Hong Kong, the Venerable Master propagated the Dharma by giving equal
importance to the five schools - Chan, Teaching, Vinaya, Secret, and
Pure Land. When the Master came to America, the spirit of eliminating
sectarianism and uniting Buddhism continued.
Below is an interview with Venerable Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua conducted by Karl Ray, which originally appeared in the former Shambala Review under the title "Back to the Source".
first question I would like to ask is based on an article in which you
suggest that Buddhists forget sectarian lines. Can you suggest
practical steps that Buddhist organizations can take to bring this
the Buddha came into the world there was no Buddhism. After the Buddha
appeared, Buddhism came into being, but there was not as yet any
division into sects or schools. Sectarianism is a limited view, a view
of a small scope, and cannot represent Buddhism in its entirety. The
complete substance of Buddhism, the totality, admits no such divisions.
When you divide the totality of Buddhism into sects and schools, you
merely split it into fragments. In order to understand Buddhism in its
totality, one must eliminate views of sects and schools and return to
original Buddhism. One must return to the root and go back to the
brings me to a question about the different teachings taught here at
Gold Mountain Monastery. I understand that you teach five different
schools, including the Ch'an School, the Teaching School, the Vinaya
School, the Secret School, and the Pure Land School. Can they all be
taught like this together? Do they belong to the original corpus of
Five Schools were created by Buddhist disciples who had nothing to do
and wanted to find something with which to occupy their time. The Five
Schools all issued from Buddhism. Since they came forth from Buddhism,
they can return to Buddhist as well. Although the Five Schools serve
different purposes, their ultimate destination is the same. It is said:
- There is only one road back to the source,
- But there are many expedient ways to reach it.
there are five different schools, they are still included within one
"Buddhism". If you want to understand the totality of Buddhism, you
need not divide it up into schools or sects. Originally there were no
such divisions. Why make trouble when there is none? Why be divisive
and cause people to have even more false thoughts than they already
People think that the Five Schools are something really
special and wonderful. In fact, they have never departed from Buddhism
itself. It's just like the government of a country. The government is
made up of different departments. There is a Department of Health, a
Department of Economics, a State Department, a Department of the
Interior, and so forth. People may not realize that all these different
departments are under a single government. All they recognize is the
department, and they don't recognize the government as a whole. Their
outlook is narrow. Now, we wish to move from the branches back to the
roots. In the analogy, the roots are the government and the branches
are the various departments. People should not abandon the roots and
cling to the branches. If you see only the individual departments and
fail to recognize the government, you will never be able to understand
the problems faced by the country as a whole. You'll have no idea what
Then one should feel free to pursue any or all of the teachings?
Of course. Religion can't be allowed to tie one up.
And if one chooses to follow only one certain school, can one reach the goal that all of them aim for?
roads lead to Rome. All roads come to San Francisco. All roads will
take you to New York. You may ask, 'Can I get to New York by this
road?' but you would do better to ask yourself, 'Will I walk that road