Autobiographies (cont.)

2. Zen Master Wu Wen's Story

When I first saw Master Tou Weng he taught me to work on [the koan], "It is neither mind, nor Buddha, nor any thing." Later Yun Feng and Yueh Shan and I, with several others, vowed to help each other in our striving for the Ultimate Enlightenment. Still later I went to see Huai Shi, who taught me to work on the "Wu" 32 word. Then I journeyed to Chang Lu, where I practiced with my companion. When I met Chin of Huai Shang, he asked me, "You have practiced for six or seven years now; what have you understood?" I answered, "Every day I just feel that there is nothing in my mind." Seeing that I had no true understanding, he asked, "From what source has your understanding been derived?" I was not sure whether I really knew the truth or not, so I dared not answer. He then said to me, "You can hold to your Work in quietness, but you lose it during activity." This alarmed me, for he had hit my weak spot. "What should one do," I inquired, "to understand this matter?" Chin answered. "Have you never heard what Chung Lao Tze said?"

To understand this,
Face South to see the Dipper.

Upon saying this, he left me abruptly.

As a result I became unconscious of walking when I walked and of sitting when I sat. I put aside the practice on the "Wu" Hua Tou for a week and concentrated my mind on trying to understand what in heaven's name he had meant by "facing South to see the Dipper." One day, when I came to the Hall of Service and sat with a group of monks, the "doubt-sensation" stuck with me and refused to dissolve. The time for dinner came and passed. Suddenly I felt my mind become bright, void, light, and transparent, my human thoughts broke into pieces like skin peeling, as if I had merged in the Void, and I saw neither person nor thing appearing before me. I returned to consciousness about half an hour later and found that my body was running with sweat. Immediately I understood the meaning of seeing the Dipper by facing South. I went to see Chin. Whatever questions he put to me I could answer without hindrance or difficulty; also, I could compose stanzas freely and effortlessly. However, I still had not stripped myself to the point of reaching the state of "leaping one step upward."

Later I went to Hsiang Yen's place in the mountains to spend the summer. The mosquitoes which infested the region bit me terribly. I had to move my hands continually to keep them away. Then 1 thought, "If the men in ancient times had sacrificed their bodies for the sake of Dharma, should I be afraid of mosquitoes?" With this in mind I tried to relax and endure the pests. With fists clenched and teeth tight I concentrated my mind solely on the "Wu" word, bearing the continuously repeated stings of the mosquitoes with the utmost patience. Soon I felt both my mind and body sink quietly down like a house whose four walls had fallen. The state was like the Voidness; no attribute can be ascribed to it. I had sat down in the early morning, and it was not until afternoon that I arose from this period of meditation. Thereupon I knew for certain that Buddhism never misleads us or lets us down.

Although my understanding was then quite clear, it had not yet come to the point of full maturity. I still possessed slight, subtle, hidden, and unnoticeable wrong thoughts which had not been completely exhausted. Going to the mountain at Kwung Chou, I meditated for six years there, for another six on the mountain of Lu Han, and for three more at Kuang Chou. Not until then did I gain my emancipation.

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