The Meaning and Currents of Patriarchal Seon
- Chapter 1: Patriarchal seon and its historical development
- Chapter 2: An outline of Ganhwa seon
- Chapter 3: The teaching of the buddha and ganhwa seon
- The Words and Mind of the Buddha and Ganhwa Seon
- The Investigation Method, Conditional Production, and the Structure of the Middle Way
- Not establishing letters and a separate transmission apart from the Teachings, and Ganhwa Seon.
- The reason for not listening to the words of the Buddha or of the generations of patriarchs when investigating hwadu.
- Chapter 4: The fundamental practice of ganhwa seon
- The Reason for Giving Importance to Correct Views in Ganhwa Seon
- How must one practice the basic practices of Ganhwa Seon?
- The Reason for Valuing a Correct World View in Ganhwa Seon
- The necessity that one must understand the doctrine before the practice of Ganhwa Seon
- What is the Relation between of Practice of Ganhwa Seon and the Precepts
Invitation to Ganhwaseon
A Way to a Joyful Life Free from Troubles
Copyright(c)2006 Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. All rights reserved.
1. No Buddha-Nature Outside of the Mind
Even though in the three different cosmos there have been so many chaotic events, all will be finally concluded in just one mind.
Former and later Buddhas have transmitted the mind to the mind without depending on the written world.
Student: if we do not depend upon any written word, with what and how do we conceive the mind?
Bodhidharma: When you are asking me, that is your mind. When I am responding to you, that is my mind;1 from the ancient, beginningless time, each and every movement in all different times and places is your original mind and your original Buddha.
That is the reason it has been said, the mind in itself is Buddha in himself.
Without this mind no one could seek different Buddha; because it is impossible to find either Bodhi(the wisdom of enlightenment) or Nirvana out-side of the mind.
Our self-nature is fulfilled in truth; it is already neither cause nor effect.
Self, as it is , is its own mind; the mind in itself is this Buddha.2
And, this mind is the Nirvana which is already perfectly radiant and serenely luminous3.
Insisting that there should be Buddha or Bodhi outside of the mind would be a critical fault.
Where could both Buddha and Bodhi be?
How can empty space be held?
Empty space is just a name; no form, no size, so, impossible to hold or to drop.
As if trying to hold empty space; seeking Buddha outside of the mind would be to no avail.
Since Buddha is a product of one’s mind, how can it be possible to seek Buddha outside of the mind? Former and later Buddhas have spoken the mind only:
Only the mind is Buddha,
Only Buddha is the mind;
Buddha exists not outside of the mind,
Mind exists not outside of Buddha.
If Buddha exists outside of the mind, where can it be? if Buddha exists not outside of the mind, from where did the idea of Buddha come?
Without seeing the original mind, and by exchanging false opinions, we stick to the dead substance(Buddha’s statue), and thus become unfree beings. If you do not believe this, you are fooling yourself, which is not at all helpful. Buddha does not have any deceptions, rather, confused indigent-beings do not realize or understand the fact that one’s mind is already the Buddha.
If you see Buddha is just your mind, then do not seek Buddha outside of the mind. Buddha cannot be liberated by Buddha, and Buddha cannot be seen if sought with the kind; for, that would result only that Buddha must be outside which is caused by an ignorance, knowing not that Buddha is no different from your own mind.
And, being Buddha already, do not worship Buddhas, or being your mind, do not think of(recite) Buddhas. Buddha in itself cannot read the sutras; Buddha in itself cannot uphold the precepts(of Sangha); Buddha in itself cannot violate the precepts; Buddha in itself does not have something to uphold or violate, and Buddha in itself does not cause the good or the bad.
If you truly seek Buddha, you must just see the self- nature; which is Buddha without seeing self-nature, no matter how well you recite(think of) Buddhas, read the sutras, bow in ceremonies, and uphold precepts, still no benefit will result.
Thinking of(reciting) Buddhas will promise you a happy next life. Reading the sutras will make you wise and knowledgeable, upholding the precepts will let you be born in heaven. Helping others will result in prosperous fortune; but, Buddha cannot be seen by doing these.
If you still do not know yourself clearly, you should be awakened to the essence of life-and-death by finding and meeting a Master who already has attained a great awakening.
One cannot be called Master if he has not4 yet seen self-nature. So, even if one has studied all sections of sutra volumes, he would still, without fail, fall into the sea of life-and-death and karmic cycle in the three different cosmos, without freedom from great sufferings.
Once upon a time there was a monk5 named Son Sung(善性). And, although he had mastered all twelve sections of the sutra volumes, he had not seen self-nature, and thus, he could not be freed from his karmic chain.
And, people today believe they can be enlightened by only studying a few sutras, believe they can be enlightened!
How terribly wrong they are!6
Without understanding one’s mind, memorizing groundless phrases is useless.
To seek Buddha, see the self-nature!
Self-nature is Buddha!
Buddha is being in himself; doingless and creationless one!
Without seeing self-nature, no matter how hard you look for Buddha, day and night, it is absolutely impossible(to see).
Even though we might say there say there is originally not a thing to be attained, if you do not yet understand it, you must, with sincere effort and work, find and meet a Master to open your mind.
Life-and-death is a great puzzle. Do not spend your life in vain.
Deceiving yourself does not help you in anyway.
Even if one has jewels stored in quantity as big as a mountain or, if one has a lot of followers, these things can only be seen while eyes are alive. But, when eyes are dead; are they still possible to be seen? Therefore, it is very obvious fact that anything we do is a fleeting apparition, like a dream or a ghost. Unless you quickly find a teacher, you will waste your life meaninglessly because of this; everyone already has Buddha-nature, but unless you depend on teacher’s help, no one can acknowledge and sanction your understanding. That is why it is almost impossible to attain great understanding without a teacher.
But one, who, by his own karmic privilege, has already attained the level of understanding of a sage; he does not gave to go find a teacher. Although everyone has a Buddha-nature before birth, if there is even one tiny residue of misunderstanding remaining, he must go and meet with the teacher who will open him and cultivate his understanding.
If one understands perfectly, he might be different from ordinary ones and not have to learn. But, if, still, he cannot make a crystal clear distinction between black and white; and feigning mastery, talk about Buddha-Dharma, he is actually humiliating the Buddha and destroying the Buddha-Dharma.
Such a speech, no matter how fluidly spoken is just talk of the devil, not of Buddha.
The leader of such speech-makers is the devil’s kind. And his followers are the devil’s disciple without a doubt, they will fall into the dark sea of life-and-death under devil’s direction.
Only the people who have not seen the self-nature talk about Buddha nonsensically; and they are great sin-makers, because by deception they lead people toward devilish ways. -p37-
If one is able to speak about the twelve sections of sutra volumes perfectly, yet does not see the self-nature, then still it is the devil speaking and producing offspring of the devil, not a disciple from Buddha’s family.
Thus, if one’s understanding is not crystal clear, how can he avoid life-and-death?
Seeing the self-nature is Buddha, not seeing the self-nature is indigent-being. If you believe Buddha-nature can be attained by separating from the indigent-being’s nature, then where could the Buddha be now? The nature of indigent-being is the Buddha-nature. Buddha does not ex-ist outside of the self-nature, Buddha is the self-nature.
Without this self-nature, Buddha cannot be attained. Without this Buddha, the self-nature cannot be attained.
II. Confused Mind Cannot Be Free from Karmic Resrlt
Student: Is it possible to become Buddha without seeing the self-nature, if one endeavors the perfected practice of chanting, reading sutras, upholding precepts, and exercising great discipline?
Bodhidharma: It is impossible.
Student: Why is it impossible?
Bodhidharma: If one says there is some dharma to be attained, big or small, then this is the dharma of the form of doing, the dharma of the cause and effect, the dharma of the necessity of inevitable result, and the dharma of karmic result; since these dharma cannot avoid the life-and-death, at what point could the way of Buddha be attained? To attain Buddha, one must see the self-nature. Without seeing the self-nature, speaking of cause-and-effect, and those above mentioned, are all outsiders’-dharma. Buddha, himself, cannot operate outsiders’-dharma; Buddha is the non-karmic person and is without the cause-and-effect. As soon as someone says there is some dharma to be attained, big or small, then he is actually humiliating the Buddha. How can he attain Buddhahood?
Attaching to one-mind, one-functioning, one-opinion, even one-idea, results in no room for Buddha here. Buddha has nothing to uphold nor to violate. Mind-nature is originally void; there is neither pure-dharma nor impure-dharma. Nothing to be practiced, nothing to be attained, no cause and no effects.
Buddha neither upholds nor violates the precepts, neither practices the good nor causes the bad, and neither endeavors to practice nor is languid. Buddha is the one who does nothing. As soon as you raise the thought of mind abiding somewhere or attaching to something, there is no longer room for Buddha.
When Buddha is called Buddha, it is already not the Buddha.
Do not raise a thought of Buddha.
If you do not realize this at all times and places, original mind cannot be grasped.
If one continuously raises a thought of nondoingness without seeing the self-nature, he is a great sinner and of great ignorance.
Dwelling in blank-minded emptiness, blinded like a drunken man, he cannot distinguish the good from the bad.
If you want to practice the non-doing-dharma, see the self-nature first, and then rest the thoughts stemming from the outer perspectives. Before seeing the self-nature, there is no place to enlighten and no place to attain.
Someone who ignores the truth of the cause-and-effect, while causing all kinds of bad karma and demeanor, and says that, ‘everything is originally empty’, and ‘there is nothing wrong even though I do some bad things’; without fail he will enter the Exitless Hell and the Lightless Hell eternally without a hope of getting out; because of this, a wise one would not raise this kind of thought.
Student: If there is already original mind in every listinction, in every movement, and at all times, Vhy can we not see it while this physical body is abnormal?
Bodhidharma: Original mind is always appearing in front of you; but just you, yourself, do not see it.
Student: If the mind is already there where I see what is the reason I cannot see it?
Bodhidharma: Have you ever dreamed?
Student: Yes, I have.
Bodhidharma: When you had a dream, was that your own body?
Student: Yes, that was my own body.
Bodhidharma: When you are talking, distinguishing, and moving, is this different from your self or the same as your self?
Student: It is not different.
Bodhidharma: If it is already not different, then this body, as it is, is your original dharma-body. This dharma-body itself is your original mind.
This mind, from the beginningless beginning, is nothing different from what it is now; it has never been born, it has never died; never perished, never increased, never decreased; never been dirty, never been immaculate; never been good, never been bad; has never come, has never gone; was never right, never wrong; never been a man. never been a woman’s shape either; never been a monk, never been a layman; never been old, never been a young man’s shape either; neither a saint, nor ordinary being; not Buddha, nor indigent-being; has had nothing to attain, has nothing to practice. Has had no cause, no effect, no energy, no form.
It is like empty space; it cannot be held nor dropped.
Even a mountain, river or great wall cannot obstruct this; whether entering or exiting, whether coming or going, it is free and divine.
It will cross over the ocean of the life-and-death and the mountains of five skandhas; all kinds of karma cannot even imprison this dharma-body.
Such a mind is so hard to see because it is deeprooted.
The mind is different from the physical material; that is, this mind is this Buddha.
Everyone wishes to see mind; yet, already he is in the midst of this bright light; moving his arms and legs in as many ways as the sands of the Ganges River; yet, as soon as he is questioned about what it is, he is absolutely silent, like a puppet. These movements are his own actions; why can it not be known?
All indigent-beings are confused and from this,
They produce their future Karma,
Falling into the ocean of the life-and-death;
They are trying to escape from it,
But, instead, are falling back in.
Why? just because the self-nature was not yet seen.
If all indigent beings are not confused, why does no one see when they are questioned?
Why can one not know the one who moves arms and legs?
Even though the words spoken by all the sages were right, still, they just are unknown.
Therefore, you should know that it is difficult to comprehend the mind; Buddha being the only one who has completed it.
No other creature, except him; no one amongst human-beings or heaven-beings can do this. If the mind were understood clearly by wisdom; it might be called,
Dharma-nature or called, Complete Liberation.
Sometimes it is called, The-Great-King-of-Freedom Buddha; Because life-and-death cannot hinder(the mind) and even all dharma cannot control it.
Sometimes it is called, The-Unthinkable-On. Sometimes it is called, The True Body-of-the-Sage. Sometimes it is called, The-Eternal-Life-Without-Death. Sometimes it is called, The-Great-Sage.13
All the differentiations made by the divine-beings are not separated from the mind in itself; the mind has immeasurable size and it’s function is limitless.
Acting with eye, it sees the color, with ear it hears the sound, with nose it smells the odors, and with tongue it distinguishes the taste; and, furthermore, all different actions are self-mind.
Here, word-and-utterance is for all time severed,
Thought and its abiding place, also annihilated;
It is our mind.
Thereafter it was said,
The Buddha’s14 acts are uncountable and
So is his wisdom.
Uncountable acts are the mind in itself.
The conscious mind is the one that discerned everything and furthermore, since the mind is formless wisdom and is limitless, each and every functioning and movement is all it’s wisdom.
Because of that it was said,
Buddha’s acts are uncountable and so is his wisdom.
All acts by the four elements are the affliction-body which is working with life-and-death. On the other hand, there is the dharma-body which always abides nowhere. That is the reason why the dharma-body of Tathagata is perpetually changeless.
To support this, in the sutra, it is said;
Indigent-being should be understood as a substance Which originally embodied Buddha-nature.15
In the case of Mahakasapa, he just achieved a realization of the self-nature and nothing else.
Original self-nature is the mind; the mind is the self-nature.16 This Buddha’s mind, the former Buddha and later Buddha, are all transmitting the same mind.
There is no Buddha to be found outside.
The confused indigent-being, without knowing his own mind is Buddha, searches outside, day and night, for the Buddha and recites(thinks of) Buddha, bowing to Buddha. But where is the Buddha? Do not produce such a thought; just know the mind.
There is other Buddha17 outside of the mind.
The Sutra says,
Whatever has a form, as a whole, is delusory.
Wherever being is, there is Buddha.
Since the mind in itself is this Buddha, do not bow to Buddha again, being already the Buddha.
Even if a Buddha or Bodhisattva were suddenly to appear, you must never bow to them, because the mind is void and serene, it originally cannot have these phenomena; if you follow what is seen, you will be immediately captivated by the devil and totally fall into the corrupted way.
If it is clear that these phantoms are raised by the mind, then there is no need to bow to them. One who bows, knows no thing. One who knows, does not bow. If you bow to them, immediately you will be captivated by the devil. I am explaining this to protect the students from such corruption.18
It is a most important thing to realize that all Buddhas,19 in their original self-nature, do not have any images. If some extraordinary outer perspectives should appear, do not try to grab it nor be afraid of it, nor raise a doubt; since mind in itself is already pure, where can that image be?
Furthermore, do not even raise a thought of respect to Heaven, Dragon, Yoksa, Goods, sovereign Sakra and Brahmin Kingetc20. Nor, be afraid of them. Your mind is originally void and serene; all appearance is delusory image; do not follow or try to grasp it.
By raising a thought of Buddha or dharma and a thought of respect toward Buddha or Bodhisattvas, you are making yourself an indigent-being.
If you want to understand clearly, just do not attach to any kind of form; there is nothing else to say.
That is the reason why sutra says,
Whatever has a form, as a whole, is delusory;
There is no definite reality; illusion does not have any definite form.
This is called the ‘dharma of transitoriness.’
Just avoid grasping the form it will be at once with the divine truth. No wonder sutra says,
Detaching from all forms, is called lhe Buddhas.
III. Reason Not to Respect the Buddha-Statue
Student: Why should we not bow to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?
Boddhidharma: Through magical powers, evil spirits from heaven, such as kings of devils and Asuras, etc. disguise themselves to appear as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; they are outsiders, not the Buddhas. Since Buddha21 is your mind, do not bow to the wrong one.
What Buddha is,21 is divine self-awakening, according to different roots and different types of being; it sometimes blinks it’s eye, it sometimes raises it’s eyebrows, sometimes swings it’s legs; all these movements are the nature of divine self-awakening.
Self-nature is the mind. The Mind is Buddha. Buddha is the Way, and the Way is the Buddha. This particular word, ‘Buddha’22 is not comprehensible by indigent-being. However, the sutra says that,
Seeing the original self-nature is Buddha.22
If original self-nature is not seen, then Buddha cannot be. Even though one can talk about a thousand -p59- sutras and even more shastras, as long as self-nature is not seen, he is still an ordinary-being; that is not the dharma of Buddha.
The utmost truth is profound and impenetrable; not understood by word and impossible to be known by sutra. If original self-nature is seen, it matters not whether one is knowledgeable of letters. Divine nature, originally immaculate, cannot be tainted; seeing self-nature is immediately the Buddha. Each and every word is the functioning from the mind of the sage; but essence of the functioning is ultimately void and unaccomplished by names and utterances; so, how possibly attained by the twelve sections of sutra volumes?
Truth was, in its origin, already apprehended clearly; needing no practice nor attainment truth is neither the sound nor the color being too profound to be seen. The warmth or coolness of water can be known only to the one who drinks. Now, do not try to talk to others about this. Only Tathagata knows, human-beings and haven-beings, etc. absolutely have no way of knowing this matter and cannot realize it.
Ordinary-beings, because of their unencompassing wisdom are attached only to what appeares, without knowing the fact that their own mind is originally void and serene.
Therefore, if one attaches to phenomena of tran sitory-dharma, he naturally becomes an outsider.
If you understood that all dharma came from the mind, then you would not attach to anything. As soon as one attaches, no thing can be known.
If self-nature is seen, twelve sections of sutra volumes are unnecessary.
Thousands of sutras and even more shastras are only to explain the mind. When understanding occurs immediately, then word-dependent teaching is useless. Ultimate truth is wordless.
Teaching by word is only language,24 which is not real; truth does not name herself; whatever is named is illusory.
In a dream, you might see houses of fantasy or palaces, sometimes herds of elephants or horses, trees, forests, lakes, and even gazebos, but, do not, even in thought, become captivated by the rapture.
You should be so careful because they are creatures of delusion.
Dharma-body is originally so pure that it has no sense-perception; only by confusion is one unknowing and unawakened.
By illusory cause-and-effect, one becomes enraptured, becomes attached, and then finally is not free.
If is never too late to awaken your original mind and body; if you realized your original mind and body, you would not be contaminated by habits.
Sometimes the sages join the ordinary way and disguise themselves in all different kinds of appearances to help all indigent-beings; no kind of karmacan hinder them; that is the reason they are called sages; free to be either progressive or regressive.
If they gad attained sagehood long before, then, having great virtuous power, even heaven and hell could not interrupt their ways and all different karma would simply follow their way.
Ordinary-beings are called ordinary-beings because they are confounded, not like sages who are bright inside and outside.
If there is any lack of confidence, do not be overcome by it; once that has happened, you will fall into the sea of birth-and-death, for which even regretting cannot help.
Even such things as poverty and suffering come from delusion. Realize the mind and awaken to it constantly. If one performs without having a thought of performance, he will immediately enter the world of Buddha’s vision.
One, who has initially awakened the mind, may still not be tranquil. For example, he might see some supernatural view in a dream, even so, he should not chase it nor lack confidence either; for everything was raised by mind which is not outside.
About the time when the remaining habitual potentialities(karmic power) have gone and self-nature of truth is fully disclosed. you may see a light which is brighter than sunshine coming to you. If you have this kind of experience, it will be an important element in becoming a Buddha. It is yours only personally and cannot be unfolded to anybody else.
Sometimes27 while you are walking, stopping, sitting, or lying down in the quiet forest, you might view, big or small, lightening, Do not talk about it with anyone and do not attach to it; it might be the light from your self-nature.
Sometimes while you are walking, stopping, sitting, or lying down at night, you might view bright-as-daylight-lightening, but, do not be surprised by it.
It may be a signal that your self-nature is getting brighter.28
Sometimes the moon and stars are so clear in your dreams, which may also be a sign that your self-mind is liberated from that phenomenal objectivity. You should not tell this to anyone either; this is your own experience. if it is so dark in your dream; just like you are travelling in the middle of the night, your mind has such a thick wall of which you should be carefully aware.
When one has seen original self-nature, there is no need to understand sutras or to recite Buddhas; learning widely to know a lot, rather than giving you some benefit, darkens your spirit.29
Various forms of teachings were set down for pointing out the mind to us; however, after the mind is seen, the written teaching is no longer worth reading. If, as an ordinary-being, you want to co-exist with sages, you should rest your karma and, for your lifetime, nourish the spirit in accordance with your own ability. The farther away you are from the truth, the more the hateful and pleasurable states arise,30 which is also self-deception without benefit. The sage is free within birth-and-death; coming and going, hiding and interrupts him; rather, he prevails31 over wicked devils.
When indigent-beings see the original self-nature, the rest of their habitual potentiality totally dissolves, until, finally, the spirit is no longer dark.
If you truly want to know Tao, do not attach to a single dharma; instead, rest your karma and nourish the spirit. When the rest of your habitual potentiality is dissolved, it will naturally be brightened, and finally, you will have no thing to study.
Since their understanding is not compatible with Buddha’s all the outsiders, no matter how hard they work to be enlightened, still go in countermotion to and far from Buddha’s blessed vision. In spite of their chanting Buddha’s blessed vision. In spite of their chanting Buddha’s name and reading the sutras with great effort, their darkened spirit cannot escape karmic result.
Buddha is a non-doer; how could he have something additional to do? What are you going to do after eagerly looking for fame and fortune?
Only the people who have not seen self-nature are reading the sutras and chanting Buddhas. They believe that long practices, such as; chanting six times a day, sitting for long periods without lying down, and learning widely to know a lot, are Buddha-dharma. But, these kinds of indigent-beings are actually humiliating the Buddha-dharma.
All the Buddhas, earlier and later, only emphasize the necessity of seeing self-nature32. The greatest sin is to not see self-nature while ignorantly saying, ‘I have attained the higher-less truth.’33
Let all Great-Listeners36 and Outsiders try to become knowledgless.
Because the attainment of Knowledge by numerous words leads to the dharma of cause-and-effect. This is the natural Karmic cycle of indigent-beings, that they cannot avoid birth-and-death, and that goes against the Buddha-dharma; it is actually the indigent-beings who humiliate the Buddha, and, even though you kill them, it would not be any sin.37 Because of that, a sutra says, that,
Since they38 have never awakened the faithful mind, it would not be a sin to kill an evil doer who cuts the root of the good.
If one has awakened to the faithful mind, this one is abiding at the level of Buddha; without seeing the self-nature you must not humiliate another wise one at all. For, self-deception is not beneficial by any means. The good and the bad are already distinct, heaven and Hell are crystal clear right in front of your eyes.
Although falling into the dark hell caused by not having awakened faithful mind, the unwise ones can neither understand nor notice it. Why? Because Karma was impacted so heavily,40 they could not believe it. It is just like a blind man not believing in sunshine. Even if someone told him about it, still, he would not believe it; the reason is only that he does not have the eye to discriminate the sunshine from the darkness.
The unwise ones are just like this; right this minute they are being born as animal; as one of various unknown creatures or sometimes of poor and lower class beings, and cannot determine at all what they want to be; they want to exist, but cannot, they want not be exist, but must.
Even though they are in such suffering every moment, when they are questioned directly, they would rather answer by saying.
My pleasure at the present time is
No different from being in heaven.
Therefore, it is easy for us to see thar all indigent-beings do not notice nor understand their origin and instead, define their present condition as ultimate satisfaction. They are evil-beings because of heavily stored karma. By knowing that self-mind is Buddha, anyone can be Buddha, whether one shaves his head and beard or not.
However, if self-nature is not seen, even though they are shaved, they are still outsiders.
IV. Tao Has Nothing to Do with Being Priest or Layperson
Student: The layperson has a wife and children, so he has not yet cut out the sexual desire. How can he become Buddha?
Bodhidharm’a: I have just talked about seeing nature, not the sexual desire. If you saw the self nature, sexual desire would already be void and serene; there would be nothing to attach; even though one may still have habitual potentiality, it would not be disruptive.
For what reason?
Self-nature is originally immaculate; although buried underneath physical body which holds the five skandhas, the self-nature is originally pure and cannot be tainted.
Truth(Dharma)-body originally does not have sense-perception; not of hunger and thirst, nor of cold and heat; it gas no diseases nor sickness; is neither blessed nor loved; is of no religious sect; undergoes neither suffering nor pleasure; is neither good nor bad, not long nor short and neither strong nor weak. Therefore, originally, there is nothing to be attained but, rather, just this physical body created those conditions of hunger and thirst, cold, heat, diseases and sicknesses, etc. If those cannot deceive you anymore, then behave however you want; for, even in the midst of life-and-death, you have already attained freedom and are able to roll the Dharma-wheel just like all the sages, without having obstacles. Then there is no place which is not comfortable.
But, if mind is still lacking clarity and all kinds of outside phenomena are still barriers to you, then it means there is no way to avoid karmic result.41
However, if self-nature were seen, even the butcher could naturally attain the Buddhahood.
V. Even Butcher Can Attain the Buddhahood
Student: Killing is Butchers’ job; how can they attain Buddhahood?
Bodhidharma: I have told you just to see the self-nature; not about the resulting karma; although one who saw self-nature is creating karma, still, he is different from the confused ones; that is, all variety of karma would not imprison him.
From the beginningless beginning, just because ones have not seen the self-nature, they have been falling into the hell. Because of this karma, they produced and are still rolling the birth-and-death wheel; but if original nature were enlightened, karmic power would, at last, no longer be manufactured.
Without seeing the self-nature, chanting and prayer will not prevent you from cause-and-effect. Killing is, compared to this, of no great concern. If one, by seeing self-nature, totally eliminated the confused doubt, even killing live creatures would not be disruptive to him.
Twenty eight patriarchs from India before me have only transmitted mind. My coming to this country(China) is just to point out Sudden enlightenment43 which is the dharma of Mind-is-Buddha; I am not interested in practicing the precepts, excruciating training, ascetic practices, or magical ways of entering the fire or water, standing on the tip of the swords, the eating of only one meal a day, or sitting for long periods of time without lying down.
Those who practice such are all outsiders dependent upon dharma-of-doing. Your mind is those Buddhas mind, As long as you see the divine-awakening-nature in each and movement.
All the Buddhas, former and later, have taught a Dharma-of-transmitting-the-mind and no other dharma.
By seeing this mind,44 without knowing a letter, Buddhahood can be attained.
Although working hard even until physical body becomes ashes, without knowing the divine self-awakening-nature, Buddhahood46 cannot de attained.
Buddha is called either Truth-body(Dharma-body) or the awakened-mind. This mind is formless, cause-and-effectless, muscle-and-boneless; it is just like empty space; you cannot grab it.
And, above all, it is different from material-world and different from outsiders’ belief.
Only Tathagata, one man, knows this mind; any other creatures or confused ones do not know completely.
This mind is not separate from four elements of the physical body; without this mind one who moves does not exist. This body does not have knowing, just like weeds and trees; or like rooftile this corpse itself does not have feeling and sensation; how can it move?
When the mind moves, saying, doing, seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing are all movement of the mind and movement of functioning. Because this movement is moving of the mind; moving itself is functioning. Without moving and functioning, there is no mind; and, without mind, there is no movement. Yet, what is moving is not mind; what the mind is does not move; because movement itself, does not have the mind; mind, itself does not have movement.47
Movement is not separate from mind; and mind is not separate from movement, but the mind is neither separation nor what is separated; the mind, also, is neither movement nor what is moved.
This is the function of the mind and on what the mind functions; this is the movement of the mind and what the mind has moved; this is the function of the mind itself and what the mind itself has moved.
This is the movement of the mind itself and what the mind itself has moved.
The mind is neither ‘movement’ nor’ ‘function’. The origin of functioning itself is empty; for no movement can be allowed in emptiness.
Both, movement and functioning are the mind. But no movement can be allowed in the essence of the mind. This is the reason, sutra says,
It moves without moving.
All day and night it goes and comes, but it has never gone and never come; all day and night it sees, yet it has never seen; laughed, yet has never laughed; listened, yet has never listened; knows all the time, yet has no knowledge; happy, yet has never been happy; walking around, yet it has never walked around; and finally, abiding(somewhere), yet has never abided.
That is the reason sutra says,
Word-and-utterance is for all time severed,
Thought and it’s abiding place are also annihilated.
Seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, themselves are completely serene; how possibly dan anger, pleasure, itching, and suffering be different from the original self?48
No matter how hard you look for them,49 you can find them no-where. Therefore sutra says,
Bad karmic elements will result in srffering, and good karmic elements of karma will result in happiness.
Anger results in falling into hell, happiness results in being born in heaven; however, if one sees the empty nature of anger and happiness without having attachment,50 then, he will immediately be free from karmic power.
So once more, If one has not seen the self-nature, no matter how well one teaches and speaks of the sutras and shastras, it would not be of any help.
Although it requires endlell discussion to explain all the necessities, nevertheless, I have here simply represented what is wrong and right, although details are still not adequate.
I will tell you by gatha:
The Mind, which calls the mind, ‘the mind’
Has, no way to be seen;
When expanded it wraps round the whole world,
When contracted, it permits not even the tip of a needle.
I am just searching for the mind;
Never looked for the Buddha
Everything in the three different cosmos is void;
I truly understand know no thing exists.
If you are looking for Buddha,
Just search the mind;
This mind which you are calling ‘the mind’,
This is the Buddha which is mind itself.
Even though originally I am searching for the mind,
The mind in itself already knows it all.
If you want to search for the mind,
The nature of Buddha,
Cannot be attained outside of the mind,
As soon as a mind arises,
Sin will also arise.
Transmission Gatha to the Second Patriarch;
I came to this country
To liberate all indigent-beings by transmitting Dharma;
One flower will open five leaves,
The fruit will be ripened naturally:
43 ‘Mahayana’s’ which says Mind is Buddha.
44 ‘among Indigent-beings’
45 ‘Seeking’ Buddha was used instead of ‘Attainment’.
47 ‘Functioning is the function of the mind’ was added.
48 ‘original’ man→’wooden’ man
49 ……’if one searches the karmic-path……’
50 In Sols edition ‘着’ is missing.
I. Watch Your Mind
Bodhidharma 1 : The one, dharma of mind-watching embraces all activities; it is thus called, conclusive and fundamental.
Bodhidharma 2 : The mind is the source of the tenthousand dharmas; every dharma is derived from the mind; if the mind were understood, ten-thousand acitvites would also be completed.
As if every branch, flower and fruit of an immense tree were possible from one root; to toke care of the tree, one should sustain the root to provide life.
To destroy the tree, one should remove the root to allow it to die.
When the mind is understood, cultivating Tao is easily accomplished with little effort. If not, it is a useless effort without result.
Therefore, you should know that all the good and the bad comes from the mind in itself.
Looking for it outside the mind is not right.
II,A. Mind Motives of the Pure and Tainted Dharma
What are the two?
The first is of the pure mind; the second is of the tainted mind.
The pure mind means the non-karmic and unmovable true mind-as-it-is.
The tainted mind means the quo-karmic, unenlightened, dark mind.
These two different minds are originally cohesive.
Under karmic conditions, they coexist without affecting each other.
Pure mind always enjoys5 the good cause. Tainted mind always thinks of evil works.
If the unmovable mind were awakened and understood, the enlightenment could not be tainted.
One is called a holy sage, who, free from suffering, attains Nirvanic Happiness. One entangled and covered by tainted, evil works is called an ordinary-being: He continuously falls into three different cosmos and receives many sufferings.
Why? Because the tainted mind blinds one to the essence of the unmovable true mind-as-it-is.
II.B. True Mind Is Not Disclosed because of Delusion
In the Ten-Mind-Worlds Sutra:
Within the body of an indigent-being is a diamond Buddha-nature;
Like the luminous radiance, of bright sunshine and as vast and limitless;
But, ‘its just not visible because of the black cloud of five skandhas;
Like a candle(which cannot be seen) inside a bottle.
Also, in the Nirvana Sutra:
All indigent-beings have the Buddha-Nature;
But have not attained Nirvana, because the unenlightened darkness has concealed it.
II.C. Good Dharma Is the Root of Enlightening
By Buddha-nature we understand the enlightenment.
If one enlightens himself, and self-gnostic wisdom is brightened by separation from what is covered, it is called the complete liberation.
Then, it is certain to be known that all good dharma is the root of the enlightenment.
By the root of enlightenment, each and every tree of virtue and merit will appear; and also, the fruits of Nirvana can be perfected.
This is what we call;6 right-mind-watching.
III.A. Evil Dharma Is the Root of Three Poisonous Minds
Hye Ka; What is the root of the unenlightened, dark mind and all sin?7
Bodhidharma: The unenlightened dark mind has eighty-four thousand sufferings (defilements) and lusts; the sins are as many as the sands of the Ganges River.
In short, they are all derived from three poisons; greedy mind, angry mind, and ignorant mind.
These three poisonous minds are like one immense tree having only one root but an immeasurable number of branches and leaves.
The three poisonous minds originally prevailed over all sins.
Furthermore, when this poisonous root creates all varieties of karmic sins, it is actually a hundred, thousand, or even ten-thousand times bigger than the simile of branches and leaves.
III.B. Original Face of Six Thieves
These three poisons came from the essential one body.
When it is transformd according to the six sense roots, it becomes six thieves; and six thieves are sex consciousnesses.
These six consciousnesses create evil karmas when they respond to the six roots; it will automatically be affected by the outer perspectives and become an obstacle for truth-as-it-is.
That is why we call them six thieves. As a result of these three poisons and six thieves causing confused body and mind, all indigent-beings fall into life-death and enter the six branches of the karmic-chain.
Thus, all the sufferings follow.
Is is like one great river formed by the gathering of many small, ceaselessly flowing streams to make ten-thousand miles of meandering river current.
IV.A. Cut Out the Three Poisons
If one cuts out the root and stream, then all flowing will cease; one who wishes to attain Nirvana [must] turn the three poisons into the three immaculate precepts [practice good dharma, liberate all indigent beings, and uphold the precepts] and turn the six thieves into the six paramitas.
Then, naturally, one will be free from all suffering.
IV.B. Three Different Cosmos Enlightenment Gives You Freedom from
Bodhidharma:8 All the karmic sequences in the three different cosmos only came from the mind.
If you awaken the mind, even though you are in the three different cosmos you will be free from them.
Three different cosmos are three kinds of poison: Greed, the world of desire; Anger, the world of visual form; and Ignorance, the formless world.
By these three poisons all bed karmic causes will be created and karmic effects will be built; thus, allowing entry into the six branches of karmic sequences(i.e., wandering around like a wheel).
These are what we call, three different cosmos.9
V. Confusion Creates the Six Branches
If10 an indigent-being practices the good without understanding the right motive (of the enlightenment), he cannot avoid the three different cosmos, and will be reborn in the Three Light Branches.
What are the three light branches?
If one practices the ten good conducts (three by body, four by mouth, and three by will) with a confused mind, but wishes happiness, then he cannot escape the desire of happiness, and he will be born in heaven.
If one practices the five great precepts with a confused mind, but still creates delusory hatred and love, then he cannot escape the feeling of anger, and he will be born in the human-body.
If one practices the evil dharma by clinging to the form of doing with a confused mind, but looks forward to fortune, then he cannot escape the ignorance of non-virtuous wishes; and he will be born an Asura branch.
These are the three light branches.
What are the three heavy branches? They are the creation of bad karma by the licentious use of the three poisonous minds.11
The abundantly greedy one will become the hungry ghost branch.
The abundantly angry one will fall into the hell branch.
The abundantly ignorant one will go to the animal branch..
The combination of these three heavy and light branches becomes the six branches.
Therefore, you should know that evil karma came from the mind. If the mind were controlled well, separated from all sins, then the karma in the three different cosmos would naturally disappear.
All suffering would vanish; that is why it is called Nirvana.
VI. By Three Poisonous Minds, a Centillion Number of Things Appear
Once he was asked12 about the centillion number of things.
Bodhidharma: This is also the three poisonous minds by which countless(in Sanskrit it is, asamkaya, in Chinese it means count-less, in English it is, centillion) centillion bad thoughts arise in the mind numbering as many as the sands of the Ganges River, each thought lasting for one kalpa. The Ganges sands are countless. Because the three poisonous evil thoughts are as many as the sands of the Ganges River, we say countless.
Self-nature of truth-as-it-is is already surrounded by the three poisonous minds. Until all bad thoughts numbering as many as the sands of the Ganges Rver are transcended; how can Nirvana be attained?
If one now eliminates greed, anger, and ignorance,13 it is the same as transcending centillion kalpas. The indigent-beings living in the last era of the world are dull;14 they just do not understand Tathagata’s deep and sublime truth and the three-centillion kalpas’ secret word, and say,
After three-centillion kalpas have passed,
One may become Buddha::
What a terrible misunderstanding! Which let the cultivators from the last era of the world would retreat from the way of great enlightenment.
VII. Further Elucidation of Three Immaculate Precepts and Six Paramitas
Hye Ka: As I am concerned, in order to attain the Buddha-Tao a student must practice the three immaculate precepts and six perfections. Why do you say to uphold only the dharma of watching the mind?
Without keeping the precepts, how can one attain the Buddhahood?
Bodhidharma: Three immaculate precepts mean eliminating the three poisonous minds. When one poisonous mind is eliminate, an immeasurable bundle of the good will be completed.
Three of them together mean if one could eliminate all three poisonous minds, then, the three immeasurable goodness could be gathered together in the mind.
Six perfections (in Sanskrit it means Paramita; in Chinese it means, cross-over-to-the-other-shore; in English it means, perfection) mean to give light to the six sense roots.
If the six sense-roots were immaculately purified without the taint of worldly defilement, then one would arrive at the other shore free from bewilderment. That is why we say, six paramitas.
Hye Ka15: In the three immaculate precepts, one vows to nullify all sins, vows to practice all the good, and vows to liberate all indigent-beings.
Now you are saying, only eliminate the three poisonous minds; is this not contradictory?
Bodhidharma: Whatever Buddha said in the sutra is true and has no fault.
The Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas took three different vows when they cultivated the conducts of the Bodhisattva.
In order to prevail over the three poisonous minds, they uphold the three great vows and keep the three immaculate precepts; to keep the precept means to prevail over the poisonous greed, because one vows to cut out various sins.
To practice meditation means to prevail over the poisonous anger, because one vows to cut out various sins.
To perfect the wisdom is to prevail over the poisonous ignorance, because one vows to liberate indigent beings.
By upholding the three immaculate dharmas of precept, meditation, and wisdom, one overcomes the three poisonous karmas and attains Buddhahood. If the three poisonous minds were controlled, everything would be diminished.
That is why we call it eliminating. If the three immaculate precepts were upheld, then every good would be fulfilled.
That is the reason it is called cultivation. Nullifying sin and cultivating the good will result in complete perfection; ‘I’s and others will benefit and free all indigent-beings.
That is why it is called liberation [perfection].
Therefore, practicing the precepts is not departed from the mind.
VIII. Pure Mind; Pure Buddha Country
If my mind is pure, every indigent-being’s mind is pure. As the sutra says:
When the mind is dirty, the indigent-being is also dirty. When the mind is pure, the indigent-being is also pure.
It also said,
In order to purify the Buddha-country, first purify your mind. When your mind is purified, Buddha-Country will be purified.
If you can control the three poisonous minds well, the three immaculate precepts will automatically be perfected.
IX. Further Explanation of the Six Paramitas
Hye Ka: The six paramitas are contribution, upholding precepts, patience and tolerance, zeal in progress, serenity, and wisdom. And now you have said, ‘when the six sense roots are pure, that is the six paramitas’; what does that mean?
Budhidharma: If you want to practice the six paramitas you have to purify the six sense roots; to do that you must prevail over the Six Thieves.
If you get rid of a thief in the eye, then you will be free from the color of outer perspectives; your mind would not be stingy anymore. And then you can call it unconditional contribution.
If you get rid of a thief in your ear, then you will be free from the sound of outer perspectives. That is why they call it upholding the precepts.
If you get rid of a thief in your nose, then you will be free of both stench and fragrance. That is the reason they call it patience and tolerance.
If you get rid of a thief in your tongue, then you will be free of any craving for evil taste. Whether speaking or reading, you would not raise any thought of dislike. That is why it is called, zeal in progress.
And if you get rid of a thief in your body, then you will be superb and immovable by any affection. That is why it is called, unmovable serenity.
If you prevail over the consciousness thieves, then you will not chase the ignorant darkness, will always practice the self-gnostic wisdom, and will cultivate all various virtue and merit. That is why it is called wisdom.
Besides, wisdom means, ‘carrying out’; so, the six perfections, like a ship, carry the indigent-being toward the other shore; that is why they call the six paramitas, or liberation, crossing-to-the-other-shore.
X. Milk of Truth
Student: I heard that Buddha drank three bucketfuls and six bowlfuls of milk before he attained Buddhahood.16
Why do you now say, complete liberation (Nirvana) can be attained by watching the mind?
Bodhidharma:17 The milk Buddha drank is not ordinary, impure milk, rather milk of the immaculate truth-as-it-is.
Three bucketfuls mean three immaculate precepts. Six bowlfuls mean six paramitas; Buddha attained the Tao by drinking of this immaculate truth-milk.
If one says rather, ‘Buddha drank the milk which comes from the carnal knowledge complicated by dirty and soured milk’, this is actually humiliating the Buddha.
The name, Tathagata implies the meaning of, frimness of a diamond, and imperishable and nonkarmic True-Body; it is already free from ordinary sufferings.
How can thirst be satiated by this impure milk?
A sutra says,
This ox does not reside in higher valley,
This ox does not eat crops or any chaff,
Nor play with other oxen.
Its body has purple jade-like golden color.
This ox is no different from the luminous omnipresent, Buddha18; with great love and compassion, it has pity for all indigent-beings. The immaculate Dharma-Body produced the sublime truth-milk of the three immaculate precepts and six perfections and nursed all who wished to attain complete liberation. Not just Buddha himself, right and true Tao.19
XI. What Is Church?
Student: In the Sutra it says that,
Building a church and carving holy images,
Burning incense, scattering flowers,
Burning everlasting candles, or
Having a ceremony six times a day;
By the virtue and merit of practice, anyone will attain the Buddha-Tao.
Now you are telling me one truth of mind-watching embraces all activities!
It must be a joke!
Bodhidharma: Indigent-beings have dull minds, lack wisdom and do not know the deep and sublime truth.
That is the reason uncountable expedient methods help all indigent-beings and expose the formless-doing through the form-if-doing.
Without cultivating the inside of your mind, just looking for fortune outside of your mind is not the right thing to do.
Building a church(immaculate zone in Sanskrit) means getting rid of the three poisonous minds and always having clean sense roots. By this, body and mind are humble and immaculate on either side; this is, the building of a church.
XII. Casting the Image of Buddha
For every indigent-being casting Buddha’s statue, is the motivated action to attain Buddha-Tao.
They symbolically make Tathagata’s figure and sublime form to cultivate all the actions of enlightenment.
This does not refer to statue that was made by the process of molding using gold or copper.
Therefore, one who wishes to attain the complete liberation should think of his own body as a melting pot, dharma as a fire, wisdom as a technician, and the three immaculate precepts and six perfection as a casting dome.
Thus, the Buddha-nature of truth-as-it-is, is melted and put into the casting dome of all precepts.
Follow and uphold all the teachings without missing a part.
Naturally, the true form of the image will be completed.
At last it can be called the perpetually sublime dharma-body, which is not the dharma from the form-of-doing.
While looking for the Tao, if one does not know how to draw or mold the true form, how, then, can he achieve virtue and merit?
XIII. What Are the Five Incenses?
Also, the burning of incense does not mean the ordinary form of incense, but the formless-doing or righteous dharma of incense.
It represents prevailing over stenches, eliminating the darkened, evil karmas, and, finally, burning them away.
There are five kinds of righteous truth incenses;
First is the incense of the precept; to nullify all sins and to practice all the good.
Second is the incense of the unmovable serenity; to have faith in the righteous mind without retreating.
Third is the incense of limitless wisdom; to watch the mind alertly from inside and outside of the body and mind.
Fourth is the incense of complete liberation; to release all entanglements of unenlightened darkness. Fifth is the incense of the self-perceiving eye of complete libearation; to always feel and watch clearly, completely of obstacles.
These five incenses are the highest incenses, which cannot be compared with any from the ordinary world.
Even in Buddha’s time, he said:
Burn the most valuable incenses with the wisdom-fire and offer to each and Buddha from the ten directions.
People today are so ignorant, they do not understand the true meaning of the incenses. They only try to use outside fire and different forms of material composition of incense for fortune-seeking which is impossible.
XIV. How to Scatter the Flowers?
Scattering the flowers also means the same thing. By spreading the virtuous flowers of the righteous dharma, one helpes sentient-beings. By utilizing all true self-nature-as-it-is, one omnipresently adorns the world. These virtuous flowers are what Buddha praises highly, and which cannot fade or be shed perpetually.
If anyone scatters these flowers, he will receive immaculate virtue and merit.
It should not be said that Buddha asked disciples or indigent-beings to cut beautiful silks or cut the flower blossoms in order to scatter the flowers. If someone says that Buddha requested that, then he is wrong.
Because, one who upholds the precepts should not destroy any part of the universe; even killing by mistake could be a great sin.
Then, how about the breaking of the precepts by deliberately hurting any part of nature?
How can they expect any fortune by this action? Even though of benefit, if detrimental, how can it be right?
XV. What Is Lighting the Candle?
Everlasting candle means the truly awakened mind; candle refers to the brightness of the self-gnostic enlightenment.
Therefore, one who is looking for complete liberation should think of his body as the base of the candleholder and his mind as candleholders; faith as a wick, the incense of the precept at wax or oil,20 and the lighting of wisdom as candle-light.21
You should burn this bright candle(destroyer of darkness) all the time; radiating toward unenlightened darkness and prevailing over it.
If you become enlightened by these dharmas, one by one, it means one candle’s light carries over to ten-thousand candles and, finally, to a limitless number.
That is why it is called, the everlasting candle.
Once upon a time there was a Buddha named, lantern-lighter; which is like the lighter of the everlasting candle. An indigent-being did not understand the expediency of the method that Buddha used in his speech, so instead, he demonstrated delusory behavior and attached to the form of doing by burning the sesame oil, lighting the empty rooms, and sincerely thinking, that he is taking refuge in the sutras.
What a great mistake!
Why? If Buddha radiated light from a hair between two eyebrows, it would enlighten the ten-thousand plus eight-thousand worlds.
And if his whole body radiated the light then it would enlighten the whole world from ten directions.
How can we even talk about benefit from ordinary candlelight?
Watch this meaning carefully; you will know what is wrong.
XVI. How to Operate the Tao?
To operate the Tao six times a day implies to operate the Buddha-Tao in the six sense roots all the time.
By operating all good-conducts of enlightenment(so as) to control the six sense roots without abandoning them, is called operating six different kinds of Tao.
Stupa is nothing but body and mind; bright wisdom is the real ceremony of encircling the stupa.22
The ignorant ones, without operating within, rater look outside for karmic result thereby tiring themselves, by encircling the stupa day and night.25
But, that is not be beneficial for self-nature at all. What a pity it is!
XVII. How to Discipline Body and Mind
Discipline means, ‘everything stays in order’; this means, cultivate the body and mind eagerly and unchaotically.
It also implies, ‘protection’; that is, righteously uphold the conduct of the precepts; disallow the six carnal bad feelings, control the three poisonous minds; awaken enthusiastically; be alert; and keep the body and mind pure.
Then if all is done, we can call it maintaining disciplines.
XVIII. What Is the Propper Nourishment?
There are five different kinds of nourishment.
First, the enthusiastic dharma nourishment; depend on the Buddha’s right dharma, uphold it with pleasure, and cultivate it.
Second, the meditative, joyful nourishment; inside and outside are tranquil and bright; mind and body are joyful.
Third, the mindful nourishment; always thinking of Buddha mindfully, mind and mouth are in accord with each other.
Fourth, the vowing nourishment: either coming or going, staying, sitting, or lying down, always determined with good vows.
Fifth, the great liberation nourishment; mind is always immaculate and should not be tainted by worldly dust.
That is the reason it is called,26 ‘proper nourishment.’
XIX. What Is Fasting?
‘Fasting’ means eliminating the eating of dark and sinful karma; the confused and ignorant people do not understand this and, as a result, create all types of evil karmas by the licentious body and mind and the craving of passionate lust without shame.
They think only of outside fasting, saying that they have kept the discipline; it is like the foolish children calling a decaying corpse a living person.
It is a mistake.
XX. What Is True Prayer?
Prayer means always being in accordance with Truth(Dharma). The essential meaning of doing-prayer can be understood by the action itself. Although it may be of changing appearance, still, the essential meaning cannot be discarded. But, the doing-prayer has what is apparently exposed and what is hidden.
If one understood this, he might be in accord with the dharma.
Generally speaking, prayer means; first respecting highly; second, kneeling down in submission. In this case if one respects thetrue self-nature, and if unenlightened darkness has knelt down in submission, then it can be called prayer.
Since they respect, they do not humiliate. Since it knelt down, it cannot be negligent. If sinful thought permanently vanishes and good thought steadily stays, then, even though it is not seen from the outside, one is continually in prayer. What is appearently exposed is the physical appearance when they bow in respect. In order to submit their minds and humble themselve, the ordinary-beings kneel down in respect to on outer image of Buddha.
When it is functionig, then it is exposed(as bowing). When that functioning is eliminated, then it is hidden. Only when self-nature and physical form are in mutual accord can inside-wisdom be brightened through physical prayer.
When one is attached to only the outside form of prayers, then he will be negligent, having greed, anger, and ignorance; raises sinful thought inside and have only false prayer outside, which is not real prayer. This is deceiving the sages and fooling the wise ones. The karmic consequence of which endures!
XXI. What Is Bathing?
Hye Ka: As was mentioned in the Hot-House Sutra,
If one helps the monks bathe,
Then he will receive immeasurable fortune.27
Can it be accomplished by just mind-watching?
Bodhidharma: Bathing the monks does not mean the ordinary form of doing with physical functioning.28
It was presented as a metaphor to explain the fundamental truth, including seven things;29
First, clean water;
Second, lighting the fire;
Fourth, tooth brush;
Fifth, cleaning powder;
Sixth, oil; and
Seventh, under clothes.
If one uses these seven dharmas30 to wash and freshen the body, by what can he eliminate dirt from the three poisonous darknesses.
What are the seven dharmas?
First, truthful precepts; warm the moral flaw and cleanse it like clear water washing off all the dirt.
Second, wisdom; Be watchful both inside and outside; just like the flame of fire warms water.
Third, distinction; identify and separate sins; just like soap eliminates all dirt.
Forth, truthfulness; eliminate all untruthful talk; like a tooth brush eliminates stenches from the mouth.
Fifth, right faith: after right determination there is no other secondary thinking; like washing powder rubbed on the body clears up an infection.
Sixth, breath control; control all heavy inclinations; like the oil makes skin soft and lustrous.
Seventh, knowing shame; neglect all bad karmas; like underclothes cover up a naked body.
These seven things are all the hidden dharma inside the sutra. People today just do not know this.
What is the Hot-House? Hot-house implies the physical body. With the fire of wisdom, clean and warm the bathtub of the precepts. Wash the truth-as-it-is and the Buddhahood inside of body; adorn the self with the seven dharmas
All the monks at that time were very bright and wise; they understood what Buddha tried to say and practiced as it was said. And finally they attained the virtues and reached the holy stages. But today’s indigent-being is ignorant, dull, and without understanding of this and only says, ‘ordinary water will wash these bodies’, while saying, ‘we sincerely take refuge in Buddha’s teaching’.
Is that not wrong?
And furthermore, true Buddha-nature-as-it-is has no mark of ordinary-being and, dirt of the bewilderment originally has no form; how can corporeal water wash the body of unenlightened darkness? It does not make any sense, so how can Tao be understood?
So, contemplate it like this;
This body originally came from an impure greed, where it stinks and excretions are mixed and full, inside and outside.
Although you want to be clean by washing the the body, like trying to wash dirty soil; it can never be purified. So you should know that washing outside, naturally, has nothing to do with what Buddha has to say.
XXII. What Is Chanting?
Bodhidharma31: To chant (recite Buddha) is to practice righteous thought.
Imperfect understanding (which is believing that only certain indigent-beings will be enlightened) is unreliable (devilish thinking).
Right thought will necessarily result in true pleasure.32 By unreliable thought, on the other hand, how can we cross over to the other shore?
Buddha33 means to protect oneself from creation of sin by awakening and watching the body and mind.
Thinking is re-minding, that means, re-collecting the conducts of the precepts without forgetting and practicing diligently.
Understanding this significance at last can be called right-thinking, Therefore, you should know well, thought comes from the mind, not from the word.
By the net, fish can be caught. By speaking, the meaning can be captured.
If it has already the name of ‘reciting’, then one should recite the essence of (thinking of Buddha).
Without the reality of the essence of chanting, it is useless to recite only the empty name. What benefit can result?
Also, remembering and recollecting are far different in name and meaning. Using only the mouth is chanting, doing with the mind is recollecting.
Therefore, reciting comes from the mind. It is the gateway of awakening-cultivation. On the other hand, chanting from memory belongs to the mouth, which belongs to the form of the sound. Attaching to the form of sound and looking for fortune is wrong.
XXIII. Gathered Forms Returning to the Mind
Therefore, the sutra says,
Whatever has a form, as a whole, is delusory.
And also said,
If by figure one would see me,
If by voice one would hear me,
This one is practicing the evil truth;
Cannot see the Tathagata.
By these contemplations we could easily know that whatever has form cannot be permanent.
Therefore you should know well that all sages in the past time cultivated virtue and merit by talking of nothing but this mind.
Mind is the source of all sages. Mind is the master of all sins. The highest true pleasure34 also comes from the mind. On the other hand, all karmic cycles of the three different cosmos are also raised from this mind.
Mind is the entrance-of-liberation from the ordinary world. Mind is also the landing-pier of Nirvana. One who knows the entrance should not worry about whether he can accomplish it or not.
XXIV. Do Not Fallaciously Build Buddha-Statue of Temple
Foolish people today think that erecting the visual form of a building is of great virtue and merit.
They spend a lot of money and materials.
By doing it they fallaciously kill creatures on the earth and in the water.
And they uselessly, they use manpower to build; wasting the wood boards and blocks and coloring them. It exhausts themselves and confuses others shamelessly.
Now what enlightenment will result?
While one talk about dharma of form-of-doing, they eagerly follow it, but, when they are told of the dharma of formless-doing, they become like a non-responsive blockhead.
While looking for small entertainment, they do not foresee the great suffering in the future.
This kind of study will not only tire them but also cause them to turn their back upon the right way and to turn toward the evil path.
Deceivingly they say, gain the fortunes.
XXV. Final Advice on Mind-Watching
Just watch your mind and be alert. Turn your attention from the outside and radiate within. So let the awakening and watching be perpetually alive and bright.
Cut off the three poisonous mind. Permanently melt them away. Close the door of the six Thieves entrance, so they cannot sneak in.
Then, immeasurable, as the sands of the Ganges River, virtue and merit, various adornment, and dharma will be attained.
Pass over the old beings and attain the holy result. A second could be a far distance away. Since enlightenment is between now and the blink of an eye, why should we wait for grey hairs?
True Dharma gate is so profound and bottomless, how can we talk of it all? We have only been talking of a simple way of watching the mind to let it be seen a little.
Buddhism came to China 2,000 years ago. As early as 65 A.D, a community of Buddhist monks was reported living under royal patronage in the northern part of Kiangsu Province, not far from the birth place of Confucious, and the first monks probably arrived a 100 years earlier. Since then, tens of thousands of Indian and Central Asian monks have journed(journeyed) to China, none has had the impact of Bodhidharma.
Unknown to all but a few disciples during his life time, Bodhdharma is the patriarch of millions of Zen Buddhists and students of kung-fu. He’s also the subject of many legends. Along with zen and kung-fu, Bodhidharma, we are told, also brought tea to China. To keep from falling asleep while meditating, he cutting his eyelids, and, and where they fell, tea bushes grew. Since then, tea has become the beverage of not only monks but everyone in the Orient. Faithful to this tradition, artists invariably depict Bodhidharma with bulging, lidless eyes.
As often happens with legends, it’s become impossible to saperate fact from fiction. Not only are his dates uncertain, I’ve met at least one Buddhist scholar who doubted that Bodhidharma ever existed. But at the risk of writing about a man who never lived, I’ve put together a likely biograhy based on the earliest records available to provide a backdrop for the sermons attributed to him.
Bodhidharma was born around the year 440 in Kanchi, the capital of Southern Indian kingdom of Pallava. He was the third son of King Simhavarman and a Brahman by birth. When he was young, he was converted to Buddhism, and later, he received instruction in the Dharma from Prajnatara, whom his father had invited from the ancient Buddhist heartland Magadha. It was also Prajantara who told Bodhidharma to go to China. Since the traditional overland route was blocked by Huns in the 5th century, and since Kanchi was a commercial power as well as a center for Buddhist studies, Bodhidharma left by ship from the nearby port of Mahaballiputram. After skirting the Indian coast and the Malay Peninsula for three years, he finally arrived in Southern China around 475.
At that time, the counry was divided into the Northern Wei and Liu Song dynasties. This division of China into a series of northern and southern dynasties began in the early third century and conntinued until the country was reunited under the Sui dynasty in the late six century. It was during this period of division and strife that Indian Buddhism developed into Chinese Buddhism. This political division also led to differences in the kind of Buddhism practiced in the North and South. The more millitary minded northerners emphasized meditation and magic. The more intellectual southerners preferred philosopical discussion and intuitive grasp of principles.
When Bodhidharma arrived in the latter part of the fifth century, there were approximately 2,000 Buddhist temples and 36,000 clergy in the South. In the North, a census in 477 counted 6,500 temples and nearly 80,000 clergy. Less than fifty years later, another census conducted in the North raised these figures to 30,000 temples and 2,000,000 clergy, or aboubt five percent of the population. This undoubtedly included many people who were trying to avoid taxes and conscription or who sought the protection of the Church for other, non religious, reasons. But clearly, Buddhism north of the Yangze was spreading among the common people. In the South, it reamined largely confined to the educated elite until well into the sixth century.
Following his arrival in the port of Nanhai, Bodhidharma probably visited Buddhist center in the South and began learning Chinese, if he hadn’t done so already on his way from India. According to Tao-yuan’s ‘Transmission of the lamp’ finished in 1002, Boddhidharma arrived in the South as late as 520 and was invited to the capital in Chienkang for an audience with Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty, successor to the Liu Sung. During this meeting, the Emperor asked about the merit of performing religious works, and Boddhidharma responded with the doctrine of emptiness. The Emperor didn,t understand, and Boddhidharma left. No early records, however, mention such a meeting.
In any case, Bodhidharma crossed the Yangze – according to legend, on a hollow reed – settled in the North. At first, he stayed near the Northern Wei capital of Pingcheng. Later, in 494, Emperor Hsiao-wen moved his capital south to Loyang on the northern bank of the Lo river, and most of the monks living in the Pingcheng area moved too, Bodhidharma among them. According to Tao-hsuan’s Further Lives of Exemplary Monks, the first draft of which was written in 645, Bodhidharma ordained a monk by the name of Seng-fu. When Bodhidharma moved to Loyang, Sheng-fu moved to the South. Since ordination normally requires a three-year apprenticeship, Bodhidharma must have already been in the North by 490 and must have been reasonably conversant in Chinese by then.
A few years later,in 496, the Emperor ordered the construction of Shaolin Temple on the highest of China’s five sacred mountains, Mount Sung, in Honan Province south of Loyang. The temple was built for Fo-t’o(Buddhata?), another meditation master from India, not for Bodhidharma. But While zen masters have come and gone at the temple for the past 1,500 years, Bodhidharma is the only monk anyone but a Buddhist historian associates with Shaolin. It was here,on Mount Sung’s western Shaoshih Peak that Bodhidharma is said have spent nine years facing a rock wall near the temple meditating. Shaolin later became famous for training monks in in kung-fu, and Bodhidharma is honored as the founder of this art as well. Coming from India, he undoubtedly instructed hisdisciples in some form of yoga, but no early records mention him teaching any exercise or martial art.
By the year 500, Loyang was one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of over half a million. When Emperor Hsuan-wu died in 516, and the Empress Dowager Ling assumed control of the governmet, one of the first things she did was order work to begin on Yong-ning temple. The construction of this temple and its 400-foot high pagoda nearly exausted(exhausted) the imperial treasury. According to a record of Loyang’s temples written in 547 by Yang Hsuan-chih, golden wind – chimes that hung along the temple’s eaves could be heard for three miles, and the spire of the temple’s pagoda could be seen over 30 miles away. Yang’s account also includes the comments of a monk from the west named Bodhidharma, who calls it the most imposing structure he had ever seen. Since the temple wasn’t built until 516 and was destroyed by fire in 534, Bodhidharma must have been in the capital around 520. Early records say he travelled throughout the Loyang area, coming and going with the seasons. In the capital, though, he must have stayed at Yung-ming Temple. Not to be confused
with Yung-ning Temple, Yung-ming was built a few years earlier by Emperor Hsuan-wu at the beginning of the sixth century as a headquarters for foreign monks. Before the mass evacuation of the city during the collapse of the Northern Wei in 534, the temple reportedly housed over 3,000 monks from countries as far as Syria.
Despite the sudden popularity of Buddhism in China, Bodhidharma found few disciples. Besides Sheng-fu, who moved to the South soon after his ordination, the only other disciples mentioned are Tao-yu and Hui-k’o, both of whom are said to have studied with Bodhidharma for five to six years. Tao-yu, we’re told, understood the Way but never taught. It was Hui-k’o that Bodhidharma entrusted the robe and bowl of his lineage and, according to Tao-hsuan, a copy of Gunabhadra’s translation of the Lankavatara sutras. In the sermons translated here, though, Bodhidharma quotes mostly from Nirvana, Avatamsaka, and Vimilakirti Sutras and uses none of the terminology characteristic of the Lankavatara. Perhaps it was Hui-k’o, not Bodhidharma , who thought so highly of this sutra
In his transmission of the lamp, Tao-yuan says that soon after Bodhidharma transmitted the patriarchship of his lineage to Hui-k’o, he died in 528 on the fifth day of the tenth month, poisoned by a jealous monk. Tao-hsuan’s much earlier biography of Bodhidharma says only that he died on the banks of the Lo River. He doesn’t mention the date or cause of death. According to Tao-yuan, Bodhidharma’s remains were interred near Loyang at Tinglin Temple on the Bear Ear Mountain. Tao-yuan adds that three years later a official met Bodhidharma walking in the mountains of Central Asia. He was carrying a staff from which hung a single sandal, and he told the official he was going back to India. This meeting aroused the curiosity of other monks, and they agreed to open Bodhidharma’s tomb. But all they found was a single sandal, and ever since then, Bodhidharma has been pictured carrying a staff from which hangs the missing sandal.
With the assassination of Emperor Hsiao-wu several years later in 534, the Northern Wei split into the Western and Eastern Wei dynasties, and Loyang came under attack. Since the powerful Kao family of the Eastern Wei was renowned for its patronage of Buddhism, many of the monks living in Loyang moved to the Eastern Wei capital Yeh. Hui-k’o moved to Yeh too, and eventually he met T’an-lin there. T’an-lin worked first in Loyang and later in Yeh writing prefaces and commentaries to new translations of Buddhist sutras. After meeting Hui-k’o, he became interested in Bodhidharma’s approach to Buddhism and added a brief prefaces to the Outline of Practice. In this preface, he says that Bodhidharma was from Southern India and that following his arrival in China, he had found only two worthy disciples, namely Hui-k’o and Tao-yu. He also says that Bodhidharma taught wall-meditation and the four practices descrived in the Outline.
If this is all we know about Bodhidharma, why is he the most famous of all the millions of monks who taught and studied the Dharma in China? For the simple reason that he is credited with bringing zen to China. Of course, zen, as meditation, had been taught and practiced for several hundred years before Bodhidharma arrived. And, as far as doctrine is concerned, much of what he had to say had been said before, by Tao-sheng for exemple, a hundred years earlier. But Bodhidharma’s approach to zen was unique. As he says in these sermons, “Seeing your nature is zen. . . Not thinking about anything is zen. . . Everything you do is zen.” While others viewed zen as purification of the mind or as a stage on the way to Buddhahood, Bodhidharma equated zen with Buddhahood – and Buddhahood with the mind, the everyday mind. Instead of telling his disciples to purify their minds, he pointed them to rock walls, to the movements of tigers and cranes, to hollow reed floating across the Yangze, to a single sandal. For Bodhidharma, zen wasn’t meditation. Zen was the sword of wisdom. As did other masters, he undoubtedly instructed his disciples in Buddhist discipline, meditation, and doctrine, but he used the sword that Prajnatara had given him to cut their minds free from rules, trances and scriptures. Such a sword, though, is hard to grasp and hard to use. Small wonder that his sole successor, Hui-k’o, was a one-armed man.
But such a radical understanding of zen didn’t originate with Bodhidharma, nor with Prajnatara. It’s said that one day Brahma, lord of creation, offered the Buddha a flower anf asked him to preach the Dharma. When the Buddha held up the flower, his audience was puzzled. Except for Kashyapa, who smiled. This is how zen began. And this is how it was transmitted. With a flower, with a rock wall, with a shout. This approach, once it was made known by Bodhidharma and his successors, revolutionized the understanding and practice of zen in China.
Such an approach doesn’t come across very well in books. But in his Further Lives of Exemplary Monks, Tao- hshuan says that Bodhidharma’s teachings were written down. Most of scholar agree that the Outline of Practice is one such record, but opinion is divided concerning the other three sermons translated here. All three have long been attributted to Bodhidharma, but in recent years, a number of scholars have suggested that these sermons are the work of later disciples. Yanagida, for exemple, thinks that the Blood Stream Sermon was written by a member of the Oxenhead Zen School, which flourished in the seventh and eighth centuries. He also thinks that the wake-up sermon was an eighth-century work of the Northern Zen School and the Breakthrough Sermon was by Shen-hsiu, the seventh-entury patriarch of the Northern School.
Unfortunately, documentary evidence that would conclusively prove or disprove the traditional attribution is lacking. Until the present century, the earliest copies of these sermons were fourteenth-century version of T’ang dynasty(618-907) originals in the collection of Japan’s Kanazaws Bunko. But with the discovery earlier in this century of thousands of T’ang dynasty Buddhist manuscripts in China’s Tunhuang caves, we now have seventh and eighth century copies of these sermons. Clearly, they were compiled by monks who trace their ancestry to Bodhidharma at a very early date. If it wasn’t Huik’o, it might have been one of his disciples, or perhaps T’anlin who wrote them down. In any case, in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be accepted as the sermons of the man to whom they’ve been attributed for more than 1200 years.
Bodhidharma’s disciples were few. And the zen tradition that traced its ancestry to him didn’t begin its full flowering until nearly two hundred years after his death. Given the spontaneity and detachment fostered by Bodhidharma’s approach to zen, it’s easy to see why these sermons were eventually neglected by native Chinese zen masters. By comparison, Bodhidharma’s sermons seem somewhat alien and bare. I only found them myself by accident in an edition of Huangpo’s Essentials on the transmission of Mind. That was twelve years ago. Since then, I’ve grown quite fond of their bare-bone zen, and I’ve often wondered why they aren’t more popular. But popular or not, here there are again. Before they fade once more into the dust of time, read them through once or twice. And look for the one thing that Bodhidharma brought to China. Look for the print of the mind.
Red Pine, Taiwan
Translated into English by Red Pine, 1987
MANY roads lead to the Path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice.
To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things share the same true nature, which isn’t apparent because it’s shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls,’ the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason.
To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices: Suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma.
First, suffering injustice. When those who search for the Path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves, “In Countless ages gone by, I’ve turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions.
Now, though I do no wrong, I’m punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice. The sutras say ” when you meet with adversity don’t be upset because it makes sense.” With such understanding you’re in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the Path.
Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we’re ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight In Its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.
Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity! To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop Imagining or seeking anything. The sutras say, “To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss.” When you seek nothing, you’re on the Path.
Fourth, practicing the Dharma.’ The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don’t exist. The sutras say, “The Dharma includes no being because it’s free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it’s free from the impurity of self.” Those wise enough to believe and understand these truths are bound to practice according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own practice they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues. But while practicing the six virtues to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all. This is what’s meant by practicing the Dharma.
Translated into English by Red Pine, 1987
Everything that appears in the three realms comes from the mind. Hence Buddhas of the past and future teach mind to mind without bothering about definitions.
Student: But if they don’t define it, what do they mean by mind?
Bodhidharma: You ask. That’s your mind. I answer. That’s my mind. If I had no mind how could I answer? If you had no mind, how could you ask? That which asks is your mind. Through endless kalpas” without beginning, whatever you do, wherever you are, that’s your real mind, that’s your real buddha. This mind is the buddha” says the same thing. Beyond this mind you’ll never find another Buddha. To search for enlightenment or nirvana beyond this mind is impossible. The reality of your own self-nature the absence of cause and effect, is what’s meant by mind. Your mind is nirvana. You might think you can find a Buddha or enlightenment somewhere beyond the mind’, but such a place doesn’t exist.
Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab if. Beyond mind you’ll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of the mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?
Buddhas of the past and future only talk about this mind. The mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the mind. Beyond the mind there’s no Buddha and beyond the Buddha there’s no mind. If you think there is a Buddha beyond the mind’, where is he? There’s no Buddha beyond the mind, so why envision one? You can’t know your real mind as long as you deceive yourself. As long as you’re enthralled by a lifeless form, you’re not free. If you don’t believe me, deceiving yourself won’t help. It’s not the Buddha’s fault. People, though, are deluded. They’re unaware that their own mind is the Buddha. Otherwise they wouldn’t look for a Buddha outside the mind.
Buddhas don’t ferry Buddhas to the shore of liberation. If you use your mind to look for a Buddha, you won’t see the Buddha. As long as you seek Buddhas outwards, you’ll never see that your own Heart is the Buddha. Don’t use a Buddha to worship a Buddha, and don’t use the mind to invoke a Buddha. Buddhas don’t recite sutras, Buddhas don’t keep precepts, and Buddhas don’t break precepts, Buddhas don’t keep or break anything. Buddhas don’t do good or evil.
To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, being mindful of Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are not equal to it. Being mindful of Buddhas results in good karma, reciting sutras results in a good intelligence; keeping precepts results in a good rebirth in heavens, and making offerings results in future blessings — but no buddha. If you don’t understand by yourself, you’ll have to find a teacher to know the root of births and deaths. But unless he sees his nature, such a person isn’t a good teacher. Even if he can recite the twelve groups of scriptures he can’t escape the Wheel of Births and Deaths. He suffers in the three realms without hope of release. Long ago, the monk Good Star was able to recite the twelve groups of scriptures. But he didn’t escape the Wheel, because he didn’t see his nature. If this was the case with Good Star, then people nowadays who recite a few sutras or shastras and think it’s the Dharma are fools. Unless you see your own Heart, reciting so much prose is useless.
To find a Buddha have to see your nature directly. Your nature is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the person who’s free: free of plans, free of cares. If you don’t see your nature and run outwards to seek for external objects, you’ll never find a buddha. The truth is there’s nothing to find. But to reach such an understanding you need a good teacher and you need to struggle to make yourself understand. Life and death are important. Don’t suffer them in vain.
There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Even if you have mountains of jewels and as many servants as there are grains of sand along the Ganges, you see them when your eyes are open. But what about when your eyes are shut? You should realize then that everything you see is like a dream or illusion.
If you don’t find a teacher soon, you’ll live this life in vain. It’s true, you have the buddha-nature. But the help of a teacher you’ll never know it. Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help. If, though, by the conjunction of conditions, someone understands what the Buddha meant, that person doesn’t need a teacher. Such a person has a natural awareness superior to anything taught. But unless you’re so blessed, study hard, and by means of instruction you’ll understand.
People who don’t understand and think they can do so without study are no different from those deluded souls who can’t tell white from black.” Falsely proclaiming the Buddha-Dharma, such persons in fact blaspheme the Buddha and subvert the Dharma. They preach as if they were bringing rain. But theirs is the preaching of devils not of Buddhas. Their teacher is the King of Devils and their disciples are the Devil’s minions. Deluded people who follow such instruction unwittingly sink deeper in the Sea of Birth and Death. Unless they see their nature, how can people call themselves Buddhas they’re liars who deceive others into entering the realm of devils. Unless they see their nature, their preaching of the Twelvefold Canon is nothing but the preaching of devils. Their allegiance is to Mara, not to the Buddha. Unable to distinguish white from black, how can they escape birth and death?
Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha; whoever doesn’t is a mortal. But if you can find your buddha-nature apart from your mortal nature, where is it? Our mortal nature is our Buddha nature. Beyond this nature there’s no Buddha. The Buddha is our nature. There’s no Buddha besides this nature. And there’s no nature besides the Buddha.
Student: But suppose I don’t see my nature, cant I still attain enlightenment by invoking Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, observing precepts, Practicing devotions, or doing good works?
Bodhidharma: No, you can’t.
Student: Why not?
Bodhidharma: If you attain anything at all, it’s conditional, it’s karmic. It results in retribution. It turns the Wheel. And as long as you’re subject to birth and death, you’ll never attain enlightenment. To attain enlightenment you have to see your nature. Unless you see your nature, all the talks about cause and effect are the dharmas of the Exterior-Paths. Buddhas don’t practice Exterior-Paths dharmas. A Buddha is free of karma, free of cause and effect. To say He attains anything at all is to slander a Buddha, how can the speaker achieve the Awakening?
If you are attached to even one thought, one ability, one understanding, or one view, you can not match the Buddha. A Buddha does not keep or break anything, the nature of His Heart is basically empty, neither pure nor impure. He is free of practice and realization, He is free of cause and effect.
A Buddha doesn’t observe precepts. A Buddha doesn’t do good or evil. A Buddha isn’t energetic or lazy. A Buddha is someone who does nothing, if anyone is attached to anything, he cannot see the Buddha. A Buddha isn’t a Buddha, don’t interpret Him as a Buddha. If you dont see what I’m talking about, at any times and anywhere, you just don’t realize your original Heart. People who don’t see their nature and try to stop their thinkings all the time are great sinful poeple and fools. They will fall into the Memoryless-Emptiness. They’re like drunks. They cannot tell good from evil. If you intend to practice non-doing, you have to see your nature before you can put an end to all states and conditions. To attain the Buddha’s Way without seeing your nature is impossible. Still others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn’t exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty committing evil isn’t wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such conception.
Student: But if our every movement or state, whenever it occurs, is the mind, why don’t we see this mind when a person’s body dies?
The mind is always present. You just don’t see it.
Student: But if the mind is present, why don’t I see it?
Bodhidharma: Do you ever dream?
Student: Of course.
When you dream, is that you?
Student: Yes, it’s me.
And is what you’re doing and saying different from you?
Student: No, it isn’t.
Bodhidharma: But if it isn’t, then this body is your real body. And this real body is your mind. And this mind, through endless kalpas without beginning, has never varied. It has never lived or died, appeared or disappeared, increased or decreased. Its not pure or impure, good or evil, past or future. It’s not true or false. It’s not mate or female. It doesn’t appear as a monk or a layman, an elder or a novice, a sage or a fool, a Buddha or a mortal. It strives ‘for no realization and suffers no karma. It has no strength or form. It’s like space. You can’t possess it and you can’t lose it. Its movements can’t be blocked by mountains, rivers, or rock walls. Its unstoppable powers penetrate the Mountain of Five Skandhas and cross the River of Samsara.” No karma can restrain this real body. But this mind is subtle and hard to see. It’s not the same as the sensual mind. Every I one wants to see this mind, and those who move their hands and feet by its light are as many as the grains of sand along the Ganges, but when you ask them, they can’t explain it. They’re like puppets. It’s theirs to use. Why don’t they see it?
The Buddha said people are deluded. This Is why when they act they fall into the river of endless rebirth. And when they try to get out they only sink deeper. And all because they don’t see their nature. If people weren’t deluded why would they ask about something right in front of them? Not one of they understands the movement of his own hands and feet. The Buddha wasn’t mistaken. Deluded people don’t know who they are. A Buddha and no one else know something so hard to fathom. Only the wise knows mind, this mind call nature, this mind called liberation. Neither life nor death can restrain this mind. Nothing can. It’s also called the Unstoppable Tathagata,” the Incomprehensible, the Sacred Self, the Immortal, the Great Sage. Its names vary but not its essence. Buddhas vary too, but none leaves his own mind. The mind’s capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is your entire mind. At every moment, where language can’t go, that’s your mind.
The sutras say, “A Tathagata’s forms are endless. And so is his awareness.” The endless variety of forms is due to the mind. Its ability to distinguish things, whatever their movement or state, is the mind’s awareness. But the mind has no form and its awareness no limit. Hence it’s said, “A Tathagata’s forms are endless. And so is his awareness.” A material body of the four elements” is trouble. A material body is subject to birth and death. But the real body exists without existing, because a Tathagata’s real body never changes. The sutras say, “People should realize that the buddha-nature is something they have always had.” Kashyapa only realized his own nature.
Our nature is the mind. And the mind is our nature. This nature is the same as the mind of all Buddhas. Buddhas of the past and future only transmit this mind. Beyond this mind there’s no Buddha anywhere. But deluded people don’t realize that their own mind is the Buddha. They keep searching outside. They never stop invoking Buddhas or worshipping Buddhas and wondering Where is the buddha? Don’t indulge in such illusions. Just know your mind. Beyond your mind there’s no other Buddha. The sutras say, “Everything that has form is an illusion.” They also say, “Wherever you are, there’s a Buddha.” Your mind is the Buddha. Don’t use a Buddha to worship a Buddha.
Even if a Buddha or bodhisattva” should suddenly appear before you, there’s no need for reverence. This mind of ours is empty and contains no such form. Those who hold onto appearances are devils. They fall from the Path. Why worship illusions born of the mind? Those who worship don’t know, and those who know don’t worship. By worshipping you come under the spell of devils. I point this out because 1 afraid you’re unaware of it. The basic nature of a Buddha has no such form. Keep this in mind, even if something unusual should appear. Don’t embrace it, and don’t fear it, and don’t doubt that your Mind is basically pure. Where could there be room for any such form? Also, at the appearance of spirits, demons, or divine conceive neither respect nor fear. Your mind is basically empty. All appearances are illusions. Don’t hold on to appearances. If you envision a Buddha, a Dharma, or a bodhisattva” and conceive respect for them, you relegate yourself to the realm of mortals. If you seek direct understanding, don’t hold on to any appearance whatsoever, and you’ll succeed. I have no other advice. The sutras say, “All appearances are illusions.” They have no fixed existence, o constant form. They’re impermanent. Don’t cling to appearances and you’ll be of one mind with the Buddha. The sutras say, “‘That which is free of all form is the Buddha.”
Student: But why shouldn’t we worship Buddhas and bodhisattvas?
Bodhidharma: Devils and demons possess the power of manifestation. They can create the appearance of bodhisattvas in all sorts of guises. But they’re false. None of them are Buddhas. The Buddha is your own mind. Don’t misdirect your worship.
Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware. Responding, arching your brows blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, its all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the path. And the path is Zen. But the word Zen is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages. Seeing your nature is Zen. Unless you see your nature, it’s not Zen.
Even if you can explain thousands of sutras and shastras, unless you see your own nature yours is the teaching of a mortal, not a Buddha. The true Way is sublime. It can’t be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the Way, even if he can’t read a word. Someone who sees his nature is a Buddha. And since a Buddha’s body is intrinsically pure and unsullied, and everything he says is an expression of his mind, being basically empty, a buddha can’t be found in words or anywhere in the Twelvefold Canon.
The Way is basically perfect. It doesn’t require perfecting. The Way has no form or sound. It’s subtle and hard to perceive. It’s like when you drink water: you know how hot or cold it is, but you can’t tell others. Of that which only a
Tathagata knows men and gods remain unaware. The awareness of mortals falls short. As long as ,they’re attached to appearances, they’re unaware that their minds are empty.
And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things they lose the Way. If you know that everything comes from the mind, don’t become attached. Once attached, you’re unaware. But once you see your own nature, the entire Canon becomes so much prose. Its thousands of sutras and shastras only amount to a clear mind. Understanding comes in midsentence. What good are doctrines? The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words.
They’re not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are illusions. They’re no different from things that appear in your dreams at night, be they palaces or carriages, forested parks or lakeside ‘lions. Don’t conceive any delight for such things. They’re all cradles of rebirth. Keep this in mind when you approach death. Don’t cling to appearances, and you’ll break through all barriers. A moment’s hesitation and you’ll be under the spell of devils. Your real body is pure and impervious. But because of delusions you’re unaware of it. And because of this you suffer karma in vain. Wherever you find delight, you find bondage. But once you awaken to your original body and mind,” you’re no longer bound by attachments.
Anyone, who gives up the transcendent for the mundane, ill any of its myriad forms, is a mortal. A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad. Such is his power that karma can’t hold him. No matter what kind of karma Buddha transforms it. Heaven and hell are nothing to him. But the awareness of a mortal is dim compared to that of a Buddha who penetrates everything inside and out. If you’re not sure don’t act. Once you act, you wander through birth and death and regret having no refuge. Poverty and hardship are created by false thinking. To understand this mind you have to act without acting. Only then will you see things from a Tathagata’s perspective.
But when you first embark on the Path, your awareness won’t focused. But you shouldn’t doubt that all such scenes come from your own mind and nowhere else.
If, as in a dream, you see a light brighter than the sun, your remaining attachments will suddenly come to an end and the nature of reality will be revealed. Such an occurrence serves as the basis for enlightenment. But this is something only you know. You can’t explain it to others. Or if, while you’re walking, standing, sitting, or lying in a quiet grove, you see a light, regardless of whether it’s bright or dim, don’t tell others and don’t focus on it. It’s the light of your own nature.
Or if, while you’re walking, standing, sitting, or lying in the stillness and darkness of night, everything appears as though in daylight, don’t be startled. It’s your own mind about to reveal itself.
Or if, while you’re dreaming at night, you see the moon and stars in all their clarity, it means the workings of your mind are about to end. But don’t tell others. And if your dreams aren’t clear, as if you were walking in the dark, it’s because your mind is masked by cares. This too is something of” you know. if you so your nature,, you don’t need to read sutras or invoke buddhas. Erudition and Knowledge are not only useless but also cloud your awareness. Doctrines are only for pointing to the mind. Once you see your mind, why pay attention to doctrines?
To go from mortal to Buddha, you have to put an end to karma, nurture your awareness, and accept what life brings. If you’re always getting angry, you’ll turn your nature against the Way. There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Buddhas move freely through birth and death, appearing and disappearing at will. They can’t be restrained by karma or overcome by devils. Once mortals see their nature, all attachments end. Awareness isn’t hidden. But you can only find it right now. It’s only now. If you really want to find the Way, don’t hold on to anything. Once you put an end to karma and nurture your awareness, any attachments that remain will come to an end. Understanding comes naturally. You don’t have to make any effort. But fanatics don’t understand what the Buddha meant. And the harder they try, the farther they get from the Sage’s meaning. All day long they invoke Buddhas and read sutras. But they remain blind to their own divine nature, and they don’t escape the Wheel.
A Buddha is an idle person. He doesn’t run around after fortune and fame. What good are such things in the end? People who don’t see their nature and think reading sutras, invoking Buddhas’, studying long and hard, practicing morning
and night, never lying down, or acquiring knowledge is the Dharma, blaspheme the Dharma. Buddhas of the past and future only talk about seeing your nature. All practices are impermanent. Unless they see their nature people who claim to have attained unexcelled, complete enlightenment” are liars. Among Shakyamuni’s ten greatest disciples, Ananda was foremost in learning. But he didn’t know the Buddha. All he did was study and memorize. Arhats don’t know the Buddha. All they know are so many practices for realization, and they become trapped by cause and effect. Such is a mortal’s karma: no escape from birth and death. By doing the opposite of what lie intended, Such people blaspheme the Buddha. Killing them would not be wrong. The sutras say, “Since icchantikas are incapable of belief, killing them would be blameless, whereas people who believe reach the state of Buddhahood.”
Unless you see your nature, You shouldn’t go around criticizing the goodness of others. There’s no advantage in deceiving yourself. Good and bad are distinct. Cause and effect are clear. Heaven and hell are right before your eves. But fools don’t believe and fall straight into a hell of endless darkness without even knowing it. What keeps them from believing is the heaviness of their karma. They’re like blind people who don’t believe there’s such a thing as light. Even if you explain it to them, they still don t believe, because they’re blind. How can they possibly distinguish light?
The same holds true for fools who end up among the lower orders of existence or among the poor and despised. They can’t live and they can’t die. And despite their sufferings, if you ask them, they say they’re as happy as gods. All mortals even those who think themselves wellborn, are likewise unaware. Because of the heaviness of their karma, such fools can’t believe and can’t get free.
People who see that their mind is the Buddha don’t need to shave their head” Laymen are Buddhas too. Unless they see their nature, people who shave their head are simply fanatics.
Student: But since married laymen don’t give up sex, bow can they become Buddhas?
Bodhidharma: I only talk about seeing your nature. I don’t talk about sex simply because you don’t see your nature. Once you see your nature, sex is basically immaterial. It ends along with your delight in it. Even if some habits remain’, they can’t harm you, because your nature is essentially pure. Despite dwelling in a material body of four elements, your nature is basically pure. It can’t be corrupted.
Your real body is basically pure. It can’t be corrupted. Your real body has no sensation, no hunger or thirst’, no warmth or cold, no sickness, no love or attachment, no pleasure or pain, no good or bad, no shortness or length, no weakness or strength. Actually, there’s nothing here. It’s only because you cling to this material body that things like hunger and thirst, warmth and cold, sickness appear Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll- be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything. You’ll possess Spiritual powers ” that cant be obstructed. And you’ll be at peace wherever you are. If you doubt this, you’ll never see through anything. You’re better off doing nothing. Once you act, you can’t avoid the cycle of birth and death. But once you see your nature, you’re a Buddha even if you work as a butcher.
Student: But butchers create karma by slaughtering animals. How can they be Buddhas?
Bodhidharma: I only talk about seeing your nature. I don’t talk about creating karma. Regardless of what we do, our karma has no hold on us. Through endless kalpas without beginning, its only because people don’t see their nature that they end up in hell. As long as a person creates karma, he keeps passing through birth and death. But once a person realizes his original nature, he stops creating karma. If he doesn’t see his nature, invoking Buddhas won’t release him from his karma, regardless of whether or not he’s a butcher. But once he sees his nature, all doubts vanish. Even a butcher’s karma has no effect on such a person. In India the twenty-seven patriarchs only transmitted the imprint of the mind.
And the only reason I’ve come to China is to transmit the instantaneous teaching of the Mahayana This mind is the Buddha. I don’t talk about precepts, devotions or ascetic practices such immersing yourself in water and fire, treading a wheel of knives, eating one meal a day, or never lying down. These are fanatical, provisional teachings. Once you recognize your moving, miraculously aware nature.
Yours is the mind of all Buddhas. Buddhas of the past and future only talk about transmitting the mind.
They teach nothing else if someone understands this teaching, even if he’s illiterate he’s a Buddha. If You don’t see your own miraculously aware nature, you’ll never find a Buddha even if you break your body into atoms.
The Buddha is your real body, your original mind. This mind has no form or characteristics, no cause or effect, no tendons or bones. It’s like space. You can’t hold it. Its not the mind or materialists or nihilists. Except for a Tathagata, no one else- no mortal, no deluded being-can fathom it.
But this mind isn’t somewhere outside the material body of four elements.Without this mind we can’t move. The body has no awareness. Like a plant or stone, the body has no nature. So how does it move? It’s the mind that moves. Language and behavior, perception and conception are all functions of the moving mind. All motion is the mind’s motion. Motion is its function. Apart from motion there’s no mind, and apart from the mind there’s no motion. But motion isn’t the mind. And the mind isn’t motion. Motion is basically mindless. And the mind is basically motionless. But motion doesn’t exist without the mind. And the mind doesn’t exist without motion. Theres no mind for motion to exist apart from, and no motion for mind to exist apart from. Motion is the mind’s function, and its function is its motion. Even so, the mind neither moves nor functions, the essence of its functioning is emptiness and emptiness is essentially motionless. Motion is the same as the mind. And the mind is essentially motionless. Hence the Sutras tell us to move without moving, to travel without traveling, to see without seeing, to laugh without laughing, to hear without hearing, to know without knowing, to be happy, without being happy, to walk without walking, to stand without standing. And the sutras say, “Go beyond language. Go beyond thought.” Basically, seeing, hearing, and knowing are completely empty. Your anger, Joy, or pain is like that of puppet. You search but you won’t find a thing.
According to the Sutras, evil deeds result in hardships and good deeds result in blessings. Angry people go to hell and happy people go to heaven. But once you know that the nature of anger and joy is empty and you let them go, you free yourself from karma. If you don’t see your nature, quoting sutras is no help, I could go on, but this brief sermon will have to do.
(Two verses omitted)
Translated into English by Red Pine, 1987
Student: If someone is determined to reach enlightenment, what is the most essential method he can practice?
Bodhidharma: The most essential method, which includes all other methods, is beholding the mind.
Student: But how can one method include all others?
Bodhidharma: The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It’s like the root of a tree. All a tree’s fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don’t understand the mind practice in vain. Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible.
Student: But bow can beholding the mind be called understanding?
Bodhidharma: When a great bodhisattva delves deeply into perfect wisdom, he realizes that the four elements and five shades are devoid of a personal self. And he realizes that the activity of his mind has two aspects: pure and impure. By their very nature, these two mental states are always present. They alternate as cause or effect depending on conditions, the pure mind delighting in good deeds, the impure mind thinking of evil. Those who aren’t affected by impurity are sages. They transcend suffering and experience the bliss of nirvana. All others, trapped by the impure mind and entangled by their own karma, are mortals. They drift through the three realms and suffer countless afflictions and all because their impure mind obscures their real self.
The Sutra of Ten Stages says, “in the body of mortals is the indestructible buddha-nature. Like the sun, its light fills endless space, But once veiled by the dark clouds of the five shades, it’s like a light ‘inside a ‘at, hidden from view.” And the Nirvana Sutra says, “All mortals have the buddha-nature. But it’s covered by darkness from which they can’t escape. Our buddha-nature is awareness: to be aware and to make others aware. To realize awareness is liberation,” Everything good has awareness for its root. And from this root of awareness grow the tree of all virtues and the fruit of nirvana. Beholding the mind like this is understanding.
Student: You say that our true Buddha-nature and all virtues have awareness for their root. But what is the root of ignorance?
Bodhidharma: The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons. Greed, anger, and delusion. These three poisoned states of mind themselves include countless evils, like trees that have a single trunk but countless branches and leaves. Yet each poison produces so many more millions of evils that the example of a tree is hardly a fitting comparison. The three poisons are present in our six sense organs’ as six kinds of consciousness’ or thieves. They’re called thieves because they pass in and out of the gates of the senses, covet limitless possessions, and mask their true identity. And because mortals are misled in body and mind by these poisons or thieves, they become lost in life and death, wander through the six states of existence, and suffer countless afflictions. These afflictions are like rivers that surge for a thousand miles because of the constant flow of small springs.
But if someone cuts off their source, rivers dry up. And if someone who seeks liberation can turn the three poisons into the three sets of precepts and the six thieves into the six paramitas, he rids himself of affliction once and for all.
Student: But the three realms and six states -of existence are infinitely vast. How can we escape their endless afflictions if all we do is behold the mind?
Bodhidharma: The karma of the three realms comes from the mind alone. If your mind isn’t within the three realms, it’s beyond them. The three realms correspond to the three poisons- greed corresponds to the realm of desire, anger to the realm of form, and delusion to the formless realm. And because karma created by the poisons can be gentle or heavy, these three realms are further divided into six places known as the six states of existence.
Student: And how does the karma of these six differ?
Bodhidharma: Mortals who don’t understand true practice and blindly perform good deeds are born into the three higher states of existence within the three realms. And what are these three higher states? Those who blindly perform the ten good deeds and foolishly seek happiness are born as gods in the realm of desire. Those who blindly observe the five precepts and foolishly indulge in love and hate are born as men in the realm of anger, And those who blindly cling to the phenomenal world, believe in false doctrines, and pray for blessings are born as demons in the realm of delusion. These are the three higher states of existence.
And what are the three lower states? They’re where those who persist in poisoned thoughts and evil deeds are born. Those whose karma from greed is greatest become hungry ghosts. Those whose karma from anger is greatest become sufferers in hell. And those whose karma from delusion is greatest become beasts. These three lower states together with the previous three higher states form the six states of existence. From this you should realize that all karma, painful or otherwise, comes from your own mind. If you can just concentrate your mind and transcend its falsehood and evil, the suffering of the three realms and six states of existence will automatically disappear. And once free from suffering, you’re truly free.
Student: But the Buddha said, “Only after undergoing innumerable hardships for three asankhya kalpas did I achieve enlightenment,” Why do you now say that simply beholding the mind and over-coming the three poisons is liberation?
Bodhidharma: The words of the Buddha are true. But the three-asankhya kalpas refer to the three poisoned states of mind. What we call asankhya in Sanskrit you call countless. Within these three poisoned states of mind are countless evil thoughts, And every thought lasts a kalpa. Such an infinity is what the Buddha meant by the three asankhya kalpas, Once the three poisons obscure your real self, how can you be called liberated until you overcome their countless evil thoughts? People who can transform the three poisons of greed, anger, and delusion into the three releases are said to pass through the three-sankhya kalpas. But people of this final age are the densest of fools. They don’t understand what the Tathagata really meant by the three-asankhya kalpas. They say enlightenment is only achieved after endless kalpas and thereby mislead disciples to retreat on the path to Buddhahood.
Student: But the great bodbisattvas have achieved enlightenment only by observing the three sets of precepts”‘ and practicing the six Paramitas, Now you tell disciples merely to behold the mind. How can anyone reach enlightenment without cultivating the rules of discipline?
Bodhidharma: The three sets of precepts are for overcoming the three poisoned states of mind, When you overcome these poisons, you create three sets of limitless virtue, A set gathers things together-in this case, countless good thoughts throughout your mind. And the six paramitas are for purifying the six senses. What we call paramitas you call means to the other shore. By purifying your six senses of the dust of sensation, the paramitas ferry you across the River of Affliction to the Shore of Enlightenment.
Student: According to the sutras, the three sets of precepts are, “I vow, to put an end to all evils. I vow to cultivate all virtues. And I vow to liberate all beings.” But now you say they’re only for controlling the three poisoned states of mind. Isn’t this contrary to the meaning of the scriptures?
Bodhidharma: The sutras of the Buddha are true. But long ago, when that great bodhisattva was cultivating the seed of enlightenment, it was to counter the three poisons that he made his three vows. Practicing moral prohibitions to counter the poison of greed, he vowed to put an end to all evils. Practicing meditation to counter the poison of anger, he vowed to cultivate all virtues. And practicing wisdom to counter the poison of delusion, he vowed to liberate all beings. Because he persevered in these three pure practices of morality, meditation, and wisdom, he was able to overcome the three poisons and reach enlightenment. By overcoming the three poisons he wiped out everything sinful and thus put an end to evil. By observing the three sets of precepts he did nothing but good and thus cultivated virtue. And by putting an end to evil and cultivating virtue lie consummate all practices, benefited himself as well as others, and rescued mortals everywhere. Thus he liberated beings.
You should realize that the practice you cultivate doesn’t exist apart from your mind. If your mind is pure, all buddha-lands are pure. The sutras say, “if their minds are impure, beings are impure. If their minds are pure, beings are pure,” And “To reach a buddha-land, purify your mind. As your mind becomes pure, buddha-lands become pure.” Thus by overcoming the three poisoned states of mind the three sets of precepts are automatically fulfilled.
Student: But the sutras say the six Paramitas are charity, morality, patience, devotion, meditation, and wisdom. Now you say the paramitas refer to the purification of the senses. What do you mean by this? And why are they called ferries?
Bodhidharma: Cultivating the paramitas means purifying the six senses by overcoming the six thieves. Casting out the thief of the eye by abandoning the visual world is charity. Keeping out the thief of the ear by not listening to sound is morality. Humbling the thief of the nose by equating smells as neutral is patience. Controlling the thief of the mouth by conquering desires to taste, praise, and explain is devotion. Quelling the thief of the body by remaining unmoved by sensations of touch is meditation. And taming the thief of the mind by not yielding to delusions but practicing wakefulness is wisdom, These six paramitas are transports. Like boats or rafts, they transport beings to the other shore. Hence they’re called ferries.
Student: But when Sbakyamuni was a bodhisattva, he consumed three bowls of milk and six ladles of gruel prior to attaining enlightenment. If he bad to drink milk before be could taste the fruit of buddhahood, how can merely beholding the mind result in liberation?
Bodhidharma: What you say is true. That is how he attained enlightenment. He had to drink milk before he could become a Buddha. But there are two kinds of milk. That which Shakyamuni drank wasn’t ordinary impure milk but Pure Dharma-talk. The three bowls were the three sets of precepts. And the six ladies were the six paramitas. When Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, it was because he drank this pure dharma-rnilk that he tasted the fruit of Buddhahood. To say that the Tathagata drank the worldly concoction of impure, rank-smelling cow’s milk is the height of slander. That which is truly so, the indestructible, passionless Dharma-self, remains forever free of the world’s afflictions. Why would it need impure milk to satisfy its hunger or thirst?
The sutras say, “This ox doesn’t live in the highlands or the lowlands. It doesn’t eat grain or chaff. And it doesn’t graze with cows. The body of this ox is the color of burnished gold.” The ox refers to Vairocana. Owing to his great compassion for all beings, he produces from within his pure Dharma-body the sublime Dharma-milk of the three sets of precepts and six paramitas to nourish all those who seek liberation. The pure milk of such a truly pure ox not only enabled the ‘tathagata to achieve buddhahood but also enables any being who drinks it to attain unexcelled, complete enlightenment.
Student: Throughout the sutras the Buddha tells mortals they can achieve enlightenment by performing such meritorious works as building monasteries, casting statues, burning incense, scattering flowers, lighting eternal lamps, practicing all six periods” of the day and night, walking around stupas, observing fasts, and worshipping. But if beholding the mind includes all other practices, then such works as these would appear redundant.
Bodhidharma: The sutras of the Buddha contain countless metaphors. Because mortals have shallow minds and don’t understand anything deep, the Buddha used the tangible to represent the sublime. People who seek blessings by concentrating on external works instead of internal cultivation are attempting the impossible, What you call a monastery we call a sangbarama, a place of purity. But whoever denies entry to the three poisons and keeps the gates of his senses pure, his body and mind still, inside and outside clean, builds a monastery.
Casting statues refers to all practices cultivated by those who seek enlightenment. The Tathagata’s sublime form can’t be represented by metal. Those who seek enlightenment regard their bodies as the furnace, the Dharma as the fire, wisdom as the craftsmanship, and the three sets of precepts and six paramitas as the mold. They smelt and refine the true buddha-nature within themselves and pour it into the mold formed by the rules of discipline. Acting in perfect accordance with the -Buddha’s teaching, they naturally create a perfect likeness. ‘Me eternal, sublime body isn’t subject to conditions or decay. If you seek the Truth but dont learn how to make a true likeness, what will you use in its place?
And burning incense doesn’t mean ordinary material incense but the incense of the intangible Dharma, which drives away filth, ignorance, and evil deeds with its perfume. There are five kinds of such Dharma-incense. First is the incense of morality, which means renouncing evil and cultivating virtue. Second is the incense of meditation, which means deeply believing in the Mahayana with unwavering resolve. Third is the incense of wisdom, which means contemplating the body and mind, inside and out. Fourth is the incense of liberation, which means severing the bonds of ignorance. And fifth is the incense of perfect knowledge, which means being always aware and nowhere obstructed. These five are the most precious kinds of incense and far superior to anything the world has to offer.
When the Buddha was in the world, he told his disciples to light such precious incense with the fire of awareness as an offering to the Buddhas of the ten directions. But people today don’t understand the Tathagata’s real meaning. They use an ordinary flame to light material incense of sandalwood or frankincense and pray for some future blessing that never comes.
For scattering flowers the same holds true. This refers to speaking the Dharma, scattering flowers of virtue, in order to benefit others and glorify the real sell. These flowers of virtue are those praised by the Buddha. They last forever and never fade. And whoever scatters such flowers reaps infinite blessings. If you think the Tathagata meant for people to harm plants by cutting off their flowers, you’re wrong. Those who observe the precepts don’t injure any of the myriad life forms of heaven and earth. If you hurt something by mistake, you suffer for it. But those who intentionally break the precepts by injuring the living for the sake of future blessings suffer even more, How could they let would-be blessings turn into sorrows?
The eternal lamp represents perfect awareness. Likening the illumination of awareness to that of a lamp, those who seek liberation see their body as the lamp, their mind as its wick, the addition of discipline as its oil, and the power of wisdom as its flame. By lighting this lamp of perfect awareness they dispel all darkness and delusion. And by passing this Dharma on to others they’re able to use one lamp to light thousands of lamps. And because these lamps likewise light countless other lamps, their light lasts forever.
Long ago, there was a Buddha named Dipamkara, or lamplighter. This was the meaning of his name. But fools don’t understand the metaphors of the Tathagata. Persisting in delusions and clinging to the tangible, they light lamps of everyday vegetable oil and think that by illuminating the interiors of buildings they’re following the Buddha’s teaching. How foolish! The light released by a Buddha from one curl between his brows can illuminate countless worlds. An oil lamp is no help. Or do you think otherwise?
Practicing all six periods of the day and night means constantly cultivating enlightenment among the six senses and persevering in every form of awareness. Never relaxing control over the six senses is what’s meant by all six periods. As for walking around stupas, the stupa is your body and mind. When your awareness circles your body and mind without stopping, this is called walking around a stupa. The sages of long ago followed this path to nirvana. But people today don’t understand what this means. Instead of looking inside they insist on looking outside. They use their material bodies to walk around material stupas. And they keep at it day and night, wearing themselves out in vain and coming no closer to their real self.
The same holds true for observing a fast. It’s useless unless you understand what this really means. To fast means to regulate, to regulate your body and mind so that they’re not distracted or disturbed. And to observe means to uphold, to uphold the rules of discipline according to the Dharma. Fasting means guarding against the six attractions on the outside and the three poisons on the inside and striving through contemplation to purify your body and mind.
Fasting also includes five kinds of food. First there’s delight in the Dharma. This is the delight that comes from acting in accordance with the Dharma. Second is harmony in meditation. This is the harmony of body and mind that comes from seeing through subject and object. Third is invocation, the invocation of Buddhas with both your month and your mind. Fourth is resolution, the resolution to pursue virtue whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. And fifth is liberation, the liberation of your mind from worldly contamination. These five are the foods of fasting. Unless a person eats these five pure foods, he’s wrong to think he’s fasting.
Also, once you stop eating the food of delusion, if you touch it again you break your fast. And once you break it, you reap no blessing from it. The world is full of deluded people who don’t see this. They indulge their body and mind in all manner of evil. They give free rein to their passions and have no shame. And when they stop eating ordinary food, they call it fasting. How absurd!
It’s the same with worshipping. You have to understand the meaning and adapt to conditions. Meaning includes action and nonaction. Whoever understands this follows the Dharma.
Worship means reverence and humility it means revering your real self and humbling delusions. If you can wipe out evil desires and harbor good thoughts, even if nothing shows its worship. Such form is its real form. The Lord wanted worldly people to think of worship as expressing humility and subduing the mind. So he told them to prostrate their bodies to show their reverence, to let the external express the internal, to harmonize essence and form. Those who fail to cultivate the inner meaning and concentrate instead on the outward expression never stop indulging in ignorance, hatred, and evil while exhausting themselves to no avail. They can deceive others with postures, remain shameless before sages and vain before mortals, but they’ll never escape the Wheel, much less achieve any merit.
Student: But the Bathhouse Sutra says, “By contributing to the bathing of monks, people receive limitless blessings.” This would appear to be an instance of external practice achieving merit. How does this relate to beholding the mind?
Bodhidharma: Here, the bathing of monks doesn’t refer to the washing of anything tangible. When the Lord preached the Bathhouse Sutra, he wanted his disciples to remember the Dharma of washing. So he used an everyday concern to convey his real meaning, which he couched in his explanation of merit from seven offerings. Of these seven, the first is clear water, the second fire, the third soap, the fourth willow catkins, the fifth pure ashes, the sixth ointment, and the seventh the inner garment He used these seven to represent seven other things that cleanse and enhance a person by eliminating the delusion and filth of a poisoned mind. The first of these seven is morality, which washes away excess just as water washes away dirt. Second is wisdom, which penetrates subject and object, just as fire warms water. Third is discrimination, which gets rid of evil practices, just as soap gets rid of grime. Fourth is honesty, which purges delusions, just as chewing willow catkins purifies the breath. Fifth is true faith, which resolves all doubts, just as rubbing pure ashes on the body prevents illnesses. Sixth is patience, which overcomes resistance and disgrace, just as ointment softens the skin. And seventh is shame, which redresses evil deeds, just as the inner garment covers up an ugly body. These seven represent the real meaning of the sutra. When he spoke this sutra, the Tathagata was talking to farsighted followers of the Mahayana, not to narrow-minded people of dim vision. It’s not surprising that people nowadays don’t understand.
The bathhouse is the body. When you light the fire of wisdom, you warm the pure water of the precepts and bathe the true Buddha nature within you. By upholding these seven practices you add to your virtue. The monks of that age were perceptive. They understood the Buddha’s meaning. They followed his reaching, perfected their virtue, and tasted the fruit of Buddhahood. But people nowadays can’t fathom these things. They use ordinary water to wash a physical body and think they’re following the sutra. But they’re mistaken. Our true buddha-nature has no shape. And the dust of affliction has no form. How can people use ordinary water to wash an intangible body? It won’t work. When will they wake up? To clean such a body you have to behold it. Once impurities and filth arise from desire, they multiply until they cover you inside and out. But if you try to wash this body of yours, you have to scrub until it’s nearly gone before it’s clean. From this you should realize that washing something external isn’t What the Buddha meant.
Student: The sutras say that someone who wholeheartedly invokes the Buddha is sure to be reborn in the Western Paradise. Since is door leads to Buddhahood, why seek liberation in beholding the mind?
Bodhidharma: If you’re going to invoke the Buddha, you have to do it right. Unless you understand what invoking means, you’ll do it wrong. And if you do it wrong, you’ll never go anywhere.
Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either. And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might. This is what’s meant by invoking. Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language. To invoke the Buddha’s name you have to understand the Dharma of invoking. If it’s not present in your mind, your mouth chants an empty name. As long as you’re troubled by the three poisons or by thoughts of yourself, your deluded mind will keep you from seeing the Buddha and you’ll only waste your effort. Chanting and invoking are worlds apart, Chanting is done with the mouth. Invoking is done with the mind. And because invoking comes from the mind, it’s called the door to awareness. Chanting is centered in the mouth and appears as sound. If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won’t find a thing. Thus, sages of the past cultivated introspection and not speech. This mind is the source of all virtues. And this mind is the chief of all powers, The eternal bliss of nirvana comes from the mind at rest. Rebirth in the three realms also comes from the mind. The mind is the door to every world and the mind is the ford to the other shore. Those who know where the door is don’t worry about reaching it. Those who know where the ford is don’t worry about crossing it.
The people I meet nowadays are superficial. They think of merit as something that has form. They squander their wealth and butcher creatures of land and sea. They foolishly concern themselves with erecting statues and stupas, telling people to pile up lumber and bricks, to paint this blue and that green. They strain body and mind, injure themselves and mislead others. And they don’t know enough to be ashamed. How will they ever become enlightened?
They see something tangible and instantly become attached. If you talk to them about formlessness, they sit there dumb and confused. Greedy for the small mercies of this world, they remain blind to the great suffering to come. Such disciples wear themselves out in vain. Turning from the true to the false, they talk about nothing but future blessings.
If you can simply concentrate your mind’s Inner Light and behold its outer illumination, you’ll dispel the three poisons and drive away the six thieves once and for all. And without effort gain possession of an infinite number of virtues, perfections, and doors to the truth, Seeing through the mundane and witnessing the sublime is less than an eye-blink away, Realization is now. Why worry about gray hair? But the true door is hidden and can’t be revealed. I have only touched upon beholding the mind.
(One verse omitted) http://www.fodian.net/world/dmpsl-e.html
|Known in English as:||Bodhidharma|