Sublime Functioning of True Mind

I. True Mind-Right Faith

In the Hua-Yen Sutra,

Faith is the Spring of Tao (Truth),

The Motherhood of Virtue and Merits;

It will nourish each and every good ulterior motive.

And also in the Mind-Only Shastra,

Faith is like a water-purifying-jewel;

It will purify the dirty water.

According to this we should know faith as the frontiersman of ten-thousand good conducts.

Therefore, every sutra begins with ‘Thus have I heard’, To manifest the faith in the sincerity.

Student: What is the difference between patriarchal faith and doctrinal faith?

Pojo: There are many differences; in the doctrinal teaching the intent is to teach the truth of cause-and-effect for human and heaven-beings. By this, those who wish to receive fortune and happiness will, by practicing the Ten Good-conducts, create good karmic motives. As a result, they will be born in a happy land either as a human or a heaven-being.

On the other hand, those who wish peace and tranquility are taught of the karmic connection between birth and death; that righteousness is the cause while the Four noble Truths; i.e. suffering, its causation, its extinction, and the path (to Nirbana) are the noble effects.

Or, again, those who believe in the attainment of Buddhahood are taught (to believe) that the six paramitas over three samkhyea kalpas are a cause, and the accomplishment of right enlightenment(Bodhi and Nirvana) is the effect.

But, the Patriarchal door does not depend on the truth of cause-and-effect through karmic actions; rather, just on the belief that the self is originally Buddha. Everyone has divinely true self-nature and has accomplished the essence of complete enlightenment ( Nirvana); which does not depend on another, but is perfect in itself. In the Gatha, of Third Patriarch, Sung Chan(Seng chan):

Tao is as pervasive as space, neither excessive nor deficient; although it is, only because of a thought, which is inclined to choose or relinguish.

And in the Gatha of Ji Gong (Chih Kung):

The formless body inside of visualized body, birth-and-deathless Way in the way of unenlightened darkness.

And Young ka (Yung chia) sang,

The true nature of unenlightened darkness is the Buddha-nature; the illusory empty body is the Dharma Body(of the Truth).

Therefore, one should know that the indigent-being is originally the Buddha. Although one mobilizes the right faith, he should understand clearly that which is said in Young Myung’s (Yen Shou) Gatha:

Faith without understanding increases the unenlightened Darkness. Understanding without faith increases the evil opinion.

Therefore, you should know that faith and understanding must combine for one to enter the gateway swiftly.

Student: What if one has not entered the Buddha-Tao Yet, but has already mobilized the mind of faith; is it beneficial?

Pojo: According to the Awakening of Faith:

One who, hearing this Dharma, does not have any fearful feeling, will finally become a transmitter of Buddha; he will be sealed by all Buddhas. The one who teaches innumerable numbers of indigent-beings throughout the three-thousand times three-thousand worlds and allows them to learn and practice ten-good-conducts, still cannot be compared with, and is inferior to, the one who has raised a righteous thought of this dharma even for a very short time.

In the Wisdom-Paramita Sutra,

Buddha3 will see and know all who mobilized an immaculate faith, even if in one thought; he will attain immeasurable virtue and merit.

It is like this; a one-thousand mile trip begins with one right first step! One wrong step will result in a thousand miles of going the wrong way. In order to go to the Country of Formless-Doing, first, have right initial faith! If one loses this faith, all the good will be gone by then. This is the reason all patriarchs say:

Once there is a tiny crack;

Split will be as great as the distance from sky to earth.

II. True Mind and Its Many Names

Student: Here we have mobilized the right faith, but still I, do not know what is the true mind.

Pojo: What is not deluded is called true. What divinely reflects is called the mind. In the Surangama Sutra it was clearly explained.

Student: Is the true mind the only name or does it have other names?

Pojo: There is a difference in naming in the teaching of Buddha versus in the teaching of the patriarchs, In the teaching of Buddha, for instance, in the Bodhisattva’s Precept Sutra it is called Mind-ground, because it creates ten-thousand of the good. In the Wisdom Paramita Sutra it is named Bodhi (enlightening), because it is the essence of the Buddha. In the Hua Yen Sutra, (Flower Adorn-mint Sutra) it is called Dharma World, because it is harmoniously interpenetrating. In the Diamond Sutra it is called Tathagata because there is no place to come.

In the Prajna Paramita Sutra it is called Complete Stillness (Nirvana), because all the sages depend on this. In the Golden Lightning Sutra it is called, Thus-as-it-is, because it is perpetually true and unchangeable. In the Immaculate Name Sutra it is called Truth-Body, because karmic-consequential-body and transformation-body are dependent on this. In the Awakening of Faith it is called Truth Suchness, because it is never born and never perishes.

In the Nirvana Sutra it is called Buddha-nature because it is the wellspring of Triple Bodies.

In the Complete Enlightenment Sutra it is called Dharani, because it is a fountain of virture and merit.

In the Lions Roar of Queen Srimala Sutra it is named Tathagatagarbha (Chamber of Tathagata), because even though hidden, it encompasses everything.

In the Perfect Understanding Sutra it is called Complete-Enlightenment, because it breaks through the cloudiness and is luminously radiant of itself. Because of this, Venerable Master Soo(Yen Shou) said in his Gateway of Mind-Only,

On dharma, ten-thousand names; creates the name according to their karmic condition

Which it is impossible for us to name them all.

Student: We have known the Buddha’s teaching; now, what is the Patriarch’s teaching?

Pojo: In the patriarchal gateway names and words are severed; they do not even let one name represent them; how can they have several names? But, according to one’s level of self-conception and according to one’s mind-orientation(higher or lower-minded) it can be called by different names.

Sometimes it is called Self, because that is the essence of the self-nature of indigent-beings.

Sometimes it is called Right Eye, because it sheds light on each and every form of intentional conduct.

Sometimes it is called Sublime Mind. because it is empty, yet divinely self-gnostic.

Sometimes it is called Old Self-Master, because affiction has been moved by this.

Sometimes it is called Bottomless Bowl, because it is always rich and everywhere prosperous.

Sometimes it is called Stringless Harp, because it plays right-at-this-moment.

Sometimes it is called Endless Lantern, because it shines upon and destroys illusory sentiments.

Sometimes it is called Rootless Tree, because its roots and eyes are imperishable.

Sometimes it is called Hair-Removing Sword, because it cuts out the roots of bewilderments.

Sometimes it is called Effortless Land, because it is as immovable as the ocean and as transparent as poverty.

Sometimes it is called Keyless Lock, because it closes off the six sensations.

And, furthermore, it is called, Mud-Ox, Wood-en-Horse, Mind-Source, Mind-Seal, Mind-Mirror, Mind-Moon, Mind-Jewel, etc.; all the names of which are impossible to innumerate.

If you realized this True Mind then you would realize all these names. But, if you are not certain of this True Mind you will be blocked to all these names.

Therefore, you should carefully watch this True Mind.

III. The Sublime Essence of the True Mind

Student; We have understood the names of True Mind. But what is its essence?

Pojo: In the Lightning Wisdom Sutra,

-Wisdom has no forms, has no Birth and Death form.

And in the Awakening of Faith,

True nature of the self-as-it-is neither excessive nor deficient, whether it is in every ordinary-being, or in every Shravaka in every Pratyekabuddha, or in every Bodhisattva and Buddha. It has never been born before nor will it perish. It is always as it has been; self-nature already satisfied in all the virtues and merits of itself.

Therefore, according to these Sutras and Shastras, we can conclude that the true mind itself is surpassing the cause-and-effect and past and present.

Not insisting on a difference between ordinary-being and the sage, and just like the omnipresently pervasive empty-space, sublime essence is still and quiet, far away from rhetorical argument; neither moving nor shaken; but it always transparently abides. Because of that it is called Old self-Master or also called, One-from-King-of-Voice-Before-Beginning(Bhisma-garjita-ghosa-svara-raja) or sometimes called Self-Before-the Beginning-of-the-Universe. If a thought were placid, there would be no irritations.

Each and every mountain, river, tree, weed, forest, and every dharma in the world, whether dirty or clean, came from this.

In the Complete Enlightenment Srtra is a Gatha,

Good man! The highest-Dharma-King

Has a great Dharani Door,

Which is called Complete Enlightenment;

Every pure Truth-as-it-is, Bodhi, Nirvana,

And Paramita is derived from this

To teach all Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas.

And Kyu Bong (Kuie Feng) sang,

The mind is concave, sublime and pure, also divinely bright without going or coming; it passes through three different times at the same time, not in the middle nor outside; it passes through the ten directions.

Since it has never been born nor destroyed, how can it possibly be harmed by four Mountains? Since its self-nature and form have vanished, how can it possibly be blinded by five colors?

And, also, in a Gatha by Young Myung (Yun Ming) from The Gateway of Mind-Only,

Generally speaking, this mind becomes a king of ten-thousand Dharmas; because all of the sublime and all of the divine are here gathered. Also Three Vehicles and Five Different Natures, (ordinary good people, Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, indifferent being, and outsiders) are depending on this as a motherhood of ten-thousand sages; it is most excellent of itself; it is alone most emminent. Therefore it is incomparable and nothing is parallel with it; that is, the source of great Truth; the Essence of True Dharma.

What Bodhisattvas from three different times have so far studied, is what has been studied of this Mind.

What Buddhas from three different periods of time have so far experienced, is what has been experienced of time have so far experienced, is what has been experienced of this Mind.

What all the Sutras from Tripitaka have thus far exposed, is what has been exposed of this Mind.

Whatever each and every indigent-being has confused, is whatever has been confused of this Mind.

Whatever each cultivator has awakened, is whatever has been awakened of this Mind.

What all the Patriarchs have transmitted from one to the other, is what has been transmitted of this mind.

What all the world’s students wish to contemplate, is nothing but the contemplation of this mind.

If one masters this Mind, all matters will be right and every affair will be completely will be right and every affair will be completely disclosed. If this Mind is confused, everything will be topsyturvy everywhere and each and every thought will be insane. Every indigent-being has this essence; it is their original Buddha-nature; it is the source of everything in the world.

Therefore, this is the reason, Buddha was completely silent for a while at Vulture Peak and why, under the huge rock, Subhuti has forgotten the word and why Bodhi-dharma faced the wall in the Shao Lin Hut, and why Vimalakirti shut his mouth in the Vaisali Castle; all these are exposing the sublime body of the mind.

Therefore, one who comes to the Patriarchal door must, first of all, understand the essence of this mind.

IV. Sublime Functioning of True Mind

Student: I understood the sublime essence, then, next, what is the sublime function?

Pojo: Citing an old sage,

When wind blows, mind shakes tree,

When clouds gather, self-nature raises the dust,

If one forces clarity on today’s matter,

It will darken the original man.

This is the functioning of sublime essence. The sublime essence of true mind originally does not move. It is peaceful, tranquil, real, and constant; its sublime function is exposed with the real and constant essence.

So, the sublime essence should be attained while being carried with the flow.

By one Patriarch,

Mind flows with outer perspectives,

Where it flows is unspeakably profound.

If one understood the nature of this flowing,

Neither joy nor sorrow would be real.

Therefore, whenever it moves or distinguishes things; either going to the east, moving to the west, eating food or putting on clothes, lifting up a spoon or fork, or glancing left or right; these are all representations of the sublime-functioning of the true-mind.

Because ordinary-beings are confused, when they dress they assume it is the real action of dressing, and when they eat, they assume that it is the real action of eating; but they are chasing only forms in every matter even though it(True Mind) is with them in everyday life. They just cannot feel it and do not understand it, even though it is in front of their eyes.

For one who understands the self-nature, he would not be deceived while he is moving or distinguishing. Thus here is one Patriarch’s gatha,

When it is in the womb it is called a fetus with an energy; when it is born it is called a person; in the eye it is called seeing; in the ears it is called hearing; in the nose it is called smelling; or with the tongue it is called speaking, grabbing things with hands and taking strides with the legs; when it is spread out every-where, it wraps ’round the world’ as many times as number the sands of the River Ganges. And, when most concentrated cannot even fill a speck of dust. The one who knows calls this Buddha-nature: But, one who does not know calls this either ‘soul’ or ‘spiritual entity’.

Therefore, To oh(Tao Wu) danced with his fan, Bi Ma(Mi Mo) waved his staff, Ku Ji (Chu Ti) raised a finger, Hun Ju (Hsin Chou) hit the ground, and Woon Am(Yun Yen) teased the lion; all these conducts are the disclosure of the great functioning of the Mind.

If you are not deceived in the ordinary life, naturally nothing can be a hindrance in any direction.

V. Are the Essence and Function of the True Mind Same or Different?

Student: Are the essence and the function of the true mind same or different?

Pojo: Speaking of the form they are not the same. But in nature they are not different.(Therefore, the essence and function is neither one nor two.) How do we know? Let us try to argue as an experiment. The sublime essence is unmovable, but off from the relativities, and separated from various forms.

Except the one who is awakened to self-nature, and is able to accord with this, no one can even imagine what this is.

The sublime essence accords with karmic conditions; but deluded, we assume this illusory existence to have real existence, and of talking about discriminating the being from the non-being, then it is not the same.

On the other hand, its function came from that essence, which means, it function is not separate from essence, and since essence creates its function, essence is not separate from its function. One cannot be separate from another, that is, they are not different.

For instance, water’s essence is moisture, but it has no motion. The form of wave is motion which is caused by wind. The nature of water is motionless, and the nature of wave is in motion, which are not the same.

But, there cannot be water without waves; waves cannot be without water.

The nature of moisture itself is same and not different, which tells us the sameness and difference between essence and function.

VI. True Mind Lives with Confusion

Student: If everyone has the essence and function of true-mind, then, why is the ordinary-being different from the sage?

Pojo: True-mind is the same whether it is with the ordinary-being or with the sage. But ordinary ones have lost their immaculate self-nature because of their objectified, deluded cognition. Due to this obstruction, the true-mind cannot be disclosed, just like the shade of the tree in the darkness and the spring-stem under the ground; it is there but cannot be seen.

In the sutra,

Good man, it is like a pure Mani Gem with light diffused into five different colors in every direction. The ignorants believe that the Gem possesses all those colors; good man, the immaculate nature of complete enlightenment manifests in body and mind and discloses itself according to the various outer perspectives. Just so, within the immaculate Complete Enlightenment, the ignorants assume body and mind possess actual self-natures.

In Sung Jo’s(Seng Chao) Shastra;

Among earth, heaven, and the universe, there is one treasure; it is hidden inside mountain of corpse, which represents the mind hidden inside relative hindrance.

Also, Cha Un(Tau En),

From the beginning there is a Dharma-Body; it is the same whether in Buddha or in ordinary being, hidden by delusion and relatively hindered by bewilderment; that’s why it is called, ‘The Chamber of Tathagata.’

And from Pai Hui (Pei Xiu),

It is, all day long, completely enlightened; it did not become a complete enlightenment because of ordinary ones themselves.

Even though the True Mind is hidden under the bewilderment, it cannot be altered; just like white jade thrown and hidden in the mud; the luster remains unchanged.

VII. The True Mind Does Not Have Deluded Confusion

Student: If we have to study the true mind, and since we are ordinary ones, how can we possibly be free from delusion and become sages?

Pojo: An ancient sage said,

Where the deluded mind is nowhere, that is Bodhi.

Birth, Death, and Nirvana are all originally the same.

And in a Sutra,

When the delusory body of indigent-being vanishes, illusory mind also will vanish; when illusory mind vanishes, illusory dust will vanish; when illusory dust vanishes, illusory vanishing will vanish too. When illusory vanishing vanishes, what is not illusory cannot vanish. It is just like polishing the mirror(ancient copper mirror); when the rust is removed, brightness comes naturally.

Young ka (Yung Chia) sang,

Mind is root, Dharma is dirt; both are like dust on the mirror; when the dust is removed, brightness is naturally exposed; when neither mind nor body adhere, self-nature becomes true.

This is the direct way from delusion to the truth.

Student: Chang ja (Chuang Tzu) said,

The hotness of mind can even burn the fire; the coldness of mind can freeze the ice; while it stretches and bends, in its speed, it can caress the four oceans twice over. When it abides, it can be deep like an old  well; when it moves, it can be high like the sky: That is the human Mind.

By that statement, Chang Ja was referring to the fact that the mind of ordinary-beings is very difficult to control. Now, how about your case in the Ch’an school?

Pojo: By the Dharma of mindlessness, delusion can be controlled.

Student: If one becomes mindless, that means, he is like a vagetable or a tree. Would you explain more about that mindlessness?

Pojo: When I said, mindlessness it did not mean that there is no mind in itself, but that there is no thing in the mind; this we like to call mindlessness. When we say, empty bottle, that means there is no thing inside of the bottle, we are not talking about the bottle itself.

By one Patriarch,

Just nothing to do in the mind, and no mind in the form of doing; it will become concave sooner or later and will be divinely tranquil and profound.

This is saying that the deluded mind does not exist, but that the sublime functioning of the true-mind does.

Many of the patriarchal masters have talked about the ways to study mindlessness which here -p293- I will summarize in ten categories.

First: Watch wakefully. While you study you should cut out delusion and protect yourself from it. As soon as one thought arises, it should be destroyed immediately by wakefulness. When illusory thought has been destroyed by awakening, after-thought should not be born. But don’t even uphold what was awakened as a knowledge, because disregarding both illusion and awakening is called mindlessness. A Patriarch warned us:

Do not be afraid of the coming of delusion;

Rather, be alert for your tardiness of awakening.

And a Gatha,

Do not search for the Truth; Just rest your opinion.

This the study of resting illusion.

Second: Drop and rest. While you study, uphold neither the good nor the bad. When mind arises, abruptly drop it. When you are faced with outer perspectives abruptly rest them.

Encouraged by an ancient sage here,

Do it as if finishing a piece of raw muslin until it is white, do it like cool autumn rains falling, and do it -p295- like the Candleholder in the old temple.

Remove even the finest dust and separate yourself from discriminations; finally, when you act like you know nothing, and like a retarded one, then you will be near.

This is the way of studying to rest and drop illusion.

Third: Abandon the mind and leave behind outer perspectives. While you study, rest the various delusions completely, without concern for outer perspectives. Just drop your own mind. After thought is dropped, whether outer perspectives remain or not, it will not be hindered. How can it be hindered? According to the ancient sages, this is the dharma which ‘removed’ the man but did not remove the outer perspectives. Someone previously said,

Here is a flower garden,

But none of my close friends is.

And Layman Pang,

If you are mindless in front of every perspective, even if you are surrounded by them, what could be hindered?

This is the way of studying to rest delusions, by abandoning the mind and leaving behind the outer perspectives.

Fourth: Disregard the outer perspectives and leave behind the mind. While you study you should be vigilantly aware of all inside and outside perspectives as being void and tranquil, and uphold only the mind left behind. Once an ancient sage said,

Do not be together with Ten-thousand Dharmas, and, do not stand before all outer perspectives. If mind attaches to them, mind will be illusory. Since there is not even an outer perspective, where can the illusion be?

This is the same as another ancient,

Remove the outer perspective; do not remove the man.

Another portrayal of the same,

In the wonderful flower-garden flowers were already Feded away; people and traffic are still busy.

And again,

Where are three thousand sword-men right now? Chang-ja (Chuang-tzu) is planning to keep the world calm just by himself.

Fifth: Disregard the mind and outer pespectives. That is, while you study, first of all you should empty outer perspectives and then eliminate the mind. If the mind and the perspectives, inside and outside, are calmed down, trom where can illusion arise?

A gatha by Kwan Gye (Kuan Ch’i),

No walls in the room, no doors on any side,

It is as clear as having just been flushed out;

‘Tis as obvious as though naked.

This is the way of Dharma which removes the man and the outer perspectives, as taught by the Patriarchs. I still remember the saying of someone,

The clouds are scattered, and the water has flowed;

It is completely void; heaven and earth are empty.

The same also said,

Both man and ox cannot be seen;

It is indeed when the moon is bright.

This is the way to study the resting of both mind and outer perspectives.

Sixth: Seave behind both the mind and the outer perspectives. While you study, mind abides where the the mind is, while the outer perspectives stay where the outer perspectives should stay.

Even though the mind and the outer perspectives confront each other, the mind does not take the outer perspectives while the outer perspectives do not follow the mind. If each of them does not mix -p301- with the other, then naturally, delusion could not be raised and Tao could not be obstructed. When a sutra says,

Because this dharma abides where the dharma should be, worldly phenomena are always abiding as well;

It is the same as the Patriarchs saying,

Do not remove either the man or the outer perspectives.

Someone expressed,

The crescent moon reflects on the sea,

How many people will be at the viewing-pavilion.

As did another,

Because of thousands and thousands of blossoms of the mountain flower, the vagabonds forget to return.

This is the way to study to eliminate the delusion leaving behind both the mind and the outer perspectives.

Seventh: Study everything inside and outside as one whole body. While you study mountain, river, earth, sun, moon, stars, body, and world, etc., know that all dharma together is the body of one true mind. Since it is completely void and perfectly clear there should be no difference whatsoever. Thus, the great world systems even become one small piece. Now, where can delusion be raised? This is the reason Sung Jo (Seng Chao) said,

Heaven and earth have the same origin as I;

Everything in the Universe has the same body as I.

This is the study of eliminating delusion by becoming a whole body inside outside.

Eighth: Study the one complete functioning of both inside and outside. While you study you study you should be vigilantly aware of each and every Dharma and the movements of body and mind and the places either inside or outside as one sublime functioning of the true mind. As soon as some thought arises, that is immediately nothing but one sublime functioning appearing in front of you.

Since everything is already sublime functioning, where can the illusory mind stay? As Yung Ka (Yung Chia) mentioned,

The True Self-nature of the unenlightened Darkness

Is precisely the Buddha-Nature;

Empty body, like apparition, is the Dharma-Body.

Chi Kong (Chih Kung) also said this in his Gatha,

During the first hour of morning inside of masked dance, the body of the sage is hidden;

Not knowing there is a saint.

Without knowing this body is a sage and without knowing that sitting and lying down are originally the Tao, we stay so busy inviting the useless sufferings.

This is how to study the resting of delusion by complete functioning of inside and outside.

Ninth: Study the essence itself as a functioning itself. While yu study, be in accord with the one taste of void and stillness of the true essence in which divine self-gnostic brightness is hidden. This becomes the essence itself as functioning itself.

Said by Bung Ka (Bung Cia),

It is right to be vigilantly aware while calm and still, but it is wrong to be vigilantly aware while deluded; It is right to be vigilantly aware while calm and still, but it is wrong to be in senseless blankness while calm and still.

If senseless blankness is not allowed while it is already calm and still; if delusion is not allowed while vigilantly aware, then how can various delusions be raised? This is the way to study the elimination of delusion by the essence itself as the functioning itself.

Tenth: Transcend both the essence and function. While you study, do not discriminate inside from -p307- outside, do not divide east, west, north and south. Assume the four sides and the eight directions are as one great Nirvanic Gate. By not discriminating between essence and functioning, and leaving nothing behind, everything becomes one small piece; then from where could deluded mind come? One ancient sage succintly said,

In a whole body there are no scars from stitches;

Upper and lower are totally one whole sphere.

Which refers to the study of eliminating the mind by transcending the essence and the functioning.

As stated, there are ten different ways of studying. But, just pick one of them, and when the study is ripened, the delusion will naturally vanish and the true mind will appear. Get along with your natural abilities and former karmic inclinations, find out which way is suitable for you and watch carefully.

This studying should be effortless and mindless. I have talked a lot of how to rest and drop the deluded mind.

And because this is so important, I did not mind talking in detail.

So far I have explained much; please do not retreat from or half-heartedly toss-to-the winds, what I have said.

VIII. The Four Conduct-Modes of the True Mind

Student: We have heard how to rest our deluded mind. Now, do we have to just sit (meditate) to practice or is it possible even while in motion or in rest?

Pojo: All sutras and shastras explore sitting practice because it is convenient. However, it is also possible while we are in motion or in rest, one can be gradually refined and fully practical only by ceaseless training.

In the Awakening of Faith,

If one wishes for ‘cessation’ (meditative tranquility), he should abide in a quiet place, sit straight, and control his will. He should not depend upon his breathing, upon any form or color, not upon empty space nor upon the four elements; soil, water, fire, or wind; and furthermore, one should not depend upon sight, audition, perception, elements; soil. water, fire, or wind; and furthermore, one should not depend upon sight, memory, or consciousness. Whatever kind of thought comes, you should cut it out as well as cut out this thought of cutting out, because all dharmas have no origin in thought (delusion).

From one thought to the next, mind itself cannot be born; and from one thought to the next, mind itself cannot be perished; also, by following the mind, your mind cannot be grasped.

If the mind is scattered, one should immediately focus and abide in right thinking.

This right thinking is only the mind which has no outer perspectives.

This mind does not even have its own form and cannot be gained by thought. Whether you stand up from your seat, come and go, walk or stand, or further do all different movements, you should always think of an expedient method according to your abilities, train yourself for a long time and achieve mastery; then your mind will cease.

After the mind has ceased, one will become gradually braver and sharper and will enter the samadhi of Truth as-it-is; thereby, overcoming deep defilements. Also, sincere faith will be increased and will quickly lead to entry into the retreatless level. Only the skeptics, disbelievers and humiliators, and those hidden by thick karmic-sin and the too-arrogant are exceptions to entry into the retreatless level.

The above is referring to the four conduct-modes of the true mind.

In the Complete Enlightenment Sutra it was also mentioned,

First of all, depend on Tathagata’s Samatha Practice, by upholding the precepts firmly, and staying with crowds harmoniously, or sitting in a quiet room.

On the other hand, Young Ka (Yung Chia),

Coming-and-going or sitting down is Ch’an;

Whether you speak or are silent,

Move or are still,

Essence is always the same.

The above also refers to the four conduct-modes of the true mind.

Summarizing what we have said regarding the results of studying; to enter the Tao is difficult even though sitting still; so, how can we expect to gain entry easily while walking or standing? But if one’s functioning of study were masterfully ripened, even though a thousand sages appeared in front of him, he would not even move an inch. And if ten-thousand devils appeared he would not even look.

Why is impossible to study while moving or sitting? It is just like one who is revenging his enemy; whether walking, stilled, lying down, eating, or all the various movements, he cannot forget his enemy for one moment. The same is true when one loves somebody.

Hatred and love are both inside-the-mind-matters; even though such things are great, why are they not for someone who is studying?

If you uphold a sincere faith, Tao in the four conduct modes would not be lost.

IX. Where the True Mind Is

Student: You said.’ the true mind will be disclosed if we rest our deluded mind’. Where is the essence and functioning of the true mind right now?

Pojo: The essence of the true mind is omnipresent, as Young Ka (Yung Chia) said,

It is right here, not far away from where you are now; also, it has always been transparent; as soon as you look for it, you should know it cannot be seen.

And a sutra gives us a good explanation,

Because it has the nature of empty space, it does not move even an inch, and nothing arises nor disappears in the Tathagata-Chamber.

The Great Pop-An (Fa Yen) also shows us where the mind is,

Everywhere is the path to Bodhi;

Everything is the forest of Virtuous Merit.

The sublime functioning of the true mind is reflected according to what is perceived, as an echo is reflected from an empty valley. As Popdung said,

Now and before, without decreasing its reflection,

It is right front of these eyes.

Small pieces of clouds arise in the valley,

A lone crane is descending at the far end of the sky.

And take a look at what said old Hwa Yen from Wipu (Wei fu),

Buddha-Dharma is in your everyday life; where you walk, stay, sit, and lie down; where you drink a cup of tea, and eat a meal, where you speak, and converse with others, where you act and distinguish things; to uphold the mind and to raise a thought are again wrong.

As you see, even though the essence is omnipresent and is functioning always with you; because each one of us has different karmic conditions, each function is also appearing differently, not because there is no sublime function. If one wishes to enter the ocean of formless-doing, and to be life-and-deathless, do not let the abode of true mind’s essence and function be confused.

X. The True Mind Does Not Perish

Student; We have heard before that one who has seen the self-nature is free from birth-and-death. But all the past patriarchs have died, and people today who cultivate their Tao also experience birth-and-death. How can we be free from birth-and-death?

Pojo: Originally there is no birth-and-death. It exists because delusion exists because exists because delusion exists; like one, whose eyes are infected, seeing flowers in the space. If one who has no infection were to tell him that there is no flower in the space, he would not believe it. And after the eye infection heals, the space-flower will also automatically disappear. Now he believes there is no space-flower.

But even before that flower disappeared, the space-flower was void. It did not exist all all. But the one with an infected eye was attached to the flower.

Even though one without birth-and-death says there is no birth-and-death, the man of illusion, mistakenly believing birth-and-death, will finally realize that there is originally no birth-and-death. Even before birth-and-death were nullified by resting delusory speculation, there is really no birth-and-death, simply one’s misjudgement.

It is said in the sutra,

Good man, all indigent-beings are topsy-turvy, from the beginningless beginning;

Think four elements as their true bodies, as if one has confused the four directions.

‘Tis like infected eye seeing space-flower; as if space-flower disappears, it cannot be said there is definite place for flower to disappear.

Why? Because there is no place for it to happen. Because the indigent-being sees the illusory birth-and-death from the place, where life-and-death do not exist at all. That is why it is called ‘the wandering in the life-and-death’.

If one understood the true mind of complete enlightenment, there would not be any birth-and-death. The reason we cannot be free from birth-and-death, although we understand it, is because the cultivation of Tao (study) is not yet fully deep-ened.

Once Ambapoli asked Manjusri: ‘I have understood cleary that birth-and-death is originally no birth-and-no death, but why am I still not free from birth-and-death?

Manjusri answered:

Because your strength of the mind is not fully developed.

Later, Master Jin asked Master Soo the same question.

I have understood clearly that birth is originally no-birth, but why am I still not free from birth-and-death?

Master answer;

Bamboo shoot will eventually become bamboo; if raft is made from bamboo shoot, could it be used right now?

Therefore, knowing birth-and-deathlessness is less than experiencing no-birth and no-death; experiencing no-birth and no-death is less than being in accord with birth-and-deathlessness; but, being in accord with birth-and-deathlessness is less than operating the life with birth-and-deathlessness.

People today do not even know birth-and-deathlessness; do you think they are able to experience it, be in accord with it, or operate their life with it?

One who misunderstands birth-and-death necessarily would not believe the birth-and-deathless dharma.

XI. Primary and Secondary Motives of the True Mind

Student: As we have mentioned, the true mind will be disclosed after the deluded mind is rested. Now, before resting the deluded mind, do we have to drop the outer delusion to be mindless, or is there another way to control the deluded mind?

Pojo: Primary and secondary motives are different things.

To rest the deluded mind with mindlessness is the primary motive.

To train yourself with all the good conducts is the secondary motive.

For example, if a bright mirror is covered with dust, you can remove the dust by hand, but still, you necessarily need a polishing cream to make it shine brightly; here, dust is defilement, handling it is a mindless-study, the polishing cream is all the good conducts, and the brightness of the mirror is the true mind.

In the Awakening of Faith:

Question: To accomplish the faithful mind effectively, what mind should we mobilize?

Answer: There are three different ways. The first, is by the straight mind, because it is thinking of Truth-as-it-is, righteously. The second is by the profound mind, because it gathers all good conducts. The third is by the great compassionate mind, because it tries to liberate all kinds of be wilderments by the indigent-being.

Question: As you mentioned moments ago, the dharma world has only one form; that is, the essence of Buddha cannot be divided. Then, instead of thinking one truth-as-it-is, why do we have to learn all kinds of good conduct?

Answer: As an analogy, even though the essence and self-nature of a great Mani Jewel has brightness and clarity, still it can have some flaws. So too, one can understand treasury self-nature, but it cannot be luminous if it is not cultivated and examined by various expedient methods. Although Truth-as-it-is of the indigent-being’s nature is originally empty and pure in its essence and self-nature, still, immeasurable dusts of bewilderment remain. Even if one is aware of Truth-as-it-is, he must integrate it for himself by expedient methods to purify the self-nature. Dirt is immeasurable and ommipresent in all dharmas. By good conduct it should be removed. If you cultivate all good dharmas, naturally one will return to the dharma of Truth-as-it-is and become one with it.

That is what Awakening of Faith shows us about the primary motive of resting the deluded mind and the secondary motive of training by good conduct. When you cultivate good conduct, you should accord with mindlessness and not attach to cause-and-effect. As soon as you attach to cause-and-effect, the ordinary-being and heaven-being will fall into the next karmic sequence which means hard to attain Truth-as-it-is, and finally will not be free from birth-and-death.

If you accord with mindlessness, immediately you will experience the Truth-as-it-is; it is the expedient of that experience and the secret way of liberation from birth-and-death which will lead you to vast virtue and merit.

As the Diamond Sutra said,

Subhuti, if any Bodhisattva makes an offering

Without abiding in any form,

Then virtue and merit will be immeasurable.

Instead, people today who practice Ch’an (Zen) and just begin to see there is an original Buddha-nature, abruptly think they are divine Truth-holders. They do not exercise good self-conduct, so is it not impossible for them to enlighten their true mind? Rather, they become lazy. If they cannot even be free from the bad ways, how can they be free from life and death? What a terrible mistake it is!

XII. Virtue and Merit of the True Mind

Student: There is no doubt that mindful cultivation will result in certain virtues and merits. Then from where did the virtue and merit come if cultivation is mindless?

Pojo: Mindful cultivation will result in the effect of the form of doing. Mindless cultivation will result in disclosing the virtue and merit of the self-nature. All these virtues and merits are originally completed, but because of delusion are not disclosed. But, if delusion were cut out, virtue and merit would naturally be disclosed. Young-Ka showed us the original perfection of virtue and merit in the self-nature by saying,

Three Bodies and Four Wisdoms are complete and fulfilled within this being:; eight karmec liberations and six magical works are carved in the bottom of mind.

A sage also said,

If one man sits quietly for even one second,

It is still superior to the merits of erecting.

As many seven-jeweled stupas as number the sands of the Ganges River;

Jeweled-stupa will finally perish to the dust,

While one thought from immaculate mind

Will attain the right Enlightenment.

The strength from the mindless study is far greater than the mindful study. When Suryo (Shui Liao) from Hong Ju (Hung Chou) went to Majo to ask, ‘What is the reason Bodhidharma, the first patriarch, came from the West?’ Instead of being given an answer, he was kicked out by Majo, but suddenly enlightened, and said: ‘What a strange thing it is!

Thousands of samadhis with immeasurable sublime truths were completely disclosed at the end of the hair.

Then, he bowed to Majo and left, which proves that virtue and merit do not come from outside but are intrinsically sufficient in our self-nature in itself. The Fourth Patriarch said to Na Young (Fa Jung),

All dharma returns to one square inch of mind, virtue and merit, as many as the sands of the Ganges River, are all in the spring of mind.

Various precepts, tranquilities, wisdoms, magics and miraculous changes are complete and not separate from your original mind.

As Patriarch mentioned, mindless virtue and merit are already great; but one who attaches to the form of virtue and merit does not mobilize this kind of faith at all.

XIII. Experience and Re-examination of the True Mind

Student: When the true mind appears, how do we know it is fully ripened and unhindered?

Pojo: While studying the Tao, one might see the true mind before him. If karmic inclinations are not diminished, while facing the mature outer perspectives, he sometimes forgets the right memory. It is like the ox which obeys well only while the shepherd is pulling him; the shepherd is not yet able to give up his whip. Only when the ox is fully trained, so that even when pulled to an open crop-field; he would not damage the crops; only then can the whip be released. At this level, the ox-herding man, using no whip, would not worry about damaging the crops.

Just so, after a man of Tao attains the true mind, first he should carefully refine and nourish his understanding so that great power and functioning will eventually result; he can then naturally help the indigent-beings.

If you want to experience and examine the true mind, first of all, imagine in front of your eyes, the outer perspectives you used to hate or delight in. If you still raise the thought of hatred or delight as usual, then the Mind of Tao is not yet mature. If the thought was not raised, then the mind of Tao is mature.

Even though you are at that level, still that is not yet the level of naturally unraised hate and delight. You should re-experience and re-examine while you deliberately face the conditions of hatred and delight.

If the mind still is not moved at all, then the mind has become unhindered just like the white ox, free in the open field, not damaging the crops. That is the reason why, from long ago, there have sometimes been ones who cursed Buddha and reviled the Patriarchs in order to bring their minds in accord with their understanding, by re-examining it under these conditions. However, some students who just began patriarchal Ch’an study, without knowing their distance from the Tao and having practiced little, imitate the way of cursing Buddha and reviling the Patriarchs which is just premature cunning.

XIV. True Mind Has no Knowledge

Student: When the true mind and deluded mind are facing the outer perspectives, how do you discriminate the true from the deluded?

Pojo: Facing the outer perspectives with a deluded mind entails having knowledge with which one either agrees and goes along with or disagrees and goes against. Then, greed, hatred, and ignorance are raised.

Since the three poisonous minds are already raised, then you would know clearly that is the deluded mind. So, A Patriarch said,

Mind disease comes from conflict,

Whether you go along or go against.

So, therefore, you should know that thinking that this is right or that this is not right is the deluded mind.

If it were the true mind it would be self-gnostic without having knowledge; which differs from vegetables and trees since it has steady thinking, is omnipresently luminous, and it sees the outer perspectives without hatred or delight but with emptiness and brightness.

Being self-gnostic without knowledge is the true mind.

In the shastra of Sung-Jo.

Holy mind is so profound that it has no form; it cannot be said, ‘it exists’. The more you use, the busier would it be; it cannot be said, ‘it does not exist’.

Because it is not non-existence, it knows without something known; because it is not non-existence, it knows without having knowledge.

Because it knows without knowledge it cannot be different from the sage-mind. Again, the deluded mind is attached to being when it is and attached to non-being when it is not. It includes either being or non-being and does not know the Golden Mean.

As Young-Ka said,

If you abandon the deluded mind, and invite the true mind, then abandonment and invitation themselves are also delicate deceits.

The student has a lingering disease in which he is deceived, thinking the thief for his son.

If that is truly the true mind, you would not fall into either Being nor into non-being, whether it is or is not, and you would always abide in the golden mean.

Let me remind you, one patriarch said thusly,

Do not chase the outer perspectives of being,

Do not abide even in the wisdom of emptiness;

If one mind is straight forward,

Everything will be completed by itself.

In Shastra of Sung-Jo,

For the sage-being, existence is not as existence;

Nonexistence is not as non-existence.

Invite neither existence nor non-existence,

Abandon neither existence nor non-existence.

It is just like sunshine staying with dust; it is omnipresent in every branch of five sense organs, it goes quietly, suddenly returns, sounds comfortable, but sometimes looks like nothing is happening; yet does everything.

But the deluded mind is as we have discussed, not the same as this.

Here, the truth and delusion are two different things; the true mind is the steady and unchangeable mind; the deluded mind is the unsteady and changeable mind.

Student: What is the steady and unchangeable mind?

Pojo: Everyone has his own divine radiance which is as transparent as empty-space and as omnipresent. For ordinary knowledge it is called reason. For the sake of activities of spirits it is expediently called the true mind.

Because there is no discrimination at all, when the true mind is faced with karmic conditions, it would not be perplexed.

Because there is no thought to eliminate or invite and since omnipresent turth whatever it faces, it would not be changed by ten-thousand outer perspectives.

It is sublime while flowing with others, but without separating from itself as it is always transparent. Looking for it, it is just yourself, yet it cannot be seen. This is True Mind.

Student: What is the unsteady and changeable mind?

Pojo: In the outer perspectives there are differences between sages and ordinary men; tained and pure, cut off and constant, theoretical and practical, birth and death, moving and still, going and coming, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, and cause and effect.

If you try to describe in detail, there can be ten-thousand different things all of which are unsteady and changeable outer perspectives.

We call it ‘deluded mind’, because unsteady and changeable outer perspectives of life-and-death are contrasted with the formersteady-and-unchangeable-true-mind. The true mind is originally (perfected) against unsteady and changeable outer perspectives. It does not create any differences.

That is why it is called the steady-and-unchangeable-true-mind.

Student: If the true mind is steady and unchangeable and does not create differences, why did Buddha tell us of cause-and-effect, good-and-bad, and karmic sequences?

Pojo: Because the deluded mind does not know various outer perspectives they create various thoughts while following the outer perspectives. Thar is why the Buddha told us the dharma of cause-and-effect; to control the deluded mind. But the true mind does not follow various outer perspectives, and does not create various thoughts. Buddha did not say about any other dharmas; where can cause-and-effect be?

Student: Then, is the true mind not created but still, steady and unchangeable?

Pojo: It is not. The discriminating function of the true mind is not created by outer perspectives, but it consorts with sublime functioning, and because of that, would not adversely affect cause-and-effect.

XV. Where the True Mind Goes

Student: One who did not understand the true mind, because he was confused about it, would create the good and the bad. Then, since he created the good, he would e born on a good path, or, because of the bad, he would be born on a bad path.

Accordingly, I would not doubt the principle of karmic sequence. But, one who understood the true mind, because he rested all deluded attitudes, and was in accord with the true mind, would not have good or bad causes. If so, then, after this corpse passes away where would this one spirit take refuge?

Pojo: Do not judge that having a place of refuge would be better than not having a place. Nor judge a man who has no place to go just like a prodigal son, by saying, ‘having no place to take refuge’. Nor judge the abidingless lonely soul among the ghosts.

Do you wish especially to have some place to take refuge?

Student: Yes, I do.

Pojo: If you completely understood the self-nature, it would not be that way. Because only indigent-beings are confused about the nature of enlightenment and they gather all the karmic cause by deluded love and thought and are born into the six branches of the karmic cycle; and will thus receive the result of the good or the bad.

For example, if you take karmic effect in heaven and of no other place. Since everything follows that karmic cause, the place in which you should be reborn is, they say, very satisfying because it is in accord with where you are.

They like the place where they were reborn and they would not like any other place. The place in which they should be reborn they call. ‘refuge’, while the place in which they should not be reborn they call. ‘somebody’s refuge’. Therefore, if you have deluded sentiment, you are creating deluded cause. If you have deluded cause, then deluded effect will result. If deluded result ensues, then there will be a refuge-place. If there is a refuge place, then you and I will be divided. If ‘I-and-you’ is divided then there is something right or wrong.

Now, the one who completely understands the true mind will accord with life-and-deathless self-enlightening-nature and will cause life-and-death-less sublime-functioning. Sublime-essence is true and perpetual, originally having no life-and-death because it follows cause-and-effect.

However, since functioning is from the essence itself, functioning itself is already essence itself. How can it have life-and-death? It is like essence of water which is the nature of moisture and its functioning is the wave. The nature of moisture is life-and-deathless, so too with the nature of moist nature of wave have life-and-deathless. How can the moist nature of wave have life-and-death? But wave cannot exist without moist nature. Therefore, wave does not have life-and-death either.

All the sages said,

Whole world is true man’s right eye.

Whole world is one church.

Because this is the place where the enlightened one can dwell and have sanctity.

Once true mind is completely understood, four different lives and six different karmic-cycles will -p353- immediately vanish; mountain, river, and, whole earth are nothing but the true mind. There is no other place to take refuge other than this true mind. Since there is no delusory cause in three different cosmos there is no delusory effect in six branches.

Since there is no delusory effect, of what refuge place can we talk or think? You and I are not separate. Since already I and you are not different, where are the right and the wrong? This ten-direction world is only one true mind. It will be one whole body. There is no other refuge place. It can be born as an expedient appearing by free-will without obstacles.

In the Transmission of the Lamp, minister On Jo(Wen Tsao) asked master Kyu Bong (Kjeu Feng),

On-jo: The one who has understood the truth, after one period of life has passed; where does he take refuge?

Kyu Bong: There is no indigent-being who does not have divine nature of enlightenment. Not even a slight difference from Buddha; if this true self-nature were awakened, originally there is no birth. Where can the refuge place be? It is not perplexed, but divinely radiant. It is wakeful awareness which has no place to come. It is wakeful awareness which has no place to come. It has no place to come, no place to go. Just know it is void and tranquil essence.

Do not confuse it with physical body. Just know divinely self-gnostic mind. Do not confuse with delusion.

Even if deluded thought arises, if you do not chase it., when the time comes, you wouldn’t be entangled with karma. Even though you are in a state of purgatory.

Whatever the direction you choose, you will be completely free either in Heaven or in Human; you will take refuge wherever you wish to be. This is where True Mind goes after physical body has passed on.


1.  Chinul is alluding here to the famous Parable of the Burning House from the Lotus Sutra. See Miao‐fa lien‐hua ching 2, T 262.9.12c‐13c; Leon Hurvitz, Lotus, pp. 58‐62. See also LCL, p. 497b. 17, and Wonhyo’s Palsim suhaeng chang, in Cho Myeong‐gi (ed.), Wonhyo taesa cheonjip, p. 605.

2.  By Tan‐hsia Tzu‐ch’un (丹霞子淳 1064‐1117), in the Ts’ao‐tung lineage; from his verse, the Wan chu‐yin(翫珠吟), appearing in CTL 30, p. 463b‐c. This passage is quoted also at THYL 8, p. 843b. “Hundred bones” (百骸 K. paekhae; C. po‐hai): an allusion to Chuang‐tzu 1, Ch’i wu lun sec. 2, p. 8.
3.  Adapted from Wonhyo’s Palsim suhaeng chang: Wonhyo taesa cheonjip, p. 605.
4.  Avatamsaka Sutra, chapter (Ju‐lai ch’u‐hsien p’in),HYC 51, p. 272c.

5.  In the Complete Enlightenment Sutra, YCC, p. 914a.
6.  Adapted from Ku‐ling Shen‐tsan 古靈神贊 (n.d.), disciple of Po‐chang Huai‐hai (720‐814); in Chodang chip 16, p. 104c.25‐26.
7.   LCL, p. 497b.26‐29.
8.  CTL 3, p. 218b; quoted also in THYL 5, p. 829c. Korean Igyeon (異見 C. yi‐chien) is   a common designation for devotees of non‐Buddhist Indian religious sects; compare K. osip igyeon paramun nyeo(五十異見婆羅門女), C. wu‐shih yi‐chien peo‐lo‐men nil,P’u‐sa pen‐sheng‐man lun(無相宗) 4, T 160.3.341c. 18‐19. Such sects were “heterodox” because they did not accept such basic Buddhist teachings as rebirth or karmic cause and effect; for a listing, see Ch’ang A‐han ching 7, T 1.1.42c. 1‐3. Bharati was a prime exponent of the signless teaching (musang chong)―one of the six major divisions of the Indian Buddhist tradition reputedly current in Bodhidharma’s time (CTL 3, p. 217b.3‐5). Bharati was sent by Bodhidharma to reconvert the South Indian kings who had reverted to heterodox beliefs and were reviling the three treasures; see CTL 3, p. 218a‐b.
9.  Kuei‐tsung Ts’e‐chen (歸宗策眞 ?‐979), also known as Hui‐ch’ao 慧超, was a disciple of Fa‐yen Wen‐i (885‐958), founder of the Fa‐yen school of the mature Ch’an tradition. For Kuei‐tsung’s biography, see CTL 25, p. 417a.3‐22. A similar exchange in which Kuei‐tsung asks the question and receives the same reply from Fa‐yen constitutes case 7 in the Blue Cliff Records; see Pi‐yen lu 1, 72003.48.147a.
10. This quotation appears in THYL 26, p. 920a. 12‐13; Ta‐hui does not cite his source, however, a not unusual occurrence in Ch’an texts.
11. The fourth answer to a series of ten questions asked by Kuei‐feng Tsung‐mi by the mountain man Shih; see CTL 13, p. 307b.l6‐19, and Encouragement to Practice, note
12. Adapted from Ma‐tsu Tao‐i; see Encouragement to Practice, note 71.
13. Adapted from Nan‐ch’uan P’u‐yuan (南泉普願 748‐835) in CTL 10, p. 276c; see Straight Talk on the True Mind, note 1.
14. By P’ang Yun (龐蘊 740‐808), lay disciple of Ma‐tsu Tao‐i; quoted in CTL 8, p. 263b.
15. One of the two major approaches to practice attributed to Bodhidharma; see Encouragement to Practice, note 34.
16.  Avalokitesvara’s method for tracing hearing to its source in the mind was praised by Sakyamuni Buddha as the ideal practice for people in a degenerate age; see Surangama Sutra, Leng‐yen ching 6, r945.19.128b‐129c.
17. By Ch’eng‐kuan (澄觀 738‐840), the fourth Hua‐yen patriarch, in his Ta‐fang‐kuangFo hua‐yen chingsui‐shuyen‐ich’aol,T
18. In the Awakening of Faith, TCCHL, p. 575c.
19. By Li T’ung‐hsuan in his Exposition of the Avatamsaka Sutra, HHYCL 14, p. 809b; also quoted in Chinul’s Hwadmnon chdryo, p. 268.
20. THYL 26, p. 920a.
21. Adapted from Lao‐tzu 48; see Encouragement to Practice, note 70.
22. By Kuei‐feng Tsung‐mi; see CYCTH 2, p. 403a. This quote is attributed to Ho‐tse Shen‐hui(荷澤神會) in Tsung‐mi’s DCSPR, Part II, “the view of the Ho‐tse school” section; see also CHT, p. 872a.
23. CYCTH 1, p. 399b. On the terms “supreme vehicle Seon” and “pure Seon of the note 16, and DCSPR, note 118.

24. By Pao‐chih in his Gat ha in Praise of the Mahayana (Ta‐ch’eng tsan), CTL 29, p. 450a. 1.
25. Yung‐ming Yen‐shou in his Mirror of the Source Record, Tsung‐ching lu 38, T 2016.48.638a.
26. By Kuei‐feng Tsung‐mi in CYCTH 2, p. 403a. 5; see also DCSPR and CHT, p. 872a.4.
27. LTTC, p. 358c.
28. LTTC, p. 352c. 19‐20.
29. Literally, “it only borrows their way and boards at their house.” For this allusion, see Chuang‐tzu 4, T’ien‐yun sec. 14, p. 84.
30. Kuei‐fengTsung‐mi in CYCTH 3, p. 407c; see also DCSPR
31. FromYung‐mmgYen‐shou’s Mirror of the Source Record A, Tsung‐ching lu 1, T 2016.48.419c.24.
32. Adapted from the Avatamsaka Sutra, (Fan‐hsingp’in), HYC17, p. 89a, and HYCb 8, p. 449c. 15.

33. Wei‐hsin chueh, 72018.48.996c.
34. “Fallen into darkness” can refer to hell―as in the Ti‐tsang ching, where it is said that the T’ieh‐wei Mountains (鐵圉山 Cakravadaparvata), which form the perimeter of hell, “are dark and devoid of any light from the sun or moon” (Ti‐tsangp’u‐sapen‐ytian ching 1, 7412.13.782a.4‐S). The phrase can also refer to a spirit realm, however―”the ghosts of darkness” (see Fo pen‐hsing chi ching 41, ri90.3.845b.4). The former alternative is probably intended here.
35. For this simile, see TsaA‐han ching 16, 799.2.108c.
36. See Ku shih 古詩, WH 249.29.6b; compare Ts’ao Tzu‐chien(曹子建)’s Sung Ying shih shih 送應氏詩, WH 82.20.32a.
37. cf. Chin‐kang ching, 7235.8.749b. 18‐23.
38. Shih Wu‐chu’s verse in Sung Biographies of Eminent Monks; see Encourage ment to Practice, note 76.
39. Adapted from the Lun‐yil; see Encouragement to Practice, note 68.
40. An allusion to Chuang‐tzu 4, Ch’iu shui sec. 17, p. 91; see also Tsung‐ching lu  1, 72016.48.420b. 10.
41. See Tsung‐ching lu 1, 7 2016.48.420b.ll, for this allusion; see also PWYF 587.2.
42. Chin‐kang ching, 7235.8.749a‐b.
43. Chin‐kang ching, 7235.8.750c.

10. If you do not cultivate now, you will go off in the wrong direction for ten thousand kalpas.

If we consider our actions in our past wanderings in samsara, we have no way of knowing for how many thousands of kalpas we have fallen into the darkness or entered the Interminable Hell and endured all kinds of suffering.34 Nor can we know how many times we have aspired to the path to Buddhahood but, because we did not meet with wise advisors, remained submerged in the sea of birth and death for long kalpas, dark and unenlightened, performing all sorts of evil actions. Though we may reflect on this once in a while, we cannot imagine the duration of our misery. How can we relax and suffer again the same calamities as before? Furthermore, what allowed us to be born this time as human beings―the guiding spirits of all the ten thousand things―who are clear about the right road of cultivation? Truly, a human birth is as difficult to ensure as “a blind turtle putting its head through a hole in a piece of wood floating on the ocean”39 or “a mustard seed falling onto the point of a needle.” How can we possibly express how fortunate we are?

Whenever we become discouraged or indolent, we should always look to the future. In one instant we might happen to lose our lives and fall back into the evil bourns where we would have to undergo unspeakable suffering and pain. At that time, although we might want to hear one phrase of the Buddha‐dharma, and would be willing to receive and keep it with faithful devotion to ease our misfortune, how would we ever encounter it there? On the point of death, remorse is of no use whatsoever. I hope that all of you who are cultivating the path will not be heedless and will not indulge in greed and lust. Do not forget to reflect upon this as if you were trying to save your head from burning. Death is fast closing in. The body is like the morning dew.3‘ Life is like the twilight in the west. Although we are alive today, there is no assurance about tomorrow. Bear this in mind! You must bear this in mind!
By relying on worldly conditioned, wholesome actions we will avoid the suffering of samsara in the three evil bourns. We will obtain the favorable karmic reward of rebirth among gods or men where we will receive abundant joy and happiness. But if we give rise to faith in this most profound approach to dharma of the supreme vehicle for only a moment, no metaphor can describe even the smallest portion of the merit we will achieve. As it is said in the sutras:
If one takes all the seven jewels in all the world systems of this trichiliocosm and offers them to all the sentient beings of those worlds until they are completely satisfied; or, furthermore, if one instructs all the sentient beings of those worlds and causes them to realize the four fruitions, the merit so gained will be immeasurable and boundless. But it is not as great as the merit gained from the first recollection of this dharma for the period of one meal.”
Therefore, we should know that our approach to dharma is the holiest and most precious of all; its merit is incomparable. As the sutras say:
One thought of purity of mind is a bodhimanda,
And is better than building seven‐jeweled stupas as numerous as the sands
of the Ganges.
Those jeweled stupas will finally be reduced to dust, But one thought of purity of mind produces right enlightenment.”
I hope that all of you who are cultivating the path will study these words carefully and keep them always in mind. If this body is not ferried across to the other shore in this lifetime, then for which life are you going to wait? If you do not cultivate now, you will go off in the wrong direction for ten thousand kalpas. But if you practice assiduously now, practices which are difficult to cultivate will gradually become easier until, finally, meritorious practice will advance of itself.
Alas! When starving people are given princely delicacies nowadays, they do not even know enough to put them in their mouths. When they are sick they meet the king of doctors but do not even know enough to take the medicine. If no one says, “What shall I do? What shall I do?” then what shall I do for him?39
Although the character of mundane, conditioned activities can be seen and its effect experienced, if a person succeeds in one affair, everyone praises the rarity of it. The source of our minds has neither shape to be observed nor form to be seen; the way of words and speech is cut off there. Since the activities of mind are ended, maras and heretics have no way to revile us. Even the praises of Indra, Brahma, and all the gods will not reach it; so how can the mind be fathomed by the shallow understanding of ordinary men? How pitiful! How can a frog in a well know the vastness of the sea?40 How can a fox roar like a lion?41
Hence we know that in this degenerate dharma age, a person who is able to hear this approach to dharma, realize its rarity, and receive and keep it with faithful devotion has for innumerable kalpas served all the saints, planted all the roots of goodness, and fully formed the right cause of prajna ―he has the most proficiency. As the Diamond Sutra says, “If there is a person who can have faith in these words, it should be known that this man has planted all the roots of goodness in front of incalculable numbers of Bud‐dhas.”42 It also says, “This is spoken in order to produce the great vehicle; this is spoken in order to produce the supreme vehicle.”43 I hope that those of you who are aspiring to the path will not be cowardly. You must display your ardor. Good causes made in past kalpas cannot be known. If you do not believe in your superiority and, complacently resigning yourself to being inferior, you decide that you will not practice now because it is too difficult, then even though you might have good roots from past lives, you sever them now. The difficulty will keep growing and you will move farther from the goal. Since you have now arrived at the treasure house, how can you return empty‐handed? Once you lose a human body, for ten thousand kalpas it will be difficult to recover. Be careful. Knowing that there is a treasure house, how can a wise person turn back and not look for it―and yet continue to resent bitterly his destitution and poverty? If you want the treasure you must throw away this skin‐bag.

9. Cultivation prior to awakening is not true cultivation

Question: According to your assessment, there are two types of samadhi and prajna which are maintained equally during cultivation after awakening: first, the samadhi and prajna of the self‐nature; second, the relative samadhi and prajna which adapts to signs.

The self‐nature type means to be calm yet aware in all circumstances. Since the person who has awakened to the self‐nature is always spontaneous and free from attachment to objects, why does he need to trouble with effacing the defilements? Since there is not even one thought which creates passion, there is no need to make vain efforts at forgetting all conditioning. Your assessment was that this approach is the sudden school’s equal maintenance of samadhi and prajna which never leaves the self‐nature.
The relative type which follows signs means either to absorb distraction by according with the noumenon or to investigate dharmas critically and contemplate their voidness. One controls both dullness and agitation and thereby enters the unconditioned. But your assessment was that this practice is for those of inferior faculties in the gradual school. We are not yet free of doubts about the samadhi and prajna of these two different approaches. Would you say that one should first rely on the self‐nature type and then, after cultivating samadhi and prajna concurrently, make further use of the countermeasures or the relative approach? Or should one first rely on the relative type so that after controlling dullness and agitation, he can enter into the self‐nature type? If, after initially using the samadhi and prajna of the self‐nature, he is able to remain calm and aware naturally in all situations, thus rendering the counteractive measures unnecessary, why would he subsequently have to apply the relative type of samadhi and prajna? It is like a piece of white jade: if it is engraved, its natural quality will be destroyed. On the other hand, after the initial application of the relative type of samadhi and prajna, if the work of counteraction is brought to a close and he then progresses to the self‐nature type, this would be merely gradual development prior to awakening as practiced by those of inferior faculties in the gradual school. Then how would you be able to say that the sudden school’s approach of initial awakening and subsequent cultivation makes use of the effortless effort?
If these two types can both be practiced in the one time that has no past or future [via sudden awakening/sudden cultivation], there would have to be a difference between the respective suddenness and gradualness of these two types of samadhi and prajna―so how could they both be cultivated at once? The sudden school adept relies on the self‐nature type and eschews effort by remaining natural in all situations. Students of inferior capacity in the gradual school tend toward the relative type and exert themselves applying countermeasures. The suddenness and gradualness of these two types of practices are not identical; their respective superiority and inferiority is obvious. So, in the approach of initial awakening and subsequent cultivation, why is it explained that there are two ways to maintain samadhi and prajna equally? Could you help us to understand this and eliminate our doubts?
Chinul: The explanation is obvious. Your doubts only come from yourselves! If you try to understand by merely following the words, you will, on the contrary, only give rise to doubt and confusion. It is best to forget the words; do not bother with detailed scrutiny of them. Now let us go on to my assessment of the cultivation of these two types of practice.
Cultivation of the samadhi and prajna of the self‐nature involves the use of the sudden school’s effortless effort in which both are put into practice and both are calmed; oneself cultivates the self‐nature, and oneself completes the path to Buddhahood. Cultivation of the relative samadhi and prajna which adapts to signs involves the use of the counteractive measures which are cultivated prior to awakening by those of inferior faculties in the gradual school. Thought‐moment after thought‐moment, confusion is eliminated; it is a practice which clings to stillness. These two types are different: one is sudden and the other gradual; they should not be combined haphazardly.
Although the approach involving cultivation after awakening does discuss the counteractive measures of the relative approach which adapts to signs, it does not employ the practices of those of inferior faculties in the gradual school in their entirety. It uses its expedients, but only as a temporary measure.29 And why is this? In the sudden school too there are those whose faculties are superior and those whose faculties are inferior; their “baggage” [their backgrounds and abilities] cannot be weighed according to the same standard.
If a person’s defilements are weak and insipid, and his body and mind are light and at ease; if in the good he leaves the good and in the bad he leaves the bad; if he is unmoving in the eight worldly winds; if the three types of feeling are calmed―then he can rely on the samadhi and prajna of the self‐nature and cultivate them concurrently in all situations naturally. He is impeccable and passive; whether in action or at rest he is always absorbed in Seon and perfects the natural noumenon. What need is there for him to borrow the relative approach’s counteractive measures? If one is not sick, there is no need to look for medicine.
On the other hand, even though a person might initially have had a sudden awakening, if the defilements are engrossing and the habit‐energies deeply engrained; if the mind becomes passionate whenever it is in contact with sense‐objects; if he is always involved in confrontations with the situations he meets; if he is always beset by dullness and agitation; or if he loses the constancy of calmness and awareness―then he should borrow the relative samadhi and prajna which adapts to signs and not forget the counteractive measures which control both dullness and agitation. Thereby he will enter the unconditioned: this is what is proper here. But even though he borrows the countermeasures in order to bring the habit‐energies under temporary control, he has had a sudden awakening to the fact that the mind‐nature is fundamentally pure and the defilements fundamentally empty. Hence he does not fall into the corrupt practice of those of inferior faculties in the gradual school. And why is this? Although during cultivation prior to awakening a person following the gradual approach does not forget to be diligent and thought‐moment after thought‐moment permeates his cultivation, he still gives rise to doubts everywhere and cannot free himself from obstacles. It is as if he had something stuck in his chest: he is always uncomfortable. After many days and months, as the work of counteraction matures, the adventitious defilements of body and mind might then appear to weaken. Although they seem lighter, the root of doubt is not yet severed. He is like a rock which is crushing grass: he still cannot be self‐reliant in the realm of birth and death. Therefore, it is said, “Cultivation prior to awakening is not true cultivation.”30
In the case of a man who has awakened, although he employs expedients, moment to moment he is free of doubts and does not become polluted. After many days and months he naturally conforms with the impeccable, sublime nature. Naturally he is calm and aware in all situations. Moment by moment, as he becomes involved in sensory experience in all the sense‐realms, thought after thought he always severs defilements, for he never leaves the self‐nature. By maintaining samadhi and prajna equally, he perfects supreme bodhi and is no longer any different from those of superior faculties mentioned previously. Thus, although the relative samadhi and prajna is a practice for those of inferior faculties in the gradual school, for the man who has had an awakening it can be said that “iron has been transmuted into gold.”31
If you understand this, how can you have such doubts―doubts like the discriminative view that a sequence or progression is involved in the practice of these two types of samadhi and prajna? I hope that all cultivators of the path will study these words carefully; extinguish your doubts or you will end up backsliding. If you have the will of a great man and seek supreme bodhi, what will you do if you discard this approach? Do not grasp at the words, but try to understand the meaning directly. Stay focused on the definitive teaching, return to yourselves, and merge with the original guiding principle. Then the wisdom which cannot be obtained from any master will naturally manifest. The impeccable noumenon will be clear and unobscured. The perfection of the wisdom‐body does not come from any other awakening.32 And yet, although this sublime truth applies to everyone, unless the omniscient wisdom of prajna―the basis of the Mahayana―is started early, you will not be able to produce right faith in a single thought. And how can this merely result in a lack of faith? You will also end up slandering the three treasures and will finally invite punishment in the Interminable Hell. This happens frequently! But even though you are not yet able to accept this truth in faith, if it passes through your ears just once and you feel affinity with it for even a moment, the merit will be incalculable. As it says in Secrets on Mind‐Only, 33 But he who does not lose the right cause for the attainment of Buddhahood and who, moreover, listens and believes, trains and completes his training, and guards his achievement without forgetting it, how can his merit be calculated?

8. Meaning of maintaining samadhi and prajna equally

Question: In the approach of subsequent cultivation, we really do not yet understand the meaning of maintaining samadhi and prajna equally. Could you expound on this point in detail, so that we can free ourselves of our delusion? Please lead us through the entrance to liberation.

Chinul: Suppose we consider these two dharmas and their attributes. Of the thousands of approaches to enter the noumenon there are none which do not involve samadhi and prajna. Taking only the essential outline into account, from the standpoint of the self‐nature they are characterized as essence and function―what I have called the void and the calm, numinous awareness. Samadhi is the essence; prajna is the function. Since prajna is the functioning of the essence, it is not separate from samadhi. Since samadhi is the essence of the function, it is not separate horn prajna. Since in samadhi there is prajna, samadhi is calm yet constantly aware. Since in prajna there is samadhi, prajna is aware yet constantly calm. As Ts’ao‐ch’i [the Sixth Patriarch Hui‐neng] said, “The mind‐ground which is without disturbance is the samadhi of the self‐nature. The mind‐ground which is without delusion is the prajna of the self‐nature.”27 If you have this sort of understanding, you can be calm and aware naturally in all situations. When enveloping and reflecting―the characteristics of samadhi and prajna respectively―are not two, this is the sudden school’s cultivation of samadhi and prajna as a pair.
The practice of samadhi and prajna intended for those of inferior faculties in the gradual school initially controls the thinking processes with calmness and subsequently controls dullness with alertness; finally, these initial and subsequent counteracting techniques subdue both the dull and the agitated mind in order to enter into stillness. Although this approach also holds that alertness and calmness should be maintained equally, its practice cannot avoid clinging to stillness. Hence how will it allow those who would understand the matter of birth and death never to leave the fundamental calm and fundamental awareness and cultivate samadhi and prajna as a pair naturally in all situations? As Ts’ao‐ch’i said, “The practice of self‐awakening has nothing to do with arguing. If you argue about first and last, you are deluded.”28
For an accomplished man, maintaining samadhi and prajna equally does not involve endeavor, for he is always spontaneous and unconcerned about time or place. When seeing forms or hearing sounds, he is “just so.” When wearing clothes or eating food, he is “just so.” When defecating or urinating, he is “just so.” When talking with people, he is “just so.” At all times, whether speaking or keeping silent, whether joyful or angry, he is “just so.” Like an empty boat riding on the waves which follows the crests and troughs, or like a torrent flowing through the mountains which follows the bends and straights, in his mind he is without intellection. Today, he is at peace naturally in all conditions without destruction or hindrance. Tomorrow, in all situations, he is naturally at peace. He follows all conditions without destruction or hindrance. He neither eliminates the unwholesome nor cultivates the wholesome. His character is straightforward and without deception. His seeing and hearing return to normal and there are no sense‐objects to come in contact with [which could cause new defilements to arise]. Why should he have to bother with efforts at effacement? Since he has not a single thought which creates passion, he need not make an effort to forget all conditioning.
But hindrances are formidable and habits are deeply ingrained. Contemplation is weak and the mind drifts. The power of ignorance is great, but the power of prajna is small. He still cannot avoid being alternately unmoved and upset when he comes in contact with wholesome and unwholesome sense‐objects. When the mind is not tranquil and content, he cannot but work both at forgetting all conditioning and at effacement. As it is said, “When the six sense‐bases absorb the sense‐spheres and the mind no longer responds to the environment, this is called samadhi. When the mind and the sense‐spheres are both void and the mirror of the mind shines without obscuration, this is called Even though this is the relative approach to samadhi and prajna which adapts to signs as practiced by those of inferior faculties in the gradual school, it cannot be neglected as a counteractive technique. If restlessness and agitation are blazing forth, then first, through samadhi, use the noumenon to absorb the distraction. For when the mind does not respond to the environment it will be in conformity with original calmness. If dullness and torpor are especially heavy, use prajna to investigate dharmas critically and contemplate their voidness, and allow the mirror of the mind to shine without disturbance in conformity with the original awareness. Control distracting thoughts with samadhi. Control blankness with prajna.

When both activity and stillness disappear, the effort to counteract them is no longer necessary. Then, even though there is contact with sense‐objects, thought after thought returns to the source; regardless of the conditions he meets, every mental state is in conformity with the path. Naturally samadhi and prajna are cultivated as a pair in all situations until finally the student becomes a person with no concerns. When this is so, one is truly maintaining samadhi and prajna equally. One has clearly seen the Buddha‐nature.

7. The practice of herding the ox

Question: Once the noumenon is awakened to, no further steps are involved. Why then do you posit subsequent cultivation, gradual permeation, and gradual perfection?
Chinul: Earlier the meaning of gradual cultivation subsequent to awakening was fully explained. But since your feeling of doubt persists, it seems that I will have to explain it again. Clear your minds and listen carefully!

For innumerable kalpas without beginning, up to the present time, ordinary men have passed between the five destinies, coming and going between birth and death. They obstinately cling to “self and, over a long period of time, their natures have become thoroughly permeated by false thoughts, inverted views, ignorance, and the habit‐energies. Although, coming into this life, they might suddenly awaken to the fact that their self‐nature is originally void and calm and no different from that of the Buddhas, these old habits are difficult to eliminate completely. Consequently, when they come into contact with either favorable or adverse objects, then anger and happiness or propriety or impropriety blaze forth: their adventitious defilements are no different from before. If they do not increase their efforts and apply their power through the help prajna, how will they ever be able to counteract ignorance and reach the place of great rest and repose? As it is said, “Although the person who has suddenly awakened is the same as the Buddhas, the habit‐energies which have built up over many lives are deep‐rooted. The wind ceases, but the waves still surge; the noumenon manifests, but thoughts still invade.” Seon Master Ta‐hui Tsung‐kao said:
Often gifted people can break through this affair and achieve sudden awakening without expending a lot of strength. Then they relax and do not try to counteract the habit‐energies and deluded thoughts. Finally, after the passage of many days and months, they simply wander on as before and are unable to avoid samsara.20
So how could you neglect subsequent cultivation simply because of one moment of awakening? After awakening, you must be constantly on your guard. If deluded thoughts suddenly appear, do not follow after them― reduce them and reduce them again until you reach the unconditioned.21 Then and only then will your practice reach completion. This is the practice of herding the ox which all wise advisors in the world have practiced after awakening.
Nevertheless, although you must cultivate further, you have already awakened suddenly to the fact that deluded thoughts are originally void and the mind‐nature is originally pure. Thus you eliminate evil, but you eliminate without actually eliminating anything; you cultivate the wholesome, but you cultivate without really cultivating anything either. This is true cultivation and true elimination. For this reason it is said, “Although one prepares to cultivate the manifold supplementary practices, thoughtlessness is the origin of them all.”22 Kuei‐feng summed up the distinction between the ideas of initial awakening and subsequent cultivation when he said:
He has the sudden awakening to the fact that his nature is originally free of defilement and he is originally in full possession of the non‐outflow wisdom‐nature which is no different from that of the Buddhas. To cultivate while relying on this awakening is called supreme vehicle Seon, or the pure Seon of the tathagatas. If thought‐moment after thought‐moment he continues to develop his training, then naturally he will gradually attain to hundreds of thousands of samadhis. This is the Seon which has been transmitted successively in the school of Bodhidharma.23
Hence sudden awakening and gradual cultivation are like the two wheels of a cart: neither one can be missing.
Some people do not realize that the nature of good and evil is void; they sit rigidly without moving and, like a rock crushing grass, repress both body and mind. To regard this as cultivation of the mind is a great delusion. For this reason it is said, cut off delusion thought after thought, but the thought which does this cutting is a brigand.”24 If they could see that killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and lying all arise from the nature, then their arising would be the same as their nonarising. At their source they are calm; why must they be cut off? As it is said, “Do not fear the arising of thoughts: only be concerned lest your awareness of them be tardy.”25 It is also said, “If we are aware of a thought at the moment it arises, then through that awareness it will vanish.”26
In the case of a person who has had an awakening, although he still has adventitious defilements, these have all been purified into cream. If he merely reflects on the fact that confusion is without basis, then all the flowers in the sky of this triple world are like smoke swirling in the wind and the six phantom sense‐objects are like ice melting in hot water. If thought‐moment after thought‐moment he continues to train in this manner, does not neglect to maintain his training, and keeps samadhi and prajna equally balanced, then lust and hatred will naturally fade away and compassion and wisdom will naturally increase in brightness; unwholesome actions will naturally cease and meritorious practices will naturally multiply. When defilements are exhausted, birth and death cease. When the subtle streams of defilement are forever cut off, the great wisdom of complete enlightenment exists brilliantly of itself. Then he will be able to manifest billions of transformation‐bodies in all the worlds of the ten directions following his inspiration and responding to the faculties of sentient beings. Like the moon in the nine empyrean which reflects in ten thousand pools of water, there is no limit to his responsiveness. He will be able to ferry across all sentient beings with whom he has affinities. He will be happy and free of worry. Such a person is called a Great Enlightened World Honored One.

6. Mind of void and calm, numinous awareness

Question: When the superior man hears dharma, he understands easily. Average and inferior men, however, are not without doubt and confusion. Could you describe some expedients so that the deluded too can enter into enlightenment?
Chinul: The path is not related to knowing or not knowing.” You should get rid of the mind which clings to its delusion and looks forward to enlightenment, and listen to me.

Since all dharmas are like dreams or phantoms, deluded thoughts are originally calm and the sense‐spheres are originally void. At the point where all dharmas are void, the numinous awareness is not obscured. That is to say, this mind of void and calm, numinous awareness is your original face. It is also the dharma‐seal transmitted without a break by all the Buddhas of the three time periods, the successive generations of patriarchs, and the wise advisors of this world. If you awaken to this mind, then this is truly what is called not following the rungs of a ladder: you climb straight to the stage of Buddhahood, and each step transcends the triple world. Returning home, your doubts will be instantly resolved and you will become the teacher of men and gods. Endowed with compassion and wisdom and complete in the twofold benefit, you will be worthy of receiving the offerings of men and gods. Day after day you can use ten thousand taels of gold without incurring debt. If you can do this, you will be a truly great man who has indeed finished the tasks of this life.
Question: In our case, what is this mind of void and calm, numinous awareness?
Chinul: What has just asked me this question is precisely your mind of void and calm, numinous awareness. Why not trace back its radiance rather than search for it outside? For your benefit I will now point straight to your original mind so that you can awaken to it. Clear your minds and listen to my words.
From morning to evening, throughout the twelve periods of the day, during all your actions and activities―whether seeing, hearing, laughing, talking, whether angry or happy, whether doing good or evil―ultimately who is it that is able to perform all these actions? Speak! If you say that it is the physical body which is acting, then at the moment when a man’s life comes to an end, even though the body has not yet decayed, how is it that the eyes cannot see, the ears cannot hear, the nose cannot smell, the tongue cannot talk, the body cannot move, the hands cannot grasp, and the feet cannot run? You should know that what is capable of seeing, hearing, moving, and acting has to be your original mind; it is not your physical body. Furthermore, the four elements which make up the physical body are by nature void; they are like images in a mirror or the moon’s reflection in water. How can they be clear and constantly aware, always bright and never obscured― and, upon activation, be able to put into operation sublime functions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges? For this reason it is said, “Drawing water and carrying firewood are spiritual powers and sublime functions.”14
There are many points at which to enter the noumenon.15 I will indicate one approach which will allow you to return to the source.
Chinul: Do you hear the sounds of that crow cawing and that magpie calling?
Student: Yes.
Chinul: Trace them back and listen to your hearing‐nature. Do you hear any sounds?
Student: At that place, sounds and discriminations do not obtain.
Chinul: Marvelous! Marvelous! This is Avalokitesvara’s method for entering the noumenon.16 Let me ask you again. You said that sounds and discriminations do not obtain at that place. But since they do not obtain, isn’t the hearing‐nature just empty space at such a time?
Student: Originally it is not empty. It is always bright and never obscured.
Chinul: What is this essence which is not empty?
Student: As it has no former shape, words cannot describe it.
This is the life force of all the Buddhas and patriarchs―have no further doubts about that. Since it has no former shape, how can it be large or small? Since it cannot be large or small, how can it have limitations? Since it has no limitations, it cannot have inside or outside. Since there is no inside or outside, there is no far or near. As there is no far or near, there is no here or there. As there is no here or there, there is no coming or going. As there is no coming or going, there is no birth or death. As there is no birth or death, there is no past or present. As there is no past or present, there is no delusion or awakening. As there is no delusion or awakening, there is no ordinary man or saint. As there is no ordinary man or saint, there is no purity or impurity. Since there is no impurity or purity, there is no right or wrong. Since there is no right or wrong, names and words do not apply to it. Since none of these concepts apply, all sense‐bases and sense‐objects, all deluded thoughts, even forms and shapes and names and words are all inapplicable. Hence how can it be anything but originally void and calm and originally no‐thing?
Nevertheless, at that point where all dharmas are empty, the numinous awareness is not obscured. It is not the same as insentience, for its nature is spiritually deft. This is your pure mind‐essence of void and calm, numinous awareness. This pure, void, and calm mind is that mind of outstanding purity and brilliance of all the Buddhas of the three time periods; it is that enlightened nature which is the original source of all sentient beings. One who awakens to it and safeguards that awakening will then abide in the unitary, “such” and unmoving liberation. One who is deluded and turns his back on it passes between the six destinies, wandering in samsara for vast numbers of kalpas. As it is said, “One who is confused about the one mind and passes between the six destinies, goes and takes action. But one who awakens to the dharmadhatu and returns to the one mind, arrives and is still.”17Although there is this distinction between delusion and awakening, in their basic source they are one. As it is said, “The word ‘dharma’ means the mind of the sentient being.”18 But as there is neither more of this void and calm mind in the saint, nor less of it in the ordinary man, it is also said, “In the wisdom of the saint it is no brighter; hidden in the mind of the ordinary man it is no darker.” Since there is neither more of it in the saint nor less of it in the ordinary man, how are the Buddhas and patriarchs any different from other men? The only thing that makes them different is that they can protect their minds and thoughts―nothing more.
If you believe me to the point where you can suddenly extinguish your doubt, show the will of a great man and give rise to authentic vision and understanding, if you know its taste for yourself, arrive at the stage of self‐affirmation and gain understanding of your true nature, then this is the understanding‐awakening achieved by those who have cultivated the mind. Since no further steps are involved, it is called sudden. Therefore it is said, “When in the cause of faith one meshes without the slightest degree of error with all the qualities of the fruition of Buddhahood, faith is achieved.”19

5. Sudden awakening/ Gradual cultivation

Question: You have said that this twofold approach of sudden awakening/ gradual cultivation is the track followed by thousands of saints. But if awakening is really sudden awakening, what need is there for gradual cultivation? And if cultivation means gradual cultivation, how can you speak of sudden awakening? We hope that you will expound further on these two ideas of sudden and gradual and resolve our remaining doubts.
Chinul: First let us take sudden awakening. When the ordinary man is deluded, he assumes that the four great elements are his body and the false thoughts are his mind. He does not know that his own nature is the true dharma‐body; he does not know that his own numinous awareness is the true Buddha. He looks for the Buddha outside his mind. While he is thus wandering aimlessly, the entrance to the road might by chance be pointed out by a wise advisor. If in one thought he then follows back the light [of his mind to its source] and sees his own original nature, he will discover that the ground of this nature is innately free of defilement, and that he himself is originally endowed with the non‐outflow wisdom‐nature which is not a hair’s breadth different from that of all the Buddhas. Hence it is called sudden awakening.
Next let us consider gradual cultivation. Although he has awakened to the fact that his original nature is no different from that of the Buddhas, the beginningless habit‐energies are extremely difficult to remove suddenly and so he must continue to cultivate while relying on this awakening. Through this gradual permeation, his endeavors reach completion. He constantly nurtures the sacred embryo,11 and after a long time he becomes a saint. Hence it is called gradual cultivation.
This process can be compared to the maturation of a child. From the day of its birth, a baby is endowed with all the sense organs just like everyone else, but its strength is not yet fully developed. It is only after many months and years that it will finally become an adult.

Question: Through what expedients is it possible to trace back the radiance of one’s sense‐faculties in one thought and awaken to the self‐nature?
Chinul: The self‐nature is just your own mind. What other expedients do you need? If you ask for expedients to seek understanding, you are like a person who, because he does not see his own eyes, assumes that he has no eyes and decides to find some way to see. But since he does have eyes, how else is he supposed to see? If he realizes that in fact he has never lost his eyes, this is the same as seeing his eyes, and no longer would he waste his time trying to find a way to see. How then could he have any thoughts that he could not see? Your own numinous awareness is exactly the same. Since this awareness is your own mind, how else are you going to understand? If you seek some other way to understand, you will never understand. Simply by knowing that there is no other way to understand, you are seeing the nature.

4. Performing magic and miracles

Question: You talked about seeing the nature. But when there is true seeing of the nature, the person becomes an enlightened saint and should be able to perform magic and miracles―he would be different from other people. How is it, then, that among those who cultivate the mind nowadays, not one can display these spiritual powers and transformation bodies?
Chinul: You should not utter absurdities lightly; to be unable to differentiate the perverse from the noble is to be deluded and confused. Nowadays, you people who are training on the path chat about truth with your mouth, but in your minds you only shrink from it and end up falling into the error of underestimating yourselves by thinking that you do not share in the Buddha‐nature. This is all that you are doubting. You train on the path but do not know the proper sequence of practice. You talk about truth but do not distinguish the root from the branches. This is called wrong view; it is not called cultivation. You are not only deceiving yourselves; you are deceiving others too. How can you not be on your guard against this?
Now, there are many approaches to the path, but essentially they are included in the twofold approach of sudden awakening and gradual cultivation. Although sudden awakening/sudden cultivation has been advocated, this is the entrance for people of the highest faculties. If you were to probe their pasts, you would see that their cultivation has been based for many lives on the insights gained in a previous awakening. Now, in this life, after gradual permeation, these people hear the dharma and awaken: in one instant their practice is brought to a sudden conclusion. But if we try to explain this according to the facts, then sudden awakening/sudden cultivation is also the result of an initial awakening and its subsequent cultivation. Consequently, this twofold approach of sudden awakening and gradual cultivation is the track followed by thousands of saints. Hence, of all the saints of old, there were none who did not first have an awakening, subsequently cultivate it, and finally, because of their cultivation, gain realization.
The so‐called magic and miracles you mentioned manifest because of the gradual permeation of cultivation based on an initial awakening; it should not be said that they appear simultaneous with that awakening. As it is said in the sutras, cordance with this awakening. Phenomena cannot be removed suddenly; they are brought to an end step by step.”10 For this reason, Kuei‐feng, in a profound explanation of the meaning of initial awakening/subsequent cultivation, said,
Although we know that a frozen pond is entirely water, the sun’s heat is necessary to melt it. Although we awaken to the fact that an ordinary man is Buddha, the power of dharma is necessary to make it permeate our cultivation. When that pond has melted, the water flows freely and can be used for irrigation and cleaning. When falsity is extinguished, the mind will be numinous and dynamic and then its function of penetrating brightness will manifest.”
These quotations should make it clear that the ability to perform magic and miracles in the phenomenal sphere cannot be perfected in a day: it will manifest only after gradual permeation. Moreover, in the case of accomplished men, phenomenal spiritual powers are like an eerie apparition; they are only a minor concern of the saints. Although they might perform them, they do not give them undue emphasis. Nowadays, deluded and ignorant people wrongly assume that in the one moment of awakening, incalculable sublime functions, as well as magic and miracles, manifest in tandem. This is the sort of understanding I was referring to when I said that you did not know the proper sequence of practice and did not distinguish the root from the branches. To seek the path to Bud‐dhahood while not knowing the proper sequence of practice or the root and the branches is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Can this be anything but a grave mistake? Because such people do not know of any expedients, they hesitate as if they were facing a steep precipice and end up backsliding. Alas, many have broken their ties with the spiritual family of the Buddha in this manner. Since they neither understand for themselves nor believe that others have had an understanding‐awakening, when they see someone without spiritual powers they act insolently, ridiculing the sages and insulting the saints. This is really quite pitiful!

3. Why can we not see this Buddha?nature now?

Question: If you say that the Buddha‐nature exists in the body right now, then, since it is in the body, it is not separate from us ordinary men. So why can we not see this Buddha‐nature now? Please explain this further to enlighten us on this point.
Chinul: It is in your body, but you do not see it. Ultimately, what is that thing which during the twelve periods of the day knows hunger and thirst, cold and heat, anger and joy? This physical body is a synthesis of four conditions: earth, water, fire, and wind. Since matter is passive and insentient, how can it see, hear, sense, and know? That which is able to see, hear, sense, and know is perforce your Buddha‐nature. For this reason, Lin‐chi said, “The four great elements do not know how to expound dharma or listen to dharma. Empty space does not know how to expound dharma or listen to dharma. It is only that formless thing before your eyes, clear and bright of itself, which knows how to expound dharma or listen to dharma.”7 The “formless thing” is the dharma‐seal of all the Buddhas; it is your original mind. Since this Buddha‐nature exists in your body right now, why do you vainly search for it outside?
In case you cannot accept this, I will mention some of the events surrounding a few of the ancient saints’ entrance onto the path. These should allow you to resolve your doubts. Listen carefully and try to believe.
Once long ago, a king who believed in a heterodox doctrine asked the Venerable Bharati:
The venerable answered, “Seeing the nature is Buddha.”
The king asked, “Has the master seen the nature yet, or not?”
The venerable answered, “Yes, I have seen the Buddha‐nature.”
your majesty were not acting, its essence would be very difficult to see.”
it is called seeing and in the ears it is called hearing. In the nose it smells, in the tongue it talks, in the hands it grasps, and in the feet it runs. When it is expanded, it contains worlds as numerous as grains of sand. When it is compressed, it exists within one minute particle of dust. Those who have recognized it know that it is the Buddha‐nature; those who have not call it soul or spirit.”
As the king listened, his mind opened into awakening.8
In another case, a monk asked the master Kuei‐tsung:
The master answered, “I will tell you, but I’m afraid you won’t believe me.” “How could I dare not believe the sincere words of the master?” The master said, “It’s you!” “How can you prove it?”9
These stories I have just told about the saints of old entering the path are clear and simple; they do not strain the powers of comprehension. If you gain some faith and understanding from these two kongan, you will walk hand in hand with the saints of old.