Zen Teachings of Hongzhi Zhenjue
of Mt. Tiantong in Ming Province
Translated into English
by Yi Wu
Compiled with a Preface by Monk Puqung
made vast and empty the bright mirror and saw through it and reflected without
neglect. He manifested he mysterious pivot of subtle change, then trusted his
fortune and certainly found the core. Only one who had the true eye and deep flowing
eloquence could have mastered this!
My teacher lived below Taipai Peak. Dragons
and elephants tromped around. The hammer and chisel [of teaching] chipped away.
The meaning of his words spread widely but still conveyed the essence. Sometimes
scholars and laypeople who trusted the Way (Tao) asked for his directions; sometimes
mendicant monks requested his instructions. They spread out paper and wrote down
his responses. He spoke up and answered their questions, producing appropriate
Dhama talks. I have selected a few of these and arranged them in order.
the emptiness of the great blue sky, the flowing of the vast ocean.
not yet attained these utmost depths, so please excuse my attempt to record his
talks. I must await the ones who mysteriously accord with spiritual awakening
to pound out the rhythm of his words and appreciate their tones.
1. The Bright,
The field of boundless emptiness is what exist from the very
beginning. You must purify, cure, grind down, or brush away all the tendencies
you have fabricated into apparent habits. Then you can reside in the clear circle
of brightness. Utter emptiness has no image, upright independence does not rely
on anything. Just expand and illuminate the original truth unconcerned by external
conditions. Accordingly we are told to realize that not a single thing exists.
In this field birth and death do not appear. The deep source, transparent down
to the bottom, can radiantly shine and can respond unencumbered to each speck
of dust without becoming its partner. The subtlety of seeing and hearing transcends
mere colors and sounds. The whole affair functions without leaving traces, and
mirrors without obscurations. Very naturally mind and dharmas emerge and harmonize.
An Ancient said that non-mind enacts and fulfills the way of non-mind. Enacting
and fulfilling the way of non-mind, finally you can rest. Proceeding you are able
to guide the assembly. With thoughts clear, sitting silently, wander into the
center of the circle of wonder.
This is how you must penetrate and study.
2. The Practice Of True Reality
The practice of true reality is simply to sit
serenely in silent introspection. When you have fathomed this you cannot be turned
around by external causes and conditions. This empty, wide open mind is subtlety
and correctly illuminating. Spacious and content, without confusion from inner
thoughts or grasping, effectively overcome habitual behavior and realize the self
that is not possessed by emotions. You must be broad-minded, whole without relying
on others. Such upright independent spirit can begin not to pursue degrading situations.
Here you can rest and become clean, pure, and lucid. Bright and penetrating, you
can immediately return, accord, and respond to deal with events. Everything is
unhindered; clouds gracefully floating up to the peaks, the moonlight glitteringly
flowing down mountain streams. The entire place is brightly illumined and spiritually
transformed, totally unobstructed and clearly manifesting responsive interaction
like box and lid or arrow points [meeting]. Continuing, cultivate and nourish
yourself to enact maturity and achieve stability. If you accord everywhere with
thorough clarity and cut off sharp corners without dependence on doctrines, like
the white bull or wildcat [helping to arouse wonder], you can be called a complete
person. So we hear that this is how one of the way of non-mind acts, but before
realizing non-mind we still have great hardship.
3. Face Everything, Let Go,
Vast and far-reaching without boundary, secluded and pure,
manifesting light, this spirit is without obstruction. Its brightness does not
shine out but can be called empty and inherently radiant. Its brightness, inherently
purifying, transcends causal conditions beyond subject and object. Subtle but
preserved, illumined and vast, also it cannot be spoken of as being or non-being,
or discussed with images or calculations. Right in here the central pivot turns,
the gateway opens. You accord and respond without laboring and accomplish without
hindrance. Everywhere turn around freely, not following conditions, not falling
into classifications. Facing everything, let go and attain stability. Stay with
that just as that. Stay with this just as this. That and this are mixed together
with no discriminations as to their places. So it is said that the earth lifts
up the mountain without knowing the mountain's stark steepness. A rock contains
jade without knowing the jade's flawlessness. This how truly to leave home, how
home-leaving must be enacted.
4. Contemplating The Ten Thousand Years
monks make their thinking dry and cool and rest from the remnants of conditioning.
Persistently brush up and sharpen this bit of the field. Directly cut through
all the overgrown grass. Reach the limit in all directions without defiling even
one atom. Spiritual and bright, vast and lustrous, illuminating fully what is
before you, directly attain the shining light and clarity that cannot attach to
a single defilement. Immediately tug and pull back the ox's nose. Of course his
horns are imposing and he stomps around like a beast, yet he never damages people's
sprouts or grain. Wandering around, accept how it goes. Accepting how it goes,
wander around. Do not be bound by or settle into any place. Then the plough will
break open the ground in the field of the empty kalpa. Proceeding in this manner,
each event will be unobscured, each realm will appear complete. One contemplation
of the ten thousand years is beginning not to dwell on appearances. Thus it is
said that the mind-ground contains every seed and he universal rain makes them
all sprout. When awakening blossoms, desires fade, and Bodhi's fruit is perfected
5. Performing The Buddha Work
[The empty field] cannot be cultivated
or proven. From the beginning it is altogether complete, undefiled and clear down
to the bottom. Where everything is correct and totally sufficient, attain the
pure eye that illuminates thoroughly, fulfilling liberation. Enlightenment involves
enacting this; stability develops from practicing it. Birth and death originally
have no root or stems, appearing and disappearing originally have no defiling
signs or traces. The primal light, empty and effective, illumines the headtop.
The primal wisdom, silent but also glorious, responds to conditions. When you
reach the truth without middle or edge, cutting off before and after, then you
realize one wholeness. Everywhere sense faculties and objects both just happen.
The one who sticks out his broad, long tongue transmits the inexhaustible lamp,
radiates the great light, and performs the great Buddha work, from the first not
borrowing from others one atom from outside the Dharma. Clearly this affair occurs
within your own house.
6. Forgetting About Merit Is Fulfillment
yourself from disturbance and face whatever appears before you. Not one iota seeps
through from outside. The two forms (yin and yang) have the same root, and the
ten thousand images have one substance. Following change and going along with
transformation the whole is not clouded over by previous conditions. Then you
reach the foundation of the great freedom. Wind blows and moon shines, and beings
do not obstruct each other. Afterwards, settle back within and take responsibility.
Wisdom returns and the principle is consummated. When you forget about merit your
position is fulfilled. Do not fall for occupying honorable stations, but enter
the current of the world and join with the delusion. Transcendent, solitary, and
glorious, directly know that transmitting is merit, but having transmitted is
not your own merit.
7. The Ground That Sages Cannot Transmit
Cast off completely
your head and skin. Thoroughly withdraw from distinctions of light and shadow.
Where the ten thousand changes do no reach is the foundation that even a thousand
sages cannot transmit. Simply by yourself illuminate and deeply experience it
with intimate accord. The original light flashes through confusion. True illuminations
reflects into the distance. Deliberations about being and nonbeing are entirely
abandoned. The wonder appears before you, its benefit transferred out for kalpas.
Immediately you follow conditions and accord with awakening without obstruction
from any defilements. The mind does not attach to things, and your footsteps are
not visible on the road. Then you are called to continue the family business.
Even if you thoroughly understand, still please practice until it is familiar.
8. With Total Trust, Roam and Play in Samadhi
Empty and desireless, cold and
thin, simple and genuine, this is how to strike down and fold up the remaining
habits of many lives. When the stains from old habits are exhausted, the original
light appears, blazing through your skull, not admitting any other maters. Vast
and spacious, like sky and water merging during autumn, like snow and moon having
the same color, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, magnificently
one entity without edge or seam. Further, when you turn within and drop off everything
completely, realization occurs. Right at the time of entirely dropping off, deliberation
and discussion are one thousand or ten thousand miles away. Still no principle
is discernible, so what could there be to point to or explain? People with the
bottom of the bucket fallen out immediately find total trust. So we are told simply
to realize mutual response and explore mutual response, then turn around and enter
the world. Roam and play in Samadhi. Every detail clearly appears before you.
Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces. The
outside and myself do not dominate each other, only because no perceiving [of
objects] comes between us. Only this non-perceiving encloses the empty space of
the Dhama realm's majestic ten thousand forms. People with the original face should
enact and fully investigate [the field] without neglecting a single fragment.
9. The Valley Spirit and the Wind Matter
Patch-robed monks practice thoroughly
without carrying a single thread. Open-mindedly sparkling and pure, they are like
a mirror reflecting a mirror, with nothing regarded as outside, without capacity
for accumulating dust. They illuminate everything fully, perceiving nothing [as
an object]. This is called taking up the burden from inside and is how to shoulder
responsibility. Wisdom illuminates the darkness without confusion. The Way integrates
with the body and does not get stuck. From this unstuck place engaging and transforming
at the appropriate opportunity, he wisdom dos not leak out, Clearly the Way does
not get stained. Unobstructed and free, beyond restraints, they do not depend
on even subtle indicators and their essential spirit cannot be eclipsed. Fulfilled,
wander around and arrive at such a field. the entire place secure, the entire
place at leisure, the open field of the white ox is plain and simple, of one color.
If you chase the ox, still he will not go away. You must intimately experience
and arrive here.
10. Simply Drop Off Everything
Silently dwell in the self,
in true suchness abandon conditioning. Open-minded and bright without defilement,
simply penetrate and drop off everything. Today is not your first arrival here.
Since the ancient home before the empty kalpa, clearly nothing has been obscured.
Although you are inherently spirited and splendid, still you must go ahead and
enact it. When doing so, immediately display every atom without hiding a speck
of dirt. Dry and cool in deep repose, profoundly understand. If your rest is not
satisfying and you yearn to go beyond birth and death, there can be no such place.
Just burst through and you will discern without thought-dusts, pure without reasons
for anxiety. Stepping back with open hands, [giving up everything], is thoroughly
comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world.
Merge together with all things. Everywhere is just right. Accordingly, we are
told that from ancient to modern times all dharmas are not concealed, always apparent
11. The Ancient Ferryboat in the Bright Moonlight
monk's authentic task is to practice the essence, in each minute event carefully
discerning the shining source, radiant without discrimination, one color unstained.
You must keep turning inwards, then [the source] is apprehended. This is called
being able of continue the family business. Do not wear the changing fashions,
transcend the duality of light and shadow. Accordingly the ancestors' single trail
is marvelously enacted. The residual debris of the world departs, its influence
ended. This worldly knowledge does not compare to returning to the primary and
obtaining confirmation. Observing beyond your skull, the core finally can be fulfilled
and you can emerge from the transitory. The reeds blossom under the bright moon;
the ancient ferryboat begins its passage; the jade thread fits into the golden
needle. Then the opportunity arises to turn around, enter the world, and respond
to conditions. All the dusts are entirely yours; all the dharmas are not someone
else's. Follow the current and paddle along, naturally unobstructed!
Gates Sparkling at the Source
All Buddhas and every ancestor without exception
testify that they all arrive at this refuge where the three times [past, present,
and future] cease and the ten thousand changes are silenced. Straight ahead, unopposed
by the smallest atom, the inherently illumined Buddha spirit subtly penetrates
the original source. When recognized and realized exhaustively, [this spirit]
shares itself and responds to situations. The gates sparkle and all bens behold
the gleamings. Then they understand d that from within this place fulfilled self
flows out. The hundreds of grass-tips all around never are imposed as my causes
and conditioning. The whole body from head to foot proceeds smoothly.
Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes
Emptiness is without characteristics. Illumination
has no emotional afflictions. With piercing, quietly profound radiance, it mysteriously
eliminates all disgrace. Thus one can know oneself; thus the self is completed.
We all have the clear, wondrously bright field from the beginning. Many lifetimes
of misunderstanding come only from distrust, hindrance, and screens of confusion
that we create in a scenario of isolation. With boundless wisdom journey beyond
this, forgetting accomplishments. Straightforwardly abandon stratagems and take
on responsibility. Having turned yourself around, accepting your situation,
you set foot on the path, spiritual energy will marvelously transport you. Contact
phenomena with total sincerity, not a single atom of dust outside yourself.
Self and Other the Same
All dharmas are innately amazing beyond description.
Perfect vision has no gap. In mountain groves, grasslands, and woods the truth
has always been exhibited. Discern and comprehend the broad long tongue [of Buddha's
teaching], which cannot be muted anywhere. The spoken is instantly hard; what
is heard is instantly spoken. Senses and objects merge; principle and wisdom are
united. When self and other are the same, mind and dharmas are one. When you face
what you have excluded and see how it appears, you must quickly gather it together
and integrate with it. Make it work within your house, then establish stable sitting.
Ten Billion Illuminating Spirits
The way wanders in the empty middle of the
circle, reaching the vacancy where appearances are forgotten. The pure ultimate
self blazes, brilliant simply from inherent illumination. Facing the boundary
of the objective world without yet creating the sense gates, realize the subtlety
of how to eliminate the effects of the swirling flow of arising and extinction!
Rely only on the source of creation. If you feel a shadow of a hair's gap, nothing
will be received. Just experience and respond appropriately. From this singular
impact many thousands of roads open, and al things are preeminent. With this unification
I radiantly speak the Dhama. The self divides into ten billion distinct illuminating
spirits. Distinguish these without falling into names and classifications and
accord fully without effort. The mirror is clear and magnanimous. The valley is
empty, but echoes. From the beginning unbound by seeing or hearing, the genuine
self romps and plays in samadhi without obstruction. When enacted like this, how
could it not be beneficial?