To Investigate Chan, We Must Look Within Ourselves
Spoken by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua at a Chan Session Instruction in December, 1980.

We must look within ourselves and clearly see our own faults. Then we need to earnestly repent of these past mistakes. We must not hold onto our stinking habits and fail to let them go.
A verse goes,
While walking, standing, sitting, and reclining,
Never stray from "this."
Once you stray from "this,"
You've gone amiss.
What does "this" refer to? It's talking about the meditation-topic that we work at in our investigation. We use a true mind to practice the Way. Constantly and ceaselessly, we look into the topic and investigate it. In each successive hour, minute, and second, we allow no scattered or idle thoughts to occur. In thought after thought, we only investigate our meditation topic. Who has time left over to casually talk, or to disturb others? Even less are we at leisure to take a break, or gossip about people. We simply concentrate our minds and investigate the meditation topic, seeking understanding. There is a verse that reads,
Things pass by quite easily,
But a bad temper's truly hard to change.
If you can never get angry,
You've got a pearl beyond price.
Then, if you can never know hatred,
Everything will go your way.
Since afflictions never bother you anymore,
Your evil karma no longer comes to call.
But someone who knows only to criticize others
Is one whose own suffering has not yet ended.
Only if you maintain these attitudes as you meditate, do you have hope of "entering the gate." People in the Chan Hall must reflect inwardly and seek within themselves. Introspect and ask, "Am I working hard, or am I engaging in idle thoughts?" Take a close look at yourself: are you reflecting the light inwardly, or shining it out to mirror the exterior surroundings? Pay especially close attention to this question.
Remember this statement as you work in the Chan Hall:
Mahasattvas pay no attention to others;
Amitabha! Every man for himself!
At all times watch over yourself, and don't supervise others. Even less should you disturb others, obstructing them from diligently cultivating the Way and denying them their chance to get enlightened. Such behavior is most despicable. As I often say to you all:
Truly recognize your own faults,
And don't discuss the faults of others
Others' faults are simply my own faults:
Being one in substance with all is called Great Compassion.
If we can all think this way, then everyone will work hard, with single-minded concentration. No one will have any interest in idle chatter or disturbing others.
People who practice Chan meditation should be clear about the basic problem. What is the basic problem? It is our bad habits and faults. When we attend a Chan meditation session, we aim to eliminate those bad habits and faults. Wash the mind clean and purify your thoughts. Purge yourself of jealousy towards worthy and capable individuals. Banish forever all thoughts of envy and obstructiveness, of ignorance and afflictions. If you can do this, then your true mind, your wisdom, will manifest, and then there will be good news.
Why would people gossip? Only due to their stupidity. Why would they indulge in envy and obstructiveness? Because of stupidity. Why would they want to harm others? Because of stupidity. In fact, we do all sorts of unreasonable things because of our stupidity. Why are we stupid? It's because we lack the skills of Chan samadhi, and so we have no wisdom. We turn forever in the little sphere of self and others, rights and wrongs, and can't find our way out of that tight circle. This is the place where we must look within ourselves and clearly see our own faults. Then we need to earnestly repent of these past mistakes. We must not hold onto our stinking habits and fail to let them go.
Why do we fall asleep when we should be meditating? It's because we aren't sincere in seeking the Dharma. Someone who is sincere in seeking the Dharma would definitely not fall asleep. Why don't you all check this principle out and see if it is correct?

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