Huang-poThe Dharma of Mind Transmission

Compiled by P'ei Hsiu

Translated by Dharma Master Lok To

Huang-po

The Wan-Ling Record

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Mind is Buddha, No-mind is the Tao

Once, I asked the master that: "There are a few hundred monks dwelling on that mountain.  How many of them have acquired your Dharma?" The master responded: "To know how many of them have acquired it is impossible because the Tao is expressed and comprehended only by Mind, not by words. All thoughts and words are used only as expedients to teach innocent children."

Question: "What is the Buddha?" The master responded: "The Mind is Buddha; no-mind is the Tao. Just be without mind and stop your thinking. Just be of that Mind where there is no existence or non-existence, no long and no short, no self and no others, neither negative nor positive, and neither within nor without. Just know, above all, that non-differentiating Mind is the Buddha, that Buddha is the Mind and that the Mind is voidness."

"Therefore, the real Dharmakaya is just voidness. It is not necessary to seek anything whatsoever, and all who do continue to seek for something only prolong their suffering in samsara. Even if they were to practice the Six Paramitas for as many numberless kalpas as there are sandgrains in the Ganges River, they would still not reach the Supreme Stage. And why not? Just because such practice depends on primary and secondary causes, and when these causes separate, the practitioner of this path will still have only reached a stage of impermanence. Therefore, even the Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya are not the real Buddha. Also, the one who spreads Dharma is not the real Buddha. In reality, therefore, everybody should recognize that only one's own Mind is the Original Buddha."

Question: "The holy 'without-mind' is Buddha, but might the worldly 'without-mind' sink into emptiness?" The master answered: "Hold neither a concept of holy nor of worldly; think neither of emptiness nor tranquillity in the Dharma. Since originally there is no non-existent Dharma, it is, therefore, not necessary to have a view of existence as such. Furthermore, concepts of existence and non-existence are all perverted views just like the illusion created by a film spread over diseased eyes. Analogously, the perceptions of seeing and hearing, just like the film that creates the illusion for diseased eyes, cause the errors and delusions of all sentient beings. Being without motive, desire or view, and without compromise, is the way of the Patriarch. In addition, being without motive is the principle that allows the flourishing of Buddha. In contrast, discriminating view, firmly grasped, encourages the thriving of the army of Mara."

Question: "If the Mind is already the original Buddha, should we still need to practice the Six Paramitas and all such methods?" The master said: "We are enlightened only by Mind, no matter whether we follow the Six Paramitas or other methods. All such methods and teaching are used only as expedients to help save all sentient beings. The goal is to realize Bodhi, liberation and Dharmakaya; even the four Phalas (Fruitions) and the ten stages of a Bodhisattvas progress are nothing but expedient teaching – surely not ends in themselves – to help sentient beings realize the Buddha Mind. Since, in reality, the Mind is Buddha, the first and only teaching necessary for saving sentient beings is 'THE MIND IS BUDDHA'."

"If we were without concepts of birth and death as well as suffering and affliction, it would not then be necessary to have the Dharma of Bodhi. So all the Dharma ever spoken by Buddha was and is expediently designed to liberate the minds of all sentient beings. However, if all beings are without mind, it is not necessary to have any Dharma at all. The Buddha and the Patriarchs never talk about anything other than One Mind, which is also called the One Vehicle. Therefore, even if you seek in the ten directions, you will find no other vehicle that is the Truth except this realization of One Mind. So, in the Assembly that has this Right View, there are no leaves or branches – only the One Vehicle.

However, it is extremely difficult for most beings to believe in or to grasp the profound meaning of this Dharma. Bodhidharma came to the two countries of Liang and Wei, just in order to spread the Venerable Wai-Kuo's esoteric belief in the Dharma and the understanding that one's own Mind is Buddha. 'Without-body' and 'without-mind' is the great Tao! Since all sentient beings have fundamentally the same nature, everybody should be able to believe deeply. Mind and self-nature are not different. One's self-nature is Mind. One's Mind is self-nature. It is frequently said that the recognition and realization of this identification of mind and self-nature is beyond comprehension."

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Everything with Form is Unreal

Question: "Does the Buddha really save or rescue all sentient beings?" The master said: "There are really no sentient beings to be saved by Tathagata. Since there is, in reality, neither self nor non-self, how then can there be a Buddha to save or sentient beings to be saved?"

Question: "There are thirty-two Laksanas, that traditionally purport to save all sentient beings, so how can we say that there are no sentient being?" The master said: "Everything with form is unreal. If all form is seen as unreal, then the Taghagata will be perceived, Buddha, sentient beings and the infinite variety of forms – all are generated by your false view, whereby you do not understand the Original Mind. If you retain a view even of Buddha as real, then even Buddha is an obstacle! If you grasp a view of sentient beings as real, then sentient beings are also obstacles. If you hold a view that labels phenomena as worldly, holy, pure, dirty, etc., this is also an obstacle to enlightenment. Because of these obstacles in your mind, you transmigrate along the six illusory paths, becoming fixed to the wheel of transmigration, just as a monkey picks up one object and lets go of another in never-ending, habitual, monotonous repetition.

The important thing is to learn the Truth; for without learning that there is really no holy, no pure, no dirty, no big, no small, etc., but only emptiness and non-action and that this alone is ONE MIND and that, always, any adornment is only an expedient to learn the truth, one only clings to illusion. Furthermore, even if you learn by heart the Three Vehicles and the twelve divisions of the Mahayana canon, you must abandon it all. Thus the Vimalakirti Sutra [1] states that just as a person confined in bed by illness only lies in one bed, so there is only one Dharma that does not obstruct Dharma – namely, the No-Dharma Dharma. This Dharma view alone can penetrate the three physical, mental and worldly realms, and it alone constitutes the supramundane Buddha.

[1. wikipedia.org/wiki/Vimalakirti_Sutra ]

Thus, just as one prostrates oneself, grasping at nothing, so this view is not at all heretical, for since the Mind is no different from the Dharma – the Mind being non-action and the Dharma being non-action – then everything is created by the mind.  If the mind is empty, then all Dharma is emptiness, and all things are identical – including space in the ten directions – with the One Mind. Because you hold to a discriminating view, you, therefore, have different names, forms and things, just as all the Devas take a meal from a one-jewelled container, but the color and the taste of the food depend upon their stages of bliss and morality. Thus, there was really no Dharma by means of which all the Buddhas in the ten directions attained what is called 'Supreme Enlightenment'. Without differentiation of form or luster, there is neither victory nor defeat; and if there is no victory or defeat, then sentient beings have no form."

Question: "If there never really has been form in the Mind, then how can we correctly say that it is possible to save all sentient beings by means of the thirty-two Laksanas and the eighty notable physical characteristics?" The master responded: "The thirty-two Laksanas are form. The Sutra has said that everything with form is unreal. The eighty notable physical characteristics are appearance. So the Diamond Sutra said: 'He who seeks me by outward appearance and seeks me in sound treads the heterodox path and cannot perceive the Tathagata'." [2]

[2. wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Sutra ]

Question: "Are the natures of Buddha and of sentient beings the same or different?"  the master replied: "Their natures have no such characteristics as 'same' and 'different'.  Suppose that a hypothetical three-vehicles teaching discriminated between Buddha Nature and sentient-beings nature. Thereupon would follow the view of cause and effect, and form this we could then say that their natures have such characteristics as 'same' and 'different'. However, suppose the Buddha and the Patriarchs never talked in this manner, but only pointed to the One Mind. Then there could be no such 'same' and 'different', no cause and effect and, except as an expedient teaching, no two or three. In reality, therefore, there is only One Vehicle!"

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Holding Views

Question: "Can the immeasurable body of a Bodhisattva be seen or not be seen?"  The master answered: "There is really nothing to see. Why not? Just because the immeasurable body of a Bodhisattva is the Tathagata. So, again, there is nothing to see. Just do not hold any view of the Buddha and you will never go to the Buddha extreme; just do not hold a view about sentient beings and you will never go to the sentient-beings extreme; just do not hold any view about existence and you will never go to the existence extreme; do not hold a view about non-existence extreme; do not hold any view about worldly characteristics and you will never go to the worldly-characteristics extreme; do not hold any view about holy characteristics and you will never go to the holy-characteristics extreme.

Thus the state of merely being without any view whatsoever is already the Immeasurable Body. If you have something to see, you are a heretic. While heretics like to hold all different kinds of views, Bodhisattvas are not moved by any view whatsoever. 'Tathagata' means the suchness of all phenomena, the undifferentiated whole of all dharmas.

Therefore, the Maitreya and all the holy saints and sages are also suchness, having neither birth nor death and neither characteristics nor view. The real and true expression of Buddha is the Complete View. However, if you do not hold the view of the Complete View, you will never go to the Complete-View extreme. Remember that the body of Buddha is only non-form and non-action, ever crystallizing or materializing into phenomena, just as in the great space of the void nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

Do not discern self versus others, if to discriminate in such a way would become illusory knowledge – i.e., consciousness. So sink into the ocean of complete Perfection Consciousness, flowing, returning and drifting about alone. Merely learn how to be quietly enlightened and liberated. Regarding the view that desires victory and does not desire defeat – I can only ask, 'What use is such a view?' I have just advised you that no matter what the usual way of acting or perceiving is, don't let your mind run wild. If you just cease holding any view whatsoever, then it is not necessary to search for truth. In this sense, then, both Buddha and Deva Mara are evil. So Manjusri said: 'If anyone gives rise to the transient, dualistic view of transcendence and calls it reality, he should be banished to the two iron-enclosing mountains at the very edge of the world.'"

"Manjusri represents the wisdom of reality, while Samantabhadra represents the knowledge of relative truth, for there is only One Mind. Even the Mind itself is neither the nature of Buddha nor of sentient beings. Even if you abruptly have a vision of the Buddha, it is also, simultaneously, a vision of sentient beings."

"The view that holds to the duality of existence and non-existence and of permanent and impermanent is like being limited by the two iron-enclosing mountains, because understanding and liberation are obstructed by any and all views."

"To point out that the Original Mind of all sentient beings is Buddha was the only purpose of the Patriarch who came from the West. Thus suddenly, rather than gradually, pointing to Original Mind, the Patriarch showed that it was neither light nor dark and that without light there is no dark and that without dark there is no light. Consequently, it followed that there is no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance. As one enters the door of Dhyana, he should have this awareness and understanding."

"This discernment of reality is the Dharma – which is no other than the awareness of Buddha as no Buddha and the Sangha as the Sangha of non-action and the realization of the Precious Three as One Body. If you seek to understand Dharma better, don't grasp the Sangha. You should realize that there is nothing to seek. Also, do not grasp the Buddha or the Dharma, for, again, there is nothing at all to seek. Don't grasp the Buddha in your seeking, for there is no Buddha. Don't grasp the Dharma in your seeking, for there is no Dharma. Don't grasp the Sangha in your seeking, for there is no Sangha. Such is the true and correct Dharma!"

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The True Dharma is Mind

Question: "Master, you spread Dharma now, so how can you say that there is no Sangha and no Dharma?" The master answered: "If you think that I have Dharma to spread, that means you perceive the Tathagata by sound. If you really have seen the Tathagata, that means you also perceive a place. The true Dharma is no-Dharma! The true Dharma is Mind!"

"So be aware that in the Dharma of Mind Transmission, Dharma has, indeed, never been Dharma. Without the view of 'Dharma and mind', we would understand immediately that all mind is Dharma. At this instant we would set up the Bodhimandala. Remember, there is really nothing to obtain, for the Bodhimandala is without any view whatsoever."

"To the enlightened ones, the Dharma is voidness and nothingness. Then where has it ever been defiled by any dust? Such is the Bhutatathata [suchness] in its purity. If you comprehend this truth intuitively, you will have joy and freedom beyond comparison."

Question: "You say that originally there is nothingness. Doesn't this view assume that nothingness 'is'?" The master replied: "Nothingness also is 'not is'. Bodhi is nowhere and also has no such view."

Question: "What is Buddha?" The master answered: "Your Mind is Buddha. Buddha and Mind are not different. If the Mind were to depart, nothing else would be Buddha."

Question: "If one's own Mind is Buddha, how can it be transmitted by the Patriarch who came from the West?" The master responded: "The patriarch who came from the West only transmitted the Buddha Mind and directly pointed out that your Original Mind is Buddha. Original Mind itself is no different from the so-called Patriarch.  If you comprehend this meaning deeply, suddenly you transcend the Three Vehicles and all the stages of a Bodhisattva's progress and realize that, since all is Buddha originally, it is not necessary to practice."

Questions: "If suddenly all Buddhas were to appear from all the ten directions of space, what Dharma would be preached by those Buddhas?" The master replied: "All Buddhas appearing from the ten directions of space would only spread the Dharma of One Mind. Therefore, the World Honored One handed down just this esoteric Dharma to Mahakasyapa. The Dharma of One Mind consists of utter voidness and the universal Dharmakaya, which alone is called 'The Truth of All Buddhas.'"

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Discriminating Mind

"One cannot seek this Dharma in subjective and objective duality; neither can it be found by searching out books and concepts, nor can it be perceived in time or space. It can only be tacitly understood. This is the doorway to understanding the non-action Dharma. If you want to comprehend, just be without mind and you will suddenly be enlightened; for if you intend or plan to learn about or desire to get something, you will find yourself very far away from the truth. However, if you have no discrimination, do not grasp thought and abandon all views, then the mind, as firm and hard as a piece of wood or stone, will have a chance to realize the Tao."

Question: "Now, there really are many false thoughts, so how can you say there are none?" The master replied: "False thoughts have no self-nature, for they arise from your discriminating mind. If you recognize that the Mind is Buddha, then the Mind is not false nor does any thought arise that views the Mind as false. Thus, if you do not raise any thought or start any thinking, then naturally there is no false thought; however, when the mind stirs, all sorts of things are created; but when the mind is annihilated, all sorts of things vanish."

Question: "When false thought stirs, where is the Buddha?" The master replied: "When you perceive false thought stirring, that very perception is the Buddha. If there is no false thought, there is no Buddha. Why not? Just because if you have a view of Buddha, you will think that there really is a Buddha to be attained. If you have a view of sentient beings, you will think there really are sentient beings to be delivered. Such is the totality of your false thought. However, if you are without any thought or view at all, where then is the Buddha? So this is why Manjusri said, 'To have any view of Buddha whatsoever is like being limited and obstructed by the two iron-enclosing mountains'."

Question: "At the moment of perception of and upon reaching Enlightenment, where is the Buddha?" The master said: "From where does the question come and from where does perception arise? Conversation and silence, movement and tranquillity, sound and form are all Buddha's affair, so where else can you seek a Buddha? You should not seek to put a head on a head or add a mouth to a mouth. Just let go of any discriminating view, and a mountain is a mountain, water is water, Sangha is Sangha, laymen are laymen; and these mountains, rivers, the earth, the sun, the moon and all the planets are absolutely nothing outside of your own mind."

"Even the three kinds of thousands of great chiliocosms are all your own self, nor are they anything at all outside your own mind. It follows then that the green mountains and blue water and the multitudinous eyes of the infinite world are just voidness that is very clear and bright. Moreover, if you have the 'no-view' of things, then all sounds and forms are the wisdom-eyes of Buddha. The Dharma that phenomena are real does not raise a solitary thing that depends on a created realm. Even so, for sentient beings the Buddha used many different kinds of wisdom. However, Buddha spoke all day and said nothing; and sentient beings listened from morning to night but heard nothing. In this sense it can be asserted that, 'Buddha Sakyamuni spoke the Dharma for forty-nine years but never spoke a single word.'"

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Bodhi is Nowhere

Question: "If it is really thus, then where is Bodhi?" The master replied: "Bodhi is nowhere! Even Buddha has never attained Bodhi, while all sentient beings have never lost it. It is neither gotten by the body nor sought by the mind. All sentient beings are, indeed, the form of Bodhi."

Question: "How is it possible to develop the Supreme-Enlightenment Mind?"  The master said: "Bodhi means nothing to attain. Even now, just as you allow a thought to arise, you get nothing. Thus, realizing that there is absolutely nothing to attain is the Bodhi Mind. The realization that there is nowhere to abide and nothing to attain is the Bodhi."

"Therefore, Sakyamuni Buddha said, 'Since there was really no Dharma by means of which the Tathagata attained Supreme Enlightenment, so Dipamkara Buddha predicted about me in my last lifetime, "In your next lifetime, you will be a Buddha named Sakyamuni".' It is very clear, then that originally all sentient beings are Bodhi, so there is no Bodhi to again attain."

"Thus, you have just now heard how to develop Bodhi Mind. Do you think you really have a Mind to develop? Do you think there really is a Buddha to attain? If you practice with this view or in this way, even throughout the three Asankhyeya kalpas, you would only have attained the Sambhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya. What have these got to do with your Original Buddha Mind? Furthermore, to seek the form of Buddha Mind outside your own mind is illusion, for that – whatever you find – is not your Original Buddha Mind."

Question: "If originally all is Buddha, how can there be four forms of birth, six conditions of sentient existence and all kinds of different forms?" The master answered: "The universal body of all Buddhas, without increasing or decreasing, represents everywhere the perfect combination. All sentient beings are Buddha, just as when a large bead of mercury disperses into many places but every smaller bead remains round like the original and just as all parts are contained, in potential, within the original if it does not disperse. One is all and all is one! Take a house as a further example. We abandon the house of a donkey in order to enter the house of a person. In turn, we abandon the body of a person to obtain the body of a heavenly being. Until you enter the houses of Sravaka, Pratyeka-Buddha, Bodhisattva and Buddha, you continue to accept, reject and discriminate among various places and bodies, thus experiencing difference – in name and form – and suffering. But where is there and differentiation at all in our Original Nature?"

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Compassion

Question: "How is it possible to spread Dharma and to perform the acts of great compassion of all the Buddhas?" The master answered: "That compassion of Buddha without immediate causal connection is the Great Compassion. Your not seeing a Buddha to be attained is Great Compassion. Your not seeing any sentient being to release from suffering is great pity. To spread Dharma, neither speak nor indicate; to listen to Dharma, hear nothing and desire to attain nothing. If as an illusionary person you spread Dharma to another illusionary person, or if you think that you understand the Dharma as correct even if you've heard it from a virtuous friend, or if you let the thought arise that you desire to attain great learning and compassion – these conditions definitely are not your Enlightened Mind. Finally, by grasping such views, you work without achieving anything at all in the end."

Question: "What is unadulterated progress?" The master said: "Your not allowing any view whatsoever of body and mind to arise is the very highest and strongest unadulterated progress. Allowing just one tiny thought to arise is to seek outside; then, like Kaliraja, [3] you become interested in travelling here and there to hunt. However, the Mind that does not search outside itself is like Ksantyrsi. [4] Being without any mind-and-body view whatsoever is the way of the Buddha."

[3. A king noted for his violence.]

[4. The Rishii who patiently suffered insult.]

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Dharma Practice

Question: "If we practice Dharma without discrimination, how do we know that it is the correct Dharma?" The master said: "To be without discriminating mind is the correct Dharma. Now when you conceive of right or wrong or even allow a single thought to arise, the idea of place arises; on the other hand, without a single thought arising, ideas of place and mind both vanish. In reality, there is nothing to seek and nothing to search for."

Question: "How is it possible to leave the three realms?" The master answered: "To be without a view either of good or evil is to leave the three realms. The Tathagata appeared in the world to refute the three kinds of existence. Therefore, if you are without any mind at all, then there are, suddenly, no three realms. To illustrate: If a molecule is separated into a hundred parts and ninety-nine parts are destroyed, with only one part remaining, the existence of this one remaining part, like the tiniest discriminating thought, makes impossible the victory of the Great Vehicle. Not until this last little bit of discrimination also vanishes can the Mahayana Dharma be truly victorious."

The master said: "The Mind is Buddha. All Buddhas and all sentient beings have the same Buddha-Nature and one Mind. Therefore, Bodhidharma came from the West only to transmit the One-Mind Doctrine. However, since the mind of all sentient beings is the same as original Buddha-Nature, there is no need to practice; for if one recognizes one's own Mind and sees one's own Nature, there is nothing at all to seek outside oneself. But how is one to recognize one's own Mind? Just that Mind itself that wants to perceive the Mind – that is your own Mind, which is as void as Original Mind and is without words and function. However, we cannot say that up to now we have been talking about nothing but existence."

The master said: "The real nature of Mind is without a head and without a tail. This is called expedient wisdom and is used to convert and deliver sentient beings, depending upon their capacity. If there is no conversion of sentient beings, we cannot say whether there is existence or non-existence. Therefore, one should understand as follows: Just to settle in voidness – that is the way of all Buddhas. The Sutra said: 'One should develop a mind which does not abide in anything whatsoever.' All sentient beings have birth and death in endless transmigration because their mind-sense is intractable, always taking the path of the six senses and existence, thus grasping the wheel of life and death – a condition that causes them perpetual suffering."

"The Vimalakirti Sutra says: 'It is very difficult to convert people because their minds are as intractable as monkeys.' They use many different methods to guard against conversion; and only gradually, after a long time, might they bring their minds under control. Therefore, when the mind stirs, all sorts of things are created; and when the mind is annihilated, all sorts of things are destroyed. In this manner, everything – human beings, Devas, the six ways of sentient existence – is created by the mind."

"If you wish to understand the truth or achieve the reality of no-mind, just stop all accessory conditions; i.e., suddenly and absolutely do not allow false thoughts and discriminatory ideas to arise. Without others, there is no self, no greed, no hate, no love, no abhorrence; neither is there victory or defeat. So just eliminate all delusions, and what remains is the Original Bright Nature – Bodhi and Dharma. If you do not understand this, then even though you study extensively and practice diligently and even though you lead a simple life, but never come to recognize your own Mind, you will finally only bear the fruit of evil action, perhaps becoming a deva-mara, a heretic, or a god of water or land. So what benefit is there at all in such practice!"

"Master Chi Kung said, 'The Buddha-Nature is your own Mind, so how can you search for it or find it through words and concepts?' Just recognize your own Mind and stop thinking; then the false thoughts and all the troubles of the world automatically disappear. The Vimalakirti Sutra says: Just as a person confined in bed by illness who is resting to get well, do not allow any thought to arise. Just as a person lying in bed with an illness trying to cure himself, stop all activities that aggravate the illness. When false thoughts stop, Bodhi 'appears.'"

"Now, if your mind is in great confusion, even if you arrive at the stage of the Three Vehicles and practice all the stages of a Bodhisattva's progress, you will still only remain hovering between the worldly and holy views. One should realize that everything is impermanent, that all power declines; just as an arrow shot up into the sky, expending the energy of the thrust, falls to earth, so human beings continuously revolve through the various states of transmigration, birth and death. If we do not understand the Dharma and practice, and instead only continue suffering and working in ignorance, achieving nothing, isn't this a great error?"

"The Master Chi Kung said: 'If you do not study with a teacher of images of supramundane reality, then it would be useless to take the medicine of Mahayana Dharma.' Rather, while walking, standing, sitting, lying, etc., just learn being 'without-mind' and being without discrimination or dependence on anything. Also, learn neither to stay nor to grasp. Then you will be prosperous and happy, as you wish, always, even though you might appear to others to be merely a fool. Nobody in the whole world will recognize you, but then you will not need them to recognize you. Your mind will become like an unpolished stone with no crack – nothing whatsoever can pierce your mind."

"To stand firmly without grasping corresponds somewhat to this state. Passing right through the region of the three sense realms, one is suddenly in supramundane Reality. Not to grasp even a tiny spark of the mind is passionless wisdom. Neither create the karma of human beings and devas nor create the karma of hell. Do not allow any thought whatsoever to arise, and you will be at the end of all conditioned mind. At this stage, then, the body and mind are free yet not non-reborn, but reborn according to one's own wishes. So the Sutra said: 'The Bodhisattva assumes a body at his own will.' If you do not comprehend the mind or if you grasp any form, this only creates karma that belongs to Deva Nara. Even becoming involved in Buddhist rituals and practice – such as Pure Land – can all, if clung to, be obstructions to the realization of Buddha. Because of these obstructions in your mind and being bound to conditions of discipline brought about by cause and effect, there is no freedom to go from or to stay in any or all of the various realms at will.

Therefore, the Dharma of Bodhi was originally non-existent, but all the Tathagata's teaching is used as skillful means for the transformation of all sentient beings.  Just as the golden-yellow leaves, used expediently to stop the crying of a baby, are not real gold, so there is a Dharma called Supreme Enlightenment. Now, if you already understand this teaching, there is no need at all to practice diligently.  Just eliminate your old karma and never create new misfortune. Thus your mind will ever be very bright and clear. So abandon all of your previous views. The Vimalakirti Sutra says: 'Eliminate everything!' The Lotus Sutra says: 'Try to shovel out the dung from your mind that has been piling up for the last twenty years or so.' Just eliminate the view of place and form from your mind, and automatically the dung of sophistry will be wiped out. Then and only then will you realize that the Tathagata Store is originally only voidness. So the Sutra says: 'All Buddhalands are truly void.' If you think that any Buddhas have attained Enlightenment by learning and practice, you will find no support for such a view.

If one holds to the subjective-objective view, he will feel proud when, after studying and practicing a little, he thinks he has tacitly understood and attained Enlightenment in the Ch'an method. So for this reason, if we see someone such as this who does not really understand anything at all, we scold him for his ignorance. If he gets some meaning from others, he is very happy and might feel superior to others, thus creating for himself even more unfortunate mental conditions. If one studies Ch'an with this focus, there is no possibility of profound understanding; for even if one is permitted to comprehend some small idea or theory, one merely obtains, as a result, some attribute of the mind but no insight into Ch'an or Tao. Therefore, the Bodhidharma sat facing the wall – an example for people to totally reject all views. Thus, being without motive is the way of Buddha. Having any discrimination whatsoever is only achieving the stage of Deva Mara. For the ignorant person Buddha-Nature is never lost. For the enlightened person there is nothing to attain. In reality, Buddha Nature is originally neither confused nor enlightened. Remember that the endlessness of the ten directions of infinite space is originally one's own Mind. Even though you have creative energy and physical and mental functions, still you are never separated from voidness. The void has in it neither the big nor the small. It is passionless, being neither active nor non-active. It is neither confused nor enlightened, and it is without any view whatsoever generated by phenomenal disturbances. It has neither sentient beings nor Buddhas. It depends on absolutely nothing, not even the tiniest mote or flash. It is fundamentally pure and bright and is identical with the patient endurance of the uncreate. The real Buddha has no mouth and no Dharma to state or spread. It is said that we hear the real Dharma without ears, but who hears? One should think well about this! There is really nothing to say about it!"

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At the Time of Death

One day the master, preaching in the Dharma Hall to the assembly, said: "If you do not awaken soon rather than late, when the end of your life approaches there is no guarantee that you will not have some trouble." At that moment, some heretics in the hall were talking aloud about having achieved kung fu (a term for a certain level of attainment in meditation practice). One man was smiling sarcastically and said: "At the last moment I will still have my kung fu." The master responded thus: "I would like to know what you would say to yourself suddenly during your last breath to defend against being caught, once again, in the repetitive cycle of life and death. Try to think about it! In fact, you should have some plan or insight for these last moments. Tell me, where is there any inborn Maitreya and where do we have natural Sakyamuni?"

"Some say that there is a heaven of gods and a hell of wild and hungry ghosts. If you saw a sick person, you might say to him, 'Just lie down and rest.' However, when you yourself get sick, you might not be able to focus, and you might be confused and afraid and unable to lie down, rest or even to take any medicine easily. Moreover, even if you could defend yourself with the very swords of hell and the boiling oil of the cooking pot, at that time you would have no assistance at all from any being with supernatural powers. So you should prepare a plan for yourself at the right time so you can use it in an emergency."

"Don't waste your energy.  You should not prepare your plan too late and find yourself in a regretful state and bereft. If your mind is, at the last moment, in an hysterical flurry, how can you escape the disorder and dissolution of your body? The prospect is dark, and, lacking insight, you would be at a loss to know how to handle this situation. Alas! Alas! Commonly one learns about Samadhi only to speak platitudes about Ch'an and Tao or to shout at the Buddha and scold the Patriarch. However, during one's last breath, all is useless, all is in vain! If you have always cheated and lied you way through life, you will only cheat yourself on that final day. The hell of Avici already has imprisoned you, and you cannot escape at the last moment. [5]

[5. Lowest realm of hell. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avici ]

During this Dharma-ending age, when the Dharma has almost disappeared, there is a good opportunity and the perfect time for those monks who have taken a Great Vow to spread Dharma and to bear and transmit to future generations, for continued use, the wisdom-life of all Buddhas, not to let their Vow weaken or die. Now, we have quite a few wandering monks who desire to be responsible only for seeing and enjoying the brightness of the mountains and the beauty of the rivers. However, they do not know how much time they have left in this life, for if only one tiny outbreath does not return as an inbreath you are already on your way to the next life. Moreover, nobody knows what lies ahead or what he will have to face again in the next lifetime. Alas!"

"So my advice to all of my brothers is to fulfill your promise during your period of good health and take advantage immediately of your good opportunity for Enlightenment. Do it now! Don't wait! This is the Universal Enlightenment and the Great Release, which average people are quite confused about. This confusion and obstruction to understanding is not difficult to conquer. However, if you do not have any ambition and determination to practice, but only talk, again and again, about how difficult it all is, you will not succeed. Rather, you should remember the origin of the wooden ladle – that it began its life in a tree. Recalling this, you should change your way of thinking and turn to the Right Way. If you are really courageous, go seek a Kung-an!" [6]

[6. Zen koan.]

"One monk asked Master Chao-Chou: 'Does a dog have Buddha-Nature?' Chao-Chou replied: 'None!' At once the monk just concentrated his mind exclusively on the word 'none'. For twenty-four hours of every day, while walking, staying, sitting and lying, he practiced. Day by day, even while eating and dressing, moving his bowels and urinating, his mind and mental energy were all focussed, at all times, towards profound and total concentration on the word 'none'. Gradually he understood the 'none' (wu) was, indeed, just so."

"If you are suddenly enlightened regarding the nature of Buddha, you can never be fooled about truth by anyone in the world, no matter how clever he is. In this sense, then, you could say that Bodhidharma came from the West to make a lot of trouble out of nothing. Also you might say that when the World Honored One held up the golden flower, his performance was a complete failure. Furthermore, you can even say that Yama, the King of Hell, and even all the holy saints and sages are no different from you yourself. It doesn't matter whether you believe or not, for that which is real is beyond our comprehension. Why? Just because if there is really no problem or suffering, in the world that is based on misconception and illusion, then you do not need to have any fear or desire anything whatsoever."

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