Queequeg wrote: ↑
Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:15 am
Here is the way Ekayana is understood in East Asian Lotus Traditions - namely Tiantai, Tendai, Nichiren.
There is one vehicle - the Buddhayana. In response to the needs of the various beings, the Buddha, employing upaya, teaches the Sravakayana, Pratyekabuddhayana, and Bodhisattvayana. The Sravakayana is characterized by the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, etc. what we usually associate with Hinayana. The Pratyekabuddhayana is characterized by wisdom of pratityasamutpada, particularly through the teaching of the 12 linked chain of causation. The Bodhisattvayana is characterized by the teaching on the Six Paramita and the gradual path of 3 eons. None of these is a real path; all three of these are upaya. They, in themselves, do not lead to annuttarasamyaksambodhi. Only the Buddhayana leads to annuttarasamyaksambodhi. These three vehicles lead along the path, but only incompletely. And actually, the Buddhayana encompasses these teachings, without any caveat, but these teachings do not encompass the Buddhayana. Neither do these teachings necessarily encompass each other. For instance, in some interpretations of the Bodhisattvayana, Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha, and Icchantika are precluded from ever attaining Buddhahood. Hence, that form of the Bodhisattvayana is called a Separate or Distinct teaching. All paths eventually lead to the pure Buddhayana, meaning, at some point, beings are told that the path they tread is upaya and that what they have always already been treading was the Buddhayana. That the three are provisional, and only the Buddhayana is real. This is the teaching called the Lotus. It is taught from time time, but not all the time.
In the third chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha tells the famous parable of the burning house. In short, a father finds his children obliviously playing in a burning house. He tries to get them out by pointing out the danger, but they don't listen. He contrives to tell them that there are goat, deer and ox carts outside, and if they would only come outside he would give each their own cart. The children come running out, but there are no carts. The father is happy because his children are safe, but now the children are demanding the carts. The father is then so happy he gives all the children great ox carts far beyond anything they expected and they ride off into the sunset.
The three carts that are promised are the sravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana, and bodhisattvayana. They don't actually exist. But, if people undertake these paths, they will be delivered from the burning house. Once they're out, the Buddha gives them the Buddhayana which is far beyond what they could have hoped for.
“O Śāriputra! You should know that the buddhas, with the power of skillful means, teach the single buddha vehicle, dividing and teaching it as three.”
Several other parables convey similar messages - for instance the parable of the phantom city.
The real controversy is about whether the Bodhisattvayana and the Buddhayana are actually the same. Both are referred to as Mahayana. However, in what is called the Honmon, or original gate teachings, meaning the second half of the Lotus Sutra, there comes a point when the assembly of bodhisattvas that includes Maitreya, Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, etc. etc., Bodhisattvas that are on the path of the six paramita, are stumped by a myriad of bodhisattvas who erupt out of the ground and which the Buddha identifies as his disciples since his enlightenment. Maitreya and the assembly cannot understand this, describing it like a young man introducing an old man as his son. This indicates that the bodhisattva who are the foremost in the assembly actually are limited. These bodhisattvas until that point still believe that Shakyamuni first attained enlightenment in Gaya.
This is where the bodhisattvayana is demonstrated to be an incomplete path - even Maitreya who is supposed to be the next Buddha doesn't realize that the path he treads is so limited.
In the next Chapter, the Buddha explains his life span which is understood to be eternal, and that all beings, are on this Buddhayana whether they realize it or not, all destined for Buddhahood. The Bodhisattvas don't even know the full scope of this path, let alone sravaka or pratyekabuddha.
I am sure there will be disagreement and critique, moaning about "This is not how the Indians understand it!"
All well and good. There really is nothing to argue about. This is it. This is fact. This is what Ekayana and the Three Vehicles means in East Asian Lotus discourse. Whatever you think about it is opinion.