· Practise and Attain Sudden Enlightenment
· The Teaching and the Vehicle Are Different
· Practise and Attain Enlightenment After Understanding the Principles
All the great teachings of the Tripitaka can be thought of as being expedient
tools to help people break their egotistical grasping, the habit of many lifetimes,
at material object as well as at the concept of a personal self. Because the
potentiality of all sentient beings for spiritual development is very different,
the buddha has bestowed on us a wide range of different teachings and methods
to fit every individual's need. Depending on the particular illness, a particular
medicine can be prescribed. If all sentient beings did not hold any grasping
view whatsoever, the Buddha would, in reality, have had no Dharma to speak .
However, because the past roots of sentient beings are so very different, thus,
also, the expedient teachings of the Tathagata are not uniform. On the other
hand, if they are to be used expediently to help everyone, the teachings of
all Buddhas are, in reality, just like a finger pointing at the moon. We must
never mistake the finger for the moon! These teachings also direct one who is
lost, enabling him to find the true and safe way to return home.
The Supreme Dharma is without words and is inconceivable. However, one who is intelligent and ready can enlighten his own mind suddenly by realizing that all corporeal entities are, in reality, no different from the universal "It is just so" or "It is thus" condition of the Absolute. However, the spiritual roots of most sentient beings are quite dull; and, lacking some expedient method, they cannot become liberated from their habitual conditioning and Karma. Therefore, Buddhism has developed the expedients of the Three Vehicles and the Five Different Natures to urge people of all kinds and degrees of development and practice to initiate, nurture and embrace the Bodhi Mind and to protect the Dharma and preserve its stability and integrity. In this light, Buddhism promises that if one becomes enlightened regarding his Real Nature or Original Nature in this present lifetime, then he will attain the fruit of this realization in his next lifetime.
Ch'an Master Ch'an Yuan, out of great compassion, wrote his work Practice and Attain Sudden Enlightenment, using the dialogue format between a monk-student and his master to develop concepts about the nature of the Absolute, Original Mind, Enlightenment, practice, etc., assuming that future student of the Dharma would surely benefit from this design. The world is so structured that each sentence, if read with care and attention and clarity, can reveal one's True Nature; and each word can enlighten one's mind, purifying one's evil or impure thoughts and wiping out one's heterodox views. Ch'an Master Ch'an Yuan points directly to the Wonderful Source of one's True Nature and reminds his reader-students that, whether they use the sudden or the gradual method to become enlightened, when the time is ripe they will attain Bodhi completely and thoroughly and, thereby, become Buddhas suddenly.
This Dharma and the enlightenment achieved by understanding it are like the boat or raft of salvation floating on the ocean of suffering or like the single light piercing the pitch-black night of ignorance to show all sentient beings the True Way.
My most fervent desire is that all of my virtuous friends in the Dharma, as well as all other sentient beings, should clearly comprehend the deep purpose of the Tathagata and understand the mind of the Patriarch, who urges everyone to purify and enlighten his own mind. "Without a single thought arising" is the condition and being of the Perfect and Completely Enlightened One.
Dharma Master Lok To
Young Men's Buddhist Association of America
Bronx, New York
Practice and Attain Sudden Enlightenment
A monk once asked his master: What is "Tzung"(Ch'an/Zen -- editor
of the web edition)?
The master said: All Buddhas return to Tzung. Tzung is the Mind. This Mind is vast, comprehensive and empty, having neither karmic residue nor discrimination. However, without practice there can be no attainment of this Mind. The sutra says: "Buddha declared that the Mind is Tzung, that without any door whatsoever is the Dharma door and that from ancient times to the present in the west and in the east, in the teaching of all Buddhas, in the transmissions of all the Patriarchs, only this Mind is the substance of Tzung. "The substance of Mind is clean, originally perfect and bright, accords with conditions and yet is untainted. Just return to the Origin, which is neither pure nor impure, is neither less for worldly people nor more for worthy sages, does not change for different beings, is understood by wisdom, is bright and manifest, and is only One Mind. If the mind is covered over with defilements, this wonderful substance will be hidden. If you abandon this correct way of understand in order to practice other ways, then you will ultimately become a demon, having chosen the wrong way.
The monk asked: What is the Teaching?
The master said: All Buddhas expounded the True Dharma, which is composed of the expedients of the Three Vehicles and the five different natures. Also, all the Bodhisattvas composed the Sastras just to demonstrate that all things are the One Mind, so that practitioners of later times would be inspired by the Teaching to cut off illusion and return to the truth in order to practice the Doctrine and attain its aim.
The monk asked: What is the difference between Tzung (Ch'an) and the Teaching?
The master said: Tzung is the Teaching without words, while the Teaching is Tzung with words.
The monk asked: If both Tzung and the Teaching are the same principle, then why is it said that Tzung is "a special transmission outside of the Scriptures".
The master said: because students depend on words, they can develop gradual understanding by way of the Teaching. However, without words the Sudden Enlightenment of the One Mind can also be attained by Tzung. Therefore, to say that Tzung is "a special transmission outside of the Scriptures" is also to say that Tzung is the "Supreme Sect".
The monk asked: What is without "two doctrines"?
The master said: After hearing the Teaching and understanding the Doctrine, you should practice to attain spontaneous accord with the non-active Great Tao. However, to attain Sudden Enlightenment in the Ch'an Sect, you should develop a complete, concentrated practice to recover your still, bright Original Mind.
The monk asked: The sutra says, "In reality, there are not two ways to return to the Source of Nature." However, since there seem to be many expedient ways, I do not know which way is the most direct way for deliverance. Can you suggest which is the most direct way?
The master said: There are two causes inside and two causes outside characterizing the most direct way for deliverance.
The monk asked: Would you please point out the two causes, both inside and outside, characterizing this direct way?
The master said: They are the following: the cutting off of the outside causes of carnality, killing and stealing; the developing of the inside causes of understanding the Mind to see your True Nature.
The monk asked: Why should one cut off the outside causes of carnality, stealing and killing?
The master said: Due to thoughts of sexual desire, all sentient beings are involved in birth and death; because of killing all sentient beings must repay others with their own lives in transmigration; because of stealing, all sentient beings must come to rebirth to repay their principal and interest from previous lives. If you wipe out these three causes, then you will end the cycle of birth and death forever.
The monk asked: How can one see the nature of Mind by the inside causes?
The master said: If you see the Original Pure Mind, then you will see your own Nature, which is original emptiness.
The monk asked: How can you say that the Mind is originally pure?
The master said: This Mind is neither the body nor the heart. It is not the discriminating mind. It is not sophistical, but absolute; it is without birth and death; it neither exists nor non-exists. It is bright and empty. It is complete and reflects all things, is ever changing in condition yet immutable in essence, is immutable in essence yet ever changing in condition. It is eternal and immutable True Mind. All Buddhas in the past attained this Mind, and all Bodhisattvas in the present learn this Mind. All students in the future will come to understand this Mind, and all sentient beings will be confused about the nature of this Mind. All practitioners will be enlightened by this Mind. Bodhidharma came from the West to point out this Mind directly, and all virtues, from ancient times to the present, radiate this Mind. It is wonderful Mind, which cannot be described completely here and now. I describe it only briefly to encourage people of the future to believe in the Dharma and to attain Enlightenment.
The monk asked: What is seen to be the nature of Original Emptiness?
The master said: The nature of the One Reality is original emptiness and stillness, without shape and form, as clear as space, immovable and unshakable, deep and permanent. It is called the Original Face and Truth. All mountains, rivers, the great earth, all phenomena in the universe, and all things pure and impure come from this.
The monk asked: Are Original Nature and True Mind one or two?
The master said: They are neither one nor two.
The monk asked: What is neither one nor two?
The master said: Original Nature is the substance, and True Mind is the function. Original Nature is like a clear, bright mirror; and True Mind is like pure, radiant light. The ancient master said, "Original Nature is bright and wonderful. "Original Nature is the substance, which is deep and permanent. True Mind is the wonderful function, which is bright, perfect and illuminating, just as light illuminates a mirror. Since light and the mirror are two, you, therefore, cannot really say they are one; also, since light and the mirror are one, you, therefore, cannot really say they are two.
The monk asked: Since this is the case - that all Buddhas and all sentient beings are one substance of Mind Nature - then why are the Buddha and all other holy and sentient beings also worldly?
The master said: All Buddhas and sentient beings have the nature of Original Emptiness. Because the mind has both purity and impurity, there exist, therefore, the holy and the worldly.
The monk asked: Why does the mind have purity and impurity?
The master said: Original Nature is like a mirror that is completely still and bright. True Mind, like pure, clear light reflected in a mirror, illuminates all things without obscurity. All sages respond to things without a discriminating mind; they come and go, never taking hold of anything, like pure, colorless light. All sentient beings, on the other hand, respond to things with a discriminating mind, grasping, liking, disliking and making all sorts of distinctions, like impure, multi-colored light. However, even on this level, although the function, as in the case of light, can be experienced dualistically as pure of impure, yet the substance, as in the case of the mirror, remains one.
The monk asked: Does the substance of Mind Nature have limits?
The master said: Yes!
The monk asked: How wide are they?
The master said: They embrace and contain all the ten directions of inexhaustible space.
The monk asked: Since Mind Nature is without any boundaries whatsoever, why does it appear to be located inside the body?
The master said: Since beginningless time, all sentient beings have been imprisoned by the womb and shackled by the body, which they have always grasped very tightly; therefore, they have the almost unbreakable delusion that Mind Nature is inside the body. This is tantamount to regarding a thief as one's own son. It is like falling into a vast, eternal hell. When can you ever get out?! Not only are both heavenly beings and human beings confused about this, so also are the followers of the Two Vehicles.
The monk asked: If Mind Nature is not in the body, from where am I thinking at this very moment?
The master said: Your question is really about deluded consciousness and the body, because it implies that thinking and anxiety are your Mind. This is because of the deceptive influence of the six types of sensory objects, which deludes you about your True Nature and which makes you foolishly grasp the idea that your Mind is inside your body. Thinking in this way, how can you ever escape from the prison of the womb? In the Surangama Sutra, Buddha, replying to Ananda, says, "Ananda, this is a result of your false thinking, which arises from external objects and deludes you about your True Nature and which has deceived you since beginningless time and continues to deceive you, thereby making you lose awareness of that which is basically permanent; therefore, you continue in the round of birth and death. "To understand this you should know clearly that the mind of thinking and anxiety is like a shadow in a mirror or illusory flowers in the sky - really only voidness, just original nothingness.
The monk asked: If thinking and anxiety and the deceptive influence of the six types of sensory objects are in or connected with the body, what and where, then, is my bright and wonderful Mind Nature?
The master said: All sentient beings completely misunderstand the boundlessness of Mind Nature, which is neither inside nor outside the body. However, they grasp at the shadows of the six types of sensory objects and think that space includes the body and that the body includes the fleshly mind. Then they grasp at greed and love and, thus, bind themselves ever more and more to the cycle of the Wheel of Birth-and-Death. Who really, without any doubt whatsoever, knows that space, the great earth and all the other "things" in the universe are actually just false shadows and insubstantial illusions manifesting themselves in the bright and wonderful Mind Nature? The Surangama Sutra says, "Dimness creates emptiness; and both, in the darkness, unite with it to become form. The mingling of form with false thinking causes the latter to take the shape of a body, which is then stirred by accumulated causes within and is drawn to external objects. Such inner disturbance is mistaken for the true nature of Mind, and thus arises the false view of a mind dwelling within the physical body and the concurrent failure to realize that this body - are all nothing but phenomena within the wondrous, bright True Mind. "Because I am afraid that you still do not understand, let me give you a further analogy. Original nature is like a universal mirror. True Mind is like pure, bright universal light. Mountains, rivers, the great earth and all the other phenomena of the universe - even the physical body and consciousness - are just like shadows or reflections in the mirror. Because all sentient beings recognize only these shadows or reflections, they remain submerged in and bound to the four kinds of birth and the nine states of being. However, if they can just recognize the universal mirror itself and the bright, universal light, then they will, quite naturally and suddenly, recover the Original True Mind Nature.
The monk asked: Because vast Mind Nature, which includes all things, is not in the body, is it correct to think that it is outside the body?
The master said: No! That is not right!
The monk asked: Since I do not understand why it is neither inside nor outside, would you please explain it to me clearly?
The master said: Original Nature is as omnipresent as space. Being neither inside the body nor outside the body, True Mind does not dwell anywhere. It neither is the body nor is not the body. Therefore, even though Ananda looked for Mind in seven places, still he could not locate it because it is without a basis. The second Patriarch understood this truth and so, according with the Tao, uttered only one word. However, maybe it is still not clear, so let me give you another example. Original Nature is like the clear water of the ocean, while True Mind is like the light of that clear water. The body is like bubbles rising as wind moves over the water. Also, the ocean water is like the Dharmakaya, while the wetness of the water is like Original Nature. However, both the wetness of the bubbles and the wetness of the water are of the same nature. Therefore, there is no inside and no outside. Both the water and the bubbles have the nature of wetness, but worldly people mistakenly just grasp at the bubbles, abandoning the boundless ocean. The Surangama Sutra says, "Like an ignorant man who overlooks the great ocean but grasps at a floating bubble, regarding that bubble as the whole body of water in its immense expanse, you are doubly deluded among the deluded. "If one comes to understand that both the water of the bubble and the water of the ocean have only the one original nature of wetness, then how can he continue to cling to the erroneous notion of inside and outside? What a pity if you do not comprehend Original Nature!
The monk responded: The wetness of water is like the nature of the Dharmadhatu, and the wetness of the bubble is like consciousness in the body. Those two natures of wetness are not different; therefore, there is neither inside nor outside. Although there is neither inside nor outside, nevertheless, at the end of one's life, one leaves this place and is born in another place. So then it seems that there, indeed, is an inside and an outside. Taking this into account, how can you then say absolutely that there is no inside and no outside?
The master said: You still do not understand what I have taught you, and you continue to ask me where the sky-flowers (specks in the eye fluid seen as spatial presences) come from and where they go. You are very foolish, indeed! Because you do not regard your Original Nature right from the very beginning, false thoughts arise; and you then become bound within the prison of the womb. You consider your Original Nature to be located within your body; and then you go grasping at life after life, thinking that Mind Nature has an inside and an outside and that it comes and goes like those illusory flowers in the sky. However even though sky-flowers come and go in space, space itself never moves. Although consciousness seems to have an inside and an outside, Original Nature has neither and it never moves. Just as flowers in the sky are an illusion, so, also, consciousness in the body is false. You must use space, sky-flowers and other illusions to understand that the notion of consciousness as being or residing within the body is false. You should think about this yourself.
Do you, perhaps, still not understand? Let me quote from the Surangama Sutra once again: "Think of the void in an empty pitcher which has two mouths. If one stoppers both mouths and carries the pitcher to another country, the void does not go from one place to
another. If it were actually possible to carry the void from one place to another, then the first place would lose some of its voidness. Also, on arrival elsewhere, when the mouths of the pitcher were unstoppered and it was turned upside down, one would see the void pouring out of it and a consequent increase of voidness in the second place. "Logically, of course, this could not happen. Therefore, you should understand that consciousness is unreal and is neither conditional nor self-existent.
Let me explain this further. Stoppering the two mouths of the pitcher, called a bird-vase, can be compared to two kinds of karma - good and evil. The pitcher itself is like karma strength, which can guide the consciousness to go somewhere. The void inside the pitcher is like the consciousness that follows karma. There seems to be both an inside and an outside void about the pitcher, however, in reality, these "two voids" are not different substances. Both the inside and the outside voids originally are one; therefore, there is really neither inside nor outside. This void inside the pitcher can be compared to Original Consciousness, which is just emptiness. The karma of good and evil, guiding this Consciousness to somewhere - just as one carries a pitcher a thousand miles from the starting point - is rather like abandoning something here and receiving it there. The Surangama Sutra says, "Ananda, the void does not come from another place and does not arrive at this place. "So we can compare abandoning the body to the pitcher's going from one place to another; i.e., the consciousness of the previous body does not decrease but receives the new body in this place. However, consciousness, like the void in the pitcher, never departs when the body dies; rather, consciousness is already here simultaneously with the birth of the new body.
Thus, it can be concluded that consciousness does not come packaged, as it were, in the new body. In reality, before the new body is born, consciousness already has been in continuous existence. One who is confused about this and who does not understand thinks, erroneously, that consciousness is within the body and, also, that it comes and goes. If one clearly understands that the substance (consciousness) never has this and that or inside and outside, then how could he possibly conclude that it comes and goes?
The master said: All things are produced by causal conditions and end by causal conditions. Even though they may manifest the actions of coming and going, the perfect, bright Original Nature, in reality, never changes. Because worldly people, who have sick, inverted vision, only recognize illusory sky-flowers as real, they, as a consequence have the continuing illusion of creation and destruction; and they are endlessly influenced and deluded by the environment. The sutra says, "Since beginningless time, all sentient beings have had so many reverses and held so many inverted views (just like a confused person losing his bearings and becoming lost in the four directions) that they consider the four elements to be the body and the deceptive influence of the six types of sensory objects to be their own Mind. "It is just like the case of one who has an eye problem. He sees flowers in the sky until they disappear in space, but he cannot really say how these sky-flowers are created nor just how they are annihilated. This is because there never really was a place for such creation. All sentient beings originally exist from no birth and no death; but they are deluded, as we have observed, and so they experience both birth and death. Therefore, they assert that there actually are birth and death in transmigration. However, one who has experienced Sudden Enlightenment knows that birth and death are, in reality, the results of deluded, false consciousness and that the substance of Mind and Perfect Enlightenment is always permanent and indestructible. There was one patriarch who said, "Even when every last skeleton is pulverized and dispersed, only the One Mind still remains bright." For one who realizes this Mind, how can there be any birth and death?
The monk asked: I understand all that you have said. It is quite clear, but can you explain why I seem to have my body and my mind at the beginning of my life?
The master said: The source of Truth is pure, and the Ocean of Enlightenment is clear and still, originally never having any trace whatsoever of either the active or the passive. So how can it then have even the tiniest trace of name and form? Because there is ignorance, a thought suddenly arises in the beginning to start the thought process. Because of this, the dust of confusion arises. Following this, perception arises; and consequently name and form become firmly established and rooted. As a mirror manifests forms, suddenly the sense organs and the body arise in that very second in which the world is completely created by thought. Finally there arises the duality of liking and disliking, which continues the fruit of karma. Due to all of this, Truth becomes confused and sinks into the Three Realms to engage in transmigration forever.
The monk responded: It is surely just as you say. The sense organs and the body appear suddenly due to ignorance at the beginning of the rising of a single thought; and, also, when the delusory body terminates, the four elements dissipate. So just how do we come to rebirth due to this false consciousness?
The master said: All worldly people in daily life exist with many feelings, including love and aversion, thus always and ever creating new karma, either good or evil. Then, according to these causes, they realize effects when, at the end of their present lifetime, they return to darkness to discover what their causal conditions for rebirth are. At this time, glimpsing a single point of light, they instantly are pulled and go directly to that very point, which just happens to be the place where their future parents are engaged in sexual intercourse. If, at that very moment, their own thoughts of love and hate arise, they are pulled into the blood-sperm mixture of the womb, just as lodestone magnetizes and pulls iron, disturbing it instantly.
There are five sages of development in the womb. The first seven days can be described as mixed or impure. The father's sperm and the mother's blood are mixed and shaped like creamy paste. Thus, name and form are mixed; hence, this stage is called impure. During the second seven days, an ulcerous bubble, as big as a garden pea, appears; but the inside still looks like creamy liquid or paste because the blood has not yet been begotten. During the third seven days, further congealing takes place, condensing with a little bit of blood. During the fourth seven days, the condensed mixture gradually thickens and hardens, and the five viscera take shape little by little. During the fifth seven days, the small shaping mass takes in some air; also, the embryo's four limbs begin to take shape along with the five organs by the end of this period. During the sixth seven days, hair, nails and teeth develop. During the seventh seven days, the organs develop fully; that is, all the viscera and organs become perfect. After ten months, when it is born to become a human being, the essence of consciousness has already become divided into six functions to create karma with its surroundings. Thus, through seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing, one cycles continuously, birth after birth and death after death, forever, in transmigration.
The monk asked: If one has the form of spirit-consciousness, then does one, consequently, come to rebirth in a physical body?
The master said: Yes!
The monk asked: What shape does it take?
The master said: The spirit-consciousness - or "middle existence" - of a human being takes the shape of a human being, having an apparent body, and it appears between death existence and rebirth existence. It has the form of a child for two or three years and is about two feet high. The "middle existence" of an animal takes the shape of an animal. It is exactly the same with all other orders of being. Even though these shapes of consciousness infinitesimally small, they can, nevertheless, still create all sorts of karma. To become involved again in the cycle of reincarnation, at the side of parents, allowing the dualistic thought of hate and love to arise, is generally known as "having a soul".
The monk asked: What is the nature of that non-womb-entering spirit, which is called "dwo-shih"?
The master said: There may be someone who practices the Tao in his lifetime in the world or someone who has great blessings but does not want his spirit, after his death, to enter just any womb indiscriminately, preferring to wait for some auspicious condition. Just as this preferred mother, who has good or auspicious conditions in her life, is giving birth to her baby, the "dwo-shih", who has great blessings, suddenly approaches, scolding in a very loud voice, and forces the original, less blessed spirit already housed within to leave the child. Then this highly blessed spirit usurps the position of the original spirit. This, then, is the nature of the "dow-shih". However, all these things are inconceivable to the rational mind and cannot be intentionally arranged or planned.
The monk asked: All sentient beings in the world, perhaps, after their deaths really seek rebirth for themselves just as they choose, like the "dwo-shih", but would any being choose rebirth and suffering in hell? Is hell, perhaps, not real?
The master said: One the contrary! Hell is very real, indeed! This hell-condition is strictly dependent on the mind. All sentient beings create karma by means of ten different habits. Because of that karma, they receive retribution; and if that karma is evil enough, then hell will manifest itself from the mind, not from any other region. The Avatamsaka Sutra says, "To perceive the nature of the Dharmadhatu, just understand that all things are created by the mind. "Therefore, we can understand that to take the position of suffering in hell is a condition created by the mind itself.
In the Surangama Sutra, Buddha, speaking to Ananda, says, "Ananda, all hells are created by ten causes and six effects, which confuse all sentient beings. "People should not doubt that hell is real, or they might tend to become neglectful, not cease creating evil karma and persist forever in their bad habits. However, when hell does manifest from the mind, it is impossible to escape. As people live in the world, doing good or evil in a great or a small way, all happens according to the law of cause and effect. This means that great good causes will result in the effect of rebirth in heaven, while deeply evil causes will result in the effect of rebirth in hell. One who has an equal number of both good and evil causes will have rebirth as a human being. Some beings, having both sins and blessings of an inferior sort and not yet coming to rebirth, may suddenly take a shape that is called "chung yin shen" (intermediate existence). Originally it is nothing, but it transforms into a shape - thus, rebirth from transformation - about three feet high and having six organs, that quickly comes and goes with no obstructions. It may appear to others' vision to be only a shadow. It dies after seven days, only to come alive again; but the length of its life is rarely ever more than seven weeks. Thus, it only has a short life span - one, two or three weeks - to search out its conditions for rebirth. Usually people call this being "a soul".
The monk responded: The substance of Original Nature is vast and includes infinite space. True Mind really dwells nowhere, neither inside nor outside. However, consciousness itself seems to dwell in the body as a prisoner. So is True Mind inside of consciousness or outside consciousness?
The master said: As gold is bonded to minerals and water to waves, even so the Alaya consciousness, in bondage to the Bhutatathata. Therefore, the advanced student should understand what is true and what is false, and he must depend on True Mind to attain Bodhi; furthermore, he must understand that to follow the false mind will cause him to drift in the ocean of birth and death endlessly.
The monk asked: Not knowing just how the mind of consciousness is situated in the body, just how can we distinguish what is True Mind from what is false mind?
The master said: True Mind is the mind of stillness and illumination. The false mind of knowledge is the mind that keeps us from causal attainment.
The monk asked: Just what is the false mind of knowledge that keeps us from causal attainment?
The master said: Originally the false mind was empty, but because it had the subject-object duality and discriminated outside itself - liking and disliking, grasping and rejecting - it attained only confusion, thought after thought, without ceasing. So it was born into heaven, hell and all the other states of being. Originally there was no birth to be considered as birth, and there was no death to bethought about as death. Mind was just free, like a monkey playing in a tree or like a horse running in a field; it just loafed about, without desire, in the Three Realms forever.
The monk asked: If the false mind has knowledge, then how can illusion arise?
The master said: Illusory thought is like the moon in water, and false-mind knowledge is like flowers in the sky - both arise due to the perception of the duality of subject and
object. Due to discrimination - the function of knowing mind using the organs - illusory thought comes from outside the body. If there is mind without an object, then there can be no substance. Objects are illuminated by mind; but if objects are destroyed, there is no more illumination. All things arise by means of thought, but without thought all things are empty. If one takes these false things for the substance of truth, one then creates false causes, which, in consequence, take the effect of annihilation. In this case, how can one ever realize True Mind?!
The monk asked: What is True Mind, and what is the Knowledge that is true and bright?
The master said: True Mind is clear and luminous with no object whatsoever, is still and shining, encloses the Great Void, never has any purpose, and is always bright and understanding. It is open without a trace and folds with no vestige of action. It is as clear as a lake reflecting the wild fields. It is as clear as a dustless mirror in the sky that reflects within itself the infinite universe in all its variety, which is neither within nor without and which neither exists nor non-exists. All Holy Ones return there, and all Buddhas of the Three periods are permanently abiding there. It is called Original True Buddha Nature and is also called Pure Dharmakaya. If one rejects this Dharma to follow or practice others, he can only become a demon in the end.
The monk asked: How can you prove that True Mind has been realized?
The master said: True Mind is still and bright as well as clear and boundless. The universal cannot cover it. Nothing can hide or conceal it. No deva or human being can see it. Demons cannot find it. The sharpest knife cannot cut it. The fire-kalpas cannot burn it. The iron-ringed mountain cannot sink it. Transmigration cannot confound it. It is perfect and completely bright forever. If you can understand the nature of True Mind, then you, also, can attain to the Complete Enlightenment of Buddha at any time.
The monk asked: How can one transform intellectual knowledge so that it becomes natural understand? Also, how can one turn the false mind around so that it becomes True Mind?
The master said: The false mind is tied to the sense organs, while True Mind is not tied to the sense organs.
The monk asked: Can you characterize the false mind tied to the sense organs and True Mind not tied to the sense organs?
The master said: Originally there were no world, body and mind. All was stillness and emptiness in a state of radiant perfection. However, due to the sudden arising of just a single thought, the organs of thought became connected with objects. Because objects lead to such thoughts as liking or disliking, the condition of the discriminating mind is like a moth flying to a lamp, grasping and rejecting the flame; it can also be compared to a silk womb tightly bound within its own threads. However, if there is no discrimination regarding objects by the sense organs, then you own spiritual light will always be clearly shining. If the six senses could interchange their functions with each other, then all things and the self would not be different.
The Surangama Sutra says, "You have only not to follow the states of stillness and disturbance, of contact and separation, of changing and unchanging conditions, of clearance
and obstruction, of creation and destruction, and of light and darkness. From these twelve worldly conditions, just root out any one of your six sense organs to disengage it from both inner and outer adhesion. As soon as it is subdued and brought back to the Real, the latter's light will appear. When its bright nature becomes manifest, the other five adhesions will, simultaneously, be rooted out; and you will be completely free from wrong views created by sense data. This light does not follow the sense organs but manifests itself through them, and so all six organs function through each other." Further one, in the same Sutra, we read: "Ananda, if all your sense organs are rooted out, your inner light will appear. All transient sense data, as well as the changing conditions of the material world, will vanish like ice melted by boiling water, and you will realize Supreme Bodhi instantly."
Probably you still do not understand, so let me explain it to you again. Both True Mind and the false mind have the function of knowing, but the false mind depends on the sense organs and data to have its knowledge, whereas True Mind functions without the organs and data to have understanding or awareness. One who wishes to learn the Tao, should understand, right at the very beginning, what True Mind is and what false mind is so that practicing and attaining the Tao will be easy.
The Teaching and the Vehicle Are Different
The monk asked: I clearly understand your explanation of the Sudden-Enlightenment
Dharma, but would you please demonstrate more clearly what you mean by the statement
that the Teaching and the Vehicle are different.
The master said: I wish never to disappoint anyone; so if you have further specific questions, I shall answer them.
The monk asked: What is the meaning of the statement "All Dharmas return to the One Mind"?
The master said: Let me use the example of a lump of gold that is used to make many different gold containers. If, later, one puts all these gold containers into the fire, they all remelt again into the original single lump of gold. Likewise, all Dharmas return to the One Mind.
The monk asked: What is the nature of the surpassing strength of one who is suddenly enlightened by the Dharma?
The master said: With right understanding and perfect practice, one can transcend Kalpas. Even in birth and death he can enter Nirvana, or he can stay in the world constantly as well as dwell in the Pure Land forever. He can change the flesh-eye into the Wisdom-Eye and turn the worldly mind into Buddha-Mind. Thus, to believe in the Sudden-Enlightenment Dharma brings great merit.
The monk asked: It is said that to understand the Mind and to realize the Self-Nature is just "like a drinker of water who knows for himself whether it is cold or warm"; but what is the evidence for this?
The master said: If a student is sincere about practicing and realizing, then his body-mind duality will become Absolute Oneness. His light of wisdom will be bright, understanding Original Enlightenment throughout numberless Kalpas -- a state which cannot be described in words. So he is said to be "just like a drinker of water who knows for himself whether it is cold or warm". If one wishes to take the expedient method to manifest Original Mind, then he should take both the Teaching and the Vehicle and compare them in order to experience a genuinely all-sided understanding.
The monk asked: Why does the Ch'an Sect teach that students should not be allowed to study the Teachings, asserting that many of them get only incomplete comprehension and gain only a knowledge of words?
The masters said: If you want to study the Teachings and do research in the Tripitaka, then just understand how each word makes its impression upon your mind. However, because some students grasp the letters and the words for an explanation, they cannot really understand the substance. Therefore, some Ch'an adherents laugh at those who study the Teachings to become holy through words alone.
The monk asked: What is the confused mind in contrast to the Enlightened Mind?
The master said: If in Original True Mind there arises an unenlightened thought, this is called confused mind. In contrast, if in the unenlightened mind the process arises for the actualization of Enlightenment in order to recover True Mind, this is called Enlightened Mind. Therefore, just understand that if thought either arises from or falls upon the causal ground, then the confused mind and Enlightened Mind are different; but in Original Mind they are one.
The monk asked: Why should one, after understanding the principles, then put an end to both false and truthful views?
The master said: Because there is the false, we must then say that the true, also, exists; but the true is really without form and is void. Similarly, if we declare the true to be existent, then we must recognize the false, also, as existent; but the substance of the false originally is empty. Since the false is originally empty, the true, also, cannot be set up as other than void. Therefore, we should put an end to both the true and the false. Original Mind is permanent and naturally void.
The monk asked: If, by the sudden method of Ch'an, one can become enlightened directly, then how can words be used to explain or show it?
The master said: One who investigates the profound meaning should have two different kinds of eyes. First, there are one's own eyes, which are used to understand Ch'an. Second, there is the Wisdom Eye, which is used to recognize illusion. The Ch'an Sect has explained it thusly: "If one only understands one's own self, he does not know what is in front of his face." Thus, if a person only has one eye -- i.e., has only an awareness of the principles but not of the illusory appearances -- he cannot ever really realize complete perfection. Also, if he dares to consider that pursuing wisdom is not right, then what is to be understood by that great wisdom of Manjusri, who is the son of the Dharma King? On the other hand, if one thinks that to be without learning is right, then why is the non-learning Bhiksu really a hell-person? It is just because his consciousness is locked. However, without the key of wisdom how can it be opened? Because one is caught in the net of emotion, how can it be cut away without using the sharp sword of wisdom? If anyone is practicing for Complete Enlightenment, then he should not hold the view of the unlearned but should, on the contrary, utilize both kinds of eyes.
The monk asked: If one has perfect practice and has attained True Mind, can he still fall back into cause-and-effect conditions?
The master said: From the lowest sentient beings right up to the level of the Buddhas -- all are affected by the law of cause and effect. How can we deny the law of Karma? because the heterodox believers do not understand that all things are created by causal conditions, they grasp at nature as the only explanation, seeking to deny causes and effects. The Two-Vehicle followers, having narrow views, attain only a partial insight into emptiness because they extinguish their bodies in the fire of the house of the passions, grasping at the law of Karma as the only explanation. All of the above, however, become merely foolish explanation if one remains ignorant of one's own permanent, complete Original Mind. If one is to be a real practitioner, he should understand that only reality is the cause and, also, that only reality is the effect. Also, he should not have any view that denies the law of Karma, or he will certainly fall into heterodoxy. Thus, one should learn to create perfect causes and attain wonderful effects.
The monk asked: There once was someone who developed the method described as "practicing without mind". If there really is such a thing as "practicing without mind", that would be like becoming a piece of wood or a stone. Under such conditions, how can holy beings and sages be said to have achieved great wisdom?
The master said: If there be one who is really "without mind", he is not at all like a piece of wood or a stone. He just has no discriminating mind, no hating nor loving mind, no liking nor disliking mind, no good nor evil mind, no void nor existent mind, no extreme nor middle mind, no inside nor outside mind -- no grasping mind whatsoever. This does not mean that he is without True Mind. It is simply still yet radiantly illuminated. It is radiantly illuminated yet simply still.
The monk asked: The ancient master said, "One should not say that No-Mind is the Tao, because No-Mind still has one more gate." What is it?
The master said: True Mind is voidness, neither having existence nor non-existence. If one abandons existence and dwells in non-existence, that is wrong. The ancient master also handed down the following gatha. "I advise you to learn the Tao, but don't seek it with greed. All things are without mind, which is, perhaps, to be near the Tao." With No-Mind one comprehends the Tao of Mind; and after one comprehends No-Mind, the Tao, also, rests.
The monk asked: What does it mean to declare that in No-Knowing there is real awareness and that there is only understanding through mere knowing?
The master said: No-Knowing is the function of Pure Mind, and knowing is the function of the intellectual mind. The substance produces the function, that is, No-Knowing is real and fundamental awareness. The function cannot, in reality, be separated from the substance. If the function is apparently separated from the substance, this is knowing that is dependent on form and is the condition of knowing through the intellectual mind. However, if there is only substance without function, that is merely stupid emptiness.
The monk asked: Why is it said that the thoughts that arise from the knowing mind are false?
The master said: The six sense organs with their objects have both discriminating thought and knowledge, therefore, such knowing is said to be false.
The monk asked: What, then, is the nature of that No-Mind understanding, which is said to be true?
The master said: When True Mind responds to all things, it is just like a mirror that reflects all images brightly and clearly without any cloudiness or impurities -- that is to say, No-Mind understanding is true.
The monk asked: What is the right view?
The master said: If one does not rely on any sense organ or its data for understanding, he, then, has the right view. However, if one relies on the various sense organs and their data to understand, he, then, has the wrong view.
The monk asked: What are the Precious Three?
The master said: Voidness and stillness of the mind is the Precious Buddha. Stillness with illumination and permanence is the Precious Dharma. Illumination without any defilement is the Precious Sangha.
The monk asked: What does it mean to really offer to the Buddha?
The master said: Abandoning oneself to follow objects and desires is to go against the Buddha, but returning to one's Original Mind is really offering to the Buddha.
The monk asked: What does it mean to really listen to the Dharma?
The master said: With the six sense organs in front of all objects, the six consciousnesses do not arise. This is really listening to the Dharma.
The monk asked: What does it mean to really leave home?
The master said: Not to dwell in the house of the five Squanders is really leaving home.
The monk asked: How can one not dwell in the house of the five Skandhas?
The master said: In seeing, do not rely on the particular sense organ, but always understand that form is empty. Understand clearly that with No-Mind all feelings toward objects are empty. Then, in thought after thought, without defilement, the impulses and passions are, also, seen to be empty. True Mind is permanent, and its consciousness is empty.
The monk asked: What does it mean to say that "The void is form and the form is void"?
The master said: If one see void and dwell on the void, then the void is form. If you see form and do not dwell on form, then the form is void.
The monk asked: What does it mean to say "The mind is Buddha"?
The master said: Mind and Buddha are one, so don't go seeking anything else outside.
The monk asked: What does it means to say that "There really is neither mind nor Buddha"?
The master said: Just eliminate your grasping and take away your explanations. Only this is really "originally no mind or Buddha".
The monk asked: What is the meaning of the statement "The three minds are unobtainable"?
The master said: Originally the three minds of past, present and future are void and still. It is, therefore, unreasonable to give rise to and grasp at false flowers in the sky, creating obstacles and illusions that cover the total, bright Truth.
The monk asked: What is real Emptiness?
The master said: The substance of True Mind is stillness. The function of abstract thought is illumination. Therefore, being illuminant while yet maintaining stillness is called real Emptiness.
The monk asked: What is Wonderful Existence?
The masters said: When you so illuminate both existence and non-existence such that neither has subject nor object -- this is Wonderful Existence.
The monk asked: What is the meaning of "Only get the beginning, no need to worry about the end"?
The master said: If one is enlightened, understanding that True Mind is original stillness, then all Dharmas vanish quite naturally.
The monk asked: What is the meaning of "Defilement is Bodhi, and ignorance is Buddha Nature"?
The master said: When the first thought arises, that is defilement; but if the second thought does not stay, that is Bodhi. When the first thought moves, that is ignorance; but if the second thought does not continue, that is Buddha Nature.
The monk asked: How can one keep from backsliding?
The Master said: Just realize suddenly enlightened Original Mind, hold it with discipline, and practice for complete attainment; and then you will complete the process in one lifetime. If one can just do this, he will never backslide. One the other hand, if one relies on written explanation to realize some meaning but has many bad habits and a floating mind that has no discipline or meditative insight whenever he meets some object or thought or circumstance that creates discrimination, then he will backslid automatically.
The monk asked: What are the six Paramitas?
The master said: To be enlightened about Absolute Mind suddenly -- this is to be filled with the six Paramitas.
The monk asked: What does it mean to say the Absolute Mind is filled with the six Paramitas?
The master said: If one is enlightened about Absolute Mind, then that is the six Paramitas taking root. In contrast, if one is confused about Absolute Mind, he is blind to the six Paramitas. Just why must Absolute Mind be the original root? If one does not understand True Mind but holds the Disciplines, he will take his effect as rebirth into the heaven of the desire realms; however, after finishing his effect, he might still backslide and fall into hell. If one does not understand True Mind but practices forbearance, he will take the effect of good retribution; but he cannot attain stillness and Nirvana. If one does not understand True Mind but practices Dhyana, he can only arrive at the stage of the heavenly realms of form; but he cannot realize the Dharmadhatu. If one does not understand True Mind but practices Wisdom, he can only skillfully explain ideas and manipulate concepts with words, but all the meanings become Mundane. Therefore, if one is enlightened about True Mind, he is completely filled with all the virtues (Paramitas). However, if one is confused about True Mind, all his labors are, sadly, in vain.
The monk asked: What are the Discipline, Meditation and Wisdom, which are the threefold Mahayana study of the Supramundane?
The master said: Neither to find existence outside nor to hold to emptiness as inside is the Discipline. To realize that without a single thought all conditions are void and still is the Meditation. To distinguish among objects but never to have love or hate for anything is the Wisdom. This, then, is the threefold Mahayana study of the Supramundane.
The monk asked: What is the threefold study of the Hinayana path?
The master said: To control both one's body and speech and to cut off the disease of the four seeds of defilement is the discipline. To view the body like a piece of dried wood, without showing respect-inspiring deportment, is the meditation. Finally, only to attain prejudiced voidness, losing the law of the Middle Way, is the wisdom. Therefore, this is called poor Dharma, which burns and discards meditation and wisdom. That is why Vimalakirti criticized those practicing the Dharma of the Hinayana path.
The monk asked: What is the best way to begin to learn meditation?
The master said: In beginning to learn how to realize Samadhi, it is best to maintain concentration on one Dharma only. After practicing over a long period of time, one can realize the complete fruit of meditation. Then True Wisdom will appear automatically.
The monk asked: How many kinds of ch'an are there?
The master said: There are five kinds.
The monk asked: What are the five kinds?
The master said: First, there is the view of one who likes to practice superior Dharma but dislikes to learn inferior Dharma. This the Ch'an of heterodox believers. Secondly, there is the view of one who believes in causes and effects but also practices depending on his own idea of what he likes or dislikes. This is the Ch'an of worldly people. Thirdly, there is the view of one who understands the doctrine of voidness and who practices and attains only the prejudiced truth. This is the Ch'an of the Hinayana path. Fourthly, there is the view of one who is without concepts of either person or Dharma and who always practices the Middle Way. This the Ch'an of the Mahayana path. Fifthly, there is the realization of the one who is without any differentiating or discriminating view whatsoever and who attains the awareness of the complete equality of all Dharmas. This is called the Ch'an of the Tathagata.
The monk asked: What is the Tathagata?
The master said: Stillness and illumination are always one -- this is Tatha. One never abandons either his vow or compassion -- this is Gata. Worldly people, however, have Gata without Tatha, while Hinayanists have Tatha without Gata. Only Buddhas have both Tatha and Gata. Therefore, all Buddhas are called Tathagata.
The monk asked: In the study of the three meditations -- the void, the unreal and the Middle Way -- why is it said that the latter is inclusive of the first two?
The master said: In reflecting on one's own Mind, one understands that, originally, it comes from nowhere and that, because it comes from nowhere, it is called void. so since it comes from nowhere and produces all things, all things are, thus, unreal and are called unreal. However, do not dwell on either or both extremes of the void or the unreal. It is really only True Mind that one should dwell on, and this is called the Middle-Way meditation.
The monk asked: How can we analyze or make a distinction between the substance and the function of True Mind?
The master said: The substance of True Mind is voidness and stillness, while the function of True Mind is clear understanding. The voidness and stillness, however, are not like the obstinate void; for while it is still, yet it is always shining, clear and understanding. Do not defile by consciousness and discrimination that which is illuminant yet still, for that which has both stillness and illumination is called True Mind.
The monk asked: What are "staying" and "not staying"?
The master said: Since voidness is the substance of True Mind, we, therefore, say that it does not stay; on the other hand, since the substance of voidness is all penetrating and omnipresent, we, therefore, say that it stays.
The monk asked: If True Mind is penetrating and omnipresent, then why does the body have knowing, whereas other objects do not have knowing?
The master said: The substance of True Mind is void, and the Dharmadhatu is absolute oneness, which permeates the ever-changing world of objects and responds to conditions that are manifest within it everywhere.
The monk asked: What are the four inverted views of worldly people?
The master said: The first inverted view is that the body, which is impure, is ours. The second inverted view is that sensation, which always results in suffering, is enjoyable. The third inverted view is that thought, which is impermanent, is permanent. The fourth inverted view is that, even though there is originally no self, there is a self. By means of these four inverted views, worldly people grasp at experience.
The monk asked: What are the four inverted views of Hinayanists?
The master said: The first inverted view is that the body, which is originally pure and empty, is impure. The second inverted view is that sensation, which originally is nowhere, is suffering. The third inverted view is that Original Mind, which is permanent, is impermanent. The fourth inverted view is that No-Ego, which is one's Real Self, is merely ego. Thus, the Hinayanists fall into nihilistic emptiness by holding these four inverted views.
The monk asked: How can one relinquish these eight inverted views and attain Eternity, Bliss, Real Self and Purity?
The master said: All sentient beings, bound as they are to the cyclical Wheel of Birth-and-Death, grasp their four inverted views; but those Hinayanists seeking salvation believe that is they cut off their four inverted views, they will attain Nirvana. All Buddhas and Tathagatas, however, are detached and remain far distant from these eight inverted views, holding no concept of them whatsoever, and thus attain Eternity, Bliss, Real Self and Purity -- known collectively as the Four Permanences.
The monk asked: If True Mind is really without discrimination, isn't that like walking on a pitch-black night with no light and, thus being ignorant of one's surroundings, recognizing nothing?
The master said: There are three kinds of discrimination. The first is when we begin to have sense organs and consciousness, which create discrimination through perception. The second is discrimination through calculated thinking. The third discrimination is that of True Mind, which responds to all things like a mirror reflecting all images; this is the same as having everything but understanding clearly with nothing whatsoever.
The monk asked: If there are three kinds of discrimination, then which is false and which is real?
The master said: All discrimination is false which depends on the sense-organs and sense-consciousness. However, True Mind, responding to all things with absolute clarity and understanding, looks like it has discrimination but really has nothing at all.
The monk asked: If the Dharmakaya is originally without form, it must be like voidness, so why, then, does it ever appear to have the form of the six sense organs?
The master said: To understand True Mind as form is not contrary to its function. The Supreme Dharma exists for the benefit of all, never closing the door when it comes to converting sentient beings. The ancient master once said, "It is like void without form, but it can manifest all kinds of forms." Likewise, the Dharmakaya is fully endowed with the forms of the six sense organs.
The monk asked: What is real salvation?
The master said: If the six sense organs are not bound by anything whatsoever as they reflect all things and do not dwell on any Dharma at all, then there is real salvation.
The monk asked: How can one subdue all demons?
The master said: Just have real and total compassion for and patience with all beings, and you will subdue all the demons in the world -- just this, without any differentiating thoughts about subduing demons in the mind and without any subtle scheme or wonderful drug for subduing either inside or outside demons.
The monk asked: What is the Threefold Tathagatagarbha?
The master said: The substance of bright True Mind is voidness and stillness, and there exists the so-called Tathagata Store of Voidness. The Tathagata Store of Voidness produces infinite wonderful functions, as numberless as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. There exits, also, the so-called Tathagata Store of Voidlessness. Substance can produce function, but function can never be separate from substance in this so-called Tathagata Store of Voidness - Yet - Voidlessness.
The monk asked: What are the eight consciousnesses?
The master said: They are the following. The first six are the consciousnesses of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind; the seventh consciousness is called Manas; and the eighth consciousness is called Alaya.
The monk asked: Would you please characterize the eight consciousnesses and all their forms?
The master said: The eighth consciousness (Alaya), or store consciousness, is the mind that collects and holds all the Dharma-causing seeds; i.e., causes are created by these seeds to produce all Dharmas. The seventh consciousness (Manas) is the mind that cooperates with the Alaya consciousness, constantly examining objects and both pondering and calculating, thus causing and creating ego. The first six consciousnesses constitute the six different sense realms. Examining and being aware of the thinking process and its constant and interrupted changes at the very instant of each change, just as it occurs, constitute understanding.
The monk asked: According to the Lankavatara Sutra, "There are three kinds of consciousness -- namely, real consciousness, immediate consciousness and discriminating consciousness." Just how is consciousness divided into these three categories?
The master said: The ninth consciousness is called Pure Consciousness. The eighth consciousness (Alaya) manifests all kinds of Dharmas. All the other seven consciousnesses together are called the discriminating consciousness. The seventh consciousness (Manas) does not itself depend on external objects but, since it cooperates with the eighth consciousness, still has discrimination.
The monk asked: How can the eight consciousnesses be transformed into Fourfold Wisdom?
The master said: Just transform the first five consciousnesses into Perfecting Wisdom; turn the sixth consciousness into Wonderful-Observing Wisdom; turn the seventh consciousness into Equality-Nature Wisdom; and turn the eighth consciousness into Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom.
The monk asked: What is Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom?
The master said: It is True Mine's unchanging voidness and stillness that is like a bright mirror.
The monk asked: What is Equality-Nature Wisdom?
The master said: It is the opposite of all Dharmas, for it is without any distinguishing characteristic whatsoever.
the monk asked: What is Wonderful-Observing Wisdom?
The master said: It is the interplay of all the sense organs in discriminating activity but without any defilement.
The monk asked: What is Perfecting Wisdom?
The master said: It is characterized by each of the five sense organs performing the functions of its opposite sense realms without distinguishing or discriminating.
The monk asked: How can one transom Fourfold Wisdom into the Threefold Body?
The master said: Perfecting Wisdom and Wonderful-Observing Wisdom become the Nirmanakaya, Equality-Nature Wisdom becomes the Sambhogakaya. Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom becomes the Dharmakaya.
The monk asked: What is the Dharmakaya?
The master said: To be without a single thought, wherein all is only void and stillness, is the Dharmakaya.
The monk asked: What is the Sambhogakaya?
The master said: To be skillful about all Dharmas, wherein everything is equal, is the Sambhogakaya.
The monk asked: What is the Nirmanakaya?
The master said: To depend on one's own Original Vow to do all things responsibly is the Nirmanakaya.
The monk asked: The Complete Enlightenment Sutra says, "The Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom is my Sangharama Body." If the mind dwells in Equality-Nature Wisdom, then why don't Perfecting Wisdom and Wonderful-Observing Wisdom manifest at the same time?
The master said: Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom, even while it is still, yet is luminous. Equality-Nature Wisdom, even while it is luminous, yet is still. The Wonderful-Observing and the Perfecting Wisdom are both accepted by the Dharmakaya. When delusion is transformed from the eighteen sense realms into Wonderful-Observing Wisdom, all phenomena then turn into Perfecting Wisdom; and finally all Wisdom transform into the Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom. The Lankavatara Sutra relates: "The Buddha, speaking to the Great-Wisdom Bodhisattva, said, "From early in beginningless time, during its middle and at the end, one should use Wonderful-Observing Wisdom to purify instantaneous consciousness and the six sense organs, transforming them into Perfecting Wisdom so that when a hand is placed with its palm up, one does not ask what is on the other side, also, on seeing ice, one does not ask where the water is". Just take a strong vow to have compassion and pity for the benefit of others and thence attain Wonderful-Observing Wisdom and Perfecting Wisdom for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The ancient virtuous master once said, "All sentient beings grasp the name of Alaya consciousness, but they do not understand what is really means. "However, Buddhas have attained that understanding and, therefore, can have the functions of the Four Wisdom. If one is ignorant regarding Alaya consciousness, only grasping its name, then the seventh consciousness (Manas) is labeled impure, while the sixth consciousness is thought to consider all things to be real. Also, thereafter, the first five consciousness are thought to be bound by the forms of their sense organs. However, if one can truly understand that the substance of Alaya is Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom, then he will have opened the door of merit. At that time, Manas is then understood to be the source of Equality-Nature Wisdom and is clearly seen to have the awareness that self and others are of one nature. Then, the sixth consciousness is understood to be the source of Wonderful-Observing Wisdom, which turns the wheel of Right Dharma. Then, the first five consciousnesses are understood to have the merit of Perfecting Wisdom for manifestations of the Nirmanakaya. To be concentrated in single-minded meditation, without moving, creates a clear division between consciousness and Wisdom, so that then one does not change the substance but only changes the name in the transformation of the eighth consciousness into Perfect-Great-Mirror Wisdom.
The monk asked: If one is enlightened about the Doctrine, then he can transform consciousness into Wisdom, while those who are bounded by illusion rise and fall according to the vicissitudes of consciousness. So can we know whether the eight consciousnesses are great or small?
The master said: The mind of consciousness is fine, wonderful and inconceivable and receives its forms depending on Karma; so it is not uniformly great or small. In the Sutra of Manifest Consciousness, the Buddha, speaking to the Bodhisattva Tao Yao, says, "There, consciousness is like the wind, without form or shape and compressed and confined in a deep hole or valley; and it is so strong when it bursts forth that it can destroy Mount Sumeru. Just as the molecules of the wind are subtle and without form, likewise is consciousness itself."
The monk asked: What are the causes for the sinking of consciousness into the four kinds of beings?
The master said: One is born from the womb due to love. One is born from eggs due to thinking. One is born from moisture due to feeling and thinking. One is born from transformation due to the separation of feeling and thinking. all of these states rise and fall and are created by Karma. If one can suddenly cut off discriminating consciousness, then he will be free from transmigration forever.
The monk asked: What are the Five Eyes?
The master said: Not dwelling on outside objects is the Fleshly Eye. Not dwelling on the void inside is the Heavenly Eye. Not dwelling on either existence or non-existence is the Dharma Eye. Illumination of both existence and non-existence without defilement is the Wisdom Eye. Letting go of all forms is the Buddha Eye.
The monk asked: When are the Six Supernatural Powers manifested?
The master said: When the six sense organs, facing objects, come and go without any obstruction whatsoever.
The monk asked: What are Universal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment?
The master said: Universal Enlightenment is stillness and illumination, wherein all Dharmas are equal. Wonderful Enlightenment is without either stillness or illumination; it is just bright in real permanence.
The monk asked: What is transformational birth and death, and what is the recurring of birth and death?
The master said: The concept of transformational birth and death refers to the process of Bodhisattvas fulfilling their vows and maintaining their compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings, even while they remain in the cycle of birth and death. However, this is different from the process of worldly people, and since its purpose is to purify the outflow of Karma, it is called transformational birth and death. The recurring birth-and death process of worldly people is totally created by false mind grasping at thought after thought and producing obstacles due to defilement. These beings are bound to the Great Wheel of Suffering without remaination. This, then, is the process of recurring birth and death.
The monk asked: What is the meaning of "Standing on top of a pole one hundred feet high, one must still take one more step; then, in all ten directions, the Dharmadhatu manifests itself"?
The master said: The mind of the Tathagata-Store is originally unified and bright, but because we follow phenomena, it becomes divided into six functions and is turned by outside things, drifting forever in birth and death. If one knows how to return to the Truth, he will not wander outside in search of sense data. The sense organs become disengaged from externals at that point, and if any one of them can be returned to Pure Mind, then the functions of all six sense organs will stop; and Mind will remain clear and pure like an extremely bright mirror. If one can hold this Mind, he will be delivered from the deep pit. Such is the view from one side of voidness; but one still needs to take one more step, and then , in all ten directions, all will manifest. Mountains, rivers and all other things are suddenly recognized clearly as the substance of Dharma.
The monk asked: How can one not dwell in the Supramundane and still not exhaust oneself in activity?
The master said: Even if one attains the Dharmakaya, he should not yet embrace complete realization but should still fulfill his vow and have compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings, responding appropriately to all beings and appearances. The Ch'an Master Tsao Shan said, "Do not walk in the path of thinking, never wear your original clothes, and, for the sake of justice, you should not think about what you were before you were born. "The Mahayana Bodhisattva, leading land directing all beings, does not dwell in the Supramundane and just expediently wears ordinary clothes; also, at the same time, he does not exhaust himself in activity. Since he is responsive to all appearances, his actions may appear to be wrong or defiling as he expediently converts sentient beings; but, in reality, his practice is pure, following the way of all Buddhas.
The monk asked: What is real repentance?
The master said: All people in the world are in heavy bondage instigated by the passions. There are four grave sins and ten evils. Since the causes of Karma are already so deep, people, almost automatically, follow the three evil ways. However, if one can suddenly have a sense of great shame and put forth a great and vigorous effort and approach a good, virtuous master to try to enlighten his own mind, all evil Karma of the past an all sins in the present will then become like snow melted by boiling water or like bone-dry firewood consumed in a raging fire. In this way, one can extinguish his Karma, producing blessings and wisdom. He then will attain Great Wisdom to direct the next generation, encouraging all beings to enlighten their own natural minds and showing all of them how they, too, can ultimately attain Buddhahood.
Practice and Attain Enlightenment After Understanding the Principles
The monk asked: I now understand, after having heard your teaching; but
I still cannot reduce my heavy Karma and restless thought, and I cannot attain
and realize Enlightenment suddenly because of my small, inferior root. So what
can I do?
The master said: One's Original Nature has no enlightenment, so it is illusory, therefore, to say "Enlightenment". Original Mind does not practice, because it is defiling to "have practice" or to have either deep or shallow habits. Therefore, some expedient teaching has been set up to help people, which uses both sudden and gradual methods. If one has only a little defilement, he can realize and attain Complete Enlightenment suddenly. If one has some heavy obstacles, he can recover his Original Nature gradually. There are different methods for the three different roots, depending on their ability to understand and to practice.
The monk asked: What are the different methods used for the three roots?
The master said: The superior-root practice leads to sudden Enlightenment, the medium-root practice leads to Enlightenment gradually; the inferior-root practice leads to Enlightenment after great encouragement.
The monk asked: Why is the superior-root practice sudden?
The master said: The superior-root person has a sharp intelligence, has good seeds from his previous life and can be enlightened by just one word. One must neutralize the effects of past Karma by creating beneficial present concurrent causes; and one must purify one's consciousness by holding neither to continually moving and changing thought nor to empty thinking. One must remain universal and impartial and, also, clear and void in order to see everything in any and every environment only in the light of its wonderful functions. The Ch'an Master Wei San said, "If your mind is not attached to anything whatsoever, no person or thing ever becomes an obstacle." He said further, "If you focus your mind, thought after thought, on one thought only, and if you still mind-instant after mind-instant forever, then this perfect and complete Dharmadhatu attains Nirvana suddenly." However, if your potentiality for the sudden method is dull, you can take the expedient of recovering your True Mind gradually.
The monk asked: How can one suddenly attain the Tao through practice?
The master said: If one really has some good reason and is very sincere, with no trace of falseness, there is, for him, no need to spend endless Asankhyeya-Kalpas in practice. The Mahaparinirvana Sutra says, "A man who sails a boat on the ocean can move very far in a short time in a favorable wind." If there were not a favorable wind, the boat would only stay in the same place for many years. Also, if the boat were to leak, it would submerge and the man would die. The situation of all sentient beings can be compared quite closely to this one. The Surangama Sutra says, "There is Samadhi of seeing all things as illusion, which, in a finger-snap, leads to the state beyond all study." Therefore, in this case, it is not necessary to understand the Three Vehicles nor to attain the Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva's Progress to become Buddha in one thought, thereby transcending Kalpas of practice suddenly.
The monk asked: Why is the medium-root practice gradual?
The master said: Superior-root practice needs sudden teaching and can be compared to wind blowing clouds away to reveal the bright moon clearly in the sky. Medium-root practice, on the other hand, needs gradual teaching and can be compared to cleaning a dirty mirror -- when the dirt vanishes, the light will appear. If some student in a future age has heavy habits from previous lives and has inferior wisdom due to his wafting mind, and if, nevertheless, he can calm his mind completely for a period of twenty-four hours while moving or sitting still, with no thoughts of good or evil arising, but if such thoughts do arise he just becomes quickly aware of them, then he, too, can come to understand Original Mind. Therefore, the ancient master said, "Do not fear if a thought rises up; just fear being aware of it too late." If one practice like this for a long time, false thoughts will gradually disappear, until, finally, both personal thoughts and Dharma vanish. Then the senses and the sense data will suddenly be wiped out, and True Mind, luminous everywhere, will open and turn freely with no obstacle whatsoever.
The monk asked: How does one encourage practice in the inferior-root person?
The master said: Since the inferior-root person is dull and his thought comes very slowly because he is too much disturbed, it is very difficult to encourage him. He really needs very good instruction and to be directed most carefully in order to help him make use of a good opportunity and to plant a good root. Therefore, he should have faith, stay in a big monastery, always follow good friends, take training every day, practice moment after moment, repent his own Karma in front of the Buddha's image and be humble in assembly. When he seems to have arrived at the enlightened stage, he still must not leave his good, virtuous teacher, but must yet learn to abandon all phenomena. Then, with further deep cultivation and more training and discipline for a very long time, he can, at last, come to recognize his own Mind.
The monk asked: Why is it so much more difficult for the inferior-root person to practice and attain Enlightenment?
The master said: The inferior-root person is polluted with thick and dense defilements; his mind is dull and disturbed with a myriad passing thoughts, and he is ignorant due to heavy Karmic obstacles. So if he does not practice hard, he cannot start his spiritual light. A virtuous ancient teacher once said, "You can give one thousand or ten thousand examples to the inferior-root person, and still he cannot understand." Even if he gets a little understanding, he thinks that he has some great Enlightenment. He does not receive others' teaching, and his pride and arrogance cheat others. This person should come to have great shame and to develop deep humility, otherwise he could become mad, choosing a wrong path that could lead him to disaster.
The monk asked: How can one, having understood the Doctrine and having maintained his determination and good practice, know when True Mind appears?
The master said: One who already understands the principles but who still clings to his old habits will, upon encountering adverse circumstances, lose his right thought; so he should take great care to cultivate his mind most carefully. This practice can be compared to one's need to pasture a wild bull with great effort and restraint, sometimes having to flog it repeatedly with a whip until it adjusts its won mind and steadies its step, becoming so disciplined that it does not have to touch even one blade of grass without permission. Then and only then is there no need for a cowherd, and it can be let free. If you want to test your True Mind, just to remember those things that you have loved or hated over the course of your lifetime, place them squarely in front of you, and test yourself by once more seeing and hearing them. If you still have that hate or love, as you once had in the past, then you will know that your mind is not yet stilled. One the other hand, if you happen to meet favorable or adverse circumstances and no thoughts of love or hate arise, then you are near the Tao. When your True Mind appears, test yourself by recalling the strongest loving thought that you've ever had in your life; and by thinking about that thing or situation which made you so joyous before, just observe that now such a loving, pleasurable thought completely ceases to arise and cohere any more. Again, test yourself by recalling the strongest hateful thought that you've ever had in your life -- something about which you've felt the strongest anger -- and observe that now your hateful, angry thought completely ceases to stir or move anymore. then and only then can you be free, changing with all conditions to respond to all things without any obstacles whatsoever.
The monk asked: When false thought ceases but one does not yet see True Mind, one must then take time to do good and support the Tao. Is this correct?
The master said: When false thought ceases, then to do good and to practice supporting the Tao are right. However, if one has some conscious purpose to do good, then that is grasping the good, and one will attain only the blessings of human beings or devas. In contrast, to do good without purpose ad forms is right practice, and this can really be called supporting the Tao. In the Diamond Sutra, Buddha says, "Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva's mind does not abide in forms when practicing Dana, then his merit will be inconceivable and immeasurable. "Some present-day students, in practicing charity, hold one-sided and narrow ideas about it; and so it is non-perfect, for they have not understood the principles and rely, instead, merely upon their own cleverness. Such practice is not all good, and most of these people are demons with few blessings.
The monk asked: To do only good in relation to worldly phenomena produces endless blessings and virtue, and to see one's own Mind Nature in relation to the noumenon creates immeasurable merit. So why must one practice with both phenomenal and noumenal awareness?
The master said: To grasp only at Phenomena brings retribution to both human beings and devas, but if one also acts in the noumenon, without defilement, then he will manifest True Mind Nature.
The monk asked: If one who has enlightened his mind and has attained understanding of the principles should also realize supernatural power, then why, among many who live by enlightened principles in the present, do so very few of them have any supernatural power?
The master said: Supernatural power is really a secondary attainment, but when anyone attains Original Mind -- i.e., when Original Mind arises -- the Tao will simultaneously appear, and then supernatural power will also appear quite naturally. If just anyone could possess supernatural power and take it and transform it into different forms of the Tao, then any and all of the heavenly demons, heterodox believers and evil spirits could also have the Tao -- which certainly is not correct. if one really desires to attain supernatural power, he must first attain the One-Vehicle Dharma, because this One-Vehicle Dharma can initiate the wonderful function of wisdom that can lead to Enlightenment in this world and, thereafter, to the attainment of Nirvana in both birth and death. Turning the worldly into the holy in every Ksana is changing phenomena into void, and this is what supernatural power is really all about. It is not some magic that can be performed. The ancient master said, "There are five different kinds of supernatural power. The first is the Tao supernatural power; the second is the spiritual supernatural power; the third is the dependent supernatural power; the fourth is the retributive supernatural power; the fifth is the demonic supernatural power."
What is the demonic supernatural power? One example is that of the old fox who could change into many other forms at will. Even wood and stone can, at times, become evil spirits or monsters to affect other beings. Clever and strange is this demonic supernatural power! What is the retributive supernatural power? There are some ghosts and spirits who know how something will be transformed before it actually changes. These non-physical, intermediate-existence beings know exactly when the Karma-body will be reborn, and dragons and other entities can appear, disappear and transform themselves at will. This, then, is the retributive supernatural power. What is the dependent supernatural power? It is evident when some spirit depends on a person, an animal or even a tree, etc., to produce or create a strange, startling or mischievous event or when a spirit or an animal enters the body of a human being to make trouble. This, then, is the dependent supernatural power. What is the spiritual supernatural power? It is just stilling the mind completely and illuminating all things. One with this power can remember what he has been and done in his previous lives. All his strength and power comes from meditation. This, then, is the spiritual supernatural power. What is the Tao supernatural power? It responds to all things without mind, converting all beings by causes and conditions, knowing that the moon in water and flowers in the sky are only shadows without self-nature or substance. This, then, is the Tao supernatural power. The latter power that I have described is the True Supernatural Power, while all the others are evil and false. The false ones are not real, land the evil ones are not right, for they disturb thought and confuse Original Nature. Therefore, one who is really learning the Tao should not manifest any supernatural power that confuses or confounds the Truth.
The treatise entitled Mahasamatha - Vipasyana (in Chinese, Chih-Kuan) says, "One who practices Samadhi can acquire some supernatural power suddenly, but he should abandon it just as suddenly because that Dharma is both false and Mundane." The inferior-root person seeks supernatural power, but this can be an obstacle to the achievement of Prajna. The wise man, on the other hand, perceives the body as reality in the same way that he perceives the Buddha. Thus, even though a Maha-Bodhisattva, a Holy One or a sage may have attained understanding of the Doctrine, once he manifests his supernatural power he can no longer remain in the world. If anyone manifests supernatural power to convert sentient beings, he is considered to be a spirit or a demon.
The monk asked: If one is not yet enlightened and, holding a false view, confounds the Truth, creating good and evil causes, he then, after taking his effects of either suffering or joy, is reborn according to his Karma. This I understand without any doubt. However, if there is one who understands the Truth, having suddenly recovered his True Mind, and thus, having transcended causes and effects, no longer has the relative body but only the spiritual body, then upon what does he depend?
The master said: All sentient beings are involved with causes and depend upon causes and conditions for their rebirth, which is the same as having something to depend upon. However, if one is enlightened as to the reality of the True Mind and has attained the Tao, he does not, like a vagrant, drift aimlessly in the world, nor does he, like a ghost or solitary spirit, drift gently without any place on which to depend. If one is really enlightened about the Tao, the fundamental Law will manifest itself. This Law establishes and affirms that all directions are the True Mind, and this is the Great Function for the Perfect Substance, there being no other place whatsoever on which to depend. The virtuous, ancient master said, "All the great earth is just the single eye of the Sramana."
The Prime Minister Wen Tse-Ao once asked Master Kuei Feng, "If one is already enlightened about the principles, upon what does he depend until the end of his life?" Master Kuei Feng replied, "All sentient beings originally have the same Buddha Nature, there being no differences or distinctions with Buddha. so if one achieves enlightenment about Buddha Nature, that itself is the Dharmakaya, which originally has no birth. Therefore, this being the case, how can he have anything on which to depend? The Dharmakaya is bright without ignorance, is always clear and comprehending, comes from nowhere and goes nowhere, and is the substance of voidness and stillness only. One should not consider bodily forms and discursive thinking to be one's Original Mind. When false thought arises, one should not follow it but, on the contrary, should always concentrate on the One Mind until the end of his life so that he will be bound no more by any Karma whatsoever. Then he can go up to heaven and down to earth or anywhere else freely, depending on whatever or wherever he wishes; for all things have, for him, become merely emptiness. For him only Perfect Wisdom and Great Enlightenment are luminous and shining everywhere to convert all sentient beings according to their potentialities and are enlightening all minds to grasp the principles so that all may ultimately become Buddhas."
The monk asked: There was once a famous monk, in ancient times, who is said to have held his concentration in meditation even in death. It is also said that his corpse did not decay for many, many years and that even his hair and nails continued to grow during all that time. How can you explain this?
The master said: That particular monk was a Small-Vehicle follower, and his body dwelt in extinct meditation. However, he had only extinguished the first six consciousnesses but he still grasped the eighth consciousness to support his body. Because he so disliked existing among phenomena, he preferred to turn to voidness to seek rest and peace. However, this rest was only temporary, for even though he has entered into extinct meditation and seemed to have a tranquil body and mind, he, nevertheless, did not have real extinction; so after a long time his consciousness arose again. This can be compared to one who goes through the vicissitudes of malarial fever day after day. Thus, one must become enlightened as to the true nature of meditation, and then, after that, one can really be free from transmigration.
The monk asked: If Mahakasyapa enters extinct meditation and a Small-Vehicle follower also enters extinct meditation, are they the same or are they different?
The master said: Mahakasyapa, the Great-Vehicle follower, seeks to extinguish Dharma principles and concepts, and the Small-Vehicle follower seeks the extinction of physical appearances. However, even after the Great-Vehicle follower enters extinct meditation, he still has the five Skandhas and the seventh and the eighth consciousnesses, which at that point can be the guides to conduct and regulation for awe-inspiring meditation anymore. Therefore, his meditation is disturbed and cannot be perfect, for he has abandoned seeming and appearances to achieve only partial emptiness. Thus, it must be clear that their meditations are, indeed, quite different!