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Daily Lectures at Two Ch'an Weeks - II
given at the Jade Buddha Monastery, Shanghai, in 1953
(From the Hsu Yun Ho Shang Nien P'u)
Tr. Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk)


The Second Week

The First Day

My coming here has already caused much inconvenience to the monastery and I do not deserve the generous hospitality extended to me by the (Venerable) Abbot and group leaders. Today, I am again asked to preside over this (second Ch'an) week. I must say I am not qualified to do so. It is quite logical that the (venerable) old Dharma master Ying Tz'u who is advanced in age and Dharma years[1] should preside over this meeting. There are also in this monastery many learned and virtuous Dharma masters. I am only 'duckweed' floating on water[2] and am, therefore, a completely useless man. It would be wrong to say that I am accorded priority and courtesy because of my age.[3] Even, in the world-dharma,[4] no consideration is given to the question of age. Formerly, when the scholar's examination was held in the imperial palace, no matter whether a candidate was young or old, he called the examiner "my old teacher" for the latter was respected (because of his rank and) not because of his age. In the Buddha Dharma also, no consideration is given to age. (I cite) Manjusri Bodhisattva who very long ago attained Buddhahood and was the teacher of sixteen princes, one of whom was Amitabha Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha was also his disciple, but when Sakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood, Manjusri came to assist him (in teaching his disciples). Thus we know there is only One equality which is neither high nor low. Therefore, please make no mistake about all this.

As we are learning (the Dharma), we should respect (and observe) the rules and regulations (set up for the purpose). The (Venerable) Abbot has in mind the enlightenment of others, the expounding of sutras, the holding of Ch'an meetings and the spreading of the Buddha Dharma. This is indeed a very rare opportunity.

All of you have been braving the cares and confusion of travel and giving yourselves a great deal of trouble to come of your own accord to attend this retreat. This shows that you have in mind the rejection of passions and desire of quiet.

In reality, you and I have only one mind but because of the difference between delusion and enlightenment, there are living beings who are busy from morning till evening without a day of rest. If we give some thought to this (state of things), we will see that no advantage can come from it. In spite of this, there are people who are busy all day long foolishly thinking of an abundance of food and clothing for themselves and anxious to find pleasure in singing and dancing. They want their children and grandchildren to have wealth and fame and their descendants to enjoy glory and prosperity. Even when they are about to breathe their last to become ghosts, they still think of protection and prosperity for their children. These people are really foolish and stupid.

There are also people who know something about good and evil and about cause and effect. They do meritorious acts which consist only in holding Buddhist ceremonies, in giving offerings to monks, in commissioning statues of Buddhas and in repairing temples and monastic buildings. Their acts contribute to the worldly[5] cause, and they hope to be rewarded with happiness in the next rebirth. Because they do not know anything about the passionless merits which are unsurpassed, they do not perform them. The Lotus Sutra says: "Sitting in meditation (even) for a short while is better than erecting as many seven treasure stupas as the sandgrains in the Ganges." For this method of sitting in meditation will enable us to wipe out our passions and to have peace of mind and body, resulting in the complete realization of the self-nature with liberation from birth and death. By "a short while", it means a moment as short as an instant (ksana).[6] If one cleanses and purifies his mind and turns the light inwards on himself, his sitting in meditation even for an instant will (at least) enable him to sow the direct[7] cause of attainment of Buddhahood, if it does not ensure the (immediate) realization of the truth. His ultimate achievement can be expected (sooner or later). If his training is effective, Buddhahood can be attained in an instant. For this reason, Ananda said in the Surangama Sutra: "The Dharmakaya can be realized without having to pass through countless aeons (kalpas)."[8]

However, you and I, and all other people in general, live in the midst of passions, of joy and anger, of gain and loss, of the five desires[9] and pursuits of pleasure and enjoyment. All these things are no more seen and heard as soon as we step into this Ch'an hall where our six senses are exactly like the black tortoise's six (vulnerable) parts which shrink into its shell and where nothing can disturb your minds. This is the practice of the passionless Dharma and (is also) the passionless Dharma (itself). Therefore, the merits derived from the erection of as many seven treasure stupas as the sandgrains in the Ganges cannot be compared with those resulting from a moment spent sitting in meditation. The simile of the black tortoise comes from the (story of) the fish-eating seal which swam to catch the tortoise on the seashore. Seeing that it was attacked, the tortoise withdrew its head, tail and legs into its shell, so evading the seal's efforts to bite it.[10]

In this world, when we have no money, we are worried about our food and clothing, and when we have money, we cannot free ourselves from passions. We are thus caught and eaten by the seal. If we know of the danger to which we are exposed, we should bring our six senses under control and turn the light inwards on ourselves so that we can be liberated from mortality. Two days ago, I talked on our Sect's Dharma, dealing with the Right Dharma Eye, the Tathagata's Mind-dharma and the basis of liberation from birth and death. Other Dharma doors[11] including the expounding of sutras, in spite of their aims which are the arousing of faith and understanding, are only accessories[12] and do not advance the perfect (experiential) understanding. If the sutra expounding Dharma is used to ensure liberation from birth and death, there must still be (two complementary phases) to pass through: practice and witnessing which are very difficult to achieve. For this reason, very few cases have been recorded of those who listened to the expounding of sutras or followed other Dharma doors and who thereby attained instantaneously complete enlightenment and acquired transcendental powers. These cases were few as compared with those in the Ch'an Sect. According to our Sect, not only Ch'an monks and laymen (upasakas) possessed the inconceivable device, but Ch'an nuns were also of outstanding abilities.

Ch'an master Kuan Ch'i was a disciple of Lin Chi[13] but did not realize the truth in spite of having stayed several years at his master's monastery. One day, he (left his master) to call at other places (for instruction). When he arrived at a nunnery on Mo Shan mountain, a little nun reported his arrival to (Ch'an Bhiksuni,) Mo Shan who sent her attendant to ask him this question; "Venerable Master, do you come here for sightseeing or for learning the Buddha Dharma?" Kuan Ch'i replied that he came for learning the Buddha Dharma. Mo Shan said: "If you come for the Buddha Dharma, there are here also rules about beating the drum and ascending to the seat." Thereupon, she ascended to her seat, but Kuan Ch'i bowed only and did not kneel down. Mo Shan asked him: "What place did the Venerable Bhiksu leave today?" He replied: "I left the entrance to the road." She asked him: "Why didn't you cover it up ?"[14] Kuan Ch'i could not reply and knelt down (to pay his respects), asking: "What is Mo Shan?" She replied: "The top of the head is not exposed."[15] He asked: "Who is the owner of Mo Shan (mountain)?" She replied: "He is neither male nor female." He shouted: "Why does he not transform himself?" She asked back: "He is neither a ghost nor a spirit, into what should he transform himself?"[16] He could not reply and submitted to her authority. He became a gardener at the nunnery where he stayed three years during which he was completely enlightened.

(Later) when Kuan Ch'i went to the Ch'an hall (to instruct his own disciples), he said to them: "When I was at my father Lin Chi's place, I got a half-ladle (and) when I was at my mother Mo Shan's, I got another half-ladle, thus obtaining a full ladle which has enabled me to satisfy my hunger up to now." Thus, although Kuan Ch'i was Lin Chi's disciple, he was also Mo Shan's Dharma successor.

We can See that among the nuns, there existed alsopeople of real ability. There are many nuns here as well; why do not they come forward to show their abilities and reveal the Right Dharma on behalf of their predecessors? The Buddha Dharma extols equality (of sex) and we are only required to make efforts in our training without backsliding so as not to miss this (rare) opportunity.

The ancients said:


In one hundred years or six and thirty thousand days,[17]
There is not a quiet moment to lay down mind and body.

For countless aeons, we have been floating in the sea of mortality because we have never wanted to lay down our bodies and minds in order to have quiet for our learning and self-cultivation, with the result that we have been turned round by the wheel of transmigration without a chance of liberation. For this reason, all of us should lay down both body and mind and sit in meditation for a moment with the hope that the bottom of the cask of (black) lacquer will drop off [18] and that we will together experience the law of no-birth.[19]

The Second Day

This is the second day of the second Ch'an week. The increasing number of those who come to this meeting shows how really good-hearted are the people of Shanghai and the excellence of their blessed virtues. It also indicates every man's aversion to disturbance (caused by passions) and longing for the quiet (found in meditation), and every man's desire to escape from sorrow and to seek happiness. Generally speaking, there is more suffering than happiness in this world and, as time passes very quickly, the short space of several decades slips away in the twinkling of an eye. Even if one can live 800 years like Peng Tsu,[20] this space of time is (still) short in thc eye of the Buddha Dharma. However, worldly men who can reach the age of seventy are rarely seen. Since you and I know that this short length of time is like an illusion and a transformation, and is really not worth our attachment (to it), we have come to this Ch'an week and this is certainly due to our having grown good roots in our former transmigrations.

This method of (self-) cultivation requires an enduring mind. Formerly, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas reached their goal after spending many aeons in self-cultivation. The Surangama Sutra's chapter on Avalokitesvara's Complete Enlightenment says:

"I remember that long before the elapsing of as uncountable a number of aeons as there are sandgrains in the Ganges, a Buddha by the name of Avalokitesvara appeared in the world. At that time I developed the Bodhi mind and for my entry into Samadhi was instructed by Him to practise (self-) cultivation through (the faculty of) hearing."

From the above statement, we can see that Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva did not achieve his goal in one or two days. At the same time, he clearly told us about the method of his training. He was head (of the group of) twenty-five "Great Ones" who attained complete enlightenment. His method consisted of (self-) cultivation of the ear which enabled him to transmute the faculty of hearing into perfection which led to (the state of) Samadhi. Samadhi means the (state of) undisturbedness. Therefore, he continued:


(I)"At the start, by directing the hearing (ear)
Into the stream (of meditation), this organ became detached from its object."

This method consists in turning the hearing inwards (on the self-nature) to hear the self-nature so that the six senses will not (wander outside to) be in touch with the six external objects. This is the collection of the six senses into the Dharma nature.[21] Therefore, he continued:


(II)"By wiping out (the concept of) both sound and stream-entry,
Both disturbance and stillness
Became clearly non-existent."

He said again:


(III) "The advancing step by step,
Both hearing and its object came to an end.
But I did not stop where they ended."

He meant that we should not allow our training, by turning our hearing inwards (on the self-nature) to come to a halt; he wanted us to move forward little by little and to make additional efforts to reach (another stage about which he said as follows:)


(IV) "When the awareness (of this state) and this state itself (were realized) as non-existent,
The awareness of voidness became all embracing
After the elimination of both subject and object relating to voidness.
Then the disappearance of both creation and annihilation
(Resulted in) the state of Nirvana becoming manifest."

This state results from the training which consists in turning the ear inwards to hear the self-nature and after all kinds of creation and annihilation are realized as non-existent, the true mind will manifest itself. This is the (meaning of the saying:) "When the mad mind is brought to a halt, it is Bodhi (i.e. perfect wisdom)."

After attaining this stage, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva said:


"Suddenly I leaped over both the mundane and supramundane and realized an all-embracing brightness pervading the ten directions, acquiring two unsurpassed (merits). The first one was in accord with the fundamental Profound Enlightened Mind of an Buddhas high up in the ten directions, possessing the same merciful power as the Tathagata. The second one was in sympathy with all living beings in the six realms of existence, here below in the ten directions, sharing with them the same imploration of pity."

Today, in our study of the Buddhist's doctrine for our (self-) cultivation, we should first succeed in our training by liberating all the living beings of our self-nature such as concupiscence, anger, stupidity and arrogance and by realizing the fundamentally pure and clean Profound Enlightened Real Mind.[22] Only then can we perform the Buddha work high above for the salvation of living beings here below, as did Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva who could manifest in thirty-two different forms, each being suitable for the liberation of the corresponding individual, and only then can we possess the required (transcendental) powers. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (can) appear in the world as a boy or a girl, but worldly men do not know that he has already attained Buddhahood, has no sex and is neither an ego nor a personality, making a (particular) appearance only in response to each individual potentiality. When worldly man(in China) hear the Bodhisattva's name, thoughts of devotion and reverence for him arise. This is due to the fact that in their former lives, they had repeated his name so that the seeds previously sown in the field of their store-consciousness (alaya-vijnana) now develop in them. For this reason, the sutra says:


"After entering through the hearing,
The Bodhi-seed is sown for ever."

Today, as we come here for our self-perfuming[23] and self-cultivation, we should rely on the Dharma of the Supreme Vehicle practiced and experienced by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This Dharma consists in clearly recognizing the fundamental Profound Enlightened Mind; that is to say, the perception of the self-nature leading to the attainment of Buddhahood. If this mind is not recognized, Buddhahood can never be attained. In order to recognize the mind, we should begin with the performance of virtuous deeds. If every day, from morning until evening, we perform all good actions and refrain from committing evil deeds, we will accumulate merits and if in addition we hold a hua t'ou constantly (in our minds), we will be able to realize, in a moment's thought, the state of no-birth and will (thereby) attain Buddhahood instantaneously.

Dear friends, please make a profitable use of your time and do not give rise to wrong thoughts in your minds. Now is the time to give rise to a hua t'ou for your self-cultivation.

Explanatory Note:

When the Buddha expounded the Surangama Sutra, he ordered the twenty-five "enlightened ones" who were present, to talk about the various means by which they had attained enlightenment, so that the assembly could learn something from them. After the statements by twenty-four of the "enlightened ones" of their realization of the real by means of the six gunas: (1) sound, (2) sight, (3) smell, (4) taste, (4) touch and (6) idea; the five sense-organs: (7) the eye, (8) nose, (9) tongue, (10) body, and (11) mind; the six perceptions of (12) sight, (13) ear, (14) nose, (15) tongue, (16) body, and (17) faculty of mind; and the seven fundamental elements of (18) fire, (19) earth, (20) water, (21) wind, (22) space, (23) knowledge and (24) perceptibility, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva declared that he had attained enlightenment by means of (25) the organ of hearing. In order to teach Ananda and the assembly, the Buddha asked Manjusri for his opinion on these twenty-five methods. Manjusri praised the method used by Avalokitesvara saying that he himself had also used it for his own enlightenment and that it was the most suitable one for human beings.

The following is a commentary on the verses of the Surangama Sutra:


(I) At the start, by directing the hearing
Into the stream, this organ became detached from its object.

This was the turning of the ear inwards on the self-nature to hear it so that hearing and its object, i.e. the sound, became detached. When hearing was brought under control in this manner, the other five senses had no chance of wandering outside to get in touch with the corresponding external objects. Stream here means the inward stream of meditation, or correct concentration.

The mind was brought under control to free it from external disturbance. Could it really be controlled by using it to direct the ear inwards to hear the self-nature? The mind was already disturbed when it was directed inwards. Therefore, efforts should be made to free it from disturbance so that stillness can prevail.


(II) By wiping out (the concept of) both sound and stream-entry,
Both disturbance and stillness
Clearly became non-existent.

As the sound and stream were realized to be non-existent, both disturbance and stillness also became non-existent. The mind was thus disentangled from the gunas, or sensation-data.


(III) Thus advancing step by step,
Both the hearing and its object came to an end;
But I did not stop where they ended.

By making additional efforts I advanced further step by step, until both hearing and sound came completely to an end. However, I did not stop there. Thus the mind was disentangled from the sense-organs. The voidness of which the meditator was aware then appeared. This incomplete or partial awareness should also be wiped out.


(IV) When the awareness (of this state) and this state itself(were realized as) non-existent
The awareness of voidness became all-embracing,
After the elimination of subject and object relating to voidness.
Then the disappearance of creation and annihilation
(Resulted in) the state of Nirvana becoming manifest.

With further progress, the meditator perceived that both the incomplete awareness (subject) of voidness and the voidness itself (object) were non-existent. After the elimination of both subject and object relating to the false conception of relative voidness, the complete awareness of the absolute voidness became all-embracing, ensuring the end of the dual conception of creation and annihilation of even subtle phenomena, perceptible only at this last stage of meditation, such as relative voidness and incomplete awareness, which were only creations of the mind. As creation existed only as a relative term and was followed by annihilation, so long as this duality existed, the mind was still held in bondage. Now as this pair of opposites was non-existent, the awareness became complete. When this last stage was reached the resultant state of Nirvana became manifested. This stage ensured the instantaneous leap over both the mundane and supramundane when the meditator attained the all-embracing illumination of absolute wisdom.

Master Han Shan also followed this method and attained Samadhi during his stay on the Five Peaked Mountain. (See Han Shan's Autobiography.)

The holding of a hua t'ou also enables a Ch'an student to realize the disentanglement of his mind from gunas (or external objects), sense-organs, incomplete awareness (or inner subject) and relative voidness for the same purpose of attaining the absolute voidness of complete awareness, or wisdom.

The Third Day

This is the third day of this second Ch'an week. Those who are already familiar with this training, can always control their minds no matter where they may happen to be either in the midst of disturbance or of stillness. To them, there is no difference between the first and second week or between the second and third day. But those who are beginners should endeavor to make progress in their training which they should not undergo in a careless manner, in order not to waste their (precious) time. I will now tell the beginners another story and hope they will listen to it attentively.

In every Ch'an hall, there is (a statue of) a Bodhisattva called the "Holy Monk". He was a cousin of the Tathagata Sakyamuni and his name was Arya Ajnata-Kaundinya. When the World Honored One left home, His father sent three paternal and two maternal clansmen to go with and look after Him in the Himalayas. This cousin was one of the two maternal clansmen. After the World Honored One had attained enlightenment, He went to the Mrgadava park where He expounded the Four Noble Truths and where this cousin was the first disciple awakened to the truth. This cousin was also one of His great disciples and the first to leave home. For this reason, he was called the "Holy Monk". He was also known as the Sangha Head.[24] His method of self-cultivation is clearly described in the Surangama Sutra which says:

After I had attained enlightenment, I went to the Mrgadava park where I declared to Ajnata-Kaundinya and the other five bhiksus as well as to you, the four varga,[25] that all living beings failed to realize Enlightenment (Bodhi) and attain Arhatship because they were misled by foreign dust[26] which (entering the mind) caused distress and delusion. What, at the time, caused your awakening (to the truth) for your present attainment of the holy fruit?[27]

This was the Buddha's talk about the cause of our failure to realize Bodhi and to attain Arhatship. He also asked his great disciples in the assembly about the methods they used for their awakening (to the truth). At the time, only Ajnata-Kaundinya knew this method. So he arose from his seat and replied to the World Honored One as follows:

I am now a senior in the assembly in which I am the only one who has acquired the art of explaining because of my awakening to (the meaning of) the two words "foreign dust" which led to my attainment of the (holy) fruit.

After saying this, he gave the following explanation (of these two words) to the World Honored One:

World Honored One, (foreign dust) is like a guest who stops at an inn where he passes the night or takes his meal, and as soon as he has done so, he packs and continues his journey because he has no time to stay longer. As to the host of the inn, he has nowhere to go. My deduction is that one who does not stay is a guest and one who does stay is a host. Consequently, a thing is "foreign" when it does not stay.

Again, in a clear sky, when the sun rises and its light enters (the house) through an opening, the dust is seen moving in the ray of light whereas the empty space is unmoving. Therefore, that which is still is the void and that which moves is the dust.

How clearly he explained the two words "host" and "guest"! You should know that this illustration shows us how to begin our training. In other words, the real mind is the host who does not move and the moving guest is our false thinking which is likened to dust. Dust is very fine and dances in the air. It is visible only when the sunlight enters through the door or an opening. This means that false thoughts within our minds are imperceptible in the usual process of thinking. They become perceptible only when we sit in meditation during our training. In the midst of the unending rise and fall of mixed thoughts and in the tumult of false thinking, if your training is not efficient, you will not be able to act as a host; hence your failure to attain enlightenment and your drifting about in the ocean of birth and death, wherein you are a Smith in your present transmigration and will be Jones in the next one. Thus you will be exactly like a guest who stops at an inn and will not be able to remain there for ever. However, the true mind does not act in that way; it neither comes nor goes, is not born and does not die. It does not move but remains motionless, hence the host. This host is likened to the immutable voidness in which the dust dances. It is also like the host of an inn who always stays there for he has nowhere else to go.

Dust is like one of the passions and can be wiped out completely only when one reaches the Bodhisattva-stage. By falsehood, is meant illusion. There are eighty-eight kinds of illusory view and eighty-one of illusory thought. These (misleading) views come from the five stupid temptations,[28] and in self-cultivation, one should wipe out all of them in order to attain the first stage of the Arhat (Srota-apanna).[29] This is the most difficult thing to do, for the cutting of illusory views is likened to the cutting (or stopping) of the flow of a forty-mile stream. Thus we can see that we should have a great measure of strength in our training. We can attain Arhatship only when we have succeeded in cutting out all misleading thoughts. This kind of self-cultivation is a gradual process.

(In our Ch'an training), we have only to make use of a hua t'ou which should be kept bright and lively and should never be allowed to become blurred and which should always be clearly cognizable. All misleading views and thoughts will thus be cut off (by the hua t'ou) at a single blow leaving behind only something like the cloudless blue sky in which the bright sun will rise. This is the brightness of the self-nature when it manifests itself.

This saint (arya)[30] was awakened to this truth and recognized the original host. The first step in our training today is to be cognizant of the fact that the foreign dust (or guest) is moving whereas the host is motionless. If this is not clearly understood, we will not know where to begin our training, and will only waste our time as heretofore.

I hope all of you will pay great attention to the above.

The Fourth Day

It is very difficult to meet with the unsurpassed Profound Dharma in a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand aeons, and the present opportunity of our gathering for a Ch'an week in this Monastery of the Jade Buddha is really afforded by an unsurpassed co-operating cause. The fact that lay men and women have come from all directions in an increasing number to attend this meeting for the sowing of the direct cause of the attainment of Buddhahood, proves that this opportunity is rarely available.

The Buddha Sakyamuni said in the Lotus Sutra:


If men, with minds disturbed,
Enter a stupa or a temple
(And) call: Namo Buddhaya!
Buddhahood they will attain.

In a short period of several decades, worldly men are not aware of the passing of time. Those who have money, pursue wine, sex and prosperity. Those who have no money, have to work hard for their food, clothing, shelter and travel. Thus (all of them) rarely have a moment's leisure and comfort and their sufferings are beyond description. However, if they happen to enter a Buddhist temple, they will find happiness in the majesty of its quiet. They will behold the statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and may repeat at random the Buddha's name; or they may be impressed with the sudden quiet of their (temporarily) purified minds, and praise the Tathagata's bliss which is so rarely found (elsewhere). All this comes from their having acquired very deep good roots in their former transmigrations and provides the cause of their future attainment of Buddhahood. For, in general, what their eyes want to see is only merry-making; what their ears want to hear is only songs and music, and what their mouths want to taste is only succulent dishes and rare delicacies. All this soils their thinking and this defiled thinking produces a disturbed mind, the deluded mind of birth and death. Now, if, while in a stupa or temple, one has a chance of calling the Buddha's name, this is the awakened mind, the pure mind and the Bodhi seed leading to attainment of Buddhahood. The Sanskrit word "Buddha" means the Enlightened One, that is one who is (completely) enlightened and is no more deluded. When the self-nature is pure and clean, one possesses the awakened mind.

Today, we do not come here for fame and wealth and this is our awakening power which manifests itself. However, many are those who hear of the Ch'an week but do not know anything about its real meaning. They come to see this bustling meeting to satisfy their curiosity and this is (certainly) not the highest mind. Now that you have come to this place, you are like those who arrive at the mountain of precious gems and you should not return empty handed. You should develop the highest Truth-Mind, and sit in meditation during the time of the burning of an incense stick, in order to sow the direct cause of attainment of Buddhahood and to become Buddhas later on.

Formerly, Sakyamuni Buddha had a disciple whose name was Subhadra.[31] He was very poor and was all alone, without anybody to support him. His heart was full of sadness and he wanted to follow the Buddha as his disciple. One day, he went to the World Honored One's place but it happened that He was not there.

After looking into Subhadra's former transmigrations for the purpose of finding out whether there existed some co-operating cause, the Buddha's great disciples found that in the past 80,000 aeons,[32] he had not planted any good roots. They then decided not to allow him to stay and sent him away. With a heart full of sadness, Subhadra left the place and when he reached a walled town, he thought that if his karma was so bad, it would be better for him to kill himself by knocking his head against the wall. As he was about to commit suicide, the World Honored One happened to arrive there and asked him about his intention. Subhadra related his story to the World Honored One who accepted him as His disciple. They returned together to His place where seven days later, Subhadra attained Arhatship. The great disciples who did not know the cause of Subhadra's attainment, asked the World Honored One about it.

The World Honored One said to them: "You only know things which happened in the last 80,000 aeon, but before then Subhadra had already planted good roots. At that time, he was also very poor and gathered firewood as his means of subsistence. One day, he met a tiger on the mountains, and seeing that his escape was cut off; he hurriedly climbed a tree. The tiger saw that he was up the tree which it began to gnaw to fall it. At the critical moment, as no one came to his rescue, he had a sudden thought of the great enlightened Buddha who possessed the power of compassion and could save all sufferers. Thereupon, he called:

"Namo Buddhaya! Come quickly to save me!" Upon hearing the call, the tiger went away and did not harm his life. He thus sowed the direct cause of Buddhahood which became ripe today, hence his attainment of the Arhat--stage." After hearing the story, all the great disciples were delighted and praised the marvellous (achievement of the poor man).

Today you and I meet here under auspicious circumstances, and if we can sit in meditation during the time of the burning of a (whole) incense stick, our (resultant) good karma will exceed many times the (one narrated in the above story). We should never take this meditation as child's play. If we come here to see a bustling meeting, we will simply miss a very good opportunity.

The Fifth Day

Those of you who have a deep believing mind, are naturally making efforts in their training in this hall. The (venerable) group leaders who are experienced in this self-cultivation, are already familiar with it. However, experienced men must know the interplay of activity (phenomenon) and principle (noumenon).[33] They should probe it exhaustively and make sure that (they experience) the unhindered interdependence of the noumenal and phenomenal and of the immutable and mutable. They should not sit like dead men; they should never be immersed in the void and cling to stillness, with delight in it. If there be delight in the still surrounding and absence of (realization of) the interchange (of practice and theory), this is likened to fish in stagnant water,with no hope of jumping over the Dragon Door.[34] They are also like fish in frozen water (and) this is a fruitless type of training.

In this training, beginners should be earnest (in their desire to escape) birth and death, and should develop a great mortification-mind by laying down all kinds of (productive) causes.[35] Only then, can their training be effective. If they are unable to lay down these causes, the (round of) birth and death will never come to an end. For, since we have been deluded by the seven emotions and six sexual attractions[36] from the time without beginning, we now find ourselves, from morning to evening, in the midst of sounds and forms, without knowing the permanent true-mind, hence our fall into the bitter ocean (of birth and death). As we are now awakened to the fact that there is only suffering in all worldly (situations), we can (certainly) lay down all (our thoughts of) them and (thereby) attain Buddhahood at once.[37]

The Sixth Day

In this Ch'an hall, I have noticed that many male and female participants are only beginners who do not know the (standing) rules and regulations and whose unruly behavior interferes with the calm meditation of others. However, we are fortunate in that the Venerable Abbot is most compassionate and is doing all he can to help us achieve our religious karma.[38] (Moreover) the group leaders who have developed the unsurpassed mind bent on the right Way, are here to lead us so that we can undergo an appropriate training. This is (indeed) an opportunity rarely available in myriad of aeons.

(Therefore), we should strive resolutely to make further progress in our inner and outer training. In our inner training, we should either concentrate pointedly on the hua t'ou: "Who is the repeater of Buddha's name?" or repeat the name of Amitabha Buddha,[39] without giving rise to desire, anger and stupidity and all kinds of thought so that the Dharma nature[40] of the Bhutatathata[41] can manifest itself.

In our outer training, we should not kill the living but should release all living creatures; we should transmute the ten evils[42] into the ten good virtues;[43] we should not eat meat and drink alcoholic liquors in order not to produce the sinful karma[44] of unintermittent suffering; and we should know that the Buddha-seed arises from conditional causation, that the commitment of many evil karmas is followed by the certain fall into the hells, and that the performance of many good karmas is rewarded with blessing ensuring our enjoyment of them. And so the ancients taught us this: "Refrain from committing all evil actions (and) perform all good actions." You have already read the causal circumstances of the killing of members of the Sakya clan by the Crystal King (Virudhaka) and know of this (law of causality).[45]

At present, all over the world, people are suffering from (all sorts of) calamity and are in the depth of the aeon (kalpa) of slaughter. This is the retribution (for evil actions). We (should) always exhort worldly men to refrain from taking life and to release living creatures, to take vegetarian food, to (think of the Buddha and) repeat his name, so that everybody can escape from the turning wheel of cause and effect.

All of you should believe and observe (this teaching) and sow now the good cause for reaping later the Buddha-fruit.

The Seventh Day


This ephemeral life is like a dream,
(And) this illusory substance is not stable.
If we rely not on the compassion of our Buddha
How can we ascend the transcendental Way?

In this life which is like a dream and an illusion, we pass our time in an upside-down manner. We do not realize the greatness of the Buddha and do not think of escaping from (the realm of) birth and death. We let our good and evil (actions) decide our rise and fall and we accept the retribution according to their karmic effects. This is why in this world, few accomplish good deeds but many commit evil actions, and few are rich and noble but many are poor and mean. In the six worlds of existence, there are all kinds of suffering. There are living beings who are born in the morning and die in the evening. There are those who live only a few years and others who live many years. They are not all masters of themselves. For this reason, we should rely on the Buddha's compassion if we want to find a way (out of this mess), because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas possess the power of their vows of kindness, pity, joy and renunciation and can deliver us from the bitter ocean (of mortality) for our (safe) arrival at the bright "other shore". They are kind and compassionate and when they see living beings enduring suffering, they take pity on them and liberate them so that they can escape suffering and enjoy happiness. Their joy and renunciation consist in their rejoicing and praise for living beings who accomplish meritorious deeds or give rise to thoughts of kindness in the mind, and in granting all requests according to the latter's requirements.

When the World Honored One practiced His self-cultivation from the causal ground,[46] His deeds (in the successive Bodhisattva stages of His former lives) consisted in His renunciation of His own head, brain, bone and marrow. For this reason, He said:

In the Universe, there is not a spot of land as small as a mustard-seed where I have not sacrificed my lives or have not buried my bones.

Today, all of you should endeavor to hold the hua t'ou firm (in your mind); be careful not to waste your time.

The Closing Day

Dear friends, I congratulate you all on the conclusion of this Ch'an week. You have completed your merit-(orious training) and in just a moment, the gathering will come to an end and I will have to congratulate you.

According to the ancients, the opening and closing of a Ch'an week do not mean much, for it is (more) important to hold a hua t'ou continuously (in mind) until one's complete enlightenment. At present, no matter whether you have been awakened or not, we must follow the procedure set forth in the (standing) rules and regulations. During these (two) Ch'an weeks, you did not make any difference between day and night, because your (only) aim was your own awakening. The (ultimate) purpose of the meeting was, therefore, to produce men of ability for (spreading) the Buddhist doctrine. If you have wasted your time without achieving any result, you will indeed have missed a (great) opportunity.

Now, the (Venerable) Abbot and group leaders will follow the ancient rules and regulations and will examine the result of your training. I hope you will not talk wildly (when questioned); you should, in the presence of others, give in a sentence (a summary of) your achievement. If your replies are in order, the (Venerable) Abbot will confirm your realization. The ancients said:


"(Self-) cultivation takes an unimaginable time[47]
(While) enlightenment in an instant is attained.

If the training is efficient, enlightenment will be attained in one finger-snap.

In days gone by, Ch'an master Hui Chueh of Lang Yeh mountain, had a woman disciple who called on him for instruction. The master taught her to examine into the sentence: "Take no notice."[48] She followed his instruction strictly without backsliding. One day, her house caught fire, but she said: "Take no notice." Another day, her son fell into the water and when a bystander called her, she said: "Take no notice." She observed exactly her master's instruction by laying down all causal thoughts.[49]

One day, as her husband lit the fire to make fritters of twisted dough, she threw into the pan full of boiling (vegetable) oil a batter which made a noise. Upon hearing the noise, she was instantaneously enlightened.[50] Then she threw the pan of oil on the ground, clapped her hands and laughed.[51] Thinking she was insane, her husband scolded her and said: "Why do you do this? Are you mad?" She replied: "Take no notice." Then she went to master Hui Chueh and asked him to verify her achievement. The master confirmed that she had obtained the holy fruit.

Dear friends, those of you who have been awakened (to the truth), please come forward and say something about your realization.

(After a long while, as no one came forward, Master Hsu Yun left the hall. The (Venerable) Dharma master Ying Tz'u continued to hold the examination, and when it was over, Master Hsu Yun returned to the hall to instruct the assembly.)

(Master Hsu Yun said:)

In this tumultous world and (especially in this) bustling and disorderly city, how can one have spare time for, and thought of, coming here to sit in meditation and to hold a hua t'ou? (However), the deep good roots possessed by the people of Shanghai, in combination with the flourishing Buddha Dharma and the unsurpassed co-operating cause have made this great opportunity available for our gathering.

From olden time till now, we have had the Teaching, the Discipline (Vinaya), the Pure Land and the Esoteric (Yoga) Schools. A rigorous comparison between these schools and the Ch'an Sect proves the superiority of the latter. Earlier, I also spoke of this unsurpassed Sect, but owing to the present decline of Buddha Dharma, men of ability are not available. Formerly, in my long journeys on foot I went to and stayed at various monasteries but what I see now cannot be compared with what I saw then. I am really ashamed of my ignorance, but the (Venerable) Abbot who is very compassionate, and the group leaders who are very courteous, have pushed me forward (to preside over this meeting). This task should have been entrusted to the (venerable) old Dharma master Ying Tz'u who is an (acknowledged) authority on both Ch'an and the scriptures and is an (experienced) senior. I am now a useless man and cannot do anything, and I hope you will all follow him and push forward without backsliding.

Ancestor Kuei Shan[52] said: "It is regrettable that we were born at the end of the semblance period,[53] so long after the passing of the holy period, when the Buddha Dharma is disregarded and when people pay little attention to it. I am (however) expressing my humble opinion to make the coming generation understand it."

The Dharma name of (Master) Kuei Shan[54] was Ling Yu; he was a native of Fu Chien[55] province. He followed Ancestor Pai Chang and realized his (self-) mind (at the latter's monastery.) The ascetic[56] Szu Ma saw that Kuei Shan mountain in Hunan province was auspicious and would become the meeting place for an assembly of 1,500 learned monks. At the time Kuei Shari was a verger of Pai Chang monastery where, during a visit Dhuta Szu Ma met him, recognized him as the right owner of the mountain and invited him to go there to establish a monastery. Kuei Shan was a man of the T'ang dynasty (618-906) and the Buddha Dharma was already at the end of its semblance period. For this reason, he was sorry he was not born earlier, because at the time the Buddha Dharma was difficult to understand and worldly men, whose believing minds were retrograding, refused to make efforts in their study of the doctrine, with the result that there was no hope for their attainment of the Buddha fruit. Over a thousand years have elapsed since the time of Kuei Shan and not only has the semblance period passed, but over 900 years of the present period of termination have also elapsed. (Therefore), worldly men of good roots are now very much fewer. This is why men believing in the Buddha Dharma are many and men who actually realize the truth are very few.

I now compare my own case with that of those who are now studying the Buddha Dharma and who have the advantage of all kinds of convenience. In the reigns of Hsien Feng (1851-61) and Tung Chih (1862-74), all monasteries were destroyed in the region south of the three rivers, where only the T'ien T'ung monastery remained intact. During the Tai Ping rebellion (1850-64)monks of the Chung Nan mountains came (to the South) to rebuild (these monasteries) and at the time, they were equipped each with only a gourd and a basket, and did not possess as many things as you have now. Later, the Buddha Dharma gradually flourished again, and monks began to carry their loads (with a pole over the shoulder). At present, they even carry leather suitcases but they do not pay much attention to the correct practice of the doctrine. Formerly, Ch'an monks wishing to call at various monasteries for instruction, had to journey on foot. Now, they can travel by train, motor car, steamer and airplane which relieve them of all (previous) hardships but intensify their enjoyment in indulgence and ease. At present, in spite of the increasing number of Buddhist institutions and Dharma masters, no one pays attention to the fundamental question, and from morning to evening everybody seeks only knowledge and interpretation with the least heed for (self-) cultivation and realization. At the same time, they do not know that (self-) cultivation and realization are the essentials of the doctrine.

(Ch'an master) Yung Chia said in his Song of Enlightenment:


Get at the root. Do not worry about twigs.
(Be) like pure crystal round the precious moon.[57]
Alas! in this time of decay and in this evil world
Living beings of ill fortune are hard to discipline.
The holy period's long passed and perverted views are deep.
With Demon strong and Dharma weak, hatred and harm prevail.
When they hear the Tathagata's Instantaneous Dharma door,
They hate not having smashed it into pieces.
While their minds so act their bodies will then suffer;
They cannot accuse or blame their fellow-men.
If you would avoid unintermittant karma,[58]
Do not vilify the wheel of the Buddha's Law.[59]
In my youth I amassed much learning,
Sought sutras, sastras, and their commentaries
Endlessly discriminating between name and form.[60]
As one vainly counting sandgrains in the ocean
I was severely reprimanded by the Buddha,
Who asked what gain derived from counting others' gems.

Yung Chia called on the Sixth Patriarch for instruction and was completely enlightened. The Patriarch called him the "Overnight Enlightened One". For this reason, the ancients said: "The search for truth in sutras and sastras is like entering the sea to count its sand-grains."

The Ch'an Sect's device is likened to the precious Vajra king sword[61] which cuts all things touching it and destroys all that runs up against its (sharp) point. It is the highest Dharma door (through which) to attain Buddhahood at a stroke.[62] (To give you an example, I will tell you the story of) Ch'an master Shen Tsan who traveled on foot when he was young and who became enlightened after his stay with ancestor Pai Chang. After his enlightenment, he returned to his former master and the latter asked him: "After you left me, what (new) acquisition did you make at other places?" Shen Tsan replied: "I made no acquisition." He was then ordered to serve his (former) master.

One day, as his (former) master took a bath and ordered him to scrub his dirty back, Shen Tsan patted him on the back and said: "A good Buddha hall but the Buddha is not saintly." His master did not understand what he meant, turned his head and looked at the disciple who said again: "Although the Buddha is not saintly, he sends out illuminating rays."

Another day, as his master was reading a sutra under the window, a bee knocked against the window paper[63] trying to get out (of the room). Shen Tsan saw the struggling bee and said: "The universe is so vast and you do not want to get out. If you want to pierce old paper, you will get away in the (non-existent) year of the donkey !"[64] After saying this, he sang the following poem:


"It refuses to get out through the empty door
And knocks against the window stupidly.
To pierce old paper will take a hundred years,
Oh when will it succeed in getting out?"

Thinking that Shen Tsan was insulting him, the (old) master put his sutra aside and asked him: "You went away for so long: whom did you meet, what did you learn and what makes you so talkative now?" Shen Tsan replied: "After I left you, I joined the Pai Chang community where master Pai Chang gave me an indication as to how to halt (thinking and discriminating). As you are now old, I have returned to pay the debt of gratitude I owe you." Thereupon, the master informed the assembly (of the incident), ordered a vegetarian banquet (in honor of Shen Tsan) and invited him to expound the Dharma. The latter ascended to the seat and expounded the Pai Chang doctrine, saying:


Spiritual light shines on in solitude[65]
Disentangling the sense organs from sense data.[66]
Experience of true eternity
Depends not just on books.[67]
Mind-nature being taintless
Fundamentally is perfect.
Freedom from falsehood-producing causes
Is the same as absolute Buddhahood.

After hearing this, his master became awakened to the truth and said: "I never expected that in my old age I would hear about the supreme pattern." Then he handed over the management of the monastery to Shen Tsan and respectfully invited him to become his own master.

You see how free and easy this all is! We sat in this Ch'an meeting for over ten days and yet why did we not experience the truth? This is became we were not seriously determined in our training, or we took it for child's play, or we thought it required sitting quiet in meditation in a Ch'an hall. None of this is correct and men who really apply their minds to this training, do not discriminate between the mutable and immutable, or against any kind of (daily) activity. They can do it while in the street, at the noisy market place, or anywhere (they may happen to be).

Formerly, there was a butcher monk who called on learned masters for instruction. One day, he arrived at a market place and passed a butcher's shop where every buyer insisted on having "pure meat".[68] Suddenly, the butcher got angry and, putting down his chopper, asked them: "Which piece of meat is not pure?" Upon hearing this, the butcher monk was instantaneously enightened.[69]

This shows that the ancients did not require to sit in meditation in a Ch'an hall, when they underwent their training. Today,not one of you speaks about awakening. Is this not a waste of time? I now (respectfully) request the (Venerable) Master Ying Tzu and the other masters to hold the examination.

Master Hsu Yun's saying at the closing of the (two) Ch'an weeks.

After tea and cakes had been served, all the assembly stood up when the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, in formal robe (with large sleeves) entered the hall again and sat in front of the (jade) Buddha. With a strip of bamboo, he drew a circle[70] in the air, saying:


Convocation and meditation!
Opening and closing!
When will all this come to an end?[71]
When (productive) causes halt abruptly.
External objects will vanish.

When mind is still, essence and function (of themselves) return to normal.[73] Fundamentally there is no day nor night but only complete brightness.[74]


Where's the dividing line 'twixt South and North, 'twixt East and West?[75]
Without hindrance things are seen to be the product of conditioning causes.[76]
While birds sing and flowers smile, the moon reaches the stream![77]

Now, what shall I say to close the meeting?


"When the board is struck, the bowl springs up!
Let us scrutinize the Prajnaparamita!"[78]

Now let us close the meeting.

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[1] The Dharma age of a monk is the number of summer or discipline years since his ordination.

[2] i.e. a man of no fixed abode. Master Hsu Yun had come from the Yun Men monastery in South China and did not yet know where he was going to settle. The Yun Men monastery was that of Ch'an master Yun Men, founder of the Yun Men Sect, one of the five Ch'an Sects in China. The monastery was rebuilt by master Hsu Yun.

[3] Master Hsu Yun was then 114 years old.

[4] World-dharma or worldly affairs.

[5] Worldly cause, or asrava in Sanskrit, meaning 'leaking' cause; inside the passion-stream as contrasted with anasrava, outside the passion-stream; no drip or leak.

[6] Ksana = the shortest measure of time, as kalpa or aeon, is the longest. 60 ksanas equal a finger-snap, 90 a thought and 4,500 a minute.

[7] Direct cause, a truth, as compared with a contributory cause.

[8] Asankhya in Sanskrit, or innumerable aeons.

[9] The five desires arising from the objects of the five senses, things seen, heard, smelt, tasted and touched.

[10] This parable is frequently used in Buddhist Scriptures to advise us to shut the six gates of our senses so as to be detached from external surroundings.

[11] Dharma doors to enlightenment or methods of realizing the self-nature.

[12] Lit. leaves and branches in literary forms, i.e. accessories not fundamental in the experiential realization of the real. On the other hand, the Ch'an Sect aims at the direct pointing at the Buddha nature which every living being poseesses and the instantaneous realization of the mind leading to the attainment of Buddhahood.

[13] Founder of the Lin Chi Sect.

[14] Mo Shan's question means: If you think you are really enlightened and can dispense with kneeling, you should have realized your Dharmakaya which pervades everywhere and covers also the entrance to the road, for it is free from coming or going, and does not leave one place to come to another.

[15] The question: "What is Mo Shan?" means: "What is the state of the enlightened mind in the Mo Shan nunnery?" The questioner wanted a description of the Bodhi mind. The nun's reply refers to the small lump on the top of the Buddha's head which could not be seen by his disciples. Mo Shun meant that since the visitor was unenlightened, he could not perceive her Dharmakaya which was indescribable.

[16] When Kuan Ch'i asked about the owner of Mo Shan, i.e. about herself, she replied that the owner was neither male nor female for sex had nothing to do with enlightenment, and the Dharmakaya was neither male nor female. Generally, women had many more handicaps than men, and Kuan Ch'i seemed to look down upon her because of her sex and asked her why she did not change herself into a man if she was enlightened. His question showed that he was still under delusion.

[17] The maximum life span of each individual.

[18] In Ch'an parlance, our ignorance is symbolized by the thick black lacquer contained in a wooden cask, because nothing can be seen through it. Ch'an training will cause the bottom of the cask to drop off, thus emptying it of the black lacquer, i.e. our body and mind of delusion. This is the moment when we can perceive the real.

[19] Law of no-birth: lit. endurance leading to the personal experiencing of the law of no-birth, or immortality, i.e. the absolute which is beyond birth and death, boundless patience or endurance being required for subduing the wandering mind.

[20] The Methuselah of China.

[21] Dharmata in Sanskrit, i.e. the nature underlying all things, the Bhutatathata.

[22] The profound enlightenment of Mahayana, or self-enlightenment to enlighten others. The 51st and 52nd stages in the enlightenment of a Bodhisattva, or the two supreme forms of Buddha-enlightenment are respectively: (1) Samyak-sambodhi, or absolute universal enlightenment, omniscience, and (2) the profound enlightenment of Mahayana, or self-enlightenment to enlighten others. The first is the "cause" and the second is the "fruit", and a Bodhisattva becomes a Buddha when the "cause is complete and the fruit is full".

[23] i.e. to be under the beneficial influence of the fragrance of Buddha Dharma.

[24] Head of the Sangha order.

[25] The four varga, groups or order, i.e., Bhiksu, bhiksuni, upasaka and upasika; monks, nuns, male and female devotees.

[26] Foreign dust: guna, in Sanskrit, small particles; molecules, atoms, exhalations; element or matter, which is considered as defilement; an active conditioned principle in nature, minute, subtle and defiling to pure mind; impurities.

[27] Fruit of saintly life, i.e. Bodhi, Nirvana.

[28] The five stupid temptations, or panca-klesa, in Sanskrit, i.e. the five dull, unintelligent, or stupid vices or agents: desire, anger or resentment, stupidity or foolishness, arrogance and doubt.

[29] One who has entered the stream of holy living or who goes against the stream of transmigration; the first stage of the Arhat.

[30] Meaning Ajnata-Kaundinya.

[31] The last convert of the Buddha, "a Brahman 120 years old".

[32] The digit 8 in 80,000 symbolizes the eighth or store (alaya) consciousness (vijnana), the deluded aspect of the self-nature. So long as the Self-nature is under delusion, it is controlled by the discriminating mind and will never perceive the real which is beyond all numbers. The great disciples did not perceive the unconditioned cause of the attainment of Buddhahood, and saw only worldly events occurring in the former transmigrations of Subhadra. The Buddha who possessed the Sarvajna or All-wisdom, saw clearly his new disciple's cause of Arhatship, which cause being beyond all numbers is inherent in the self-nature.

[33] i.e. practice and theory; phenomena ever change; the underlying principle, being absolute, neither changes nor acts; it is the Bhutatathata. When we see a flag streaming in the wind, we know that, in theory, only the mind moves and not the wind or the flag. In practice, we cannot deny that the wind blows and the flag moves. We know also that in theory mind, wind and flag are but one undivided whole. Now, how can we have an experiential realization of this sameness? If we fail to experience it, we will also fail in our self-cultivation. This is the most important phase of the meditation, which can be achieved only if we put an end to our feelings and discrimination.

[34] In ancient China, it was believed that some fish, especially carp, could jump out of the sea to become dragons. A metaphor meaning that these meditaton will never obtain liberation.

[35] i.e. all causes including feelings and passions which are productive of effects and contribute to the turning wheel of births and deaths.

[36] The seven emotions are: pleasure, anger, sorrow, joy, love, hatred and desire. The six attractions arise from colour, form, carriage, voice or speech, softness or smoothness and features.

[37] Lit. on the spot.

[38] which leads to Buddhahood.

[39] i.e. the repetition of Amitibha's name as taught by the Pure Land School; this repetition also enables the repeater to disentangle his mind from all feelings and discrimination and to attain Samidhi. Cases are on record of adepts of the Pure Land School, knowing, in advance, of the time of their death. This is possible only after their attainment of samadhi which manifested itself simultaneously with prajna, or wisdom, called the wisdom of mutual response.

[40] Dharma nature, or Dharmata in Sanskrit, is nature underlying all things.

[41] Bhutatathata is the real, "as thus always", or "certainly so"; i.e. reality as contrasted with unreality or appearance, and unchanging or immutable as contrasted with form or phenomena.

[42] The ten evils are: killing, stealing, adultery, lying, double-tongue, coarse language, filthy talk, covetousness, anger and perverted views.

[43] The ten good virtues are defined as the non-committal of the ten evils.

[44] That which sin does, its karma, producing subsequent suffering without interruption.

[45] click here for the story of Crystal King.

[46] Or cause-ground, the stage of self-cultivation which leads to the fruit-ground, or stage of attainment of Buddhahood.

[47] Lit. three great asarikhya: kalpas beyond number, the theee timeless periods of a Bodhisattva's progress to Buddhahood.

[48] Lit. "Let it go."

[49] Thoughts productive of causes leading to effects.

[50] Her training was already very effective in disentangling her mind from the sense-organs, sense-data and perceptions, i.e. her mind was undisturbed at the time, and the noise had a tremendous effect on it. She did not hear it by means of her faculty of hearing which had ceased functioning, but through the very function of her self-nature which exposed her real "face", hence her enlightenment.

[51] Usually after an awakening, or satori in Japanese, one is seized with a desire to cry, jump, dance or do something abnormal, like throwing down the pan of oil. If one fails to subdue this desire, one will catch the Ch'an illness described in Han Shan's autobiography.

[52] Wei Shan in modern romanization. [Editor of the web edition.]

[53] The three periods of Buddhism are: (1) the period of the holy, correct or real doctrine of the Buddha, lasting 500 years, followed by (2) the image, or semblance period of 1,000 year. and then by (3) the period of decay and termination, lasting 3,000, some say 10,000 years, after which Maitreya Buddha is to appear and restore all things.

[54] In deference to him, Master Ling Yu was called Kuei Shan, after the name of the mountain.

[55] The map version is Fukien(Fujian) province.

[56] Dhuta=a monk engaged in austerities: an ascetic.

[57] Enlightenment is the root and other details, such as supramundane powers and wonderful works are twigs. This is why enlightened masters never talked about miracles. All this is likened to the crystal which, if clung to, will hinder the attainment of enlightenment, symbolized by the moon.

[58] Karma which sends the sinner to the Avici hell, the last of the eight hot hells in which punishment, pain, form, birth, death, continue without intermission.

[59] Dharma cakra in Sanskrit, Buddha truth which is able to crush all evil and all opposition, like Indra's wheel, and which rolls on from man to man, place to place, age to age.

[60] Name and form: everything has a name, e.g. sound, or has appearance, i.e. the visible; both are unreal and give rise to delusion.

[61] The royal diamond gem, or indestructible sword which destroys ignorance and delusion.

[62] Lit. on the spot.

[63] In the East, thin sheets of white paper were, and are still, used instead of window glass.

[64] Old paper is old sutras. The sentence means: If you want to search for the truth in old sutras, you will never realize it, for it can only be experienced in the training. The meaning is: If you want to "pierce" old sutras in your quest of your self-nature, you will never succeed in experiencing it.

[65] i.e. independent, not attached to and relying on anything.

[66] This disentanglement is followed by the state of Samadhi, with simultaneous functioning of Prajna, or Wisdom.

[67] If one clings to names and terms, one will be held in bondage by them.

[68] Prime meat is called "pure meat" in China.

[69] The butcher monk was so called because he attained enlightenement upon hearing the butcher's voice. He was undergoing intense training when he passed the butcher's shop and his mind was already still and free from all thiniking and discerning. The butcher's loud voice made a great impact on the monk's mind and was heard, not by the ear's faculty of hearing, but by the very function of the self-nature. When the function of the self-nature manifested itself, the substance or essence of the self-nature, became apparent, hence his enlightenment.

[70] The cirde symbolizes the completeness of the Dharmakaya.

[71] These three lines show the illusory mundane activities which have nothing to do with the experiencng of the truth.

[72] When all causes productive of effects come to an end, the phenomenal also disappears, and this is the moment when one's "great wisdom reaches the other shore", or Mahaprajnaparamita.

[73] When the mind is stripped of feelings and passions, it will he still; this is the moment the essence and function of the self-natured Buddha are restored to normal.

[74] Fundamentally, there is only the immutable bright wisdom which is unchanging.

[75] When the self-nature is under delusion, it is split into ego and dharma, or subject and object, hence all kinds of discrimination between East and West and North and South. Now that enlightenment is attained, where is all this division?

[76] The phenomenal is created only by Conditioning causes but is devoid of real nature.

[77] Our delusion is caused by our attachment to things heard, seen, felt and known, but if the mind is disentangled from the hearing, seeing, feeling and knowing or discerning, we will attain the Complete Enlightenment of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (see discourse on the second day of the second Ch'an week). The two faculties of hearing and seeing are mentioned here because they are constantly active, whereas the other four faculties are sometimes dormant. If one succeeds in disentangling the hearing from the birds' song and the seeing from the smiling flowers, the moon, symbol of enlightenment, will shine on the stream, for water is a symbol of the self-nature. This sentence means that one can attain enlightenment while in the midst of sound and sight which symbolize the illusory world.

[78] In a monastery, the board is Struck for calling to meals. If the mind is efficiently stripped of all feelings and passions, all the eight vijnanas or consciousnesses will be frozen and inactive. This moment is referred to, in Ch'an parlance, as "a temporary death foflowed by a resurrection", i.e. death of delusion and resurrection of self-nature. When the self-nature recovers its freedom, it will function and hear the sound of the board. As the phenomenal and noumenal are now an undivided whole, the self-natured Dharmakaya will pervade everywhere, including the bowl which reveals its presence. For this reason, the ancients said: "The exuberant green bamboos are all Dharmakaya and luxuriant yellow flowers are nothing but Prajna." This attainment is made possible only by the Prajnaparamita which all seekers of the truth should put into practice.


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