The Ten Oxherding Pictures – Allegories for Our Practice

The ten ox-herding pictures originated in twelfth century China as an allegorical illustration of man’s quest for enlightenment. Over the centuries Zen artists and teachers have produced many variations of these pictures and the accompanying commentary.

One of my students gave me a new version of the Ten Ox-herding pictures. These are ten metaphors for how we might evaluate our progress in practice. After some seasoning maybe we will perceive that they are just pictures, but I think that they can be meaningful teaching for most of us as we travel the Zen path.

Ten Oxherding
I. Looking for the ox

The first picture is called “looking for the ox” and it shows a young man preparing to enter the woods to search for the ox. Our first job is to find the woods; that’s where the action is. But many of us are so preoccupied with our personal problems that we don’t realize that we are actually already in the middle of the woods and that it’s possible to begin our search for the ox.

I have a son who turned three years old recently. When he was two he wasn’t talking very much, and my wife and I were concerned that he learn to speak more clearly. But he would only respond most of the time to my nine-year-old daughter, who is his hero. When she gets angry at someone she calls them a “dodo,” and when she sees things that appear gross to her she calls them “ocky.” Well, of course, my son had no problem acquiring these two words and everyone became a dodo … Mama was a dodo, Papa was a dodo, guests visiting our house were dodos.

One night we were having dinner and he was standing in his high chair and conducting the activities of the meal. We kept saying to him, “Devin, sit down. You’re going to fall and hurt yourself.” But like a typical two-year-old, he didn’t pay much attention. Eventually he slipped and the chair went out from under him. His chin hit the table, and he bit through his lower lip. Later he was sitting on the couch with a big swollen lip like a boxer, but he hadn’t said anything since the fall. So I said to him, “Devin, are you okay now?” And he looked at me very earnestly and said, “Me dodo ocky.”

He was just 27 months old, and already he had attained complete self-recrimination! So our first job is just to get in touch with ourselves and realize that we’re all in the woods together.

I teach music at the University of Southern California. One of my favorite composers is Charles Ives, who wrote a song called “The Cage.” In this song, a leopard is walking back and forth in his cage. A boy comes along and watches this leopard, and then he begins to wonder: is life anything like that, back and forth inside our own cages?

In our school we teach that the four walls that lock us in our cages are wanting mind, attaching mind, checking mind, and holding mind. So we all have a self-made cage. In Zen the name for our cage is karma and it is the primary hindrance to finding a free and compassionate mind. The first ox-herding picture is teaching us that without regular practice we are largely controlled by our karma.

Ten Oxherding
II. Finding the footprints

In the second picture the young man realizes that he is in the woods, looks down, and actually sees the tracks of the ox. Seeing the tracks means that we can begin to believe in our direction, and we can start to formulate the questions that are at the core of meditative practice. This is called “thinking I.” In Zen teaching one often hears it said that we should put down our thinking because it is an illusion and a hindrance to actual attainment. But this kind of thinking is already pretty high class. Most of us are strongly controlled by our karma, so when we begin to evaluate the direction of our life or question seriously the meaning of life, we are starting to prepare the groundwork for waking up. As Zen Master Seung Sahn says, “Don’t throw out the manure of thinking, plow it under and use it to make beautiful flowers.” One key to practicing effectively is that we must learn to accept and possess our conceptual “shit,” whatever it is. Recognize it, accept it, breathe with it, become one with it. Therefore the first two pictures are concerned with the worlds of karma and thinking and represent in our school “opposites like this.”

Ten Oxherding
III. Catching a glimpse of the ox

In the third picture the young man sees the tail of the ox come out from behind a tree. This means he has attained an actual taste of the essence of Zen. Probably everyone in this room has had some fleeting insight of this kind into your true nature – that is why most of us are here. It happens to some people during meditation practice, but it’s more likely to occur when we are completely involved in some daily activity – playing sports, making love, doing art or music – any action in which our small I disappears for a few moments and we find ourselves just doing the activity with one hundred percent intention and clarity. Often students come to formal Zen practice to cultivate and deepen these experiences.
Ten Oxherding
IV. Catching the ox

In the fourth picture the young man walks into a meadow, finds the ox and ropes him around the neck. Everyone wants to capture the ox and attain kensho. But Zen Master Seung Sahn teaches that if we rope the ox too soon there is a danger that the ox might overpower us. As we do hard training our energy grows and our centers get much stronger. However, our karmic demons are also quietly growing more powerful during the process. Therefore it is important to watch our intentions and desires very carefully. But nearly all Zen students think a lot about enlightenment and have a powerful desire to capture their ox. In this fourth picture the man pulls one direction; the ox pulls another. He has some insight, but his karma and thinking mind are still present.

Ten Oxherding
V. Taming the ox

In the fifth picture, the man walks down the road, leading the ox behind him with a loose rein that is attached to the nostrils of the ox. Some teachers regard this as the quintessential ox-herding picture. The ox is now basically tame, but still requires diligent attention. This is like a famous anecdote about Zen Master Joju and his teacher Master Nam Cheon.

One day Nam Cheon saw an apprentice monk pouring hot water into the tubs for baths and said to the monk, “Don’t forget to bathe the cow.” This really confused the monk: “Bathe the cow? I don’t understand.” So later that day when Joju returned to the temple the monk asked him, “I was pouring hot water into the tubs and Master Nam Cheon said to me, ‘Don’t forget to bathe the cow.’ I don’t understand. Has he gone crazy? What is he talking about?”

Joju said, “Don’t worry. I will check this out.” Joju went to Nam Cheon’s door. Bang, bang, bang.

“Come in.”

Joju said, “I understand that you’ve been talking about bathing a cow.”

Nam Cheon replied, “That’s right. What are you going to do about it?”

Joju went over, inserted two fingers into the Master’s nostrils and started leading him down the hall towards the baths.

Nam Cheon cried, “Not so rough! Not so rough!”

If our self-cultivation is natural and we remain awake and focused like Joju, then the ox is already following us down the path.

Ten Oxherding
VI. Riding the ox home

In the sixth picture the man is riding the ox back home while playing a flute. There is no longer any need to hold on to the rein. This means that the five sense organs are pure and the sixth consciousness is functioning without hindrances. We begin to perceive that our everyday experiences are, indeed, the content of an enlightened mind. However, the ox is still present. There is still some small idea of attainment present.

Ten Oxherding
VII. Ox lost, man remaining

In the seventh picture the man is sitting on a rock, but the ox is now gone. Perhaps the ox is off sleeping somewhere but it does not concern the man. This is quite different from the earlier pictures when he was searching for an undiscovered ox. In some versions of the pictures the man is a tiny figure in a panoramic landscape, but, however insignificant, he is still there.

Once there was a great Aiki-jujitsu master who after many years gave teaching transmission to his senior student. He said, “Now you will teach and I will remain in the office, and if you need me, sometimes I will come out and help you.” The students of the dojo had a big celebration that night and drank a lot of rice wine.

Quite late in the evening the new head teacher led the other students back towards the dojo. They all had a little too much to drink so they weren’t paying careful attention. The group walked around a corner and came up close behind a mule that was standing in the street. The mule kicked at the teacher. This new teacher did a spectacular roll, right over the rear end of the mule, and landed on his feet in a perfect fighting posture.

The students all shouted, “Oh, wonderful! We never saw our old teacher do anything this incredible.” They could not wait to tell the master the next morning how correct he was to give transmission to his senior student. But the next day when the master heard the story he became very angry, stripped the transmission designation from the head teacher’s uniform, and said to him, “You are not ready to be a master. You must become a student once again.”

No one understood the master’s anger. Then he said, “Come with me, I will show you the correct action in this situation with a mule!” He led the students down the street until he found the mule. As the master got about four feet from the mule’s rear end he walked around him in a big circle and continued quietly down the street. Then his students understood.

This is very high class teaching – be fully present and don’t make anything. If one is awake, then he should never get so close to the rear end of a mule that he is able to be kicked. So making anything is a big mistake. All ideas of attainment must melt away. The ox must disappear – that is the meaning of the seventh picture.
Ten Oxherding

VIII. No ox, no man

The eighth picture is just an empty circle, the circle that has been the frame for the first seven pictures. Pictures three through seven are all concerned with the realm between “thinking I” and the attainment of the essence of this picture, which is sunyata or emptiness. In this picture there is no subject and no object; the man and the ox have both disappeared. But there is also no idea of negating the existence of the man or the ox. All opposites dissolve into the ground of being. In our school we call this the attainment of first enlightenment. But as long as we have any conceptualizations about what enlightenment might be like, or notions about ourselves as unusual men or women, its attainment remains a thousand miles away.

This is the mind that Te Shan found when he traveled to south China to check out the Ch’an teachers. On the road he met an old woman selling rice cakes and she said to him, “I see that you are a student of the Diamond Sutra. If you can answer one question for me I’ll give you free all of the rice cakes that you want, but if you cannot answer me then you are a fraud and must go away.” He said to her, “I am the master of the Diamond Sutra. Ask me anything that you like.”

She asked him, “The Diamond Sutra says that past mind is not attainable, future mind is not attainable, and present mind is not attainable. If this is true then what kind of mind will you use to eat your rice cakes?” He was stuck and had no idea how to reply. Te Shan was a great scholar and thought that he was going to come south and expose the Ch’an masters as fakers. But instead some old woman had “hit” him. And he had no idea how to answer or what to do. We are told that he wandered aimlessly until he found the residence of Ch’an Master Lung Tan. They talked long into the night and we might imagine how Te Shan was trying to justify himself to the Master who listened patiently. Finally when Te Shan’s mind was completely stuck and he was totally frustrated, Lung Tan said to him, “Why don’t you take the hut at the end of the path and get some rest.”

Te Shan went out into the night and discovered that it was pitch black. He went back into the Master’s hut and said, “I can’t see anything outside.”

The Master said, “No problem. Wait here.”

Lung Tan lit a candle and handed it to Te Shan. Just as Te Shan was about to take his first step into the darkness, Lung Tan blew out the candle.

PA! Everything became completely open and Te Shan attained this mind without subject, without object, not empty, not full – an experience of unbounded openness. In our school we call this “without like this.” Please note that pictures three through eight all are illustrative of the attainment of this first enlightenment experience, which the Heart Sutra calls nirvana. For most of us, connecting in this way with the ground of our being requires a long seasoning process involving years of diligent practice.

But this is still only the eighth picture.

Ten Oxherding
IX. Returning to the source

In the ninth picture there is no man, but a beautiful landscape returns. White clouds pass in front of blue mountains; spring comes and the grass grows by itself; trees grow up and water flows down. This picture means that everything in this universe is already completely expressing its inherent Buddha nature. And our sense organs are capable of revealing this truth to us moment by moment.

What we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch is the complete truth. The Heart Sutra names this state anuttara samyak sambodhi, perfect unexcelled truth. In our school we call this condition “only like this.” Buddha sat under the tree in a samadhi of unbounded openness, perceived the particularity of the morning star and attained this mind, which we call original enlightenment. That is the essence of the ninth picture.
Ten Oxherding
X. In town with helping hands

But one last step remains. Our school especially emphasizes the tenth picture throughout our entire training. In the last picture the man appears again, but now he is older, bald and a little heavy. He is usually shown in the middle of the city with children all around, and he is like Hotei, passing out dharma presents to these baby bodhisattvas.

This is final enlightenment and it is not special in the way that most of us conceive when we begin our Zen journey. This picture teaches us that we are to return to the existential world. But we return with a simple, clear and unattached mind that focuses on perceiving our correct relationship and correct situation in each moment. If we practice unceasingly with that intention then our actions will become generous, spontaneous, creative, effortless, and compassionate. This is the true meaning of Zen and it is the same as Nam Cheon’s everyday mind or Taoism’s wu wei (not doing). Our school calls this condition “just like this.”

I’ll conclude as I began, with another story about my son. Last year at Easter was the first time that he understood what a holiday was, and he had a grand old time. My wife is really into holiday celebrations, so she had presents for the kids and she hid eggs all around the yard and in the house. It was the first time that he had experienced anything like this, so his eyes were as big as saucers all morning. In the afternoon I noticed him in his room, playing with his new toys and singing to himself. As I listened closely I heard that he was singing to himself over and over, “Thank you, rabbit. Thank you, rabbit.” He had this completely open, generous kind of mind. And that is the meaning of the tenth picture and the essential meaning of Zen – “just like this” moment by moment for ten thousand years we must try, try, try to keep this clear, generous, and open bodhisattva spirit.

The Ten Oxherding Pictures

十牛圖
십우도

1. 尋牛/未牧

(從來不失, 何用追尋)
애초에 잃지 않았는데 어찌 찾을 필요 있겠는가.
(由背覺以成疎, 在向塵而遂失)
깨침을 등진 결과 멀어져서 세간을 향하다가 길을 잃었다.
(家山漸遠岐路俄差)
고향집에서 점차 멀어져 갈림길에서 어긋난다.
(得失熾然是非鋒起)
얻고 잃음의 불이 타오르니, 옳고  그름의 분별력도 어지럽게 일어나네.

◀The Search for the Bull▶
The bull never has  been lost.  What  need is there to  search?
Only because of separation  from my true  nature, I fail to  find
him.  In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks.  Far
from home, I see many crossroads,  but which way is the  right
one I know not.  Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.
(茫茫撥草去追尋)
아득히 펼쳐진 수풀을 헤치고 소 찾아 나서니,
수활산요로갱심(水 山遙路更深)
물은 넓고 산은 먼데 길은 더욱 깊구나.
(力盡神疲無處覓)
힘 빠지고 피로해 소 찾을 길은 없는데,
(但聞楓樹晩蟬吟)
오로지 저녁 나뭇가지 매미 울음만이 들리네.
◀Comment▶
In the pasture  of this  world, I  endlessly push aside  the tall
grasses in search  of the  bull. Following  unnamed rivers,  lost
upon  the  interpenetrating  paths   of distant   mountains,  My
strength failing and my vitality exhausted, I cannot find the bull.
I only hear the locusts chirring through the forest at night.
石鼓希夷
(只管區區向外尋)
오로지 급하게 밖을 향해 찾으나,
(不知脚底已泥深)
발 밑 진흙 수렁이 이미 깊은 줄도 모르네.
(幾回芳草斜陽裏)
몇 번인가, 방초 우거진 석양 속에서,
(一曲新豊空自吟)
풍년가를 부질없이 불러 봤네.
壞衲大璉
(本無 跡是誰尋)
본대 자취도 없는데 누가 찾는고,
(誤入烟蘿深處深)
우거진 등 넝쿨 깊은 곳에 잘못 들어 왔구나.
(手把鼻頭同歸客)
손으로 코 잡고 함께 돌아가는 나그네가,
(水 林下自沈吟)
물가 나무 아래서 스스로 침음한다.

 

2. 見跡/初調

(依經解義)
경전에 의거해 뜻을 헤아리고
(閱敎知 )
가르침을 배워서 그 자취를 안다.
(明衆器爲一金)
그릇들이 다 한가지로 금임을 밝혀내고,
(體萬物爲自己)
우주만물이 곧 자기라는 사실을 체득한다.
(正邪不辨)
바름과 삿됨을 가려내지 못한다면,
(眞僞계分)
어찌 참됨과 거짓을 구분할 수 있으리오.
(未入斯門)
아직 입문하진 않았으나
(權爲見跡)
임시 방편으로 ‘자취를 본다’고 한다.
◀Discovering the Footprints▶
Understanding the  teaching, I   see the footprints  of  the bull.
Then I learn  that, just  as many  utensils are  made from  one
metal, so  too are  myriad entities  made of  the fabric  of self.
Unless I  discriminate, how  will I  perceive the  true from  the
untrue?  Not yet having  entered the gate,  nevertheless I have
discerned the path.
(水 林下跡偏多)
물가 나무 아래  발자국 어지럽게 많으니,
(芳草離披見也?)
방초를 헤치고서 그대는 보는가 못보는가?
(縱是深山更深處)
가령 깊은 산 깊은  곳에 있다 해도
(遼天鼻孔 藏他)
하늘 향한 등창코를  어찌 숨기랴!
◀Comment▶
Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints!
Even under the fragrant grass I see his prints.
Deep in remote mountains they are found.
These traces no  more can be  hidden than one’s  nose, looking
heavenward.
石鼓希夷
(枯木巖前差路多)
고목나무 바위 앞에 엇갈린 길도 많다.
(草 裏 覺非?)
풀더미에 발이 걸리니  잘못인 줄 알았느냐?
(脚 若也隨他去)
발자취를 따라서 줄  곧 따라만 간다면,
(未免當頭蹉過他)
정작 마주칠 땐 그냥 지나치리라.
壞衲大璉
(見牛人少覓牛多)
소를  보는 사람은 적고  소를 찾는 이는 많다.
(山北山南見也?)
산의 북쪽과 남쪽을  보는가 마는가?
(明暗一條去來路)
밝고 어두운 한 줄기로 오가는 길,
(箇中認取別無他)
그 속에서 느껴야지 따로 있지 않다네.

 

3. 見牛/受制

(從聲得入)
소리를 쫓아 들어가니,
(見處逢源)
보는 곳마다 근원과 마주친다.
(六根門)
여섯 기관의 문마다
(着着無差)
한치도 어긋남이 없네.
(動用中)
움직이는 작용 속에
(頭頭顯露)
낱낱이 바탕을 드러냈다.
(水中鹽味)
물 속의 소금 맛이요,
(色裏膠靑)
물감 속의 아교인데,
( 上眉毛)
눈섭을 치켜뜨고 바라봐도,
(非是他物)
별다른 물건이 아니로다.
◀Perceiving the Bull▶
When one hears the voice, one can sense its source.
As  soon  as  the  six  senses  merge,   the gate   is entered.
Wherever one enters one sees the head of the  bull!  This unity
is like salt in water, like color  in dyestuff.
The slightest thing is not apart from self.
(黃 枝上一聲聲)
노란  꾀꼬리가 나뭇가지 위에서 지저귀고,
(日暖風和岸柳靑)
햇볕은  따사하고 바람은 서늘한데 언덕의 버들은 푸르기만 하다
(只此更無回避處)
더 이상  빠져나아 갈 곳이 다시 없나니,
(森森頭角畵難成)
위풍당당한  쇠뿔은 그리기가 어려워라.
◀Comment▶
I hear the song of the nightingale.
The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows are green
along the shore,
Here no bull can hide!
What artist can draw that massive head, those majestic horns?
石鼓希夷
(識得形容認得聲)
소의 모습을 알아 보고 그 소리도 알아듣나니,
(戴崇從此妙丹靑)
화가  대숭이 이로부터  멋진 그 림을 그렸다네.
(徹頭徹尾渾相似)
머리 끝부터 발 끝까지 온통 비슷 하지만,
(子細看來未十成)
자세히  살펴보니 온전치는 못하구나!
壞衲大璉
(驀面相逢見而呈)
갑자기  마주치면서 얼굴을 드러내니,
(此牛非白亦非靑)
이 소가 희지도 않고 푸르지도 않구나!
(點頭自許微微笑)
스스로  머리 끄덕여 긍정하면서 빙그레 웃으니,
(一段風光畵不成)
한 줄기 풍광은 그려도 그림이 되지 않는다.

 

4. 得牛/廻首

(久埋郊外)
오랫동안 야외에 숨어 있었는데,
(今日逢渠)
오늘에야 비로소 그댈 만났네.
(由境勝以難追)
뛰어난 경치 때문에 쫓아가기 어려운데,
(戀芳叢而不己)
싱그러운 수풀 속을 끊임없이 그리워 하네.
(頑心尙勇)
고집 센 마음은 여전히 날뛰니,
(野性猶存)
야성이 아직도 남아 있구나!
(欲得純和)
온순하게 하고 싶으면,
(必加鞭?)
반드시 채찍질을 가해야 한다.

◀Catching the Bull▶
He dwelt in the forest  a long time, but  I caught him today!
Infatuation for scenery interferes  with his direction.
Longing for sweeter  grass, he wanders away.
His mind still is stubborn and unbridled.
If I  wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.
(竭盡精神獲得渠)
온 정신을 다하여 이 놈을 잡았으나,
(心强力壯卒難除)
힘 세고 마음 강해 다스리기 어려워라.
(有時裳到高原上)
어느 땐 고원 위에 올랐다가도,
(又入煙雲深處居)
어느 땐 구름 깊은 곳에 들어가 머무누나.
◀Comment▶
I seize him with a terrific struggle.
His great will and power are inexhaustible.
He charges to the high plateau far above the cloud-mists,
Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands.
石鼓希夷
(牢把繩頭莫放渠)
고삐를 꽉 잡고 그 놈을 놓지 말라.
(幾多毛病未曾除)
숱한 나쁜 버릇은 아직 없어지지 않았으니,
(徐徐驀鼻牽將去)
천천히 코뚜레를 꿰어 끌고 가더라도,
(且要廻頭識舊居)
또 머리를 돌려 예 있던 곳을 알고자 하네.
壞衲大璉
(芳草連天捉得渠)
방초의 하늘 닿은 데서 이 놈을 붙잡았지만
(鼻頭繩索未全除)
코 꿴 고삐가 완전히 없어지진 않았구나!
(分明照見歸家路)
고향길을 분명히 비추어 보니,
(綠水靑山暫寄居)
푸른 물 푸른 산에 잠시 머물렀을 따름이네.

 

5. 牧牛/馴伏

(前思裳起)
앞 생각이 조금이라도 일어나면,
(後念相隨)
뒷 생각도 뒤따르나니,
(由覺故以成眞)
깨달음을 인해 진실을 이루기도 하며,
(在迷故而爲妄)
미혹으로 인해 거짓이 되기도 한다.
(不由境有)
대상 사물 때문에 그런 것이 아니라,
(唯自心生)
오직 스스로 마음이 일어났을 뿐이요,
(鼻索牢牽)
코를 꿴 고삐를 당길 뿐이니,
(不容擬議)
사량분별은 용납치 않는다.

◀Taming the Bull▶
When one  thought arises,  another thought  follows.
When  the first thought springs from
enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true.
Through delusion, one makes everything untrue.
Delusion is not caused by objectivity;  it is the result  of
subjectivity. Hold the nose-ring
tight and do not allow even a doubt.
(鞭索時時不理身)
채찍과 고삐를 늘 몸에서 떼지 말라.
(恐伊縱步入埃塵)
두렵도다, 멋대로 걸어서 티끌 세계에 들어갈까봐.
(相將牧得純和也)
잘 길들여서 온순하게 되면,
( 鎖無拘自逐人)
고삐를 잡지 않아도 저절로 사람을 따를 것이다.
◀Comment▶
The whip and rope are necessary,
Else he might stray off down some dusty road.
Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle.
Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.
石鼓希夷
(甘分山林寄此身)
산림이 제 분수라 여겨 즐거이 몸을 맡기고,
(有時亦蹈馬蹄塵)
어떤 때는 티끌날리는 거리로 들어간다.
(不曾犯着人苗稼)
일찍이 남의 논밭에 침범한 적은 없나니,
(來往空勞背上人)
가고 옴에 소 탄 사람은 쓸데없이 수고롭네.
壞衲大璉
(牧來純熟自通身)
완숙하게 길들여져 절로 몸에 밴다면,
(雖在塵中不染塵)
티끌 속에 있더라도 물들지 않으리라.
(弄來却得蹉 力)
타고 놀다 오히려 좌절을 겪은 덕택에,
(林下相逢笑殺人)
숲 아래서 마주치자 자지러지게 웃어대네.

 

6. 騎牛歸家/無碍

(刊戈已罷)
투쟁이 끝나서,
(得失還空)
얻음도 잃음도 모두 비었구나!
(唱椎子之村歌)
나뭇꾼의 시골노래를 흥얼거리며,
(吹兒童之野曲)
시골 아이들의 풀피리를 불어 보노라.
(身橫牛上)
태평한 모습으로 소 등에 누워,
(目視雲 )
눈은 아득한 허공을 바라본다.
(呼喚不回)
불러도 불러도 돌아보지 않고,
(撈寵不住)
끌어당겨도 더 이상 물러나지 않는다.

◀Riding the Bull Home▶
This struggle is over; gain  and loss are assimilated.
I sing the song of the village woodsman, and play the tunes
of the children.
Astride the bull, I observe the clouds  above.
Onward I go,  no matter who may  wish to call me back.
(騎牛  欲還家)
소를 타고 유유히 집으로 돌아가노라니,
( 笛聲聲送晩霞)
오랑캐 피리소리가 저녁 놀에 실려간다.
(日拍一歌無限意)
한 박자 한 곡조가 한량없는 뜻이려니,
(知音何必鼓唇牙)
곡조 아는 이라고 말할 필요가 있겠는가!
◀Comment▶
Mounting the bull, slowly I return homeward.
The voice of my flute intones through the evening.
Measuring with   hand-beats the  pulsating  harmony,
I direct the endless rhythm.
Whoever hears this melody will join me.
石鼓希夷
(指點前坡卽是家)
앞 언덕을 가리키니 바로 집이라,
(旋吹桐角出煙霞)
이윽고 오동피리를 불며 석양 속에 나타난다.
(忽然變作還鄕曲)
홀연히 음악은 환향곡으로 바뀌나니,
(未必知音肯伯牙)
곡을 아는 자는 백아 보다 낫다 하리라.
壞衲大璉
(倒騎得得自歸家)
거꾸로 소를 타고 집에 돌아가니,
(蒻笠 衣帶晩霞)
삿갓과 도롱이도 저녁 놀에 물들었다.
(步步淸風行處穩)
걸음마다 맑은 바람에 가는 길이 편안하니,
(不將寸草掛脣牙)
빈약한 촌초로선 입을 열지 못한다네.

7. 忘牛存人/住運

(法無二法)
법엔 두 법이 없나니,
(牛且爲宗)
임시 소에 의탁해 종으로 삼았노라.
(喩蹄兎之異名)
올가미와 토끼가 명칭이 다른 것 같고,
(顯筌魚之差別)
통발과 고기가 구별되는 것과 마찬가지일세.
(如金出鑛)
마치 금이 광석에서 나오고,
(似月離雲)
달이 구름을 벗어난 것 같으니,
(一道寒光)
한 줄기 차가운 빛은
(威音劫外)
겁 밖의 위음이로다.
◀The Bull Transcended▶
All is  one law,  not two.
We only make  the bull  a  temporary subject.
It is as the relation of rabbit and trap, of fish and net.
It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud.
One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time.
(騎牛已得到家山)
소를 타고 이미 고향에 도착하였으니,
(牛也空兮人也閑)
소도 공하고 사람까지 한가롭네.
(紅日三竿猶作夢)
붉은 해는 높이 솟아도 여전히 꿈꾸는 것 같으니,
(鞭繩空頓草堂間)
채찍과 고삐는 띠집 사이에 부질없이 놓여 있네.
◀Comment▶
Astride the bull, I reach home.
I am serene. The bull too can rest.
The dawn has come. In blissful repose,
Within my thatched dwelling I have abandoned the whip and rope.
石鼓希夷
(欄內無牛 出山)
산에서 끌고 온 소, 집안에는 없고,
(烟 雨笠亦空閑)
삿갓과 도롱이도 쓸데 없다.
(行歌行樂無拘繫)
즐겁게 노래하며 가는 길에 전혀 걸림 없으니,
( 得一身天地間)
온 천지 사이에서 한 몸만이 자유롭네.
壞衲大璉
(歸來何處不家山)
돌아오니 어디 하나 고향 아니리,
(物我相忘鎭日閑)
대상과 나 또한 모두 잊으니 종일 한가롭네.
(須信通玄峰頂上)
현지를 통한 봉우리 정상을 반드시 믿을지니,
(箇中渾不類人間)
그 속에선 온갖 것이 인간세 아니더라.

 

8. 人牛俱忘 / 相忘

(凡情脫落)
범속한 생각을 탈락하고,
(聖意皆空)
거룩한 뜻도 다 비어 있다.
(有佛處不用 遊)
부처가 있는 세계엔 놀 필요가 없고,
(無佛處急須走過)
부처 없는 세계는 모름지기 급히 지나가야 한다.
(兩頭不着)
범속함과 거룩함 둘 다에 집착하지 않으니,
(千眼難竅)
관음보살의 천안이라도 엿보기 어려워라.
(百鳥啣華)
온갖 새들이 꽃을 물고와 공양하는 것은,
(一場  )
오히려 한바탕 부끄러운 장면일 뿐이네.
◀Both Bull and Self Transcended▶
Mediocrity is gone.  Mind is clear  of limitation.
I seek no  state of enlightenment.
Neither do  I remain  where no  enlightenment exists.
Since I linger in neither condition, eyes cannot see me.
If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers,
such praise would be meaningless.
(鞭索人牛盡屬空)
채찍과 고삐, 사람과 소는 다 비어 있나니,
(壁天遼闊信難通)
푸른 허공만이 가득히 펼쳐져 소식 전하기 어렵도다.
(紅爐焰上爭容雪)
붉은 화로의 불꽃이 어찌 눈을 용납하리오
(到此方能合祖宗)
이 경지에 이르러야 조사의 마음과  합치게 되리라.
◀Comment▶
Whip, rope, person, and bull — all merge in No-Thing.
This heaven is so vast no message can stain it.
How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire?
Here are the footprints of the patriarchs.
石鼓希夷
( 愧衆生界已空)
부끄럽구나! 중생계도 이미 비었으니,
(箇中消息若爲通)
그 가운데 소식을 어찌 통할 것인가!
(後無來者前無去)
뒤에 오는 자도 없고 앞에 가는 이도 없으니,
(未審憑誰繼此宗)
모르겠다! 누구에게 종지를 계승한다고 하는지를.
壞衲大璉
(一鎚擊碎大虛空)
한번 크게 내려 큰 허공을 부숴버리다.
(凡聖無縱路不通)
범부 성인의 자취는 없고 길도 통하지 않네.
(明月堂前風颯颯)
명월당 앞에 부는 바람은 쓸쓸한데,
(百川無水不朝宗)
세상의 모든 강들은 바다로 흘러든다.

9. 近本還源/獨照

(本來淸淨不受一塵)
본래 청정해서 한 티끌에도 물들지 않으면서,
(觀有相支榮枯)
모습 있는 만유의 영고성쇠를 본다.
(處無爲之凝寂)
함이 없는 고요한 경지에 머물러,
(不同幻化)
더 이상 환상과 동일시 하지 않으니,
(豈假修治)
어찌 수행과 계율에 의지하리오!
(水綠山靑)
물은 맑게 흐르고 산은 푸르른데,
(坐觀成敗)
홀로 앉아 세상의 흥망 성쇠를 바라보노라.
◀Reaching the Source▶
From the beginning, truth is clear. Poised  in silence,
I observe the forms of integration and disintegration.
One who is  not attached to “form” need not be “reformed.”
The water is emerald, the mountain is indigo,  and I  see that
which is creating  and that which is destroying.
(返本還源已費功)
근원으로 돌아가 돌이켜 보니 온갖 노력을 기울였구나!
(爭如直下若盲聾)
차라리 당장에 귀머거리나 장님 같은 것을,
(庵中不見庵前物)
암자 속에 앉아 암자 밖 사물을 인지하지 않나니,
(水自茫茫花自紅)
물은 절로 아득하고 꽃은 절로 붉구나!
◀Comment▶
Too many  steps have  been taken  returning to the  root
and  the source. Better to have been blind and deaf from the
beginning!
Dwelling in one’s  true abode,  unconcerned with  that without
— The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red.
石鼓希夷
(靈機不墮有無功)
신령한 기틀은 유무의 공에 떨어지지 않아서,
(見色聞聲豈用聾)
빛깔도 보고 소리도 듣는데, 어찌 귀머거리이겠는가!
(昨夜金烏飛入海)
어젯밤 금가마귀가 날아서 바다로 들어가니,
(曉天依舊一輪紅)
새벽 하늘에 예와 같이 둥근 해가 떠 있도다.
壞衲大璉
(用盡機關費盡功)
기관을 다 써서 모든 노력을 했어도,
(惺惺底事不如聾)
또랑또랑한 그 일은 귀머거리만 못하네.
(草鞋根斷來時路)
짚신 끈이 다 해진 채 돌아오는 길에는,
(白鳥不啼花亂紅)
새들이 울지 않는데 꽃들만 붉게 피었어라.

 

10. 入廛垂手/雙泯

(柴門獨掩)
싸리문을 닫고 홀로 고요하니,
(千聖不知)
천명의 성인이라도 그 속을 알지 못하네.
(埋自己之風光)
자기의 풍광은 묻어 버리고,
(負前賢之途轍)
옛 성현들이 간 길들도 등져버린다.
(提瓢入市)
표주박을 들고 저자에 들어가며,
(策杖還家)
지팡이 짚고 집으로 돌아간다.
(酒肆魚行)
술집도 가고 고깃간도 들어가서,
(化令成佛)
교화를 펼쳐 부처를 이루게 한다.
◀In the World▶
Inside my gate, a thousand sages do  not know me.
The beauty of my garden is invisible.
Why should one search for the footprints of the patriarchs?
I go to  the market place with my  wine bottle and
return home with my staff. I visit the wineshop and the market,
and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.

(露胸跣足入廛來)
맨 가슴 맨발로 저자에 들어오니,
(抹土途灰笑滿 )
재투성이 흙투성이라도 얼굴에 가득한 함박웃음.
(不用神仙眞秘訣)
신선이 지닌 비법 따위를 쓰지 않아도,
(直敎枯木放花開)
당장에 마른 나무 위에 꽃을 피게 하누나!
◀Comment▶
Barefooted and  naked of  breast, I  mingle with  the people
of the world.
My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful.
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the dead trees become alive.
石鼓希夷
(者漢親從異類來)
이놈은 틀림없이 이류에서 왔구나.
(分明馬面與  )
말의 얼굴과 당나귀 뺨이 너무나 분명하다.
(一揮鐵棒如風疾)
질풍처럼 몽둥이를 한번 휘둘러서,
(萬戶千門盡擊開)
이 세상의 모든 문들을 두들겨 여네.
壞衲大璉
(袖裏金木追劈面來)
소매 속의 금방망이가 정면에서 떨어지니,
(胡言漢語笑靈 )
오랑캐 말, 우리 말로도 웃음은 볼에 가득하네.
(相逢若解不相識)
서로 마주쳐도 알아보지 못함을 이해한다면,
(樓閣門庭八字開)
미륵의 누각문도 활짝 열어지리라!

Gateless Gate

The Gateless Gate is a collection of 48 Zen koans compiled in the early 13th century by Chinese monk Wumen (also translated as Mumon or Ummon). Wumen’s preface indicates that the volume was published in 1228. Each koan is accompanied by a commentary and verse by Wumen. A classic edition includes a 49th case composed by Anwan (pen name for Cheng Ch’ing-Chih) in 1246. Wu-liang Tsung-shou also supplemented the volume with three poems relating to case number 47, composed in 1230.

Along with the Blue Cliff Record and the oral tradition of Hakuin Ekaku, The Gateless Gate is a central work much used in Rinzai School practice. Five of the koans in the work concern the sayings and doings of Zhaozhou; four concern Ummon.

All 48 Koans With Commentaries, presented by the Wanderling:

CASE 1. JOSHU’S DOG

A monk asked Joshu, “Has the dog the Buddha nature?”
Joshu replied, “Mu”

Mumon’s Comment:
For the pursuit of Zen, you must pass through the barriers (gates) set up by the Zen masters. To attain his mysterious awareness one must completely uproot all the normal workings of one’s mind. If you do not pass through the barriers, nor uproot the normal workings of your mind, whatever you do and whatever you think is a tangle of ghost. Now what are the barriers? This one word “Mu” is the sole barrier. This is why it is called the Gateless Gate of Zen. The one who passes through this barrier shall meet with Joshu face to face and also see with the same eyes, hear with the same ears and walk together in the long train of the patriarchs. Wouldn’t that be pleasant?

Would you like to pass through this barrier? Then concentrate your whole body, with its 360 bones and joints, and 84,000 hair follicles, into this question of what “Mu” is; day and night, without ceasing, hold it before you. It is neither nothingness, nor its relative “not” of “is” and “is not.” It must be like gulping a hot iron ball that you can neither swallow nor spit out.

Then, all the useless knowledge you have diligently learned till now is thrown away. As a fruit ripening in season, your internality and externality spontaneously become one. As with a mute man who had had a dream, you know it for sure and yet cannot say it. Indeed your ego-shell suddenly is crushed, you can shake heaven and earth. Just as with getting ahold of a great sword of a general, when you meet Buddha you will kill Buddha. A master of Zen? You will kill him, too. As you stand on the brink of life and death, you are absolutely free. You can enter any world as if it were your own playground. How do you concentrate on this Mu? Pour every ounce of your entire energy into it and do not give up, then a torch of truth will illuminate the entire universe.

Has a dog the Buddha nature?
This is a matter of life and death.
If you wonder whether a dog has it or not,
You certainly lose your body and life!

See also: Regarding Mu

CASE 2. HYAKUJO’S FOX

Whenever Hyakujo delivered a Zen lecture, an old man was always there with the monks listening to it; and when they left the Hall, so did he. One day, however, he remained behind, and Hyakujo asked,”Who are you?”

The old man replied,”Yes, I am not a human being, but in the far distant past, when the Kashapa Buddha (the Sixth Buddha of the Seven Ancient Buddhas) preached in this world, I was the head monk in this mountain area. On one occasion a monk asked me whether an enlightened man could fall again under the law of karma (cause and effect), and I answered that he could not. Thus I became a fox for 500 rebirths and am still a fox. I beg you to release me from this condition through your Zen words.”

Then he asked Hyakujo,”Is an enlightened man subject to the law of karma?” Hyakujo answered, “No one is free from the law of Karma.”

At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened, and said with a bow, “I am now released from rebirth as a fox and my body will be found on the other side of the mountain. May I request that you bury me as a dead monk?”

The next day Hyakujo had the Karmadana, or deacon, beat the clapper and he informed the monks that after the midday meal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk. “No one was sick or died,” wondered the monks. “What does our Roshi mean?” After they had eaten, Hyakujo led them to the foot of a rock on the furthest side of the mountain, and with his staff poked the dead body of a fox and had it ritually cremated.

In the evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told them this story of the law of Karma. Upon hearing the story, Obaku asked Hyakujo, “You said that because a long time ago an old Zen master gave a wrong answer he became a fox for 500 rebirths. But suppose every time he answered he had not made a mistake, what would have happened then?” Hyakujo replied, “Just come here to me, and I will tell you the answer!” Obaku then went up to Hyakujo–and slapped the teacher’s face. Hyakujo, clapping his hands and laughing, exclaimed, “I thought the Persian had a red beard, but here is another one with a red beard!”

Mumon’s Comment:
“The enlightened man is not subject to Karma.” How can this answer make the monk a fox? “The enlightened man is not free from the law of karma.” How can this answer release him from his fox’s life? If you have one eye in regard to this, then you understand Hyakujo’s (the old man’s) dramatic 500 rebirths.

Free from karma or subject to it,
They are two sides of the same die.
Subject to karma or free from it,
Both are irredeemable errors.

See also: Hyakujo’s Fox

See also: No Ducks

CASE 3. GUTEI’S FINGER

Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A boy attendant began to imitate him in this way. When a visitor asked the boy what his master had preached about, the boy raised his finger.

Gutei heard about the boy’s mischief, seized him and cut off his finger with a knife. As the boy screamed and ran out of the room, Gutei called to him. When the boy turned his head to Gutei, Gutei raised up his own finger. In that instant the boy was enlightened.

When Gutei was about to die, he said to the assembled monks,”I received this one-finger Zen from Tenryu. I used it all my life and yet could not exhaust it” and then he passed away.

Mumon’s Comment:
Where Gutei and the boy attained enlightenment is not at the tip of the finger itself. If this simple truth is not comprehended, Tenryu, Gutei, the boy and you also will be bound together once and for all.

Gutei made a fool of old Tenryu,
With the sharp blade he did simply harm the boy.
That’s nothing compared to the Mountain Spirit when he raised his hand
And split Kasan (the great mountain) in two.

CASE 4. WAKU’AN’S “WHY NO BEARD?”

Waku’an (looking at Bodhidharma’s picture) complained, “Why has that Barbarian no beard?”

Mumon’s Comment:
If you study Zen, you must study it with all your heart. When you attain enlightenment, it must be true enlightenment. When you really meet Bodhidharma face to face, then you finally have gotten it right. However when you start explaining it with words, you have fallen into duality.

Do not explain your dream
Before a fool.
The barbarian has no beard,
How could you add obscurity to clarity?

CASE 5. KYOGEN’S MAN HANGING IN THE TREE

Kyogen said, “It (Zen) is like a man (monk) hanging by his teeth in a tree over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another man asks him, ‘Why did Bodhidharma come to China from the West (India)?’ If the man in the tree does not answer, he misses the question, and if he answers, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?”

Mumon’s Comment:
(In such a predicament) though your eloquence flows like a river, it is all to no avail. Even if you can explain all of the Buddhist sutras, that also is useless. If you can rightly answer the question, you walk the road of killing the living and reviving the dead. But if you cannot answer, you should wait for ages and ask Maitreya, the future Buddha.

Kyogen had really bad taste,
And spreads the poison everywhere,
He stuffs with it the monks’ mouths,
And lets their tears stream from their dead eyes.

CASE 6. THE BUDDHA’S FLOWER

Once upon a time when Shakyamuni Buddha was in Grdhrakuta mountain, he twirled a flower in his finger and held it before his congregation. Everyone was silent. Only Maha Kashapa wholeheartedly smiled. Buddha said, “I have the eye of the true teaching, the heart of Nirvana, the formless form, the mysterious gate of Dharma. Beyond the words and beyond all teachings to be transmitted, I now pass this on to Maha Kashapa.”

Mumon’s Comment:
Golden-faced Gautama impudently forced the good people into depravity. He sold dog meat under the name of mutton. And he thought he made it! What if all the audience had laughed together? How could he have handed the eye of the true teaching or if Kashapa had not smiled, how could he have transmitted the teaching? If you say it could be transmitted, he is like a golden-faced old huckster swindling at the city gate, and if you say it cannot be transmitted, how does he hand it on to Maha Kashapa?

At the turning of a flower,
The snake (his disguise) shows his tail.
Maha Kashapa smiles,
Every monk does not know what to do.

CASE 7. JOSHU’S WASHING THE BOWL

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered this monastery. I beg you to teach me.” Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?” The monk replied, “I have.” “Then,” said Joshu, “Go and wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.

Mumon’s Comment:
Joshu opened his mouth, showed his gall-bladder (true mind) and the depth of his heart. If this monk did not really listen to and grasp the truth, he indeed mistook the bell for a pitcher.

He made it so simple and clear,
It might take a long time to catch the point,
If one realizes that it’s stupid to search for fire with a lantern light,
The rice would not take so long to be done.

CASE 8. KEICHU’S WHEEL

Gettan asked a monk, “If Keichu (the ancient mythological wheel maker) made one hundred carts, and if we took off the wheels and removed the hub uniting the spokes, what would then become apparent?

Mumon’s Comment:
If anyone can answer this question instantly, his eyes will be like a meteor and his mind like a flash of lightning.

When the hubless wheel turns,
Even the master would be at a loss what to do,
It turns above heaven and beneath earth,
South, north, east, and west.

CASE 9. DAITSU CHISHO BUDDHA

A monk asked Seijo, “Daitsu Chisho Buddha did zazen (meditated) for ten kalpas in a Meditation Hall, could not realize the highest truth, and so could not become fully emancipated. Why was this?” Seijo said, “Your question is a very appropriate one!” The monk asked again, “Why did he not attain Buddhahood by doing zazen in the Meditation Hall?” Seijo replied, “Because he did not.”

Mumon’s Comment:
You may know the Old Indian, but you are not allowed to have an understanding of Him. If an ordinary man attains enlightenment, he is a sage. When the sage is concerned about an understanding, he is only an ordinary man.

Rather than putting the body to rest, let the heart rest.
When the mind is realized, then one need not worry about the body.
If the mind and the body have completely become one,
This is the perfect life of sage, and praise is utterly meaningless.

CASE 10. SOZAN AND POOR SEIZAI

A monk named Seizai said to Sozan, “I am alone and poor. I beg my teacher to bestow upon me the alms of salvation.” Sozan said, “Acarya Seizai!” “Yes, Sir?” replied Seizai. Sozan said, “Someone has drunk three bowls of the wine of Haku of Seigen, but says that he has not yet even moistened his lips.”

Mumon’s Comment:
Seizai overplayed his hand. Then what is his real state of mind? Sozan with his one eye sees through the recesses of his mind and comprehends what he really meant. However this may be so, where did Acarya Seizai drink the wine?

The poorest like Hanzen,
His spirit like that of Kou.
He could barely make his living,
And yet wishes to rival the wealthiest.

CASE 11. JOSHU’S HERMIT

Joshu went to a hermit’s and asked, “What’s up? What’s up?”(=”Have you any Zen?”) The hermit lifted up his fist. Joshu said, “The water is too shallow to anchor here,” and went away. Joshu visited the hermit once again a few days later and said, “What’s up? What’s up?” The hermit raised his fist again. Then Joshu said, “Well given, well taken, well killed, well saved.” And he bowed to the hermit.

Mumon’s Comment:
The raised fist was the same both times. Why was one accepted, the other rejected? Just say, where is the confusion between the two?

If you can answer this by a word of true comprehension, then you realize that Joshu’s tongue has no bone and that he can absolutely freely use it. Even though this is so, the hermit might have seen through Joshu both times. If you wonder whether the first hermit be superior (or inferior) to the second, then you have no one eye.

His eye is a meteor,
Zen’s movement is like lightning.
The sword that kills the man,
is the sword that saves the man.

CASE 12. ZUIGAN CALLS HIMSELF “MASTER”

Every day Zuigan used to call out to himself, “Master!” and then he answered himself, “Yes, Sir!” And he added, “Awake, Awake!” and then answered, “Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir!”
“From now onwards, do not be deceived by others!” “No, Sir! I will not, Sir!”

Mumon’s Comment:
The master, Zuigan, sells out and buys himself. He has a lot of puppets of gods and devils that he plays with. Why is this so? With one mask he asked, and with another he answered. With another mask he said, “Awake!” and another, “Don’t be cheated by others!”
If you adhere to any one of these, you are totally mistaken. If, however, you imitate Zuigan, then all these are no other than the fox’s disguises.

Some who search the Way of Zen do not realize true self,
For they recognize only the ego-soul.
This ego-soul is the seed of birth and death,
Foolish people take it for the true original self.

CASE 13. TOKUSAN’S BOWL

One day Tokusan came to the dining room from the Meditation Hall, holding his bowl. Seppo saw him coming and asked, “The dinner drum is not yet beaten. Where are you going with your bowl?

Tokusan went back at once to his room. Seppo told about this incident to Ganto, who said, “Tokusan as he is, has not penetrated into the ultimate truth of Zen.”

Tokusan heard of this and sent an acolyte to ask Ganto to come to him. “I have heard,” told Tokusan, “you are not approving my Zen.” Ganto whispered to Tokusan what he meant. Tokusan said nothing, leaving Ganto there.

Next day, ascending the rostrum, Tokusan delivered an entirely different sermon to the monks. Ganto went forward in the Hall, clapped his hands, laughed and said, “What a happy thing! The old man has got hold of the ultimate truth of Zen. From now on, no one in heaven and on earth can surpass him.”

Mumon’s Comment:
As for the ultimate truth of Zen, neither Tokusan nor Ganto even dreamt of such a thing. When you look into the matter, they are only a set of dummies how about puppets- dummies sounds like stupid..

Whoever understands the first truth
Understands the ultimate truth.
The last and the first
Are they not one and the same?

CASE 14. NANSEN CUTS THE CAT IN TWO

Nansen saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a baby cat. He seized the cat and said, “If (any of) you can say (a word of Zen), you can spare the cat. Otherwise I will kill it.” No one could answer. So Nansen cut the cat in two .

That evening Joshu returned and Nansen told him what had happened. Joshu thereupon took off his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked away. Nansen said, “If only you had been there, you could have saved the cat.”

Mumon’s Comment:
Why did Joshu put his sandals on his head? If you can answer this question with one word, you understand Nansen’s efforts. If not, you are utterly in danger.

Had Joshu been there,
The opposite would have been done.
Joshu would have snatched the knife,
And Nansen would have begged for his life.

See also: Cutting the Cat Into One

See also: Who Is Arguing About the Cat?

CASE 15. TOZAN’S SIXTY BLOWS

Tozan went to Ummon and Ummon asked him where he had come from. Tozan answered, “From Sato!” Then Ummon asked, “Where were you then during the Summer?” Tozan answered, “At Hoji Temple in Konan Province.” Ummon further asked Tozan, “When did you leave there?” Tozan replied, “I left on August 25.” Un-mon told Tozan, “You deserve 60 blows, but I will forgive you today!”

The next day Tozan knelt and deeply bowed to Ummon and said, “Yesterday you forgave me the 60 blows, but I still do not understand in what respect I was wrong.” Then Un mon told Tozan, “You are really a good-for-nothing rice eater! No wonder you wandered around Konan and Kosei for nothing!” At this very moment, Tozan was awakened.

Mumon’s Comment:
Ummon had Tozan feed on the genuine fodder of Zen, showed him the one way of living activity, and helped him from becoming extinct. All night long Tozan swam in the waves of Yes and No until he got nowhere. When the dawn broke, again Tozan went to Ummon to be awakened. After all Tozan was not so seasoned.

Now I will ask you: Did Tozan deserve 60 blows? If you say Yes, then not only Tozan, but everyone also deserves 60 blows! If you say No, Ummon is a swindler. If therefore you understand this clearly, Tozan and you breathe the same air!

The lion roughly teaches her cubs,
She kicks them away and the cubs jump.
Ummon’s thrown words hit right on Tozan’s heart,
While Ummon’s first arrow is light, the second arrow hits deep.

CASE 16. UMMON’S SEVEN-FOLD ROBE

Ummon said, “The world is vast and wide; for what is it you put on your seven-piece robe at the sound of the bell?”

Mumon’s Comment:
When one meditates and studies Zen, one extinguishes the attachment to sound and color. Even though some have attained enlightenment by hearing a sound, or an awakening by seeing a color, these are ordinary matters. Those who intend to master Zen freely master sounds or colors, see clearly the nature of things and every activity of mind. Even though this is so, now tell me: Does the sound come to the ear, or does the ear go to the sound? But when both sound and silence are forgotten, what would you call this state? If you listen with your ear, it is hard to hear truly, but if you listen with your eye, then you begin to hear properly.

If you are awakened, all things are one and the same,
If you are not awakened, all things are varied and distinguished.
If you are not awakened, all things are one and the same,
If you are awakened, all things are varied and distinguished.

CASE 17. ECHU’S THREE CALLS

Echu, called Kokushi, the teacher of the emperor, called his attendant, Oshin, three times and three times Oshin answered, “Yes!” Kokushi said, “I thought that I had offended you, but in reality you offended me!”

Mumon’s Comment:
Kokushi called Oshin three times. His tongue fell to the ground (from talking too much). Oshin answered three times and revealed his harmony with the Tao. Echu, getting old and lonely, attempted even to hold the cow’s head down to feed on the grass. Oshin did not trouble to show his Zen, for his satisfied stomach had no desire to eat. When the nation is prosperous, everyone is too proud (to eat plain food), now just say who offended which one?

When prison canga is iron and has no hole,
(Echu’s) followers have neither peace nor rest.
When you intend to uphold the teaching of Zen,
You must climb a mountain of swords with bare feet.

CASE 18. TOZAN’S THREE POUNDS OF FLAX

A monk asked Tozan, “What is the Buddha?”
Tozan answered, “Three pounds of flax!”

Mumon’s Comment:
Tozan’s Zen is like a clam. When the two halves of the shell open, you can see the whole inside. However, now tell me, “What is Tozan’s real insides?”

Just “Three pounds of flax!” pops up,
His words are close, and yet his heart is closer.
Anyone who explains this or that, yes and no,
is himself the man of yes and no.

CASE 19. NANSEN’S ORDINARY MIND

Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the Way?” Nansen answered, “Your ordinary mind–that is the Way.” Joshu said, “Can it be grasped (for study)?” Nansen replied, “The more you pursue, the more does it slip away.” Joshu asked once more, “How can you know it is the Way?” Nansen responded, “The Way does not belong to knowledge, nor does it belong to non knowledge. Knowledge is illusion. Non knowledge is beyond discrimination. When you get to this Way without doubt, you are free like the vastness of space, an unfathomable void, so how can you explain it by yes or no?” Upon hearing this, Joshu was awakened.

Mumon’s Comment:
The question Joshu asked Nansen was dissolved by a stroke. After being enlightened, Joshu must further his pursuit 30 more years to exhaust that meaning.

Hundred flowers in Spring, the moon in Autumn,
The cool wind in Summer and Winter’s snow.
If your mind is not clouded with things,
You are happy at any time.

CASE 20. SHOGEN’S STRONG MAN

Shogen said,”Why is it that a man of strength cannot lift up his own legs and stand up (for Zen)?” And again, “It is not with our tongue that we speak.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Shogen said it by turning his heart inside out, and no one was there to receive it. If anyone should comprehend Shogen, then come to me and receive my blows. To know the genuine gold, you must see it through fire.

Raising my foot I turn upside down the Scented Ocean,
Bowing my head I look down on the Four Dhyana Heavens.
Such a body of full strength has no place to rest,
Please finish this verse yourself!

CASE 21. UMMON’S DRIED DUNG

A monk asked Ummon,”What is Buddha?” Ummon answered him, “Dried dung.”

Mumon’s Comments
We must say that being so poor, Ummon cannot appreciate plain food, or he is so busy that he cannot even scribble properly. He is disposed to support his school with dry dung. Look at how devastated the Buddhist teaching has been!

Lightning flashes,
Sparks of striking flint.
In a blink of your eyes,
You have passed by (and missed it).

See also: Zen Can Be Found In Any Activity.

CASE 22. KASHAPA’S FLAG POLE

Ananda asked Maha Kashapa, “Buddha gave you the golden woven robe of successorship. What else did he give you?”
Kashapa said, “Ananda!”
“Yes!” answered Ananda.
“Knock down the flagpole at the gate!” said Kashapa.

Mumon’s Comments:
If you can give a “turning word” (a momentous word for awakening), you will see the meeting at Mount Grdhrahuta? still in session. If not, no matter how much you make struggles to study from the age of Vipasyin, you cannot attain enlightenment.

How is Ananda’s question, compared to Kashapa’s answer of heart.
How many people have since then opened their eyes.
Elder brother calls and younger brother answers–the family disgrace.
This spring does not belong to Yin and Yang.

CASE 23. ENO’S GOOD AND EVIL

Eno, the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese C’han (Zen), was pursued by Monk Emyo up to Daiyurei. The patriarch, seeing Emyo coming, laid the robe and the bowl on a rock, and said to him, “This robe represents the faith. Is it to be fought for by force? You may take them now.” Emyo went to move the bowl and the robe and yet they were as heavy as mountains. He could not move them. Hesitating and trembling, Emyo asked the patriarch, “I come for the teaching, not for the robe. Please enlighten me!” The patriarch said, “What is primordially Emyo (i.e., your true self), if you do not think this is good nor do you think this is evil?” At that moment Emyo was greatly awakened. His whole body was covered with sweat. Emyo cried, bowed, and said, “Is there or is there not any other (deep) significance (in Zen) than your secret words and teachings a minute ago?” The patriarch answered, “What I have told you is no secret at all. Once you have realized your own true self, the depth (in Zen) rather belongs to you!” Emyo said, “When I was at Obai with the other monks, I never realized what my true self was. Now you have dispersed the clouds of my ignorance to realize it, just like a man capable of discerning warm and cold by tasting water. From now on you are my teacher!” The patriarch said, “We both have Obai for our teacher. Guard your own self!”

Mumon’s Comments:
We should say that the sixth patriarch was in an emergency. This revelation of his, however, resembles the deed of an overly protective grandmother, who peeled a fresh lichi (a dessert fruit), removed its stone and put it to her grandchild’s mouth ready for him to swallow.

You describe it in vain, you picture it to no avail,
Praising it is useless, cease to worry about it at all.
It is your true self, it has nowhere to hide,
Even if the universe is annihilated, it is not destroyed.

CASE. 24 FUKETSU’S SILENCE AND WORDS

A monk asked Fuketsu, “Without words or without silence transgressing, how can one be unmistakably one with the universe?”
Fuketsu said, “I often think of March in Konan (Southern China). The birds sing among hundreds of flagrant flowers.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Fuketsu’s mind was quick as lightning, snatching the road and walking on it. Regrettably Fuketsu was not able to sit on the words of the “ancestors.” If anyone should penetrate into this, he would be absolutely free. Without words, without phrases, now say what Zen is.

Fuketsu did not say such a fine phrase,
Without uttering words, he already let it be known.
If Fuketsu had become talkative,
You do not know what to do.

CASE 25. KYOZAN’S SERMON FROM THE THIRD SEAT

In a dream Kyozan went to Maitreya’s Pure Land and sat in the third seat. A monk there beat the gavel and said, “Today the one in the third seat will give a sermon.” Kyozan arose, hit the gavel and said,”The truth of Mahayana is beyond any verbal expression!! Listen, listen!”

Mumon’s Comments:
You tell me, did Kyozan preach, or did he not? If he opens his mouth, he is lost. If he seals his mouth, he is lost, too. Whether he opens or seals his mouth, Kyozan is 108 thousand miles away from truth.

In the bright daylight,
And yet in a dream he talks a dream.
Indeed a possessed word, a possessed word,
He is deceiving the entire crowd.

CASE 26. TWO MONKS ROLL UP THE BLINDS

Hogen of Seiryo came to the hall to speak to the monks before the midday meal. He pointed with his finger to the bamboo blinds. At this moment two monks rose and rolled the blinds up. Hogen observed, “One has it, the other hasn’t it.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Now tell me, which one has it and which one has not? If any one of you has one eye, he will see through the failure on Hogen of Seiryo. However, never be concerned about the gain or the loss.

When the blinds are rolled up, the great sky is bright and clear,
The great sky is not yet in accord with Zen.
It’s better to throw everything away from the sky,
And make sure to have not even a draft blow through.

CASE 27. NANSEN’S NO MIND, NO BUDDHA

A monk asked Nansen, “Is there any teaching no master has ever preached before?”
Nansen replied, “Yes, there is.” “What is it?” asked the monk. Nansen answered, “It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Being asked a question, Nansen gave away his entire treasure (words) and suffered a run of bad luck.

Nansen was too kind and lost his treasure,
Verily words have no power.
Even if a mountain may become a blue ocean,
Nansen will never make it comprehensible to you.

CASE 28. RYUTAN’S CANDLE

One night Tokusan went to Ryutan to ask for his teaching. After Tokusan’s many questions, Ryutan said to Tokusan at last, “It is late. Why don’t you retire?” So Tokusan bowed, lifted the screen and was ready to go out, observing, “It is very dark outside.” Ryutan lit a candle and offered it to Tokusan. Just as Tokusan received it, Ryutan blew it out. At that moment the mind of Tokusan was opened. “What have you realized?” asked Ryutan to Tokusan, who replied, “From now on I will not doubt what you have said.”

The next day Ryutan ascended the rostrum and declared to the monks, “Among you there is one monk whose teeth are like the sword tree, his mouth is like the blood bowl. Strike him with a stick, he won’t turn his head to look at you. Some day he will climb the highest peaks and carry out my teaching there.”

On that day, in front of the lecture hall, Tokusan burned to ashes his commentaries on the sutras and declared, “In comparison to this awareness, all the most profound teachings are like a single hair in vast space. However deep the complicated knowledge of the world, compared to this enlightenment it is like one drop of water in the ocean.” Then he left the monastery.

Mumon’s Comments:
Before Tokusan passed through the barrier, his mind was eager, his mouth was anxious, with a purpose in his mind, he went south, to refute the doctrine of “A special transmission outside the sutras.” When he got on the road to Reishu (near Ryutan’s monastery) he asked an old woman to let him have something to “point his mind” (literally a snack, then something to put the mind at ease at the same time).The old woman asked Tokusan, “What is all that writing you are carrying?” Tokusan replied, “That’s the manuscript of my notes and commentary on the Diamond Sutra.” Then the old woman said, “That Sutra says, the past mind cannot be held, the present mind cannot be held, the future mind cannot be held. All of them are but unreal and illusory. You wish to have some refreshments. Well then, with which of your minds do you want to have the refreshments?” Tokusan found himself quite dumb. Finally he asked the woman, “Do you know of any Zen master around here?” “About five li away lives Ryutan,” said she. Tokusan arrived at Ryutan’s monastery with all humility, quite different from when he had started his journey. Ryutan in turn was so kind he forgot his own dignity. It was like pouring muddy water over a drunken man to sober him. After all, it was an unnecessary comedy.

Rather than hearing the name, seeing the face is better,
Rather than seeing the face, hearing the name is better.
But how much you help the nostrils,
Look what you have done to the eyes!

CASE 29. ENO’S FLAG

The wind was flapping a temple flag, and two monks were arguing about the flag. One said, “The flag is moving.” The other said, “the wind is moving.” They could not agree, no matter how hard they debated. The sixth patriarch, Eno, happened to come by and said, “Not the wind, not the flag. It is the mind that is moving!” The two monks were struck with awe.

Mumon’s Comments:
It is not the wind that moves, it is not the flag that moves, it is not the mind that moves. How shall we understand the sixth patriarch? If you gain an intimate grasp of its meaning, you will see how the two monks, intending to buy iron, got gold. The patriarch could not repress his compassion for the two monks, and so we have this disgraceful scene.

Wind, flag, and mind moves,
All confirm!ed as guilty of error.
Only we know our mouth is opened,
we do not know our speech went wrong.

CASE 30. BASO’S VERY MIND

Daibai asked Baso, What is the Buddha?”
Baso answered, “The mind is the Buddha.”

Mumon’s Comments:
If you fully understand Baso’s meaning, you are wearing Buddha’s clothes, eating Buddha’s food, speaking Buddha’s words, doing Buddha’s deeds, that is to say, you are Buddha himself. But Baso misled not a few people into erroring the principles of Zen. He does not realize that if we explain the word “Buddha” we must rinse our mouths for three days afterwards. If he is a man of understanding, he would cover his ears and run away hearing Baso say, “The mind is the Buddha!”

Under blue sky, in bright sunlight,
One need not search around,
Asking around what Buddha is,
is liking the stolen goods in one’s pocket and declaring oneself innocent.

CASE 31. JOSHU INVESTIGATES AN OLD WOMAN

A traveling monk asked an old woman the way to Taizan. The old woman said, “Go straight ahead.” When the monk proceeded a few steps, she said to herself, “This monk with such spirit also goes off like that!” Afterwards, another monk told Joshu about this, and Joshu said, “Wait until I go and investigate the old woman.” The next day off Joshu went and asked the same question and the old woman gave the same answer. Upon his return, Joshu told the congregation of monks, “I have investigated the old woman of Taizan.”

Mumon’s Comments:
The old woman sat in the tent and planned the campaign, but she did not know that there was the famous bandit who knew how to take the enemy commander prisoner. Old Joshu sneaked into her tent and menaced her fortress, but he wasn’t a real general. Indeed both had their faults. Now I would like to ask you: “What was the point of Joshu’s investigating the old woman?”

The question was the same,
The answer was the same.
Sand in the rice,
Thorns in the mud.

See also: The Old Woman of Taishan

CASE 32. A “PAGAN” ASKS BUDDHA

A “pagan” asked Buddha, “With words, with silence, will you tell me (the Way)?” Buddha silently kept meditating. The “pagan” bowed and thanked the Buddha, saying, “With the compassion you have cleared away the clouds of my mind and have made me enter into the awakening.” After he left, Ananda asked the Buddha what he had attained. The Buddha said, “A good horse runs even a shadow of the whip.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Ananda was Buddha’s disciple but his understanding was not like that pagan. Now tell me, “How afar are the disciple and the non-disciple?”

Treading on the sharp edge of a sword,
Running over jagged ice.
Not climbing on the ladder,
Letting your hands off the cliff.

CASE 33. NEITHER MIND NOR BUDDHA

A monk asked Baso, “What is the Buddha?” Baso replied, “Not mind, not Buddha.”

Mumon’s Comments
If anyone understands what Baso said, he has mastered Zen.

If you meet a sword master on the road, give him the sword.
Unless you meet a poet on the road, do not offer a poem.
If you meet a man, tell him the three quarters of the Way,
and never tell him the rest.

CASE 34. NANSEN’S NO WAY

Nansen said, “Mind is not Buddha. Knowledge is not the Way.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Growing old, Nansen forgot to be ashamed. With his stinking mouth open he spread the scandal of his own house (such as knowledge is not the Way) to others. However, few appreciate their indebtedness to him.

When the sky is clear the sun appears,
when rain falls, the earth becomes moistened.
How wholeheartedly he explains,
how few have faith in him and his words.

CASE 35. TWO SOULS

Goso asked a monk, “Sei, the Chinese girl, who was separated from her soul. Which was the real Sei?”

Mumon’s Comments:
If you obtain genuine awareness of reality, you will know that the soul passes from one husk to another as travellers lodged in an inn. But if you have not obtained the awareness, you should not run around in confusion when the four elements are suddenly ready to become separated (i.e., to die), like a crab with its seven arms and eight legs thrown into the boiling water. Never say that I did not warn you.

The moon in the clouds is one and the same,
Valleys and mountains are various.
Fortunes above fortunes,
Is it one, or is it two?

CASE 36. GOSO’S NO WORDS, NO SILENCE

Goso said, “When you meet a Man of the Way on the road, greet him not with words, nor with silence. Tell me, how will you greet him?”

Mumon’s Comments:
If you can answer Goso exactly, it will be extremely heartening. If you cannot answer properly yet, then you must do your best to watch out everything.

Meeting the man of the Way on the road,
Greeting him not with words, nor with silence.
Give him an uppercut,
Then he will understand you at once.

CASE 37. JOSHU’S OAK TREE IN THE GARDEN

A monk asked Joshu, “With what intention did Bodhidharma come to China?” Joshu answered, “The oak tree in the front garden.”

Mumon’s Comments:
If you grasp Joshu’s answer precisely, there is no Shakyamuni Buddha before you and no Maitreya Buddha after you.

Words do not express fact,
Phrases do not reveal the delicate motion of mind.
He who accepts words is lost,
He who adheres to phrases is deluded.

CASE 38. GOSO’S BUFFALO

Goso asked, “A water buffalo goes out of his “enclosure.” The head, the horns, and the four legs go through, but why doesn’t the tail, too?”

Mumon’s Comments:
If you can open your one eye (to the question) and say an awakening word, you will be able to repay the Four Obligations and help the Three Bhava being saved. If you still have not gotten it, take a close look on the tail and awake yourself.

If the buffalo goes through, he will fall into the abyss,
If he retreats into the enclosure, he will be butchered.
This little bit of a tail,
that is a strange thing indeed!

CASE 39. UMMON AND TRAP INTO WORDS

As soon as a monk stated Ummon, “The radiance of the Buddha quietly and restlessly illuminates the whole universe”, Ummon asked him, “Are these you are reciting not the words of Chosetzu Shusai?” The monk replied, “Yes, they are.” Ummon said, “You are trapped in words!” Afterwards Shishin brought up the matter once more and said, “Tell me, how was the monk trapped in words?”

Mumon’s Comments:
If you are able to grasp Un-mon’s unapproachable accomplishments and follow through the monk’s corruption (of being trapped into words), you will be the leader of humans and Devas. If not, you cannot even save yourself.

A fish meets the fishhook in a rapid stream,
Being too greedy for the bait, the fish wants to bite.
Once his mouth widely opens,
His life is already lost.

CASE 40. KICKING THE DRINKING WATER JAR

During his stay under Master Hyakujo, Isan was a cooking monk. As Master Hyakujo wished to send a monk to found the new monastery called the Great Mount I, Maser Hyakujo told the chief monk and all other monks that he would choose the one who would demonstrate himself as the best among them. Then Master Hyakujo brought out a drinking water jar, put it down and said, “You cannot call it a water jar. Then, what will you call it?” The chief monk said, “One cannot call it a wooden stick.” Then, when Master Hyakujo turned to Isan, Isan kicked the jar and walked away. Master Hyakujo laughed and said, “The chief monk lost it to Isan.” He made Isan the founder of the Great I-san Monastery.

Mumon’s comments:
Master Isan had indeed rare courage, but he could not jump out of Master Hyakujo’s trap. After examination of the outcome, Isan took over the heavier burden for the easier job. Why? Look, Isan took off the cook’s headband and put himself in steel cuffs (of the founder of the monastery).

Throwing away strainers and cooking spoon,
Isan kicks the jar and settles the disputes.

Unhindered by the multiple hurdles,

He gives a kick on the toe,
Even Buddha becomes pieces.

CASE 41. BODHIDHARMA’S PEACE OF MIND

Bodhidharma sat facing the stone wall. The Second Patriarch of Chinese C’han (Zen), Suika, stood long in the thick snow. Finally, he severed his own arm and presented it to Bodhidharma. He said, “Your student cannot pacify his mind. You, the First Patriarch, please, give me peace of mind!” The First Patriarch replied, “Bring that mind, I will calm it down!” The Second Patriarch said, “I search for it everywhere, but I cannot find it!” Bodhidharma replied, “I have already pacified it for you!”

Mumon’s Comments:
That toothless old chap from India proudly travelled ten thousand li over the ocean (to China). This was indeed as if he deliberately raised waves where there was no wave. At last, he got only one disciple, who was maimed by cutting off his own arm. Alas, he was a fool indeed.

The First Patriarch from India taught straight forward,
A series of all the troubles has initiated from him.
The one who disturbed the calm world,
Is Boddhidharma, you indeed!

CASE 42.A WOMAN COMES OUT OF MEDITATION

When the wisest Bodhisattva Manjusuri, who is supposed to be next in order to Shakyamuni Buddha, found that the Buddha’ gathering was adjourned and each was going back to his/her land. Observing one woman still deep in meditation near Shakyamuni, Manjusuri properly bowed and asked Shakyamuni Buddha, “That woman has been able to reach that state of Enlightenment and why have I not?”

Shakyamuni replied, “Bring her from the Samadhi and ask her yourself!”

Manjusuri went round the woman three times and snapped his fingers and yet she was undisturbed in meditation. So Manjusuri held her high up in his hand and brought her to the first of three meditative heavens (totally detached from any lust) and exhausted all his mystical powers in vain (to awaken her). Observing this, Shakyamuni said, “Even a hundred thousand Manjusris could not awaken her from Samadhi. There resides Mo-myo (Avidya) Boddhisattva, the lowest of all, below this place past twelve hundred million lands. He alone can raise her from her deep meditation.” No sooner had the Shakyamuni spoken than that Boddhisattva sprang up out of the earth, bowed and paid his homage to Shakyamuni. By Shakyamuni order, Mo-myo Boddhisattva snapped his fingers. Instantly the woman came out of meditation and stood up.

Mumon’s Comments:
The old chap, Shakyamuni, is extraordinary indeed, able to produce such a village theatre stage. Now then, tell me:
“Why was Manjusri, the highest and wisest of the seven Boddhisattva, unable to bring her out of meditation? Why was Mo-myo Boddhisattva, the lowest of all, able to do so? Should you obtain and live this complete understanding of it, you will attain the great samadi within this mundane world of delusion and attachment.”

Whether the one who could bring her out of meditation, or the other who could not,
Both of them obtained freedom.
The one wore the mask of god, the other, a devil’s mask in that theatre,
Even the failure is artistic indeed.

CASE 43. SHUZAN’S BAMBOO SPATULA

Master Shuzan held out his bamboo spatula and asked, “If you call this a bamboo spatula, you give umbrage (to the principle of Zen). If you call this no bamboo spatula, you violate the law (of common-sense). What will all of you call this?”

Mumon’s Comments:
Should you call this a bamboo spatula, you would give umbrage. Should you call this no bamboo spatula, you would betray the law. Both to speak out will not do, and no word will be of any use either. Quickly say, quickly say!”

Bringing out the bamboo spatula,
Shuzan demanded the order?? of life or death.
Being put to either the umbrage, or the betrayal,
Even Buddha and Patriarchs would beg for their lives.

CASE 44. BASHO’S STAFF

Master Basho said to his disciples, “If you have the staff, I will give it to you. If you have no staff, I will take it away from you!”

Mumon’s Comments:
This staff helps you to cross the river with the shattered bridge. The staff leads you back to your village in the moonless dark night.
If you call it the staff, then you will go right into hell like an arrow.

Whether one is deep or shallow,
It lies in the palm of the hand which holds the staff.
The staff supports the heaven and maintains the earth,
Wherever the staff freely goes,
It will propagate the true teaching.

CASE 45. WHO IS HE?

To Tozan, Master Hoen the Fifth Patriarch said, “Shakyamuni and Maitreya Boddhisattva, both are His slaves. Well, tell me: Who is He?”

Mumon’s Comments:
Should you be able to clearly realize who he is, it would be as if you met your own father at the crossroads, as you do not have to ask your own father who he is.

Do not use another’s bow and arrow.
Do not ride somebody else’s horse.
Do not discuss someone else’s faults.
Do not try to know some other person’s business.

CASE 46.PROCEED BEYOND THE TOP OF THE 100 FOOT HIGH POLE

Master Sekiso said, “You are at the top of the 100 foot high pole. How will you make a step further?” Another Zen Master of Ancient Times said, “One who sits on top of the 100 foot pole has not quite attained true enlightenment. Make another step forward from the top of the pole and throw one’s own body into the 100,000 universes.”

Mumon’s Comments:
Should there be any who is able to step forward from the top of the 100 foot pole and hurl one’s whole body into the entire universe, this person may call oneself a Buddha. Nevertheless, how can one step forward from the top of the 100 foot pole? Know thyself!

Should one be content and settle on top of the 100,000 foot pole,
One will harm the third eye,
And will even misread the marks on the scale.
Should one throw oneself and be able to renounce one’s life,
Like one blind person leading all other blind persons,
One will be in absolute freedom (unattached from the eyes).

CASE 47. TOSOTSU’S THREE BARRIERS

Master Tosotsu, setting up the three barriers, always tried the pursuer of the Way:
“To search for the Way, the Zen student tries to grasp one’s own nature and be enlightened.”
“Now where is your true nature?”
Secondly,
“Once having grasped one’s own nature, one is free from birth and death. If then, one’s eyeballs have dropped dead, how can one be free from life?”
Thirdly,
“Being free from birth and death, one instantly knows where to go after death.”
“Being dead and the body dispersed into the four elements, where then does one go?”

Mumon’s Comments:
Whoever can pass these three barriers will be a master anywhere. Whatever happens, this person should be able to become the founder of Zen. Should one be not yet capable of answering these three questions, this person must diligently chew them well to finally comprehend them. Humble meals fill one’s stomach, and chewing them well, one will never starve.

To instantly realize is to see endless time.
Endless time is this very moment.
If one sees through the thought of this very moment,
At this very moment, one can see through the one who sees through.

CASE 48. THE ONE ROAD OF KEMPO

A student monk asked Master Kempo, “I understand that all Buddha of the whole universe enter the one road into Nirvana. Where is this one road?
Kempo raised his walking stick, drew the figure “one” and said, “Here it is.”
Later, this monk went to Umon to ask the question. Umon, turning around his fan, said, “This fan will reach the thirty-third heaven and hit the nose of Sakra Devendra, the highest deity in these heavens. It is like the giant carp of the Eastern Sea tipping over with its tail a rain cloud to have the rain pour down.”

Mumon’s Comments:
The one master walks on the deep ocean and raises dust. The other, standing on the tip of the high mountain, fills the heaven with white waves. The one holds the point, while the other liberates everything, together each supports the profound teaching with one hand. Kempo and Umon are dangerous, like two equally powerful camels colliding. No one in the world equals them. Seen from the truth, however, even Kempo and Mumon did not know where this one road really is.

They reach the goal before taking the first step.
They complete the speech before their tongue moves.
Even if they have had foresight long before, the origin of the road lies away ahead of their foresight.

THE EPILOGUE BY MUMON

The words and the actions left by Buddha and the patriarchs in these forty-eight Koans are as precise as laws and judgements, and therein nothing superfluous is contained. They turn the student monk’s brain upside down and hollow out his eyeballs. They are here in order that each one of you will immediately grasp truth and must not try to obtain it vicariously from others. Should there be anyone who thoroughly appropriates everything, the person would seize the true meaning of all Forty-eight Koans, as listening to a small portion of them. To such a person, there is no gate to enlightenment, nor steps to the search. He may go through the gate with no concern of the gatekeepers, as Gensho said, “It is the gateless that is every entrance to realization, and to be aimless is the genuine aim of the master.” Haku-un also said, “Why can one not go through this very gate, although it is so obvious?” Such stories are indeed as meaningless as mixing milk with red clay. If you can pass these Forty-eight Koans through the Gateless Gate you will step on me, Mumon, under your foot. If you cannot pass through the Gateless Gate, you will betray yourself. As often said, it is easy to illuminate the realization that everything is empty, but it is difficult indeed to elucidate the knowledge of distinctions. If you are able to edify the wisdom of differences, the universe will be well at peace.

The Gateless Gate

The Gateless Gate 無門關

Wumen’s Preface

佛語心爲宗、無門爲法門。
Buddhism makes mind its foundation and no-gate its gate.

既是無門、且作麼生透。
Now, how do you pass through this no-gate?

豈不見道、從門入者不是家珍、從縁得者始終成壞。
It is said that things coming in through the gate can never be your own treasures.
What is gained fromexternal circumstances will perish in the end.

恁麼説話、大似無風起浪好肉抉瘡。
However, such a saying is already raising waves when there is no wind.
It is cutting unblemished skin.

何況滯言句覓解會。掉棒打月、隔靴爬痒、有甚交渉。
As for those who try to understand through other people’s words, they are striking at the moon with astick;
scratching a shoe, whereas it is the foot that itches. What concern have they with the truth?
慧開、紹定戊子夏、首衆于東嘉龍翔。因納子請益、遂將古人公案作敲門瓦子、隨機引導學者。
In the summer of the year 1228, Huikai was in Longxiang si Temple and as head monk worked with themonks,
using the cases of the ancient masters as brickbats to batter the gate and lead them on accordingto their respective capacities.

竟爾抄録、不覺成集。
初不以前後敍列、共成四十八則。
The text was written down not according to any scheme, but just to make a collection of forty-eightcases.

通曰無門關。
It is called Wumenkuan, “The Gateless Gate.
“若是箇漢、不顧危亡單刀直入。
A man of determination will unflinchingly push his way straight forward, regardless of all dangers.

八臂那咤、擱他不在。
Then even the eight-armed Nata cannot hinder him.

縦使西天四七、東土二三、只得望風乞命。
Even the four sevens of the West and the two threes of the East would beg for their lives.

設或躊躇、也似隔窓看馬騎、貶得眼來、早已蹉過。
If one has no determination, then it will be like catching a glimpse of a horse galloping past the window:in the twinkling of an eye it will be gone.
Verse 頌曰
大道無門 The Great Way is gateless,
千差有路 Approached in a thousand ways.
透得此關 Once past this checkpoint
乾坤獨歩 You stride through the universe.

 

Case 1. Zhaozhou’s “Wu”  一 趙州狗子

趙州和尚、因僧問、狗子還有佛性也無。 州云、無。
A monk asked Zhaozhou, “Has a dog the Buddha Nature?” Zhaozhou answered, “Wu (無: not have ofnot exist).

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、參禪須透祖師關、妙悟要窮心路絶。
In order to master Chan(Kor. Seon), you must pass the barrier of the patriarchs.
To attain this subtlerealization, you must completely cut off the way of thinking.

祖關不透心路不絶、盡是依草附木精靈。
If you do not pass the barrier, and do not cut off the way of thinking, then you will be like a ghostclinging to the bushes and weeds.

且道、如何是祖師關。
Now, I want to ask you, what is the barrier of the patriarchs?

只者一箇無字、乃宗門一關也。
Why, it is this single word “Wu.
” That is the front gate to Chan.

遂目之曰禪宗無門關。
Therefore it is called the “Wumenkan of Chan.

“透得過者、非但親見趙州、便可與歴代祖師把手共行、眉毛厮結同一眼見、同一耳聞。
If you pass through it, you will not only see Zhaozhou face to face, but you will also go hand in handwith the successive patriarchs, entangling your eyebrows with theirs, seeing with the same eyes, hearingwith the same ears.

豈不慶快。
Isn’t that a delightful prospect?

莫有要透關底麼。
Wouldn’t you like to pass this barrier?

將三百六十骨節、八萬四千毫竅、通身起箇疑團參箇無字
Arouse your entire body with its three hundred and sixty bones and joints and its eighty-four thousandpores of the skin; summon up a spirit of great doubt and concentrate on this word “Wu.

晝夜提撕、莫作虚無會、莫作有無會。
Carry it continuously day and night.
Do not form a nihilistic conception of vacancy, or a relative
conception of “has” or “has not.

“如呑了箇熱鐵丸相似、吐又吐不出。
It will be just as if you swallow a red-hot iron ball, which you cannot spit out even if you try.

—蕩盡從 前惡知惡覚、久久純熟自然内外打成 片、如唖子得夢、只許自知。
All the illusory ideas and delusive thoughts accumulated up to the present will be exterminated, andwhen the time comes, internal and external will be spontaneously united.
You will know this, but foryourself only, like a dumb man who has had a dream.

驀然打發、驚天 動地。
Then all of a sudden an explosive conversion will occur, and you will astonish the heavens and shake theearth.

如奪得關將軍大刀入手、逢佛殺佛、逢祖殺祖、於生死岸頭得大自在、向六道四生中遊戲三昧。
It will be as if you snatch away the great sword of the valiant general Kuanyu and hold it in your hand.
When you meet the Buddha, you kill him; when you meet the patriarchs, you kill them.
On the brink oflife and death, you command perfect freedom; among the sixfold worlds and four modes of existence,you enjoy a merry and playful samadhi.

且作麼生提撕。
Now, I want to ask you again, “How will you carry it out?”
盡平生氣力擧箇無字。
Employ every ounce of your energy to work on this “Wu.”
若不間斷、好似法燭一點便著。
If you hold on without interruption, behold: a single spark, and the holy candle is lit!

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
狗子佛性 The dog, the Buddha Nature,
全提正令 The pronouncement, perfect and final.
纔渉有無 Before you say it has or has not,
喪身失命You are a dead man on the spot.

 

Case 2 Baizhang’s Fox  二 百丈野狐

百丈和尚、凡參次、有一老人常隨衆聽法。
When Ven. Baizhang delivered a certain series of sermons, an old man always followed the monks to themain hall and listened to him.

衆人退、老人亦退。
When the monks left the hall, the old man would also leave.

忽一日不退。
師遂問、面前立者復是何人。
One day, however, he remained behind, and Baizhang asked him, “Who are you, standing here before me?”

老人云、諾。
The old man replied.

某甲非人也。
“I am not a human being.

於過去迦葉佛時曾住此山。
In the old days of Kasyapa Buddha, I was a head monk, living here on this mountain.

因學人問、大修行底人還落因果也無。
One day a student asked me, ‘Does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or not?’

某甲對云、不落因果。
I answered, ‘No, he does not.

‘五百生墮野狐身。
Since then I have been doomed to undergo five hundred rebirths as a fox.

今請、和尚代一轉語貴脱野狐。
I beg you now to give the turning word to release me from my life as a fox.

遂問、大修行底人、還落因果也無。
Tell me, does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or not?”

師云、不昧因果。
Baizhang answered, “He does not ignore causation.

“老人於言下大悟。
No sooner had the old man heard these words than he was enlightened.

作禮云、某甲、已脱野狐身住在山後。
Making his bows, he said, “I am emancipated from my life as a fox.
I shall remain on this mountain.

敢告和尚。乞、依亡僧事例。
I have a favor to ask of you: would you please bury my body as that of a dead monk.”

師、令維那白槌告衆、食後送亡僧。
Baizhang had the director of the monks strike with the gavel and inform everyone that after the middaymeal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk.

大衆言議、一衆皆安、涅槃堂又無人病。何故如是。
The monks wondered at this, saying, “Everyone is in good health; nobody is in the sick ward.
What doesthis mean?”

食後只見師領衆至山後嵒下、以杖挑出一死野狐、乃依火葬。
After the meal Baizhang led the monks to the foot of a rock on the far side of the mountain and with hisstaff poked out the dead body of a fox and performed the ceremony of cremation.

師、至晩上堂、擧前因縁。
That evening he ascended the rostrum and told the monks the whole story.

黄蘗便問、古人錯祗對一轉語、墮五百生野狐身、轉轉不錯合作箇甚麼。
Huangbo thereupon asked him, “The old man gave the wrong answer and was doomed to be a fox forfive hundred rebirths.
Now, suppose he had given the right answer, what would have happened then?”

師云、近前來與伊道。
Baizhang said, “You come here to me, and I will tell you.

“黄蘗遂近前、與師一掌。
Huangbo went up to Baizhang and boxed his ears.

師拍手笑云、將謂、胡鬚赤。更有赤鬚胡。
Baizhang clapped his hands with a laugh and exclaimed, “I was thinking that the barbarian had a redbeard, but now I see before me the red-bearded barbarian himself.”

Wumen’s Comment

無門曰、不落因果、爲甚墮野狐。
Not falling under causation: how could this make the monk a fox?

不昧因果、爲甚脱野狐。
Not ignoring causation: how could this make the old man emancipated?

若向者裏著得一隻眼、便知得前百丈贏得風流五百生。
If you come to understand this, you will realize how old Baizhang would have enjoyed five hundredrebirths as a fox.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
不落不昧 Not falling, not ignoring:
兩采一賽 Two faces of one die.
不昧不落 Not ignoring, not falling:
千錯萬錯 A thousand errors, a million mistakes.

 

Case 3 Juzhi Raises a Finger  三 倶胝堅指

倶胝和尚、凡有詰問、唯擧一指。
Whenever Ven. Juzhi was asked about Chan, he simply raised his finger.

後有童子。因外人問、和尚説何法要。
Once a visitor asked Juzhi’s boy attendant, “What does your master teach?”

童子亦堅指頭。
The boy too raised his finger.

胝聞遂以刃斷其指。
Hearing of this, Juzhi cut off the boy’s finger with a knife.

童子、負痛號哭而去。
The boy, screaming with pain, began to run away.

胝復召之。童子廻首。胝却 堅起指。
Juzhi called to him, and when he turned around, Juzhi raised his finger.

童子忽然領悟。
The boy suddenly became enlightened.

胝將順世、謂衆曰、吾得天龍一指頭禪、一生受用不盡。
When Juzhi was about to pass away, he said to his assembled monks, “I obtained one-finger Chan fromTianlong and used it all my life but still did not exhaust it.”

言訖示滅。
When he had finished saying this, he entered into eternal Nirvana.

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、倶胝並童子悟處、不在指頭上。
The enlightenment of Juzhi and of the boy does not depend on the finger.

若向者裏見得、天龍同倶胝並童子興自己一串穿却。
If you understand this, Tianlong, Juzhi, the boy, and you yourself are all run through with one skewer.

Wumen’s Verse
頌曰倶胝鈍置老天龍
Juzhi made a fool of old Tianlong,

利刃單提勘小童
Emancipating the boy with a single slice,

巨靈擡手無多子
Just as a powerful spirit cleaved Mt. Huashan

分破華山千万重
To let the Yellow River run through.

Case 4 The Western Barbarian with No Beard  四 胡子無髭

或庵曰、西天胡子、因甚無髭。
Huoan said, “Why has the Western Barbarian no beard?”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、參須實參、悟須實悟。
Study should be real study, enlightenment should be real enlightenment.

者箇胡子、直須親見一回始得。
You should once meet this barbarian directly to be really intimate with him.

説親見、早成兩箇。
But saying you are really intimate with him already divides you into two.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
癡人面前 Don’t discuss your dream
不可説夢 Before a fool.
胡子髭無 Barbarian with no beard
惺惺添□ Obscures the clarity.

 

Case 5 Xiangyan’s “Man up in a Tree”  五 香嚴上樹香

嚴和尚云、如人上樹、口啣樹枝、手不攀枝、脚不踏樹。
Ven. Xiangyan said, “It is like a man up in a tree hanging from a branch with his mouth; his hands graspno bough, his feet rest on no limb.

樹下有人問西來意、不對即違他所問、若對又喪身失命。
Someone appears under the tree and asks him, ‘What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from theWest?’ If he does not answer, he fails to respond to the question.
If he does answer, he will lose his life.

正恁麼時、作麼生對。
What would you do in such a situation?”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、縱有懸河之辨、惣用不著。
Even if your eloquence flows like a river, it is of no avail.

説得一大藏教、亦用不著。
Though you can expound the whole of Buddhist literature, it is of no use.

若向者裏對得著、活却從前死路頭、死却從前活路頭。
If you solve this problem, you will give life to the way that has been dead until this moment and destroythe way that has been alive up to now.

其或未然、直待當來問彌勒。
Otherwise you must wait for Maitreya Buddha and ask him.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
香嚴眞杜撰 Xiangyan is truly thoughtless;
惡毒無盡限 His vice and poison are endless
唖却納僧口 He stops up the mouths of the monks,
通身迸鬼眼 And devil’s eyes sprout from their bodies.

 

Case 6 The Buddha Holds Out a Flower  六 世尊拈花

世尊、昔、在靈山會上拈花示衆。
When Shakyamuni Buddha was at Mt. Grdhrakuta, he held out a flower to his listeners.

是時、衆皆默然。
Everyone was silent.

惟迦葉者破顔微笑。
Only MahaKasyapa broke into a broad smile.

世尊云、吾有正方眼藏、涅槃妙心、實相無相、微妙法門、不立文字、教外別傳、付囑摩訶迦葉。
The Buddha said, “I have the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of theFormless, and the Subtle Dharma Gate, independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine.
This I have entrusted to MahaKasyapa.

“Wumen’s Comment

無門曰、黄面瞿曇、傍若無人。
Golden-faced Gautama really disregarded his listeners.

壓良爲賤、縣羊頭賣狗肉。
He made the good look bad and sold dog’s meat labeled as mutton.

將謂、多少奇特。
He himself thought it was wonderful.

只如當時大衆都笑、正方眼藏、作麼生傳。
If, however, everyone in the audience had laughed, how could he have transmitted his True Eye?

設使迦葉不笑、正方眼藏又作麼生傳。
And again, if MahaKasyapa had not smiled, how could the Buddha have transmitted it?

□若道正方眼藏有傳授、黄面老子、誑 閭閻。
If you say the True Dharma Eye can be transmitted, then the golden-faced old man would be a cityslicker who cheats the country bumpkin.

若道無傳授、爲甚麼獨許迦葉。
If you say it cannot be transmitted, then why did the Buddha approve of MahaKasyapa?

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
拈起花來 Holding out a flower,
尾巴已露 The Buddha betrayed his curly tail.
迦葉破顔 Heaven and earth were bewildered,
人天罔措 At MahaKasyapa’s smile.

 

Case 7 Zhaozhou’s “Wash Your Bowl”  七 趙州洗鉢

趙州、因僧問、其甲乍入叢林。
A monk said to Zhaozhou, “I have just entered this monastery.

乞師指示。
Please teach me.

“州云、喫粥了也未。
“Have you eaten your rice porridge?” asked Zhaozhou.

僧云、喫粥了也。
“Yes, I have,” replied the monk.

州云、洗鉢盂去。
“Then you had better wash your bowl,” said Zhaozhou.

其僧有省。
With this the monk gained insight.

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、趙州開口見膽、露出心肝。
When he opens his mouth, Zhaozhou shows his gallbladder.
He displays his heart and liver.

者僧聽事不眞、喚鐘作甕。
I wonder if this monk really did hear the truth.
I hope he did not mistake the bell for a jar.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
只爲分明極 Endeavoring to interpret clearly,
翻令所得遲 You retard your attainment.
早知燈是火 Don’t you know that flame is fire?
飯熟已多時 Your rice has long been cooked.

Case 8 Xizhong the Wheelmaker  八 奚仲造車

月庵和尚問僧、奚仲造車一百輻。
Ven. Yuean said, “Xizhong, the first wheelmaker, made a cart whose wheels had a hundred spokes.

拈却兩頭、去却輻、明甚麼邊事。
Now, suppose you took a cart and removed both the wheels and the axle.
What would you have?”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、若也直下明得、眼、似流星、機、如掣電。
If anyone can directly master this topic, his eye will be like a shooting star, his spirit like a flash oflightning.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
機輪轉處When the spiritual wheels turn,
達者猶迷Even the master fails to follow them.
四維上下They travel in all directions, above and below,
南北東西North, south, east, and west.

Case 9 The great Buddha of supreme penetraton and wisdom 九 大通智勝興

陽讓和尚、因僧問、大通智勝佛、十劫坐道場、佛法不現前、不得成佛道時如何。
A monk asked Ven. Xingyang Rang, “The great Buddha of supreme penetraton and wisdom sat in
sitting meditation for ten kalpas and could not attain Buddhahood.
He did not become a Buddha.
Howcould this be?”

讓曰、其問甚諦當。
Rang said, “Your question is quite self-explanatory.”

僧云、既是坐道場、爲甚麼不得成佛道。
The monk asked, “He meditated so long; why could he not attain Buddhahood?”

讓曰、爲伊不成佛。
Rang said, “Because he did not become a Buddha.

“Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、只許老胡知、不許老胡會。
I allow the barbarian’s realization, but I do not allow his understanding.

凡夫若知、既是聖人。
When an ignorant man realizes it, he is a sage.

聖人若會、既是凡夫。
When a sage understands it, he is ignorant.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
了身何似了心休 Better emancipate your mind than your body;
□了得心 身不愁 When the mind is emancipated, the body is free,
若也身心倶了了 When both body and mind are emancipated,
神仙何必更封候 Even gods and spirits ignore worldly power.

 

Case 10 Qingshui Is Utterly Destitude  十 清税弧貧

曹山和尚、因僧問云、清税弧貧。
Qingsui said to Ven. Caoshan, “Qingsui is utterly destitude.

乞、師賑濟。
Will you give him support?”

山云、税闍梨。
Caoshan called out, “Qingshui!”

税、應諾。
Qingsui responded, “Yes, sir!”

山曰、青原白家酒、三盞喫了、猶道未沾唇。
Caoshan said, “You have finished three cups of the finest wine in China, and still you say you have notyet moistened your lips!”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、清税輸機、是何心行。

Qingshui pretended to retreat. What was his scheme?

曹山具眼、深辨來機。
Caoshan had the eye of Buddha and saw through his opponent’s motive.

然雖如是、且道、那裏是税闍梨、喫酒處。
However, I want to ask you, at what point did Qingsui drink wine?

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
貧似范丹 Poverty like Fandan’s,
氣如項羽 Mind like Xiangyu’s;
活計雖無 With no means of livelihood,
敢與鬪富 He dares to rival the richest.

 

Case 11 Zhaozhou Sees the Hermits   十一 州勘庵主

趙州、到一庵主處問、有麼有麼。
Zhaozhou went to a hermit’s cottage and asked, “Is the master in? Is the master in?”

主、堅起拳頭。
The hermit raised his fist.

州云、水淺不是泊舡處。便行。
Zhaozhou said, “The water is too shallow to anchor here,” and he went away.

又到一庵主處云、有麼有麼。
Coming to another hermit’s cottage, he asked again, “Is the master in? Is the master in?”

主亦堅起拳頭。
This hermit, too, raised his fist.

州云、能縱能奪、能殺能活。便作禮。
Zhaozhou said, “Free to give, free to take, free to kill, free to save,” and he made a deep bow.

Wumen’s Comment

無門曰、一般堅起拳頭、爲甚麼肯一箇、不肯一箇。
Both raised their fists; why was the one accepted and the other rejected?

□且道、 訛在甚處。
Tell me, what is the difficulty here?

若向者裏下得一轉語、便見趙州舌頭無骨、扶起放倒、得大自在。
If you can give a turning word to clarify this problem, you will realize that Zhaozhou’s tongue has nobone in it, now helping others up, now knocking them down, with perfect freedom.

雖然如是爭奈、趙州却被二庵主勘破。
However, I must remind you: the two hermits could also see through Zhaozhou.

若道二庵主有優劣、未具參學眼。
If you say there is anything to choose between the two hermits, you have no eye of realization.

若道無優劣、亦未具參 學眼。
If you say there is no choice between the two, you have no eye of realization.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
眼流星The eye like a shooting star,
機掣電The spirit like a lighting;
殺人刀A death-dealing blade,
活人劍A life-giving sword.

 

Case 12 Ruiyan Calls His Master  十二 巖喚主人

瑞巖彦和尚、毎日自喚主人公、復自應諾。
Ven. Ruiyan Yan called to himself every day, “Master!” and answered, “Yes, sir!”

乃云、惺惺着。 □。
Then he would say, “Be wide awake!” and answer, “Yes, sir!”

他時異日、莫受人瞞。 □□。
“Henceforward, never be deceived by others!” “No, I won’t!”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、瑞巖老子、自買自賣、弄出許多神頭鬼面。
Old Ruiyan buys and sells himself.
He takes out a lot of god-masks and devil-masks and puts them onand plays with them.

何故。
What for, eh?

□。一箇喚底、一箇應底。一箇惺惺底、一箇不受人瞞底。
One calling and the other answering; one wide awake, the other saying he will never be deceived.

認着依前還不是。
If you stick to any of them, you will be a failure.

若也傚他、惣是野狐見解。
If you imitate Ruiyan, you will play the fox.

Wumen’s Verse
頌曰學道之人不識眞 Clinging to the deluded way of consciousness,
只爲從前認識神 Students of the Way do not realize truth.
無量劫來生死本 The seed of birth and death through endless eons:
癡人喚作本來人 The fool calls it the true original self.

 

Case 13 Teshan Holds His Bowls   十三 徳山托鉢

徳山、一日托鉢下堂。
One day Teshan went down toward the dining room, holding his bowls.

見雪峰問者老漢鐘未鳴鼓未響、托鉢向甚處去、山便回方丈。
Xuefeng met him and asked, “Where are you off to with your bowls? The bell has not rung, and thedrum has not sounded.
” Teshan turned and went back to his room.

峰擧似巖頭。頭云、大小徳山未會末後句。
Xuefeng mentioned this to Yantou, who remarked, “Teshan is renowned, but he does not know the lastword.

“山聞令侍者喚巖頭來、問曰、汝不肯老僧那。
Teshan heard about this remark and sent his attendant to fetch Yantou.
“You do not approve of me?” heasked.

巖頭密啓其意。
Yantou whispered his meaning.

山乃休去。明日陞座、果與尋常不同。
Teshan said nothing at the time, but the next day he ascended the rostrum, and behold! he was verydifferent from usual!

巖頭至僧堂前、拊掌大笑云、且喜得老漢會末後句。
Yantou, going toward the front of the hall, clapped his hands and laughed loudly, saying,”Congratulations! Our old man has got hold of the last word!

他後天下人、不奈伊何。
From now on, nobody in this whole country can outdo him!”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、若是未後句、巖頭徳山倶未夢見在。
As for the last word, neither Yantou nor Teshan has ever dreamed of it!

撿點將來、好似一棚傀儡。
When you look into the matter, you find they are like puppets on the shelf!

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
識得最初句 If you realize the first,
便會末後句 You master the last.
末後與最初 The first and the last
不是者一句 Are not one word.

Case 14 Naquan Cuts the Cat in Two  十四 南泉斬猫

南泉和尚因東西堂爭猫兒。
Ven. Naquan saw monks of the Eastern and Western halls quarreling over a cat.

泉乃提起云、大衆道得即救、道不得即斬却也。
He held up the cat and said, “If you can give an answer, you will save the cat.
If not, I will kill it.

“衆無對。泉遂斬之。
No one could answer, and Naquan cut the cat in two.

晩趙州外歸。泉擧似州。
That evening Zhaozhou returned, and Naquan told him of the incident.

州乃脱履安頭上而出。
Zhaozhou took off his sandal, placed it on his head, and walked out.

泉云、子若在即救得猫兒。
“If you had been there, you would have saved the cat,” Naquan remarked.

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、且道、趙州頂草鞋意作麼生。
Tell me, what did Zhaozhou mean when he put the sandal on his head?

若向者裏下得一轉語、便見南泉令不虚行。
If you can give a turning word on this, you will see that Naquan’s decree was carried out with goodreason.

其或未然險。
If not, “Danger!”

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
趙州若在 Had Zhaozhou been there,
倒行此令 He would have done the opposite;
奪却刀子 When the sword is snatched away,
南泉乞命Even Naquan begs for his life.

 

Case 15 Dongshan’s Sixty Blows   十五 洞山三頓

雲門、因洞山參次、門問曰、近離甚處。
Dongshan came to study with Yunmen.
Yunmen asked, “Where are you from?”

山云、査渡。
“From Zhadu,” Dongshan replied.

門曰、夏在甚處。
“Where were you during the summer?”

山云、湖南報慈。
“Well, I was at Baoci monastery ofHunan, south of the lake.”

門曰、幾時離彼。
“When did you leave there,” Yunmen asked.

山云、八月二十五。
“On August 25” was Dongshan’s reply.
門曰、放汝三頓棒。
“I spare you sixty blows,” Yunmen said.
山至明日却上問訊。
昨日蒙和尚放三頓棒。
The next day Dongshan came to Yunmen and said, “Yesterday you said you spared me sixty blows.

不知過在甚麼處。
I beg to ask you, where was I at fault?”

門曰、飯袋子、江西湖南便恁麼去。
“Oh, you rice bag!” shouted Yunmen.
“What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now southof the lake?”

山於此大悟。
Dongshan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、雲門、當時便與本分草料、使洞山別有生機一路、家門不致寂寥。
If Yunmen had given Dongshan the true food of Chan and encouraged him to develop an active Chanspirit, his school would not have declined as it did.

一夜在是非海裏著到、直待天明再來、又與他注破。
Dongshan had an agonizing struggle through the whole night, lost in the sea of right and wrong.
Hereached a complete impasse.
After waiting for the dawn, he again went to Yunmen, and Yunmen againmade him a picture book of Chan.

洞山直下悟去、未是性燥。
Even though he was directly enlightened, Dongshan could not be called brilliant.

且問諸人、洞山三頓棒、合喫不合喫。
Now, I want to ask you, should Dongshan have been given sixty blows or not?

若道合喫、草木叢林皆合喫棒。
If you say yes, you admit that all the universe should be beaten.

若道不合喫、雲門又成誑語。
If you say no, then you accuse Yunmen of telling a lie.

向者裏明得、方與洞山出一口氣。
If you really understand the secret, you will be able to breathe out Chan spirit with the very mouth ofDongshan.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
獅子教兒迷子訣 The lion had a secret to puzzle his cub;
擬前跳躑早翻身 The cub crouched, leaped, and dashed forward.
無端再敍當頭著 The second time, a casual move led to checkmate.
前箭猶輕後箭深 The first arrow was light, but the second went deep.

Case 16 When the Bell Sounds   十六 鐘聲七條

雲門曰、世界恁麼廣闊。
Yunmen said, “The world is vast and wide.

因甚向鐘聲裏披七條。
Why do you put on your seven-piece robe at the sound of the bell?”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、大凡參禪學道、切忌、隨聲遂色。
In studying Chan, you should not be swayed by sounds and forms.

縱使聞聲悟道、見色明心也是尋常。
Even though you attain insight when hearing a voice or seeing a form, this is simply the ordinary way ofthings.

殊不知、納僧家、騎聲蓋色、頭頭上明、著著上妙。
Don’t you know that the real Chan student commands sounds, controls forms, is clear-sighted at everyevent and free on every occasion?

然雖如是。且道、聲來耳畔、耳往聲邊。
Granted you are free, just tell me: Does the sound come to the ear or does the ear go to the sound?

直饒響寂雙忘、到此如何話會。
If both sound and silence die away, at such a juncture how could you talk of Chan?

若將耳聽應難會、眼處聞聲方始親。
While listening with you ear, you cannot tell
When hearing with your eye, you are truly intimate.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
會則事同一家 With realization, things make one family;
不會萬別千差 Without realization, things are separated in a thousand ways.
不會事同一家 Without realization, things make one family;
會則萬別千差 With realization, things are separated in a thousand ways

 

Case 17 the National Teacher Gives Three Calls   十七 國師三喚

國師三喚侍者。侍者三應。
The National Teacher called his attendant three times, and three times the attendant responded.

國師云、將謂吾辜負汝、元來却是汝辜負吾。
The National Teacher said, “I long feared that I was betraying you, but really it was you who werebetraying me.

“Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、國師三喚、舌頭墮地。
The National Teacher called three times, and his tongue fell to the ground.

侍者三應、和光吐出。
The attendant responded three times, and he gave his answer with brilliance.

國師年老心孤、按牛頭喫草。
The National Teacher was old and lonely; he held the cow’s head and forced it to eat grass.

侍者未肯承當。
The attendant would have none of it;

□美食不中飽人 、且道、那裏是他辜負處。
delicious food has little attraction for a man who is satiated.

Tell me, at what point was the betrayal?

國淨才子貴、家富小兒嬌。
When the country is flourishing, talent is prized.
When the home is wealthy, the children are proud.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
鉄枷無孔要人擔 He carried and iron yoke with no hole
累及兒孫不等閑 And left a curse to trouble his descendants.
□□欲得 門并 戸 If you want to hold up the gate and the doors,
更須赤脚上刀山 You must climb a mountain of swords with bare feet.

 

Case 18 Dongshan’s “Masanjin”   十八 洞山三斤

洞山和尚、因僧問、如何是佛。
A monk asked Dongshan, “What is Buddha?”

山云、麻三斤。
Dongshan replied, “Masanjin!” [three pounds of flax]

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、洞山老人、參得些蚌蛤禪、纔開兩片露出肝腸。
Old Dongshan attained the poor Chan of a clam. He opened the two halves of the shell a little andexposed all the liver and intestines inside

然雖如是、且道、向甚處見洞山。
But tell me, how do you see Dongshan?

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
突出麻三斤 “Three pounds of flax” came sweeping along;
言親意更親 Close were the words, but closer was the meaning.
來説是非者 Those who argue about right and wrong
便是是非人 Are those enslaved by right and wrong.

 

Case 19 Naquan’s “Ordinary Mind Is the Way”   十九 平常是道

南泉、因趙州問、如何是道。
Zhaozhou asked Naquan, “What is the Way?”

泉云、平常心是道。
“Ordinary mind is the Way,” Naquan replied.

州云、還可趣向否。
“Shall I try to seek after it?” Zhaozhou asked.

泉云、擬向即乖。
“If you try for it, you will become separated from it,” responded Naquan.

州云、不擬爭知是道。
“How can I know the Way unless I try for it?” persisted Zhaozhou.

泉云、道不屬知、不屬不知。
Naquan said, “The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing

知是妄覺、不知是無記。
Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion.

若眞達不擬之道、猶如太虚廓然洞豁。
When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless asouter space.

豈可強是非也。
How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?”

州於言下頓悟。
With these words, Zhaozhou came to a sudden realization.

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、南泉被趙州發問、直得瓦解氷消、分疎不下。
Naquan dissolved and melted away before Zhaozhou’s question, and could not offer a plausibleexplanation.

趙州縱饒悟去、更參三十年始得。
Even though Zhaozhou comes to a realization, he must delve into it for another thirty years before hecan fully understand it.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
春有百花秋有月 The spring flowers, the autumn moon;
夏有涼風冬有雪 Summer breezes, winter snow.
若無閑事挂心頭 If useless things do not clutter your mind,
更是人間好時節 You have the best days of your life.

 

Case 20 The Man of Great Strength    二十 大力量人

松源和尚云、大力量人、因甚擡脚不起。
Ven. Songyuan asked, “Why is it that a man of great strength does not lift his legs?”

又云、開口不在舌頭上。
And he also said, “It is not the tongue he speaks with.

“Wumen’s Comment無門曰、松源可謂、傾腸倒腹。
It must be said that Songyuan shows us all his stomach and intestines.

只是欠人承當。
But alas, no one can appreciate him!

縱饒直下承當、正好來無門處喫痛棒。
And even if someone could appreciate him, let him come to me, and I’ll beat him severely.

何故。
Why?

□。要識眞金、火裏看。
If you want to find pure gold, you must see it through fire.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
擡脚踏翻香水海 Lifting his leg, he kicks up the Scented Ocean;
低頭俯視四禪天Lowering his head, he looks down on the fourth Dhyana heaven.
一箇渾身無處著請 There is no space vast enough for his body
—續一句 Now, somebody write the last line here.

Case 21 Yunmen’s “Ganshijue”    二十一 雲門屎橛

雲門、因僧問、如何是佛。
A monk asked Yunmen, “What is Buddha?”

門云、乾屎橛。
Yunmen replied, “Ganshijue!” [A dry shit-stick.]

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、雲門可謂、家貧難辨素食、事忙不及草書。
Yunmen was too poor to prepare plain food, too busy to speak from notes.

動便將屎橛來、撑門挂戸。
He hurriedly took up a shit-stick to support the Way.

佛法興衰可見。
The decline of Buddhism was thus foreshadowed.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
閃電光Lightning flashing,
撃石化Sparks shooting;
貶得眼A moment’s blinking,
巳蹉過Missed forever.

Case 22 Kasyapa’s “Knock Down the Flagpole”   二十二 迦葉刹竿

迦葉、因阿難問云、世尊傳金襴袈裟外、別傳何物。
Ananda asked Kasyapa, “The World-honored One gave you the golden robe; did he give you anythingelse?”

葉喚云、阿難。
“Ananda!” cried Kasyapa.

難、應諾。
“Yes, sir!” answered Ananda.

葉云、倒却門前刹竿著。
“Knock down the flagpole at the gate,” said Kasyapa.

Wumen’s Comment無門曰、若向者裏下得一轉語親切、便見靈山一會儼然未散。
If you can give a turning word at this point, you will see that the meeting at Mount Grdhrakuta is stillsolemnly continuing.

其或未然、毘婆尸佛、早留心、直至而今不得妙。
If not, then this is what Vipassin Buddha worried about from remote ages; up to now he has still notacquired the essence.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
問處何如答處親 Tell me—question or answer—which was more intimate?
幾人於此眼生筋 Many have knit their brows over this;
兄呼弟鷹揚家醜 Elder brother calls, younger brother answers, and they betray the family secret.
不屬陰陽別是春 They had a special spring, not one of yin and yang.

Case 23 Think Neither Good Nor Evil   二十三 不思善惡

六祖、因明上座、趁至大庾嶺。
The Sixth Patriarch was pursued by the monk Huiming as far as Dayu Mountain.

祖見明至、即擲衣鉢於石上云、此衣表信。可力爭耶、任君將去。

The patriarch, seeing Huiming coming, laid the robe and bowl on a rock and said,
“This robe representsthe faith; it should not be fought over.
If you want to take it away, take it now.

“□明遂擧之如山不動、踟 悚慄。明白、我來 求法、非爲衣也。
Huiming tried to move it, but it was as heavy as a mountain and would not budge.
Faltering andtrembling, he cried out, “I came for the Dharma, not for the robe.

願行者開示。
I beg you, please give me your instruction.

“祖云、不思善、不思惡、正與麼時、那箇是明上座本來面目。
The patriarch said, “Think neither good nor evil.
At this very moment, what is the original self of themonk Huiming?”

明當下大悟、遍體汗流。
At these words, Huiming was directly illuminated.
His whole body was covered with sweat.

泣涙作禮、問曰、上來密語密意外、還更 有意旨否。
He wept and bowed, saying, “Besides the secret words and the secret meaning you have just nowrevealed to me, is there anything else, deeper still?”

祖曰、我今爲汝説者、即非密也。
The patriarch said, “What I have told you is no secret at all.

汝若返照自己面目、密却在汝邊。
When you look into your own true self, whatever is deeper is found right there.

“明云、其申雖在黄梅隨衆、實未省自己面目。
Huiming said, “I was with the monks under the Fifth Patriarch for many years but I could not realize mytrue self.

今蒙指授入處、如人飲水冷暖自知。
But now, receiving your instruction, I know it is like a man drinking water and knowing whether it iscold or warm.

今行者即是某甲師也。
My lay brother, you are now my teacher.

“祖云、汝若如是則吾與汝同師黄梅。
The patriarch said, “If you say so, but let us both call the Fifth Patriarch our teacher.

善自護持。
Be mindful to treasure and hold fast to what you have attained.

“Wumen’s Comment無問曰、六祖可謂、是事出急家老婆心切。
The Sixth Patriarch was, so to speak, hurried into helping a man in an emergency, and he displayed agrandmotherly kindness.

譬如新茘支剥了殻去了核、送在你口裏、只要你嚥一嚥
It is as though he peeled a fresh sugar apple, removed the seed, put it in your mouth, and asked you toswallow it down.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
描不成兮畫不就 You cannot describe it; you cannot picture it;
贊不及兮休生受 You cannot admire it; don’t try to eat it raw.
本來面目没處藏 Your true self has nowhere to hide;
世界壞時渠不朽 When the world is destroyed, it is not destroyed.

Case 24 Fengxue’s Speech and Silence   二十四 離却語言

風穴和尚、因僧問、語默渉離微、如何通不犯。
A monk asked Fengxue, “Both speech and silence are faulty in being li
[離 inward action of mind] orWei [微 outward action of mind].
How can we escape these faults?”

穴云、長憶江南三月裏、鷓鴣啼處百花香。
Fengxue said,
“I always remember the spring in Jiangnan (the south of a river),
Where the partridges sing;
How fragrant the countless flowers!”

Wumen’s Comment
無門曰、風穴機如掣電得路便行。
Fengxue’s Chan spirit was like lightning and opened a clear passage.

爭奈坐前人舌頭不斷。
However, he was entangled in the monk’s words and could not cut them off.

若向者裏見得親切、自有出身之路。
If you can really grasp the problem, you can readily find the way out.

且離却語言三昧、道將一句來。
Now, putting language samadhi aside, say it in your own words.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
不露風骨句 He does not use a refined phrase;
未語先分付 Before speaking, he has already handed it over.
進歩口喃喃 If you chatter on and on,
知君大罔措 You will find you have lost your way.

————————

The Gateless Gate or The Gateless Barrier (Chin. Wumenkuan; Jap. Wumenkan; Kor. Mumugwan)
The author is Chinese Chan master Wumen Huihai (無門慧開 1183-1260).

English Translation
By late Zen master Katsuki Sekida (Two Zen Classics 26-137)Modified by JOKB (japanese-style expressions replaced by chinese-style)

The Chinese and Japanese texts in this web site are taken from the book titled Wumenkan, published in
Japan by Iwanami Bunkõ.

Chinese Characters
Unfortunately a few Chinese characters were not given in this site.
Luckily these characters are less than1% of the text.

Where there was a definition about these ideograms, they are entered them usingChinese system (Big 5).
There are also ideograms that appear as mere black boxes, without anyexplanations.
These are replaced with dummy characters (empty square boxes).

Collection of Stone and Sand

These koans, or parables, were translated into English from a book called the Shaseki-shu (Collection of Stone and Sand), written late in the thirteenth century by the Japanese Zen teacher Muju (the “non-dweller”), and from anecdotes of Zen monks taken from various books published in Japan around the turn of the 20th century.


1.  A Cup of Tea


Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.


Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.


The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”


“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”



2.  Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road


Gudo was the emperor’s teacher of his time. Nevertheless, he used to travel alone as a wandering mendicant. Once when he was on his was to Edo, the cultural and political center of the shogunate, he approached a little village named Takenaka. It was evening and a heavy rain was falling. Gudo was thoroughly wet. His straw sandals were in pieces. At a farmhouse near the village he noticed four or five pairs of sandals in the window and decided to buy some dry ones.


The woman who offered him the sandals, seeing how wet he was, invited him in to remain for the night at her home. Gudo accepted, thanking her. He entered and recited a sutra before the family shrine. He then was introduced to the woman’s mother, and to her children. Observing that the entire family was depressed, Gudo asked what was wrong.


“My husband is a gambler and a drunkard,” the housewife told him. “When he happens to win he drinks and becomes abusive. When he loses he borrows money from others. Sometimes when he becomes thoroughly drunk he does not come home at all. What can I do?”


I will help him,” said Gudo. “Here is some money. Get me a gallon of fine wine and something good to eat. Then you may retire. I will meditate before the shrine.”


When the man of the house returned about midnight, quite drunk, he bellowed: “Hey, wife, I am home. Have you something for me to eat?”


“I have something for you,” said Gudo. “I happened to get caught in the rain and your wife kindly asked me to remain here for the night. In return I have bought some wine and fish, so you might as well have them.”


The man was delighted. He drank the wine at once and laid himself down on the floor. Gudo sat in meditation beside him.


In the morning when the husband awoke he had forgotten about the previous night. “Who are you? Where do you come from?” he asked Gudo, who still was meditating.


“I am Gudo of Kyoto and I am going on to Edo,” replied the Zen master.


The man was utterly ashamed. He apologized profusely to the teacher of his emperor.


Gudo smiled. “Everything in this life is impermanent,” he explained. “Life is very brief. If you keep on gambling and drinking, you will have no time left to accomplish anything else, and you will cause your family to suffer too.”


The perception of the husband awoke as if from a dream. “You are right,” he declared. “How can I ever repay you for this wonderful teaching! Let me see you off and carry your things a little way.”


“If you wish,” assented Gudo.


The two started out. After they had gone three miles Gudo told him to return. “Just another five miles,” he begged Gudo. They continued on.


“You may return now,” suggested Gudo.


“After another ten miles,” the man replied.


“Return now,” said Gudo, when the ten miles had been passed.


“I am going to follow you all the rest of my life,” declared the man.


Modern Zen teachers in Japan spring from the lineage of a famous master who was the successor of Gudo. His name was Mu-nan, the man who never turned back.



3.  Is That So?


The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.


A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.


This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.


In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.


After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.


A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.


The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.


Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”



4.  Obedience


The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.


His large audiences angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to debate with Bankei.


“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?”


“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei.


Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.


Bankei smiled. “Come over to my left side.”


The priest obeyed.


“No,” said Bankei, “we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here.”


The priest proudly stepped over to the right


“You see,” observed Bankei, “you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.”



5.  If You Love, Love Openly


Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.


Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.


Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”



6.  No Loving – Kindness


There was an old woman in China who had supported a monk for over twenty years. She had built a little hut for him and fed him while he was meditating. Finally she wondered just what progress he had made in all this time.


To find out, she obtained the help of a girl rich in desire. “Go and embrace him,” she told her, “and then ask him suddenly: ‘What now?'”


The girl called upon the monk and without much ado caressed him, asking him what he was going to do about it.


“An old tree grows on a cold rock in winter,” replied the monk somewhat poetically. “Nowhere is there any warmth.”


The girl returned and related what he had said.


“To think I fed that fellow for twenty years!” exclaimed the old woman in anger. “He showed no consideration for your need, no disposition to explain your condition. He need not have responded to passion, but at least he could have evidenced some compassion;”


She at once went to the hut of the monk and burned it down.



7.  Annoucement


Tanzan wrote sixty postal cards on the last day of his life, and asked an attendant to mail them. Then he passed away.


The cards read:


I am departing from this world.


This is my last announcement.


          Tanzan
          July 27, 1892



8.  Great Waves


In the early days of the Meiji era there lived a well-known wrestler called O-nami, Great Waves.


O-nami was immensly strong and knew the art of wresting. In his private bouts he defeated even his teacher, but in public was so bashful that his own pupils threw him.


O-nami felt he should go to a Zen master for help. Hakuju, a wandering teacher, was stopping in a little temple nearby, so O-nami went to see him and told him of his great trouble.


“Great Waves is your name,” the teacher advised, “so stay in this temple tonight. Imagine that you are those billows. You are no longer a wrestler who is afraid. You are those huge waves sweeping everything before them, swallowing all in their path. Do this and you will be the greatest wrestler in the land.”


The teacher retired. O-nami sat in meditation trying to imagine himself as waves. He thought of many different things. Then gradualy he turned more and more to the feeling of waves. As the night advanced the waves became larger and larger. They swept away the flowers in their vases. Even the Buddha in the shrine was inundated. Before dawn the temple was nothing but the ebb and flow of an immense sea.


In the morning the teacher found O-nami meditating, a faint smile on his face. He patted the wrestler’s shoulder. “Now nothing can disturb you,” he said. “You are those waves. You will sweep everything before you.”


The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After that, no one in Japan was able to defeat him.



9.  The Moon Cannot Be Stolen


Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.


Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you shoud not return emptyhanded. Please take my clothes as a gift.”


The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.


Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow, ” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”



10.  The Last Poem of Hoshin


The Zen master Hoshin lived in China many years. Then he returned to the northeastern part of Japan, where he taught his disciples. When he was getting very old, he told them a story he had heard in China. This is the story:


One year on the twenty-fifth of December, Tokufu, who was very old, said to his disciples: “I am not going to be alive next year so you fellows should treat me well this year.”


The pupils thought he was joking, but since he was a great-hearted teacher each of them in turn treated him to a feast on succeeding days of the departing year.


On the eve of the new year, Tokufu concluded: “You have been good to me. I shall leave you tomorrow afternoon when the snow has stopped.”


The disciples laughed, thinking he was aging and talking nonsense since the night was clear and without snow. But at midnight snow began to fall, and the next day they did not find their teacher about. They went to the meditation hall. There he had passed on.


Hoshin, who related this story, told his disciples: “It is not necessary for a Zen master to predict his passing, but if he really wishes to do so, he can.”


“Can you?” someone asked.


“Yes,” answered Hoshin. “I will show you what I can do seven days from now.”


None of the disciples believed him, and most of them had even forgotten the conversation when Hoshin next called them together.


“Seven days ago,” he remarked, “I said I was going to leave you. It is customary to write a farewell poem, but I am neither poet nor calligrapher. Let one of you inscribe my last words.”


His followers thought he was joking, but one of them started to write.


“Are you ready?” Hoshin asked.


“Yes, sir,” replied the writer.


Then Hoshin dictated:


I came from brilliancy.
And return to brilliancy.
What is this?


The poem was one line short of the customary four, so the disciple said: “Master, we are one line short.”


Hoshin, with the roar of a conquoring lion, shouted “Kaa!” and was gone.



11.  The Story of Shunkai


The exquisite Shunkai whose other name was Suzu was compelled to marry against her wishes when she was quite young. Later, after this marriage had ended, she attended the university, where she studied philosophy.


To see Shunkai was to fall in love with her. Moreover, wherever she went, she herself fell in love with others. Love was with her at the university, and afterwards, when philosophy did not satisfy her and she visited a temple to learn about Zen, the Zen students fell in love with her. Shunkai’s whole life was saturated with love.


At last in Kyoto she became a real student of Zen. Her brothers in the sub-temple of Kennin praised her sincerity. One of them proved to be a congenial spirit and assisted her in the mastery of Zen.


The abbot of Kennin, Mokurai, Silent Thunder, was severe. He kept the precepts himself and expected his priests to do so. In modern Japan whatever zeal these priests have lost of Buddhism they seem to have gained for their wives. Mokurai used to take a broom and chase the women away when he found them in any of his temples, but the more wives he swept out, the more seemed to come back.


In this particular temple the wife of the head priest became jealous of Shunkai’s earnestness and beauty. Hearing the students praise her serious Zen made this wife squirm and itch. Finally she spread a rumor about Shunkai and the young man who was her friend. As a consequence he was expelled and Shunkai was removed from the temple.


“I may have made the mistake of love,” thought Shunkai, “but the priest’s wife shall not remain in the temple either if my friend is to be treated so unjustly.”


Shunkai the same night with a can of kerosene set fire to the five-hundred-year-old temple and burned it to the ground. In the morning she found herself in the hands of the police.


A young lawyer became interested in her and endeavored to make her sentence lighter. “Do not help me,” she told him. “I might decide to do something else which would only imprison me again.”


At last a sentence of seven years was completed, and Shunkai was released from the prison, where the sixty-year-old warden had become enamored of her.


But now everyone looked upon her as a “jailbird.” No one would associate with her. Even the Zen people, who are supposed to believe in enlightenment in this life and with this body, shunned her. Zen, Shunkai found, was one thing and the followers of Zen quite another. Her relatives would have nothing to do with her. She grew sick, poor, and weak.


She met a Shinshu priest who taught her the name of the Buddha of Love, and in this Shunkai found some solace and peace of mind. She passed away when she was still exquisitely beautiful and hardly thirty years old.


She wrote her own story in a futile endeavor to support herself and some of it she told to a woman writer. So it reached the Japanese people. Those who rejected Shunkai, those who slandered and hated her, now read of her live with tears of remorse.



12.  Happy Chinaman


Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America will observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.


This Hotei lived in the T’ang dynasty. He had no desire to call himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples around him. Instead he walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.


Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: “Give me one penny.”


Once as he was about to play-work another Zen master happened along and inquired: “What is the significance of Zen?”


Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.


“Then,” asked the other, “what is the actualization of Zen?”


At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.



13.  A Buddha


In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha’s precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o’clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. When he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime, he slept.


One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is supposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.


“Hello, brother,” Tanzan greeted him. “Won’t you have a drink?”


“I never drink!” exclaimed Unsho solemnly.


“One who does not drink is not even human,” said Tanzan.


“Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!” exclaimed Unsho in anger. “Then if I am not human, what am I?”


“A Buddha,” answered Tanzan.



14.  Muddy Road


Tanzan and Ekido were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.


Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.


“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.


Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t do near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”


“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”



15.  Shoan and His Mother


Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen. When he was still a student his father passed away, leaving him to care for his old mother.


Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him. Since she accompanied him, when he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks. So he would build a little house and care for her there. He would copy sutras, Buddhist verses, and in this manner receive a few coins for food.


When Shoun bought fish for his mother, the people would scoff at him, for a monk is not supposed to eat fish. But Shoun did not mind. His mother, however, was hurt to see the others laugh at her son. Finally she told Shoun: “I think I will become a nun. I can be a vegaterian too.” She did, and they studied together.


Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harp, which his mother also played. On full-moon nights they used to play together.


One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music. Deeply touched, she invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play. He accepted the invitation. A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality. Others laughed at him. He had visited the house of a woman of the streets.


One day Shoun left for a distant temple to deliver a lecture. A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead. Friends had not known where to reach him, so the funeral was then in progress.


Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff. “Mother, your son has returned,” he said.


“I am glad to see you have returned, son,” he answered for his mother.


“Yes, I am glad too,” Shoun responded. Then he announced to the people about him: “The funeral ceremony is over. You may bury the body.”


When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching. He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morning, telling them he was going to pass on at noon. Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacher, he wrote a poem:


For fifty-six years I lived as best I could,
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has ended, the clouds are clearing,
The blue sky has a full moon.


His disciples gathered about him, reciting a sutra, and Shoun passed on during the invocation.



16.  Not Far From Buddhahood


A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: “Have you even read the Christian Bible?”


“No, read it to me,” said Gasan.


The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”


Gasan said: “Whoever uttered those words I consider and enlightened man.”


The student continued reading: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, is shall be opened.”


Gasan remarked: “That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood.”



17.  Stingy in Teaching


A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.


“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”


“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”


“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.


So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.


When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”


This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”


“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”


With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive Zen instruction.


Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat you patients with kindness. That is Zen.”


Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of you patients.”


It was not yet clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on his fourth visit he complained: “My friend told me when one learns Zen one loses the fear of death. Each time I come here all you tell me is to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you any more.”


Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.


Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”


Kusuda continued in concentration for another year and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern over life and death.


Then when he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.



18.  A Parable


Buddha told a parable in a sutra:


A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.


Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!



19.  The First Principle


When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words “The First Principle.” The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a masterpiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.


When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which workmen made the larger carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticize his master’s work.


“That is not good,” he told Kosen after the first effort.


“How is that one?”


“Poor. Worse than before,” pronounced the pupil.


Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had been accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.


Then, when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: “Now is my chance to escape his keen eye,” and he wrote hurridly, with a mind free from disctraction. “The First Principle.”


“A masterpiece,” pronounced the pupil.



20.  A Mother’s Advice


Jiun, a Shogun master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era. When he was young he used to deliver lectures to his brother students.


His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter.:


“Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization.”



21.  The Sound of One Hand


The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protégé named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master’s room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidence in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.


Toyo wished to do sanzen also.


“Wait a while,” said Mokurai. “You are too young.”


But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.


In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai’s sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.


“You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together,” said Mokurai. “Now show me the sound of one hand.”


Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. “Ah, I have it!” he proclaimed.


The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.


“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”


Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. “What can the sound of one hand be?” He happened to hear some water dripping. “I have it,” imagined Toyo.


When he next appeared before his teacher, he imitated dripping water.


“What is that?” asked Mokurai. “That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again.”


In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.


He heard the cry of an owl. This was also refused.


The sound of one hand was not the locusts.


For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.


At last Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” he explained later, “so I reached the soundless sound.”


Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.



22.  My Heart Burns Like Fire


Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: “My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes.” He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.






  • In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.



  • Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.



  • Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.



  • Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.



  • When an opportunity comes do not let it pass you by, yet always think twice before acting.



  • Do not regret the past. Look to the future.



  • Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.



  • Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes


23.  Eshun’s Departure


When Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.


Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire around the edges.


“O nun!” shouted one monk, “is it hot in there?”


“Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself,” answered Eshun.


The flames arose, and she passed away.



24.  Reciting Sutras


A farmer requested a Tendai priest to recite sutras for his wife, who had died. After the recitation was over the farmer asked: “Do you think my wife will gain merit from this?”


“Not only your wife, but all sentient beings will benefit from the recitation of sutras,” answered the priest.


“If you say all sentient beings will benefit,” said the farmer, “my wife may be very weak and others will take advantage of her, getting the benefit she should have. So please recite sutras just for her.”


The priest explained that it was the desire of a Buddhist to offer blessings and wish merit for every living being.


“That is a fine teaching,” concluded the farmer, “but please make one exception. I have a neighbor who is rough and mean to me. Just exclude him from all those sentient beings.”



25.  Three Days More


Suiwo, the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.


Suiwo gave him the problem: “Hear the sound of one hand.”


The pupil remained three years but could not pass the test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo. “I must return south in shame and embarrassment,” he said, “for I cannot solve my problem.”


“Wait one week more and meditate constantly,” advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. “Try for another week,” said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.


“Still another week.” Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They were without result. Then he said: “Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself.”


On the second day the pupil was enlightened.



26.  Trading Dialogue For Lodging


Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live there, any wandering monk can remain in a Zen temple. If he is defeated, he has to move on.


In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together. The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had but one eye.


A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about the sublime teaching. The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take his place. “Go and request the dialogue in silence,” he cautioned.


So the young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down.


Shortly afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said: “Your young brother is a wonderful fellow. He defeated me.”


“Relate the dialogue to me,” said the elder one.


“Well,” explained the traveler, “first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and his followers, living the harmonious life. Then he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here.” With this, the traveler left.


“Where is that fellow?” asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.


“I understand you won the debate.”


“Won nothing. I’m going to beat him up.”


“Tell me the subject of the debate,” asked the elder one.


“Why, the minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes. Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended it!”



27.  The Voice of Happiness


After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master’s temple told a friend: “Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person’s face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.


“In all my experience, however, Bankei’s voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard.”



28.  Open Your Own Treasure House


Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: “What do you seek?”


“Enlightenment,” replied Daiju.


“You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked.


Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”


Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”


Daiju was delighted! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”



29.  No Water, No Moon


When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.


At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!


In commemoration, she wrote a poem:


In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!



30.  Calling Card


Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.


His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.


“I have no business with such a fellow,” said Keichu to his attendant. “Tell him to get out of here.”The attendant carried the card back with apologies. “That was my error,” said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out the words Governor of Kyoto. “Ask your teacher again.”


“Oh, is that Kitagaki?” exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. “I want to see that fellow.”



31.  Everything is Best


When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.


“Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer.


“Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.”


At these words Banzan became enlightened.



32.  Inch Time Foot Gem


A lord asked Takuan, a Zen teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.


Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:


Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem.
This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.



33.  Mokusen’s Hand


Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.


Mokusen visited the adherent’s wife and showed her his clenched fist before her face.


“What do you mean by that?” asked the surprised woman.


“Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?” he asked.


“Deformed,” replied the woman.


The he opened his hand flat in her face and asked: “Suppose it were always like that. What then?”


“Another kind of deformity,” said the wife.


“If you understand that much,” finished Mokusen, “you are a good wife.” Then he left.


After his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute as well as to save.



34.  A Smile in His Lifetime


Mokugen was never known to smile until his last day on earth. When his time came to pass away he said to his faithful ones: “You have studied under me for more than ten years. Show me your real interpretation of Zen. Whoever expresses this most clearly shall by my successor and receive my robe and bowl.”


Everyone watched Mokugen’s severe face, but no one answered.


Encho, a disciple who had been with his teacher for a long time, moved near the bedside. He pushed forward the medicine cup a few inches. This was his answer to the command.


The teacher’s face became even more severe. “Is that all you understand?” he asked.


Encho reached out and moved the cup back again.


A beautiful smile broke over the features of Mokugen. “You rascal,” he told Encho. “You worked with me ten years and have not yet seen my whole body. Take the robe and bowl. They belong to you.”



35.  Every-Minute Zen


Zen students are with their masters at least two years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.”


Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.



36.  Flower Shower


Subhuti was Buddha’s disciple. He was able to understand the potency of emptiness, the viewpoint that nothing exists except in its relationship of subjectivity and objectivity.


One day Subhuti, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree. Flowers began to fall about him.


“We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness,” the gods whispered to him.


“But I have not spoken of emptiness,” said Subhuti.


“You have not spoken of emptiness, we have not heard emptiness,” responded the gods. “This is true emptiness.” And blossoms showered upon Subhuto as rain.



37.  Publishing the Sutras


Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.


Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.


It happened that at that time the Uji River overflowed. Famine followed. Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.


Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people.


For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.


The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.



38.  Gisho’s Work


Gisho was ordained as a nun when she was ten years old. She received training just as the little boys did. When she reached the age of sixteen she traveled from one Zen master to another, studying with them all.


She remained three years with Unzan, six years with Gukei, but was unable to obtained a clear vision. At last she went to the master Inzan.


Inzan showed her no distinction at all on account of her sex. He scolded her like a thunderstorm. He cuffed her to awaken her inner nature.


Gisho remained with Inzan thirteen years, and then she found that which she was seeking!


In her honor, Inzan wrote a poem:


This nun studied thirteen years under my guidance.
In the evening she considered the deepest koans,
In the morning she was wrapped in other koans.
The Chinese nun Tetsuma surpassed all before her,
And since Mujaku none has been so genuine as this Gisho!
Yet there are many more gates for her to pass through.
She should receive still more blows from my iron fist.


After Gisho was enlightened she went to the province of Banshu, started her own Zen temple, and taught two hundred other nuns until she passed away one year in the month of August.



39.  Sleeping in the Daytime


The master Soyen Shaku passed from this world when he was sixty-one years of age. Fulfilling his life’s work, he left a great teaching, far richer than that of most Zen masters. His pupils used to sleep in the daytime during midsummer, and while he overlooked this he himself never wasted a minute.


When he was but twelve years old he was already studying Tendai philosophical speculation. One summer day the air had been so sultry that little Soyen stretched his legs and went to sleep while his teacher was away.


Three hours passed when, suddenly waking, he heard his master enter, but it was too late. There he lay, sprawled across the doorway.


“I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon,” his teacher whispered, stepping carefully over Soyen’s body as if it were that of some distinguished guest. After this, Soyen never slept again in the afternoon.



40.  In Dreamland


“Our schoolmaster used to take a nap every afternoon,” related a disciple of Soyen Shaku. “We children asked him why he did it and he told us: ‘I go to dreamland to meet the old sages just as Confucius did.’ When Confucius slept, he would dream of ancient sages and later tell his followers about them.


“It was extremely hot one day so some of us took a nap. Our schoolmaster scolded us. ‘We went to dreamland to meet the ancient sages the same as Confucius did,’ we explained. ‘What was the message from those sages?’ our schoolmaster demanded. One of us replied: ‘We went to dreamland and met the sages and asked them if our schoolmaster came there every afternoon, but they said they had never seen any such fellow.'”



41.  Joshu’s Zen


Joshu began the study of Zen when he was sixty years old and continued until he was eighty, when he realized Zen.


He taught from the age of eighty until he was one hundred and twenty.


A student once asked him: “If I haven’t anything in my mind, what shall I do?”


Joshu replied: “Throw it out.”


“But if I haven’t anything, how can I throw it out?” continued the questioner.


“Well,” said Joshu, “then carry it out.”



42.  The Dead Man’s Answer


When Mamiya, who later became a well-known preacher, went to a teacher for personal guidance, he was asked to explain the sound of one hand.


Mamiya concentrated upon what the sound of one hand might be. “You are not working hard enough,” his teacher told him. “You are too attached to food, wealth, things, and that sound. It would be better if you died. That would solve the problem.”


The next time Mamiya appeared before his teacher he was again asked what he had to show regarding the sound of one hand. Mamiya at once fell over as if he were dead.


“You are dead all right,” observed the teacher. “But how about that sound?”


“I haven’t solved that yet,” replied Mamiya, looking up.


“Dead men do not speak,” said the teacher. “Get out!”



43.  Zen in a Beggar’s Life


Tosui was a well-known Zen teacher of his time. He had lived in several temples and taught in various provinces.


The last temple he visited accumulated so many adherents that Tosui told them he was going to quit the lecture business entirely. He advised them to disperse and go wherever they desired. After that no one could find any trace of him.


Three years later one of his disciples discovered him living with some beggars under a bridge in Kyoto. He at once implored Tosui to teach him.


“If you can do as I do for even a couple days, I might,” Tosui replied.


So the former disciple dressed as a beggar and spent the day with Tosui. The following day one of the beggars died. Tosui and his pupil carried the body off at midnight and buried it on a mountainside. After that they returned to their shelter under the bridge.


Tosui slept soundly the remainder of the night, but the disciple could not sleep. When morning came Tosui said: “We do not have to beg food today. Our dead friend has left some over there.” But the disciple was unable to eat a single bite of it.


“I have said you could not do as I,” concluded Tosui. “Get out of here and do not bother me again.”



44.  The Thief Who Became a Disciple


One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding either money or his life.


Shichiri told him: “Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer.” Then he resumed his recitation.


A little while afterwards he stopped and called: “Don’t take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow.”


The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.


A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offence against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: “This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him money and he thanked me for it.”


After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.



45.  Right and Wrong


When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.


Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.


When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. “You are wise brothers,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”


A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.



46.  How Grass and Trees Become Enlightened


During the Kamakura period, Shinkan studied Tendai six years and then studied Zen seven years; then he went to China and contemplated Zen for thirteen years more.


When he returned to Japan many desired to interview him and asked obscure questions. But when Shinkan received visitors, which was infrequently, he seldom answered their questions.


One day a fifty-year-old student of enlightenment said to Shinkan: “I have studied the Tendai school of thought since I was a little boy, but one thing in it I cannot understand. Tendai claims that even the grass and trees will become enlightened. To me this seems very strange.”


“Of what use is it to discuss how grass and trees become enlightened?” asked Shinkan. “The question is how you yourself can become so. Did you even consider that?”


“I never thought of it that way,” marveled the old man.


“Then go home and think it over,” finished Shinkan.



47.  The Stingy Artist


Gessen was an artist monk. Before he would start a drawing or painting he always insisted upon being paid in advance, and his fees were high. He was known as the “Stingy Artist.”


A geisha once gave him a commission for a painting. “How much can you pay?” inquired Gessen.


“‘Whatever you charge,” replied the girl, “but I want you to do the work in front of me.”


So on a certain day Gessen was called by the geisha. She was holding a feast for her patron.


Gessen with fine brush work did the paining. When it was completed he asked the highest sum of his time.


He received his pay. Then the geisha turned to her patron saying: “All this artist wants is money. His paintings are fine but his mind is dirty; money has caused it to become muddy. Drawn by such a filthy mind, his work is not fit to exhibit. It is just about good enough for one of my petticoats.”


Removing her skirt, she then asked Gessen to do another picture on the back of her petticoat.


“How much will you pay?” asked Gessen.


“Oh, any amount,” answered the girl.


Gessen named a fancy price, painted the picture in the manner requested, and went away.


It was learned later that Gessen had these reasons for desiring money:


A ravaging famine often visited his province. The rich would not help the poor, so Gessen had a secret warehouse, unknown to anyone, which he kept filled with grain, prepared for these emergencies.


From his village to the National Shrine the road was in very poor condition and many travelers suffered while traversing it. He desired to build a better road.


His teacher had passed away without realizing his wish to build a temple, and Gessen wished to complete this temple for him.


After Gessen had accomplished his three wishes he threw away his brushes and artist’s materials and, retiring to the mountains, never painted again.



48.  Accurate Proportion


Sen no Rikyu, a tea-master, wished to hang a flower basket on a column. He asked a carpenter to help him, directing the man to place it a little higher or lower, to the right or left, until he had found exactly the right spot. “That’s the place,” said Sen no Rikya finally.


The carpenter, to test the master, marked the spot and then pretended he had forgotten. Was this the place? “Was this the place, perhaps?” the carpenter kept asking, pointing to various places on the column.


But so accurate was the tea-master’s sense of proportion that it was not until the carpenter reached the identical spot again that its location was approved.



49.  Black-Nosed Buddha


A nun who was searching for enlightenment made a statue of Buddha and covered it with gold leaf. Wherever she ent she carried this golden Buddha with her.


Years passed and, still carrying her Buddha, the nun came to live in a small temple in a country where there were many Buddhas, each one with its own particular shrine.


The nun wished to burn incense before her golden Buddha. Not liking the idea of the perfume straying to others, she devised a funnel through which the smoke would ascend only to her statue. This blackened the nose of the golden Buddha, making it especially ugly.



50.  Ryonen’s Clear Realization


The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a graddaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.


The beloved empress died suddenly and Ryonen’s hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.


Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun aftr she had borne three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.


She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugya to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.


Ryonen went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble.


Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.


Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.


Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:


In the service of my Empress I burned incense to perfume my exquisite clothes,
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to enter a Zen temple.


When Ryonen was about to pass from this world, she wrote another poem:


Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.



51.  Sour Miso


The cook monk Dairyo, at Bankei’s monastery, decided that he would take good care of his old teacher’s health and give him only fresh miso, a paste of soy beans mixed with wheat and yeast that often ferments. Bankei, noticing that he was being served better miso than his pupils, asked: “Who is the cook today?”


Dairyo was sent before him. Bankei learned that according to his age and position he should eat only fresh miso. So he said to the cook: “Then you think I shouldn’t eat at all.” With this he entered his room and locked the door.


Dairyo, sitting outside the door, asked his teacher’s pardon. Bankei would not answer. For seven days Dairyo sat outside and Bankei within.


Finally in desperation an adherent called loudly to Bankei: “You may be all right, old teacher, but this young disciple here has to eat. He cannot go without food forever!”


At that Bankei opened the door. He was smiling. He told Dairyo: “I insist on eating the same food as the least of my followers. Whe you become the teacher I do not want you to forget this.”



52.  Your Light May Go Out


A student of Tendai, a philosophical school of Buddhism, came to the Zen abode of Gasan as a pupil. When he was departing a few years later, Gasan warned him: “Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting preaching material. But remember that unless you meditate constantly you light of truth may go out.”



53.  The Giver Should Be Thankful


While Seietsu was the master of Engaku in Kamakura he required larger quarters, since those in which he was teaching were overcrowded. Umeza Seibei a merchant of Edo, decided to donate five hundred pieces of gold called ryo toward the construction of a more commodious school. This money he brought to the teacher.


Seisetsu said: “All right. I will take it.”


Umezu gave Seisetsu the sack of gold, but he was dissatisfied with the attitude of the teacher. One might live a whole year on three ryo, and the merchant had not even been thanked for five hundred.


“In that sack are five hundred ryo,” hinted Umeza.


“You told me that before,” replied Seisetsu.


“Even if I am a wealthy merchant, five hundred ryo is a lot of money,” said Umezu.


“Do you want me to thank you for it?” asked Seisetsi.


“You ought to,” replied Umeza.


“Why should I?” inquired Seisetsu. “The giver should be thankful.”



54.  The Last Will and Testament


Ikkyu, a famous Zen teacher of the Ashikaga era, was the son of the emperor. When he was very young, his mother left the palace and went to study Zen in a temple. In this way Prince Ikkyu also became a student. When this mother passed on, she left him a letter. It read:


To Ikkyu:


I have finished my work in this life and am now returning into Eternity. I wish you to become a good student and to realize your Buddha-nature. You will know if I am in hell and whether I am always with you or not.


If you become a man who realizes that the Buddha and his follower Bodhidharma are your own servants, you may leave off studying and work for humanity. The Buddha preached for forty-nine years and in all that time found it not necessary to speak one word. You ought to know why. But if you don’t and yet wish to, avoid thinking fruitlessly.


Your Mother,


Not born, not dead.


September first.


P.S. The teaching of Buddha was mainly for the purpose of enlightening others. If you are dependent on any of its methods, you are naught but an ignorant insect. There are 80,000 books on Buddhism and if you should read all of them and still not see your own nature, you will not understand even this letter. This is my will and testament.



55.  The Tea-Master and The Assassin


Taiko, a warrior who lived in Japan before the Tokugawa era, studied Cha-no-yu, tea etiquette, with Sen no Rikyu, a teacher of that aesthetical expression of calmness and contentment.


Taiko’s attendant warrior Kato interpreted his superior’s enthusiasm for tea etiquette as negligence of state affairs, so he decided to kill Sen no Rikyu. He pretended to make a social call upon the tea-master and was invited to drink tea.


The master, who was well skilled in his art, saw at a glance the warrior’s intention, so he invited Kato to leave his sword outside before entering the room for the ceremony, explaining that Cha-no-yu represents peacefulness itself.


Kato would not listen to this. “I am a warrior,” he said. “I always have my sword with me. Cha-no-yu or no Cha-no-yu, I have my sword.”


“Very well. Bring your sword in and have some tea,” consented Sen no Rikyu.


The kettle was boiling on the charcoal fire. Suddenly Sen no Rikyu tipped it over. Hissing steam arose, filling the room with smoke and ashes. The startled warrior ran outside.


The tea-master apologized. “It was my mistake. Come back in and have some tea. I have your sword here covered with ashes and will clean it and give it to you.”


In this predicament the warrior realized he could not very well kill the tea-master, so he gave up the idea.



56.  The True Path


Just before Ninakawa passed away the Zen master Ikkyu visited him. “Shall I lead you on?” Ikkyu asked.


Ninakawa replied: “I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?”


Ikkyu answered: “If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and going.”


With his words, Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smiled and passed away.



57.  The Gates of Paradise


A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”


“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.


“I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.


“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”


Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”


As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”


At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.


“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.



58.  Arresting the Stone Buddha


A merchant bearing fifty rolls of cotton goods on his shoulders stopped to rest from the heat of the day beneath a shelter where a large stone Buddha was standing. There he fell asleep, and when he awoke his goods had disappeared. He immediately reported the matter to the police.


A judge named O-oka opened court to investigate. “That stone Buddha must have stolen the goods,” concluded the judge. “He is supposed to care for the welfare of the people, but he has failed to perform his holy duty. Arrest him.”


The police arrested the stone Buddha and carried it into the court. A noisy crowd followed the statue, curious to learn what kind of sentence the judge was about to impose.


When O-oka appeared on the bench he rebuked the boisterous audience. “What right have you people to appear before the court laughing and joking in this manner? You are in contempt of court and subject to a fine and imprisonment.”


The people hastened to apologize. “I shall have to impose a fine on you,” said the judge, “but I will remit it provided each one of you brings one roll of cotton goods to the court within three days. Anyone failing to do this will be arrested.”


One of the rolls of cloth which the people brought was quickly recognized by the merchant as his own, and thus the thief was easily discovered. The merchant recovered his goods, and the cotton rolls were returned to the people.



59.  Soldiers of Humanity


Once a division of the Japanese army was engaged in a sham battle, and some of the officers found it necessary to make their headquarters in Gasan’s temple.


Gasan told his cook: “Let the officers have only the same simple fare we eat.”


This made the army men angry, as they wre used to very deferential treatment. One came to Gasan and said: “Who do you think we are? We are soldiers, sacrificing our lives for our country. Why don’t you treat us accordingly?”


Gasan answered sternly: “Who do you think we are? We are soldiers of humanity, aiming to save all sentient beings.”



60.  The Tunnel


Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official’s wife and was discovered. In self-defence, he slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife.


Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finally, leaving her, he journeyed far away to the province of Buzen, where he became a wandering mendicant.


To atone for his past, Zenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused death and injury to many persons, he resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there.


Begging food in the daytime, Zenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone by, the tunnel was 2,280 feet long, 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide.


Two years before the work was completed, the son of the official he had slain, who was a skillful swordsman, found Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge.


“I will gived you my life willingly,” said Zenkai. “Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completed, then you may kill me.”


So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zenkai kept digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a year, he came to admire Zenkai’s strong will and character.


At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel safely.


“Now cut off my head,” said Zenkai. “My work is done.”


“How can I cut off my own teacher’s head?” asked the younger man with tears in his eyes.


61.  Gudo and the Emperor


The emperor Goyozei was studying Zen under Gudo. He inquired: “In Zen this very mind is Buddha. Is this correct?”


Gudo answered: “If I say yes, you will think that you understand without understanding. If I say no, I would be contradicting a fact which you may understand quite well.”


On another day the emperor asked Gudo: “Where does the enlightened man go when he dies?”


Gudo answered: “I know not.”


“Why don’t you know?” asked the emperor.


“Because I have not died yet,” replied Gudo.


The emperor hesitated to inquire further about these things his mind could not grasp. So Gudo beat the floor with his hand as if to awaken him, and the emperor was enlightened!


The emperor respected Zen and old Gudo more than ever after his enlightenment, and he even permitted Gudo to wear his hat in the palace in winter. When Gudo was over eighty he used to fall asleep in the midst of his lecture, and the emperor would quietly retire to another room so his beloved teacher might enjoy the rest his aging body required.



62.  In the Hands of Destiny


A great Japanese warrior named Nobunaga decided to attack the enemy although he had only one-tenth the number of men the opposition commanded. He knew that he would win, but his soldiers were in doubt.


On the way he stopped at a Shinto shrine and told his men: “After I visit the shrine I will toss a coin. If heads comes, we will win; if tails, we will lose. Destiny holds us in her hand.”


Nobunaga entered the shrine and offered a silent prayer. He came forth and tossed a coin. Heads appeared. His soldiers were so eager to fight that they won their battle easily.


“No one can change the hand of destiny,” his attendant told him after the battle.


“Indeed not,” said Nobunaga, showing a coin which had been doubled, with heads facing either way.



63.  Killing


Gasan instructed his adherents one day: “Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them. Furthermore, what of the one who preaches without enlightenment? He is killing Buddhism.”



64.  Kasan Sweat


Kasan was asked to officiate at the funeral of a provincial lord.


He had never met lords and nobles before so he was nervous. When the ceremony started, Kasan sweat.


Afterwards, when he had returned, he gathered his pupils together. Kasan confessed that he was not yet qualified to be a teacher for he lacked the sameness of bearing in the world of fame that he possessed in the secluded temple. Then Kasan resigned and became a pupil of another master. Eight years later he returned to his former pupils, enlightened.



65.  The Subjugation of a Ghost


A young wife fell sick and was about to die. “I love you so much,” she told her husband, “I do not want to leave you. Do not go from me to any other woman. If you do, I will return as a ghost and cause you endless trouble.”


Soon the wife passed away. The husband respected her last wish for the first three months, but then he met another woman and fell in love with her. They became engaged to be married.


Immediately after the engagement a ghost appeared every night to the man, blaming him for not keeping his promise. The ghost was clever too. She told him exactly what has transpired between himself and his new sweetheart. Whenever he gave his fiancee a present, the ghost would describe it in detail. She would even repeat conversations, and it so annoyed the man that he could not sleep. Someone advised him to take his problem to a Zen master who lived close to the village. At length, in despair, the poor man went to him for help.


“Your former wife became a ghost and knows everything you do,” commented the master. “Whatever you do or say, whatever you give you beloved, she knows. She must be a very wise ghost. Really you should admire such a ghost. The next time she appears, bargain with her. Tell her that she knows so much you can hide nothing from her, and that if she will answer you one question, you promise to break your engagement and remain single.”


“What is the question I must ask her?” inquired the man.


The master replied: “Take a large handful of soy beans and ask her exactly how many beans you hold in your hand. If she cannot tell you, you will know she is only a figment of your imagination and will trouble you no longer.”


The next night, when the ghost appeared the man flattered her and told her that she knew everything.


“Indeed,” replied the ghost, “and I know you went to see that Zen master today.”


“And since you know so much,” demanded the man, “tell me how many beans I hold in this hand!”


There was no longer any ghost to answer the question.



66.  Children of His Majesty


Yamaoka Tesshu was a tutor of the emperor. He was also a master of fencing and a profound student of Zen.


His home was the abode of vagabonds. He has but one suit of clothes, for they kept him always poor.


The emperor, observing how worn his garments were, gave Yamaoka some money to buy new ones. The next time Yamaoka appeared he wore the same old outfit.


“What became of the new clothes, Yamaoka?” asked the emperor.


“I provided clothes for the children of Your Majesty,” explained Yamaoka.



67.  What Are You Doing! What Are You Saying!


In modern times a great deal of nonsense is talked about masters and disciples, and about the inheritance of a master’s teaching by favorite pupils, entitling them to pass the truth on to their adherents. Of course Zen should be imparted in this way, from heart to heart, and in the past it was really accomplished. Silence and humility reigned rather than profession and assertion. The one who received such a teaching kept the matter hidden even after twenty years. Not until another discovered through his own need that a real master was at hand was it learned that the teching had been imparted, and even then the occasion arose quite naturally and the teaching made its way in its own right. Under no circumstance did the teacher even claim “I am the successor of So-and-so.” Such a claim would prove quite the contrary.


The Zen master Mu-nan had only one successor. His name was Shoju. After Shoju had completed his study of Zen, Mu-nan called him into his room. “I am getting old,” he said, “and as far as I know, Shoju, you are the only one who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book. It has been passed down from master to master for seven generations. I have also added many points according to my understanding. The book is very valuable, and I am giving it to you to represent your successorhip.”


“If the book is such an important thing, you had better keep it,” Shoju replied. “I received your Zen without writing and am satisfied with it as it is.”


“I know that,” said Mu-nan. “Even so, this work has been carried from master to master for seven generations, so you may keep it as a symbol of having received the teaching. Here.”


They happened to be talking before a brazier. The instant Shoju felt the book in his hands he thrust it into the flaming coals. He had no lust for possessions.


Mu-nan, who never had been angry before, yelled: “What are you doing!”


Shoju shouted back: “What are you saying!”



68.  One Note of Zen


After Kakua visited the emperor he disappeared and no one knew what became of him. He was the first Japanese to study Zen in China, but since he showed nothing of it, save one note, he is not remembered for having brought Zen into his country.


Kakua visited China and accepted the true teaching. He did not travel while he was there. Meditating constantly, he lived on a remote part of a mountain. Whenever people found him and asked him to preach he would say a few words and then move to another part of the mountain where he could be found less easily.


The emperor heard about Kakua when he returned to Japan and asked him to preach Zen for his edification and that of his subjects.


Kakua stood before the emperor in silence. He the produced a flute from the folds of his robe, and blew one short note. Bowing politely, he disappeared.



69.  Eating the Blame


Circumstances arose one day which delayed preperation of the dinner of a Soto Zen master, Fukai, and his followers. In haste the cook went to the garden with his curved knife and cut off the tops of green vegetables, chopped them together and made soup, unaware that in his haste he had included a part of a snake in the vegetables.


The followers of Fugai thought they never tasted such good soup. But when the master himself found the snake’s head in his bowl, he summoned the cook. “What is this?” he demanded, holding yo the head of the snake.


“Oh, thank you, master,” replied the cook, taking the morsel and eating it quickly.



70.  The Most Valuable Thing in the World


Sozan, a Chinese Zen master, was asked by a student: “What is the most valuable thing in the world?”


The master replied: “The head of a dead cat.”


“Why is the head of a dead cat the most valuable thing in the world?” inquired the student.


Sozan replied: “Because no one can name its price.”



71.  Learning to Be Silent


The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence.


On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: “Fix those lamps.”


The second pupils was surprised to hear the first one talk. “We are not supposed to say a word,” he remarked.


“You two are stupid. Why did you talk?” asked the third.


“I am the only one who has not talked,” concluded the fourth pupil.



72.  The Blockhead Lord


Two Zen teachers, Daigu and Gudo, were invited to visit a lord. Upon arriving, Gudo said to the lord: “You are wise by nature and have an inborn ability to learn Zen.”


“Nonsense,” said Daigu. “Why do you flatter this blockhead? He may be a lord, but he doesn’t know anything of Zen.”


So, instead of building a temple for Gudo, the lord built it for Daigu and studied Zen with him.



73.  Ten Successors


Zen pupils take a vow that even if they are killed by their teacher, they intend to learn Zen. Usually they cut a finger and seal their resolution with blood. In time the vow has become a mere formality, and for this reason the pupil who died by the hand of Ekido was made to appear a martyr.


Ekido had become a severe teacher. His pupils feared him. One of them on duty, striking the gong to tell the time of day, missed his beats when his eye was attracted by a beautiful girl passing the temple gate.


At that moment Ekido, who was directly behind him, hit him with a stick and the shock happened to kill him.


The pupil’s guardian, hearing of the accident, went directly to Ekido. Knowing that he was not to blame he praised the master for his severe teaching. Ekido’s attitude was just the same as if the pupil were still alive.


After this took place, he was able to produce under his guidance more than ten enlightened successors, a very unusual number.



74.  True Reformation


Ryokan devoted his life to the study of Zen. One day he heard that his nephew, despite the admonitions of relatives, was spending his money on a courtesan. Inasmuch as the nephew had taken Ryokan’s place in managing the family estate and the property was in danger of being dissipated, the relatives asked Ryoken to do something about it.


Ryokan had to travel a long way to visit his nephew, whom he had not seen for many years. The nephew seemed pleased to meet his uncle again and invited him to remain overnight.


All night Ryokan sat in meditation. As he was departing in the morning he said to the young man: “I must be getting old, my hand shakes so. Will you help me tie the string of my straw sandal?”


The nephew helped him willingly. “Thank you,” finished Ryokan, “you see, a man becomes older and feebler day by day. Take good care of yourself.” Then Ryokan left, never mentioning a word about the courtesan or the complaints of the relatives. But, from that morning on, the dissipations of the nephew ended.



75.  Temper


A Zen student came to Bankei and complained: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?”


“You have something very strange,” replied Bankei. “Let me see what you have.”


“Just now I cannot show it to you,” replied the other.


“When can you show it to me?” asked Bankei.


“It arises unexpectedly,” replied the student.


“Then,” concluded Bankei, “it must not be your own true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over.”



76.  The Stone Mind


Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.


While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: “There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?”


One of the monks replied: “From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind.”


“Your head must feel very heavy,” observed Hogen, “if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind.”



77.  No Attachment to Dust


Zengetsu, a Chinese master of the T’ang dynasty, wrote the following advice for his pupils:


Living in the world yet not forming attachments to the dust of the world is the way of a true Zen student.


When witnessing the good action of another encourage yourself to follow his example. Hearing of the mistaken action of another, advise yourself not to emulate it.


Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest. Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature.


Poverty is your treasure. Never exchange it for an easy life.


A person may appear a fool and yet not be one. He may only be guarding his wisdom carefully.


Virtues are the fruit of self-discipline and do not drop from heaven of themselves as does rain or snow.


Modesty is the foundation of all virtues. Let your neighbors discover you before you make yourself known to them.


A noble heart never forces itself forward. Its words are as rare gems, seldom displayed and of great value.


To a sincere student, every day is a fortunate day. Time passes but he never lags behind. Neither glory nor shame can move him.


Censure yourself, never another. Do not discuss right and wrong.


Some things, though right, were considered wrong for generations. Since the value of righteousness may be recognized after centuries, there is no need to crave immediate appreciation.


Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe. Pass each day in peaceful contemplation.



78.  Real Prosperity


A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.


Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote: “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”


The rich man became angry. “I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke of this?”


“No joke is intended,” explained Sengai. “If before you yourself die your son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity.”



79.  Incense Burner


A woman of Nagasaki named Kame was one of the few makers of incense burners in Japan. Such a burner is a work of art to be used only in a tearoom of before a family shrine.


Kame, whose father before her had been such an artist, was fond of drinking. She also smoked and associated with men most of the time. Whenever she made a little money she gave a feast inviting artists, poets, carpenters, workers, men of many vocations and avocations. In their association she evolved her designs.


Kame was exceedingly slow in creating, but when her work was finished it was always a masterpiece. Her burners were treasured in homes whose womanfolk never drank, smoked, or associated freely with men.


The mayor of Nagasaki once requested Kame to design an incense burner for him. She delayed doing so until almost half a year had passed. At that time the mayor, who had been promoted to office in a distant city, visited her. He urged Kame to begin work on his burner.


At last receiving the inspiration, Kame made the incense burner. After it was completed she placed it upon a table. She looked at it long and carefully. She smoked and drank before it as if it were her own company. All day she observed it.


At last, picking up a hammer, Kame smashed it to bits. She saw it was not the perfect creation her mind demanded.



80.  The Real Miracle


When Bankei was preaching at Ryumon temple, a Shinshu priest, who believed in salvation through repetition of the name of the Buddha of Love, was jealous of his large audience and wanted to debate with him.


Bankei was in the midst of a talk when the priest appeared, but the fellow made such a disturbance that Bankei stopped his discourse and asked about the noise.


“The founder of our sect,” boasted the priest, “had such miraculous powers that he held a brush in his hand on one bank of the river, his attendant held up a paper on the other bank, and the teacher wrote the holy name of Amida through the air. Can you do such a wonderful thing?”


Bankei replied lightly: “Perhaps your fox can perform that trick, but that is not the manner of Zen. My miracle is that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink.”



81.  Just Go to Sleep


Gasan was sitting at the bedside of Tekisui three days before his teacher’s passing. Tekisui had already chosen him as his successor.


A temple recently had burned and Gasan was busy rebuilding the structure. Tekisui asked him: “What are you going to do when you get the temple rebuilt?”


“When your sickness is over we want you to speak there,” said Gasan.


“Suppose I do not live until then?”


“Then we will get someone else,” replied Gasan.


“Suppose you cannot find anyone?” continued Tekisui.


Gasan answered loudly: “Don’t ask such foolish questions. Just go to sleep.”



82.  Nothing Exists


Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.


Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.”


Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.


“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”



83.  No Work, No Food


Hyakujo, the Chinese Zen master, used to labor with his pupils even at the age of eighty, trimming the gardens, cleaning the grounds, and pruning the trees.


The pupils felt sorry to see the old teacher working so hard, but they knew he would not listen to their advice to stop, so they hid away his tools.


That day the master did not eat. The next day he did not eat, nor the next. “He may be angry because we have hidden his tools,” the pupils surmised. “We had better put them back.”


The day they did, the teacher worked and ate the same as before. In the evening he instructed them: “No work, no food.”



84.  True Friends


A long time ago in China there were two friends, one who played the harp skilfully and one who listen skillfully.


When the one played or sang about a mountain, the other would say: “I can see the mountain before us.”


When the one played about water, the listener would exclaim: “Here is the running stream!”


But the listener fell sick and died. The first friend cut the strings of his harp and never played again. Since that time the cutting of harp strings has always been a sign of intimate friendship.



85.  Time to Die


Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked: “Why do people have to die?”


“This is natural,” explained the older man. “Everything has to die and has just so long to live.”


Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: “It was time for your cup to die.”



86.  The Living Buddha and the Tubmaker


Zen masters give personal guidance in a secluded room. No one enters while teacher and pupil are together.


Mokurai, the Zen master of Kennin temple in Kyoto, used to enjoy talking with merchants and newspapermen as well as with his pupils. A certain tubmaker was almost illiterate. He would ask foolish questions of Mokurai, have tea, and then go away.


One day while the tubmaker was there Mokurai wished to give personal guidance to a disciple, so he asked the tubmaker to wait in another room.


“I understand you are a living Buddha,” the man protested. “Even the stone Buddhas in the temple never refuse the numerous persons who come together before them. Why then should I be excluded?”


Mokurai had to go outside to see his disciple.



87.  Three Kinds of Disciples


A Zen master named Gettan lived in the latter part of the Tokugawa era. He used to say: “There are three kinds of disciples: those who impart Zen to others, those who maintain the temples and shrines, and then there are the rice bags and the clothes-hangers.”


Gasan expressed the same idea. When he was studying under Tekisui, his teacher was very severe. Sometimes he even beat him. Other pupils would not stand this kind of teaching and quit. Gasan remained, saying: “A poor disciple utilizes a teacher’s influence. A fair disciple admires a teacher’s kindness. A good disciple grows strong under a teacher’s discipline.”



88.  How to Write a Chinese Poem


A well-known Japanese poet was asked how to compose a Chinese poem.


“The usual Chinese poem is four lines,” he explains. “The first line contains the initial phase; the second line, the continuation of that phase; the third line turns from this subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines together. A popular Japanese song illustrates this:


Two daughters of a silk merchant live in Kyoto.
The elder is twenty, the younger, eighteen.
A soldier may kill with his sword.
But these girls slay men with their eyes.



89.  Zen Dialogue


Zen teachers train their young pupils to express themselves. Two Zen temples each had a child protégé. One child, going to obtain vegetables each morning, would meet the other on the way.


“Where are you going?” asked the one.


“I am going wherever my feet go,” the other responded.


This reply puzzled the first child who went to his teacher for help. “Tomorrow morning,” the teacher told him, “when you meet that little fellow, ask him the same question. He will give you the same answer, and then you ask him: ‘Suppose you have no feet, then where are you going?’ That will fix him.”


The children met again the following morning.


“Where are you going?” asked the first child.


“I am going wherever the wind blows,” answered the other.


This again nonplussed the youngster, who took his defeat to his teacher.


“Ask him where he is going if there is no wind,” suggested the teacher.


The next day the children met a third time.


“Where are you going?” asked the first child.


“I am going to the market to buy vegetables,” the other replied.



90.  The Last Rap


Tangen had studied with Sengai since childhood. When he was twenty he wanted to leave his teacher and visit others for comparative study, but Sengai would not permit this. Every time Tangen suggested it, Sengai would give him a rap on the head.


Finally Tangen asked an elder brother to coax permission from Sengai. This the brother did and then reported to Tangen: “It is arranged. I have fixed it for you start your pilgrimage at once.”


Tangen went to Sengai to thank him for his permission. The master answered by giving him another rap.


When Tangen related this to his elder brother the other said: “What is the matter? Sengai has no business giving permission and then changing his mind. I will tell him so.” And off he went to see the teacher.


“I did not cancel my permission,” said Sengai. “I just wished to give him one last smack over the head, for when he returns he will be enlightened and I will not be able to reprimand him again.”



91.  The Taste of Banzo’s Sword


Matajuro Yagyu was the son of a famous swordsman. His father, believing that his son’s work was too mediocre to anticipate mastership, disowned him.


So Matajuro went to Mount Futara and there found the famous swordsman Banzo. But Banzo confirmed the father’s judgment. “You wish to learn swordsmanship under my guidance?” asked Banzo. “You cannot fulfill the requirements.”


“But if I work hard, how many years will it take to become a master?” persisted the youth.


“The rest of your life,” replied Banzo.


“I cannot wait that long,” explained Matajuro. “I am willing to pass through any hardship if only you will teach me. If I become your devoted servant, how long might it be?”


“Oh, maybe ten years,” Banzo relented.


“My father is getting old, and soon I must take care of him,” continued Matajuro. “If I work far more intensively, how long would it take me?”


“Oh, maybe thirty years,” said Banzo.


“Why is that?” asked Matajuro. “First you say ten and now thirty years. I will undergo any hardship to master this art in the shortest time!”


“Well,” said Banzo, “in that case you will have to remain with me for seventy years. A man in such a hurry as you are to get results seldom learns quickly.”


“Very well,” declared the youth, understanding at last that he was being rebuked for impatience, “I agree.”


Matajuro was told never to speak of fencing and never to touch a sword. He cooked for his master, washed the dishes, made his bed, cleaned the yard, cared for the garden, all without a word of swordmanship.


Three years passed. Still Matajuro labored on. Thinking of his future, he was sad. He had not even begun to learn the art to which he had devoted his life.


But one day Banzo crept up behind him and gave him a terrific blow with a wooden sword.


The following day, when Matajuro was cooking rice, Banzo again sprang upon him unexpectedly.


After that, day and night, Matajuro had to defend himself from unexpected thrusts. Not a moment passed in any day that he did not have to think of the taste of Banzo’s sword.


He learned so rapidly he brought smiles to the face of his master. Matajuro became the greatest swordsman in the land.



92.  Fire-Poker Zen


Hakuin used to tell his pupils about an old woman who had a teashop, praising her understanding of Zen. The pupils refused to believe what he told them and would go to the teashop to find out for themselves.


Whenever the woman saw them coming she could tell at once whether they had come for tea or to look into her grasp of Zen. In the former case, she would serve them graciously. In the latter, she would beckon the pupils to come behind her screen. The instant they obeyed, she would strike them with a fire-poker.


Nine out of ten of them could not escape her beating.



93.  Storyteller’s Zen


Encho was a famous storyteller. His tales of love stirred the hearts of his listeners. When he narrated a story of war, it was as if the listeners themselves were in the field of battle.


One day Encho met Yamaoka Tesshu, a layman who had almost embraced masterhood of Zen. “I understand,” said Yamaoka, “you ar the best storyteller in out land and that you make people cry or laugh at will. Tell me my favorite story of the Peach Boy. When I was a little tot I used to sleep beside my mother, and she often related this legend. In the middle of the story I would fall asleep. Tell it to me just as my mother did.”


Encho dared not attempt this. He requested time to study. Several months later he went to Yamaoka and said: “Please give me the opportunity to tell you the story.”


“Some other day,” answered Yamaoka.


Encho was keenly disappointed. He studied further and tried again. Yamaoka rejected him many times. When Encho would start to talk Yamaoka would stop him, saying: “You are not yet like my mother.”


It took Encho five years to be able to tell Yamaoka the legend as his mother had told it to him.


In this way, Yamaoka imparted Zen to Encho.



94.  Midnight Excursion


Many pupils were studying meditation under the Zen master Sengai. One of them used to arise at night, climb over the temple wall, and go to town on a pleasure jaunt.


Sengai, inspecting the dormitory quarters, found this pupil missing one night and also discovered the high stool he had used to scale the wall. Sengai removed the stool and stood there in its place.


When the wanderer returned, not knowing that Sengai was the stool, he put his feet on the master’s head and jumped down into the grounds. Discovering what he had done, he was aghast.


Sengai said: “It is very chilly in the early morning. Do be careful not to catch cold yourself.”


The pupil never went out at night again.



95.  A Letter to a Dying Man


Bassui wrote the following letter to one of his disciples who was about to die:


“The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existance, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither color nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.


“I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself: What is the essence of this mind? Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end which is endless is as a snowflake dissolving in the pure air.”



96.  A Drop of Water


A Zen master named Gisan asked a young student to bring him a pail of water to cool his bath.


The student brought the water and, after cooling the bath, threw on to the ground the little that was left over.


“You dunce!” the master scolded him. “Why didn’t you give the rest of the water to the plants? What right have you to waste even one drop of water in this temple?”


The young student attained Zen in that instant. He changed his name to Tekisui, which means a drop of water.



97.  Teaching the Ultimate


In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.


“I do not need a lantern,” he said. “Darkness or light is all the same to me.”


“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it.”


The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. “Look out where you are going!” he exclaimed to the stranger. “Can’t you see this lantern?”


“Your candle has burned out, brother,” replied the stranger.



98.  Non-Attachment


Kitano Gempo, abbot of Eihei temple, was ninety-two years old when he passed away in the year 1933. He endeavored his whole life not to be attached to anything. As a wandering mendicant when he was twenty he happened to meet a traveler who smoked tobacco. As they walked together down a mountain road, they stopped under a tree to rest. The traveler offered Kitano a smoke, which he accepted, as he was very hungry at the time.


“How pleasant this smoking is,” he commented. The other gave him an extra pipe and tobacco and they parted.


Kitano felt: “Such pleasant things may disturb meditation. Before this goes too far, I will stop now.” So he threw the smoking outfit away.


When he was twenty-three years old he studied I-King, the profoundest doctrine of the universe. It was winter at the time and he needed some heavy clothes. He wrote his teacher, who lived a hundred miles away, telling him of his need, and gave the letter to a traveler to deliver. Almost the whole winter passed and neither answer nor clothes arrived. So Kitano resorted to the prescience of I-King, which also teaches the art of divination, to determine whether or not his letter had miscarried. He found that this had been the case. A letter afterwards from his teacher made no mention of clothes.


“If I perform such accurate determinative work with I-King, I may neglect my meditation,” felt Kitano. So he gave up this marvelous teaching and never resorted to its powers again.


When he was twenty-eight he studied Chinese calligraphy and poetry. He grew so skillful in these arts that his teacher praised him. Kitano mused: “If I don’t stop now, I’ll be a poet, not a Zen teacher.” So he never wrote another poem.



99.  Tosui’s Vinegar


Tosui was the Zen master who left the formalism of temples to live under a bridge with beggars. When he was getting very old, a friend helped him to earn his living without begging. He showed Tosui how to collect rice and manufacture vinegar from it, and Tosui did this until he passed away.


While Tosui was making vinegar, one of the beggars gave him a picture of the Buddha. Tosui hung it on the wall of his hut and put a sign beside it. The sign read:


Mr. Amida Buddha: This little room is quite narrow. I can let you remain as a transient. But don’t think I am asking you to be reborn in your paradise.



100.  The Silent Temple


Shoichi was a one-eyed teacher of Zen, sparkling with enlightenment. He taught his disciples in Tofuku temple.


Day and night the whole temple stood in silence. There was no sound at all.


Even the reciting of sutras was abolished by the teacher. His pupils had nothing to do but meditate.


When the master passed away, an old neighbor heard the ringing of bells and the recitation of sutras. Then she knew Shoichi had gone.



101.  Buddha’s Zen


Buddha said: “I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes.
I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags.
I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot.
I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians.
I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one’s eyes.
I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, Nirvana as a nightmare of daytime.
I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons.”

Even existing dharmas must be discarded, So how can we cling to Dharmas which don’t exist!

Ven. Hyunoong Sunim, Abbot


Master Sunim was born in South Korea and entered Songkwang-sa Buddhist Monastery at the age of twenty, where he became a disciple of Zen Master Ku San Sunim. After ten years of training in Zen Meditation halls, he spent six more years in rigorous practice alone in hermitages in remote mountain areas. There he followed a raw food diet, eating what the mountains made available. One early spring day while sitting in the Zen hall suddenly all his doubts were resolved and he wrote the following song of enlightenment:


Even existing dharmas must be discarded,
So how can we cling to Dharmas which don’t exist!
Ah ha! Futilely the Ancients busily pursued
enlightenment, then departed.
The countenance, existing of its own accord
I wonder who named it buddha or sentient being?
Even one true Dharma cannot survive.
Outside the window, the cherry tree
is singing this news.


While Sunim’s primary teaching focus is Zen, he also stresses the importance of protecting and balancing one’s physical health and energy through Taoist practices. He teaches that through consistent training in Zen and Sun-do, one can personally experience results, and emphasizes that one should practice for oneself and obtain this personal experience. Only then can one directly understand this path to awakening.

During his years in the hermitage Sunim met and trained for ten years under Taoist Master Chong San. In 1982 Sunim was given sanction as a Taoist master. He later taught in Switzerland and throughout North America. Acknowledged as one of the great zen masters of his generation, he is the Abbot of the Sixth Patriarch Temple in Seoul, Korea, and the Sixth Patriarch Zen Center in Berkeley, CA. He is the author of “The Unasked Question,” which was published in Korea in 2003, and is currently being translated into English.


Sixth Patriarch Zen Center


Silence Mind and Disturbance Mind  

Because when we do Zen we sit quietly, some imagine we are supposed to be silent inside too. For most people, because they begin their Zen practice with this misunderstanding, they find the practice difficult. But for someone who understands the practice correctly, they don’t get caught in silence or disturbance; they just go directly to their awakened nature.

Venerable Hyunoong Sunim
Sixth Patriarch Zen Center, Berkeley


“Silence mind” is not Zen. If we abide in silence mind, it soon breaks. Trying to stay in this mind of silence can be a source of confusion or disturbance. When we do Zen, the appearance is that we are supposed to be silent. Zen is the mind where both silence and disturbance is cut off. So from the outside it might look like silence but on the inside of someone doing Zen, its not silence either. We have to know this in order to practice correctly.

Because when we do Zen we sit quietly, some imagine we are supposed to be silent inside too. For most people, because they begin their Zen practice with this misunderstanding, they find the practice difficult. But for someone who understands the practice correctly, they don’t get caught in silence or disturbance; so they just go directly to their awakened nature. This Zen nature is referred to as “miraculous awareness”.

This awareness exists in each one of us. But because we are attached to ideas of silence and disturbance, our mind goes back and forth between being silent, being complex, being silent, being disturbed.

The existence of silence means there can also be existence of disturbance. Disturbance has the characteristic by which it can become silent. In both of these, there is no awakening. Awakening can be within silence or disturbance but it is not in one or the other. Without even realizing it, we have this idea we have to achieve silence or get rid of this complexity in our mind. This process that we go through of trying to bring our mind from complexities into silence may seem to us as though that is what we are supposed to be doing to do Zen, but this is like trying to walk the path with only one foot. This approach is unstable and unsettled.

We have to have a kind of faith. If we have this faith, then even if our meditation doesn’t go well now, it can still be the seed for it to go well in the future. Before we awaken, until we awaken, we need to be careful about incorrect assumptions. All of us in our ordinary life are always having realizations. Because these realizations come up very momentarily and disappear again, we don’t notice and make use of the window they give us. These opportunities flash by in one hundred thousandth of a second. Because of our habits of making judgments or forming opinions, these opportunities flash by, unused. For example we can know that we’re hungry or tired and when we hurt somewhere, we know that we hurt. We can know things without any time involved. This is called the seed of our awakened nature. There isn’t anyone alive who doesn’t have this.

We obscure our self and then go searching for our self. When we are searching, the arrow has already left the bow. If we want to do Zen, thinking and knowledge needs to be cut off. To think a mind of silence will be helpful to awakening is mistaken.

We do need the environment of silence, because the ordinary mind is confusing. Its very difficult for us to make the distinction between what is correct and incorrect thinking. In the midst of silence we can become aware of when our thoughts arise. Then we can see that the silence itself is not actually our Zen nature.

If we have incorrect beliefs about our practice, we will constantly feel a sense of thirst. If we can realize this correctly, right underneath that is this mind of miraculous awareness. So even though that miraculous awareness is there, if we try to grasp it, its ungraspable. If we try to see it, we obscure it. We can’t figure it out through our human thinking because when we try to grasp or see it, the person trying to grasp or see it is the one we are trying to see. So we tend to make the same mistake.

These words are very simple but only when we can really understand this can we become more distant from the complexities of our mind. If we can experience this, we’ll find that whether things outside us are noisy or quiet, it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if we are sitting or standing, because truth is there either way. Its there when we talk, its here, there, everywhere. When we feel it is nowhere, its because our own mind is obscured and that makes us feel as though that awakening is somewhere else.

If we can realize its simply being obscured by extraneous things, these obscurations are automatically released, they disappear. When your light functions without hindrance you can see everyday truth, everyday Zen, see everywhere, into silence, into disturbance. The only reason we can’t see is the conceptual or “utility” mind obscures our true mind.

The mysterious nature that is functioning endlessly is within us. So we can’t talk about HOW it is, whether its like this or that. If we talk about how large it is, it is very large. If we talk about how small it is, its extremely small. According to the person who’s experienced it they might describe it one way or the other, but it can’t be realized through these descriptions. It can never be described through words or in books. You will not continue suffering by holding onto things you experienced long ago. You have to experience it for yourself. When you experience it, you will understand these words and you will no longer hold conceptions about it or want to know something about it.

You’ll see that it is endlessly mysterious. Truth is not something you can run away from. Even if you try to run away from it, its still truth. So, searching for it is a very foolish thing. What this is, is something to which we can awaken. To awaken to it we must first look back at ourselves and see what within us is obscuring it. We come to not take those things which are obscuring it to be who we are.

Even if you don’t have a direct experience of this, how you live your life is still a part of your practice. In any one moment, your body is alive, your energy is moving, your blood circulates; these things happen without any effort on your part. Look there, who is it who is doing that? Its not a question we can answer by thinking. Both our body and mind are mysterious. But we cling to useless, extraneous things these create complexities and confusion for our body. We keep creating worlds and realities that don’t really exist but we continue to insist they do exist and then they shatter. When we create them it makes suffering and when they shatter its also suffering.

When we’re young it takes little to make us feel happy and hopeful but as we get older, that energy becomes diminished, it starts to fade. When that hope we believed in starts to fade, this is when we start to have that feeling of wandering about our life.

In the Heart Sutra, it says there is no old age and the Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha are precisely that of truth. Its not a matter of just looking at what was within the Buddha himself.

Individually, within each one of us we have this nature. If we come to awaken to this, we see the words of the Buddha were very true.

This is something which has great possibility. If it was something we didn’t actually have our self and had to try to borrow from someplace else, then it would be difficult. Sometimes we just take a wrong step and all we have to do is realize that. As we continually realize these mistakes, one by one, our karma becomes lighter and our practice becomes easier.

The method for this practice is not thinking, neither is it holding onto silence. We need to realize that this is not the way to truth. Then we will find real freedom. It won’t matter what comes along from outside us to obscure it. We will see that past, present and future are all connected with each other and I and others are one.

There is nothing there causing any obstruction. Because there is no obstruction, we are released and our limits disappear. Because our limitations have disappeared, our body and mind are very comfortable. When you are silent, don’t look at it with your eyes and get stuck in silence. You have to look back at yourself and awaken. Then, everything is there, Buddha, God.

The ancient teachers used to say “if you see the Buddha, kill the Buddha” or “if you see the Patriarchs, kill the Patriarchs”. These are frightening words but the words are said in order to help you experience the nature within yourself.

If you awaken to that you will have tremendous respect for the Buddha and Patriarchs and realize how fortunate it is that we have their teachings and you will start to feel that you also have to convey their teachings.

This is the tradition of passing the lamp, the transmission of the teachings from one to another. This is so precious and mysterious. The average person has no interest in it, but from my own life, view and experience, if we don’t connect with this, then we have no direction. What we can obtain from the world is very temporary and not secure.

If we can have the mind of mind where we can write some poetry at old age or death, how much better that would be. This is the path of someone who practices Zen.

We have to really look to see if spiritual teachers have the real truth; if its their own truth, that’s a cult. Its very easy for this to happen in America, it creates confusion for individuals and the society.

When you cannot save yourself, you cannot save others. So, its important to awaken while we are still alive. If we listen to these words and practice according to them, then we will see it is exactly as the Buddha laid it out. He spoke about reality exactly as it really is.

When we can realize that, that’s when we have such respect for the Buddha and we practice even more diligently. Because of the thankfulness for this practice, I want to spread this enlightenment around to suffering people, this kind of thought just comes up. And this is also the teaching of the Buddha. Buddha was not just talking about his own awakening, but that this awakening is endless, that we have to continually pass it on. Buddhist monks do this.

Even though we are beginning in a small place, as my own practice gets deeper and more diligent, I believe we can transmit to America the deep and pure teachings of the Buddha. If a few Americans come forth with this pure awakening, then American culture will change so that Americans’ eyes will turn to this; then more people can go beyond their own suffering. Americans will come to stop those habits which create suffering, and I feel that the time is coming for that to happen.

Incidentally, you must not be in a hurry to do this practice, because the sooner you can put to rest that mind that wants to hurry, the sooner you can awaken. If your mind is in a hurry, then it delays your practice even more. When you are feeling that you are in a hurry to awaken, just watch that and be aware of it. When you’re aware of it, you can correct it; but this also means don’t be lazy. Don’t be lazy and don’t be in a hurry.


 


Young & Old, Truth & Death  


In the Heart Sutra, it says there is no old age and the Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha are precisely that of truth. Each one of us has this nature. If we come to awaken to this, we see the words of the Buddha were very true. This sense of time about ancient times or modern times disappears. Even though many awakened people have come and gone in this world, it will feel as though those ancient teachers are alive today. It will feel as though you are living with them within that truth. As a result, your faith continually grows.

A Lecture by Venerable Hyunoong Sunim
Sixth Patriarch Zen Center, Berkeley


When people are young they have strong energy and they feel as though they can accomplish anything. Its a fine attitude but its simply an expression of a certain part of life. Its not truth and its not something permanent but we hold to youth or strength and we believe in that instead of truth. This is how we become attached.

When we’re young it takes little to make us feel happy and hopeful but as we get older, its like the sun going down; that energy becomes diminished, it starts to fade. When that hope we believed in starts to fade, this is when we start to have that feeling of wandering about our life. People who aren’t even that old start to have thoughts about wanting to die. So there’s a constant direction towards decline.

This is typical of most people, but if we can awaken to the truth within us, it won’t matter if we are young or old. In our true mind there is no attachment to youth or old age and this is why we won’t have expectations; we just express ourselves when we are young according to that youth and as we get older, we can see things more at a distance. As we grow older we can become wiser. So getting old isn’t something bad. But, if we misunderstand our life or approach it in the wrong way, when we get older and our energy declines if we still don’t have an understanding, then we will begin to feel unsettled, uncomfortable and we will start to fear death.

From the point of view of truth, because it functions without any of those things, as we get older we simply accept what old age means, when we’re young we accept our youth.

In the Heart Sutra, it says there is no old age and the Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha are precisely that of truth. Its not a matter of just looking at what was within the Buddha himself. Individually, within each one of us we have this nature. If we come to awaken to this, we see the words of the Buddha were very true. This sense of time about ancient times or modern times disappears. Even though many awakened people have come and gone in this world, it will feel as though those ancient teachers are alive today. It will feel as though you are living with them within that truth. As a result your faith continually grows. The way you see the present time becomes broader. This is real religion.

The teachings can be correct teachings but people believe them in their own way; people hear the teachings and believe them through their own delusion. So when we try to awaken we try to do so through those same habits. Reading books is not bad but we need to understand that our mind can be deluded and if we observe our mind as we read, then that’s okay. If we’re not observing our self as we read the books then as we read the teachings we just try to understand them as mental concepts or in our own way and we nod our heads saying “yes I understand this”. At the time we’re reading it our head can understand but this has absolutely no effect over our own delusion. If our knowledge just keeps growing through those kind of habits, then our mind of faith will not appear.

All that has increased is our knowledge and as our knowledge increases, without even realizing it, it starts to produce arrogance and our mind of faith decreases.

If our arrogance grows and our faith declines, we come to make a lot of judgments, unnecessary, useless judgments. This is how we start to make another world of illusion. This is how karma arises. Through this karma, our emotions, energy and consciousness come together and start to harden. They function out of harmony with each other. We can become physically ill, for example, a “wind illness” in Oriental medicine can come to cause someone to lose control over their arm or hand. Even though its their body, they can’t do what they want with it. In the same way, when we become deluded our consciousness and our mind become separated.

If we want the candlelight to be bright, there has to be wax, but in this case the wax and wick have become separated so there is no brightness in our consciousness. We can have a lot of thinking but because there is no light there, we cannot see and it becomes useless thinking. Its with this that we live in the world and make judgments of the world and we don’t understand how to see correctly. In many different ways our paths in the world become blocked.

So even though we live in this great natural universe, we’ve made it into a very small world. We feel very uncomfortable because we don’t know what will happen next. In this condition we cannot help but experience suffering and there is not anyone who enjoys suffering.

People want to be happy but they’ve taken all the necessary conditions for happiness and shattered them and then they live in confusion. Even though we all have this wisdom which is the same wisdom of the Buddha, we still live in confusion.

Its very fortunate that we have this nature of awakening. We don’t make distinctions between different kinds of karma that we have but because this Buddha nature is the light of wisdom, when you’ve seen it once, even extremely heavy karma will be shattered and everything will become very bright. We need to see it as very fortunate that we are able to know the teachings of the Buddha and to study and practice the Buddha Dharma.

From moment to moment you have the opportunity to awaken but you just have to ask yourself whether your approach is incorrect. You don’t need to think about this, just observe these things and moment to moment it is there. Our thinking, developed from habits over time, frequently arises and snatches it away from you and you forget it again. Its not that you’ve lost it, its just that your thinking habits have enticed you back into those thinking habits. So don’t take it hook, line and sinker when those thoughts come up, because even then, this nature I’m talking about is there. You can remind yourself: “this is just because I wasn’t realizing my attachment, its not that truth isn’t here”.

This is something which has great possibility. If it was something we didn’t actually have our self and had to try to borrow from someplace else, then it would be difficult.

Sometimes we just take a wrong step and all we have to do is realize that. As we continually realize these mistakes, one by one, our karma becomes lighter and our practice becomes easier.

Then we will find real freedom. It won’t matter what comes along from outside us to obscure it. We will see that past, present and future are all connected with each other and I and others are one.

The method for this practice is not thinking.

What we can obtain from the world is very temporary and not secure. Because we have to live in the world, we need a certain amount of money, food and clothing. But those kind of things cannot give us eternal comfort and they cannot prevent you from having fear of old age and death. You can never know what kind of illness or death you may have. At death, there is no medicine.

Death is something we can do absolutely nothing about. If you awaken to the truth that is within you, then you no longer believe that this body is who you are and you will realize that your real self is that truth. That is why Christ said I am the way and I am the truth. This body is a kind of house, it’s a house of truth, this body is something we use for awhile and then it disappears.

So, its not that we make efforts to try not to be attached to our body. Rather, when we experience this truth, then that kind of attachment just automatically disappears and we realize that old age is just a very natural thing and that death is just a very natural thing. In the same way as autumn, when the leaves fall from the tree, can produce poetry in our heart, old age and death, can also produce poetry in our heart. This is not true for most people, they can’t even THINK of writing poetry at those times.

Some take a path where they constantly worry. Usually we are worried or startled by the slightest little thing. When we get older, out teeth start to get loose or we get arthritis, our head is not clear anymore, our body feels heavy we have a lot of useless thinking in our head. As a result, our body and mind head in a dark direction. Its like the earth opens up and we fall into a big crack and the earth closes up again. This is called hell. Its not a place we go after we die, its right here with us while we’re alive. So according to how we live and the purity of our life, we can be in a good place; but if live incorrectly in our life, then, of course, even after we die, we will not be going in a good direction. Most people have all kinds of worries: worried about coming down with dementia, worried about not having money… we keep doing this, when we add on top of it all these worries and negative thoughts; its not helpful.

If we can have the kind of mind where we can write some poetry at old age or death, how much better that would be. This is the path of someone who practices Zen. We are all the same kind of people who are traveling through life. Since we’re all traveling anyway, lets all get on the Zen train. I hope whenever you can, you will come here and sit and lets continue to work on going in this direction. I invite any of you to get on this train; I will drive!

Understanding the teachings and sitting has been very good for my life. The more time goes on, the more experiences I have. I realize the teachings of the ancient masters and the Buddha are, without a doubt, complete and correct. It becomes proof when we’ve experienced it, we continually change and there is always a feeling of gratitude coming from within. A lot of happiness arises, so the light keeps getting brighter. So there’s a path we can take like this. In Buddhism we call this the path of extreme joy.


 


Cause and Effect  

When we turn our back on our own nature… we dream dreams that can never be real and we keep making judgments that can never be true and we create values that we can never meet.

A Lecture By The Venerable Hyunoong Sunim
Of The Sixth Patriarch Zen Center, Berkeley

If we give up on our self, there isn’t anyone who can do it for us. Usually people live their lives giving up on themselves or they believe incorrectly in themselves. We take what is not correct and believe it to be correct so our thinking becomes upside-down.

In that condition, we live our lives INSISTING on what is right and wrong. This is the condition of delusion. This is why we do spiritual practice, because we need to go beyond living in this delusion, this condition. When we look individually at each person, each of us has a problem with something we are holding onto.

We live comparing ourselves to other people. Because each of us is different, there’s no need to make comparisons. We create our own world, looking from the outside it may seem that we are all the same, but what is covering up our inner wisdom is different for each person. Our personalities, habits and our karma is different and because we look out at the world from this state of being obscured, even though it’s the same world, the way each of us see it is different. The kind of suffering we experience is different; the kind of wandering that we are caught in is different. This is why we cannot compare ourselves to other people.

Being different from each other is normal. The more we compare ourselves to others, the more this will cause us suffering. But the thing that is the same among us is our “essence nature”. Our forms are different but that invisible essence nature is the same. When we look from the point of view of that essence, there are no differences. When we come to question why are we different from other people, this can cause us unnecessary suffering.

We all have the habit of making comparisons among ourselves, between our world and the rest of the world, comparing ourselves to society. This causes us to have feelings of inferiority. With the exception of very special awakened people, all human beings live this way. According to how much heavy karma we have obscuring us, our suffering can be greater or less. If our suffering is at the point where even breathing is difficult, then that is great suffering.

If we look at the fundamental reason for this, its because we live turning our back on our own fundamental nature. When we turn our back on our own nature, what is it that we do that with? This is different for each person. We dream dreams that can never be real and we keep making judgments that can never be true and we create values that we can never meet. We keep making judgments of right and wrong that can never be achieved. If we look honestly at ourselves we can see that we live like this. If we awaken and can see that our thinking is upside down we can realize how foolish and dangerous our judgments have been.

Its making these judgments that cause us give up on ourselves.

“This is what kind of person I am”, “This is what I think”, “This is the best I can do” and so on… Even though we live in a vast world, we create a very narrow world for our self and we obscure, cover up our own nature but we don’t know with what we do that.

It can start from a simple place of making a wrong judgment and if we are unable to free ourselves from it, then we give up on our self. Then only the outside looks like a human being, on the inside, there really might not be much difference from an animal. In fact, there are some human beings that live on a level of karma which is on a lower level than some animals. Animals instinctively live in a pure way but when human beings give up on themselves, they live in confusion and their thinking is upside down. Then they create a “ghost world”, a world that doesn’t really exist. They make a world based on their illusions then try to live in it. As a result they have unnecessary arguments, abuse themselves and they suffer. This is something we have completely created our self.

Of course there are those who suffer from living in prisons or jails but if those people looked honestly at themselves, they would see that they obscured their own essence and as a result committed crimes that got them there. When we live in society among other people and do things that cause people suffering, fear or hurt, then we are committing sins. So, since society has to be organized, we create laws and people have to live by those laws; if they break them then they go to jail.

But even if we’re not in jail, we can look at ourselves — are we really free? Are we free from our karma, suffering and delusion? We have delusions within us that could cause us to end up in jail at anytime. Even if we’re not in a physical jail, we are living in our self-made jail. We come to live feeling extremely frustrated, we can even feel claustrophobic. We need to look honestly at our self, we have to ask ourselves: “who created that? Who is experiencing the results of what we created?”

When I talk like this, some people might think “I’m free, I’m happy” but from the point of view of a great Buddha or eternal freedom, from this moment or as this moment passes, we can be in a different world. We never know what is going to happen next or tomorrow; we just HOPE that good things will happen, but nothing is certain.

In this way, our life as a sentient being, being happy today, we cannot trust that to be there tomorrow. We want to be happy today, tomorrow and forever, but we cannot trust that. We rely on our expectations, hopes and maybe even just luck. Our present is the result of our past; our future is the result of the present.

Our birth appears from the principles of cause and effect. If the cause is good, the effect is good, if the cause is bad, the result is bad. That is why right now is very important, but if we are wandering right now, then we’ll be wandering in the future. On occasion we might enjoy some good fortune, but its not assured and if the wind blows, it could all blow away. This makes us realize how vulnerable we are. If we rely on fortune, that makes us a weak person. We need to believe in cause and effect. If I live incorrectly now, my future will be incorrect. If I commit crimes now, without a doubt, the police will be coming.

Cause and effect cannot be avoided by anyone; no one has immunity from it. But, we can free ourselves from our conditions. Buddha, Christ and the Saints taught us the path. You can live without religion but you can not live apart from the principles of cause and effect. The principles of cause and effect apply to everyone. Even if you are not religious, it’s necessary to understand cause and effect.

Of course everyone wants the future to be good, so then we should live in a good way today. What creates cause and effect? The upside down thinking of our own mind, our deluded thoughts create things for no reason and then we suffer for no reason. Then illness arises, poverty, our relationships become narrow, we become very sensitive, very delicate; the slightest thing upsets us, we get into arguments easily… because we get used to living like that, then as we live in this moment, we always feel unstable. Our upside down thinking has not become clear.

Some people think they are unhappy or unstable because they lack money. Of course there are those situations where people don’t have money, but there are plenty of situations where people wander in suffering and delusion even though they have money. In some ways, money or no money may seem like it will make us happy or unhappy, but this has more to do with how people are with it. To think that people are happy or unhappy based on money is a mistake.

So if we want to practice Zen, we want our life to be better, then we need to see into cause and effect. Religion is nothing special… all principles come from the fundamental principle of cause and effect. In the Bible it says if we don’t plant seeds, there will be nothing to harvest. In Zen they directly teach us the principles of cause and effect. Even those who don’t believe in religion can be very sensitive to the principles of cause and effect. If they make one mistake now, without doubt, they will experience its result. If you eat spoiled food, then you will have an upset stomach. If you become angry or upset frequently, your friends will distance themselves from you. If you mind wanders with complicated, useless thinking, your wisdom will disappear. This is how it is.

In America, people think of this as a free country but people misunderstand or misconceive freedom. Freedom is the greatest thing but if we look at it incorrectly, it can become poison. Having freedom means there is some goal we hope to achieve. If we are to achieve correct freedom, then we need to live a correct life.

According to cause and effect, we have to refrain from creating cause. If we create a cause, the effect comes, at that point, if we hope for freedom, the universal principle will not allow that to happen. No one can help at that point. When we live in America, we think we can do whatever we want — that is incorrect; people become reckless and do whatever pops into their head. At that moment, things seem to be okay but the result can be very bad. Our body and mind are relying on principles of cause and effect. If we can’t breathe, we will die. It is very straightforward. Our body and mind are living within this truth. We are always within the principles of nature.

I like to work in a way that I give freedom to people, so I don’t like to make strict rules. But don’t be silly… when people ignore cause and effect, do you really think that just sitting on a cushion, still wandering will fix your life? We justify why our Zen practice doesn’t go well, we say “oh its because I have so much thinking, I have so much desire, I’m not in good condition…” it gets to where whatever we see in front of us obstructs our practice.

Its because we are experiencing the results of past causes even though we try to forget our past. Someone in jail wants to forget about the crime they committed and they complain. They’re there because the committed a crime, that’s cause and effect. There’s no where we can ignore the principles of cause and effect.

When we can awaken to the emptiness of the principle of cause and effect then it will no longer bother us. It’s like clouds which appear and disappear. The cause is the arising, the result is the disappearing. Then we simply do not become attached to the arising or the disappearance. If we are to be unattached to this, then we must have wisdom. Because that wisdom allows us to distinguish what is the arising and what is the disappearance. Our essence-nature is empty and vast like the blue sky, no matter how many clouds appear in that sky, the clouds cannot stay there forever.

So its just the clouds that are passing by but the blue sky is always the blue sky, no matter how many clouds appear, they will not cause that sky to change. If you awaken to your own essence, your own blue sky, you will see your own essence is that blue sky and what arises, your thinking, is just clouds. When the wind blows, it causes something to arise and disappear.

You live in reality and someone comes along and aggravates you, your mind arises and then disappears. Someone who has awoken to experience that blue sky, whenever the mind arises and disappears, they can just let go of it, knowing its just a natural thing; they’ve seen that blue sky and know that blue sky. If the clouds come, that’s fine, if they go, that’s fine. So awakened people have clouds that arise and disappear but they don’t mind them, its normal.

Ordinary people get upset when clouds arise, they think, “where did that one come from? Where did this one come from?” They get upset, their mind gets excited and it goes back and forth.


This is why they are deluded, they went inside the clouds. Even though their eyes are open, they don’t see, they wander around inside the clouds, and collide with others in clouds then start deciding what’s right and what’s wrong. This is the beginning, but the clouds become so thick, the roots of the problem become so deep, its not that they just meet and separate instantly, the roots get deeper and thicker and stronger.

Next thing you know, lawyers are involved, and no one even knows they’re in the clouds of delusion. Lightening, thunder!!! So you forget all about the blue sky, and this is hell.

If we can awaken to our own blue sky, even if someone comes along and aggravates us, it’s like an ant on your hand, you just leave it alone. In reality if someone annoys you if you can be quiet and have no mind, the other person will feel embarrassed, because everyone has wisdom, everyone has a blue sky. It’s only from clinging to the clouds without realizing it that you suffer. If you awaken and you’re not crashing with others if you stop and look for a moment, you can realize it’s your own mistake. If you aggravate someone else and they don’t respond, you can know its you that is being foolish.

There’s a saying in the Orient that if you’re smiling, no one is going to spit in your face. For someone who has an empty mind, if someone becomes angry or upset the poison of that anger goes back to them and they go into turmoil. It’s like in boxing if one throws a punch and the other evades it, it throws the first boxer off.

So to live “smart” you must really know and understand cause and effect. When we come into the sitting hall, some people leave their shoes in disorder. Some people think to live like that is freedom. People do that unwittingly. Outside on the ground is dust and dirt and there are some who take their shoes off but walk on the dirt with their socks then drag the dirt into the Zen hall, defeating the purpose. Very strange, I don’t know. This is also not freedom. When I point this out, they immediately make excuses. People like this, even if they sit on their cushion, their Zen practice will not go well.

Our mind can come to have no burdens and then naturally we feel grateful even for the smallest thing. If you do Zen and your burdens disappear, then in the midst of our ordinary life, all things start connecting with our own essence. What obscures you starts to disappear and you begin to see things very clearly.

And, of course, you stop creating wrong causes; rather than creating wrong causes, you create positive causes. Through that you come to cultivate virtue and you are kind and respectful towards others and a good light starts to arise. If others have difficulties, you help them, if you are too selfish you think only of yourself. In this culture, people are protective and isolate themselves in the competitive world. If this becomes too extreme, this will also obstruct your true nature. We need to live with the attitude that we will lose a little to other people.

If other people perceive you to be a little bit dull, maybe a little bit of a fool, that’s good. You have to be comfortable. People have to feel comfortable with you… If you’re too intelligent, too bright, people will move away from you and people’s minds will not connect with each other. So to be simple and not to be attached one way or the other, is fine. Then you can do Zen and your wit and humor will come forth because you can relax. Living that way is very good for your own environment and those around you. Human beings need to reduce their own burdens; it’s why we have religion. Your spiritual path and the rest of your life is not separate. Then mentally, physically and spiritually we can become healthy and spontaneously we will be happy.

I am also a human being and have had many problems but fortunately I trusted the teaching of the Buddha and observed the principles of cause and effect. I worked on not creating wrong causes, but good ones and continually did Zen. One’s karma changes. What is obscuring you disappears and this world and this society, just as it is, becomes paradise. Then the whole world feels like it belongs to you and happiness continuously bubbles up and your karma will continue to melt. When the clouds disappear and the brightness appears, you don’t create new negative causes. Every human being can live like this, in fact its this that makes us a human being.

So will you follow this path? It’s up to you. Don’t take the wrong step; if you do, things will be in continuous turmoil. The correct step may be difficult but it will continually bring you good things. You will meet good friends and good teachers.

Don’t count your money, it can disappear. You might think just hold on to it as hard as you can and hope for the best. But money you have to spend, you can’t hold onto it. It has no taste, no fragrance, no flavor, its just paper. When human beings use money correctly, it can bring wonderful things. Who has the money? How will you use it? If the person grasping money doesn’t change, it’s no fun.

Lets try taking correct steps, little by little. Don’t try to correct yourself completely all at once. Begin with small things. Let’s begin by taking our shoes off and putting them down mindfully. Enter the Zen hall properly.

Its very strange when I look at people, there are things that are hard to understand. They have all kinds of time and clouds in their head, what they are thinking I don’t know. But it’s not all good causes. So do good work, do the cleaning, live a diligent life, that’s where you have to begin. Otherwise, if you just say you’re going to do Zen and you just sit on your cushion, nothing will happen.

You may think “oh all this is just some Oriental cultural thing” but when I see Americans who are healthy, they are not like that. Those who have a good life, successful, healthy, they are following the principles of cause and effect. When I first arrived in America and I observed people’s habits, I wondered “wow can you really get away with doing that?” Even Americans are not free from the principle of cause and effect; this is what creates mental and physical illness. They are suffering and they don’t know from where it came. The Bible emphasized cause and effect, so we have to move into this to get back into our life. Make the corrections that will restore a healthy life and free us from illness.

Questions?

Also, there is no need for you to be upset with yourself. Because the things you’re doing are not going well, or you’re not that fast at fixing your bad habits, there’s no need to get upset with yourself. There is also no need to feel regret. Feeling regret is not good for you mentally. You just resolve to take the right step as best you can. Regret will just confuse you more; just forgive yourself. Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. Just realize your mistakes, that’s the beginning, and gradually things will release. If you get upset and feel regret, that is a kind of greed. It may appear like a spiritual attitude but it’s not good. So just say, “lets begin again”. You will become humble. Try it little by little. If you do that, you will become happy. Your mind will be more relaxed and then doing Zen will be easy; as you sit on your cushion, happiness will arise on its own. You will see what has to be done and you will want to do it.

When you have nothing to do, you can write nice letters to your friends; when you’re in good condition you can write a poetic letter — better than useless thinking. In Zen, poetic things keep arising in you, you could become a poet; your surroundings will seem very rich and you can gaze inward. But being attached to being a poet will cramp you. You could be grateful that you speak English very well.


 


Thinking Mind and Correct View  

There is no way we can make right and wrong and make them stay fixed in one place… If we become too attached to right and wrong, then this is the type of person we become.

A Lecture By The Venerable Hyunoon Sunim
of the Sixth Patriarch Zen Center, Berkeley


To try to get rid of our thoughts in the midst of our thoughts is a very foolish thing. Usually when we do meditation we find ourselves in the midst of a lot of thoughts and there we attempt to get rid of our thoughts. And because we try to do that, we are unable to come out of that darkness.

When we are in the midst of a lot of thinking, trying to get rid of our thoughts, we have to look at that person who is trying to get rid of the thoughts. If we do that, then our thoughts will disappear automatically. This is the first gate. If we can’t do this much then when we try to make our mind pure and or quiet, it just makes us more confused. This sitting posture is something very helpful in terms of making our minds simpler. Energetically as well as emotionally, we become simpler on all levels but the sitting posture itself is not doing Zen.

Even if our mind is pure and quiet according to the conditions or environment, more thoughts can start to arise. When the mind is silent and pure we can start thinking, “ah, the meditation is going well!!”. But usually when we are sitting in the middle of a lot of thinking, then our goal is to get rid of those thoughts and that means we have a certain limitation. If we can turn and look back at that person who is having all that thinking, then our thinking is cut off and when thinking is cut off the desire to get rid of the thoughts also disappears.

So there is no longer the thought of wanting to get rid of the thoughts. In the same way, if you cut a tree at its roots, this kills the whole tree, including the branches. If you only trim the branches the tree will just grow new branches. So you can end up just fighting with your thinking. It’s cutting off the fundamental root. In other words we look at that place from which thoughts arise. This is why we do koan practice, contemplating the koan. We can understand this intellectually but when you try to do it and look back at your own mind, you’re doing it without being aware of what you’re doing right now. So there is a big difference between doing it and understanding. Understanding it means it is just a part of our intellect. We are not aware of what is arising in our mind in our ordinary daily life.

If we try to relate to this with the thinking that we know, every time we encounter circumstances they make us confused and busier. Knowing something intellectually, it becomes something that we always have to know. It causes us tension and confusion. So this practice is different from what we can know, but if your thinking is cut off then our mind becomes no mind. In other words, the mind is pure. Because the mind is pure, there is no thinking. And when we say the mind disappears, this does not mean that you become an idiot. You have thinking but you are no longer attached to those thoughts so you don’t pay attention to them. So you are no longer bothered by those thoughts.

If you are in a state of no mind, even though something new might come up, you are not bothered by it. So there is no problem when it comes to adapting to conditions. Most people in those conditions become stressed by trying to remember, “When its like this I have to be like this and when it’s like that, I have to be like that.” When something unexpected comes along, we don’t know what to do, but this is life.

Zen has nothing to do with that. In Zen all things just pass by. In Zen it is simply observing what arises and disappears in the mind. All things in this world disappear. The mind arises and disappears, the body arises and disappears and all thinking arises and disappears. And this is what we come to see. If we are to see this correctly, we need to be in the state of no mind. If you do not have the state of no mind and someone is doing the looking, when something arises we become attached and when something disappears we become attached. And when something arises we start thinking “why did this arise” and when something disappears you feel sad it is gone, it feels like you’ve lost something. Because of these conditions, our sentient being mind is always unstable.

If you are always then searching for something under these conditions then your sense of wandering will be endless. And this is why they say “to seek is to suffer”. It’s important to understand this before doing meditation. As you live in the conditioned world things arise and disappear, if you then search for comfort and peace, then your struggles can never disappear. In Buddhism it is taught that all things are impermanent, but to say things are impermanent is not talking about annihilation.

Its when you want to achieve something and you are unsuccessful in achieving it then you give up… that is annihilation. This is different from impermanence. With Zen, when something arises you are uninvolved with it and when it disappears, you are still uninvolved with it. So in those situations it doesn’t matter to you.

If we can correctly realize these principles, then we will engage in less unnecessary suffering. So this is a way of the Tao. The best method of doing this is contemplating the koan. The koan is directly looking at the place where the mind is cut off. If you practice the koan directly, when the mind arises, the Buddha nature is there. When the mind disappears the koan is there. Buddha nature is everywhere. The Buddha nature is there where thoughts arise, the Buddha nature is there when we experience suffering. It’s there when we laugh and speak and where we hear the sound of birds. Buddha nature is there when we hear cars going back and forth on the street.

But if our mind becomes obscured by one thought then this is where we become deluded. When we are deluded, then we become confused when things appear and disappear. Like a spider web, if we pull on one string, the whole spider web moves. So when society moves, we move. When something says something that upsets us, we will become angry immediately so we can’t avoid suffering. In that condition we might think our thinking is correct but its actually upside down. In upside down thinking it’s very difficult to find what’s correct and incorrect. There is no way we can make right and wrong and make them stay fixed in one place. So we’re always searching to make the distinction between right and wrong. And this just develops the mind that makes distinctions and choices. Then we hold onto what looks good and discard what looks bad. This is the kind of habits that sentient beings have developed.

As long as we are in that condition we cannot avoid tension; tension causes our emotions to become stuck, our energy flow becomes stuck and our blood will not circulate efficiently. Then we are not helping, physically or mentally. So we have to quickly let go of these things. If we become too attached to right and wrong, then this is the type of person we become.

In reality because all things are like that, we cannot avoid those things. If we can awaken to this principle, we’ll see that what we thought was correct, after we consider it with experience and hindsight, we’ll realize we were not correct. There are times that what was not correct before is now appropriate or correct. Usually with human problems this is where mistakes are made.

Because we’re deluded, without wisdom, we make incorrect distinctions. So as a result we can have arguments with our friends, we can miss the correct path, miss the opportunity to awaken. In a marriage, people can end up divorcing, caught up in legal problems and we can also become very involved in society’s problems. If we look at the source of the problems, we can see that they began with very small insignificant things. Because they begin with small things, it’s much easier to correct them when they are small. If we don’t correct the small things, they become big problems. When they become big problems we fall into very difficult situations and become covered up and tied up in a big net of confusion, suffering. Most people live in this kind of condition. When we live in this condition, we have no idea where it all began.

There is a method of resolving it but we have to awaken to our mind.

If we look at the teachings of the ancient masters, there’s a story of a fish in a bowl with a very small opening. The fish gets into the bowl when it was small. But while the fish lived in the bowl it got bigger and is now to big to get out of the small opening. How can we get the fish out without breaking the bowl and without hurting the fish? What I’ve been talking about this morning is precisely explaining this situation, reality of this koan.

From the point of view of someone who has experienced Zen, this is the life of ordinary people. Without discarding all of the complex arcane habits we have created ourselves, we try to see how we can extract that Buddha nature from within us. This is the koan. Our thinking will not disappear by using our thinking. We look at the place where the thought arises. We are looking back at ourself. That is where the Buddha nature is. When we awaken to our Buddha nature, we awaken to Zen. Zen is something that is not stained by anything. Its not stained even by complex thinking. It is always free from the spider’s web. Because you’ve experienced this world of freedom, when it comes to spider webs within you, even if you search for them, they are not there. Because they’re not there, when you look at reality, you see it as the world of the Buddha.

At that level, the Tathagata is everywhere, in the sound of traffic Zen is there, in the bird’s singing Zen is there. Buddhism is very simple when you look at it from the perspective of having awoken. But if you are trying to get rid of your thoughts while in the midst of your thinking, then Buddhism is the most difficult thing in the world.

So we need to trust these basic principles and refrain from making useless effort. As we live in the world and our body we meet other people living in the midst of their problems, then actually having this human body itself is a problem. Anyone who is alive can’t avoid having problems. Because it is people with problems all living together, we can’t avoid problems.

What can we do to live in the midst of problems but not be caught by them? If we look at the koan correctly, we see that we live obscuring ourselves. When conditions are good and you become a little more tolerant but when conditions are not good, you become frozen. When we are in that frozen condition we are not very tolerant and we complain. When we’re in good conditions we become more tolerant and broad minded. This is the character of human beings. If we can understand this fundamentally we will be less involved when compulsions appear.

Because this is the condition in which most people live, you must not make judgments of how people live. Just when you encounter these conditions you just say, “oh, this is the world of sentient beings”, and you remind your self that “it’s because of this that I have to practice”. When this is the condition of sentient beings, how can we not practice? So we have to continue inspiring ourselves. If we don’t do that and we just complain and say, “why is the world like this?” physically and mentally we just become more frozen and then you end up entering even darker delusion.

When we observe human beings we see that today they are like this, tomorrow they are like that and you wonder why are they change so. This affects your nerves and you end up suffering. These kinds of situations usually arise between people who are quite close to each other, like as a couple or a lawyer and a client. They don’t happen with people to whom you have a more distant relationship; they arise between people who are closest to each other.

When we read the scriptures we see there is a wise path and you trust that more. In turn this makes you more comfortable. You’ll arrive at that path of the mind. The fastest path to the mind is the Zen koan. In the koan, there is no thought of the past present and future, it is simply relating to the thought that is arising in this moment. You do not think if you have suffering or not. If you are alive and breathing right now, then it is possible for you to do this practice. This moment is important. If you practice this koan correctly in this moment, then the solution becomes clear. Because our Buddha nature has not left us in this moment, the Truth has not left us in this moment.

If we don’t know the method of approaching it, then we feel as though we are very distant from each other. If we don’t look at the truth, then we end up seeing more delusion. And it looks as though that world actually exists.

If you awaken you will see, honestly, that that illusion does not exist and that the world is NOT a complex place. When you change, then the world changes. So you need to absolutely believe in this Buddha nature and you have to throw away your common sense. You’ll have to discard your stubbornness when you insist on what you think is right or wrong. You need to begin by realizing that maybe your judgments or opinions are wrong. That is how you need to begin looking at yourself. Your biases need to be released, surrendered. Only when opinions and judgments are released can greater things inside start to come forth.

Don’t try to awaken to your Buddha nature in some contrived artificial way. If you decide that Zen is the best way, the fastest way, and just try to slowly do Zen, there’s only one path but if you try to get there all at once, you’ll get caught up in the traffic and confusion and your practice won’t go as well. You may think, “well, I need to relieve my suffering as quickly as possible so what’s wrong with practicing as quickly as possible?” That mind that wants to do it quickly becomes a hindrance so you need to look back at yourself and realize that you’re doing nothing. Then in one moment, that mind will be clear.

Because you get caught in the mind that you’re clinging to, then that mind that you’re clinging to is demolished. And as that mind is demolished then your energy will settle down and you become more grounded, as you become more grounded, your mind will become silent. When you become silent, then wisdom comes.

This is why human beings are simple even though they seem complex. Human beings are simple but when they take a wrong step, then they become complex. So no matter what kind of difficulty comes up, there’s no reason to worry about it. According to your thinking, it can get worse or better. So don’t allow your mind to move following those kinds of ideas. Things become better or worse according to your thinking. When you’re wrong habits become stuck then you don’t believe this kind of talk and you become confused, entangled.

Then even though you haven’t found the correct path yourself, you go off searching in the direction of darker places. Through that, your mind eventually becomes worn out and you become ill physically and mentally. This is the condition of sentient beings, which the Buddha saw very clearly. Usually people who see this clearly for themselves become Buddhist monks.

Some say, “well there is a lot of happiness in the world, why look at all this suffering?” Well, of course that’s true, but happiness comes along less often than suffering. The conditions which cause happiness can change very quickly. It comes and goes like night becomes day. When something bad comes along, it can become worse and that can lead to worse things, even disaster. Heaven is very small. The entranceway to it is also very small. Once you enter it, it’s very vast, but the entrance is small. So there aren’t many who get through.

So we need to make ourselves simple and let go of our thinking and make up our mind to begin. Once we get past a certain level, we come to learn every day in reality. In the beginning we learn from the teacher but eventually we hear and see the teachings from everywhere.

Learning from the Buddha is exactly learning from sentient beings. In the beginning we think of learning from the Buddha, but that is actually illusion. Someone who does not know how to learn from sentient beings does not know how to learn from the Buddha. Through our parents we grew up and since this is not something we can do alone, we need a teacher. Gradually as we practice we learn to hear the teachings everywhere. When that happens, we can know we are on the correct path.

People, even Zen monks can spend 30 years or 50 years practicing, but they’re only practice separating themselves from their own mind. As a child I had a close friend who was a monk. He told me that since he was an abbot he would have to go off to a hermitage and practice alone. I said “when you go, where would you go??” When you talk about going, where are you going. Right now you can practice where do you want to go?

We’re always avoiding our own Buddha within us. With our own thinking we create a very comfortable world. Then we think, “if I can only be there, then my practice would go well. Most people think that way. Even if you could go there and achieve something, then another mind would still come up because that is the sentient mind. We need to stop that habit. The Buddha is here. Where are you going to run away to the Buddha? The Buddha is here in this moment so its right there where you look. When you do that your mind changes and right here becomes your hermitage, your Zen home. That’s what you have to do but people want to go somewhere else and keep making excuses. We need to look at that and see how very foolish it is. When I talk on the telephone to distant students about their practice this is usually what they complain about. They have a house and they practice and yet they complain. It’s so clear that people live in illusion. Is it illusion who is living here or is it you who is living here?

We need to become aware in a simple way that even if your Zen practice doesn’t go well even if you can just have this awareness you can be more comfortable.

Because we exist in the world, that is why the world is existing. So who is existing in the world? If you contemplate this way you can know your mind and when you see your own mind you can see when and where your mind is stuck. When you see where your mind is stuck, mind arises. When you see there you see your miraculous awareness. Miraculous awareness means Zen mind, Buddha mind, and its empty. Space. When we look at it this way then the attachment disappears. In other words, I’m saying don’t fight with reality and don’t fight with your own mind. These are things that will change. Its because we think that they won’t change that we fight with them. But they are all things that will change. Birds come and sit in the tree and soon they will leave, so why do you try to grasp them? Our mind is like that too. It comes from somewhere and goes off to somewhere. The Buddha and other masters have taught this from awakened view. Anyone who can see will confirm it. The Buddha’s teaching is not just the private teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. The correct view of human beings is just like that. This has nothing to do with religion, this is correct for anyone.


This is referred to as correct view in the Eight-Fold Path. Anyone who awakens sees the same thing. Anyone who sees this becomes the correct disciple of the Buddha. Zen brings this awakening.

Your problem is that right now there is that emotional consciousness; you’re not able to see right now. But it’s that that you become aware of; look at it. If you look at it and follow it down there is an ocean of truth. No matter what kind of thinking you have, that thinking has never left truth. But since your way of approaching it is incorrect, then its like turning your back on that truth.

Now look at your own question and follow it downward, because that thinking has come from you, so that is what you look at. This is becoming aware, awareness. When you look at this there is the ocean of truth and the Zen mind. And that is precisely the koan, the miraculous awareness. It’s mysterious. Here there is no individual view, it’s an ocean. The five senses have become empty.

The five senses are empty but there is a hole. So you are using your five senses you are using them and yet not using them. It’s like doing without doing. You do it but you’re not attached to it. We can’t just use theories. You actually have to see your original nature. So when you ask your question, look to see who is asking, from where are you asking? That’s why old Zen masters were always asking: “who is asking?” The world is simple but we don’t recognize it. The root of the fellow who’s asking the question is the Buddha. But most people, when they ask, they take this narrow mind that asks the question and through that try to OBTAIN something. Then through what they obtain they try to build something. That’s precisely knowledge but it becomes a burden and it actually even closes more the entrance to the Buddha. This is why we say when you enter the Zen hall don’t bring anything with you. Don’t bring any knowledge. One includes everything.

It’s because of this problem that we do contemplation. This sitting posture is the best. As we sit here there are many different obstacles. We have many opinions, heavy ideas, customs, morals, questions, conceptions, misconceptions, ideas, a lot of confusion, but while we are sitting like this, one. Mind and body is one. This helps this body that’s part of why we sit. Become one. If we have too many questions we can’t contemplate any one of them. Trust the Buddha mind. If we ask only “who is asking” then that is one.” Your ordinary mind disappears. Gradually as it becomes deeper you come to Buddha mind. Once you have experienced this, you realize all the things you are clinging to have been completely foolish. That is when you can let go. This is why we do Zen to be able to see and let go. This practice is possible for everyone at any time.

We have not let go of our complicated habits and haven’t even realized what they are. We also don’t yet have enough faith. We sit by ourselves and research this way and that way, and if we’re next to someone else, they can tell what we are doing, so then we hide under some blanket. Your mind gets lazy. At that time we need to be well hit to wake you up!!!

This path is very possible for everyone to follow but I think it’s just a lack of faith which prevents people from doing so.

In Zen when we talk about questions and answers, we are not talking about ordinary questions and answers because originally the answer is within you. In some ways, asking questions is rather stupid from the point of view of high-level Zen. But because we don’t yet know what the path is, then there has to be questions and a learning process, but the answer is actually within you.

In ancient times, when someone asked the master a question, he would only reply by hitting them. So in order to do that, continually work at the contemplation. If you become good at contemplation, the teacher can know immediately whether the student is doing Zen correctly. He can know without any words being exchanged. The way you walk, the way you sit, the teacher can know. To know about Zen through asking and answering is a low-level Zen, and dangerous, because its very easy to misunderstand that way.


 


The Miraculous Awakening of Zen  

You observe many thoughts arising in your mind, but you mustn’t search for which of these thoughts is the real you. Searching is avoidance. To seek is to suffer. You need to understand this carefully.

By Venerable Hyunoong Sunim with translator Ja Gwang.

Excerpted from a Saturday morning Hartford Street Zen Center (San Francisco) Dharma talk



Hyunoong Sunim is a Korean Zen teacher, a Taoist master and a herbalist. He established the Sixth Patriarch Zen Center in Berkeley and is the resident teacher. 




The word Zen means the mind of awakening or miraculous awareness. It has no form. It is also not silent. It doesn’t stay fixed in any one place. It is something one has to experience. If you bring any understanding with you into this practice you will obstruct the path… Zen is the Buddha mind. And Buddha mind is in each individual person. It’s here in this moment as we sit. It’s absolutely not separate from us. That’s all we need to trust.

The name is Zen, but according to the person practicing this, some think Zen is sitting quietly while others say Zen is having a clear mind. Some say Zen is forgetting all the complexities of life, while others say Zen is guarding nothingness… There are many kinds of Zen Buddhists in the world but if we forget the correct path, then even if we do Zen practice all we are doing is wasting time.

When you first begin Zen practice you observe many thoughts arising in your mind, but you mustn’t search for which of these thoughts is the real you. Searching is avoidance. To seek is to suffer. You need to understand this carefully. This is our fundamental delusion. Someone doing Soto Zen just has silence–but that is not practice–when you reenter reality that silence will shatter. Our Zen nature doesn’t abide in any one place, it functions from moment to moment, so we mustn’t hold onto anything. When we stay in one place this creates a view and we make distinctions–Soto Zen/Rinzai Zen, awakening/delusion. If you say you have awakening you are actually very far from awakening.

There is a Zen koan that says, “Knowing obstructs Zen, not knowing obstructs Zen.†Knowing is delusion because knowing can create tension and obstruct our practice. So we decide “Ok I don’t know,†but that is also relying on delusion. We need to recognize the mind that knows, and let go of that. And because “not knowing†also obstructs our Zen, we need to be aware of this too. Our Buddha nature has nothing to do with knowing or not knowing—it is spontaneous awareness and cannot be touched intellectually. Right here is where our thoughts are completely cut off.

Knowing, not knowing, nothing can cling to this awareness. The sentient being mind will attach itself anywhere–over here over there, Hell or Heaven, awakening/delusion. It creates duality everywhere.

We have this miraculous awareness that cannot be expressed in words; and we have to simply experience it. Then automatically the things that we cling to are released. At that point we are no longer attached– not because we are trying to be unattached but because our nature no longer clings to anything. At this point religion disappears. There isn’t anything we are carrying around with us. This is something that cannot be understood. It simply requires faith. It can only be experienced through awareness. Through this, wisdom and power grow. If you constantly practice, at one point that empty mind within you is suddenly revealed. Then there is only realization, and you can enter a correct path. Only with such realization can true practice begin.

If one practices Soto Zen correctly, one’s practice becomes the same as koan practice, and the conflicts within you will disappear. If you meet Dogen you come to the world of Rinzai, and if you meet Rinzai you meet the world of Dogen. You will see the Zen of the ancient masters and American Zen too. We can all become one Dharma family and benefit each other. Through this, societies become purified. Otherwise we will cling to a small mind and this is suffering…

In our Rinzai Zen, even though we are sitting, we don’t pay a lot of attention to our posture. We totally focus on mind and the koan, and in doing that both body and mind become quiet. You utilize the sitting posture because of it’s convenience. We can be active in reality and when we come to sit we let go of body and mind. We only focus on the koan. As our active energy settles down into our lower body we may sometimes feel a little itchy spot and spontaneously our hand goes to scratch it. But your practice continues.

Let’s open our narrow minds. We mustn’t compete with others. It would be nice if we could come together into one Dharma. It doesn’t matter whether one is practicing Soto or Rinzai Zen, whether Christian or whatever. Someone following the path of awakening can understand it as soon as they see it. Let’s reveal the ancient path of Zen … and that would be one goal if Buddhism can be reborn in the United States, if someone awakens to correct traditional Zen here. I believe great Zen power can arise in America.

Thirteen Passes of Koans(Hwadu Meditation)

1. Recital Koan using Tongue (誦話頭)

2. Recital Koan in Thought (念話頭)

3. Made-up Question Koan (做作話頭)

4. Genuine Question (眞疑頓發)

5. Constancy in inaction (坐禪一如)

6. Constancy in action (動靜一如)

7. Constancy in a dream (夢覺(中)一如)

8. Constancy in a fast sleep (寤寐一如)

9. Constancy between life and death (生死一如)

10. Constancy during entrance into a womb (入胎一如)

11. Constancy in the womb (住胎一如)

12. Constancy during exit out of the womb (出胎一如)

13. Eternal Constancy (永劫一如)

rabbit horn: sudden awakening-gradual cultivation

[Answer]Seongcheol Zen master’s critical view on the Theory of Pojo’s Sudden Enlightenment

The question of students in the Zen school in September 21, 2005:

This is the review request for the paperSeongcheol Zen master’s critical view on the Theory of Pojo’s Sudden Enlightenmentwritten by Chung Kyong Kyu. While arranging documents, we found that the contents and the name of writer were missed. We apologize to the questioner for it. The questioner is a student of Zen school. He asked for the review because he wanted to know whether his understanding on the paper of Chung Kyong Kyu is objective or not.

 

The Answer of Buddhist Scripture translation Societies, in April, 19, 2006: We may write a paper lightly or seriously according to our style. In this regard, the paper of Chung Kyong Kyu is sharp in his writing style but his writing responds to the counterpart’s argument too elaborately so that his writing seems to lose his attraction.

 

Even though we need to match the counterpart’s tone, it will not give the excuse to the unreasonable view and cannot provide a way to escape the heretical view like gradual cultivation theory.

 

Anyway, the valuable paperSeongcheol Zen master’s critical view on the Theory of Pojo’s Sudden Enlightenmentmust be an established theory that reveals the root of good behavior in his previous life. It cannot be written only with memorizing and learning. In fact, in terms of the Sudden Enlightenment and Gradual Cultivation, the completion of ‘Gradual Cultivation’ was originally impossible because the original word of this Sanskrit, Dhū’or ‘Krt’ is the sound, which is generated when bamboo is split at one time. The meaning of this word puts its origin in the onomatopoeic word, Dhū.   

 

Early translators tried to ensure the equivalence of meaning of a word about Dhū. So, they translated this word with cultivation (), which is ahead of “Cut-off()” or “Breakdown()”. The word, can be translated into practice or cultivation. However, the meaning of it implies the dull sound of bamboo split. Gradual Cultivation is inconsistent because ‘gradual’ represents the gradual flow of time, but cultivation implies the meaning of moment. Gradual Cultivation is just futile words like rabbit horn in which the combination of gradual + cultivation is nonsense.  

 

In terms of the combination of the verb and noun, the single and rightful illustration of Buddhist cultivation in practice is the ‘Sudden Enlightenment’ or ‘Sudden Cultivation’ which is the broad translation of Sanskrit, Dhū. In this, verb Dhū and Krt, implying ‘breakdown’ and ‘cut-off’ are combined. Sudden Cultivation is the entity of causes in mind that puts the observing mind in the absence of the worldly desires. Sudden Cultivation is not the opposing words of Gradual Cultivation, whose meaning is decided in its use. It is the proposition to exchange, satisfying self awakening and awakening of others.    

 

Seeing the context of misrepresentation of ‘Sudden Cultivation’, we can compare it with the blind stanza written by Shen Hsiu, “Our body is the Bodhi-tree, and our mind is the mirror. Carefully we wipe them hour to hour in order to let no dust alight”. Like this, we can misunderstand the cultivation of mind with the study of cut-off(resolution).  

 

Of course, it is interpreted that Dhū, which is the split sound of bamboo, expresses the cultivation or practice as great monk, Gyubong mentioned. However, it is based on Hua-yen-ching, recommending experience of Buddhism doctrine for the establishment of Buddhist law based on the true doctrine. For this reason, we should not be farfetched by saying that Zen school has divided practice into ‘Sudden Cultivation’ and ‘Gradual Cultivation’. Seongcheol Zen master has said that ‘Gradual cultivation is mere succession of words. It is not different from the teaching that the meaning of words in cultivation () should be expressed with the hypothesis for delivering its principle to lay people. Accordingly, if we are caught in the thinking ‘the Gradual Cultivation is also the way of study and Zen Buddhist meditation’, it is truly wrong.  

 

To the conclusion, is the result of misunderstanding about the transference and it is the mere of a sort of hallucination. Whether it is solemn or not, it is just like the Fruit of Poisonous Tree, which undermines the upright spirit of Zen practice. People who like forming a faction argue Gradual Cultivation. However, it cannot be even dubbed with the succession of words in the Zen school. We can know it if we think a little about the question “How can we lead others’ awakening without self awakening?”

 

The Wall of Hwang Mae Hyeon, Ojosa(五祖寺) where great monk, Jukjo attached stanza

Original text: http://buddhism.org/~abc/db/read.cgi?board=catechism&y_number=58&nnew=2

The Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, Hui Neng

ON THE HIGH SEAT OF “THE TREASURE OF THE LAW” The Platform Sutra of the 6th Patriarch, Hui Neng
(Translated by A.F.Price and Wong Mou-Lam)
Presented by: the Wanderling

Chapter I. Autobiography

Once, when the Patriarch had arrived at Pao Lin Monastery, Prefect Wei of Shao Chou and other officials went there to ask him to deliver public lectures on Buddhism in the hall of Ta Fan Temple in the City of Canton.

In due course, there were assembled in the lecture hall Prefect Wei, government officials and Confucian scholars, about thirty each, and bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, Taoists and laymen to the number of about one thousand. After the Patriarch had taken his seat, the congregation in a body paid him homage and asked him to preach on the fundamental laws of Buddhism. Whereupon, His Holiness delivered the following address:

Learned Audience, our Essence of Mind (literally, self-nature) which is the seed or kernel of enlightenment (Bodhi) is pure by nature, and by making use of this mind alone we can reach Buddhahood directly. Now let me tell you something about my own life and how I came into possession of the esoteric teaching of the Dhyana (or the Zen) School.

My father, a native of Fan Yang, was dismissed from his official post and banished to be a commoner in Hsin Chou in Kwangtung. I was unlucky in that my father died when I was very young, leaving my mother poor and miserable. We moved to Canton and were then in very bad circumstances.

I was selling firewood in the market one day, when one of my customers ordered some to be brought to his shop. Upon delivery being made and payment received, I left the shop, outside of which I found a man reciting a sutra. As soon as I heard the text of this sutra my mind at once became enlightened. Thereupon I asked the man the name of the book he was reciting and was told that it was the Diamond Sutra. I further enquired whence he came and why he recited this particular sutra. He replied that he came from Tung Ch’an Monastery in the HuangMei District of Ch’i Chou; that the Abbot in charge of this temple was Hung Yen, the Fifth Patriarch; that there were about one thousand disciples under him; and that when he went there to pay homage to the Patriarch, he attended lectures on this sutra.
He further told me that His Holiness used to encourage the laity as well as the monks to recite this scripture, as by doing so they might realize their own Essence of Mind, and thereby reach Buddhahood directly.
It must be due to my good karma in past lives that I heard about this, and that I was given tentaels for the maintenance of my mother by a man who advised me to go to HuangMei to interview the Fifth Patriarch. After arrangements had been made for her, I left for Huang Mei, which took me less than thirty days to reach.

I then went to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked where I came from and what I expected to get from him. I replied, “I am a commoner from Hsin Chou of Kwangtung. I have travelled far to pay you respect and I ask for nothing but Buddhahood.” “You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a Buddha?” asked the Patriarch. I replied, “Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their Buddha-nature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our Buddha-nature.” He was going to speak further to me, but the presence of other disciples made him stop short. He then ordered me to join the crowd to work.
“May I tell Your Holiness,” said I, “that Prajna (transcendental Wisdom) often rises in my mind. When one does not go astray from one’s own Essence of Mind, one may be called the ‘field of merits’.

I do not know what work Your Holiness would ask me to do.” “This barbarian is too bright,” he remarked. “Go to the stable and speak no more.” I then withdrew myself to the back yard and was told by a lay brother to split firewood and to pound rice.

More than eight months after, the Patriarch saw me one day and said, “I know your knowledge of Buddhism is very sound, but I have to refrain from speaking to you lest evil doers should do you harm. Do you understand?” “Yes, Sir, I do,” I replied. “To avoid people taking notice of me, I dare not go near your hall.” The Patriarch one day assembled all his disciples and said to them, “The question of incessant rebirth is a momentous one. Day after day, instead of trying to free yourselves from this bitter sea of life and death, you seem to go after tainted merits only (i.e. merits which will cause rebirth). Yet merits will be of no help if your Essence of Mind is obscured. Go and seek for Prajna (wisdom) in your own mind and then write me a stanza (gatha) about it. He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarchate) and the Dharma (the esoteric teaching of the Zen school), and I shall make him the Sixth Patriarch. Go away quickly.

Delay not in writing the stanza, as deliberation is quite unnecessary and of no use. The man who has realized the Essence of Mind can speak of it at once, as soon as he is spoken to about it; and he cannot lose sight of it, even when engaged in battle.”

Having received this instruction, the disciples withdrew and said to one another, “It is of no use for us to concentrate our mind to write the stanza and submit it to His Holiness, since the Patriarchate is bound to be won by ShenHsiu, our instructor. And if we write perfunctorily, it will only be a waste of energy.” Upon hearing this all of them made up their minds not to write and said, “Why should we take the trouble? Hereafter, we will simply follow our instructor, Shen Hsiu, wherever he goes, and look to him for guidance.” Meanwhile, Shen Hsiu reasoned thus with himself. “Considering that I am their teacher, none of them will take part in the competition.

I wonder whether I should write a stanza and submit it to His Holiness. If I do not, how can the Patriarch know how deep or superficial my knowledge is? If my object is to get the Dharma, my motive is a pure one. If I were after the Patriarchate, then it would be bad. In that case, my mind would be that of a worldling and my action would amount to robbing the Patriarch’s holy seat. But if I do not submit the stanza, I shall never have a chance of getting the Dharma. A very difficult point to decide, indeed!” In front of the Patriarch’s hall there were three corridors, the walls of which were to be painted by a court artist, named Lu Chen, with pictures from the Lankavatara Sutra depicting the transfiguration of the assembly, and with scenes showing the genealogy of the five Patriarchs for the information and veneration of the public.

When Shen Hsiu had composed his stanza he made several attempts to submit it to the Patriarch, but as soon as he went near the hall his mind was so perturbed that he sweated all over. He could not screw up courage to submit it, although in the course of four days he made altogether thirteen attempts to do so.

Then he suggested to himself, “It would be better for me to write it on the wall of the corridor and let the Patriarch see it for himself. If he approves it, I shall come out to pay homage, and tell him that it is done by me; but if he disapproves it, then I shall have wasted several years in this mountain in receiving homage from others which I by no means deserve! In that case, what progress have I made in learning Buddhism?” At 12 o’clock that night he went secretly with a lamp to write the stanza on the wall of the south corridor, so that the Patriarch might know what spiritual insight he had attained.

The stanza read:
Our body is the Bodhi-tree,
And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour,
And let no dust alight.

As soon as he had written it he left at once for his room; so nobody knew what he had done. In his room he again pondered: “When the Patriarch sees my stanza tomorrow and is pleased with it, I shall be ready for the Dharma; but if he says that it is badly done, it will mean that I am unfit for the Dharma, owing to the misdeeds in previous lives which thickly becloud my mind. It is difficult to know what the Patriarch will say about it!” In this vein he kept on thinking until dawn, as he could neither sleep nor sit at ease.

But the Patriarch knew already that Shen Hsiu had not entered the door of enlightenment, and that he had not known the Essence of Mind.

In the morning, he sent for Mr. Lu, the court artist, and went with him to the south corridor to have the walls there painted with pictures. By chance, he saw the stanza. “I am sorry to have troubled you to come so far,” he said to the artist. “The walls need not be painted now, as the Sutra says, ‘All forms or phenomena are transient and illusive.’ It will be better to leave the stanza here, so that people may study it and recite it. If they put its teaching into actual practice, they will be saved from the misery of being born in these evil realms of existence. The merit gained by one who practices it will be great indeed!” He then ordered incense to be burnt, and all his disciples to pay homage to it and to recite it, so that they might realize the Essence of Mind. After they had recited it, all of them exclaimed, “Well done!” At midnight, the Patriarch sent for Shen Hsiu to come to the hall, and asked him whether the stanza was written by him or not. “It was, Sir,” replied Shen Hsiu. “I dare not be so vain as to expect to get the Patriarchate, but I wish Your Holiness would kindly tell me whether my stanza shows the least grain of wisdom.” “Your stanza,” replied the Patriarch, “shows that you have not yet realized the Essence of Mind. So far you have reached the ‘door of enlightenment’, but you have not yet entered it. To seek for supreme enlightenment with such an understanding as yours can hardly be successful.

“To attain supreme enlightenment, one must be able to know spontaneously one’s own nature or Essence of Mind, which is neither created nor can it be annihilated. From ksana to ksana (thought-moment to thought-moment), one should be able to realize the Essence of Mind all the time. All things will then be free from restraint (i.e., emancipated). Once the Tathata (Suchness, another name for the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion forever; and in all circumstances one’s mind will be in a state of ‘Thusness’. Such a state of mind is absolute Truth. If you can see things in such a frame of mind you will have known the Essence of Mind, which is supreme enlightenment.

“You had better go back to think it over again for couple of days, and then submit me another stanza. If your stanza shows that you have entered the ‘door of enlightenment’, I will transmit you the robe and the Dharma.” Shen Hsiu made obeisance to the Patriarch and left. For several days, he tried in vain to write another stanza. This upset his mind so much that he was as ill at ease as if he were in a nightmare, and he could find comfort neither in sitting nor in walking.

Two days after, it happened that a young boy who was passing by the room where I was pounding rice recited loudly the stanza written by Shen Hsiu.

As soon as I heard it, I knew at once that the composer of it has not yet realized the Essence of Mind. For although I had not been taught about it at that time, I already had a general idea of it.
“What stanza is this?” I asked the boy. “You barbarian,” he replied, “don’t you know about it? The Patriarch told his disciples that the question of incessant rebirth was a momentous one, that those who wished to inherit his robe and Dharma should write him a stanza, and that the one who had an understanding of the Essence of Mind would get them and be made the sixth Patriarch. Elder Shen Hsiu wrote this ‘Formless’ Stanza on the wall of the south corridor and the Patriarch told us to recite it. He also said that those who put its teaching into actual practice would attain great merit, and be saved from the misery of being born in the evil realms of existence.” I told the boy that I wished to recite the stanza too, so that I might have an affinity with its teaching in future life. I also told him that although I had been pounding rice there for eight months I had never been to the hall, and that he would have to show me where the stanza was to enable me to make obeisance to it.

The boy took me there and I asked him to read it to me, as I am illiterate. A petty officer of the Chiang Chou District named Chang Tih-Yung, who happened to be there, read it out to me. When he had finished reading I told him that I also had composed a stanza and asked him to write it for me.

“Extraordinary indeed,” he exclaimed, “that you also can compose a stanza!” “Don’t despise a beginner,” said I, “if you are a seeker of supreme enlightenment. You should know that the lowest class may have the sharpest wit, while the highest may be in want of intelligence. If you slight others, you commit a very great sin.” “Dictate your stanza,” said he. “I will take it down for you. But do not forget to deliver me, should you succeed in getting the Dharma!”

My stanza read:
There is no Bodhi-tree,
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since all is Void,
Where can the dust alight?

When he had written this, all disciples and others who were present were greatly surprised. Filled with admiration, they said to one another, “How wonderful! No doubt we should not judge people by appearance. How can it be that for so long we have made a Bodhisattva incarnate work for us?” Seeing that the crowd was overwhelmed with amazement, the Patriarch rubbed off the stanza with his shoe, lest jealous ones should do me injury.

He expressed the opinion, which they took for granted, that the author of this stanza had also not yet realized the Essence of Mind.
Next day the Patriarch came secretly to the room where the rice was pounded. Seeing that I was working there with a stone pestle, he said to me, “A seeker of the Path risks his life for the Dharma. Should he not do so?” Then he asked, “Is the rice ready?” “Ready long ago,” I replied, “only waiting for the sieve.” He knocked the mortar thrice with his stick and left.

Knowing what his message meant, in the third watch of the night I went to his room. Using the robe as a screen so that none could see us, he expounded the Diamond Sutra to me. When he came to the sentence, “One should use one’s mind in such a way that it will be free from any attachment,” I at once became thoroughly enlightened, and realized that all things in the universe are the Essence of Mind itself.

“Who would have thought,” I said to the Patriarch, “that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from becoming or annihilation! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically self-sufficient! Who would have thought that the Essence of Mind is intrinsically free from change! Who would have thought that all things are the manifestation of the Essence of Mind!” Knowing that I had realized the Essence of Mind, the Patriarch said, “For him who does not know his own mind there is no use learning Buddhism.

On the other hand, if he knows his own mind and sees intuitively his own nature, he is a Hero, a ‘Teacher of gods and men’, ‘Buddha’.” Thus, to the knowledge of no one, the Dharma was transmitted to me at midnight, and consequently I became the inheritor of the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School as well as of the robe and the begging bowl.
“You are now the Sixth Patriarch,” said he. “Take good care of yourself, and deliver as many sentient beings as possible. Spread and preserve the teaching, and don’t let it come to an end. Take note of my stanza:
Sentient beings who sow the seeds of enlightenment In the field of causation will reap the fruit of Buddhahood.

Inanimate objects void of Buddha-nature Sow not and reap not.

He further said, “When the Patriarch Bodhidharma first came to China, most Chinese had no confidence in him, and so this robe was handed down as a testimony from one Patriarch to another. As to the Dharma, this is transmitted from heart to heart, and the recipient must realize it by his own efforts. From time immemorial it has been the practice for one Buddha to pass to his successor the quintessence of the Dharma, and for one Patriarch to transmit to another the esoteric teaching from heart to heart. As the robe may give cause for dispute, you are the last one to inherit it. Should you hand it down to your successor, your life would be in imminent danger. Now leave this place as quickly as you can, lest someone should do you harm.” “Whither should I go?” I asked. “AtHuai you stop and atHui you seclude yourself,” he replied.

Upon receiving the robe and the begging bowl in the middle of the night, I told the Patriarch that, being a Southerner, I did not know the mountain tracks, and that it was impossible for me to get to the mouth of the river (to catch a boat). “You need not worry,” said he. “I will go with you.” He then accompanied me to Kiukiang, and there ordered me into a boat. As he did the rowing himself, I asked him to sit down and let me handle the oar.

“It is only right for me to carry you across,” he said (an allusion to the sea of birth and death which one has to go across before the shore of Nirvana can be reached). To this I replied, “While I am under illusion, it is for you to get me across; but after enlightenment, I should cross it by myself. (Although the term ‘to go across’ is the same, it is used differently in each case). As I happen to be born on the frontier, even my speaking is incorrect in pronunciation, (but in spite of this) I have had the honor to inherit the Dharma from you. Since I am now enlightened, it is only right for me to cross the sea of birth and death myself by realizing my own Essence of Mind.” “Quite so, quite so,” he agreed. “Beginning from you the Dhyana School will become very popular. Three years after your departure from me I shall leave this world. You may start on your journey now. Go as fast as you can towards the South. Do not preach too soon, as Buddhism is not so easily spread.” After saying good-bye, I left him and walked towards the South. In about two months’ time, I reached the Ta Yu Mountain. There I noticed that several hundred men were in pursuit of me with the intention of robbing me of my robe and begging bowl.

Among them there was a monk named Hui Ming, whose lay surname was Ch’en. He was a general of the fourth rank in lay life. His manner was rough and his temper hot. Of all the pursuers, he was the most vigilant in search of me. When he was about to overtake me, I threw the robe and begging bowl on a rock, saying, “This robe is nothing but a symbol. What is the use of taking it away by force?” (I then hid myself). When he got to the rock, he tried to pick them up, but found he could not. Then he shouted out, “Lay Brother, Lay Brother, (for the Patriarch had not yet formally joined the Order) I come for the Dharma, not for the robe.” Whereupon I came out from my hiding place and squatted on the rock. He made obeisance and said, “Lay Brother, preach to me, please.” “Since the object of your coming is the Dharma,” said I, “refrain from thinking of anything and keep your mind blank. I will then teach you.” When he had done this for a considerable time, I said, “When you are thinking of neither good nor evil, what is at that particular moment, Venerable Sir, your real nature (literally, original face)?”

As soon as he heard this he at once became enlightened. But he further asked, “Apart from those esoteric sayings and esoteric ideas handed down by the Patriarch from generation to generation, are there any other esoteric teachings?” “What I can tell you is not esoteric,” I replied. “If you turn your light inwardly, you will find what is esoteric within you.” “In spite of my staying in Huang Mei,” said he, “I did not realize my self nature. Now thanks to your guidance, I know it as a water-drinker knows how hot or how cold the water is. Lay Brother, you are now my teacher.” I replied, “If that is so, then you and I are fellow disciples of the Fifth Patriarch. Take good care of yourself.” In answering his question whither he should go thereafter, I told him to stop at Yuan and to take up his abode in Meng. He paid homage and departed.

Sometime after I reached Ts’ao Ch’i. There the evildoers again persecuted me and I had to take refuge in Szu Hui, where I stayed with a party of hunters for a period as long as fifteen years.

Occasionally I preached to them in a way that befitted their understanding.
They used to put me to watch their nets, but whenever I found living creatures therein I set them free. At meal times I put vegetables in the pan in which they cooked their meat. Some of them questioned me, and I explained to them that I would eat the vegetables only, after they had been cooked with the meat.

One day I bethought myself that I ought not to pass a secluded life all the time, and that it was high time for me to propagate the Law. Accordingly I left there and went to the Fa Hsin Temple in Canton.

At that time Bhikkhu Yin Tsung, Master of the Dharma, was lecturing on the Maha Parinirvana Sutra in the Temple. It happened that one day, when a pennant was blown about by the wind, two Bhikkhus entered into a dispute as to what it was that was in motion, the wind or the pennant. As they could not settle their difference I submitted to them that it was neither, and that what actually moved was their own mind. The whole assembly was startled by what I said, and Bhikkhu Yin Tsang invited me to take a seat of honor and questioned me about various knotty points in the Sutras.

Seeing that my answers were precise and accurate, and that they showed something more than book-knowledge, he said to me, “Lay Brother, you must be an extraordinary man, I was told long ago that the inheritor of the Fifth Patriarch’s robe and Dharma had come to the South. Very likely you are the man.”

To this I politely assented. He immediately made obeisance and asked me to show the assembly the robe and the begging bowl which I had inherited.

He further asked what instructions I had when the Fifth Patriarch transmitted me the Dharma. “Apart from a discussion on the realization of the Essence of Mind,” I replied, “he gave me no other instruction, nor did he refer to Dhyana and Emancipation.” “Why not?” he asked. “Because that would mean two ways,” I replied. “And there cannot be two ways in Buddhism.

There is one way only.” He asked what was the only way. I replied, “The MahaParinirvana Sutra which you expound explains that Buddha-nature is the only way. For example, in that Sutra King KaoKuei-Teh, a Bodhisattva, asked Buddha whether or not those who commit the four acts of gross misconduct [killing, stealing, carnality and lying] or the five deadly sins [patricide, matricide, setting the Buddhist Order in discord, killing an Arhat, and causing blood to flow from the body of a Buddha], and those who areicchantika (heretics) etc., would eradicate their ‘element of goodness’ and their Buddha-nature.

Buddha replied, ‘There are two kinds of ‘element of goodness’, the eternal and the non-eternal. Since Buddha-nature is neither eternal nor non-eternal, therefore their ‘element of goodness’ is not eradicated. Now Buddhism is known as having no two ways. There are good ways and evil ways, but since Buddha-nature is neither, therefore Buddhism is known as having no two ways. From the point of view of ordinary folks, the component parts of a personality (skandhas) and factors of consciousness (dhatus) are two separate things: but enlightened men understand that they are not dual in nature. Buddha-nature is non-duality.” Bhikkhu Yin Tsung was highly pleased with my answer. Putting his two palms together as a sign of respect, he said, “My interpretation of the Sutra is as worthless as a heap of debris, while your discourse is as valuable as genuine gold.” Subsequently he conducted the ceremony of hair-cutting for me (i.e., the ceremony of Initiation into the Order) and asked me to accept him as my pupil.
Thenceforth, under the Bodhi-tree I preached the teaching of the Tung Shan School (the School of the Fourth and the Fifth Patriarchs, who lived in Tung Shan).

Since the time when the Dharma was transmitted to me in Tung Shan, I have gone through many hardships and my life often seemed to be hanging by a thread.

Today, I have had the honor of meeting you in this assembly, and I must ascribe this to our good connection in previous kalpas (cyclic periods), as well as to our common accumulated merits in making offerings to various Buddhas in our past reincarnations; otherwise, we should have had no chance of hearing the above teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School, and thereby laying the foundation of our future success in understanding the Dharma.

This teaching was handed down from the past Patriarchs, and it is not a system of my own invention. Those who wish to hear the teaching should first purify their own mind, and after hearing it they should each clear up their own doubts in the same way as the Sages did in the past.” At the end of the address, the assembly felt rejoiced, made obeisance and departed.

Chapter II. On Prajna

Next day PrefectWei asked the Patriarch to give another address.
Thereupon, having taken his seat and asked the assembly to purify their mind collectively, and to recite the Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra, he gave the following address:
Learned Audience, the Wisdom of Enlightenment (Bodhiprajna) is inherent in every one of us. It is because of the delusion under which our mind works that we fail to realize it ourselves, and that we have to seek the advice and the guidance of enlightened ones before we can know our own Essence of Mind. You should know that so far as Buddha-nature is concerned, there is no difference between an enlightened man and an ignorant one. What makes the difference is that one realizes it, while the other is ignorant of it. Now, let me talk to you about Maha Prajnaparamita, so that each of you can attain wisdom.
Learned Audience, those who recite the word ‘Prajna’ the whole day long do not seem to know that Prajna is inherent in their own nature. But mere talking on food will not appease hunger, and this is exactly the case with these people. We might talk on Sunyata (the Void, Emptiness) for myriads of kalpas, but talking alone will not enable us to realize the Essence of Mind, and it serves no purpose in the end.
The word ‘Mahaprajnaparamita’ is Sanskrit, and means ‘great wisdom to reach the opposite shore’ (of the sea of existence). What we have to do is to put it into practice with our mind; whether we recite it or not does not matter. Mere reciting it without mental practice may be likened to a phantasm, a magical delusion, a flash of lightning or a dewdrop. On the other hand, if we do both, then our mind will be in accord with what we repeat orally.

Our very nature is Buddha, and apart from this nature there is no other Buddha.
What is Maha? It means ‘great’. The capacity of the mind is as great as that of space. It is infinite, neither round nor square, neither great nor small, neither green nor yellow, neither red nor white, neither above nor below, neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, neither first nor last. All Buddha ksetras (lands) are as void as space. Intrinsically our transcendental nature is void and not a single dharma (thing) can be attained. It is the same with the Essence of Mind, which is a state of ‘Absolute Void’ (i.e., the voidness of non-void).
Learned Audience, when you hear me talk about the Void, do not at once fall into the idea of vacuity, (because this involves the heresy of the doctrine of annihilation). It is of the utmost importance that we should not fall into this idea, because when a man sits quietly and keeps his mind blank he will abide in a state of ‘Voidness of Indifference’.
Learned Audience, the illimitable Void of the universe is capable of holding myriads of things of various shape and form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, men, dharmas pertaining to goodness or badness, deva planes, hells, great oceans, and all the mountains of the Mahameru.
Space takes in all of these, and so does the voidness of our nature. We say that the Essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things, since all things are within our nature. When we see the goodness or the badness of other people we are not attracted by it, nor repelled by it, nor attached to it; so that our attitude of mind is as void as space. In this way, we say our mind is great. Therefore we call it ‘Maha’.
Learned Audience, what the ignorant merely talk about, wise men put into actual practice with their mind. There is also a class of foolish people who sit quietly and try to keep their mind blank.
They refrain from thinking of anything and call themselves ‘great’.
On account of their heretical view we can hardly talk to them.
Learned Audience, you should know that the mind is very great in capacity, since it pervades the whole Dharmadhatu (the sphere of the Law, i.e., the Universe). When we use it, we can know something of everything, and when we use it to its full capacity we shall know all. All in one and one in all.
When our mind works without hindrance, and is at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go’, then it is in a state of ‘Prajna’.

Learned Audience, all Prajna comes from the Essence of Mind and not from an exterior source. Have no mistaken notion about that. This is called ‘Selfuse of the True Nature’. Once the Tathata (Suchness, the Essence of Mind) is known, one will be free from delusion forever.
Since the scope of the mind is for great objects, we should not practice such trivial acts (as sitting quietly with a blank mind).
Do not talk about the ‘Void’ all day without practicing it in the mind. One who does this may be likened to a self-styled king who is really a commoner.
Prajna can never be attained in this way, and those who behave like this are not my disciples.
Learned Audience, what is Prajna? It means ‘Wisdom’. If at all times and at all places we steadily keep our thought free from foolish desire, and act wisely on all occasions, then we are practicing Prajna. One foolish notion is enough to shut off Prajna, while one wise thought will bring it forth again.
People in ignorance or under delusion do not see it; they talk about it with their tongues, but in their mind they remain ignorant. They are always saying that they practice Prajna, and they talk incessantly on ‘Voidness’; but they do not know the ‘Absolute Void’. ‘The Heart of Wisdom’ is Prajna, which has neither form nor characteristic. If we interpret it in this way, then indeed it is the wisdom of Prajna.
What is Paramita? It is a Sanskrit word, meaning ‘to the opposite shore’.
Figuratively, it means ‘above existence and non-existence’. By clinging to sense objects, existence or non-existence arises like the up and down of the billowy sea, and such a state is called metaphorically ‘this shore’; while by non-attachment a state above existence and non-existence, like smoothly running water is attained, and this is called ‘the opposite shore’. This is why it is called ‘Paramita’.
Learned Audience, people under illusion recite the ‘Mahaprajnaparamita’ with their tongues, and while they are reciting it, erroneous and evil thoughts arise. But if they put it into practice unremittingly, they realize its ‘true nature’. To know this Dharma is to know the Dharma of Prajna, and to practice this is to practice Prajna. He who does not practice it is an ordinary man. He who directs his mind to practice it even for one moment is the equal of Buddha.
For ordinary man is Buddha, and klesa (defilement) is Bodhi (enlightenment). A foolish passing thought makes one an ordinary man, while an enlightened second thought makes one a Buddha. A passing thought that clings to sense-objects is klesa, while a second thought that frees one from attachment is Bodhi.

Learned Audience, the Mahaprajnaparamita is the most exalted, the supreme, and the foremost. It neither stays, nor goes, nor comes.
By means of it Buddhas of the present, the past, and the future generations attain Buddhahood. We should use this great wisdom to break up the five skandhas [material qualities – matter, sensation, perception, dispositions or tendencies, and consciousness], for to follow such practice ensures the attainment of Buddhahood. The three poisonous elements (greed, hatred and illusion) will then be turned into Sila (good conduct), Samadhi and Prajna.
Learned Audience, in this system of mine one Prajna produces eight-four thousand ways of wisdom, since there are that number of ‘defilements’ for us to cope with; but when one is free from defilements, wisdom reveals itself, and will not be separated from the Essence of Mind. Those who understand this Dharma will be free from idle thoughts. To be free from being infatuated by one particular thought, from clinging to desire, and from falsehood; to put one’s own essence of Tathata into operation; to use Prajna for contemplation, and to take an attitude of neither indifference nor attachment towards all things – this is what is meant by realizing one’s own Essence of Mind for the attainment of Buddhahood.
Learned Audience, if you wish to penetrate the deepest mystery of the Dharmadhatu and the Samadhi of Prajna, you should practice Prajna by reciting and studying the Vajracchedika (Diamond) Sutra, which will enable you to realize the Essence of Mind. You should know that the merit for studying this Sutra, as distinctly set forth in the text, is immeasurable and illimitable, and cannot be enumerated in details. This Sutra belongs to the highest School of Buddhism, and the Lord Buddha delivered it specially for the very wise and quick-witted. If the less wise and the slow-witted should hear about it they would doubt its credibility. Why? For example, if it rained in Jambudvipa (the Southern Continent), through the miracle of the celestial Naga, cities, towns, and villages would drift about in the flood as if they were only leaves of the date tree. But should it rain in the great ocean the level of the sea as a whole would not be affected by it. When Mahayanists hear about the Diamond Sutra their minds become enlightened; they know that Prajna is immanent in their Essence of Mind and that they need not rely on scriptural authority, since they can make use of their own wisdom by constant practice of contemplation.
The Prajna immanent in the Essence of Mind of every one may be likened to the rain, the moisture of which refreshes every living thing, trees and plants as well as sentient beings. When rivers and streams reach the sea, the water carried by them merges into one body; this is another analogy.

Learned Audience, when rain comes in a deluge, plants which are not deep rooted are washed away, and eventually they succumb. This is the case with the slow-witted, when they hear about the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School.
The Prajna immanent in them is exactly the same as that in the very wise man, but they fail to enlighten themselves when the Dharma is made known to them. Why? Because they are thickly veiled by erroneous views and deep rooted defilements, in the same way as the sun may be thickly veiled by a cloud and unable to show his light until the wind blows the cloud away.
Prajna does not vary with different persons; what makes the difference is whether one’s mind is enlightened or deluded. He who does not know his own Essence of Mind, and is under the delusion that Buddhahood can be attained by outward religious rites is called the slow-witted. He who knows the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School and attaches no importance to rituals, and whose mind functions always under right views, so that he is absolutely free from defilements or contaminations, is said to have known his Essence of Mind.
Learned Audience, the mind should be framed in such a way that it will be independent of external or internal objects, at liberty to come or go, free from attachment and thoroughly enlightened without the least beclouding.
He who is able to do this is of the same standard required by the Sutras of the Prajna School.
Learned Audience, all sutras and scriptures of the Mahayana and Hinayana Schools, as well as the twelve sections of the canonical writings, were provided to suit the different needs and temperaments of various people. It is upon the principle that Prajna is latent in every man that the doctrines expounded in these books are established. If there were no human beings, there would be no Dharmas; hence we know that all Dharmas are made for men, and that all Sutras owe their existence to the preachers. Since some men are wise, the so-called superior men, and some are ignorant, the socalled inferior men, the wise preach to the ignorant when the latter ask them to do so. Through this the ignorant may attain sudden enlightenment, and their mind thereby becomes illuminated.
Then they are no longer different from the wise men.
Learned Audience, without enlightenment there would be no difference between a Buddha and other living beings; while a gleam of enlightenment is enough to make any living being the equal of a Buddha. Since all Dharmas are immanent in our mind there is no reason why we should not realize intuitively the real nature of Tathata (Suchness).

The Bodhisattva Sila Sutra says, “Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and if we knew our mind and realized what our nature is, all of us would attain Buddhahood.” As the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, “At once they become enlightened and regain their own mind.” Learned Audience, when the Fifth Patriarch preached to me I became enlightened immediately after he had spoken, and spontaneously realized the real nature of Tathata. For this reason it is my particular object to propagate the teaching of this ‘Sudden’ School, so that learners may find Bodhi at once and realize their true nature by introspection of mind.
Should they fail to enlighten themselves, they should ask the pious and learned Buddhists who understand the teaching of the Highest School to show them the right way. It is an exalted position, the office of a pious and learned Buddhist who guides others to realize the Essence of Mind. Through his assistance one may be initiated into all meritorious Dharmas. The wisdom of the past, the present and the future Buddhas as well as the teachings of the twelve sections of the Canon are immanent in our mind; but in case we fail to enlighten ourselves, we have to seek the guidance of the pious and learned ones. On the other hand, those who enlighten themselves need no extraneous help. It is wrong to insist upon the idea that without the advice of the pious and learned we cannot obtain liberation.
Why? Because it is by our innate wisdom that we enlighten ourselves, and even the extraneous help and instructions of a pious and learned friend would be of no use if we were deluded by false doctrines and erroneous views. Should we introspect our mind with real Prajna, all erroneous views would be vanquished in a moment, and as soon as we know the Essence of Mind we arrive immediately at the Buddha stage.
Learned Audience, when we use Prajna for introspection we are illumined within and without, and in a position to know our own mind. To know our mind is to obtain liberation. To obtain liberation is to attain Samadhi of Prajna, which is ‘thoughtlessness’. What is ‘thoughtlessness’? ‘Thoughtlessness’ is to see and to know all Dharmas (things) with a mind free from attachment. When in use it pervades everywhere, and yet it sticks nowhere. What we have to do is to purify our mind so that the six vijnanas (aspects of consciousness), in passing through the six gates (sense organs) will neither be defiled by nor attached to the six sense-objects. When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go’, we attain Samadhi of Prajna, or liberation. Such a state is called the function of ‘thoughtlessness’. But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be Dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view.

Learned Audience, those who understand the way of ‘thoughtlessness’ will know everything, will have the experience all Buddhas have had, and attain Buddhahood. In the future, if an initiate of my School should make a vow in company with his fellow-disciples to devote his whole life without retrogression to the practice of the teachings of this ‘Sudden’ School, in the same spirit as that for serving Buddha, he would reach without failure the Path of Holiness. (To the right men) he should transmit from heart to heart the instructions handed down from one Patriarch to another; and no attempt should be made to conceal the orthodox teaching. To those who belong to other schools, and whose views and objects are different from ours, the Dharma should not be transmitted, since it will be anything but good for them. This step is taken lest ignorant persons who cannot understand our system should make slanderous remarks about it and thereby annihilate their seed of Buddha-nature for hundreds of kalpas and thousands of incarnations.
Learned Audience, I have a ‘formless’ stanza for you all to recite. Both laity and monks should put its teaching into practice, without which it would be useless to remember my words alone. Listen to this stanza:
A master of the Buddhist Canon as well as of the teaching of the Dhyana School May be likened unto the blazing sun sitting high in his meridian tower.
Such a man would teach nothing but the Dharma for realizing the Essence of Mind, And his object in coming to this world would be to vanquish the heretical sects.
We can hardly classify the Dharmas into ‘Sudden’ and ‘Gradual’, But some men will attain enlightenment much quicker than others.
For example, this system for realizing the Essence of Mind Is above the comprehension of the ignorant.
We may explain it in ten thousand ways, But all those explanations may be traced back to one principle.
To illumine our gloomy tabernacle, which is stained by defilement, We should constantly set up the Light of Wisdom.
Erroneous views keep us in defilement While right views remove us from it, But when we are in a position to discard both of them We are then absolutely pure.
Bodhi is immanent in our Essence of Mind, An attempt to look for it elsewhere is erroneous.
Within our impure mind the pure one is to be found,

And once our mind is set right, we are free from the three kinds of beclouding (hatred, lust and illusion).
If we are treading the Path of Enlightenment We need not be worried by stumbling-blocks.
Provided we keep a constant eye on our own faults We cannot go astray from the right path.
Since every species of life has its own way of salvation They will not interfere with or be antagonistic to one another.
But if we leave our own path and seek some other way of salvation We shall not find it, And though we plod on till death overtakes us We shall find only penitence in the end.
If you wish to find the true way Right action will lead you to it directly; But if you do not strive for Buddhahood You will grope in the dark and never find it.
He who treads the Path in earnest Sees not the mistakes of the world; If we find fault with others We ourselves are also in the wrong.
When other people are in the wrong, we should ignore it, For it is wrong for us to find fault.
By getting rid of the habit of fault-finding We cut off a source of defilement.
When neither hatred nor love disturb our mind Serenely we sleep.
Those who intend to be the teachers of others Should themselves be skilled in the various expedients which lead others to enlightenment.
When the disciple is free from all doubts It indicates that his Essence of Mind has been found.
The Kingdom of Buddha is in this world, Within which enlightenment is to be sought.
To seek enlightenment by separating from this world Is as absurd as to search for a rabbit’s horn.
Right views are called ‘transcendental’; Erroneous views are called ‘worldly’.
When all views, right or erroneous, are discarded Then the essence of Bodhi appears.
This stanza is for the ‘Sudden’ School.

It is also called the ‘Great Ship of Dharma’ (for sailing across the ocean of existence).
Kalpa after kalpa a man may be under delusion, But once enlightened it takes him only a moment to attain Buddhahood.
Before conclusion, the Patriarch added, “Now, in this Ta Fan Temple, I have addressed you on the teaching of the ‘Sudden’ School. May all sentient beings of the Dharmadhatu instantly understand the Law and attain Buddhahood.” After hearing what the Patriarch said, the Prefect Wei, government officials, Taoists and laymen were all enlightened. They made obeisance in a body and exclaimed unanimously, “Well done! Well done! Who would have expected that a Buddha was born in Kwangtung?”

Chapter III. Questions and Answers

One day Prefect Wei entertained the Patriarch and asked him to preach to a big gathering. At the end of the feast, Prefect Wei asked him to mount the pulpit (to which the Patriarch consented). After bowing twice reverently, in company with other officials, scholars, and commoners, Prefect Wei said, “I have heard what Your Holiness preached. It is really so deep that it is beyond our mind and speech, and I have certain doubts which I hope you will clear up for me.” “If you have any doubts,” replied the Patriarch, “please ask, and I will explain.” “What you preach are the fundamental principles taught by Bodhidharma, are they not?” “Yes,” replied the Patriarch. “I was told,” said Prefect Wei, “that at Bodhidharma’s first interview with Emperor Wu of Liang he was asked what merits the Emperor would get for the work of his life in building temples, allowing new monks to be ordained (royal consent was necessary at that time), giving alms and entertaining the Order; and his reply was that these would bring no meritsar all. Now, I cannot understand why he gave such an answer. Will you please explain.” “These would bring no merits,” replied the Patriarch. “Don’t doubt the words of the Sage. Emperor Wu’s mind was under an erroneous impression, and he did not know the orthodox teaching. Such deeds as building temples, allowing new monks to be ordained, giving alms and entertaining the Order will bring you only felicities, which should not be taken for merits. Merits are to be found within the Dharmakaya, and they have nothing to do with practices for attaining felicities.” The Patriarch went on, “Realization of the Essence of Mind is Kung (good deserts), and equality is Teh (good quality). When our mental activity works without any impediment, so that we are in a position to know constantly the true state and the mysterious functioning of our own mind, we are said to have acquired Kung Teh (merits).
Within, to keep the mind in a humble mood is Kung; and without, to behave oneself according to propriety is Teh. That all things are the manifestation of the Essence of Mind is Kung, and that the quintessence of mind is free from idle thoughts is Teh. Not to go astray from the Essence of Mind is Kung, and not to pollute the mind in using it is Teh. If you seek for merits within the Dharmakaya, and do what I have just said, what you acquire will be real merits.
He who works for merits does not slight others; and on all occasions he treats everybody with respect. He who is in the habit of looking down upon others has not got rid of the erroneous idea of a self, which indicates his lack of Kung. Because of his egotism and his habitual contempt for all others, he knows not the real Essence of Mind; and this shows his lack of Teh. Learned Audience, when our mental activity works without interruption, then it is Kung; and when our mind functions in a straightforward manner, then it is Teh. To train our own mind is Kung, and to train our own body is Teh.
Learned Audience, merits should be sought within the Essence of Mind and they cannot be acquired by almsgiving, entertaining the monks, etc. We should therefore distinguish between felicities and merits. There is nothing wrong in what our Patriarch said. It is Emperor Wu himself who did not know the true way.” Prefect Wei then asked the next question. “I notice that it is a common practice for monks and laymen to recite the name of Amitabha with the hope of being born in the Pure Land of the West. To clear up my doubts, will you please tell me whether it is possible for them to be born there or not.” “Listen to me carefully, Sir,” replied the Patriarch, “and I will explain.
According to the Sutra spoken by the Bhagavat in Shravasti City for leading people to the Pure Land of the West, it is quite clear that the Pure Land is not far from here, for the distance in mileage is 108,000, which really represents the ‘ten evils’ and ‘eight errors’ within us. To those of inferior mentality certainly it is far away, but to superior men we may say that it is quite near. Although the Dharma is uniform, men vary in their mentality.
Because they differ from one another in their degree of enlightenment or ignorance, therefore some understand the Law quicker than others.

While ignorant men recite the name of Amitabha and pray to be born in the Pure Land, the enlightened purify their mind, for, as the Buddha said, ‘When the mind is pure, the Buddha Land is simultaneously pure.’ “Although you are a native of the East, if your mind is pure you are sinless.
One the other hand, even if you were a native of the West an impure mind could not free you from sin, When the people of the East commit a sin, they recite the name of Amitabha and pray to be born in the West; but in the case of sinners who are natives of the West, where should they pray to be born? Ordinary men and ignorant people understand neither the Essence of Mind nor the Pure Land within themselves, so they wish to be born in the East or the West. But to the enlightened everywhere is the same. As the Buddha said, ‘No matter where they happen to be, they are always happy and comfortable.’ “Sir, if your mind is free from evil the West is not far from here; but difficult indeed it would be for one whose heart is impure to be born there by invoking Amitabha! “Now, I advise you, Learned Audience, first to do away with the ‘ten evils’; then we shall have travelled one hundred thousand miles. For the next step, do away with the ‘eight errors’, and this will mean another eight thousand miles traversed. If we can realize the Essence of Mind at all times and behave in a straightforward manner on all occasions, in the twinkling of an eye we may reach the Pure Land and there see Amitabha.
“If you only put into practice the ten good deeds, there would be no necessity for you to be born there. On the other hand, if you do not do away with the ‘ten evils’ in your mind, which Buddha will take you there? If you understand the Birthless Doctrine (which puts an end to the cycle of birth and death) of the ‘Sudden’ School, it takes you only a moment to see the West. If you do not understand, how can you reach there by reciting the name of Amitabha, as the distance is so far? “Now, how would you like it if I were to shift the Pure Land to your presence this very moment, so that all of you might see it?” The congregation made obeisance and replied, “If we might see the Pure Land here there would be no necessity for us to desire to be born there. Will Your Holiness kindly let us see it by having it removed here.” The Patriarch said, “Sirs, this physical body of ours is a city.
Our eyes, ears, nose and tongue are the gates. There are five external gates, while the internal one is ideation. The mind is the ground. The Essence of Mind is the King who lives in the domain of the mind. While the Essence of Mind is in, the King is in, and our body and mind exist. When the Essence of Mind is out, there is no King and our body and mind decay.

We should work for Buddhahood within the Essence of Mind, and we should not look for it apart from ourselves. He who is kept in ignorance of his Essence of Mind is an ordinary being. He who is enlightened in his Essence of Mind is a Buddha. To be merciful is Avalokitesvara (one of the two principal Bodhisattvas of the Pure Land). To take pleasure in almsgiving is Mahasthama (the other Bodhisattva). Competence for a pure life is Sakyamuni (one of the titles of Gautama Buddha). Equality and straightforwardness is Amitabha. The idea of a self or that of a being is Mount Meru. A depraved mind is the ocean. Klesa (defilement) is the billow. Wickedness is the evil dragon.
Falsehood is the devil. The wearisome sense objects are the aquatic animals.
Greed and hatred are the hells. Ignorance and infatuation are the brutes.
“Learned Audience, if you constantly perform the ten good deeds, paradise will appear to you at once. When you get rid of the idea of a self and that of a being, Mount Meru will topple. When the mind is no longer depraved, the ocean (of existence) will be dried up. When you are free from klesa, billows and waves (of the ocean of existence) will calm down. When wickedness is alien to you, fish and evil dragons will die out.
“Within the domain of our mind, there is a Tathagata of Enlightenment who sends forth a powerful light which illumines externally the six gates (of sensation) and purifies them. This light is strong enough to pierce through the six Kama Heavens (heavens of desire); and when it is turned inwardly it eliminates at once the three poisonous elements, purges away our sins which might lead us to the hells or other evil realms, and enlightens us thoroughly within and without, so that we are no different from those born in the Pure Land of the West. Now, if we do not train ourselves up to this standard, how can we reach the Pure Land?” Having heard what the Patriarch said, the congregation knew their Essence of Mind very clearly. They made obeisance and exclaimed in one voice, “Well done!” They also chanted, “May all the sentient beings of this Universe who have heard this sermon at once understand it intuitively.” The Patriarch added, “Learned Audience, those who wish to train themselves (spiritually) may do so at home. It is quite unnecessary for them to stay in monasteries. Those who train themselves at home may be likened unto a native of the East who is kind-hearted, while those who stay in monasteries but neglect their work differ not from a native of the West who is evil in heart. So far as the mind is pure, it is the ‘Western Pure Land of one’s own Essence of Mind’.” Prefect Wei asked, “How should we train ourselves at home? Will you please teach us.”

The Patriarch replied, “I will give you a ‘formless’ stanza. If you put its teaching into practice you will be in the same position as those who live with me permanently. On the other hand, if you do not practice it, what progress can you make in the spiritual path, even though you cut your hair and leave home for good (i.e., join the Order)? The stanza reads:
For a fair mind, observation of precepts (Sila) is unnecessary.
For straightforward behavior, practice in Dhyana (contemplation) may be dispensed with.
On the principle of righteousness, the superior and the inferior stand for each other (in time of need).
On the principle of mutual desire to please, the senior and junior are on affectionate terms.
On the principle of forbearance, we do not quarrel even in the midst of a hostile crowd.
If we can persevere till fire can be obtained through rubbing a piece of wood, Then the red lotus (the Buddha-nature) will shoot out from the black mire (the unenlightened state).
That which is of bitter taste is bound to be good medicine.
That which sounds unpleasant to the ear is certainly frank advice.
By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom.
By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.
In our daily life we should always practice altruism, But Buddhahood is not to be attained by giving away money as charity.
Bodhi is to be found within our own mind, And there is no necessity to look for mysticism from without.
Hearers of this stanza who put its teaching into actual practice Will find paradise in their very presence.
The Patriarch added, “Learned Audience, all of you should put into practice what is taught in this stanza, so that you can realize the Essence of Mind and attain Buddhahood directly. The Dharma waits for no one. I am going back to Ts’ao Ch’i, so the assembly may now break up. If you have any questions, you may come there to put them.” At this juncture Prefect Wei, the government officials, pious men, and devout ladies who were present were all enlightened. Faithfully they accepted the teaching and put it into practice.

Chapter IV. Samadhi and Prajna

The Patriarch on another occasion preached to the assembly as follows:
Learned Audience, in my system (Dhyana) Samadhi and Prajna are fundamental. But do not be under the wrong impression that these two are independent of each other, for they are inseparably united and are not two entities. Samadhi is the quintessence of Prajna, while Prajna is the activity of Samadhi. At the very moment that we attain Prajna, Samadhi is therewith; and vice versa. If you understand this principle, you understand the equilibrium of Samadhi and Prajna. A disciple should not think that there is a distinction between ‘Samadhi begets Prajna’ and ‘Prajna begets Samadhi’.
To hold such an opinion would imply that there are two characteristics in the Dharma.
For one whose tongue is ready with good words but whose heart is impure, Samadhi and Prajna are useless, because they do not balance each other. On the other hand, when we are good in mind as well as in words, and when our outward appearance and our inner feelings harmonize with each other, then it is a case of equilibrium of Samadhi and Prajna.
Argument is unnecessary for an enlightened disciple. To argue whether Prajna or Samadhi comes first would put one in the same position as those who are under delusion. Argument implies a desire to win, strengthens egotism, and ties us to the belief in the idea of ‘a self, a being, a living being, and a person’.
Learned Audience, to what are Samadhi and Prajna analogous? They are analogous to a lamp and its light. With the lamp, there is light. Without it, it would be darkness. The lamp is the quintessence of the light and the light is the expression of the lamp. In name they are two things, but in substance they are one and the same. It is the same case with Samadhi and Prajna.
On another occasion the Patriarch preached to the assembly as follows:
Learned Audience, to practice the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’ is to make it a rule to be straightforward on all occasions – no matter whether we are walking, standing, sitting or reclining. The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, “Straightforwardness is the holy place, the Pure Land.” Don’t let your mind be crooked and practice straightforwardness with your lips only. We should practice straightforwardness and should not attach ourselves to anything.
People under delusion believe obstinately in Dharmalaksana (things and form) and so they are stubborn in having their own way of interpreting the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’, which they define as ‘sitting quietly and continuously without letting any idea arise in the mind’. Such an interpretation would rank us with inanimate objects, and is a stumbling block to the right Path which must be kept open. Should we free our mind from attachment to all ‘things’, the Path becomes clear; otherwise, we put ourselves under restraint. If that interpretation ‘sitting quietly and continuously, etc.’ be correct, why on one occasion was Sariputra reprimanded by Vimalakirti for sitting quietly in the wood? Learned Audience, some teachers of meditation instruct their disciples to keep a watch on their mind for tranquility, so that it will cease from activity.
Henceforth the disciples give up all exertion of mind. Ignorant persons become insane from having too much confidence in such instruction. Such cases are not rare, and it is a great mistake to teach others to do this.
(On another occasion) the Patriarch addressed the assembly as follows:
In orthodox Buddhism the distinction between the ‘Sudden’ School and the ‘Gradual’ School does not really exist; the only difference is that by nature some men are quick-witted, while others are dull in understanding. Those who are enlightened realize the truth in a sudden, while those who are under delusion have to train themselves gradually. But such a difference will disappear when we know our own mind and realize our own nature.
Therefore these terms, gradual and sudden, are more apparent than real.
Learned Audience, it has been the tradition of our school to take ‘Idealessness’ as our object, ‘Non-objectivity’ as our basis, and ‘Non-attachment’ as our fundamental principle. ‘Idea-lessness’ means not to be carried away by any particular idea in the exercise of the mental faculty. ‘Non-objectivity’ means not to be absorbed by objects when in contact with objects. ‘Nonattachment’ is the characteristic of our Essence of Mind.
All things – good or bad, beautiful or ugly – should be treated as void. Even in time of disputes and quarrels we should treat our intimates and our enemies alike and never think of retaliation. In the exercise of our thinking faculty, let the past be dead. If we allow our thoughts, past, present, and future, to link up in aseries, we put ourselves under restraint. On the other hand, if we never let our mind attach to anything, we shall gain emancipation.
For this reason, we take ‘Non-attachment’ as our fundamental principle.
To free ourselves from absorption in external objects is called ‘Nonobjectivity’. When we are in a position to do so, the nature of Dharma will be pure. For this reason, we take ‘Non-objectivity’ as our basis.
To keep our mind free from defilement under all circumstances is called ‘Idea-lessness’.

Our mind should stand aloof from circumstances, and on no account should we allow them to influence the function of our mind. But it is a great mistake to suppress our mind from all thinking; for even if we succeed in getting rid of all thoughts, and die immediately thereafter, still we shall be reincarnated elsewhere. Mark this, treaders of the Path. It is bad enough for a man to commit blunders from not knowing the meaning of the Law, but how much worse would it be to encourage others to follow suit? Being deluded, he sees not and in addition he blasphemes the Buddhist Canon.
Therefore we take ‘Idea-lessness’ as our object.
Learned Audience, let me explain more fully why we take ‘Idea-lessness’ as our object. It is because there is a type of man under delusion who boasts of therealization of the Essence of Mind; but being carried away by circumstances, ideas rise in his mind, followed by erroneous views which are the source of all sorts of false notions and defilements. In the Essence of Mind (which is the embodiment of void), there is intrinsically nothing to be attained.
To say that there is attainment, and to talk thoughtlessly on merits or demerits are erroneous views and defilements. For this reason we take ‘Idealessness’ as the object of our School.
Learned Audience, (in ‘Idea-lessness’) what should we get rid of and what should we fix our mind on? We should get rid of the ‘pairs of opposites’ and all defiling conceptions. We should fix our mind on the true nature of Tathata (Suchness), forTathata is the quintessence of idea, and idea is the result of the activity of Tathata.
It is the positive essence of Tathata – not the sense organs – which gives rise to ‘idea’. Tathata bears its own attribute, and therefore it can give rise to ‘idea’. Without Tathata the sense organs and the sense objects would perish immediately. Learned Audience, because it is the attribute of Tathata which gives rise to ‘idea’, our sense organs – in spite of their functioning in seeing, hearing, touching, knowing, etc. – need not be tainted or defiled in all circumstances, and our true nature may be ‘self-manifested’ all the time.
Therefore the Sutra says, “He who is an adept in the discrimination of various Dharmalaksana (things and phenomena) will be immovably installed in the ‘First Principle’ (i.e., the blissful abiding place of the Holy, or Nirvana).”

Chapter V. Dhyana

The Patriarch (one day) preached to the assembly as follows:
In our system of meditation, we neither dwell upon the mind (in contradistinction to the Essence of Mind) nor upon purity. Nor do we approve of non-activity. As to dwelling upon the mind, the mind is primarily delusive; and when we realize that it is only a phantasm there is no need to dwell on it. As to dwelling upon purity, our nature is intrinsically pure; and so far as we get rid of all delusive ‘idea’ there will be nothing but purity in our nature, for it is the delusive idea that obscures Tathata (Suchness). If wedirect our mind to dwell upon purity we are only creating another delusion, the delusion of purity. Since delusion has no abiding place, it is delusive to dwell upon it. Purity has neither shape nor form; but some people go so far as to invent the ‘Form of Purity’, and treat it as a problem for solution. Holding such an opinion, these people are purity-ridden, and their Essence of Mind is thereby obscured.
Learned Audience, those who train themselves for ‘imperturbability’ should, in their contact with all types of men, ignore the faults of others. They should be indifferent to others’ merit or demerit, good or evil, for such an attitude accords with the ‘imperturbability of the Essence of Mind’. Learned Audience, a man unenlightened may be unperturbed physically, but as soon as he opens his mouth he criticizes others and talks about their merits or demerits, ability or weakness, good or evil; thus he deviates from the right course.
On the other hand, to dwell upon our own mind or upon purity is also a stumbling-block in the Path.
The Patriarch on another occasion preached to the assembly as follows:
Learned Audience, what is sitting for meditation? In our School, to sit means to gain absolute freedom and to be mentally unperturbed in all outward circumstances, be they good or otherwise. To meditate means torealize inwardly the imperturbability of the Essence of Mind.
Learned Audience, what are Dhyana and Samadhi? Dhyana means to be free from attachment to all outer objects, and Samadhi means to attain inner peace. If we are attached to outer objects, our inner mind will be perturbed.
When we are free from attachment to all outer objects, the mind will be in peace. Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure, and the reason why we are perturbed is because we allow ourselves to be carried away by the circumstances we are in.
He who is able to keep his mind unperturbed, irrespective of circumstances, has attained Samadhi.

To be free from attachment to all outer objects is Dhyana, and to attain inner peace is Samadhi. When we are in a position to deal with Dhyana and to keep our inner mind in Samadhi, then we are said to have attained Dhyana and Samadhi. The BodhisattvaSila Sutra says, “Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure.” Learned Audience, let us realize this for ourselves at all times. Let us train ourselves, practice it by ourselves, and attain Buddhahood by our own effort.

Chapter VI. On Repentance

Once there was a big gathering of scholars and commoners from Kuang Chou, Shao Chou, and other places to wait upon the Patriarch to preach to them. Seeing this, the Patriarch mounted the pulpit and delivered the following address: In Buddhism, we should start from our Essence of Mind.
At all times let us purify our own mind from one thought-moment to another, tread the Path by our own efforts, realize our own Dharmakaya, realize the Buddha in our own mind, and deliver ourselves by a personal observance of Sila; then your visit will not have been in vain. Since all of you have come from afar, the fact of our meeting here shows that there is a good affinity between us. Now let us sit down in the Indian fashion, and I will give you the five kinds of Incense of the Dharmakaya. When they had sat down, the Patriarch continued: The first is the Sila Incense, which means that our mind is free from taints of misdeeds, evil jealousy, avarice, anger, spoliation, and hatred. The second is the Samadhi Incense, which means that our mind is unperturbed in all circumstances, favorable or unfavorable. The third is the Prajna Incense, which means that our mind is free from all impediments, that we constantly introspect our Essence of Mind with wisdom, that we refrain from doing all kinds of evil deeds, that although we do all kinds of good acts, yet we do not let our mind become attached to (the fruits) of such actions, and that we are respectful towards our superiors, considerate to our inferiors, and sympathetic to the destitute and the poor. The fourth is the Incense of Liberation, this means that our mind is in such an absolutely free state that it clings to nothing and concerns itself neither with good nor evil.
The fifth is the Incense of Knowledge obtained on the Attainment of Liberation. When our mind clings to neither good nor evil we should take care not to let it dwell upon vacuity, or remain in a state of inertia.

Rather should we enlarge our study and broaden our knowledge, so that we can know our own mind, understand thoroughly the principles of Buddhism, be congenial to others in our dealings with them, get rid of the idea of ‘self’ and that of ‘being’, and realize that up to the time when we attain Bodhi the ‘true nature’ (or Essence of Mind) is always immutable. Such, then, is the Incense of Knowledge obtained on the Attainment of Liberation. This fivefold Incense fumigates us from within, and we should not look for it from without. Now I will give you the ‘formless’ Repentance which will expiate our sins committed in our present, past, and future lives, and purify our karmas of thought, word and deed. Learned Audience, please follow me and repeat together what I say:
May we, disciples so and so, be always free from the taints of ignorance and delusion. We repent of all our sins and evil deeds committed under delusion or in ignorance. May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again. May we be always free from the taints of arrogance and dishonesty (Asatya). We repent of all our arrogant behavior and dishonest dealings in the past. May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again. May we be always free from the taints of envy and jealousy. We repent of all our sins and evil deeds committed in an envious or jealous spirit. May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again.
Learned Audience, this is what we call ‘formless Ch’an Hui’ (repentance).
Now what is the meaning of Ch’an? Ch’an refers to the repentance of past sins. To repent of all our past sins and evil deeds committed under delusion, ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty, jealousy, or envy, etc. so as to put an end to all of them is called Ch’an. Hui refers to that part of repentance concerning our future conduct. Having realized the nature of our transgression (we make a vow) that hereafter we will put an end to all kinds of evil committed under delusion, ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty, jealousy, or envy, and that we shall never sin again. This is Hui. On account of ignorance and delusion, common people do not realize that in repentance they have not only to feel sorry for their past sins but also to refrain from sinning in the future. Since they take no heed of their future conduct they commit new sins before the past are expiated. How can we call this ‘repentance’? Learned Audience, having repented of our sins we will take the following four All-embracing Vows:
We vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings of our mind. We vow to get rid of the innumerable defilements in our own mind. We vow to learn the countless systems in Dharma of our Essence of Mind. We vow to attain the Supreme Buddhahood of our Essence of Mind.

Learned Audience, all of us have now declared that we vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings; but what does that mean? It does not mean that I, Hui Neng, am going to deliver them. And who are these sentient beings within our mind? They are the delusive mind, the deceitful mind, the evil mind, and such like minds – all these are sentient beings. Each of them has to deliver himself by means of his own Essence of Mind. Then the deliverance is genuine. Now, what does it mean to deliver oneself by one’s own Essence of Mind? It means the deliverance of the ignorant, the delusive, and the vexatious beings within our own mind by means of Right Views.
With the aid of Right Views and Prajna-Wisdom the barriers raised by these ignorant and delusive beings may be broken down; so that each of them is in a position to deliver himself by his own efforts. Let the fallacious be delivered by rightness; the deluded by enlightenment; the ignorant by wisdom; and the malevolent by benevolence. Such is genuine deliverance.
As to the vow, ‘We vow to get rid of the innumerable evil passions in the mind,’ it refers to the substitution of our unreliable and illusive thinking faculty by the Prajna-Wisdom of our Essence of Mind. As to the vow, ‘We vow to learn countless systems of Dharmas,’ there will be no true learning until we have seen face to face our Essence of Mind, and until we conform to the orthodox Dharma on all occasions. As to the vow, ‘We vow to attain Supreme Buddhahood,’ when we are able to bend our mind to follow the true and orthodox Dharma on all occasions, and when Prajna always rises in our mind, so that we can hold aloof from enlightenment as well as from ignorance, and do away with truth as well as falsehood, then we may consider ourselves as having realized the Buddha-nature, or in other words, as having attained Buddhahood. Learned Audience, we should always bear in mind that we are treading the Path, for thereby strength will be added to our vows. Now, since all of us have taken these four All-embracing Vows, let me teach you the ‘Formless Threefold Guidance’:
We take ‘Enlightenment’ as our guide, because it is the culmination of both Punya (merit) and Prajna (wisdom). We take ‘Orthodoxy’ (Dharma) as our guide, because it is the best way to get rid of desire. We take ‘Purity’ as our guide, because it is the noblest quality of mankind.
Hereafter, let the Enlightened One be our teacher; on no account should we accept Mara (the personification of evil) or any heretic as our guide. This we should testify to ourselves by constantly appealing to the ‘Three Gems’ of our Essence of Mind, in which, Learned Audience, I advise you to take refuge.

They are:
Buddha, which stands for Enlightenment. Dharma, which stands for Orthodoxy. Sangha, (the Order) which stands for Purity.
To let our mind take refuge in ‘Enlightenment’, so that evil and delusive notions do not arise, desire decreases, discontent is unknown, and lust and greed no longer bind, this is the culmination of Punya and Prajna. To let our mind take refuge in ‘Orthodoxy’ so that we are always free from wrong views (for without wrong views there would be no egotism, arrogance, or craving), this is the best way to get rid of desire. To let our mind take refuge in ‘Purity’ so that no matter in what circumstances it may be it will not be contaminated by wearisome sense-objects, craving and desire, this is the noblest quality of mankind. To practice the Threefold Guidance in the way above mentioned means to take refuge in oneself (i.e., in one’s own Essence of Mind).
Ignorant persons take the Threefold Guidance day and night but do not understand it. If they say they take refuge in Buddha, do they know where he is? Yet if they cannot see Buddha, how can they take refuge in him? Does not such an assertion amount to a lie? Learned Audience, each of you should consider and examine this point for yourself, and let not your energy be misapplied. The Sutra distinctly says that we should take refuge in the Buddha within ourselves; it does not suggest that we should take refuge in other Buddhas. (Moreover), if we do not take refuge in the Buddha within ourselves, there is no other place for us to retreat. Having cleared up this point, let each of us take refuge in the ‘Three Gems’ within our mind. Within, we should control our mind; without, we should be respectful towards others – this is the way to take refuge within ourselves. Learned Audience, since all of you have taken the ‘Threefold Guidance’ I am going to speak to you on the Trikaya (three ‘bodies’) of the Buddha of our Essence of Mind, so that you can see these three bodies and realize clearly the Essence of Mind. Please listen carefully and repeat this after me:
With our physical body, we take refuge in the Pure Dharmakaya (Essencebody) of Buddha. With our physical body, we take refuge in the Perfect Sambhogakaya (Manifestation body) of Buddha. With our physical body, we take refuge in the Myriad Nirmanakaya (Incarnation-bodies) of Buddha.
Learned Audience, our physical body may be likened unto an inn (i.e., a temporary abode), so we cannot take refuge there. Within our Essence of Mind these Trikaya of Buddha are to be found, and they are common to everybody.

Because the mind (of an ordinary man) labors under delusions, he knows not his own inner nature; and the result is that he ignores the Trikaya within himself, (erroneously believing) that they are to be sought from without.
Please listen, and I will show you that within yourself you will find the Trikaya which, being the manifestation of the Essence of Mind, are not to be sought from without. Now, what is the Pure Dharmakaya? Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure; all things are only its manifestations, and good deeds and evil deeds are only the result of good thoughts and evil thoughts respectively. Thus, within the Essence of Mind all things (are intrinsically pure), like the azure of the sky and the radiance of the sun and the moon which, when obscured by passing clouds, may appear as if their brightness has been dimmed; but as soon as the clouds are blown way, brightness reappears and all objects are fully illuminated. Learned Audience, our evil habits may be likened unto the clouds; while sagacity and wisdom (Prajna), are the sun and moon respectively. When we attach ourselves to outer objects, our Essence of Mind is clouded by wanton thoughts which prevent our Sagacity and Wisdom from sending forth their light. But should we be fortunate enough to find learned and pious teachers to make known to us the Orthodox Dharma, then we may with our own efforts do away with ignorance and delusion, so that we are enlightened both within and without, and the (true nature) of all things manifests itself within our Essence of Mind. This is what happens to those who have seen face to face the Essence of Mind, and this is what is called the Pure Dharmakaya of Buddha. Learned Audience, to take refuge in a true Buddha is to take refuge in our own Essence of Mind. He who does so should remove from his Essence of Mind the evil mind, the jealous mind, the flattering and crooked mind, egotism, deceit and falsehood, contemptuousness, snobbishness, fallacious views, arrogance, and all other evils that may arise at any time. To take refuge in ourself is to be constantly on the alert for our own mistakes, and to refrain from criticism of others’ merits or faults. He who is humble and meek on all occasions and is polite to everybody has thoroughly realized his Essence of Mind, so thoroughly that his Path is free from further obstacles. This is the way to take refuge in ourself. What is the Perfect Sambhogakaya? Let us take the illustration of a lamp. Even as the light of a lamp can break up darkness which has been there for a thousand years, so a spark of Wisdom can do away with ignorance which has lasted for ages. We need not bother about the past, for the past is gone and irrecoverable. What demands our attention is the future; so let our thoughts from moment to moment be clear and round, and let use see face to face our Essence of Mind.

Good and evil are opposite to each other, but their quintessence cannot be dualistic. This non-dualistic nature is called the true nature which can neither be contaminated by evil nor affected by good. This is what is called the Sambhogakaya of Buddha. One single evil thought from our Essence of Mind will spoil the good merits accumulated in aeons of time, while a good thought from that same source can expiate all our sins, though they are as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges. To realize our own Essence of Mind from moment to moment without intermission until we attain Supreme Enlightenment, so that we are perpetually in a state of Right Mindfulness, is the Sambhogakaya. Now, what is the Myriad Nirmanakaya? When we subject ourselves to the least discrimination of particularization, transformation takes place; otherwise, all things remain as void as space, as they inherently are. By dwelling our mind on evil things, hell arises. By dwelling our mind on good acts, paradise appears. Dragons and snakes are the transformation of venomous hatred, while Bodhisattvas are mercy personified. The upper regions are Prajna crystallized, while the underworld is only another form assumed by ignorance and infatuation. Numerous indeed are the transformations of the Essence of Mind! People under delusion awake not and understand not; always they bend their minds on evil, and as a rule practice evil. But should they turn their minds from evil to righteousness, even for a moment, Prajna would instantly arise. This is what is called the Nirmanakaya of the Buddha of the Essence of Mind. Learned Audience, the Dharmakaya is intrinsically self-sufficient. To see face to face from moment to moment our own Essence of Mind is the Sambhogakaya of Buddha. To dwell our mind on the Sambhogakaya (so that Wisdom or Prajna arises) is the Nirmanakaya. To attain enlightenment by our own efforts and to practice by ourself the goodness inherent in our Essence of Mind is a genuine case of ‘Taking Refuge’. Our physical body, consisting of flesh and skin, etc., is nothing more than a tenement, (for temporary use only), so we do not take refuge therein. But let us realize the Trikaya of our Essence of Mind, and we shall know the Buddha of our Essence of Mind. I have a ‘formless’ stanza, the reciting and practicing of which will at once dispel the delusions and expiate the sins accumulated in numerous kalpas.

This is the stanza:
People under delusion accumulate tainted merits but do not tread the Path.
They are under the impression that to accumulate merits and to tread the Path are one and the same thing. Though their merits for alms-giving and offerings are infinite (They do not realize that) the ultimate source of sin lies in the three poisonous elements (i.e., greed, anger and illusion) within their own mind.

They expect to expiate their sins by accumulating merit Without knowing that felicities obtained in future lives have nothing to do with the expiation of sins. Why not get rid of the sin within our own mind, For this is true repentance (within our Essence of Mind)? (A sinner) who realizes suddenly what constitutes true repentance according to the Mahayana School, And who ceases from doing evil and practices righteousness is free from sin. A treader of the Path who keeps a constant watch on his Essence of Mind May be classified in the same group as the various Buddhas. Our Patriarchs transmitted no other system of Law but this ‘Sudden’ one. May all followers of it see face to face their Essence of Mind and be at once with the Buddhas.
If you are going to look for Dharmakaya See it above Dharmalaksana (phenomena), and then your Mind will be pure. Exert yourself in order to see face to face the Essence of Mind and relax not, For death may come suddenly and put an abrupt end to your earthly existence. Those who understand the Mahayana teaching and are thus able to realize the Essence of Mind Should reverently put their palms together (as a sign of respect) and fervently seek for the Dharmakaya.
The Patriarch then added: Learned Audience, all of you should recite this stanza and put it into practice. Should you realize your Essence of Mind after reciting it, you may consider yourself to be always in my presence, though actually you are a thousand miles away, but should you be unable to do so, then, though we are face to face, we are really a thousand miles apart.
In that case, what is the use of taking the trouble to come here from so far away? Take good care of yourselves. Good-bye. The whole assembly, after hearing what the Patriarch had said, became enlightened. In a very happy mood, they accepted his teaching and put it into practice.

Chapter VII. Temperament and Circumstances (Instructions given according to the disciples’ temperament and to the circumstances of the case)

Upon the Patriarch’s return to the village of Ts’ao Hou in Shao Chou from Huang Mei, where the Dharma had been transmitted to him, he was still an unknown figure, and it was a Confucian scholar named Liu Chih-Lueh who gave him a warm welcome. Chih-Lueh happened to have an aunt named Wu Chin-Tsang who was a bhikkhuni (a female member of the Order), and used to recite the Maha Parinirvana Sutra. After hearing the recitation for only a short while the Patriarch grasped its profound meaning and began to explain it to her.

Whereupon, she picked up the book and asked him the meaning of certain words. “I am illiterate,” he replied, “but if you wish to know the purport of this work, please ask.” “How can you grasp the meaning of the text,” she rejoined, “when you do not even know the words?” To this he replied, “The profundity of the teachings of the various Buddhas has nothing to do with the written language.” This answer surprised her very much, and realizing that he was no ordinary bhikkhu, she made it widely known to the pious elders of the village. “This is a holy man,” she said, “we should ask him to stay, and get his permission to supply him food and lodging.” Whereupon, a descendant of Marquis Wu of the Wei Dynasty, named Ts’ao Shu-Liang, came one afternoon with other villagers to tender homage to the Patriarch.
The historical Pao Lin monastery, devastated by war at the end of the Sui Dynasty, was then reduced to a heap of ruins, but on the old site they rebuilt it and asked the Patriarch to stay there. Before long, it became a very famous monastery. After being there for nine months his wicked enemies traced him and persecuted him again. Thereupon he took refuge in a nearby hill. The villains then set fire to the wood (where he was hiding), but he escaped by making his way to a rock. This rock, which has since been known as the ‘Rock of Refuge’, has thereon the knee-prints of the Patriarch and also the impressions of the texture of his gown. Recollecting the instruction of his master, the Fifth Patriarch, that he should stop at Huai and seclude himself at Hui, he made these two districts his places of retreat.
Bhikkhu Fa Hai, a native of Chu Kiang of Shao Chow, in his first interview with the Patriarch asked the meaning of the well-known saying, ‘What mind is, Buddha is.’ The Patriarch replied, “To let not a passing thought rise up is ‘mind’. To let not the coming thought be annihilated is Buddha. To manifest all kinds of phenomena is ‘mind’. To be free from all forms (i.e., to realize the unreality of phenomena) is Buddha. If I were to give you a full explanation, the topic could not be exhausted even if I took up the whole of one kalpa. So listen to my stanza:
Prajna is ‘What mind is’, Samadhi is ‘What Buddha is’. In practicing Prajna and Samadhi, let each keep pace with the other; Then our thoughts will be pure. This teaching can be understood Only through the habit of practice.
Samadhi functions, but inherently it does not become. The orthodox teaching is to practice Prajna as well as Samadhi.

After hearing what the Patriarch had said, Fa Hai was at once enlightened.
He praised the Patriarch with the following stanza:
‘What mind is, Buddha is’ is true indeed! But I humiliate myself by not understanding it. Now I know the principal cause of Prajna and Samadhi, Both of which I shall practice to set me free from all forms.
Bhikkhu Fa Ta, a native of Hung Chou, who joined the Order at the early age of seven, used to recite the Saddharma Pundarika (Lotus of the Good Law) Sutra. When he came to pay homage to the Patriarch, he failed to lower his head to the ground. For his abbreviated courtesy the Patriarch reproved him, saying, “If you object to lower your head to the ground, would it not be better do away with salutation entirely? There must be something in your mind that makes you so puffed up. Tell me what you do in your daily exercise.” “Recite the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra,” replied Fa Ta. “I have read the whole text three thousand times.” “Had you grasped the meaning of the Sutra,” remarked the Patriarch, “you would not have assumed such a lofty bearing, even if you had read it ten thousand times. Had you grasped it, you would be treading the same Path as mine. What you have accomplished has already made you conceited, and moreover, you do not seem to realize that this is wrong. Listen to my stanza:
Since the object of ceremony is to curb arrogance Why did you fail to lower your head to the ground? ‘To believe in a self’ is the source of sin, But ‘to treat all attainment as void’ attains merit incomparable! The Patriarch then asked for his name, and upon being told that his name was Fa Ta (meaning Understanding the Law), he remarked, “Your name is Fa Ta, but you have not yet understood the Law.” He concluded by uttering another stanza:
Your name is Fa Ta. Diligently and steadily you recite the Sutra. Lip repetition of the text goes by the pronunciation only, But he whose mind is enlightened by grasping the meaning is a Bodhisattva indeed! On account of conditions which may be traced to our past lives I will explain this to you. If you only believe that Buddha speaks no words, Then the Lotus will blossom in your mouth.
Having heard this stanza, Fa Ta became remorseful and apologized to the Patriarch. He added, “Hereafter, I will be humble and polite on all occasions.
As I do not quite understand the meaning of the Sutra I recite, I am doubtful as to its proper interpretation. With your profound knowledge and high wisdom, will you kindly give me a short explanation?” The Patriarch replied, “Fa Ta, the Law is quite clear; it is only your mind that is not clear.

The Sutra is free from doubtful passages; it is only your mind that makes them doubtful. In reciting the Sutra, do you know its principal object?” “How can I know, Sir,” replied Fa Ta, “since I am so dull and stupid? All I know is how to recite it word by word.” The Patriarch then said, “Will you please recite the Sutra, as I cannot read it myself. I will then explain its meaning to you.” Fa Ta recited the Sutra, but when he came to the chapter entitled ‘Parables’ the Patriarch stopped him, saying, “The key-note of this Sutra is to set forth the aim and object of a Buddha’s incarnation in this world. Though parables and illustrations are numerous in this book, none of them goes beyond this pivotal point. Now, what is that object? What is that aim? The Sutra says, ‘It is for a sole object, a sole aim, verily a lofty object and a lofty aim that the Buddha appears in this world.’ Now that sole object, that sole aim, that lofty object, that lofty aim referred to is the ‘sight’ of Buddha-Knowledge. “Common people attach themselves to objects without; and within, they fall into the wrong idea of ‘vacuity’. When they are able to free themselves from attachment to objects when in contact with objects, and to free themselves from the fallacious view of annihilation on the doctrine of ‘Void’ they will be free from delusions within and from illusions without. He who understands this and whose mind is thus enlightened in an instant is said to have opened his eyes for the sight of Buddha-Knowledge. “The word ‘Buddha’ is equivalent to ‘Enlightenment’, which may be dealt with (as in the Sutra) under four heads:
To open the eyes for the sight of Enlightenment-knowledge. To show the sight of Enlightenment-knowledge. To awake to the sight of Enlightenment knowledge. To be firmly established in the Enlightenment-knowledge.
“Should we be able, upon being taught, to grasp and understand thoroughly the teaching of Enlightenment-knowledge, then our inherent quality or true nature, i.e., the Enlightenment-knowledge, would have an opportunity to manifest itself. You should not misinterpret the text, and come to the conclusion that Buddha-knowledge is something special to Buddha and not common to us all because you happen to find in the Sutra this passage, ‘To open the eyes for the sight of Buddha-knowledge, to show the sight of Buddha-knowledge, etc.’ Such a misinterpretation would amount to slandering Buddha and blaspheming the Sutra. Since he is a Buddha, he is already in possession of this Enlightenment-knowledge and there is no occasion for himself to open his eyes for it. You should therefore accept the interpretation that Buddha-knowledge is the Buddha-knowledge of your own mind and not that of any other Buddha.

“Being infatuated by sense-objects, and thereby shutting themselves from their own light, all sentient beings, tormented by outer circumstances and inner vexations, act voluntarily as slaves to their own desires. Seeing this, our Lord Buddha had to rise from his Samadhi in order to exhort them with earnest preaching of various kinds to suppress their desires and to refrain from seeking happiness from without, so that they might become the equals of Buddha. For this reason the Sutra says, ‘To open the eyes for the sight of Buddha-knowledge, etc.’ “I advise people constantly to open their eyes for the Buddha-knowledge within their mind. But in their perversity they commit sins under delusion and ignorance; they are kind in words, but wicked in mind; they are greedy, malignant, jealous, crooked, flattering, egotistic, offensive to men and destructive to inanimate objects. Thus, they open their eyes for the ‘Common-people-knowledge’. Should they rectify their heart, so that wisdom arises perpetually, the mind would be under introspection, and evil doing replaced by the practice of good; then they would initiate themselves into the Buddha-knowledge. “You should therefore from moment to moment open your eyes, not for ‘Common-people knowledge’ but for Buddha-knowledge, which is supramundane, while the former is worldly. On the other hand, if you stick to the concept that mere recitation (of the Sutra) as a daily exercise is good enough, then you are infatuated like the yak by its own tail.” (Yaks are known to have a very high opinion of their own tails.) Fa Ta then said, “If that is so, we have only to know the meaning of the Sutra and there would be no necessity for us to recite it. Is that right, Sir?” “There is nothing wrong in the Sutra,” replied the Patriarch, “so that you should refrain from reciting it. Whether sutra-reciting will enlighten you or not, or benefit you or not, all depends on yourself. He who recites the Sutra with the tongue and puts its teaching into actual practice with his mind ‘turns round’ the Sutra. He who recites it without putting it into practice is ‘turned round’ by the Sutra. Listen to my stanza:
When our mind is under delusion, the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra ‘turns us round’. With an enlightened mind we ‘turn round’ the Sutra instead. To recite the Sutra for a considerable time without knowing its principal object Indicates that you are a stranger to its meaning. The correct way to recite the Sutra is without holding any arbitrary belief; Otherwise, it is wrong. He who is above ‘affirmative’ and ‘negative’ Rides permanently in the White Bullock Cart (the Vehicle of Buddha).” Having heard this stanza, Fa Ta was enlightened and moved to tears. “It is quite true,” he exclaimed, “that heretofore I was unable to ‘turn round’ the Sutra. It was rather the Sutra that ‘turned’ me round.” He then raised another point. “The Sutra says, ‘From Sravakas (disciples) up to Bodhisattvas, even if they were to speculate with combined efforts they would be unable to comprehend the Buddha-knowledge.’ But you, Sir, give me to understand that if an ordinary man realizes his own mind, he is said to have attained the Buddha-knowledge. I am afraid, Sir, that with the exception of those gifted with superior mental dispositions, others may doubt your remark.
Furthermore, three kinds of Carts are mentioned in the Sutra, namely, Carts yoked with goats (i.e., the vehicle of Sravakas), Carts yoked with deers (the vehicle of Pratyeka Buddhas), and Carts yoked with bullocks (the vehicle of Bodhisattvas). How are these to be distinguished from the White Bullock Carts?” The Patriarch replied, “The Sutra is quite plain on this point; it is you who misunderstand it. The reason why Sravakas, Pratyeka Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot comprehend the Buddha-knowledge is because they speculate on it. They may combine their efforts to speculate, but the more they speculate, the farther they are from the truth. It was to ordinary men, not to other Buddhas, that Buddha Gautama preached this Sutra. As for those who cannot accept the doctrine he expounded, he let them leave the assembly. You do not seem to know that since we are already riding in the White Bullock Cart (the vehicle of Buddhas), there is no necessity for us to go out to look for the other three vehicles. Moreover, the Sutra tells you plainly that there is only the Buddha Vehicle, and that there are no other vehicles, such as the second or the third. It is for the sake of this sole vehicle that Buddha had to preach to us with innumerable skilful devices, using various reasons and arguments, parables and illustrations, etc. Why can you not understand that the other three vehicles are makeshifts, for the past only; while the sole vehicle, the Buddha Vehicle, is the ultimate, meant for the present? “The Sutra teaches you to dispense with the makeshifts and to resort to the ultimate. Having resorted to the ultimate, you will find that even the name ‘ultimate’ disappears. You should appreciate that you are the sole owner of these valuables and they are entirely subject to your disposal.
When you are free from the arbitrary conception that they are the father’s, or the son’s, or that they are at so and so’s disposal, you may be said to have learned the right way to recite the Sutra. In that case from kalpa to kalpa the Sutra will be in your hand, and from morning to night you will be reciting the Sutra all the time.” Being thus awakened, Fa Ta praised the Patriarch, in a transport of great joy, with the following stanza:
The delusion that I have attained great merits by reciting the Sutra three thousand times over Is all dispelled by an utterance of the Master of Ts’ao Ch’i (i.e., the Patriarch).

He who has not understood the object of a Buddha’s incarnation in this world Is unable to suppress the wild passions accumulated in many lives.
The three vehicles yoked by goat, deer and bullock respectively, are makeshifts only, While the three stages, preliminary, intermediate, and final, in which the orthodox Dharma is expounded, are well set out, indeed. How few appreciate that within the burning house itself (i.e., mundane existence) The King of Dharma is to be found! The Patriarch then told him that henceforth he might call himself a ‘Sutrareciting Bhikkhu’. After that interview, Fa Ta was able to grasp the profound meaning of Buddhism, yet he continued to recite the Sutra as before.
Bhikkhu Chih Tung, a native of Shao Chou of An Feng had read the Lankavatara Sutra a thousand times, but he could not understand the meaning of Trikaya and the four Prajnas. Thereupon, he called on the Patriarch for an interpretation. “As to the Three Bodies,” explained the Patriarch, “the pure Dharmakaya is your (essential) nature; the perfect Sambhogakaya is your wisdom; and myriad Nirmanakayas are your actions.
If you deal with these Three Bodies apart from the Essence of Mind, there would be ‘bodies without wisdom’. If you realize that these Three Bodies have no positive essence of their own (because they are only the properties of the Essence of Mind) you attain the Bodhi of the four Prajnas. Listen to my stanza:
The Three Bodies are inherent in our Essence of Mind, By development of which the four Prajnas are manifested. Thus, without shutting your eyes and your ears to keep away from the external world You may reach Buddhahood directly. Now that I have made this plain to you Believe it firmly, and you will be free from delusions forever. Follow not those who seek Enlightenment from without; These people talk about Bodhi all the time (but they never find it).
“May I know something about the four Prajnas?” asked Chih Tung. “If you understand the Three Bodies,” replied the Patriarch, “you should understand the four Prajnas as well; so your question is unnecessary. If you deal with the four Prajnas apart from the Three Bodies, there will be Prajnas without bodies, in which case they would not be Prajnas.” The Patriarch then uttered another stanza:
The Mirror-like Wisdom is pure by nature. The Equality Wisdom frees the mind from all impediments. The All-discerning Wisdom sees things intuitively without going through the process of reasoning. The All Performing Wisdom has the same characteristics as the Mirror-like Wisdom.

The first fivevijnanas (consciousness dependent respectively upon the five sense organs) and the Alayavijnana (Storehouse of Universal consciousness) are ‘transmuted’ to Prajna in the Buddha stage; while the klista-mano-vijnana (soiled-mind consciousness or self-consciousness) and the mano-vijnana (thinking consciousness), are transmuted in the Bodhisattva stage. These so called ‘transmutations of vijnana’ are only changes of appellations and not a change of substance. When you are able to free yourself entirely from attachment to sense-objects at the time these so-called ‘transmutations’ take place, you will forever abide in the repeatedly-arisingNaga (dragon) Samadhi. (Upon hearing this), Chih Tung realized suddenly the Prajna of his Essence of Mind and submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:
Intrinsically, the three Bodies are within our Essence of Mind. When our mind is enlightened the four Prajnas will appear therein. When Bodies and Prajnas absolutely identify with each other We shall be able to respond (in accordance with their temperaments and dispositions) to the appeals of all beings, no matter what forms they may assume. To start by seeking for Trikaya and the fourPrajnas is to take an entirely wrong course (for being inherent in us they are to be realized and not to be sought). To try to ‘grasp’ or ‘confine’ them is to go against their intrinsic nature. Through you, Sir, I am now able to grasp the profundity of their meaning, And henceforth I may discard forever their false and arbitrary names.
(Note: Having grasped the spirit of a doctrine, one may dispense with the names used therein, since all names are makeshifts only).
Bhikkhu Chih Ch’ang, a native of Kuei Ch’i of Hsin Chou, joined the Order in his childhood, and was very zealous in his efforts to realize the Essence of Mind. One day, he came to pay homage to the Patriarch, and was asked by the latter whence and why he came. “I have recently been to the White Cliff Mountain in Hung Chou,” replied he, “to interview the Master Ta T’ung, who was good enough to teach me how to realize the Essence of Mind and thereby attain Buddhahood. But as I still have some doubts, I have travelled far to pay you respect. Will you kindly clear them up for me, Sir.” “What instruction did he give you?” asked the Patriarch. “After staying there for three months without being given any instruction, and being zealous for the Dharma, I went alone to his chamber one night and asked him what was my Essence of Mind. ‘Do you see the illimitable void?’ he asked. ‘Yes, I do,’ I replied. Then he asked me whether the void had any particular form, and when I said that the void is formless and therefore cannot have any particular form, he said, ‘Your Essence of Mind is like the void. To realize that nothing can be seen is right seeing.

To realize that nothing is knowable is true knowledge. To realize that it is neither green nor yellow, neither long nor short, that it is pure by nature, that its quintessence is perfect and clear, is to realize the Essence of Mind and thereby attain Buddhahood, which is also called the Buddha-knowledge.’ As I do not quite understand his teaching, will you please enlighten me, Sir.” “His teaching indicates,” said the Patriarch, “that he still retains the arbitrary concepts of views and knowledge, and this explains why he fails to make it clear to you. Listen to my stanza:
To realize that nothing can be seen but to retain the concept of ‘invisibility’ Is like the surface of the sun obscured by passing clouds. To realize that nothing is knowable but to retain the concept of ‘unknowability’ May be likened to a clear sky disfigured by a lightning flash. To let these arbitrary concepts rise spontaneously in your mind Indicates that you have misidentified the Essence of Mind, and that you have not yet found the skilful means to realize it. If you realize for one moment that these arbitrary concepts are wrong, Your own spiritual light will shine forth permanently.
Having heard this Chih Ch’ang at once felt that his mind was enlightened.
Thereupon, he submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:
To allow the concepts of invisibility and unknowability to rise in the mind Is to seek Bodhi without freeing oneself from the concepts of phenomena. He who is puffed up by the slightest impression, ‘I am now enlightened,’ Is no better than he was when under delusion. Had I not put myself at the feet of the Patriarch I should have been bewildered without knowing the right way to go.
One day, Chih Ch’ang asked the Patriarch, “Buddha preached the doctrine of ‘Three Vehicles’ and also that of a ‘Supreme Vehicle’. As I do not understand this, will you please explain?” The Patriarch replied, “(In trying to understand these), you should introspect your own mind and act independently of things and phenomena. The distinction of these four vehicles does not exist in the Dharma itself but in the differentiation of people’s minds. To see, to hear, and to recite the sutra is the small vehicle.
To know the Dharma and to understand its meaning is the middle vehicle.
To put the Dharma into actual practice is the great vehicle. To understand thoroughly all Dharmas, to have absorbed them completely, to be free from all attachments, to be above phenomena, and to be in possession of nothing, is the Supreme Vehicle. “Since the word ‘yana’ (vehicle) implies ‘motion’ (i.e., putting into practice), argument on this point is quite unnecessary. All depends on self-practice, so you need not ask me any more. (But I may remind you that) at all times the Essence of Mind is in a state of ‘Thusness’.” Chih Ch’ang made obeisance and thanked the Patriarch.
Henceforth, he acted as his attendant until the death of the Master.
Bhikkhu Chih Tao, a native of Nan Hai of Kwang Tung, came to the Patriarch for instruction, saying, “Since I joined the Order I have read the Maha Parinirvana Sutra for more than ten years, but I have not yet grasped its main idea. Will you please teach me?” “Which part of it do you not understand?” asked the Patriarch. “It is about this part, Sir, that I am doubtful: ‘All things are impermanent, and so they belong to the Dharma of becoming and cessation (i.e., Samskrita Dharma). When both becoming and cessation cease to operate, the bliss of perfect rest and cessation of changes (i.e., Nirvana) arises.'” “What makes you doubt?” asked the Patriarch. “All beings have two bodies – the physical body and the Dharmakaya,” replied Chih Tao. “The former is impermanent; it exists and dies. The latter is permanent; it knows not and feels not. Now the Sutra says, ‘When both becoming and cessation cease to operate, the bliss of perfect rest and cessation of changes arises.’ I do not know which body ceases to exist and which body enjoys the bliss. It cannot be the physical body that enjoys, because when it dies the four material elements (i.e., earth, water, fire and air) will disintegrate, and disintegration is pure suffering, the very opposite of bliss. If it is the Dharmakaya that ceases to exist, it would be in the same state as ‘inanimate’ objects, such as grass, trees, stones etc.; who will then be the enjoyer? “Moreover, Dharma-nature is the quintessence of ‘becoming and cessation’, which manifests as the five skandhas (rupa, vedana, samjna, samskara and vijnana). That is to say, with one quintessence there are five functions. The process of ‘becoming and cessation’ is everlasting. When function or operation arises from the quintessence, it becomes; when the operation or function is absorbed back into the quintessence, it ceases to exist. If reincarnation is admitted, there would be no ‘cessation of changes’, as in the case of sentient beings. If reincarnation is out of the question, then things will remain forever in a state of lifeless quintessence, like inanimate objects. If this is so, then under the limitations and restrictions of Nirvana even existence will be impossible to all beings; what enjoyment could there be?” “You are a son of Buddha, (a bhikkhu),” said the Patriarch, “so why do you adopt the fallacious views of Eternalism and Annihilationism held by the heretics, and criticize the teaching of the Supreme Vehicle? “Your argument implies that apart from the physical body there is a Law body (Dharmakaya); and that ‘perfect rest’ and ‘cessation of changes’ may be sought apart from ‘becoming and cessation’.

Further, from the statement, ‘Nirvana is everlasting joy,’ you infer that there must be somebody to play the part of the enjoyer. “Now it is exactly these fallacious views that make people crave for sensate existence and indulge in worldly pleasure. It is for these people, the victims of ignorance, who identify the union of five skandhas as the ‘self’, and regard all other things as ‘not-self’ (literally, outer sense objects); who crave for individual existence and have an aversion to death; who drift about in the whirlpool of life and death without realizing the hollowness of mundane existence, which is only a dream or an illusion; who commit themselves to unnecessary suffering by binding themselves to the wheel of re-birth; who mistake the state of everlasting joy of Nirvana for a mode of suffering, and who are always after sensual pleasure; it is for these people that the compassionate Buddha preached the real bliss of Nirvana. “At any one moment, Nirvana has neither the phenomenon of becoming, nor that of cessation, nor even the ceasing of operation of becoming and cessation. It is the manifestation of ‘perfect rest and cessation of changes’, but at the time of manifestation there is not even a concept of manifestation; so it is called the ‘everlasting joy’ which has neither enjoyer nor non-enjoyer. “There is no such thing as ‘one quintessence and five functions’ (as you allege), and you are slandering Buddha and blaspheming the Law when you state that under such limitation and restriction of Nirvana existence is impossible to all beings. Listen to my stanza:
The Supreme Maha Parinirvana Is perfect, permanent, calm, and illuminating. Ignorant people miscall it death, While heretics hold that it is annihilation. Those who belong to the Sravaka Vehicle or the Pratyeka Buddha Vehicle Regard it as ‘Non-action’. All these are mere intellectual speculations, And form the basis of the sixty-two fallacious views. Since they are mere fictitious names invented for the occasion They have nothing to do with the Absolute Truth. Only those of super-eminent mind Can understand thoroughly what Nirvana is, and take up the attitude of neither attachment nor indifference towards it. They know that five skandhas And the so-called ‘ego’ arising from the union of these skandhas, Together with all external objects and forms And the various phenomena of sound and voice Are equally unreal, like a dream or an illusion. They make no discrimination between a sage and an ordinary man. Nor do they have any arbitrary concept on Nirvana. They are above ‘affirmation’ and ‘negation’ and they break the barrier of the past, the present, and the future. They use their sense organs, when occasion requires, But the concept of ‘using’ does not arise.

Even during the cataclysmic fire at the end of a kalpa, when ocean-beds are burnt dry, Or during the blowing of the catastrophic wind when one mountain topples on another, The real and everlasting bliss of ‘perfect rest’ and ‘cessation of changes’ Of Nirvana remains in the same state and changes not. Here I am trying to describe to you something which is ineffable So that you may get rid of your fallacious views. But if you do not interpret my words literally You may perhaps learn a wee bit of the meaning of Nirvana! Having heard this stanza, Chih Tao was highly enlightened. In a rapturous mood, he made obeisance and departed.
Bhikkhu Hsing Ssu, a Dhyana Master, was born at An Cheng of Chi Chou of a Liu family. Upon hearing that the preaching of the Patriarch had enlightened a great number of people, he at once came to Ts’ao Ch’i to tender him homage, and ask him this question: “What should a learner direct his mind to, so that his attainment cannot be rated by the (usual) ‘stages of progress’?” “What work have you been doing?” asked the Patriarch. “Even the Noble Truths taught by various Buddhas I have not anything to do with,” replied Hsing Ssu. “What stage of progress are you in?” asked the Patriarch.
“What stage of progress can there be, when I refuse to have anything to do with even the Noble Truths?” he retorted. His repartee commanded the great respect of the Patriarch who made him leader of the assembly. One day the Patriarch told him that he should propagate the Law in his own district, so that the teaching might not come to an end. Thereupon he returned to Ch’ing Yuan Mountain in his native district. The Dharma having been transmitted to him, he spread it widely and thus perpetuated the teaching of his Master.
Upon his death, the posthumous title ‘Dhyana Master Hung Chi’ was conferred on him.
Bhikkhu Huai Jang, a Dhyana Master, was born of a Tu family in Chin Chou. Upon his first visit to ‘National Teacher’ Hui An of Sung-Shan Mountain, he was directed by the latter to go to Ts’ao Ch’i to interview the Patriarch. Upon his arrival, and after the usual salutation, he was asked by the Patriarch whence he came. “From Sung Shan,” replied he. “What thing is it (that comes)? How did it come?” asked the Patriarch. “To say that it is similar to a certain thing is wrong,” he retorted. “Is it attainable by training?” asked the Patriarch. “It is not impossible to attain it by training; but it is quite impossible to pollute it,” he replied. Thereupon, the Patriarch exclaimed, “It is exactly this unpolluted thing that all Buddhas take good care of. It is so for you, and it is so for me as well. Patriarch Prajnatara of India foretold that under your feet a colt would rush forth and trample on the people of the whole world. I need not interpret this oracle too soon, as the answer should be found within your mind.”

Being thereby enlightened, Huai Jang realized intuitively what the Patriarch had said. Henceforth, he became his attendant for a period of fifteen years; and day by day his knowledge of Buddhism got deeper and deeper.
Afterwards, he made his home in Nan Yueh where he spread widely the teaching of the Patriarch. Upon his death, the posthumous title, “Dhyana Master Ta Hui (Great Wisdom) was conferred on him by imperial edict.
Dhyana Master Hsuan Chiao of Yung Chia was born of a Tai family in Wenchow. As a youth, he studied sutras and shastras and was well-versed in the teaching of samatha (inhibition or quietude) and vipasyana (contemplation or discernment) of the T’ien T’ai School. Through the reading of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra he realized intuitively the mystery of his own mind. A disciple of the Patriarch by the name of Hsuan Ts’e happened to pay him a visit. During the course of a long discussion, HsuanTs’e noticed that the utterance of his friend agreed virtually with the sayings of the various Patriarchs. Thereupon he asked, “May I know the name of your teacher who transmitted the Dharma to you?” “I had teachers to instruct me,” replied Hsuan Chiao, “when I studied the sutras and theshastras of the vaipulya section. But afterwards it was through the reading of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra that I realized the significance of the Buddhacitta (the Buddha Mind); and I have not yet had any teacher to verify and confirm my knowledge.” “Before the time of Bhisma Garjitasvara Raja Buddha,” HsuanTs’e remarked, “it was possible (to dispense with the service of a teacher); but since that time, he who attains enlightenment without the aid and the confirmation of a teacher is a natural heretic.” “Will you, Sir, kindly act as my testifier,” asked Hsuan Chiao. “My words carry no weight,” replied his friend, “but in Ts’ao Ch’i there is the Sixth Patriarch, to whom visitors in great numbers come from all directions with the common object of having the Dharma transmitted to them. Should you wish to go there, I shall be pleased to accompany you.” In due course they arrived at Ts’aoCh’i and interviewed the Patriarch. Having circumambulated the Patriarch thrice, Hsuan Chiao stood still (i.e., without making obeisance to the Master) with the Buddhist staff in his hand. The Patriarch remarked: “As a Buddhist monk is the embodiment of three thousand moral precepts and eighty thousand minor disciplinary rules, I wonder where you come from and what makes you so conceited.” “The question of incessant rebirths is a momentous one,” replied he, “and as death may come at any moment (I have no time to waste on ceremony).” “Why do you not realize the principle of ‘birthlessness’, and thus solve the problem of transiency in life?” the Patriarch retorted.
Thereupon Hsuan Chiao remarked, “To realize the Essence of Mind is to be free from rebirths; and once this problem is solved, the question of transiency no longer exists.” “That is so, that is so,” the Patriarch agreed. At this stage, Hsuan Chiao gave in and made obeisance in full ceremony. After a short while he bid the Patriarch adieu. “You are going away too quickly, aren’t you?” asked the Patriarch.
“How can there be ‘quickness’ when motion intrinsically exists not?” he retorted. “Who knows that motion exists not?” asked the Patriarch. “I hope you, Sir, will not particularize,” he observed. The Patriarch commended him for his thorough grasp of the notion of ‘birthlessness’; butHsuanChiao remarked, “Is there a ‘notion’ in ‘birthlessness’?” “Without a notion, who can particularize?” asked the Patriarch in turn. “That which particularizes is not a notion,” replied Hsuan Chiao. “Well said!” exclaimed the Patriarch. He then asked Hsuan Chiao to delay his departure and spend a night there.
Henceforth HsuanChiao was known to his contemporaries as the ‘enlightened one who had spent a night with the Patriarch’. Afterwards, he wrote the famous work, ‘A Song on Spiritual Attainment’, which circulates widely. His posthumous title is ‘Grand Master Wu Hsiang’ (He who is above form or phenomena), and he was also called by his contemporaries ‘Dhyana Master Chen Chiao’ (He who is really enlightened).
Bhikkhu Chih Huang, a follower of the Dhyana School, after his consultation with the Fifth Patriarch (as to the progress of his work) considered himself as having attained samadhi. For twenty years he confined himself in a small temple and kept up the position all the time. Hsuan Ts’e, a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch on a meditation journey to the northern bank of Huang Ho, heard about him and called at his temple. “What are you doing here?” asked Hsuan Ts’e. “I am abiding in samadhi,” replied his friend, Chih Huang. “Abiding in samadhi, did you say?” observed Hsuan Ts’e. “I wish to know whether you are doing it consciously or unconsciously. For if you are doing it unconsciously, it would mean that it is possible for all inanimate objects such as earthenware, stones, trees, and weeds, to attain samadhi. On the other hand, if you are doing it consciously, than all animate objects or sentient beings would be in samadhi also.” “When I am in samadhi,” observed Chih Huang, “I know neither consciousness nor unconsciousness.” “If that is the case,” said Hsuan Ts’e, “it is perpetual samadhi; in which state there is neither abiding nor leaving. That state which you can abide in or leave off is not the great Samadhi.” Chih Huang was dumbfounded. After a long while, he asked, “May I know who is your teacher?” “My teacher is the Sixth Patriarch of Ts’ao Ch’i,” replied Hsuan Ts’e. “How does he define dhyana and samadhi?” Chih Huang asked.

“According to his teaching,” replied Hsuan Ts’e, “the Dharmakaya is perfect and serene; its quintessence and its function are in a state of Thusness. The five skandhas are intrinsically void and the six sense-objects are nonexistent. There is neither abiding nor leaving in samadhi. There is neither quietude nor perturbation. The nature of dhyana is non-abiding, so we should get above the state of ‘abiding in the calmness of dhyana’. The nature of dhyana is uncreative, so we should get above the notion of ‘creating a state of dhyana’. The state of the mind may be likened unto space, but (it is infinite) and so it is without the limitations of the latter.” Having heard this, Chih Huang went immediately to Ts’ao Ch’i to interview the Patriarch. Upon being asked whence he came, he told the Patriarch in detail the conversation he had had with Hsuan Ts’e. “What Hsuan Ts’e said is quite right,” said the Patriarch. Let your mind be in a state such as that of the illimitable void, but do not attach it to the idea of ‘vacuity’. Let it function freely. Whether you are in activity or at rest, let your mind abide nowhere. Forget the discrimination between a sage and an ordinary man. Ignore the distinction of subject and object. Let the Essence of Mind and all phenomenal objects be in a state of Thusness. Then you will be in samadhi all the time.” Chih Huang was thereby fully enlightened. What he had considered for the past twenty years as an attainment now vanished. On that night inhabitants of Ho Pei (the northern bank of the Yellow River) heard a voice in the air to the effect that Dhyana Master Chih Huang had on that day gained enlightenment. Some time after Chih Huang bid the Patriarch adieu and returned to Ho Pei, where he taught a great number of men and women, monks as well as the laity.
A Bhikkhu once asked the Patriarch what sort of man could obtain the keynote of the teaching of Huang Mei. “He who understands the Buddha Dharma can get it,” replied the Patriarch. “Have you, Sir, got it then?” asked the Bhikkhu. “I do not understand the Buddha Dharma,” was his reply.
One day the Patriarch wanted to wash the robe which he had inherited, but could find no good stream for the purpose. Thereupon he walked to a place about five miles from the rear of the monastery, where he noticed that plants and trees grew profusely and the environment gave an air of good omen. He shook his staff (which makes a tinkling noise, as rings are attached to the top of it) and stuck it in the ground. Immediately water spurted out and before long a pool was formed. While he was kneeling down on a rock to wash the robe, a bhikkhu suddenly appeared before him and tendered him homage.
“My name is Fang Pien,” said he, “and I am a native of Szechuan. When I was in South India I met Patriarch Bodhidharma, who instructed me to return to China.

‘The Womb of the Orthodox Dharma,’ said he, ‘together with the robe which I inherited from Mahakasyapa have now been transmitted to the Sixth Patriarch, who is now in Ts’ao Ch’i of Shao Chou. Go there to have a look at them and to pay your respect to the Patriarch.’ After a long voyage, I have arrived. May I see the robe and begging bowl you inherited?” Having shown him the two relics, the Patriarch asked him what line of work he was taking up. “I am pretty good at sculptural work,” replied he. “Let me see some of your work then,” demanded the Patriarch. Fang Pien was confounded at the time, but after a few days he was able to complete a life-like statue of the Patriarch, about seven inches high, a masterpiece of sculpture. (Upon seeing the statue), the Patriarch laughed and said to Fang Pien, “You know something about the nature of sculptural work, but you do not seem to know the nature of Buddha.” He then put his hand on Fang Pien’s head (the Buddhist way of blessing) and declared, “You shall forever be a ‘field of merit’ for human and celestial beings.” In addition, the Patriarch rewarded his service with a robe, which Fang Pien divided into three parts, one for dressing the statue, one for himself, and one for burying in the ground after covering it up with palm leaves. (When the burial took place) he took a vow to the effect that by the time the robe was exhumed he would be reincarnated as the abbot of the monastery, and also that he would undertake to renovate the shrine and the building.
Abhikkhu quoted the following stanza composed by Dhyana MasterWo Lun:
Wo Lun has ways and means To insulate the mind from all thoughts. When circumstances do not react on the mind The Bodhi tree will grow steadily.
Hearing this, the Patriarch said, “This stanza indicates that the composer of it has not yet fully realized the Essence of Mind. To put its teaching into practice (would gain no liberation), but bind oneself more tightly.” Thereupon, he showed the Bhikkhu the following stanza of his own:
Hui Neng has no ways and means To insulate the mind from all thoughts.
Circumstances often react on my mind, And I wonder how can theBodhi tree grow?

Chapter VIII. The Sudden School and the Gradual School

While the Patriarch was living in Pao Lin Monastery, the Grand Master Shen Hsiu was preaching in Yu Chuan Monastery of Ching Nan. At that time the two Schools, that of Hui Neng of the South and Shen Hsiu of the North, flourished side by side.

As the two Schools were distinguished from each other by the names “Sudden” (the South) and “Gradual” (the North), the question which sect they should follow baffled certain Buddhist scholars (of that time). (Seeing this), the Patriarch addressed the assembly as follows: “So far as the Dharma is concerned, there can be only one School. (If a distinction exists) it exists in the fact that the founder of one school is a northern man, while the other is a Southerner. While there is only one Dharma, some disciples realize it more quickly than others. The reason why the names ‘Sudden’ and ‘Gradual’ are given is that some disciples are superior to others in mental dispositions.
So far as the Dharma is concerned, the distinction of ‘Sudden’ and ‘Gradual’ does not exist.” (In spite of what the Patriarch had said,) the followers of Shen Hsiu used to criticize the Patriarch. They discredited him by saying that as he was illiterate he could not distinguish himself in any respect. Shen Hsiu himself, on the other hand, admitted that he was inferior to the Patriarch, that the Patriarch attained wisdom without the aid of a teacher, and that he understood thoroughly the teaching of the Mahayana School.
“Moreover,” he added, “my teacher, the Fifth Patriarch, would not have transmitted to him the robe and the bowl without good cause. I regret that, owing to the patronage of the state, which I by no means deserve, I am unable to travel far to receive instructions from him personally. (But) you men should go to Ts’ao Ch’i to consult him.” One day he said to his disciple, Chi Ch’eng, “You are intelligent and bright. On my behalf, you may go to Ts’ao Ch’i to attend the lectures there. Try your best to remember what you learn, so that upon your return you may repeat it to me.” Acting on his teacher’s instruction, Chi Ch’eng went to Ts’ao Ch’i. Without telling whence he came he joined the crowd there to call on the Patriarch. “Someone has hidden himself here to plagiarize my lecture,” said the Patriarch to the assembly. Thereupon, Chi Ch’eng came out, made obeisance, and told the Patriarch what his mission was. “You come from Yu Ch’uan Monastery, do you?” asked the Patriarch. “You must be a spy.” “No, I am not,” replied Chi Ch’eng. “Why not?” asked the Patriarch. “If I had not told you,” said Chi Ch’eng, “I would be a spy. Since I have told you all about it, I am not.” “How does your teacher instruct his disciples?” asked the Patriarch. “He tells us to meditate on purity, to keep up the sitting position all the time and not to lie down,” replied Chi Ch’eng. “To meditate on purity,” said the Patriarch, “is an infirmity and not Dhyana. To restrict oneself to the sitting position all the time is unprofitable. Listen to my stanza:
A living man sits and does not lie down (all the time), While a dead man lies down and does not sit. On this physical body of ours Why should we impose the task of sitting?”

Making obeisance a second time, Chi Ch’eng remarked, “Though I have studied Buddhism for nine years under the Grand Master Shen Hsiu, my mind has not yet been awakened for enlightenment. But as soon as you speak to me my mind is enlightened. As the question of incessant rebirths is a momentous one, please take pity on me and give me further instruction.” “I understand,” said the Patriarch, “that your teacher gives his disciples instructions on Sila (disciplinary rules), Dhyana (meditation), and Prajna (Wisdom). Please tell me how he defines these terms.” “According to his teaching,” replied Chi Ch’eng, “to refrain from all evil actions is Sila, to practice whatever is good is Prajna, and to purify one’s own mind is Dhyana.
This is the way he teaches us. May I know your system?” “If I tell you,” said the Patriarch, “that I have a system of Law to transmit to others, I am cheating you. What I do to my disciples is to liberate them from their own bondage with such devices as the case may need. To use a name which is nothing but a makeshift, this (state of liberation) may be called Samadhi.
The way your master teaches Sila, Dhyana, and Prajna is wonderful; but my exposition is different.” “How can it be different, Sir,” asked Chi Ch’eng, “when there is only one form of Sila, Dhyana and Prajna?” “The teaching of your master,” replied the Patriarch, “is for the followers of the Mahayana School, while mine is for those of the Supreme School. The fact that some realize the Dharma more quickly and deeply than others accounts for the difference in the interpretation. You may listen, and see if my instruction is the same as his. In expounding the Law, I do not deviate from the authority of the Essence of Mind (i.e., I speak what I realize intuitively). To speak otherwise would indicate that the speaker’s Essence of Mind is under obscuration and that he can touch the phenomenal side of the Law only. The true teaching of Sila, Dhyana and Prajna should be based on the principle that the function of all things derives from the Essence of Mind. Listen to my stanza:
To free the mind from all impurity is the Sila of the Essence of Mind. To free the mind from all disturbance is the Dhyana of the Essence of Mind. That which neither increases nor decreases is the Diamond (used as a symbol for the Essence of Mind); ‘Coming’ and ‘going’ are different phases of Samadhi.” Having heard this, Chi Ch’eng apologized (for having asked a foolish question) and thanked the Patriarch for his instruction. He then submitted the following stanza:
The ‘self’ is nothing but a phantasm created by the union of five skandhas, And a phantasm can have nothing to do with absolute reality. To hold that there is a Tathata (Suchness) for us to aim at or to return to Is another example of ‘Impure Dharma’.

Approving what he said in his stanza, the Patriarch said to him again, “The teaching of your master on Sila, Dhyana and Prajna applies to wise men of the inferior type, while mine [applies] to those of the superior type. He who realizes the Essence of Mind may dispense with such doctrines as Bodhi, Nirvana, and ‘Knowledge of Emancipation’. Only those who do not possess a single system of Law can formulate all systems of Law, and only those who can understand the meaning (of this paradox) may use such terms. It makes no difference to those who have realized the Essence of Mind whether they formulate all systems of Law or dispense with all of them. They are at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go’ (i.e., they may remain in or leave this world at their own free will). They are free from obstacles or impediments. They take appropriate actions as circumstances require. They give suitable answers according to the temperament of the enquirer. They see that all Nirmanakayas are one with the Essence of Mind. They attain liberation, psychic powers and Samadhi, which enable them to perform the arduous task of universal salvation as easily as if they were only playing. Such are the men who have realized the Essence of Mind!” “By what principle are we guided in dispensing with all systems of Law?” was Chi Ch’eng’s next question. “When our Essence of Mind is free from impurity, infatuations and disturbances,” replied the Patriarch, “when we introspect our mind from moment to moment with Prajna, and when we do not cling to things and phenomenal objects we are free and liberated. Why should we formulate any system of Law when our goal can be reached no matter whether we turn to the right or to the left? Since it is with our own efforts that we realize the Essence of Mind, and since the realization and the practice of the Law are both done instantaneously, and not gradually or stage by stage, the formulation of any system of Law is unnecessary. As all Dharmas are intrinsically Nirvanic, how can there be gradation in them?” Chi Ch’eng made obeisance and volunteered to be an attendant of the Patriarch. In that capacity, he served both day and night.
Bhikkhu Chih Ch’e, whose secular name was Chang Hsing-Ch’ang, was a native of Kiangsi. As a young man, he was fond of chivalric exploits. Since the two Dhyana Schools, Hui Neng of the South and Shen Hsiu of the North, flourished side by side, a strong sectarian feeling ran high on the part of the disciples, in spite of the tolerant spirit shown by the two masters.

As they called their own teacher, Shen Hsiu, the Sixth Patriarch on no better authority than their own, the followers of the Northern School were jealous of the rightful owner of that title whose claim, supported by the inherited robe, was too well known to be ignored. (So in order to get rid of the rival teacher) they sent Chang Hsing-Ch’ang (who was then a layman) to murder the Patriarch. With his psychic power of mind-reading the Patriarch was able to know of the plot beforehand. (Making ready for the coming of the murderer), he put ten taels by the side of his own seat. Chang duly arrived, and one evening entered the Patriarch’s room to carry out the murder. With outstretched neck the Patriarch waited for the fatal blow. Thrice did Chang cut, (but) not a single wound was thereby inflicted! The Patriarch then addressed him as follows:
A straight sword is not crooked, While a crooked one is not straight. I owe you money only; But life I do not owe.” The surprise was too great for Chang; he fell into a swoon and did not revive for a considerable time. Remorseful and penitent, he asked for mercy and volunteered to join the Order at once. Handing him the money, the Patriarch said, “You had better not remain here, lest my followers should do you harm.
Come to see me in disguise some other time, and I will take good care of you.” As directed, Chang ran away the same night. Subsequently, he joined the Order and, when fully ordained, proved himself to be a very diligent monk. One day, recollecting what the Patriarch has said, he took the long journey to see him and to tender him homage. “Why do you come so late?” asked the Patriarch. “I have been thinking of you all the time.” “Since that day you so graciously pardoned my crime,” said Chang, “I have become a bhikkhu and have studied Buddhism diligently. Yet I find it difficult to requite you adequately unless I can show my gratitude by spreading the Law for the deliverance of sentient beings. In studying the Maha Parinirvana Sutra, which I read very often, I cannot understand the meaning of ‘eternal’ and ‘not eternal’. Will you, Sir, kindly give me a short explanation.” “What is not eternal is the Buddha-nature,” replied the Patriarch, “and what is eternal is the discriminating mind together with all meritorious and demeritorious Dharmas.” “Your explanation, Sir, contradicts the Sutra,” said Chang. “I dare not, since I inherit the ‘Heart-Seal’ of Lord Buddha,” replied the Patriarch. “According to the Sutra,” said Chang, “the Buddha-nature is eternal, while all meritorious and demeritorious Dharmas, including the Bodhi-citta (the Wisdom-heart) are not eternal. As you hold otherwise, is this not a contradiction? Your explanation has now intensified my doubts and perplexities.”

“On one occasion,” replied the Patriarch, “I had Bhikkhuni Wu Ching-Ts’ang recite to me the whole book of the Maha Parinirvana Sutra, so that I could explain it to her. Every word and every meaning I explained on that occasion agreed with the text. As to the explanation I give you now, it likewise differs not from the text.” “As my capacity for understanding is a poor one,” observed Chang, “will you kindly explain to me more fully and more clearly.” “Don’t you understand?” said the Patriarch. “If Buddha-nature is eternal, it would be of no use to talk about meritorious anddemeritorious Dharmas; and until the end of a kalpa no one would arouse the Bodhi-citta.
Therefore, when I say ‘not-eternal’ it is exactly what Lord Buddha meant for ‘eternal’. Again, if allDharmas are not eternal, then every thing or object would have a nature of its own (i.e., positive essence) to suffer death and birth. In that case, it would mean that the Essence of Mind which is truly eternal does not pervade everywhere. Therefore when I say ‘eternal’ it is exactly what Lord Buddha meant by ‘not-eternal’. “Because ordinary men and heretics believe in ‘heretical eternalism’ (i.e., they believe in the eternity of soul and of the world), and because sravakas (aspirants to arhatship) mistake the eternity of Nirvana as something not eternal, eight upside-down notions arise. [Ordinary men and heretics mistake the non-eternity, non-happiness, non-egoism and non-purity of mundane existence for eternity, happiness, egoism and purity; while Sravakas mistake the Eternity, Happiness, Egoism and Purity of Nirvana for Non-eternity, Non-happiness, Non-egoism and Non-purity.] In order to refute these one-sided views, Lord Buddha preached in the Maha Parinirvana Sutra the ‘Ultimate Doctrine’ of Buddhist teaching, i.e., true eternity, true happiness, true self and true purity. “In following slavishly the wording of the Sutra, you have ignored the spirit of the text. In assuming that what perishes is non-eternal and that what is fixed and immutable is eternal, you have misinterpreted Lord Buddha’s dying instruction (contained in the Maha Parinirvana Sutra) which is perfect, profound, and complete. You may read the Sutra a thousand times but you will get no benefit out of it.” All of a sudden Chang awoke to full enlightenment, and submitted the following stanza to the Patriarch:
In order to refute the bigoted belief of ‘Non-eternity’ Lord Buddha preached the ‘Eternal Nature’. He who does not know that such preaching is only a skilful device May be likened to the child who picks up pebbles and calls them gems. Without effort on my part The Buddha-nature manifests itself.
This is due neither to the instruction of my teacher Nor to any attainment of my own.
“You have now thoroughly realized (the Essence of Mind),” commended the Patriarch, “and hereafter you should name yourself ChihCh’e (to realize thoroughly).”Chih Ch’e thanked the Patriarch, made obeisance, and departed.
Note. – The Buddha’s object is to get rid of bigoted belief in any form. He would preach ‘Non-eternity’ to believers ofEternalism; and preach ‘neither Eternity nor Non-eternity’ to those who believe in both.
A thirteen-year-old boy named Shen Hui, who was born of a Kao family of Hsiang Yang, came from Yu Chuan Monastery to tender homage to the Patriarch. “My learned friend,” said the Patriarch, “it must be hard for you to undertake such a long journey. But can you tell me what is the ‘fundamental principle’? If you can, you know the owner (i.e., the Essence of Mind). Try to say something, please.” “Non-attachment is the fundamental principle, and to know the owner is to realize (the Essence of Mind),” replied Shen Hui. “This novice is fit for nothing but to talk loosely,” reproved the Patriarch.
Thereupon Shen Hui asked the Patriarch, “In your meditation, Sir, do you see (your Essence of Mind) or not?” Striking him three blows with his staff, the Patriarch asked him whether he felt pain or not. “Painful and not painful,” replied Shen Hui. “I see and I see not,” retorted the Patriarch. “How is it that you see and see not?” asked Shen Hui. “What I see is my own faults,” replied the Patriarch. “What I do not see is the good, the evil, the merit and the demerit of others. That is why I see and I see not. Now tell me what you mean by ‘painful and not painful’. If you feel no pain, you would be as a piece of wood or stone. On the other hand, should you feel pain, and anger of hatred is thereby aroused, you would be in the same position as an ordinary man. “The ‘seeing’ and ‘not-seeing’ you referred to are a pair of opposites; while ‘painful’ and ‘not painful’ belong to conditioned Dharma which becomes and ceases. Without having realized your own Essence of Mind, you dare to hoodwink others.” Shen Hui apologized, made obeisance, and thanked the Patriarch for his instruction. Addressing him again the Patriarch said, “If you are under delusion and cannot realize your Essence of Mind, you should seek the advice of a pious and learned friend. When your mind is enlightened, you will know the Essence of Mind, and then you may tread the Path the right way. Now you are under delusion, and do not know your Essence of Mind. Yet you dare to ask whether I know my Essence of Mind or not. If I do, I realize it myself, but the fact that I know it cannot help you from being under delusion. Similarly, if you know your Essence of Mind your knowing would be of no use to me. Instead of asking others, why not see it for yourself and know it for yourself?”

Making obeisance more than a hundred times, Shen Hui again expressed regret and asked the Patriarch to forgive him. (Henceforth) he worked diligently as the Patriarch’s attendant.
Addressing the assembly one day, the Patriarch said, “I have an article which has no head, no name nor appellation, no front and no back. Do any of you know it?” Stepping out from the crowd, Shen Hui replied, “It is the source of all Buddhas, and the Buddha-nature of Shen Hui.” “I have told you already that it is without name and appellation, and yet you call it ‘Source of Buddhas’ and ‘Buddha-nature’,” reproved the Patriarch. “Even if you confine yourself in a mat shed for further study, you will be a Dhyana scholar of secondhand knowledge only (i.e., knowledge from books and verbal authority instead of Knowledge obtained intuitively). After the death of the Patriarch, Shen Hui left for Loyang, where he spread widely the teaching of the Sudden School. The popular work entitled ‘An Explicit Treatise on Dhyana Teaching’ was written by him. He is generally known by the name Dhyana Master Ho Tse (the name of his monastery).
Seeing that many questions were put to him in bad faith by followers of various Schools, and that a great number of such questioners had gathered around him, the Patriarch addressed them out of compassion as follows: “A treader of the Path should do away with all thoughts, good as well as evil ones. It is merely as an expedient that the Essence of Mind is so called; it cannot really be named by any name. This ‘non-dual nature’ is called the ‘true nature’, upon which all Dharma systems of teaching are based. One should realize the Essence of Mind as soon as one hears of it.” Upon hearing this, every one made obeisance and asked the Patriarch to allow them to be his disciples.

Chapter IX. Royal Patronage

An edict dated the 15th day of the first Moon of the first year of Shen Lung, issued by the Empress Dowager Tse T’ien and the Emperor Chung Tsung ran as follows: “Since we invited Grand Masters Hui An and Shen Hsiu to stay in the palace to receive our offerings, we have studied the ‘Buddha Vehicle’ under them whenever we could find time after attending to our imperial duties. Out of sheer modesty, these two Masters recommended that we should seek the advice of Dhyana Master Hui Neng of the South, who has esoterically inherited the Dharma and the robe of the Fifth Patriarch as well as the ‘Heart Seal’ of Lord Buddha. “We hereby send Hsueh Chien as the courier of this Edict to invite His Holiness to come, and trust His Holiness will graciously favor us with an early visit to the capital.”

On the ground of illness, the Patriarch sent a reply to decline the royal invitation and asked to be allowed to spend his remaining years ‘in the forest’. “Dhyana experts in the capital,” said Hsueh Chien (when interviewing the Patriarch), “unanimously advise people to meditate in the sitting position to attain Samadhi. They say that this is the only way to realize the Norm (Tao), and that it is impossible for anyone to obtain liberation without going through meditation exercises. May I know your way of teaching, Sir?” “The Norm is to be realized by the mind,” replied the Patriarch, “and does not depend on the sitting position. The Diamond Sutra says that it is wrong for anyone to assert that the Tathagata comes or goes, sits or reclines. Why? Because the Tathagata’s ‘Dhyana of Purity’ implies neither coming from anywhere nor going to anywhere, neither becoming nor causing to be. All Dharmas are calm and void, and such is the Tathagata’s ‘Seat of Purity’. Strictly speaking, there is even no such thing as ‘attainment’; why then should we bother ourselves about the sitting position?” “Upon my return,” said Hsueh Chien, “Their Majesties will certainly ask me to make a report. Will you, Sir, kindly give me some essential hints on your teaching, so that I can make them known not only to Their Majesties, but also to all Buddhist scholars in the capital? As the flame of one lamp may kindle hundreds or thousands of others, so the ignorant will be enlightened (by your teaching), and light will produce light without end.” “The Norm implies neither light nor darkness,” replied the Patriarch. “Light and darkness signify the idea of alternation. (It is not correct to say) that light will produce light without end, because there is an end, since light and darkness are a pair of opposites. The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says, ‘The Norm has no comparison, since it is not a relative term’.” “Light signifies wisdom,” argued Hsueh Chien, “and darkness signifies klesa (defilement). If a treader of the Path does not break up klesa with the force of wisdom, how is he going to free himself from the ‘wheel of birth and death’, which is beginningless?” “Klesa is Bodhi,” rejoined the Patriarch. “The two are the same and not different. To break up klesa with wisdom is the teaching of the Sravaka (Arhat) School and the Pratyeka Buddha School, the followers of which are of the ‘Goat Vehicle’ and ‘Deer Vehicle’ standard respectively. To those of superior mental dispositions such teaching would be of no use at all.” “What then, is the teaching of the Mahayana School?” asked Hsueh Chien. “From the point of view of ordinary men,” replied the Patriarch, “enlightenment and ignorance are two separate things. Wise men who realize thoroughly the Essence of Mind know that they are of the same nature.

This same nature or non-dual nature is what is called the ‘real nature’, which neither decreases in the case of ordinary men and ignorant persons, nor increases in the case of the enlightened sage; which is not disturbed in a state of annoyance, nor calm in a state of Samadhi. It is neither eternal nor non-eternal; it neither goes nor comes; it is not to be found in the exterior, nor in the interior, nor in the space between the two. It is above existence and non-existence; its nature and its phenomena are always in a state of ‘Thusness’; it is permanent and immutable. Such is the Norm.” Hsueh Chien asked, “You say that it is above existence and non-existence. How then do you differentiate it from the teaching of the heretics who teach the same thing?” “In the teaching of the heretics,” replied the Patriarch, “‘nonexistence’ means the end of ‘existence’, while ‘existence’ is used in contrast with ‘non-existence’. What they mean by ‘non-existence’ is not actually annihilation and what they call ‘existence’ does not really exist. What I mean by ‘above existence and non-existence’ is this; intrinsically it exists not, and at the present moment it will not be annihilated. Such is the difference between my teaching and that of the heretics. “If you wish to know the essential points of my teaching, you should free yourself from all thoughts, good ones as well as bad; then your mind will be in a state of purity, calm and serene all the time, and its usefulness as manifold as the grains of sand in the Ganges.” The preaching of the Patriarch suddenly awoke Hsueh Chien to full enlightenment. He made obeisance and bid the Patriarch adieu. Upon his return to the palace, he reported what the Patriarch had said to Their Majesties. In that same year, on the third day of the ninth Moon, an edict was issued commending the Patriarch in the following terms: “On the ground of old age and poor health, the Patriarch declined our invitation to come to the capital. Devoting his life to the practice of Buddhism for our benefit, he is indeed the ‘field of merit’ of the nation. Like Vimalakirti, he widely spreads the Mahayana teaching, transmits the doctrine of the Dhyana School, and expounds the system of ‘Non-dual’ Law. “Through the medium of Hsueh Chien, to whom the Patriarch has imparted the ‘Buddhaknowledge’, we are fortunate enough to have a chance to understand for ourselves the teaching of the Supreme Vehicle. This must be due to our accumulated merits and our ‘root of goodness’ planted in past lives; otherwise, we should not be the contemporaries of His Holiness. “In appreciation of the graciousness of the Patriarch, we present to him herewith a Mo Na robe (a valuable Buddhist robe made in Korea) and a crystal bowl.
The Prefect of Shao Chou is hereby ordered to renovate his monastery and to convert his old residence into a temple which is to be named ‘Kuo En’ (State Munificence).”

Chapter X. His Final Instructions

One day the Patriarch sent for his disciples,FaHai,ChihCh’eng,FaTa, Shen Hui, Chih Ch’ang, Chih Tung, Chih Ch’e, Chih Tao,Fa Chen,FaJu, etc., and addressed them as follows: “You men are different from the common lot. After my entering into Nirvana, each of you will be the Dhyana Master of a certain district. I am, therefore, going to give you some hints on preaching, so that you may keep up the tradition of our School. “First mention the three Categories of Dharmas, and then the thirty-six ‘pairs of opposites’ in the activities (of the Essence of Mind). Then teach how to avoid the two extremes of ‘coming in’ or ‘going out’. In all preaching, stray not from the Essence of Mind. Whenever a man puts a question to you, answer him in antonyms, so that a ‘pair of opposites’ will be formed, such as ‘coming’ and ‘going’. When the interdependence of the two is entirely done away with there would be, in the absolute sense, neither ‘coming’ nor ‘going’. “The three categories of Dharmas are:
Skandhas (aggregates), Ayatanas (places of meeting),Dhatus (factors of consciousness).
The five Skandhas are:
rupa (matter), vedana (sensation), samjna (perception), samskara (tendencies of mind), and vijnana (consciousness).
The twelve Ayatanas are:
Six Sense Objects (external). Six Sense Organs (internal). Object of sight Organ of sight Object of hearing Organ of hearing Object of smell Organ of smell Object of taste Organ of taste Object of touch Organ of touch Object of thought Organ of thought The eighteen Dhatus are:
The six sense objects, six sense organs and six recipient vijnanas.
“Since the Essence of Mind is the embodiment of all Dharmas, it is called the Alaya (Repository) Consciousness. But as soon as the process of thinking or reasoning is started, the Essence of Mind is transmuted into (various)vijnanas. When the six recipientvijnanas come into being, they perceive the six sense objects through the six ‘doors’ (of sense). Thus, the functioning of the eighteen dhatus derive their impetus from the Essence of Mind. Whether they function with an evil tendency or a good one depends upon what mood – good or evil – the Essence of Mind is in. Evil functioning is that of a common man, while good functioning is that of a Buddha. It is because there are ‘pairs of opposites’ inherent in the Essence of Mind that the functioning of the eighteen dhatus derive their impetus.
“The thirty-six ‘Pairs of opposites’ are: Five external inanimate ones: Heaven and earth, sun and moon, light and darkness, positive element and negative element, fire and water. Twelve Dharmalaksana (phenomenal objects): Speech anddharma, affirmation and negation, matter and non-matter, form and without form, taints (impurity) and absence of taint, matter and void, motion and quiescence, purity and impurity, ordinary people and sages, the Sangha and the laity, the aged and the young, the big and the small. Nineteen pairs denoting the functioning of the Essence of Mind: Long and short, good and evil, infatuated and enlightened, ignorant and wise, perturbed and calm, merciful and wicked, abstinent (Sila) and indulgent, straight and crooked, full and empty, steep and level, klesa and Bodhi, permanent and transient, compassionate and cruel, happy and angry, generous and mean, forward and backward, existent and non-existent, Dharmakaya and physical body, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya.
“He who knows how to use these thirty-six pairs realizes the all-pervading principle which goes through the teaching of all Sutras. Whether he is ‘coming in’ or ‘going out’, he is able to avoid the two extremes. “In the functioning of the Essence of Mind and in conversation with others, outwardly we should free ourselves from attachment to objects, and inwardly, we should free ourselves from attachment to the idea of the Void.
To believe in the reality of objects or in Nihilism results in fallacious views or intensified ignorance respectively. “A bigoted believer in Nihilism blasphemes against the Sutras on the ground that literature (i.e., the Buddhist Scriptures) is unnecessary (for the study of Buddhism). If that were so, then neither would it be right for us to speak, since speech forms the substance of literature. He would also argue that in the direct method (literally, the straight Path) literature is discarded. But does he appreciate that the two words ‘is discarded’ are also literature? Upon hearing others recite the Sutras such a man would criticize the speakers as ‘addicted to scriptural authority’. It is bad enough for him to confine this mistaken notion to himself, but in addition, he blasphemes against the Buddhist scriptures.
You men should know that it is a serious offence to speak ill of the Sutras, for the consequence is grave indeed! “He who believes in the reality of outward objects tries to seek the form (from without) by practicing a certain system of doctrine. He may furnish spacious lecture-halls for the discussion of Realism or Nihilism, but such a man will not for numerous kalpas realize the Essence of Mind. “We should tread the Path according to the teaching of the Law, and not keep our mind in a state of indolence, thereby creating obstacles to its understanding.

To preach or to hear the Law without practicing it gives occasion for the arising of heretical views. Hence, we should tread the Path according to the teaching of the Law, and in the dissemination of the Dharma we should not be influenced by the concept of the reality of objects. “If you understand what I say, and make use of it in preaching, in practice, and in your daily life, you will grasp the distinguishing feature of our School. “Whenever a question is put to you, answer it in the negative if it is an affirmative one; and vice versa. If you are asked about an ordinary man, tell the enquirer something about a sage; and vice versa. From the correlation or interdependence of the two opposites the doctrine of the ‘Mean’ may be grasped. If all other questions are answered in this manner, you will not be far away from the truth. “Supposing someone asks you what is darkness, answer him thus: Light is the hetu (root condition) and darkness is the pratyaya (conditions which bring about any given phenomenon). When light disappears, darkness appears. The two are in contrast to each other. From the correlation or interdependence of the two the doctrine of the ‘Mean’ arises.
“In this way all other questions are to be answered. To ensure the perpetuation of the aim and object of our School in the transmission of the Dharma to your successors, this instruction should be handed down from one generation to another.” In the seventh Moon of the year of Jen Tzu, the first year of T’ai Chi or Yen Ho Era, the Patriarch sent some of his disciples to Hsin Chou to have a shrine (stupa) built within the Kuo En monastery, with instructions that the work should be completed as soon as possible. Next year, when summer was well-nigh spent, the stupa was duly completed. On the first day of the seventh Moon, the Patriarch assembled his disciples and addressed them as follows: “I am going to leave this world by the eighth Moon. Should you have any doubts (on the doctrine) please ask me in time, so that I can clear them up for you. You may find no one to teach you after my departure.” The sad news moved Fa Hai and other disciples to tears. Shen Hui, on the other hand, remained unperturbed. Commending him, the Patriarch said, “Young Master Shen Hui is the only one here who has attained that state of mind which sees no difference in good or evil, knows neither sorrow nor happiness, and is unmoved by praise or blame. After so many years’ training in this mountain, what progress have you made? What are you crying for now? Are you worrying for me because I do not know whither I shall go? But I do know; otherwise I could not tell you beforehand what will happen.
What makes you cry is that you don’t know whither I am going. If you did, there would be no occasion for you to cry. In Suchness there is neither coming nor going, neither becoming nor cessation.

Sit down, all of you, and let me read you a stanza on reality and illusion, and on motion and quietude. Read it, and your opinion will accord with mine.
Practice it, and you will grasp the aim and object of our School.” The assembly made obeisance and asked the Patriarch to let them hear the stanza, which read as follows:
In all things there is nothing real, And so we should free ourselves from the concept of the reality of objects. He who believes in the reality of objects Is bound by this very concept, which is entirely illusive. He who realizes the Essence of Mind within himself Knows that the ‘True Mind’ is to be sought apart from phenomena. If one’s mind is bound by illusive phenomena Where is Reality to be found, when all phenomena are unreal? Sentient beings are mobile; Inanimate objects are stationary. He who trains himself by exercise to be motionless (Gets no benefit) other than making himself as still as an inanimate object. Should you find true Immobility There is Immobility within activity. Immobility (like that of inanimate objects) is immobility (and not Dhyana), And in inanimate objects the seed of Buddhahood is not to be found. He who is adept in the discrimination of various Dharmalaksana Abides immovably in the ‘First Principle’ (Nirvana). Thus are all things to be perceived, and this is the functioning of Tathata (Suchness). Treaders of the Path, Exert yourself and take heed That as followers of the Mahayana School You do not embrace that sort of knowledge Which binds you to the wheel of birth and death. With those who are sympathetic Let us have discussion on Buddhism. As for those whose point of view differs from ours Let us treat them politely and thus make them happy. (But) disputes are alien to our School, For they are incompatible with its doctrine. To argue with others in disregard of this rule Subjects one’s Essence of Mind to the bitterness of mundane existence.
Having heard this stanza, the assembly made obeisance in a body. In accordance with the wishes of the Patriarch, they concentrated their minds to put the stanza into actual practice, and refrained from religious controversy.
Seeing that the Patriarch would pass away in the near future, the head Monk, Fa Hai, after prostrating himself twice asked, “Sir, upon your entering Nirvana, who will be the inheritor of the robe and the Dharma?” “All my sermons,” replied the Patriarch, “from the time I preached in Ta Fan monastery, may be copied out for circulation in a volume to be entitled ‘Sutra Spoken on the High Seat of the Treasure of the Law’. Take good care of it and hand it down from one generation to another for the salvation of all sentient beings. He who preaches in accordance with its teachings preaches the Orthodox Dharma.

“As to transmission of the robe, this practice is to be discontinued. Why? Because you all have implicit faith in my teaching, and being free from all doubts you are able to carry out the lofty object of our School. Furthermore, according to the implied meaning of the stanza by Bodhidharma, the first Patriarch, on the transmission of the Dharma, the robe need not be handed down. The stanza reads:
The object of my coming to this land (i.e., China) Is to transmit the Dharma for the deliverance of those under delusion. In five petals the flowers will be complete. Thereafter, the fruit will come to bearing naturally.
The Patriarch added, “Learned Audience, purify your minds and listen to me. He who wishes to attain the All-knowing Knowledge of a Buddha should know the ‘Samadhi of Specific Object’ and the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’. In all circumstances we should free ourselves from attachment to objects, and our attitude towards them should be neutral and indifferent. Let neither success nor failure, neither profit nor loss, worry us. Let us be calm and serene, modest and accommodating, simple and dispassionate. Such is the ‘Samadhi of Specific Object’. On all occasions, whether we are standing, walking, sitting or reclining, let us be absolutely straightforward. Then, remaining in our sanctuary, and without the least movement, we shall virtually be in the Kingdom of Pure Land. Such is the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’. “He who is complete with these two forms of Samadhi may be likened to the ground with seeds sown therein. Covered up in the mud, the seeds receive nourishment there from and grow until the fruit comes into bearing. “My preaching to you now may be likened to the seasonable rain which brings moisture to a vast area of land. The Buddha-nature within you may be likened to the seed which, being moistened by the rain, will grow rapidly. He who carries out my instructions will certainly attainBodhi. He who follows my teaching will certainly attain the superb fruit (of Buddhahood). Listen to my stanza:
Buddha-seeds latent in our mind Will sprout upon the coming of the all pervading rain. The flower of the doctrine having been intuitively grasped, One is bound to reap the fruit of Enlightenment.
Then he added, “The Dharma is non-dual and so is the mind. The Path is pure and above all forms. I warn you not to use those exercises for meditation on quietude or for keeping the mind a blank. The mind is by nature pure, so there is nothing for us to crave for or give up. Do your best, each of you, and go wherever circumstances lead.” Thereupon the disciples made obeisance and withdrew.

On the eighth day of the seventh Moon, the Patriarch gave a sudden order to his disciples to get ready a boat for Hsin Chou (his native place). In a body they entreated him earnestly and pitifully to stay. “It is only natural that I should go,” said the Patriarch, “for death is the inevitable outcome of birth, and even the various Buddhas who appear in this world have to go through an earthly death before entering Nirvana. There can be no exception for my physical body, which must be laid down somewhere.” “After your visit to Hsin Chou,” entreated the assembly, “please return here sooner or later.” “Fallen leaves go back to where the root is, and when I first came I had no mouth,” replied the Patriarch. Then they asked, “To whom, Sir, do you transmit the Womb of the Dharma Eye?” “Men of principle will get it, and those who are mind-less will understand it.” They further asked, “Will any calamity befall you hereafter?” “Five or six years after my death,” replied the Patriarch, “a man will come to cut off my head. I have made the following prophecy of which please take note:
To the top of the parent’s head, offerings are made, For the mouth must be fed. When the calamity of ‘Man’ befalls, Yang and Liu will be the officials.
He added, “Seventy years after my departure two Bodhisattvas from the East, one a layman and the other a monk, will preach contemporaneously, disseminate the Law widely, establish our School on a firm basis, renovate our monasteries and transmit the doctrine to numerous successors.” “Can you let us know for how many generations the Dharma has been transmitted, from the appearance of the earliest Buddha up to now?” asked the disciples.
“The Buddhas who have appeared in this world are too many to be counted,” replied the Patriarch. “But let us start from the last seven Buddhas. They are:
Of the last kalpa (the Alamkarakalpa): Buddha Vipasyin Buddha Sikhin Buddha Visvabhu Of the present kalpa (the Bhadrakalpa): Buddha Krakucchanda Buddha Kanakamuni Buddha Kasyapa Buddha Sakyamuni “From the Buddha Sakyamuni, the Law was transmitted to the:
1st Patriarch Arya Mahakasyapa 2nd Patriarch Arya Ananda 3rd Patriarch Arya Sanakavasa 4th Patriarch Arya Upagupta 5th Patriarch Arya Dhritaka 6th Patriarch Arya Michaka 7th Patriarch Arya Vasumitra 8th Patriarch Arya Buddhanandi 9th Patriarch Arya Buddhamitra 10th Patriarch Arya Parsva 11th Patriarch Arya Punyayasas 12th Patriarch Bodhisattva Asvaghosa 13th Patriarch Arya Kapimala 14th Patriarch Bodhisattva Nagarjuna 15th Patriarch Kanadeva 16th Patriarch Arya Rahulata 17th Patriarch Arya Sanghanandi 18th Patriarch Arya Gayasata 19th Patriarch Arya Kumarata 20th Patriarch Arya Jayata 21st Patriarch Arya Vasubandhu
22nd Patriarch Arya Manorhita 23rd Patriarch Arya Haklenayasas 24th Patriarch Arya Simha 25th Patriarch Arya Basiasita 26th Patriarch Arya Punyamitra 27th Patriarch Arya Prajnatara 28th Patriarch Arya Bodhidharma (the first Patriarch in China) 29th Patriarch Grand Master Hui K’u 30th Patriarch Grand Master Seng Ts’an 31st Patriarch Grand Master Tao Hsin 32nd Patriarch Grand Master Hung Yen And I am the 33rd Patriarch (the sixth Patriarch in China). Thus the Dharma was handed down from one Patriarch to another. Hereafter, you men should in turn transmit it to posterity, from one generation to another, so that the tradition may be maintained. On the third day of the eighth Moon of the year of Kuei Chou, the second Year of HsienT’ien Era (A.D. 713), after taking food at the Kuo En Monastery, the Patriarch addressed his disciples as follows: “Please sit down, for I am going to say good-bye.” Thereupon Fa Hai spoke to the Patriarch, “Sir, will you please leave to posterity definite instructions whereby people under delusion may realize the Buddha nature.” “It is not impossible,” replied the Patriarch, “for these men to realize the Buddha-nature, provided they acquaint themselves with the nature of ordinary sentient beings. But to seek Buddhahood without such knowledge would be in vain even if one shall spend aeons of time in the search. “Now, let me show you how to get acquainted with the nature of the sentient beings within your mind, and thereby realize the Buddha-nature latent in you.
Knowing Buddha means nothing else than knowing sentient beings, for the latter ignore that they are potential Buddhas, whereas a Buddha sees no difference between himself and other beings. When sentient beings realize the Essence of Mind, they are Buddhas. If a Buddha is under delusion in his Essence of Mind, he is then an ordinary being. When your mind is crooked or depraved, you are ordinary beings with Buddha-nature latent in you. On the other hand, when you direct your mind to purity and straightforwardness even for one moment, you are a Buddha. “Within our mind there is a Buddha, and that Buddha within is the real Buddha. If Buddha is not to be sought within our mind, where shall we find the real Buddha? Doubt not that Buddha is within your mind, apart from which nothing can exist. Since all things or phenomena are the production of our mind, the Sutra says, ‘When mental activity begins, things come into being; when mental activity ceases, they too cease to exist.’ In parting from you, let me leave you a stanza entitled ‘The Real Buddha of the Essence of Mind’. People of future generations who understand its meaning will realize the Essence of Mind and attain Buddhahood. It reads:
The Essence of Mind or Tathata (Suchness) is the real Buddha, While heretical views and the three poisonous elements are Mara.

Enlightened by Right Views, we call forth the Buddha within us. When our nature is dominated by the three poisonous elements We are said to be possessed by Mara; But when Right Views eliminate from our mind these poisonous elements Mara will be transformed into a real Buddha. The Dharmakaya, the Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya – These three Bodies emanate from one (the Essence of Mind). He who is able to realize this fact intuitively Has sown the seed, and will reap the fruit of Enlightenment. It is from the Nirmanakaya that our Pure Nature emanates; Within the former the latter is to be found. Guided by Pure Nature, the Nirmanakaya treads the Right Path, And will some day attain to the Sambhogakaya, perfect and infinite. ‘Pure Nature’ is an outgrowth of our sensual instincts; By getting rid of sensuality, we attain the Pure Dharmakaya. When our temperament is such that we are no longer the slaves of the five sense-objects, And when we have realized the Essence of Mind even for one moment only, then Truth is known to us. Should we be so fortunate as to be the followers of the Sudden School in this life, In a sudden we shall see the Bhagavat of our Essence of Mind. He who seeks the Buddha (from without) by practicing certain doctrines Knows not where the real Buddha is to be found. He who is able to realize the Truth within his own mind Has sown the seed of Buddhahood.
He who has not realized the Essence of Mind and seeks the Buddha from without Is a fool motivated by wrong desires. I have hereby left to posterity the teaching of the Sudden School For the salvation of all sentient beings who care to practice it. Hear me, ye future disciples! Your time will have been badly wasted if you neglect to put this teaching into practice.
Having recited the stanza, he added, “Take good care of yourselves. After my passing away, do not follow the worldly tradition, and cry or lament. Neither should messages of condolence be accepted, nor mourning be worn. These things are contrary to the Orthodox Teaching, and he who does them is not my disciple. What you should do is to know your own mind and realize your own Buddha-nature, which neither rests nor moves, neither becomes nor ceases to be, neither comes nor goes, neither affirms nor denies, neither stays nor departs. Lest your mind should be under delusion and thus fail to catch my meaning, I repeat this to you to enable you to realize your Essence of Mind. After my death, if you carry out my instructions and practice them accordingly, my being away from you will make no difference. On the other hand, if you go against my teaching, no benefit would be obtained, even if I continued to stay here.”

Then he uttered another stanza:
Imperturbable and serene, the ideal man practices no virtue. Self-possessed and dispassionate, he commits no sin. Calm and silent, he gives up seeing and hearing. Even and upright, his mind abides nowhere.
Having uttered the stanza, he sat reverently until the third watch of the night.
Then he said abruptly to his disciples, “I am going now,” and in a sudden passed away. A peculiar fragrance pervaded his room, and a lunar rainbow appeared which seemed to join up earth and sky. The trees in the wood turned white, and birds and beasts cried mournfully. In the eleventh Moon of that year the question of the Patriarch’s resting place gave rise to a dispute among the government officials of Kuang Chow, Shao Chou and Hsin Chou, each party being anxious to have the remains of the Patriarch removed to its own district. The Patriarch’s disciples, together with other monks and laymen, took part in the controversy. Being unable to come to any settlement among themselves, they burnt incense and prayed to the Patriarch to indicate by the direction of the drift of the smoke the place which he himself would choose. As the smoke turned directly to Ts’ao Ch’i, the shrine (in which the body was kept) together with the inherited robe and bowl was accordingly taken back there on the 13th day of the 11th Moon. Next year, on the 25th day of the seventh Moon, the body was taken out of the shrine, and Fang Pien, a disciple of the Patriarch, plastered it with incense-clay. Recollecting the Patriarch’s prediction that someone would take away his head, the disciples, as a matter of precaution, strengthened his neck by wrapping it with iron sheets and lacquered cloth before the body was placed in the stupa.
Suddenly, a flash of white light rushed out from the stupa, went straight towards the sky, and did not disperse until three days after. The incident was duly reported to the Throne by the officials of Shao Chou District. By imperial order, tablets were erected to record the life of the Patriarch. The Patriarch inherited the robe when he was 24, had his hair shaved (i.e., was ordained) at 39, and died at the age of 76. For thirty-seven years he preached for the benefit of all sentient beings. Forty-three of his disciples inherited the Dharma, and by his express consent became his successors, while those who attained enlightenment and thereby got out of the rut of the ordinary man were too numerous to be counted. The robe transmitted by Bodhidharma as the insignia of Patriarchship, the Mo Na robe and the crystal bowl presented by Emperor ChungTsung, the Patriarch’s statue made by FangPien, and other sacred articles, were put in charge of the keeper of the stupa. They were to be kept permanently in Pao Lin Monastery to guard the welfare of the temple.

The Sutra spoken by the Patriarch was published and circulated to make known the principles and objects of the Dharma School. All these steps were taken for the prosperity of the Three Gems (i.e., Buddha, Law, and Order) as well as for the general welfare of all sentient beings.

End of the Sutra.

The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

The Dharma Essentials for Cultivating Stopping and Contemplation


By the Swei Dynasty Shramana Chih-i of T’ien-t’ai Mountain’s Dhyana Cultivation Monastery
Translated into English by Dharmamitra

Introduction
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10


Master Chih-i’s Introductory Discussion

First, the introductory section. (2)
Part one: Citing a quatrain to indicate the grand design.

To refrain from doing any manner of evil,
To respectfully perform all varieties of good,
To carry out the purification of one’s own mind:
This is what constitutes the teaching of all buddhas.

Next, the introductory section proper, a delineation of the conditions occasioning the creation of this text. (5)
First, a brief indication of the essential nature of stopping and contemplation.

As for the dharma of nirvana, there are many paths of entry into it. However, if we discuss those which are crucially essential, they do not go beyond the two dharmas of stopping and contemplation.

Next, a commendation of the marvelous functions of stopping and contemplation.

How is this so? Stopping constitutes the initial method whereby one is able to suppress the fetters. Contemplation is the primary essential whereby one is able to cut off the delusions. Stopping then is the wholesome provision with which one kindly nourishes the mind and consciousness. Contemplation then is the marvelous technique which stimulates the development of spiritual understanding. Stopping is the supreme cause for the manifestation of dhyana absorption.(8) Contemplation is the origin of wisdom.

Third, clarification of the supreme benefits of stopping and contemplation. (2)
First, the clarification proper.

If a person perfects the two dharmas of meditative absorption and wisdom, this then constitutes the complete fulfillment of the dharma of benefitting both oneself and others.

Next, a scriptural citation.

Hence The Dharma Blossom Sutra states, “The Buddha himself abides in the Great Vehicle. Such dharmas as he has realized are enhanced by the power of meditative absorption and wisdom. He employs these in the deliverance of beings.”

Fourth, explanation of the undesirable aspects of deficiencies produced through unequal [cultivation of] stopping and contemplation. (2)
First, the explanation proper.

One must realize that these two dharmas are like the two wheels of a cart and like the two wings of a bird. If the cultivation of them becomes one-sided one one falls and is overturned by that deviation.

Second, scriptural citation.

Thus, one of the Sutras states, “If one is one-sided in the cultivation of dhyana absorption and merit and thus neglects the study of wisdom, this results in delusion. If one indulges in the one-sided study of wisdom and thus neglects the cultivation of dhyana absorption and merit, this results in craziness. Although there are some minor differences in the faults inherent in delusion and craziness, still, the erroneous views which develop from the two conditions are generally no different. If one is unequal in [the cultivation of these disciplines], this then results in the perfection of deviation. How then could one possibly be able to swiftly ascend to the most ultimate of results?”

Fifth, scriptural citation and explanation of the utter necessity of evenly-balanced advancement in stopping and contemplation. (2)
The scriptural citation illustrating importance.

Hence, one of the Sutras declares, “Because the Hearers are most developed in the power of meditative absorption, they are unable to perceive the Buddha nature. The Bodhisattvas abiding at the level of the Ten Dwellings are most developed in the power of wisdom. Although they do perceive the Buddha nature, still, they have not become entirely clear about it. The powers of meditative absorption and wisdom are equally developed in the Buddhas, the Thus Come Ones. Consequently, they possess absolute understanding and perception of the Buddha nature.”

Extrapolating from this, how could stopping and contemplation not constitute the essential entryway unto the great result of nirvana, the supreme path for the cultivation of the practitioner, the point of confluence for perfection of the manifold virtues and the actual substance of the unsurpassed and ultimate result?”

Next, clarifying the rationale in this explanation of stopping and contemplation.

If one understands accordingly, then it will be quite apparent that this Dharma entryway of stopping and contemplation is truly not a shallow one. When one desires to draw in and lead along those who are new to the study of this discipline so that they may develop beyond their untutored understanding and advance along the Way, it is easy to discourse on the subject but difficult to implement the practice. [This being the case,] how could one justify launching into extensive discussions of the abstruse and marvelous?

Next, the doctrine proper. (2)
First, a general delineation of the ten concepts involved in the cultivation of stopping and contemplation with notes of encouragement and admonishment. (3)
First, encouragement.

Now, we shall briefly explain ten concepts in order to reveal to the novice practitioner the steps traversed in ascending via the orthodox Way as well as the stages passed through in progressing toward the entry into nirvana. The investigator should adopt appropriate humility with regard to the difficulty of succeeding in one’s cultivation and thus not demean this text’s shallowness and ready accessibility.

Next, offering cautionary advice.

If one’s mind correctly gauges the import of these words, then in the blink of an eye one’s qualities of wisdom and severance will grow beyond measure while the depths of spiritual faculties and intelligence will become unfathomable. If, however, one disingenuously seizes on passages out of context or, due to emotional biases, contradicts the instructions of the text, then the months and years will be needlessly drawn out while actual realization will have no basis for development. One’s circumstance then would be like that of the pauper who spends his time calculating the wealth of other men. What possible benefit could this have for oneself?

Third, listing the sections and revealing the intent. (2)
First, listing the section titles.

First, fulfillment of [the prerequisite] conditions.
Second, renunciation of desire.
Third, casting off the coverings.
Fourth, regulation [of five crucial factors].
Fifth, [employment of the correct] skillful means.
Sixth, cultivation proper.
Seventh, manifestations [arising from roots (9)] of goodness.
Eighth, awareness of demonic influences.
Ninth, curing disorders.
Tenth, realization of the fruits.

Next, clarifying the intent of the listed sections.

Now, we shall briefly treat these ten concepts in order to instruct the cultivator of stopping and contemplation. These are crucial essentials for the initial phase of learning to sit [in dhyana meditation]. If one is well able to grasp their intent and thus proceed to cultivate them, one will be able to settle the mind, avoid difficulties, manifest meditative absorption, develop understanding, and achieve realization of the non-outflow fruits gained by the Superiors.(10)

[End of Master Chih-i’s Introductory Discussion]

End Notes

7. These page numbers refer to the most widely available modern commentary on this work: Syou-syi jr-gwan dzwo-chan fa yao jyang shu, by Dharma Master Bao Jing. Hong Kong: Syang-gang fwo-jing lyou-tung chu, 1971. The text is also available in the Taisho tripitaka (T46.1915).

8. “Absorption” renders the Chinese “ding (4)” which in turn typically corresponds to the Sanskrit “samadhi”. Where it is not preceded by the word “dhyana” I render it as “meditative absorption.”

9. “Roots” in a Buddhist context refer to the relative strength of specific karmic propensities rooted in the karmic activity of former existences. For instance, one who has studied under countless buddhas across the course of a Ganges’ sands number of aeons would most likely possess very sharp faculties as regards instinctively moral conduct, ease of entry into meditative absorption, and a deep resonance with transcendental wisdom.

10. “Superior” renders the Chinese “sheng (4)” which typically corresponds to the Sanskrit “aarya.” It’s actually a technical term which generally refers to anyone who has realized the Path of Seeing. It carries the additional connotation of “saint” or “holy one” either of which I would be pleased to employ were it not for the misleading Christian-tradition associations of those terms.

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Chapter One: Fulfillment of [the Requisite] Conditions

A) Upholding the Precepts Purely
B) Ensuring Adequacy of Clothing and Food
C) Obtaining an Easeful and Quiet Dwelling Place
D) Putting All Responsibilities to Rest
E) Drawing Near to Good and Knowledgeable Friends

The direct exposition of the ten sections. (10)


A) Upholding the precepts purely. (2)

First, generally clarifying the essentials of upholding the precepts.

Now, having generated the resolve to take up the practice, one who desires to cultivate stopping and contemplation must first fulfill five conditions related to external phenomena. The first among them is the requirement that one must be pure in upholding the precepts. This is as stated in one of the Sutras, “It is in dependence upon and [directly] because of these precepts that one succeeds in developing the dhyana absorptions as well as the wisdom which puts an end to suffering. Therefore the bhikshu(11) should be pure in upholding the precepts.”

Next, the specific clarification of the characteristics of three levels of upholding the precepts. (3)

First, the superior level of upholding the precepts.

In this regard, there are three classes of cultivators according to differences in the upholding of precepts. The first is as follows: Prior to becoming a disciple of the Buddha [this cultivator] did not commit any of the five nefarious offences.(12) Later he encountered a good master who taught him to accept the three refuges and the five precepts, whereby he became a disciple of the Buddha. If he succeeded in leaving the home life he first took on the ten precepts of the Shrama.nera and then later received the complete precepts becoming thereby a bhikshu or [in the case of a woman] a bhikshuni. From the time of first taking precepts, he [or she] has been pure in guarding and upholding [the precepts] and thus has been entirely without transgression. In the upholding of the precepts, this person is of the superior grade. One should understand that in cultivating stopping and contemplation, such a person as this will certainly achieve realization in those dharmas of the Buddha. [A cultivator] such as this may be likened to a robe which is perfectly clean and which thus will easily absorb the appropriate dye.

Second, the middling level of upholding the precepts.

In the case of the second, after having received the precepts, although there have been no transgressions of the major precepts, still there have been many breaches of minor prohibitions. If for the sake of cultivating meditative absorption, [such a cultivator] is able to carry out repentance in a manner prescribed by Dharma, he too may be referred to as one whose upholding of the precepts is pure and he too shall be able to develop meditative absorption and wisdom. Such an individual may be compared to a robe which, although once soiled, has nonetheless been entirely cleaned such that dye will take in this case as well.

Third, the inferior level of upholding the precepts. (2)

First, repentance according to the methods of the Great Vehicle. (3)

First, clarification of the ability or inability to repent according to the Great and Lesser Vehicles.

In the case of the third, having received the precepts, one was unable to guard and uphold the precepts with a firm mind and thus there has been much transgression of both minor and major prohibitions. According to the approach of the Lesser Vehicle, there is no method whereby one may repent and be purified of transgressions against the four major prohibitions. If however one resorts to the approach of the teachings of the Great Vehicle, there is still a means whereby [such offenses] may be extinguished.

Next, citation of evidence that one who is able to repent becomes a healthy person.

Accordingly, one of the Sutras notes, “Within the Buddha’s Dharma, there are two types of healthy people: those who have committed no evil deeds whatsoever and those who, having committed them, have been able to repent of them.

Third, repentance directly according to the methods of the Great Vehicle. (2)

i First, implementation through according with ten dharmas which assist repentance. (4)

a [First, enumeration of the ten dharmas which assist repentance.]

Now as for the one who is desirous of repenting [transgressions of the prohibitions], it is essential for him to fulfill ten dharmas which assist the success of his repentance:

First, understand and believe in cause and effect;

Second, develop extreme fearfulness;
Third, give rise to a deep sense of remorse;
Fourth, seek out a method to extinguish offenses. This refers to the methods of practice explained in the Great Vehicle sutras. One should cultivate them in accord with the Dharma;
Fifth, completely confess the prior offenses;
Sixth, cut off the thought of continuance [of the offenses confessed];
Seventh, bring forth the resolve to serve as a protector of Dharma;
Eighth, make great vows to deliver beings;
Ninth, constantly be mindful of all buddhas of the ten directions;
Tenth, contemplate the nature of offenses as being unproduced.

b Second, revealing the duration of the dharma of repentance.

If one is able to carry out these ten dharmas, one should then proceed to adorn the site for cultivating the Way, bathe one’s body, clothe oneself in clean robes, burn incense and scatter flowers. Then, in front of the Triple Jewel, one should carry on the practice of repentance in accord with the Dharma, doing so for one week or three weeks, or perhaps for one month or three months, or perhaps continuing on for a year or more during which one repents singlemindedly of the grave offenses involved in transgressing the prohibitions, stopping only once one has succeeded in extinguishing [those offenses].

c Third, revealing the signs which indicate the extinguishing of offenses.

How is one to recognize the signs that grave offenses have been extinguished? As the practitioner carries out the repentance in this fashion and with an utterly sincere mind, if he experiences his body and mind becoming light and pleasant and also experiences a fine and auspicious dream, or if perhaps he sees all manner of magical, auspicious and rare signs, or if perhaps he becomes aware of his wholesome thoughts opening forth and developing, or if perhaps, while he is seated in meditation, he becomes aware of his body as like a cloud or a shadow, and then from this point on gradually achieves realization of the psychic states characteristic of the dhyanas, or if perhaps he experiences the powerful and sudden arisal of awakened thought whereby he is well able to recognize the marks of dharmas and is able to understand the meaning and connotation of whichever sutra he encounters and then realizes from this Dharma bliss and a mind no longer beset by worry or regret, — all manner of causes and conditions such as these should be recognized as signs indicating that the Way-obstructing offenses resulting from breaking the precepts have been extinguished.

d Fourth, clarification that solid upholding [of the precepts] after repentance constitutes purity.

If from this point on one firmly upholds the restrictive prohibitions, this too constitutes purity in shiila. [Such a practitioner] may be able to cultivate dhyana absorption. He may be likened to a torn and soiled robe which one has been able to patch and wash clean such that it may still be dyed and worn.

ii Second, repentance according to the Great Vehicle’s principle of signlessness. (2)

a First, the explanation proper.

If a person has transgressed against one of the major prohibitions and perturbation thus obstructs his achieving dhyana absorption, even though he may not be able to rely upon cultivating practices methods set forth in the Sutras, still, he may simply bring forth extreme remorse, go before the Triple Jewel, confess his former offenses, cut off any thought of continuing [any such offenses], and then may take up the practice of constantly sitting [in meditation] with his body erect, contemplating the nature of offenses as empty, remaining mindful of the Buddhas of the ten directions. Whenever he emerges from dhyana he must, with an ultimately sincere mind, burn incense, bow in reverence, repent and then recite the precepts and recite the Great Vehicle sutras as well. The grave offenses which obstruct the Way should naturally and gradually become extinguished. On account of this his shiila(13) becomes pure and thus dhyana absorption may develop.

b Second, citation of evidence.

Accordingly, The Sutra on the Marvelous and Superior Meditative Absorption states, “If after a person has transgressed against a major precept his mind becomes beset by fearfulness and he thus desires to seek the extinguishing [of that offense], there is no other means aside from dhyana absorption which can be successful in extinguishing it. In a deserted and quiet place, this person should focus his mind and engage in the practice of constantly sitting in meditation while also proceeding to recite the Great Vehicle sutras. All of the grave offenses will be entirely extinguished and all of the dhyana absorptions will naturally manifest before him.”


B) Ensuring adequacy of clothing and food. (2)

First, clothing. (3)

First, the clothing of one of superior roots.

As for the second, the requirement that clothing and food be adequate, there are three approaches associated with clothing [in particular]: The first is as exemplified by the Great Master of the Snowy Mountains(14) who happened to obtain a single cloak adequate to cover up his body and took that to be adequate on account of the fact that he never encountered people and additionally had perfected the ability to endure [the elements].

Next, the clothing of one of middling roots.

The second category is that exemplified by Mahaakaashyapa who, because he always cultivated the dhuuta practices,(15) wore only a single three-part rag robe and accumulated no other clothing.

Third, the clothing of those of inferior roots.

The third category relates to countries where the weather is often cold and to individuals whose endurance abilities are not yet perfected. In these cases the Thus Come One also permitted the accumulation of a hundred and one other things aside from the three-part robe. However it was necessary to purify them verbally(16) and it was also necessary to refrain from being excessive and necessary to be satisfied with the appropriate amount. Were one to allow oneself to overindulge by being acquisitive and desirous of accumulation [of material objects], then the mind would become disrupted and they would become an obstacle to the Path.

Next, sustenance. (3)

First, the sustenance of those of superior roots.

Next, as for the categories relating to food, there are four, the first of which is that exemplified by the superior man and great master who dwells deep in the mountains having entirely severed relations with the world, eating the native herbs and fruits according to the season and succeeding thus in supplying the requirements of the body.

Second, the sustenance of those of middling roots.

As for the second, he constantly cultivates the dhuuta practice of accepting only food which has been obtained on the alms round. Through the practice of accepting only alms food one is able to curb four types of unsuitable livelihood. [Such a practitioner] relies exclusively upon correct livelihood to maintain life because he is thereby able to bring forth the Way of the Superior. As for the inappropriate livelihoods, they are: first, obtaining food through inferiorly-directed endeavors; second, obtaining food through upwardly-directed endeavors; thirdly, obtaining food through endeavors directed at the midpoints; and fourth, obtaining food through endeavors directed to the directions.(17)

The sustenance of those with inferior roots.

The third involves residing in an ara.nya(18) where a daanapati(19) brings offerings of food. The fourth is where one lives among the Sangha and eats pure food. Where one has the advantage of sustenance arrangements such as these, then this is what is meant by achieving adequacy in food and clothing. Why is this? If one does not have circumstances such as these the mind will not be at peace and thus this will constitute an obstacle to the Way.

[C) Obtaining an easeful and quiet dwelling place.]

The third [among the five prerequisite conditions] requires that one find an easeful and quiet dwelling place. One who is in a state of ease is not working at doing manifold tasks and so this is what we mean when we stipulate “easeful.” A quiet place is one in which there is no commotion whatsoever. There are three types of places where one may be able to cultivate dhyana absorption.

The first is deep in the mountains in a place cut off from people.

The second is an ara.nya dedicated to dhuuta practices which is no closer than a mile or so from a village.(20) In this case the noise of cattle will be cut off and there will be no commotion.

The third is within the confines of a pure sa.nghaaraama(21) far from the dwellings of laypeople. All of these constitute quiet places suitable for easeful dwelling.

[D) Putting all responsibilities to rest.]

The fourth [of the five prerequisite conditions] is that one put all responsibilities to rest. This involves four specific ideas:

First, one must put to rest all responsibilities relating to making a living and must not perform any sort of work in the realm of the conditioned.

Secondly, one must put to rest all interpersonal responsibilities. One must not seek out ordinary people, friends, relatives or intellectual associates. One must entirely cut off all interactions having to do with other people.

Thirdly, one must put to rest all responsibilities relating to arts or crafts and must not pursue any activities involving skilled worldly trades, art, medicine, mantric activities, physiognomy, keeping books, carrying out calculations and other such matters.

Fourthly, one must put to rest all responsibilities relating to study matters. One must put aside reading, reciting, listening, studying and so forth. This is what is meant by putting all responsibilities to rest. Why is this necessary? If one is involved in many responsibilities then matters related to cultivating the Way will deteriorate. The mind will become disturbed and difficult to focus.

[E) Drawing near to good and knowledgeable friends.]

The fifth [of the five prerequisite conditions] requires that one draw near to a good and knowledgeable friend. Good and knowledgeable friends are of three types:

The first is the “externally-protecting” good and knowledgeable friend who provides necessary provisions, makes offerings, and is well able to take care of the practitioner’s needs, doing so in a fashion which precludes any mutual disturbance.

The second is the “identical practice” good and knowledgeable friend together with whom one cultivates a single path. Each provides the other with encouragement and inspiration, and refrain from bothering or disturbing each other.

The third is the “instructive” good and knowledgeable friend who employs the internal and external skillful means pertaining to the Dharma entryway of dhyana absorption as a means to instruct and delight. This is the conclusion of the summary clarification of the five kinds of necessary prerequisites.

[End of Chapter One]

11. In the generic context of Indian religious traditions, a “bhikshu” is a mendicant. In the specific context of Buddhism, a “bhikshu” is fully-ordained monk.

12. The five nefarious offenses are: patricide; matricide; killing an arhat; spilling the blood of a buddha; and, causing a schism in the harmoniously-united [monastic] Sangha.

13. “Shiila” is the Sanskrit term for the practice of moral conduct.

14. This refers to Shakyamuni Buddha’s period of cultivating ascetic practices in the Himalayas in this lifetime and also to his cultivation in the mountains in previous lives while coursing along the bodhisattva path.

15. “Dhuuta” practices refers to a dozen relatively ascetic practices which were allowed by the Buddha. They included such practices as eating but a single meal each day, sitting up while sleeping at night, etc. They tend to reinforce certain aspects of spiritual cultivation and are to be distinguished from the non-beneficial ascetic practices which the Buddha specifically discouraged (such as lying down on a bed of nails, covering oneself with ashes, etc.).

16. Verbal purification refers to a mental contemplation attended by a verbal statement wherein a monastic offers material goods in excess of one’s most basic needs to the Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, and monastic Sangha), requesting that they compassionately accept their ownership. One then becomes able to use them without the assumption that they belong specifically to oneself. The practical utility of this practice is that it tends to discourage attachment to personal material possessions.

17. According to Shaariputra’s classic explanation narrated by Naagaarjuna in the third fascicle of The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom, “Upwardly” refers to such professions as meteorological and astronomical prognostications, “Inferiorly” refers to the blending of herbs, tilling the soil, planting fruit trees and so forth, “midpoints” refers to occult professions involving mantras, oracles, omens and so forth, and “directions” refers to manipulation and flattery of the rich and powerful through sending off in all four directions messages intended to obtain their favors.

18. An ara.nya is a quiet forest dwelling.

19. A daanapati is a layperson who provides for the material needs of the monastic Sangha.

20. Literally: “no closer than three or four li to a village.”

21. A sa.nghaaraama is a monastic dwelling place.


Chapter Two: Renunciation of Desires

Desire for “Forms”
Desire for Sounds
Desire for Fragrances
Desire for Flavors
Desire for Touchables
A Summary Discussion of Desire

As for the above-listed “renunciation of desire,” this refers to the five [objects of] desire. When one wishes to endeavor at sitting in dhyana cultivating stopping and contemplation, it is absolutely essential to renounce them. As for the five desires, this refers to worldly forms, sounds, smells, tastes and touchables. They are ever able to deceive and delude all ordinary people causing them to develop fond attachment. If one is able to become deeply aware of the negative consequences of desires, one will not become involved with them. This is what is meant by renouncing desire.


First, the renunciation of the desire for form, refers to such forms as the stately and decorous shapes and features of men and women including long eyebrows, red lips and white teeth, as well as things universally regarded as precious, colors such as blue, yellow, red, white, vermillion, purple, chartreuse and green, and all sorts of marvelous forms which are able to influence the foolish person seeing them to develop fondness for them and consequently embark on all manner of unwholesome karmic deeds. One example is King Bimbasaara who, on account of sexual desire, stole into a hostile kingdom and entered the quarters of the courtesan Aamrapaalii. Another is the King Udayana who, corrupted by lust, hacked off the hands and feet of five hundred rishis.(22) [Desire for forms] is possessed of all manner of negative consequences like this.

Second, the renunciation of the desire for sounds, refers to musical sounds such as issue from harps, zithers, or flutes, and such as are created by strings, bamboo, metal or stone, and refers also to such sounds as the voices of men and women singing, chanting, hymning, or reciting. They may influence the foolish common person who hears them to develop defiled attachment and then consequently generate all manner of unwholesome karmic deeds. One example of this phenomenon is the case of the five hundred rishis dwelling in the Snowy Mountains who heard the singing of the gandharva(23) maiden, lost dhyana absorption and thus experienced intoxication, derangement and disturbance of mind. On account of all sorts of reasons such as these one should realize the negative consequences of [desire for] sounds.

Third, the renunciation of the desire for fragrances, refers to the physical scents of men and women, the fragrances of society’s food, drink and perfumes as well as all manner of incenses and aromas. An ordinary fool does not understand the [true] character of fragrances and thus on sensing them becomes fondly attached and opens the door to the fetters.(24)

An example of this is the case of the bhikshu at the side of the lotus pond who smelled the fragrance of the blossoms and whose thoughts were moved to fondness and pleasure. The pond spirit then rebuked him soundly by scolding, “Why did you steal my fragrance?!” One may, on account of becoming attached to fragrances, stir to action otherwise quiescent fetters. For all manner of reasons such as these one should realize the negative consequences of [the desire for] fragrances.

Fourth, the renunciation of the desire for flavors, refers to bitterness, sourness, sweetness, pungency, saltiness, mildness and other such fine flavors characteristic of fine beverages and cuisine. They may be able to incite the foolish common person to develop a kind of impure attachment and then consequently engage in unwholesome karma. An example of this is the case of the shraama.nera who developed an unhealthy obsession with the flavor of curds and who thus, at the conclusion of his life, was reborn among curd worms. For all manner of reasons such as these one should realize the negative consequences of [the desire for] flavors.

Fifth, the renunciation of the desire for touchables, refers to the softness and delicate slickness of the bodies of men and women, to the sensation of physical warmth when it is cold, physical coolness when it is hot, as well as to all other pleasant tactile contacts. The foolish person, lacking in wisdom, is submerged by them and thus generates karma which blocks progress along the Way. An example of this was the one-horned rishi who on account of indulging the desire for physical contact lost the superknowledges and ended up with a lustful woman riding him about, mounted atop his shoulders. For all manner of reasons such as these, one should realize the negative consequences of [the desire for] touchables.

The dharma of renouncing desire as treated above is drawn from the discussion in The Mahayana Treatise. (25)

It additionally states, “Alas! These beings! They are constantly harassed by the five desires and yet they still pursue them incessantly.

“As for these five types of desire, when one gains [their objects] they become progressively more intense, just as when a fire is stoked with more firewood its flames burn ever brighter. The five desires afford no [enduring] pleasure. [They go on and on] like a dog’s gnawing away at a withered old bone. The five desires proliferate contention just as carrion occasions the skirmishing of scavenging birds. The five desires scorch a person just as one is burned carrying a torch into the wind. The five desires bring harm to a person just as when one treads upon a poisonous snake. The five desires have nothing real about them for they are like bounty gained in a dream. [Satisfaction gained from] the five desires doesn’t remain for long. It’s borrowed only for an instant and is like the gleam of a spark. A wise man contemplates them as like an enemy or a thief. The worldly person is foolish and deluded, is greedily attached to the five desires, won’t relinquish them even in the face of death, and later on undergoes immeasurable suffering and aggravation [as a result].”

This dharma of the five desires is something [people] have in common with animals. All beings act under the direction of the five desires and are slaves to the desires. On account of these corrupting desires one may sink down into the three [lower] paths [of rebirth]. [One should contemplate thus,] “If now in cultivating dhyana I were to continue to be obstructed and covered over by them, I would be acting like a great thief.” One must urgently distance oneself from [the five desires].

A pertinent treatment of this topic is found in The Dhyana Sutra verse:

That birth and death are not cut off

Is on account of desire and fondness for its flavor.
As when nursing a grudge until entering the tomb,
One vainly endures all manner of bitter suffering.
The smell of the body is like that of a corpse,
Impurities stream forth from its nine apertures.
Just as worms in an outhouse delight in the feces,
The foolish man’s [pleasure in the] body is no different.
The one who is wise should contemplate the body,
And not lust after the tainted pleasures of the world.
To be without burdens and to have nothing desired, —
This is what’s known as the true nirvana.
It’s just as described by the Buddha himself:
Practicing with one mind and singular intention,
While counting the breath in dhyana absorption, —
This constitutes the dhuuta practice.

[End of Chapter Two]

End Notes

22. A rishi is a recluse who devotes himself to meditation.

23. A gandharva is a type of musical spirit attracted to fine fragrances.

24. “Fetters” are just the afflictions of greed, hatred, stupidity, arrogance, doubt, etc. which tie people up and bind them to the world.

25. Chih-i refers to an abbreviated title of the 100-fascicle work by Nagarjuna more commonly known as The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom (T25.1509). These quotations and references all come from fascicle number seventeen.


Chapter Three: Casting off the Coverings

The Covering of Desires (in the Mind)
The Covering of Anger
The Covering of Sleep
The Covering of Agitation and Remorse
The Covering of Doubt


As for the casting off of the coverings brought up earlier, it refers to the five coverings. The first involves the casting off of the covering of desire. Earlier we discussed arisal of desire amidst the five external sense objects. Now we are concerned with the arisal of desire in the sphere of the internal mental faculty. This refers specifically to the situation where the practitioner is seated upright cultivating dhyana and his mind generates primary thoughts characterized by desire which become continuous with one such thought following upon another in such away that they cover over the wholesome mind and prevent it from developing. Having become aware of this one should cast it off.

Why should he do so? Just as in the case of Shubhakara whose lustful mind arose internally, it is even able to burn the body, how much the more so is the mind, when generating the fire of desire, able to burn up all wholesome dharmas. Persons who are possessed by desire are extremely far away from the Way. How is this so? Desire is the dwelling place of all manner of afflictions and disturbances. If the mind becomes attached and beset by desire, there is no way for one to grow near to the Way.

A relevant treatment of this topic is found in “The Verse on Getting Rid of the Coverings”:

The person with a sense of shame who’s entered the Way

Takes up his bowl and provides merit for beings.
How could one give free reign to desire for sense objects
And become immersed in the five senses?
Having already renounced the bliss of the five desires,
One has cast them off and does not look back.
Why would one still desire to gain them
Like a fool who laps up his own vomit?
All desires are suffering at the time they are sought.
When gained, one is usually fearful [of losing them].
On losing them, one experiences intense aggravation.
At every point there’s nowhere where pleasure abides.
Given desires are subject to shortcomings like this,
How is one able to relinquish them?
If one gains the bliss of deep dhyana absorption,
One is no longer deceived by [desire].

The second is the casting off of the covering of anger. Anger is the basis for losing the Buddha Dharma, a cause and condition for falling into the wretched destinies,(26) the nemesis of Dharma bliss, the great thief [which preys] on the wholesome mind, and the repository for all manner of abusive speech. Accordingly, [it might occur that] when the practitioner is sitting in dhyana meditation, he might think to himself, “This fellow is now tormenting me. What’s more, he torments my relations and praises my adversaries.” [Continuing], he might think, “It’s been like this in the past as well and it will continue to be the case in the future. This amounts to a nine-fold torment.” Consequently, he might become angry and based upon that anger he might begin to cherish hatred. On account of becoming hateful he might then think to torment the other individual. In this fashion anger serves to cover over the mind and for this reason it is referred to as a covering. One should proceed urgently to cast it off and should not allow it to proliferate.

Pertinent to this topic is Shakra-devaanaam-indra’s versified conundrum for the Buddha:

What is it that murders one’s peacefulness and bliss?

What is it that murders freedom from worry?
What is it that is the root of poisonousness and
Which swallows up and destroys every goodness?
The Buddha responded, speaking in verse:

If one slays hatred one becomes peaceful and happy.

If one slays hatred one becomes free of worry.
It’s hatred that is the root of poisonousness.
It’s hatred that destroys every goodness.
After one has become cognizant of this, one should cultivate compassion and patience as a means to get rid of it and thereby allow the mind to become pure.

Third, casting off the covering of sleep. “Drowsiness” (the first word in the Chinese compound for “sleep”) refers to a dullness and dimness of the subjective mental processes, whereas “slumber” (the second word in the Chinese compound for “sleep”) refers to the state in which the five sense faculties are so obscured by this dimness that the control of the limbs is relinquished and one curls up and sleeps soundly. It is for this reason that it is referred to as the “covering” of sleep.

It is capable of destroying the mind intent on Dharma which generates genuine bliss in this and later lives and is also capable of destroying the bliss in later lives associated with rebirth in the heavens and with the realization of nirvana. A dharma such as this which is so possessed of ill effects is the very worst. How is this so? Unlike the mental states associated with the other coverings which may be gotten rid of through becoming aware of their presence, sleep is like being dead in that there is no consciousness which abides in a state of awareness. Because one is not in a state of wakefulness, it is difficult to do away with it.

A related citation is found in a verse employed by buddhas and bodhisattvas in reprimanding somnolent disciples:

Get up! Don’t lie there hugging that stinking corpse.

It’s but various impurities falsely regarded as a “person.”
It’s as if you’ve gotten a serious disease or been shot by an arrow.
With such an accumulation of suffering’s pains, how then can you sleep?
You’re like a man in shackles being led to the gallows.
With disastrous harm so imminent, how can you sleep?
The thieves of the fetters are not yet destroyed nor injury yet averted.
It’s as if one were sharing a room with a venomous serpent.
It’s also as if one were entering an army’s gauntlet of swords.
At such a time as that, how could one sleep?
Sleep is a vast darkness where one can’t see anything.
Every day it deceives and steals a person’s brilliance.
Because sleep covers over the mind, nothing whatever is perceived.
As it has such great drawbacks, how could one sleep?
For all manner of reasons such as these one remonstrates against the covering of sleep. One becomes alarmed by and aware of impermanence, pares down ones need for sleep and causes oneself to not be covered over by its dullness. If the mind becomes severely afflicted with dullness and sleep, one should resort to a dhyana wake-up device(27) or staff to get rid of them.

The fourth, casting off the covering of agitation and remorsefulness. As for agitation itself, there are three types:

The first is physical agitation which is characterized by the body’s habitual enjoyment of wandering about endeavoring at all manner of foolishness and by the inability to feel even momentarily peaceful when sitting down.

The second type is verbal agitation which is characterized by the habitual enjoyment of singing, chanting, disputation over rights and wrongs, useless and frivolous discourse, the discussion of worldly matters, and so forth.

The third type is mental agitation where one’s mental inclination is towards neglectfulness, towards giving the mind free rein in the manipulation of situations, and where one muses over literature, the arts, worldly talents and artisanship and where one indulges in all manner of unwholesome initial and discursive thought. Agitation’s function as a dharma is to destroy the mind of the monastic. Even if a person is focused in his thoughts he might still be unable to develop meditative absorption, how much the less if he is agitated and scattered. A person who is agitated and scattered is like a drunken elephant unrestrained by the trainer’s hook and like a camel without a nose ring. None of these are subject to control or discipline.

An appropriate verse states:

You’ve already shaved your head and donned the dyed robe.

Taking up the clay bowl you go out on the alms round.
How then can you delight in and be attached to dharmas of frivolity and agitation?
Being neglectful and giving rein to your inclinations, you lose the benefits of Dharma.
Having lost the benefits of the Dharma in addition to having sacrificed the pleasures of the world one should, after realizing one’s errors, urgently cast off [agitation].

As for remorsefulness, it is remorsefulness which brings about the creation of a covering. If one experiences agitation in which there is no remorsefulness, this does not constitute a covering. Why not? Because at such a time of agitation, it (remorsefulness) has not yet become one of the associated conditions. But later, when one is desirous of entering meditative absorption, one then may experience remorsefulness over what one has done, whereupon worry and affliction cover over the mind. It is for this reason that it is referred to as a covering.

Remorsefulness itself is of two types. The first is remorsefulness which arises as a consequence of agitation as alluded to above. The second is exemplified by the person who has committed a monstrous and severe offense and who thus constantly experiences feelings of fearfulness. The arrow of remorsefulness has entered his mind and has become stuck so firmly that it can not be pulled out.

A pertinent verse states:

Through having done what one shouldn’t have done,

Or through having failed to do what one should have done,
One is burned by the fire of the affliction of remorse,
And in a later life falls into the wretched destinies.
If a person is able to feel remorse for an offense,
Then having experienced remorse, he should not continue to feel troubled.
In this way the mind can be peaceful and happy.
One should not constantly seize upon it through recollection.
If one possesses either of the two kinds of remorse,
Whether it be over having failed to do what one should have done,
Or over having done what one should not have done,
This is the mark of a stupid person.
It is not the case that on account of being remorseful
One will somehow be able to do what one failed to do.
All of the ill deeds which one has already committed
Can’t be caused thereby to be undone.

Fifth, casting off the covering of doubt. Because doubt covers over the mind, one is unable to develop faith in any dharma. Because one has no mind of faith, one encounters the Buddha’s Dharma in vain and gains nothing whatsoever from it. This is analogous to a man’s entering into a mountain of jewels. If he has no hands he is unable to acquire anything at all. Thus the faults of doubt are extremely numerous. What needn’t obstruct the development of meditative absorption now in fact becomes the primary obstruction to gaining meditative absorption.

There are three types of doubt. The first is where one doubts oneself and thus thinks to himself, “My faculties are all dim and dull. The defilement from my previous offenses is deep and severe. Could it be that I’m not the man for this?” If one allows oneself to manufacture doubts such as these then the dharma of meditative absorption will never be able to manifest. If one desires to cultivate meditative absorption, one must not slight oneself, for it is difficult to fathom the extent of one’s roots of goodness planted in former lifetimes.

The second type of doubt is that wherein one doubts one’s own guru, [thinking to oneself,] “If his deportment and appearance are such as this he must not have any [realization of the] Way himself. How then could he be able to teach me.” If one develops such doubting arrogance then it constitutes an obstruction to meditative absorption. A dharma appropriate to one wishing to be rid of it is exemplified by a passage from The Mahayana Treatise wherein it states that this is just as when there is gold [dust] contained in a smelly leather pouch. Because one is desirous of obtaining the gold one can’t just pitch out the smelly pouch. The practitioner’s situation may be just like this. Although the guru may not be immaculate, still, one should look upon him as one would the Buddha.

The third type of doubt is that wherein one doubts the Dharma. Worldly people are usually attached to their own ideas and thus are not able to immediately believe the Dharma which they have received [nor are they able to readily] accept it and cultivate it with a respectful mind. If the mind becomes hesitant, then even though one has immediate exposure to the Dharma, it makes no imprint on the mind. Why not? The significance of the obstruction of doubtfulness is exemplified by a verse which states:

It’s just as when a person stands at a fork in the road

And is so deluded by doubt that he goes nowhere at all.
With respect to the reality mark of all dharmas,
Doubt functions just like this.
Because one has doubts one doesn’t search industriously
For the reality mark of all dharmas.
Views and doubts arise from delusion.
Among the ills they are the worst.
Among all the good and unwholesome dharmas
Throughout the spheres of birth-and-death and nirvana
Dhyana absorption is an actual and truly existent dharma.
Don’t develop doubts about it.
If you cherish the delusion of doubt,
The hell messenger from the King of Death will tie you up
Like a lion pouncing on a deer
And you’ll be unable to gain liberation.
Although dwelling in the world one may have doubts,
One should happily accord with wholesome dharmas,
Just as when one contemplates a fork in the road
One should follow the one offering the best benefits.
With respect to the Dharma of the Buddha, faith constitutes the means whereby one can enter. If one has no faith, then although he is in the presence of the Buddha’s Dharma, one will finally gain nothing whatsoever. For all manner of reasons such as these, realizing the faults of doubtfulness, one should urgently cast it off.

Question: Unwholesome dharmas are vast in number and the “dusts” [of the sense objects] are immeasurably numerous. Why is it that one must only get rid of five dharmas?

Reply: These five coverings basically comprise four dharmas, namely the three poisons and “equal-distribution” [among each of the three poisons.] These in turn subsume all 84,000 access points to weariness with sense objects. Firstly, the covering of desire is just the poison of desire. Secondly, the covering of anger, is just the poison of anger. Thirdly, the two dharmas of sleep and doubt are just the poison of stupidity. The fourth is agitation-associated remorsefulness It is equally present [in each of the three poisons]. Together, these constitute the four categories of afflictions. In each of them there are 21,000. In all four of them there are collectively a total of 84,000. Hence when one gets rid of these five coverings it is just the elimination of all unwholesome dharmas. For all manner of reasons such as these the practitioner casts off the five coverings.

Like a person who has gained freedom from a great burden or one who has been cured of a serious disease, like a starving man arriving in a prosperous country or like one who has been rescued safe and unharmed, from a band of villains–The practitioner is just like these. When he eliminates these five coverings his mind is calm and secure and he feels clear, cool and blissful. Just as with the sun and moon which may be obscured by five phenomena: smoke, dust, clouds, fog and the hand of Raahu the asura, such that they are unable to shine brightly,–so too it is with a person’s mind and the five coverings.

[End of Chapter Three]

End Notes

26. The (three) wretched destinies are rebirth in the hells, as a hungry ghost, and as an animal.

27. The “dhyana wake-up device” refers to a piece of wood connected by a string to the earlobes which falls and tugs at them when the meditator’s posture starts to droop as a result of sleepiness.


Chapter Four: Making Adjustments

Adjustments with Regard to Eating
Adjustments with Regard to Sleep
Adjustments with Regard to the Body
Adjustments with Regard to the Breath
Adjustments with Regard to the Mind

Now when the practitioner first takes up the study of sitting in dhyana, as one who is desirous of cultivating the Dharma of the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time, he should first make the great vows to bring all beings to liberation. In vowing to pursue the unsurpassed way of the Buddhas [he makes] his mind as solid as vajra and [resolves to be] industrious and courageous to the point that he will not even spare his own life and will never turn back in his quest to perfect all the dharmas of the Buddha.

Next, seated in meditation and employing right mindfulness, he deliberates upon the true and actual mark of all dharmas, including the so-called wholesome, unwholesome and neutral dharmas, including the internal and external sense faculties, sense objects, the false consciousnesses and all of the dharmas associated with outflows and afflictions, and including also the conditioned dharmas throughout the three realms which are associated with birth and death and with cause and effect, [and in reflecting upon them perceives them] as existing solely on account of the mind. Accordingly, The Sutra on the Ten Grounds states, “Throughout the three realms nothing else whatsoever exists. It is all created solely by the one mind.” If one realizes that mind is devoid of [an inherently-existent] nature then [one realizes that] all dharmas are not actual. If the mind has no defiled attachment then all of the karmic activity in the sphere of birth and death comes to a halt. After one has carried out this contemplation he should then take up the cultivation according to the proper sequence.

What is meant by “making adjustments?” Now, to draw upon familiar subjects as analogies for this dharma, it is just as when a common potter wishes to create various sorts of vessels. He must first skillfully make adjustments in the clay such that it is neither too stiff nor too soft. Afterwards he is able to move to the potter’s wheel. It’s also like playing the lute. One should first make adjustments to the strings, properly setting their the tension. Then one may proceed to play, producing all sorts of marvelous melodies. When the practitioner cultivates the mind it is just the same . One must make skillful adjustments in five different matters and must make those adjustments appropriately. Then samadhi will develop easily. If there is some area which has not been properly adjusted, then there will be all sorts of obstructive difficulties and one’s roots of goodness will come forth only with difficulty.

First, making adjustments with respect to food. Now as for food’s function as a dharma, it is originally consumed out of a desire to supply the body so that one may advance along the Way. If one eats to the point of becoming too full, then the breathing will be strained, the central region will feel stuffed, the energetic channels will not flow freely, the mental faculties will be blocked up, and, when sitting, one’s thoughts will not be tranquil.

If one eats too little the body will waste away, the mind will be too tightly strung, and mental deliberation will be unstable. Neither of these two [extremes] constitute the way to the realization of meditative absorption. If one consumes contaminated food, then it will cause a person’s mind consciousness to become dull and confused. If one consumes foods which are not appropriate, then it will stimulate all sorts of disorders to arise and will cause the four great elements to be thrown far out of balance.

This is the beginning phase of one’s cultivation of meditative absorption and so one must be extremely careful in the way one proceeds. Accordingly, a sutra states, “If the body is tranquil then one’s progress along the Way will flourish. Knowing the proper measure with respect to eating, being ever blissful in a remote abode, and maintaining a pure mind while taking pleasure in diligent effort,–This is the teaching of all Buddhas.”

Second, adjustments with regard to sleep. Now sleep is a matter of being covered over by a state of ignorance and delusion. One must not give free reign to it. If one sleeps too much, one not only wastes the opportunity to cultivate the dharma of the Superiors, but one also destroys any meditative skill [which may have developed] so that one may potentially cause the mind to be cloaked in darkness and the roots of goodness to become entirely submerged.

One should awaken to and realize [the significance of] impermanence, regulate and subdue sleep, cause one’s spiritual energy to be clear and white and one’s mindful thought to be bright and pure. In this way one will establish one’s mind in the mental state of the Superiors and cause samadhi to manifest before one. Accordingly, a sutra states, “Whether in the beginning or end of the night, there must be no wasting [of the opportunity to cultivate. One must not, on account of sleep, cause a lifetime to pass by emptily with nothing whatsoever achieved. One should be mindful that the fire of impermanence burns up the entire world and thus one should seek early on to bring about one’s own deliverance. One must not [indulge in] sleep.

Third, adjustments with regard to the body. Fourth, adjustments with regard to the breath. Fifth, adjustments with regard to the mind. These three ought to be employed together. They cannot be discussed separately. There is only the matter of their having a first, a middle and a last. In this sense the technique is not the same. This being the case, there are differences then in their features when entering into, abiding in, and coming out of [a session].

Now, as for the physical adjustments to be undertaken when one first desires to enter dhyana: There are issues of appropriateness in the physical adjustments to be undertaken by the cultivator who wishes to enter into samadhi. For instance, when one is abiding outside of meditative absorption, whether walking, standing, commencing an activity or stopping one, whether one is moving or is still, in whatsoever endeavor one is carrying on– In every case it is essential to be meticulously attentive.

If one’s actions are characterized by coarseness and impetuousness then one’s breath will be correspondingly coarse. Because the breath is coarse, then the thoughts will be scattered and difficult to register clearly. Additionally, when one returns to sitting, he will be agitated and muddled and the mind will not be tranquil or contented. Even though one’s body is not abiding in a state of meditative absorption, still, it is essential to employ one’s mind to counteractively implement skillful means. Later, when one enters into dhyana [meditation session], it is essential to take care in setting up the body in its proper place.

When one first arrives at the sitting cushion, one must first establish oneself in the sitting location in such a manner that all is peaceful and secure and so that nothing will interfere with one’s remaining for a long time. Next one should arrange the feet correctly. If one is sitting in the half-lotus posture, then one places the left foot so that it is on top of the right foot and then pulls it in so that it is close to the body proper so that the toes of the left foot are aligned with the right thigh while the toes of the right foot are aligned with the left thigh. If one wishes to sit in full lotus then one [next] brings the right foot up so that it rests above the left. Next one loosens the belt on one’s robe, making sure that it is straight all around and cannot fall open while one is sitting. Next one should arrange the hands, lays the open left hand on top of the right hand so that they fit together and then one rests them atop the left foot [in the case of half lotus] and draws them in toward the body so that they are proximate to the center of the body.

Next, one should properly arrange the body, first making sure that the body is erect and then seeing that all of the limbs are symetrically arranged, doing this as many as seven or eight times like a type of massaging method. One must not allow the hands or feet to slip out of correct posture. After one has done this then one sits up perfect straight insuring that the spine is neither slumping nor pushed forward. Next one should straighten up the neck and head so that the nose and the navel are lined up and so that the head is not tilted to the side, held at an angle, drooped downward or raised upward. One faces forward and remains straight.

Next, one should expel the turbid breath. The method for expelling the breath requires that one open the mouth and release the breath while not allowing this process to be either coarse or urgent. One should make it soft and smooth as one releases the breath and sends it forth. One should imagine that throughout the body any blockages within the numerous energetic pathways are moved on out as one exhales. Then, one closes the mouth and inhales pure breath through the nose. One should do this up to three times. If the physical respiration is already correctly adjusted then only once is adequate.

Next, one should close the mouth such that the lips and teach are held together while the tongue is held back up against the hard palate. Then one should close the eyes only enough that they block off the light from outside. One should straighten up the body and sit upright like a stela. One cannot allow the body, the head or the four limbs to move about even slightly. This constitutes the technique for making physical adjustments as one first proceeds to enter dhyana absorption. To speak of what is most essential, being neither too loose nor too tight constitutes the mark of correct physical adjustment.

Fourth, the technique for making adjustments in the breath when first entering dhyana [meditation]. There are four types of characteristics: first, windy breathing; second, uneven breathing; third, normal breathing; and fourth, subtle respiration. The first three are indications of inadequate adjustment whereas the last one is characteristic of correct adjustment.

What is meant by “windy” breathing? When one is sitting and one senses the presence of a sound as the breath comes into and goes forth from the nose this is “windy” breathing.

What is meant by “uneven” breathing? When one is sitting and even though the breath makes no sound there is still a catching and stopping such that it does not move on through, this is “uneven” breathing.

What is meant by “normal” breathing? When one is sitting and even though the breath makes no sound and even though there is no catching and stopping, still, it is not subtle, this is “normal” breathing.

What is meant by “subtle” respiration? There is no sound, no catching, and no coarseness. The going forth and coming in of the breath is smooth and drawn out such that it is as if still there and yet as it has disappeared. It supports the spirit becoming peaceful and stable. One feels pleased and content. These are the marks of subtle respiration.

If one maintains windy breathing, then one becomes scattered. If one maintains uneven breathing, then one becomes stuck. If one maintains normal breathing, then one becomes weary. If one maintains subtle respiration, then one enters meditative absorption. If when one is sitting there exist the three characteristics of windy breathing, uneven breathing, and normal breathing, these constitute inadequate adjustment. In a case where one applies mental effort under these circumstances they also become [causes of] mental disorder and make it difficult for the mind to enter meditative absorption.

If one wishes to correct them, then one should rely on three techniques: First, stabilize the mind by anchoring it below; second, relax and release the body; and third, visualize the breath penetrating through to all of the pores, going forth and coming in without any obstructions whatsoever. If one makes one’s mind subtle, one causes the breath to become very fine. If the breath becomes regulated, then the manifold disorders do not arise. One’s mind easily enters meditative absorption. This constitutes the practitioner’s technique for regulating the breath when first entering meditative absorption. To speak of the essentials, it is neither coarse nor tending to slip away. This is the mark of breathing which has been regulated.

Fifth, regulating the mind when one first enters meditative absorption involves three topics: first, entering; second, abiding; and third, coming out. The first, entering, consists of two topics. The first is the regulation and control of chaotic thinking so that [one’s thoughts] are not allowed to run off. As for the second, one must cause situations involving “sinking,” “floating,” “laxity” and “urgency” to [return to] their proper place.

What constitutes the mark of “sinking”? If when one is sitting one’s [mental state] is murky and dim, if one doesn’t remember anything or if one’s head tends to droop downward, these constitute marks of “sinking.” At such a time one should anchor one mindfulness at the tip of the nose and thus compel one’s mind to abide in the midst of objective conditions so that there will be no breaking up and scattering of the mental focus. This technique is able to counter “sinking.”

What constitutes the mark of “floating”? If while one is sitting the mind prefers to drift off and move about, if the body too is ill at ease, or if one brings to mind various external objective conditions these constitute marks of “floating.” At such a time it is appropriate to stabilize the mind by directing it downwards and anchoring it at the objective condition constituted by the navel. When one controls all discursive thoughts the mind immediately becomes stable and abides. In such a case one’s mind is easily established in stillness. To speak of the essentials, being neither sinking nor floating constitutes the mark of the regulated mind.

The meditating mind may also possess marks of laxity or urgency. As for the marks of the meditating mind afflicted with the “urgency” malady, they arise from a situation where one has focused the mind and brought mindfulness to bear. Because of this one has entered a meditative absorption through which [one’s attention] has moved upward and brought about intense pain in the chest. One should relax and release his mind and visualize the breath all flowing downward. If one were to do this then the calamity would naturally be cured.

As for the marks of mind afflicted with the “laxity” malady, the determination on the part of the mind of awareness is scattered and dilatory. The body prefers to be slack and slumped. Perhaps saliva flows forth from the mouth. At times one is dull and unclear. At such a time one should draw up the body and make one’s mindfulness more urgent. One should compel the mind to abide in the midst of objective conditions and the body to hold itself in position. One uses this technique as the antidote. The mind may possess the characteristics of being either rough or slippery. If one infers from this [the appropriate correctives] are obvious. These constitute the techniques for regulating the mind when one first enters meditative absorption.

Now, entering meditative absorption is fundamentally a process wherein one proceeds from the coarse to enter the subtle. In this matter it is the body which constitutes that which is coarse. The breath abodes within it. The mind is the most subtle and still. One causes the mind to become established in stillness. This then is the initial skillful means for entering meditative absorption. This constitutes the regulation of the two matters which takes place when one first enters meditative absorption.

As for the regulation of the three matters which takes place as one abides in the sitting posture, the practitioner should utilize his mind in the focusing of mindfulness whether the given session of sitting meditation is long or short and whether it extends for one, two, or three of the twelve [two-hour] periods in a day. One must clearly recognize the characteristics which indicate whether or not the three phenomena of body, breath and mind are in a state of correct adjustment. As one continues with a given instance of sitting, if even though one has already finished making adjustments to the body it nonetheless occurs that his body becomes perhaps lax, perhaps tight, perhaps tilted, perhaps crooked, perhaps drooped, or perhaps arched upward, after one becomes aware of it one must then correct it. One must ensure that one is peaceful and stable, that one is free of any laxity and urgency, and that one is abiding in a posture which is level, straight and upright.

Then again, during a single session of sitting although the body may be correctly adjusted, still, the breath may not be in harmony. The marks of its not being regulated are as discussed above. Perhaps there is “windy” breathing. Perhaps there is “uneven” breathing. Or perhaps in addition the breathing has become urgent such that there is a sense of within the body of distension and fullness. In such cases one should employ the previously discussed methods and thus counter them accordingly. In every case one should cause [the movement of] the respiration along its pathways to become soft and smooth so that it seems as if it is present and yet it is as if it is absent.

Again, it may be that in the course of single session of sitting, although the body and the breath are correctly regulated, still, the mind may have failed to achieve meditative absorption on account of being either “floating,” “sinking,” “lax,” or “urgent.” At such a time, when one becomes aware of it one should employ the previously mentioned techniques to cause it through regulation to abide appropriately in the median range. These three matters most definitely do not have any fixed sequence of implementation. One accords with whatever aspect is out of adjustment in proceeding to establish appropriate adjustment of it so that throughout the course of a single session of sitting the three factors of the body, the respiration, and the mind abide in a state of appropriate regulation. They remain free of any mutual violation and thus they become fused to the point that there is no duality among them. When this is the case, one is then able to get rid of any residual disorders rooted in previous existences, one is able to guard against and prevent the arisal of all obstacles, and one is able to establish ascendancy in the path of meditative absorption.

As for the regulation of the three factors at the time of coming out [of meditative absorption], if it is the case that the practitioner’s specific session of sitting in dhyana is about to come to an end, when he desires to come out of meditative absorption, he should first release his mind onto a different objective condition, and then open his mouth and release the breath while also visualizing it dispersing itself from within its many energetic pathways so that it follows along with the mental attention.

Afterwards, one should move the body ever so slightly and then move the shoulders and then the hands, the head, and the neck. Next, one moves the two feet and allows them to become entirely limber again. Next, one uses the hands to massage over all of his pores and then massages his hands so that they are caused to become warm. He then uses them to cover his two eyes and afterwards then opens them. Once one has waited for the body to warm up a little one can then come and go as he pleases.

If one fails to do this, since one may have succeeded in causing the mind to dwell [in a particular way] during the sit, if one then acts in a sudden and hurried fashion as one comes out [of meditation], then the subtle factors may not have yet been allowed to disperse. If they thus continue to abide [trapped] within the body, they may cause a person to have headaches and to experience stiffness of all of the joints similar to rheumatism. In subsequent sitting sessions one may become afflicted, agitated and ill at ease. Therefore when the mind wishes to emerge from meditative absorption one must always pay careful attention [to these points].

This constitutes the technique for regulating the body, respiration and mind as one emerges from meditative absorption. Because one moves forth from the subtle on into that which is coarse this involves a skillful entering abiding and emerging as described in a verse:

In moving forward and in stopping there is a [proper] sequence

[So that] the coarse and the subtle do not work against each other.
It is just as with [the responses of] a well-tamed horse
When one desires to halt and then desires to move on.
In The Lotus Sutra, it says: “For the sake of the Buddha Way, the bodhisattvas in this great assembly have already diligently practiced vigor for an incalculable number of tens of millions of ko.tiis(28) of kalpas. They have become skillful in entering, abiding in, and emerging from an incalculable number of trillions of ko.tiis of samadhis. They have gained great superknowledges, have long cultivated the brahman conduct and have become well able to practice in appropriate sequence all of the good dharmas.

[End of Chapter Four]


Chapter Five: Practicing in accord with Skillful Means

Now, as for cultivating stopping and contemplation, it is necessary to employ accesses to Dharma characterized by skillful means. [In this connection] there are five dharmas.

The first is zeal. One possesses the zeal to separate from all of the world’s erroneous thinking and inverted views because one nurtures the zeal to achieve success in all of the Dharma accesses associated with dhyana and wisdom. This may also be referred to by [such terms as] “being determined to,” “aspiring to,” “having a fondness for,” and “taking pleasure in.” This is because this person is determined towards, aspires to, is fond of, and takes pleasure in all of the profound accesses to Dharma. Hence this is known as “zeal.” This is as stated by the Buddha when he said, “Zeal constitutes the origin of all good dharmas.”

The second is vigor. In solidly upholding the precepts and getting rid of the five coverings one is focused, intensely energetic, and unremitting in both the early and later watches of the night. This is analogous to when one employs a drill to make fire but it has not yet gotten hot. Even to the very end one does not rest. This refers to being vigorous in the good dharmas of the Way.

The third is mindfulness. One remains mindful that the world is deceptive and may be deemed base whereas dhyana absorption is honorable and may be deemed noble. If one achieves dhyana absorption, one is immediately able to perfectly generate non-outflow wisdom and the power of the Way which comes with all of the superknowledges. One realizes the equal and right enlightenment and extensively engages in delivering beings to liberation. This may be deemed noble. Hence we refer here to mindfulness.

The fourth is discerning wisdom. One takes the measure of worldly bliss as opposed to the bliss associated with dhyana absorption and wisdom, judging the successes versus the failures and the valueless versus the valuable. Why? As for the bliss of the world, the bliss is but little whereas the suffering is much. It is false, deceptive and unreal. This amounts to a failure and is valueless. As for the bliss which accompanies dhyana absorption and wisdom, it is devoid of outflows, unconditioned, characterized by stillness, leisure and liberation. One leaves birth and death behind forever and is always separate from suffering. This constitutes a success and is a thing which is valuable. Because one engages in such an analysis we speak here of discerning wisdom.

The fifth is single-mindedness in making clear distinctions. One sees clearly that the world may be deemed disastrous and horrible. One recognizes well that the meritorious qualities of meditative absorption and wisdom may be deemed honorable and noble. At such a time one should make a single-minded decision to cultivate stopping and contemplation, making one’s mind like vajra so that the heavenly demons and the non-buddhists will be unable to impose obstruction or destruction. [One’s determination should be such that] even if one’s efforts came up empty and nothing whatsoever was gained one will still perservere to the end and not turn back or change [one’s resolve]. This is what is meant by single-mindedness.

This is analogous to a person’s travels. It is first necessary to know the signs of the open or obstructed road. Afterwards one decides to proceed single-mindedly along the road and then advances accordingly. Hence we speak here of discerning wisdom and single-mindedness. One of the Sutras states, “Were it not for wisdom, one would not develop dhyana absorption. Were it not for dhyana absorption, one would not develop wisdom.” The principle abides right here.

[End of Chapter Five]


Chapter Six: The Actual Cultivation

As for the cultivation of stopping and contemplation, there are two modes. The first is cultivation while sitting. The second is cultivation while moving through objective conditions and as one relates to the objective sphere.

As for the first [mode], the cultivation as one cultivates stopping and contemplation while sitting, although it is true that this can be accomplished in any of the four deportments,(1) still, for the study of the Way, sitting is the superior posture. Therefore one first explains stopping and contemplation in relation to sitting. Generally speaking, one sets forth five different concepts in this connection:

1) Cultivating stopping and contemplation as means of countering the coarseness and chaos of the beginner’s mind;
2) Cultivating stopping and contemplation as means of countering the disorders of mental “sinking,” or “floating;”
3) Cultivating stopping and contemplation in a manner which accords with whatever is appropriate;
4) Cultivating stopping and contemplation to counteract subtle states of mind occurring in meditative absorption;
5) Cultivating stopping and contemplation as means of achieving equal balance in meditative absorption and wisdom.]
The first [concept] is cultivating stopping and contemplation as means of countering the coarseness and chaos of the beginner’s mind. This refers to the case where, because the practitioner’s thoughts are coarse and disordered when he first attempts to sit in dhyana, he should cultivate stopping to get rid of and demolish them. If one is unable to break their hold through stopping, then one ought to cultivate contemplation in such a case. Hence one speaks of cultivating stopping and contemplation in order to counter and break the coarseness and chaos of the beginner’s mind.

Now, the explanation of the cultivation of stopping and contemplation involves two concepts. The first, the cultivation of stopping, is itself comprised of three types:

The first of these is stopping wherein one maintains the [mental] state through anchoring [one’s attention] on an objective condition. This refers to anchoring the mind at such locations as the tip of the nose or the navel in order to prevent the mind from becoming scattered. Accordingly, a sutra states, “One anchors the mind and refrains from falling into neglectfulness. This is just like locking up a monkey.”

The second is stopping through controlling the mind. This refers to exerting control no matter what comes up in the mind in order to prevent it from running off and becoming scattered. A sutra says, “As for these five [sense] faculties, the mind acts as their ruler. Therefore, you should all skillfully control your minds.” Because these two are both characterized by [obvious] phenomena it is unnecessary to analyze them [further here].

The third is stopping through realization of truth. The means that, no matter what the mind dwells upon, if one understands that all dharmas are produced from causes and conditions and are devoid of an inherently-existent nature, then the mind will not seize upon them. If the mind does not seize upon them then the mind characterized by false thoughts will cease. Hence this constitutes stopping. This is as described in a sutra where it states:

Within each and every one of all the dharmas
Causes and conditions are empty, devoid of a ruler.
Put the mind to rest; penetrate to the original source.
Based on this one is referred to as a “shrama.na.”
When the practitioner first sits in dhyana, [he should realize that] no matter what the mind thinks of , no dharma abides for even an instant. If one’s false thoughts do not cease even though one has implemented the above-described technique of stopping through realization of truth, one should reflect upon the thoughts which arise, and realize that, as for the past, they have already been destroyed, as for the present, they do not abide, and as for the future, they have not yet come. When one searches throughout these three regions they cannot be found at all. If they constitute a dharma which cannot be found then there is no thought. If there is no thought, then all dharmas are entirely nonexistent.

Although the practitioner contemplates and finds that thoughts do not abide and are entirely nonexistent, still, it is not the case that there is not a single k.sa.na in which there is carried out the arisal of aware and knowing mindfulness.

One additionally contemplates this mind’s thought, [observing that] it is on account of the internal presence of the six [sense] faculties, the external presence of the six [sense] objects, and the mutual opposition between the faculties and the objects that consciousness therefore arises. When the faculties and the objects have not yet been placed in mutual opposition, the production of consciousness is fundamentally nonexistent. One contemplates production in this manner and also contemplates extinction in the same way. The names “production” and “extinction” are only falsely established. When the mind which is characterized by production and extinction is extinguished, then still extinction manifests before one and there is nothing whatsoever which can be found. This is the so-called empty and still noumenal principle of nirvana. [Having carried out this contemplation], one’s mind naturally comes to a halt.

The Treatise on the Awakening of Faith states, “If the mind has run off and become scattered one should immediately draw it back in and establish it in right mindfulness. As for this “right mindfulness,” one should be aware that it is only mind. There is no external realm. This very mind itself is devoid of any inherently existent characteristic. There is no instant in which it can be gotten at. It is reported that there are beginners in the cultivation of this study who, not yet having developed an easy ability to achieve a stillness of the mind, suppress it so as to force it to remain still, and so often become crazy [as a result]. This is just like studying archery. If one devotes a long time to the practice one then succeeds in hitting the target.

The second, the cultivation of contemplation, is of two types. The first is counteractive contemplation. It is exemplified by the contemplation of impurity which counteracts desire, the contemplation involving the mind of loving-kindness which counteracts hatred, the contemplation involving analysis of the sense realms which counteracts attachment to a self, and the breath-counting contemplation which counteracts excessive discursive thinking. These will not be discussed in detail here.

The second, right contemplation, involves contemplating all dharmas as being devoid of marks and also as produced from causes and conditions. The absence of an [inherently-existent] nature in causes and conditions is just the reality mark. If one first comprehends that absolutely everything in the realm which is contemplated is entirely empty then the mind which is able to engage in the contemplation spontaneously refrains from arising. The earlier and later parts of the text primarily discuss this principle. The reader is requested to study this in detail himself. This is as exemplified in a sutra verse where it states:

All dharmas are insubstantial.
They constantly abide in thought.
One who’s already understood and perceived emptiness
In every case is free of thinking.
The second [concept] involves cultivating stopping and contemplation as means of countering the disorders of mental “sinking,” or “floating.” When the practitioner is sitting in dhyana if his mind is obstructed by dimness and fails to attend to anything as he stares blankly, or if one sometimes sleeps a lot, at that time one should cultivate contemplation as a means of bringing forth complete illumination. If in the midst of sitting one’s mind moves about in a floating manner such that it is light, agitated, and ill at ease, at that time one should cultivate stopping in order to bring it to a halt. This is a summary explanation of the features of cultivating stopping and contemplation as means of countering the disorders of mental “sinking,” or “floating.” It is only necessary that in utilizing them one knows well how to match the medicine and the disorder. In every case one must not commit the error of applying the antidotes in a contrary or unorthodox manner.

The third [concept] involves cultivating stopping and contemplation in a manner which accords with whatever is appropriate. When the practitioner is sitting in dhyana, if even though he does cultivate contemplative illumination for the sake of counteracting mental sinking, his mind still does not become bright and pure and there is no Dharmic benefit from it, he should then try cultivating stopping in order to arrest it. If when he is utilizing stopping he then becomes aware of his body and mind having become peaceful and still, one should know that it is appropriate to utilize stopping. One should then employ stopping to pacify the mind.

When one is sitting in dhyana, if even though one cultivates stopping to counteract mental floating and moving about, the mind still does not come to a stop and one derives no Dharmic benefit from it, one should then try cultivating contemplation. If in the midst of contemplation one then becomes aware that the mind and spirit have become bright, pure, still and stable, one ought to know that it is appropriate to engage in contemplation. One should then employ contemplation to pacify the mind.

This is a summary explanation of the features of cultivating stopping and contemplation in a manner which accords with whatever is appropriate. It is only necessary that one skillfully adapt to what is appropriate and cultivate that. If one does this, then the mind and spirit will become peaceful and stable, the calamity of the afflictions will be put to rest and one will realize success in the entryways to Dharma.

The fourth [concept] involves cultivating stopping and contemplation to counteract subtle states of mind occurring in meditative absorption. This refers to the situation where the practitioner has first utilized stopping and contemplation to counteract and demolish coarseness and disordered [thought] and, since the disordered thought has already ceased, he then succeeds in entering meditative absorption. On account of the subtle mind state occurring in meditative absorption one becomes aware of the body as empty and still and then experiences bliss. It may be that a mind prone to indulgence is then brought forth which is able to use that subtle mental state as a basis for seizing on a deviant principle. If one is unaware of the false and deceptive nature of the mind which has come to a rest in meditative absorption, one will certainly become desirously attached [to this experience]. If one becomes desirously attached one will cling to this as being genuine. If [however] one is aware that this is false, deceptive, and not genuine, then the two afflictions of affection and views will not arise. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

If even though one continues to cultivate stopping, the mind still remains attached and the karma of the fetters linked to affection and views does not cease, one should then cultivate contemplation, directing one’s contemplation to the subtle mind associated with meditative absorption. If one does not [in fact] perceive [the actual existence of] the subtle mind occurring in meditative absorption, then one will not maintain attachment to the views linked to meditative absorption. If one does not establish attachment to views linked to meditative absorption then the karma associated with the afflictions of affection and views will all be entirely shattered and destroyed. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

This is a summary explanation of the features of cultivating stopping and contemplation to counteract the subtle mental states occurring in meditative absorption. The distinctions associated with the methods of stopping and contemplation are identical to those set forth previously. The only difference here is that they are employed to demolish extremely subtle errors inherent in [certain] views linked to meditative absorption.

The fifth [concept] is the cultivation of stopping and contemplation as means of achieving equal balance in meditative absorption and wisdom. While sitting in dhyana, either on account of cultivating stopping or perhaps on account of cultivating contemplation, the practitioner then enters dhyana absorption. If although one has succeeded in entering meditative absorption, one still has no contemplative wisdom, this constitutes an absorption characterized by stupidity whereby one is unable to cut off the fetters. Or it may be that the operative contemplative wisdom is only faint and scant. In such a case one is unable to generate true wisdom, sever the fetters, or develop the entryways to Dharma.

At such a time one should cultivate contemplative analysis. If one does so then meditative absorption and wisdom become equally balanced, one becomes able to sever the fetters, and one achieves realization in the entryways to Dharma.

When the practitioner is sitting in dhyana, on account of cultivating contemplation, the mind may suddenly open up and become awakened such that one’s wisdom is sharp and clear. However, it may be that the mind of meditative absorption is still only faint and scant. In such a case the mind may be moved and scattered. Like a lamp [flame] in the wind it does not completely illuminate things. In such a case one is unable to leave behind birth and death. At such a time one should return to the cultivation of stopping. On account of cultivating stopping one then gains the mind of meditative absorption. Like the lamp [flame] in a closed room it is immediately able to dispel the darkness and illuminate things clearly. This is a summary explanation of the cultivation of the two dharmas of stopping and contemplation in order to establish equal balance of meditative absorption and wisdom.

If the practitioner is able to skillfully utilize these five concepts in this manner as he cultivates stopping and contemplation while sitting correctly with the body upright, and if in selecting them and dispensing with them he does not fail to accord with what is appropriate, then one should know that this person skillfully cultivates the Dharma of the Buddha. Because one is able to cultivate skillfully he most certainly will not pass through this one lifetime in vain.

Next, the second [mode]. Here we explain the cultivation of stopping and contemplation while moving through objective conditions and in relation to the objective sphere. Constantly sitting with the body upright is the supreme essential for entering the Way. However, a person with responsibilities must necessarily be involved in phenomenal conditions. If one adapts to objective conditions in relating to the objective sphere and yet fails to cultivate stopping and contemplation, this will produce gaps in and severances of the mind of cultivation. In such a case the karma of the fetters will arise where one comes into contact [with the objective sphere]. How then could one succeed in quickly achieving interactive correspondence with the Dharma of the Buddha?

If a person is at all times constantly cultivating skillful means related to meditative absorption and wisdom, one should know that this person will certainly be able to reach a penetrating understanding of all of the Buddha’s dharmas.

What is meant by cultivating stopping and contemplation as one moves through objective conditions? As for what is referred to as “objective conditions,” it refers to six kinds of objective conditions. The first is walking; the second is standing; the third is sitting; the fourth is lying down; the fifth is doing things; and the sixth is speaking.

What is meant by cultivating stopping and contemplation in relation to the objective sphere? As for what is referred to as “the objective sphere,” it refers to the sphere of the six [sense] objects. The first is the eye in relation to forms; the second is the ear in relation to sounds; the third is the nose in relation to fragrances; the fourth is the tongue in relation to flavors; the fifth is the body in relation to tangibles; and the sixth is the intellectual mind in relation to dharmas [as objects of mind].

It is based on the practitioner’s cultivation of stopping and contemplation in relation to these twelve phenomena that one speaks of the cultivation of stopping and contemplation as one moves through objective conditions and as one relates to the objective sphere.

First, walking. At times when one is involved in walking one should bring forth this thought, “For what purpose do I now wish to walk?” If it is on account of being directed by afflictions or unwholesome or neutral matters, then one should not walk. If it is not an instance of being directed by the afflictions and if it is for the sake of a matter which produces wholesome benefits and which is in accord with the Dharma, then one should walk.

How does one go about cultivating stopping while walking? If one is walking one maintains the awareness that it is on account of walking that there may exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad, and so forth. If one is completely aware that the mind engaged in walking as well as all dharmas present in walking cannot be gotten at, then the false-thinking mind ceases. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

How does one go about cultivating contemplation while walking? One should bring forth this thought, “It is on account of the mind that one moves the body. As a result one has that forward movement referred to as “walking.” It is on account of walking that there may then exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad, and so forth.” One should then immediately turn around [one’s attention] and contemplate the mind which is engaged in walking. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance in it. One should then realize that the one who walks as well as all dharmas involved in walking are both ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Second, standing. If one is standing one should bring forth this thought, “On account of what endeavor do I now wish to stand?” If it is for the sake of the afflictions or unwholesome or neutral endeavors that one stands then one should not stand. If it is for the sake of good and beneficial endeavors then one should stand.

How does one go about cultivating stopping while standing? If one is standing one maintains the awareness that it is on account of standing that there may then exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad and so forth. If one is completely aware that the mind engaged in standing as well as all of the dharmas involved in standing cannot be gotten at then the false-thinking mind ceases. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

How does one go about cultivating contemplation while standing? One should bring forth this thought, “It is on account of the mind that the body is brought to a stop. As a result one refers to “standing.” It is on account of this standing that there may then exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad, and so forth.” One should then turn back one’s attention and contemplate the mind engaged in standing. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who stands as well as all of the dharmas involved in standing are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Third, sitting. If one is sitting one should bring forth this thought, “On account of what endeavor do I now wish to sit?” If it is for the sake of the afflictions or unwholesome or neutral matters, then one should not sit. If it is for the sake of good and beneficial endeavors then one should sit.

How does one go about cultivating stopping while sitting? If one is engaged in sitting then one should be completely aware that it is on account of sitting that one may then have all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad and so forth. However, there is not one single dharma which can be gotten at. If [one realizes this] then false thoughts will not arise. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

How does one go about cultivating contemplation while sitting? One should bring forth this thought, “It is on account of what is thought by the mind that one sets up the body with the legs folded up. It is on account of this that one may have all of the dharmas of good, of bad, and so forth. Thus one refers to “sitting.” In turning around the attention to contemplate the mind engaged in sitting one does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who sits as well as all dharmas involved in sitting are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Fourth, lying down. When one is lying down one should bring forth this thought, “On account of what endeavor do I now wish to lie down?” If it is on account of some matter which is unwholesome or neglectful, then one should not lie down. If it is for the sake of bringing the four great elements into adjustment and harmony, then one ought to lie down like the king of the lions.

How does one go about cultivating stopping when lying down? If one is going to sleep then one ought to become completely aware that on account of lying down there may be all manner of dharmas of good, bad, and so forth. However, there is not one single dharma which can be gotten at. If [one remains aware of this] then false thinking will not arise. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

How does one go about cultivating contemplation when lying down? One should bring forth this thought, “It is on account of becoming worn out and exhausted that one then becomes beclouded and dim and then lets loose of the six sense faculties. It is on account of this that one may then have all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad, and so forth.” One should then turn back one’s attention and contemplate the mind. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance in it. One should then realize that the one who lies down as well as all of the dharmas involved in lying down are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Fifth, engaging in actions. When one is engaging in actions one should bring forth this thought: “On account of what matter do I now wish to perform engage in an action such as this?” If it is for the sake of matters which are unwholesome, neutral, and so forth, then one should not act. If it is for the sake of good and beneficial matters, then one should act.

How does one go about cultivating stopping in the midst of engaging in actions? If one is involved in carrying out actions, then one should be completely aware that it is on account of engaging in actions that there may then exist all of the dharmas of good, bad, and so forth. However, there is not one single dharma which can be gotten at. If [one becomes aware of this] then false thoughts will not arise. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by cultivating contemplation while engaging in actions? One should bring forth this thought: “It is on account of the mind’s controlling the movement of the body and hands that one engages in endeavors. It is because of this that there may come to exist all of the dharmas of good, bad, and so forth. Hence the concept termed ‘engaging in action.'” One turns back [the attention] and contemplates the mind which engages in actions. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should realize then that the agent of actions as well as all of the dharmas involved in engaging in actions are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Sixth, speaking. When one is involved in speaking one should bring forth this thought: “On account of what matter do I now wish to speak?” If one would thereby follow along with afflictions or if it is for the sake of discussing matters which are unwholesome, neutral, and so forth, then one should not speak. If it is for the sake of good and beneficial matters, then one should speak.

What is meant by cultivating stopping in speaking? If one is engaged in speaking one maintains the awareness that on account of this speaking there may then come to exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, of good and bad, and so forth. One becomes completely aware that the mind which engages in speaking and all dharmas of the afflictions and of good and bad cannot be gotten at. Thus the mind which brings forth false thoughts comes to a rest. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by cultivating contemplating in the midst of speaking? One should bring forth this thought: “It is based on the initial and secondary thought of the mind that one provokes the breath to move through the throat, the lips, the tongue, the teeth and the palate. Thus one emits sound as the words of speech. It is because of this speaking that there may then come to exist the dharmas of good, bad, and so forth. Hence the concept termed ‘speech.'” One turns back [the attention] and contemplates the mind which engages in speaking. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who speaks as well as all of the dharmas involved in speaking are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

The six concepts involved in the cultivation of stopping and contemplation such as have been set forth above are to be employed in a manner which adapts to what is appropriate and which accords with the exigencies of the moment. In each and every case they involve the five previously-[explained] ideas related to stopping and contemplation [which should be implemented] in the manner discussed above.(2)

Next, the cultivation of stopping and contemplation at the entrances of the six [sense] faculties.

First, cultivation of stopping when the eye views forms. Whenever there is the viewing of form it is like the moon [reflected in] water. There is no definite reality involved. If one sees forms with which one is temperamentally agreeable, one does not give rise to desirous affection. If one sees forms to which one is temperamentally opposed, one does not give rise to hateful affliction. If one sees forms to which one is neither opposed nor agreeable one does not give rise to ignorance or any form of chaotic thinking. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by the cultivation of contemplation when the eyes view form? One should bring forth this thought: “No matter what is viewed, those very characteristic features are empty and still. How is this the case? Within the sphere of the sense faculty, sense object, space and light, nothing is seen by any of them nor is there any discrimination which takes place. The combination of causes and conditions generates eye consciousness. Next, there occurs the arisal of the mind consciousness. It is then immediately able to make distinctions among all of the various types of forms. It is on account of this that there may then come to exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, good and bad, and so forth.” One should immediately turn back [the attention] and contemplate the mind which bears forms in mind. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who sees as well as all of the other associated dharmas are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Second, the cultivation of stopping when the ear hears sounds. Whichever sounds are heard by the ear, one immediately realizes that the sounds are characterized by being like echoes. If one hears sounds with which one is temperamentally agreeable one does not give rise to an affectionate mind. As for sounds to which one is temperamentally opposed, one does not give rise to a hateful mind. And as for sounds to which one is neither opposed nor agreeable, one does not give rise to a discriminating mind. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by the cultivation of contemplation in the hearing of sounds? One should bring forth this thought: “No matter what sound is heard, it is empty and is utterly nonexistent. It is only from the coming together of the sense faculty and the sense object that there is the generation of ear consciousness. Next, the mind consciousness arises and in a forced manner gives rise to discriminations. It is because of this that there may then come to exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, good and bad, and so forth.” One turns back [the attention] and contemplates the mind which hears sounds. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who hears as well as all of the other associated dharmas are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes contemplation.

Third, the cultivation of stopping when the nose smells fragrances. No matter what fragrances are smelled one immediately realizes that they are like flames and are unreal. If one smells fragrances with which one is temperamentally agreeable one does not give rise to a mind characterized by attachment. As for smells to which one is temperamentally opposed one does not give rise to a hateful mind. And as for smells towards which one is neither opposed nor agreeable, one does not bring forth chaotic thinking. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by the cultivation of contemplation in the smelling of fragrances? One should bring forth this thought: “The fragrances which I am now smelling are false, deceptive and unreal. How is this the case? It is because of the coming together of the sense faculty and the sense object that there is then produced the olfactory consciousness. Next, there is the production of the mind consciousness. In a forced manner it seizes upon the characteristics of fragrances. It is because of this that there may then come to exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, good and bad, and so forth. Hence we have what is termed the smelling of fragrances.” One turns back [the attention] and contemplates the mind which smells fragrances. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who smells fragrances as well as all of the other associated dharmas are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Fourth, the cultivation of stopping when the tongue experiences tastes. No matter what tastes are experienced one immediately realizes that they are like tastes obtained in a dream or a fantasy. If one obtains a marvelous flavor towards which one is temperamentally agreeable one does not give rise to desirous attachment. As for bad tastes towards which one is temperamentally opposed, one does not give rise to a hateful mind. And as for tastes towards which one is neither opposed nor agreeable, one does not give rise to discriminating thoughts on the part of the intellectual mind. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by cultivating contemplation when the tongue experiences tastes? One should bring forth this thought: “In reality, the tastes which are now being experienced cannot be gotten at. How is this the case? Both subjectively and objectively the six flavors are in their nature devoid of distinctions. It is because the subject-related tongue organ comes into conjunction with them that gustatory consciousness arises. Next one gives rise to mind consciousness. In a forced manner it seizes upon the characteristics of flavors. It is because of this that there may then come to exist all of the dharmas of the afflictions, good and bad, and so forth.” One turns back [the attention] and contemplates the consciousness which takes tastes as its objective conditions. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who experiences tastes as well as all of the other associated dharmas are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Fifth, the cultivation of stopping when the body experiences tactile sensations. No matter which tactile sensations become the object of awareness one immediately realizes that they are like a reflection, an illusion, or a conjuration, and are unreal. If one experiences a pleasurable tactile sensation to which one is temperamentally agreeable, one does not give rise to desirous attachment. If one experiences painful tactile sensations to which one is temperamentally opposed, one does not give rise to hateful affliction. If one experiences tactile sensations to which one is neither opposed nor agreeable, one does not give rise to thoughts which retain them in mind nor does one engage in making distinctions among them. This constitutes the cultivation of stopping.

What is meant by the cultivation of contemplation when the body experiences tactile sensations? One should bring forth this thought: “Lightness and heaviness, coolness and heat, roughness and slickness, and other such dharmas all constitute tactile sensations. The six sections of the body consisting of the head and so forth constitute what is referred to as the body. The nature of tactile sensations is that they are empty and false. The body too is unreal. It is through the coming together of causes and conditions that there is the arisal of physical consciousness. There next arises the mind consciousness which engages in recollective thought and the making of distinctions with regard to the characteristics of pleasure, pain and so forth. On account of this one refers to the experiencing of tactile sensations.” One turns back the attention and contemplates the mind which takes tactile sensations as objective conditions. One does not perceive any characteristic appearance. One should then realize that the one who experiences tactile sensations as well as all of the other associated dharmas are ultimately empty and still. This constitutes the cultivation of contemplation.

Sixth, the features of the cultivation of stopping and contemplation in the midst of the mind’s awareness of dharmas are as already explained at the beginning in the section on sitting. From among the above features relating to the cultivation of stopping and contemplation in dependence upon the six sense faculties one implements whichever ones correspond to [the faculty] one intends to utilize. The five concepts discussed earlier are inherent in each and every one of these situations.(3) They have already been extensively detailed herein. Hence we will not now repeat the analysis.

If the practitioner is able to cultivate stopping and contemplation at every point as he walks, stands, sits, lies down, sees, hears, experiences awareness, and so forth, then one ought to know that this person truly cultivates the Mahayana Way. As stated in The Great [Perfection of Wisdom] Sutra, “The Buddha told Subhuti, ‘If when the bodhisattva walks he is aware of walking, if when he sits he is aware of sitting, and so forth until we come to when he dons the sa.nghaa.tii, gazes or blinks he is single-minded. [And so too it is as] he exits from and enters into dhyana absorption. One should know that this person is to be known as a bodhisattva, [an exemplar] of the Mahayana.

Furthermore, if a person is able to cultivate the Great Vehicle in every place and in this manner, this person is the most superior in all the world. He is the most supreme and has no peer. A verse from The Treatise [on the Great Perfection of Wisdom] states:

Easefully sitting within the forest,
Quiescently extinguishing every ill,
Serenely gaining unity of mind,–
This bliss is not the bliss of the heavens.
People seek after worldly profit,
Renowned attire, fine beds and cushions.
This bliss is neither peaceful or secure.
In seeking profit there is no satisfaction.
The patched-robed one abides in deserted places.
Moving and stopping, his mind is always one.
Spontaneously employing the clarity of wisdom,
He contemplates the reality mark of the dharmas.
In all of the different classes of Dharma,
All are entered through contemplation of equality.
The mind of understanding wisdom is quiescent.
Throughout the three realms there are none ranked as peer.

[End of Chapter Six]

ENDNOTES

1. The four types of deportment are walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.

2. This refers to the five concepts discussed earlier, namely, cultivating stopping and contemplation as means: 1) to counter the coarseness and chaos of the beginner’s mind; 2) to counter the disorders of mental “sinking,” or “floating;” 3) to accord with whatever is appropriate; 4) to counteract subtle states of mind occurring in meditative absorption; 5) to achieve equal balance in meditative absorption and wisdom.

3. Again, this refers to the five concepts discussed earlier, namely, cultivating stopping and contemplation as means: 1) to counter the coarseness and chaos of the beginner’s mind; 2) to counter the disorders of mental “sinking,” or “floating;” 3) to accord with whatever is appropriate; 4) to counteract subtle states of mind occurring in meditative absorption; 5) to achieve equal balance in meditative absorption and wisdom.


Chapter Seven: The Manifestation of Roots of Goodness

If the practitioner is able in this manner to skillfully cultivate stopping and contemplation, going from the conventional into the contemplation of emptiness, as he sits [in dhyana meditation] his body and mind will become bright and pure. At such time there may occur the development and manifestation of many different sorts of roots of goodness. One must recognize and be aware of them.

Now, we explain in brief the signs associated with the manifestation of roots of goodness. There are two different categories. First, the signs associated with the manifestation of external roots of goodness: This refers to the development and manifestation of roots of goodness associated with giving, upholding precepts, filial dutifulness to parents, veneration of seniors, making offerings to the Triple Jewel, listening to and studying [the teachings], and so forth. These are external matters. If one is not engaged in correct cultivation, these may spill over into [and manifest as] demonic states [of mind]. We will not now analyze these in detail.

Second, the signs of the manifestation of internal roots of goodness. This refers to the development and manifestation of roots of goodness associated with dhyana absorption Dharma gateways. There are three concepts in this regard.

The first, the explanation of the signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness. There are five different categories. First, the signs associated with the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the pathways of the breath. On account of the practitioner’s skillfully cultivating stopping and contemplation, the body and mind become regulated correctly and false thinking comes to a halt. Because of this, one becomes aware that his mind gradually enters into meditative absorption. One develops meditative absorptions such as those associated with the desire realm and [specifically], the preliminary ground (anaagamya, a.k.a. “access concentration”).(1)

The body and mind become as if they have perished and are empty and quiescent. The mind associated with meditative absorption becomes peaceful and stable. In the midst of this meditative absorption, one does not perceive any appearance whatsoever of a body or a mind. Then afterwards one may continue on through one sitting session or two sitting sessions, and so forth until we come to one day, two days, one month or two months. One may be unable to bring this to a rest and so it may be that one does not retreat from it nor does it disappear.

Then in the midst of meditative absorption one may suddenly become aware of the body and mind moving and provoking the manifestation of eight tactile sensations, namely the awareness of physical pain, itching, coldness, heat, lightness, heaviness, roughness, smoothness, and so forth. At that time when there is the manifestation of these dharmas of tactile sensation, the body and mind are peaceful and stabilized. There is an empty and subtle blissfulness. One’s happiness and pleasure are pure and indescribable even by simile. This constitutes signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the awareness of the pathways of breath and the basic dhyana absorption.

In the preliminary ground of the desire realm the practitioner suddenly becomes aware of the exiting, entry and duration of the breath and of its moving emptily [in and out] through the hair pores of the entire body. Then one sees with the mind’s eye the thirty-six things contained within the body just as when, upon opening up a pantry, one sees all of the sesame, beans, and so forth. The mind becomes greatly startled and delighted. One is quiescent, peaceful and happy. These constitute signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness corresponding to the special ascendant practices associated with the breath.(2)

Second, the signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the contemplation of impurity. When the practitioner is immersed in the meditative absorption of the desire realm’s preliminary ground his body and mind may become empty and still in the midst of this meditative absorption, [whereupon he may experience the following signs]: He may suddenly observe the physical death of some other man or woman and then following upon that death [he may observe] the bloating and rotting [of that corpse], the presence of worms and the flowing forth of pus. [He may] then observe the whitened bones scattered about. His mind may become affected by sorrow and delight and he may then experience revulsion and abhorrence for that which he had loved. These are signs indicating the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the nine visualizations.(3)

Or perhaps in the midst of still meditative absorption he may suddenly observe the impure things inside of the body, [he may observe] someone else’s body as bloated and scattered, or [he may observe] his own body as a white skeleton from the head to foot with every one of the bones remaining supported in position by the others. After having seen this phenomenon, the mind of absorption may become peaceful and stable. One may experience a startling awakening to [the fact of] impermanence. One may then develop revulsion and abhorrence for the five objects of desire, and may then desist from attachment to either oneself or other persons. These are signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the liberations.(4)

Or perhaps when the mind is immersed in meditative absorption one may observe everything as utterly impure whether it be with regard to one’s own body, the bodies of others, flying birds, crawling beasts, clothing, drink, food, dwellings, mountains or forests. These are signs indicating the manifestation of roots of goodness related to [the contemplation of] the great [all-encompassing] impurity.

Third, the signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the mind of loving-kindness. If on account of cultivating stopping and contemplation the practitioner succeeds in entering the meditative absorption of the desire realm’s preliminary ground, while he is immersed in this meditative absorption, [there may occur the following signs]: He may suddenly bring forth a mind characterized by a lovingly-kind mindfulness of other beings wherein there appear to him signs indicating that persons with whom he has close affinities gain happiness. He may then immediately develop deep meditative absorption wherein his own mind manifests a pure blissful happiness indescribable even by simile.

Similar phenomena may occur with regard to people towards whom he has only middling affinities and towards people who have been his enemies and may then extend to all of the beings within the five destinies throughout the ten directions. When he arises from meditative absorption his mind is blissfully happy such that, no matter whom he sees, his countenance remains constantly harmonious. These are signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the mind of loving-kindness. The signs of the manifestation of the mind of compassion, the mind of sympathetic joy, and the mind of equanimity may all be understood through comparison to this.

Fourth, the signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the contemplation of causes and conditions. It may be that on account of cultivating stopping and contemplation the practitioner gains the desire realm’s preliminary ground meditative absorption in which the body and mind abide in stillness. He may then suddenly experience the arisal of a mind of awakening [characterized by the following signs]: In deliberating upon the causes and conditions of ignorance, karmic formative factors (sa.mskaaras), and so forth [as they interact] throughout the three periods of time he does not perceive the [inherent] existence of either others or a self. He then immediately transcends annihilationism and eternalism, smashes all attachments and views, and gains the peace and security of meditative absorption. Understanding and wisdom manifest. Dharma joy comes forth in his mind and he does not think of any worldly matters. His experience proceeds in this manner to include the five aggregates, the twelve sense fields, and the eighteen sense realms wherein his analytic [realization] extends in the same manner. These are the signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the contemplation of causes and conditions.

Fifth, the signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to mindfulness of the buddha. It may be that on account of cultivating stopping and contemplation the practitioner gains the desire realm’s preliminary ground meditative absorption wherein his body and mind are empty and still [and he experiences the following]: He may immediately bring forth in his mind the inconceivable and ineffable meritorious qualities and major and minor characteristics of the buddha, including all of the ten powers, the fearlessness, the dharmas special to the buddha, the samadhis, the liberations, and other such dharmas, the inconceivable and ineffable superknowledges and [spiritual] transformations, unobstructed eloquences, and the vast benefits [the buddhas] provide to beings.

When he brings forth this thought regarding such an incalculable number of inconceivable and ineffable meritorious qualities, he then manifests a mind imbued with affection and reverence, samadhi develops, the body and mind become blissful, pure, peaceful and secure, and become free of any unwholesome characteristics. When he arises from dhyana absorption his body and mind are unencumbered and sharp. He becomes personally aware that these meritorious qualities are lofty and impressive and that they are loved and revered by others. These are signs of the manifestation of roots of goodness related to the mindfulness-of-the-buddha samadhi.

Furthermore, in the event that the practitioner gains clarity and purity of body and mind on account of cultivating stopping and contemplation, he may then experience signs of the manifestation [of roots of goodness related to] impermanence, suffering, emptiness, nonexistence of self, impurity, renounceability of the world, or impurity of food. [Or those signs may be related to] deliberative contemplations on death, on separation [from desire], on extinction, mindfulness of the Buddha, of the Dharma, of the Sangha, of the precepts, of renunciation, or of the heavens. [They may be related to] the stations of mindfulness, the right efforts, the foundations of psychic power, the roots, the powers, the constituents of enlightenment, the Way, emptiness, signlessness, wishlessness (lit. “endeavorlessness”), the six perfections, the [other] paaramitaas, the superknowledges, the transformations, and so forth. [He may experience] signs of the manifestation [of roots of goodness related to] any of the Dharma entryways. [Ideally], these should all be analyzed extensively herein. Hence it states in a sutra: “If one controls the mind [so that it abides] in a single place, there is no endeavor which is not accomplished.”

Second, “distinguishing between the true and the false” consists of two parts. The first is “articulating the signs of the manifestation of false dhyana absorptions.” When the practitioner experiences the manifestation of dhyana absorptions such as discussed above, it may be that on account of the dharmas which have become manifest [he experiences the following]: It may be that the body moves uncontrollably. At times the body may feel heavy as if something was pressing down and smashing it. At times the body may feel light as if it was about to fly. At times it might feel as if it were tied up. At times it may feel as if one were twisting around, being suspended while being cooked. Or at times it may feel as if one were being subjected to boiling or cold. At times one may experience strong heat. Or perhaps one might see all sorts of strange mental states. At times one’s mind may become dark and covered over. At times one may bring forth all sorts of evil initial thoughts. Or at times one may bring to mind external scatteredness relating to miscellaneous wholesome endeavors. Or perhaps at times one may experience delight or agitated movement. Or at times one may become worried or preoccupied with sad thoughts. Or perhaps at times one may experience unwholesome tactile sensations whereby the hairs on the body stand on end. Or at times one may become so immensely happy that one is [as if] confused or inebriated. All sorts of deviant dharmas such as these, when manifesting together with dhyana absorption, constitute [signs of] falseness.

If one becomes affectionately attached to these deviant meditative absorptions then [one’s behavior] corresponds to the dharmas of one of the ninety-five kinds of ghosts and spirits. In the majority of cases one then becomes prone to losing one’s mind [of correct determination] and becoming mentally deranged. Sometimes the ghosts, spirits, and other [such beings] become aware that a person has become mentally attached to their dharma and so then increase the intensity of the power [associated with it] such that [the practitioner] then manifests all sorts of deviant meditative absorptions, deviant forms of intelligence, eloquence and spiritual powers whereby he then influences people of the world through deception.

When the common foolish person observes this he is of the opinion that [the practitioner] has gained the fruit of [cultivating] the Way. They all believe in and submit to him even though in his mind he has become [attached to] inverted views and even though he practices only the dharma of ghosts and engages in the deception and confusion of [people in] the world.

When such a person’s life comes to an end he will remain eternally unable to encounter the Buddha and will return to fall down into the path of the ghosts and spirits. If when he has been sitting [in meditative absorption] he has mostly practiced evil dharmas then he will immediately fall into the hells.

If when the practitioner cultivates stopping and contemplation he achieves dhyana absorptions like these which are possessed of these signs of falseness he should then immediately get rid of them. How does one get rid of them? If one becomes aware of the presence of falseness and deception, he should establish himself in correctness of mind and desist from accepting or becoming attached [to these meditative states]. They should then diminish and disappear. If one implements correct contemplation to demolish them, they should immediately become extinguished.

Second, “articulating the signs of the manifestation of true and correct dhyana absorption.” When the practitioner is engaged in sitting meditation and there manifest dhyana absorptions wherein there are none of the above-described false dharmas [he should observe the following signs]: When each and every dhyana absorption manifests, one is immediately aware of its corresponding to [right] meditative absorption. One experiences emptiness, brightness, and purity.

Internally, one’s mind is delighted. One feels tranquil and blissful. There are no situations in which one’s [mind] is covered over. The mind of goodness comes forth and manifests. One’s faith and reverence increase and grow. One’s mirror of wisdom becomes sharply focused and clear. The body and mind are supple and pliant. One experiences a subtle and marvelous emptiness and quiescence. One develops a revulsion for and abhorrence of [the ways of] the world. There is nothing [which one feels needs] to be done and one is free of desires. In going forth and entering into [meditative absorption] one is sovereignly independent.

These are the signs of the manifestation of correct dhyana absorptions. Just as when working with evil people, one constantly encounters mutual aggravation, whereas when working together with good people, one eventually observes their fine points, so too it is in distinguishing between the signs inherent in deviant versus correct dhyana absorption.

Third, “clarifying the use of stopping and contemplation to increase the growth of roots of goodness.” When one is sitting [in meditation] and roots of goodness manifest, one should employ the two dharmas of stopping and contemplation to cause them to increase and advance. If it is appropriate to employ stopping then one uses stopping to cultivate them. If it is appropriate to employ contemplation then one uses contemplation to cultivate them. One does this in a manner which accords with the previous discussions. This constitutes a summary explanation of the major ideas [related to this topic].

1. Anaagamya = Wei-dao di. DFB – 817a = wei-jr ding DFB – 816b.

2. Awareness of the entry of the breath, awareness of the exiting of the breath, awareness of the length of the breath, awareness of the breath pervading the body, experiencing joy, experiencing bliss, and mind’s generation of bliss are all included within the “sixteen special ascendant practices” (shr-lyou te-sheng). See DFB – 213c.

3. The nine visualizations are: 1) The bloated corpse; 2) The bluish corpse; 3) The damaged corpse; 4) The The blood-smeared corpse; 5) The purulent, rotting corpse; 6) The corpse which has been gnawed at [by scavenging animals and insects; 7) The scattered corpse; 8) The skeletal corpse; and 9) The burned corpse. See DFB-172a-b.

4. The eight liberations (ba bei-she a.k.a. ba jye-two) . See DFB-136a-c.


Chapter Eight: Recognizing the Work of Demons

In Sanskrit, the term is “mara.” In the language of the Ch’in, it is rendered as “killer.” They plunder the practitioner’s merit wealth and slay the wisdom life of the practitioner. As for its consequently being referred to as “the work of demons,” just as the Buddha takes as his work the use of merit and wisdom to liberate beings that they might enter nirvana, the demons take as their work the continual destruction of being’s roots of goodness that they might be caused to flow along and turn about in the realm of birth and death. If one is able to establish the mind in the correct Way, it therefore becomes a case of “where the way is lofty one knows then that the demons will flourish.” Hence it is still necessary to be skillful in the recognition of the work of demons.

There are only four categories: First, the affliction demons; second, the demons of the [five] aggregates, [twelve] sense bases, and [eighteen] sense fields; third, the death demons; and fourth, the ghost-and-spirit demons. Three of them are normal worldly phenomena as well as products of a given individual’s mind. One must get rid of them by rectifying one’s own mind, thus exorcizing them. We will not describe them in detail just now.

As for the signs of the ghost-and-spirit demons, these matters must be understood. We shall now discuss them briefly. There are three categories of ghost-and-spirit demons: [First, the sprites, goblins, and creatures of the twelve {daily} horary time periods; second, “dwei-ti” demons; and third, demonic-affliction {demons}].

As for the first, the sprites, goblins, and creatures of the twelve [daily] horary time periods, they transform into all sorts of different shapes and forms, perhaps creating the form of a young girl or an old man and so on, including fearsome bodies and so forth not limited to any single type. They aggravate and deceive the practitioner. All of these sprites and goblins desire to afflict practitioners. Each of them comes at a time corresponding to its appointed hour. It is necessary to become skillful in distinguishing and recognizing them.

If they come during the yin time period [of 3 to 5 a.m.], they are certainly tigers or other such creatures. If they come during the mao period [of 5 to 7 a.m.], they are certainly rabbits, deer, and so forth. If they come during the chen period [of 7 to 9 a.m.], they are certainly dragons, turtles, and so forth. If they come during the ssu time period [of 9 to 11 a.m.], they are certainly snakes, pythons, and so forth. If they come during the wu period [of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m], they are certainly horses, mules, camels, and so forth. If they come during the wei time period [of 1 to 3 p.m], they are certainly sheep, and so forth. If they come during the shen time period [of 3 to 5 p.m], they are certainly monkeys, baboons, and so forth. If they come during the you time period [of 5 to 7 p.m], they are certainly chickens, crows, and so forth. If they come during the syu time period [of 7 to 9 p.m], they are certainly dogs, wolves, and so forth. If they come during the hai time period [of 9 to 11 p.m], they are certainly pigs and such. If they come during the dze time period [of 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.], they are certainly rats and such. If they come during the chou time period [of 1 to 3 a.m.], they are certainly oxen and such.

If the practitioner observes that they always come at this particular time, he may then know which creature goblin it is. He should then declare its name to scold and rebuke it whereupon it should retreat and disappear.

Second, the dwei-ti ghosts. They too engage in all sorts of aggravations which they visit upon practitioners. Sometimes they manifest like insects or scorpions which attack a person’s head or face, producing a drilling and piercing sensation attended by intense bright light. Sometimes they strike or constrict a person’s sides or perhaps suddenly clutch a person in their embrace, or sometimes they speak, make noises, howl, and even appear in the forms of beasts. These different signs which they manifest in coming to aggravate the practitioner are not limited to any single one. One should recognize them immediately and single-mindedly close the eyes, blocking them from view, and then scold them, saying these [or other such] words, “I now recognize you. You are a shr-hwo (this is the name of the cassowary bird), an evil-smelling ji-jr from Jambudvipa who steals one’s purity in the precepts. You are under the sway of deviant views and delight in destroying the ranks of the precept-observers. I am now an upholder of the precepts and will never fear you.”

If one is a monastic, he should recite the precept texts. If one is a householder, he should recite the three refuges, the five precepts, and so forth. The ghost will then be driven off and will crawl away. All sorts of other such appearances which present difficulties and which aggravate people as well as other techniques for cutting them off and getting rid of them are all just as extensively described in the sutras on dhyana meditation.

Third, afflictions inflicted by demons. Typically, these demons transformationally create three kinds of phenomenal states within the sphere of the five sense objects which they bring forth to demolish the wholesome mind:

In the case of the first type wherein they create disagreeable phenomena, these appear as fearsome manifestations of the five sense objects which cause a person to be filled with terror.

In the case of the second type wherein they create agreeable phenomena, these appear as desirable manifestations of the five sense objects which cause a person to become mentally attached.

In the case of the third type which involves phenomena which are neither agreeable nor disagreeable, these appear as neutral manifestations of the five sense objects which distract and confuse the practitioner. On account of this the demons are also referred to as “killers,” are also referred to as “floral arrows,” and are also referred to as “the five-fold arrows.” This is on account of their “shooting” a person [where he is vulnerable] in the five sense faculties.

Within “name-and-form” they create all sorts of phenomenal states which deceive and confuse the practitioner. In a case where they create agreeable phenomenal states they may manifest in the form of parents, siblings, buddhas, attractive men or women, or as other desirable phenomena which cause a person to become mentally attached.

In a case where they create disagreeable phenomenal states they may manifest in the forms of tigers, lions, or rak.sas or in all sorts of other fearsome appearances by means of which they come forth to terrorize the practitioner.

In a case where they create phenomenal states which are neither disagreeable nor agreeable, they may [manifest] ordinary phenomena which they employ to distract and confuse the mind of the practitioner, thus causing the loss of dhyana absorption. Hence they are referred to as “demons.”

They may also create all sorts of fine or terrible sounds, or may create all sorts of fragrant or stinking smells, or may create all sorts of fine or terrible tastes, or may create all sorts of anguishing or blissful phenomenal states which they bring forth to inflict upon a person’s body. These are all the work of demons. Their signs are multifarious. We will not now describe them all.

To bring up and speak of that which is essential, wherever there is the creation of all sorts of phenomena among the five sense objects which aggravate and confuse a person, causing the loss of good dharmas and the arisal of affliction, these are all [the work of] the demon armies. They are able to employ them to destroy the normal state of the Buddha”s Dharma and to cause the arisal of all sorts of Way-blocking dharmas such as desire, worry, anger, sleepiness, and so forth. This is as described in a verse from a sutra:

Desire is the foremost of your armies.
Worry is the second.
Hunger and thirst are the third army.
Craving is the fourth.
Sleepiness is the fifth of your armies.
Fearfulness is the sixth.
Doubt and remorse are the seventh army.
Anger is the eighth.
Offering and empty praises are the ninth.
Pridefulness and arrogance are the tenth.
Numerous armies such as these
Subdue and bury the monastic.
Using the power of dhyana and wisdom, I
Smash all of these armies of yours,
And after achieving the Way of the Buddha,
Cross over all beings to liberation.
Once the practitioner has recognized the work of demons he should immediately drive them away. There are two methods for driving them away:

The first involves using stopping to drive them off. Whenever one observes any of the external evil demon states, knowing that they are false and deceptive, one refrains from becoming either worried or fearful. Nor does one grasp at them or retreat from them or indulge in any erroneous calculations or distinctions with regard to them. Placing the mind at rest so that it is quiescent, they should naturally disappear on their own accord.

The second involves using contemplation to drive them off. If one observes any of the different kinds of demon states similar to those discussed above and one finds that even though one employs stopping they nonetheless do not go away, one should then immediately turn back one’s attention and contemplate the observing mind. One does not perceive any place [in which it abides]. What then is it that is being afflicted?

When one contemplates in this manner, as one continues on with [the process] they should disappear. If they are slow to respond and thus do not go away one should rectify one’s own mind and refrain from generating thoughts of terror. One should not even fear for the loss of one’s own physical life. One should rectify one’s thought so that it does not move. One should recognize that the suchness of the demon realm is just the suchness of the buddha realm and [should thus recognize] that if the suchness of the demon realm and the suchness of the buddha realm are a single suchness, there cannot be two [different] suchnesses.

If one understands completely in this way, [one will understand that] there is nothing in the demon realm to be relinquished and nothing in the buddha realm to be seized upon. Of its own accord, the Dharma of the Buddha should then naturally manifest before one, whereupon the demon state should naturally dissolve and disappear.

Additionally, if one observes that a demon state does not disappear, one need not give rise to distress. If one observes that it does disappear, one must not become joyful, either. Why is this? We have not yet observed a case of a person sitting in dhyana absorption who has seen the demon transform into a tiger or a wolf which has then [actually] come forth and eaten the person. Nor have we yet observed a case of a demon transforming into a man or woman which has [actually] come forth and acted as a husband or a wife. It is through the the taking on of a particular illusory transformation on the part of a foolish person who fails to completely understand it that the mind consequently becomes alarmed or even goes so far as to give rise to desirous attachment. On account of this, the mind becomes confused, one loses one’s meditative absorption and one may even become insane.

One brings about one’s own calamity. In every case, it is a matter of the practitioner bringing on a calamity through the absence of wisdom. It is not a case of something actually brought about by the demon. If demon states occur which aggravate and disturb the practitioner and which don’t go away even after months and years have passed, one must simply make one’s own mind upright so that the rectitude of one’s own thoughts is solid. [In doing this] one should not spare even one’s own physical life. One must not be filled with distress or fearfulness.

One should recite the demon-countering mantras found within the Great Vehicle Vaipulya (fang-deng) sutras. One should recite them silently and abide in mindfulness of the Triple Jewel. Even when one has emerged from dhyana absorption one should still recite the mantras as a self-protective measure. One should perform repentances, should maintain a sense of shame and a sense of blame, and should also recite the praatimok.sa. The deviant is unable to interfere with whatsoever is [actually] orthodox. After a time it will fade away on its own accord. The work of demons is of many different sorts. A [complete] discussion of it would be endless. One must be skillful in recognizing it.

Hence the novice practitioner must draw near to a good and knowledgeable advisor specifically because there can occur difficult situations such as these. These demons may enter into a person’s mind whereupon they become able to cause the practitioner’s mind and spirit to become crazy and disturbed so that he becomes overcome with joyfulness or distress. On account of this, a calamity can occur which could even lead to one’s death. At times they may cause one to gain deviant dhyana absorptions, wisdom, spiritual powers, dhaara.niis, or even cause one to speak Dharma and engage in teaching and conversion whereby others all have faith and submit. In the end one may do damage to other people’s wholesome, world-transcending endeavors and may even destroy the correct Dharma.

The various strange phenomena of this sort are not of a single type. In describing them, they are endless. Now, we only briefly explain their essential features for the sake of causing the practitioner to avoid erroneously taking on phenomenal states [which arise] when sitting in dhyana absorption. To speak of it in a way which grasps what is essential, if one desires to drive away the deviant and return to the orthodox one should contemplate the reality mark of all dharmas. If one skillfully cultivates stopping and contemplation, there is no deviant phenomenon which will not be demolished. Hence The Treatise [on the Great Perfection of Wisdom] states: “Aside from the reality mark of all dharmas, everything else is demonic phenomena.” This is as described in a verse:

If one engages in discriminating recollective thought,
This is just the net of the maaras.
If one does not move and refrains from discriminations,
This then is the seal of Dharma.

[End of Section Eight]


Chapter Nine: The Treatment of Disorders

When the practitioner establishes his mind in the cultivating of the Way, it may be that there develop disorders related to the four great elements. On account of the present use of the contemplative mind, the “drum” of the breath may instigate the activation of originally-existing disorders. Sometimes it happens that one is unable to skillfully and appropriately adjust the three factors of body, mind and breath. As a result, pathological calamities may occur due to interferences between the internal and the external situations.

Now, as for the dharma of sitting in dhyana absorption, if one is able to skillfully apply the mind, then the four hundred and four kinds of disorders will naturally be gotten rid of or cured. If, however, one fails in the correct placement of the mind, then the four hundred and four kinds of disorders may arise on account of that. Therefore, whether one is engaged in practice oneself, or whether one is teaching others, one must become skilled in recognizing the causes of disorders. One must know well the methods for treating disorders related to the subjective mind engaged in sitting [meditation]. If someday one activates a disorder, it may not simply be a matter of developing an obstruction to practice of the Way, it may be that one has to contemplate the loss of this one great life.

Now, in the explanation of the treatment of disorders there are two ideas [which must be set forth]. First one explains the signs which arise when disorders manifest. Secondly one explains the methods employed in the treatment of disorders.

First, the explanation of the signs which arise when disorders manifest. Although there are many different species of disorders which may manifest, when set forth in brief, they do not go beyond two categories. The first are the signs related to the increase or decrease in the four great elements. If the great element of earth becomes excessive, then there may be swelling, obstruction, submersion, or heaviness, and the body may become emaciated. One hundred and one maladies of this sort may arise.

If the great element of earth becomes excessive, then there may be the production of the thick and thin disease-related fluids and there may be edema and “fullness.” Food and drink may not digest, the abdomen may be painful, there may be diarrhea, and one hundred and one different types of maladies may arise.

If the great element of fire becomes excessive, then there may be strong fever in which steaming heat [alternates] with coldness. The joints may all become painful. The respiration, urination and defecation may not occur with normal ease and there may occur one hundred and one different maladies of this sort. Hence a scripture states, “When a single great element is out of adjustment, one hundred and one kinds of disorders may arise. When the four great elements are out of adjustment, four hundred and four disorders may all be activated at one time.”

When the disorders associated with the four great elements manifest, each of them possesses a characteristic appearance. One should examine [one’s situation in this regard] when one is sitting and even during one’s dreams.

Second, the signs which occur when the five “dzang” organs develop maladies. In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the heart, the body may become either cold or hot and there may be headaches or such symptoms as dryness of the mouth on account of the heart’s serving as the ruler of the mouth.

In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the lungs, the body may become edematous, the four limbs may become aggravatingly painful, the heart may become depressed, or the nose may become stopped up, and so forth. This [latter symptomology] is on account of the lungs’ serving as the ruler of the nose.

In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the liver, there are usually no joyful thoughts. One may be distressed, worried, or unhappy. One may have melancholy thoughts or anger. The head may ache, the eyes may become dim, blurred, or dull. This [latter symptomology] is on account of the liver’s serving as the ruler of the eyes.

In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the spleen, in the body and on the face, a traveling wind goes throughout the body [causing] minor aching, itching, and pain, and food and drink seem to have lost their flavor. This [latter symptom] is on account of the spleen’s serving as the ruler of the tongue.

In the case where a malady has developed from [a cause associated with] the kidneys, the throat may inclined towards feeling choked or obstructed, the abdomen may become distended, and the ears may become hard of hearing. This [latter symptom] is on account of the kidneys’ serving as the ruler of the ears.

The disorders produced from the five dzang organs are of many different sorts. Each of them presents its own particular signs. One will be able to understand [one’s particular situation] through examining it while one is sitting and even during one’s dreams.

The causality involved in pathological maladies associated with the four great elements and the five dzang organs are not limited to a single type. The symptoms are of many different varieties. They cannot be completely described. If the practitioner wishes to cultivate the Dharma entryway of stopping and contemplation, perhaps there may be maladies which arise. One should become skillful in recognizing their causal bases. These two categories of disorder may both be activated through either internal or external [causes].

In the case of injury from external cold, wind or heat, food and drink may not digest properly and so the disorder may manifest through both of the avenues [of the elements and the organs]. One should know then that this has been activated on account of external [causes].

In the case where one causes maladies to arise in both places through incorrect adjustment of the mind, through contradictory and unorthodox contemplative practice, or through not understanding appropriateness in the give-and-take required when the dharmas of meditative absorption are manifesting, these are instances of pathological symptoms manifesting on account of internal [causes].

Additionally, there are three different categories of causes and conditions for becoming afflicted with disorders: The first consists of excesses and deficiencies in the four great elements and five dzang organs as discussed earlier. The second consists of disorders gotten through the actions of ghosts and spirits. The third consists of disorders gotten as a result of karmic retribution. Disorders such as these are very easily cured if they are treated immediately when first contracted. If they go on for a long time, then the pathology becomes established. If the body becomes emaciated and the disorder becomes bound in place then, in the treatment of it, it may be difficult to cure.

Second, explaining the methods for treating the disorders. Having deeply understood the origins of a disorder’s arisal and manifestations, one should implement a method for treating it. The methods employed in the treatment of disorders are of many types. To bring up those which are essential, they do not go beyond the two skillful means of stopping and contemplation. How does one use stopping as a treatment for the symptoms of a disorder? There are masters who say that if one simply establishes the mind in stopping at the site of the disorder one will be immediately able to cure the disorder. Why is this? The mind is the ruler of this one period of effect-phase retribution. This is just as whenever a king goes somewhere, the bands of rebels immediately scatter.

Next, there are masters who say that one inch below the navel is known as the udaana. This refers to what we know as the “dan tyan.” (lit. “the field [for cultivating] the pill [of immortality].”) [They state that] if one is able to stop the mind and guard [its position] at this location without becoming scattered, then after one has done this for a long time, then in most cases, there will be that which is remedied.

There are [other] masters who say that if one constantly anchors the mind’s [attention] beneath the feet without regard to whether one is walking, standing, or lying down to sleep, one will be able to cure disorders. Why is this? This is because it is on account of non-regulation of the four great elements that most illnesses occur. This is brought about by the mind’s consciousness becoming anchored in a higher position, thus causing the four great elements to become unregulated. If one anchors the mind below, then the four great elements will naturally become appropriately adjusted and the various disorders will be gotten rid of.

There are masters who state that one need only realize that all dharmas are empty and that nothing whatsoever exists. If one refrains from seizing upon the symptoms of illness while quiescently abiding in stopping, then in most cases there will be that which is cured. Why is this? This is because the mind’s recollective thought pumps up the four great elements and therefore disorders arise. If one puts the mind to rest in harmony and happiness the various disorders will then be cured. Hence The Vimalakiirti Sutra states, “What is it that constitutes the origin of disease? It is the so-called ‘manipulation of conditions.’ How does one cut off the manipulation of conditions? This is done through what is referred to as ‘non-attainment on the part of the mind.'” All sorts of explanations such as these which promote using stopping to treat the symptoms of disease are not limited to just a single type. Hence one should understand that through skillful cultivation of the dharma of stopping one is able to treat a multitude of disorders.

Next, the explanation of using contemplation to treat disorders. There are masters who state that one need only engage in contemplation which employs the mind’s [visualizing] thought while also employing six kinds of breath to treat disorders. This is just a case of contemplation being able to treat disorders. What are the six kinds of breath? The first is blowing (chwei). The second is exhaling (hu). The third is mirthful tittering (syi). The fourth is puffing (he). The fifth is drawn-out breathing (syu). The sixth is normal breathing (sz).(1) These six kinds of breath are all created within the lips and mouth and are a skillful means employed by the visualizing mind as one turns to the side. They are done in a soft and subtle manner. A verse states:

The heart belongs to “he” and the kidneys belong to “chwei.”
That the spleen is “hu” and the lungs are “sz” is known to all the sages.
When the liver heats up the “syu” word comes forth.
Wherever the Triple Warmer is blocked, one need only say “syi.”
There are masters who say that if one is skillful in using contemplative visualizations in implementing twelve different kinds of breath one is able to treat a multitude of maladies. The first is an ascending breath. The second is a descending breath. The third is a “filling” breath. The fourth is a burning breath. The fifth is a breath of extended length. The sixth is a destructive breath. The seventh is a warm breath. The eight is a cool breath. The ninth is a forcefully exhaled breath. The tenth is a “retained” breath. The eleventh is a harmonious breath. The twelfth is a restorative breath.

All twelve of these breaths arise from the visualizing mind. We now briefly explain the counteractive features of the twelve types of breath. The ascending breath counters sinking and heaviness. The descending breath counteracts emptiness and suspendedness. The “filling” breath counteracts emaciation. The burning breath counteracts distention. The breath of extended length counteracts injury through wasting away. The “destructive” breath counteracts excessive repletion. The warm breath counteracts coldness. The cold breath counteracts heat. The forcefully exhaled breath counteracts obstructions which do not open up. The “retained” breath counteracts shaking. The harmonious breath counteracts disharmony in the four great elements. The restorative breath fortifies deterioration in the four great elements. If one is skillful in using these kinds of breath one may be able to treat a multitude of maladies. If one extrapolates from this one will be able to reach an understanding.

There are masters who say that if one is skillful in employing visualizing contemplations in the sphere of the conventional one will be able to treat a multitude of disorders. For instance if a person is afflicted with coldness one may visualize the fire energy arising within the body and then be able to counteract the coldness. This accords with the Agama Sutra’s extensive discussion of seventy-two secret therapeutic techniques.

There are masters who say that one need only employ stopping and contemplation to carry out investigative analyses within the body [so as to realize that] the disorders of the four great elements cannot be gotten at and that the disorders of the mind cannot be gotten at. Thus the multitude of disorders will then be cured of themselves. There are all sorts of explanations such as these whereby one employs contemplation to treat disorders. Their implementations differ. However, if one realizes well their meanings they all may be able to treat disorders.

One should understand that if one realizes well the meanings inherent in the two techniques of stopping and contemplation, there is no disorder which will not be cured thereby. However, the faculties and potential of people of the present age are shallow and dull. When they carry out these contemplative visualizations, they often fail to succeed. Thus they do not circulate widely in the world. As an additional point, one must not go beyond these techniques to pursue the study of energy-manipulation skills or diets requiring desisting from cereal grains. It is feared that one will then develop heterodox views. Mineral and herbal medicines can be useful in the treatment of disease. They too may be consumed [for this purpose].

If it is a case of a disorder caused by ghosts one should employ a forceful mind in the application of mantras, using them as a means to help with the treatment. If it is a case of a disorder brought on by karmic retribution, then it is essential to cultivate merit and [purifying] repentances. The malady will then disappear. In the case of these two types of methods for the treatment of disorders, where a person has realized well a single concept he may share his own practice experiences with others, how much the more is this acceptable where one has reached a complete and penetrating realization.

However, if one has no knowledge of any of this then a disorder may arise for which there is no treatment. Then not only would this constitute a wasting away of one’s cultivation of right Dharma, but one fears it might also be a case of one’s very life being in danger. How then could one employ one’s own practice experience as a basis for teaching others?

Therefore, a person who wishes to cultivate stopping and contemplation must well understand the techniques for treating disorders which lie within the province of one’s own mind. Those techniques are not limited to a single approach. The realization of the concept is something which is particular to each person. How then could one be able to transcribe such a thing in writing?

Furthermore, when one applies one’s mind to the treatment of disorders while engaged in sitting meditation, it is still essential to also include ten dharmas of which there are none which fail to provide benefit. The ten dharmas are: First, faith; second, utilization; third, diligence; fourth, staying constantly focused on the [selected] objective condition; fifth, distinguishing the causality of the disorder; sixth, skillful means; seventh, long-enduring practice; eighth, understanding selection and relinquishing; ninth, upholding and protecting; and tenth, avoiding obstacles.

What is meant by “faith”? This refers to having faith that this technique is certainly able to cure the disorder.

What is meant by “utilization”? This refers to constant utilization at all times.

What is meant by “diligence”? This refers to utilization of the technique in a focused, intense and unceasing manner wherein one takes the achievement of a cure as the standard [for finally desisting].

What is meant by “staying focused on the objective condition”? This refers to the subtle mind abiding in reliance on the dharma in every single thought-moment while not straying off onto different objective conditions.

What is meant by “distinguishing the causality of the disorder”? This is as discussed above.

What is meant by “skillful means”? This refers to being skillful while not failing in appropriateness as one brings to perfection subtle meditative respiration, application of the mind, and objective visualizations.

What is meant by “long-enduring practice”? This means that if when one utilizes a technique and does not gain immediate benefits from it, one ignores the passage of days or months while continuing to be constant and unfailing in carrying on the practice.

What is meant by “understanding selection and relinquishment”? This means that where one becomes aware of benefits [in a given technique] one is then diligent whereas where one discovers harmfulness [in a given technique] one immediately relinquishes it. One is extremely subtle in the turning of the mind to the task of making adjustments and implementing treatments.

What is meant by upholding and protecting? This means that one is skillful in recognizing the [potential] interference threatened by [straying off onto] different objective conditions.

What is meant by avoiding obstacles? This means that if one realizes some benefits [in one’s practice] one does not broadcast it to others, whereas where one has not yet seen any harmfulness [in a particular technique] one refrains from developing doubts and slanders.

If one relies upon these ten dharmas in the application of treatment it will definitely be efficacious and [one’s efforts] will not have been in vain.

[End of section nine]

End Notes

1. Dhyana Master Bao Jing cautions the reader to not rely on the actual meaning of the character so much as on intoning the sound of the character while exhaling very subtly and performing the related visualization. He refers us to an extended discussion of this technique in the mwo-he jr-gwan.


Chapter Ten: Realization of the Fruits [of Cultivating the Way]

When the practitioner cultivates stopping and contemplation in this manner he may be able to realize that in every case all dharmas arise from the mind and are empty due to the falseness and insubstantiality of causes and conditions. Because he realizes that they are empty he is unable to get at [any reality] in the names and characteristics of any dharma. This constitutes the stopping achieved through the comprehension of truth.

At such a time, one does not perceive any fruit of buddhahood above which may be sought after nor does one perceive any beings below which could be delivered to liberation. This constitutes moving from the conventional into the contemplation of emptiness. It is also the contemplation of the two truths, is also [a function of] the wisdom eye, and is also the wisdom which comprehends everything.

If one abides in this contemplation one falls onto the ground of the Hearers and Pratyekabuddhas. Thus, [The Lotus] Sutra states: “The assembly of Hearers and such sighed to themselves and said, ‘If we hear of the purification of buddhalands and of the teaching and transforming of beings, our minds are not pleased. Why is this? All dharmas are empty and still. They are neither produced nor destroyed and are neither great nor small. There are no outflows nor is there anything done. Having deliberated in this fashion we do not generate any joy or happiness [in these dharmas].'”

One should realize that if one perceives “non-doing” and [takes that to be] entry into the correct station [of the Way] such a person will never be able to generate the mind directed toward samyak-sambodhi. This is a case of failure to perceive the buddha nature on account of excessive [emphasis on] the power of meditative absorption.

The bodhisattva perfects all of the buddha dharmas for the sake of all beings. He should not seize upon or become attached to “non-doing” and thus bring himself to quiescent extinction. At such a time one should cultivate going from the empty into the contemplation of the conventional. Then one ought to carefully contemplate [and realize] that although the nature of the mind is empty, when one abides in the dual realm of conditions one is still able to bring forth all dharmas just as if they were illusory transformations. Although they are devoid of any fixed reality, there still do exist different characteristic distinctions in the sphere of seeing, hearing, awareness, knowing, and so forth.

When the practitioner contemplates in this manner, although he realizes that all dharmas are ultimately empty and still, he is nonetheless able to cultivate all kinds of practices in the midst of emptiness. It is just as if he were planting a tree in empty space. One is still able to distinguish the faculties of beings and on account of the incalculable number of [individual] natures and desires, one is then able to proclaim an incalculable number of different dharmas. If one is able to perfect unobstructed eloquence then one will be able to benefit the beings of the six destinies.

This constitutes the stopping associated with skillful means which accord with conditions. This then is a moving from the empty into the contemplation of the conventional. It is also the evenly balanced contemplation, is also the [function of] the dharma eye, and is also the wisdom which comprehends the varieties of the Way (dao-jung jr). If one abides in this contemplation, on account of an excessive [emphasis on the] power of wisdom, although one perceives the buddha nature, still, one does not clearly and completely understand it. Although the bodhisattva may perfect these two kinds of contemplations, this still constitutes a skillful means contemplation entryway. It is not the case that it constitutes correct contemplation.

Hence [The Bodhisattva Necklace] Sutra states: “The previous two categories are paths of skillful means. It is because of the contemplation of these two emptinesses(1) that one succeeds in entering the contemplation of the primary meaning of the Middle Way. One engages in simultaneous illumination of the two truths, [one perceives] every single thought-moment as quiescent extinction, and one naturally flows on into the sea of sarvaj~na.(2) If a bodhisattva wishes to perfect all of the buddha dharmas in a single thought-moment he should cultivate the stopping which distinguishes the two extremes and should carry it out within the correct contemplation of the Middle Way.”

How does one cultivate the correct contemplation? If one completely comprehends that the nature of the mind is neither true nor conventionally existent (lit. “false”) and if one puts to rest the mind which takes truth and conventional existence as objective conditions, this constitutes correctness. If one truly contemplates the nature of mind as neither empty nor conventionally existent while still not refuting those dharmas which are either empty or conventionally existent, and if one is able to realize this sort of complete illumination, then in the very nature of mind one achieves a penetrating understanding of the Middle Way and achieves perfect illumination of the two truths. If one is able to perceive the Middle Way and the two truths in one’s own mind then one perceives the Middle Way and the two truths in all dharmas while still not seizing upon either the Middle Way or the two truths. Because no definite and fixed nature can be found [herein] this constitutes the correct contemplation of the Middle Way.

This is as set forth in a verse from The Treatise on the Middle:

All dharmas produced of causes and conditions,
I declare them to be empty.
They are also [simply] conventional designations,
And also [embody] the meaning of the Middle Way.
In deliberating deeply on the intent of this verse [one finds that] it not only completely delineates the characteristics of the contemplation of the middle but also simultaneously clarifies the import of the previous two provisional contemplation gateways. One should realize that the correct contemplation of the Middle Way constitutes the buddha eye’s wisdom of all modes (i-chye jung jr). If one abides in this contemplation, then the powers of meditative absorption and wisdom are equal, one completely and utterly perceives the buddha nature and one becomes peacefully established in the great vehicle. “His steps are even and correct and his speed is as fleet as the wind.”(3) One then naturally flows on into the sea of sarvaj~na.

“One practices the practice of the Thus Come One. One enters the room of the Thus Come One. One dons the robe of the Thus come One. One sits in the seat of the Thus Come One.”(4) In this case one then takes the adornment of the Thus Come one as one’s own adornment and succeeds in realizing purification of the six faculties.(5) One enters into the state [of realization] of a buddha. One has no defiling attachment to any dharma. All of the buddha’s dharmas entirely manifest before one and one perfects the mindfulness-of-the-buddha samadhi.

One becomes peacefully established in the foremost Suura’ngama meditative absorption. This is the samadhi wherein one realizes the universal manifestation of the form body. One universally enters all of the buddhalands of the ten directions, teaches and transforms beings, adorns and purifies all of the buddha k.setras, makes offerings to the buddhas of the ten directions, receives and maintains the Dharma treasury of all buddhas, perfects the paaramitaas of all practices, awakens to and enters into the station of the great bodhisattvas, and in doing so becomes an equal companion of [the bodhisattvas] Samantabhadra and Ma~njushrii.

Having come to eternally abide in the Dharma nature body one is then praised by the buddhas and given a prediction [of buddhahood]. One then adorns the Tu.sita Heaven, manifests descent into the womb of one’s spiritual mother, leaves behind the homelife, goes to the Way place, conquers the demon adversaries, realizes the right enlightenment, turns the wheel of Dharma, and then enters nirvana. Throughout the ten directions one brings to perfect completion all of the buddha’s endeavors and becomes complete in the two bodies, the true [body] and the response [body]. This then is the [realization] of the bodhisattva who has initially brought forth the resolve.

In the Floral Adornment Sutra [it states]: “When one first brings forth the resolve [to attain bodhi] one then realizes the right enlightenment and gains a completely penetrating understanding of the true nature of dharmas. All of the wisdoms and bodies are not awakened to in reliance on others.” It also states: The bodhisattva who has first brought forth the resolve gains the Thus Come One’s single body and creates an incalculable number of [other] bodies.” It also states: “The bodhisattva who has first brought forth the resolve becomes identical to a buddha.” The Nirvana Sutra states: “The bringing forth of the resolve and the ultimate [realization] are indistinguishable. These two minds are difficult for the beginner’s mind [to fathom].”

The Mahaa-praj~naa-paaramitaa Sutra states: “Subhuti, there are bodhisattvas, mahaasattvas who, from the [very time of ] first bringing forth the resolve, have immediately proceeded to sit in the Way place where they have been turning the right Dharma wheel. One should realize that this is a bodhisattva who in his actions is like the Buddha.”

In The Lotus Sutra, [the speed of the presentation of] the jewel offered up by Dragon Daughter serves as a corroborating case. Sutras such as these all clarify that in the initial setting of resolve one perfects the enactment of all buddha dharmas. Whether it be The Mahaa-praj~naa-paaramitaa Sutra’s access [to Dharma] through the use of the syllable “a”, whether it be The Lotus Sutra’s [being proclaimed] for the sake of causing beings to open up the knowledge and vision of the buddhas, or whether it be the Nirvana Sutra’s [concept of] dwelling in the great nirvana on account of seeing the buddha nature, in each case they have already briefly described the signs of the realization of the fruits [of cultivation] which, for the bodhisattva who has initially brought forth the resolve, occur because of having cultivated stopping and contemplation.

Next, the clarification of the signs of the realization of the fruits associated with minds at a later stage [of cultivation]. The states of realization which develop for those with minds at a later stage [of cultivation] are unknowable [to us]. If we now extrapolate from what the teaching elucidates one finds that they are not separate from the two dharmas of stopping and contemplation. How is this the case? In instances such as that in The Lotus Sutra where it states, “He assiduously praised the wisdom of the buddhas,” this corresponds to the meaning [inherent in] contemplation. This is a case of employing a correlation to contemplation as a means of elucidating the fruits [of cultivation].

As for The Nirvana Sutra’s expansive description employing a hundred statements on the topic of liberation as a means of explaining the great nirvana, nirvana corresponds to the meaning [inherent in] stopping. This is a case of employing a correlation with stopping as a means of elucidating the fruits [of cultivation].

Therefore it states that the great parinirvaa.na is an eternal quiescent meditative absorption. As for “meditative absorption,” it corresponds to the meaning [inherent in] stopping. Although in Lotus Sutra, the correlation to contemplation is employed as a means of elucidating the fruits [of cultivation], it is nonetheless also inclusive of stopping. Hence it states, “. . . and even the ultimate nirvana’s characteristic of eternal quiescent extinction is finally returnable to emptiness.”

Although in The Nirvana [Sutra] the correlation to stopping is employed to elucidate the fruits [of cultivation], it is nonetheless also inclusive of contemplation. Hence it takes the three qualities(6) as constituting the great nirvana. Although there are differences in the texts of these two great sutras as regards the explicit and the esoteric, it is never the case that they depart from correspondences to the two entryways of stopping and contemplation in the articulation of their ultimate [concepts]. They both rely upon the two dharmas of meditative absorption and wisdom in order to elucidate the ultimate fruits [of cultivation].

The practitioner should realize that the initial, middle and later fruits [of cultivation] are all inconceivable and ineffable. Hence the new translation of The Golden Light Sutra states, “The Thus Come Ones at the beginning are inconceivable and ineffable. The Thus Come Ones during the intermediate phase possess all sorts of adornments. The Thus Come Ones at the final phase are eternally indestructible.” In every case the correlation to the cultivation of the two minds of stopping and contemplation is employed to articulate their fruits [of cultivation]. Hence a verse from The Pratyutpanna Samadhi Sutra states:

It is by means of the mind that all buddhas gain liberation.
As for the mind, it is pure and known as undefiled.
In the five destinies it is fresh and immaculate and takes on no form.
Where there is one who studies this, he perfects the great Way.

I declare as a matter of solemn oath that as for that which is practiced, it is essential to get rid of the three obstacles and the five coverings. In the event that they are not gotten rid of, even though one might be diligent in applying one’s efforts, one will ultimately gain no benefit from it.

[End of Section Ten]

[End of The Dharma Essentials for Cultivating Stopping and Contemplation and Sitting in Dhyana]

1. Master Bao-jing states that the two types of emptiness refer here to the emptiness of persons and the emptiness of dharmas.

2. Sarvaj~na is the omniscience or all-knowledge of a buddha.

3. This is a quote from “The Analogies Chapter” of The Lotus Sutra where the great white ox which represents the one buddha vehicle is being described. Master Bao Jing notes that “Even and correct” refers to the equality of meditative absorption and wisdom characteristic of a buddha’s perfect contemplation whereas “speed as fleet as the wind” refers to that perfect contemplation’s acuity in reflecting the nature and entering the way of effortlessness. He notes that the latter phrase also refers to the practice within the eight-fold path moving speedily into the sea of sarvaj~na.

4. Master Bao Jing notes that in this additional quote from the Lotus Sutra, the “practice” refers to the practice of a buddha wherein a single practice embodies all practices, the “robe” refers to patience, the “room” refers to the great loving-kindness and compassion, and the “seat” refers to the emptiness of dharmas.

5. Master Bao Jing also notes that “adornment” here refers to the merit and wisdom of a buddha.

6. The three qualities alluded to are: praj~naa, liberation, and the Dharma body.