The Three Jewels

(General Dharma Lecture, Full Moon of the 5th Lunar Month, 1982, Haein-sa)

The pure Mind is Buddha, the brilliant Mind is the Dharma, and the inexhaustibly pure, bright and free-flowing Mind is the Sangha.

These are the words of Master Lin-chi, founder of the Lin-chi Ch’an school. And indeed to become an enlightened person, one has to have a pure Mind and a brilliant Mind, and one has to be inexhaustibly free-flowing, and pure.
How pure and clean and clear is such a Mind, though? Incomparably purer and cleaner and clearer than a cloudless sky. There is an old saying that to call a cloudless sky clear and pure is to warrant a beating with a mallet. In comparison to a truly pure Mind, a clear sky is filth.
We can make a comparison of this Mind with a perfectly clear mirror, but that, too, is an insufficient comparison, although it is frequently used in Buddhism. A monk once said, “Smash your mirror and come so that we may look at each other.”
How clear and pure and clean does one’s Mind have to be to meet the Buddhist requirements of a pure Mind? Even at the stage of Universal Enlightenment, one does not have a pure, clear Mind. Although at that stage all major delusions have been removed, tiny delusions still remain in the Alayavijnana, even without one’s knowing it. So to reach the state of perfect purity and clarity, one must eliminate all delusions including the basic ignorance found in the Alayavijnana. Then and only then is your Mind cleaner than a cloudless sky and a spotless mirror.
This is something that has to be experienced to be understood. Our Ch’an predecessors referred to this state as a “line-up of a thousand suns.” Not one, two, three or several suns, but a thousand! And even that number is inadequate to express the brilliance! It is something so brilliant that it is completeiy beyond description. If all the Buddhas throughout the universe tried to explain this brilliance for the rest of eternity, they couldn’t. It is Truth beyond description, brilliance beyond description.
The purity and clarity of it, too, are inexhaustible, and they are inseparable from it. Where there is fire there is light, and where there is light there is fire. Think of the purity and clarity of the light as the fire, and the brilliance as the light itself. The light is the fire and the fire is the light. There is no light without fire, and no fire without light. So they are inexhaustibly one and the same. When Hui-neng spoke of it, he made this comparison of purity and brilliance to fire and light. And we call this light the “pure, inexhaustible brilliance.”
Think of the Buddha then as the purity, the Dharma as the brilliance, and the Sangha as inexhaustibly pure and bright. These are the Three Jewels of Buddhism, and yet they are inseparable. To put it in the analogy we were using, the Buddha is the fire, the Dharma is the light; but fire is light, and light is fire. The Three Jewels―Buddha, Dharma and Sangha―are one in purity, brilliance and inexhaustibility. In Buddhism, we say that all three are one and that each one is all three.
If you come to this understanding fully, then at the same time you rid yourself of constraints, you are free-flowing and you have achieved complete liberation. But where do these constraints that we have come from? They all come from our delusions. Even with Wisdom’s Eye closed, we think that we are free, but we are not free at all. We are completely free only when we have achieved the state of No Mind, when we have seen the brilliance, when we have rid ourselves completely of all delusions.
But what freedom does a blind person have? If he goes this way, he stumbles; if he moves that way, he falls. He has no freedom. But to open his eyes is to have complete freedom.
So some people wonder why I would call you blind. You can see huge mountains, you can see tiny specks of dust. Blind?
To become enlightened is like waking from a deep dream. When you are dreaming, it seems that you are moving about in your dreams quite freely. But usually you don’t know that you’re dreaming. You have to first wake up, and then recall moving about in the dream to realize that you were dreaming. We’re talking about the same thing here. You’re living in this world, but you don’t realize that you’re dreaming. You have to awaken from this dream to realize that you have been dreaming all along.
Just as a person who doesn’t wake from a dream doesn’t realize he’s dreaming, a person who hasn’t opened the Eye finds it difficult to understand that he’s blind. Chuang-zu once said that it takes a great awakening to realize that you have been having a big dream.
This world of delusion is one big dream. And even a Bodhisattva who has achieved Universal Enlightenment should realize that he is still dreaming. Only when all remaining elements of ignorance in the Alayavijnana are swept away does one awaken from this dream. Then, and only then, do you see your true Buddha nature.
You are not an awakened person, you are not a free-flowing person before this Supreme Enlightenment. The freedom that people talk about is freedom in a dream; but only a fully enlightened person is truly free. How can you call freedom in a dream true freedom? There is a great difference between dream and reality. An enlightened being, a Buddha, a free being is one who has fully awakened, one who has experienced No Mind, one who has seen the great brilliance. Only such a being is truly free-flowing. And once a person becomes that free-flowing being, he has no need for the Buddha, no need for the predecessors, no need for the Tripitaka. Terms like “Buddha” and “predecessor” are merely medicine to help you wake from your dream. Our disease is this dreaming, and once we are cured we have no need for medicine. Medicine is for the ill, not for the cured.
“You have your own way to go, so why do you follow others?” This one sentence illustrates the true freedom of Buddhism.

The Buddhist Taboo
Let’s talk about religion for a moment. There are all kinds of religions, but it seems that most major religions on this planet argue for a transcendental god and demand subservience to their particular transcendental god with comparatively little regard to the world of sentient beings. They continually submit to the will of their god. And then they claim that after they die they will go to live with this god or that god. They serve their transcendental god without a bit of freedom for themselves. Eyery movement is a submission to the will of their particular god, and these people spend their entire lives this way.
My point here is not to criticize other religious tenets, but to illustrate the uniqueness of Buddhism. Such a subservient type of thinking is exceedingly strange to Buddhism. You see, the Buddhist premise is that we all have Buddha nature. Our fundamental nature is clearer and purer than a line-up of a thousand suns, a nature that has no room for Buddha, for predecessors, for anyone else. In this pure mind, Buddha is dirt and the predecessors are dirt. And so is the Tripitaka.
In this realm of Supreme Enlightenment, one is not under the control of Buddha or the predecessors or anything else. It is the state of total, perfect freedom. It is inexhaustibly free-flowing. There are no restraints. In such a state, how is it even possible to be controlled or restrained by some outside force? If you are everything, there cannot be anything outside of you to control you. Yes, Buddhism, too, has a taboo―control, restraint, subservience, enslavement to an outside force. Because, in Buddhism, there can be no outside force. And to reach this state of Supreme Enlightenment is to reach this state of total freedom, to be unrestrained, uncontrolled by anyone or anything. It is at the same time complete liberation, Buddhahood, nirvana.
During the last century or so, people have been talking more and more about human freedom and equality. But in order to be truly and totally free, you must experience the state of No Mind for yourself. You must experience and confirm the tranquillity, the brilliance, the inexhaustibility, and the completely unrestrained flowing freedom of it for yourself. This is what Buddhism is all about. But if you are tied to this or tied to that, if you are unconditionally subservient, how can you ever know this one and only great Truth?
Humanity is already liberated, already “delivered.” But because of delusion, man has become imprisoned in a variety of ways. If you completely sever these delusions, however, and experience this still, pure Mind, then you are truly free and you will have become the Buddha’s very first words: “I alone am supreme in this universe”―because you are the universe. So when you make the ultimate breakthrough to Supreme Enlightenment, then you are inexhaustibly, universally free-flowing. And this is the very purpose, the very goal of Buddhism.
In The Awakening of Faith, we find that this Supreme Enlightenment can take place only when you are completely free of torment. But if you are subservient in this life, then you will have the torment of being subservient in the next life. You will continue to suffer. If you sever all suffering, however, you are not constrained by the Buddha or by anything else. That is true freedom. Can you find such a concept anywhere else except in Buddhism? Your problem is, however, one of how to go about achieving this state of perfect freedom.
You must begin by abandoning Buddhism.
To believe in the Buddha and to depend on the Ch’an predecessors is to develop hitches, obstacles. You must believe in only one thing, and that is your fundamental Buddha nature, your original face. To believe that your Mind is Buddha is the correct belief, and any other belief is a false belief. That is why I constantly tell people to believe only in their Mind, and to abandon even the Tripitaka. The Buddha himself and the predecessors constantly admonished us to consider them nothing but enemies if we wish to achieve Supreme Enlightenment.
Regard the Buddha and the predecessors as enemies! Believe only in your own Mind! Your Mind is your Buddha, your Mind is your predecessor. Your Mind is paradise and your Mind is heaven. Eliminate your Mind, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing. “Buddha” and “predecessor” are but sounds from a dream. Regard the Buddha and the predecessors as your enemies! Is there anything else to say?
A person once came to me who was studying Christianity but who had run into a stone wall in his study. He could make no further progress at the time, so he came to me to try Zen meditation. We discussed this and that, and I finally said to him, “lf you wish to resolve the basic problem, you must meditate, but there is one condition.”
“A condition?”
“Yes. When monks enter the Zen meditative process, they must abandon Buddhism. Likewise, if you don’t abandon Christianity, you will never be successful in your study. You must abandon Christianity not because it is Christianity, but because it is a belief system. You must rid yourself of the constraint called Christianity just as a monl must rid himself of the constraint called Buddhism.
“Well, sunim, I’ll come back after I think it over.”
“You’re really saying that you’re not going to come back, aren’t you? Well, if you can’t abandon Chrishanity, then don’t come back. You could meditate for a hundred years, but you’d just be wasting your time.”
The pure, clear Mind knows no Buddha and it knows no predecessors. The Tripitaka would be but soil on this Mind. So you must believe that your Mind is Buddha, that there is no Dharma except for your Mind, and that there is no Buddha aside from your own Mind. Believe this thoroughly, believe it completely, and work with your koan. And if you apply yourself completely, then you will achieve true, lasting freedom, Supreme Enlightenment.
What is the point? The point is that to talk about food is useless. The issue is whether you have eaten or not. So I hope that you will take me seriously, and work diligently in your study, work diligently with your koan.
At the same time, you have to be careful. There may be some here today who think, “Well, he said to believe only in yourself. Right on! I’m thinking of having a drink―how about it?” But that is not your Mind. That is delusion, and delusion is a thief. When I talk about your Mind, I mean a pure, clear Mind, not a false Mind.
Confucius said, “At seventy, I followed my mind’s desire without stepping over the line.” If he wanted to go east, he went east; if he wanted to go west, he went west; if he wanted to sit, he sat. He did what he wanted. but all within a moral context.
Once you discover this pure, clear Mind, whatever you do is liberation, total freedorn; and whatever you do is the movement of a Buddha. You can look in all ten directions, and never find a person who drinks and makes merry with a Mind as clear as a mirror.
You must realize that. The water in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is deep beyond words. And even when a typhoon strikes and the waves roll, the water remains clear. But if you look at a mud puddle and think of that as water, you’ll never realize what pure water is.
Believe that your Mind is infinitely clearer than a cloudless sky, a Mind so pure that it knows not good or evil, no Buddha, no predecessors. Awaken to your truly pure Self.