Secrets On Cultivating Mind
Son (Zen) Master Chinul
This threefold world, with its irritations and
afflictions, is like a flaming house; who can bear to stay here long, willfully
going through endless pain? If you desire to avoid the rounds (of samsara), nothing
is so good as seeking Buddhahood. If you want to seek Buddhahood, (know that)
Buddha is mind. Does mind have to be sought far away? It isn't even apart from
The body of form is temporary, and goes through birth and death.
But, the true Mind is like empty space; never ending and changeless. So it is
said, "When the body of form dies and returns to air & fire, one thing
is still aware, containing the whole cosmos." Sorry to say, people today
have been confused for a long time. They're not aware that their own mind is the
true Buddha. They're not aware that their own essence is the true Dharma. Wanting
to seek the Dharma, they ascribe it to ancient sages; wantng to seek Buddhahood,
they neglect to observe the mind.
If you say that there is a Buddha outside
of your own mind, and there is a Dharma outside of essence, and desire to seek
the Path of Budhahood while holding on tightly to these feelings, even if you
spend ages burning your body, branding your arms, breaking your bones and taking
the marrow, hurting yourself and copying sutras in your own blood, sitting for
long periods of time without getting up, eat only a single meal per day, or reading
the whole Tripitaka and mastering different ascetic practices - it will all be
like streaming sand to make rice; it only makes you tired. But, if you simply
know your mind you will understand innumerable teachings and endless subtle meanings
without even trying. This is why the World-Honored One said, "Observing all
sentient beings, I see that they all are fully endowed with the knowledge and
virtues of Buddhas." He also said, "All living beings, and all sorts
of illusionary events are all born in the completely awake and subtle mind of
those who realize Suchness." Thus we know that there is no Buddhahood separate
from this mind. The Awakened Ones of the past were simply people who understood
the mind, and the sages & saints of the present are people who cultivate mind;
students of the future should rely on this principle. People who practice the
Path should not search outside themselves. Mind-Essence has no defilement; originaly
it is complete and perfect in itself. Simply detach from illusory objects and
it is enlightened to Suchness as it is.
Q: If Buddha-nature is in our bodies
at this moment, it is not separate from regular folk either. Then why don't we
see this Buddha-nature at this moment?
A: It's in your body, but you don't
see it yourself. At all times you know when you're hungry or thirsty, cold or
hot; at times you're upset and at times you're happy - ultimately, what's doing
all this? The body of form is made out of the four elements of earth, water, air
and fire. They are insentient; how can they know or see? That which can know and
see must be your Buddha-nature. This is why Lin-Chi said, "The four elements
can't teach the Dharma of hear the Dharma. Space can't teach the Dharma of hear
the Dharma. Only the lone light clearly in front of you, which is formless, can
teach the Dharma and hear the Dharma."
What he called 'formless' is the
seal of the truth of all Buddhas, and it's your original mind. The Buddha-nature
is in your body at this very moment; why seek outside for it? If you don't believe
me, let me quote some stories of how ancient sages entered the Path, so that you
can make clear your doubt. You should believe with clear understanding of truth.
In Old Times, a king asked a Buddhist saint, "What's Buddhahood?"
The saint said, "To see the Essence is Buddhahood."
then asked, "Do you see the Essence?"
The saint replied, "I
see the Essence of Enlightenment."
The king asked, "Where is Essence?"
The saint replied, "Essence is in Function."
The king then asked,
"Why kind of Function is it if it's not visible now?"
The saint replied,
"It's Functioning right now; only you can't see it."
The king then
asked, "Is it in me?"
The saint said, "Anytime you do something,
that's it. When you're not doing anything, the Essence is hard to see."
king then asked, "When it's Functioning, how many places does it appear?"
saint said, "When it appears, there must be eight places."
said, "Please tell me these eight places where it appears."
then said, "In the womb, it's called the body. In the state, it's called
a person. In the eyes, it's called seeing. In the ears, it's called hearing. In
the nose, it tells the difference between smells. In the tongue, it talks. In
the hands, it grabs and clings. In the feet, it walks and runs. It appears all
over, containing all things; innumerable worlds are collected in one atom. People
who can see know that this is Buddha-nature, the Essence of Enlightenment. Those
who don't call it a 'soul'." When the king heard that, he opened up and understood.
Also, a monk asked Master Guizong, "What's a Buddha?"
said, "If I told you, you won't believe me."
The monk said, "If
you speak the truth, how could I not believe?"
Guizong then replied, "You're
The monk asked, "How can I preserve it?"
"Where there is a single obstacle in the eye, there is a shower of flowers
in the sky?"
The monk attained insight when he heard that. These stories
I have told about the situations where the ancient sages entered the Path are
clear and to the point. They really do save enerfy. If you gain true understanding
with these stories, then you'll walk hand in hand with the ancient sages.