while others to the Gradual, Teachings. If there were persons of the middle or the lowest grade of understanding, He first taught the most superficial doctrine, then the less superficial, and "Gradually" led them up to the profound. At the outset of His career as a teacher He preached the first doctrine to enable them to give up evil and abide by good; next He preached the second and the third doctrine that they might remove the Pollution and attain to the Purity; and, lastly, He preached the fourth and the fifth doctrine to destroy their attachment to unreal forms, and to show the Ultimate Reality. (Thus) He reduced (all) the temporary doctrines into the eternal one, and taught them how to practise the Law according to the eternal and attain to Buddhahood.
'If there is a person of the highest grade of understanding, he may first of all learn the most profound, next the less profound, and, lastly, the most superficial doctrine-that is, he may at the outset come "Suddenly" to the understanding of the One Reality of True Spirit, as it is taught in the fifth doctrine. When the Spiritual Reality is disclosed before his mind's eye, he may naturally see that it originally transcends all appearances which axe unreal, and that unrealities appear on account of illusion, their existence depending on Reality. Then he must give up evil, practise good, put away unrealities by the wisdom of Enlightenment, and reduce them to Reality. When unrealities are all gone, and Reality alone remains complete, he is called the Dharma-kaya-Buddha.']