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Excerpted from Water Mirror Reflecting Heaven
by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

A General Discussion on the Teachings School

The Teachings School emphasizes using skillful expedients, and therefore capitalizes on beautiful expressions and elegant phraseology.  Adherents to this school are well-versed in terminology and the marks.  They determine the different periods of the teachings and divide them into categories. 

Thus, the sea of meanings billows, and the Dharma's principles run deep.  They serve to focus the audience's rambling thoughts, and to gather in stray mental activities that leak out through seeing and listening.  When this occurs, it is as if one has entered the hall of samadhi, and ascended the six levels of heaves of the Desire Realm. Layer upon layer one bores in; step by step one ascends.  Even if one wanted to stop, it would be nearly impossible, and it is hard to fathom the very source.

Regarding the teachings of the Teachings School--such as the Four Teachings of Tian Tai, the Five Esoteric Meanings of Hsien Shou, the Dharma Marks propagated by Consciousness Only--each has its strong points.  However, although each of these schools may not be biased to the extreme, nonetheless, on occasion they extol themselves at others' expense.

Whenever clear-eyed good knowing advisors see such incidents they feel greatly pained at heart.  Since the foundation of the Teachings has not flourished, and true talent is scarce, these good advisors are willing to personally act as models, practice ascetic discipline, and cultivate the door of the Six Paramitas.  In face of a hundred oppositions they do not bend, they are glad to undergo ten thousand vicissitudes, to the point that even if their bodies had to be smashed to pieces and their bones pulverized, they would not begrudge such a sacrifice.  

Supported by magnanimous vows, they are courageous and vigorous.  Renouncing themselves for others, they universally cross over those who have conditions.  Observing the opportunities they entice with the teachings and dispense the medicine according to the illness.  Not begrudging weariness or toil, they would offer up their heads, eyes, brains and marrow, give away their bodies and minds, all with the sole intention of causing living beings to turn away from confusion and return to enlightenment, to cast out the deviant and come back to the proper. 

They want living beings to quickly attain Bodhi and perfect the sagely fruition.  Therefore, they employ both provisional and actual means, and mutually bestow both sudden and gradual teachings. 

With kindness they draw in those with whom they have no affinities; with compassion they embrace all things and become one with them.  Manifesting a vast and long tongue, they take great pains to exhort with earnest words, sparing no efforts.

They teach and admonish without tiring, while always conducting themselves according to strict discipline.  In such ways they act as the "dragons and elephants" at the Dharma's entrance, also as teachers of gods and people.  Throughout long eons they practice the Bodhisattva Way and never rest.

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