To snatch away the voices of the sentient realm and liken them to the voices of the insentient realm is not the way of the buddha. The insentient preaching the dharma is not necessarily sound, just as preaching the dharma by the sentient is not sound. We should make concentrated effort to study this a while, asking ourselves, asking others, what is “the sentient,” “what is the insentient”?
Such being the case, we should carefully put our minds to and study in what manner it is that the insentient preach the dharma. One who considers, as the foolish think, that the rustling branches of the forests, the opening and falling of leaves and flowers, are the insentient preaching the dharma — this is not a man who studies the buddha dharma. If this were the case, who could not know the preaching of the insentient, who could not hear the preaching of the insentient? We should reflect a while. In the realm of the insentient, are there grasses, trees and forests? Is the realm of the insentient mixed into the realm of the sentient? Still, those who consider grasses and trees, tiles and pebbles as the insentient have not studied extensively; those who consider the insentient as grasses and trees, tiles and pebbles have not studied their fill. Even if, for now, we were to accept the plants seen by humans and treat them as the insentient, grasses and trees are also not what is fathomed by common thinking. Why? There is a vast difference between the forests of the heavens and those among humans; what grows in central countries and marginal lands is not the same; the grasses and trees in the ocean and in the mountains are all dissimilar. Not to mention that there are forests growing in the sky, forests growing in the clouds. Of the hundred grasses and myriad trees that grow in wind, fire, and the rest, there are in general those that should be studied as sentient, those that are not recognized as insentient. There are grasses and trees that are like humans and beasts; whether they are sentient or insentient is not clear. Not to mention the trees and rocks, flowers and fruits, hot and cold waters of the transcendents — though when we see them we have no doubts, when we would explain them, is it not difficult?