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The Human Route

The Human Route
Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed—that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud, which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud, which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like this.
However, there is one thing, which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.
Question: What is that one pure and clear thing?

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The Song of the Vajra

The Song of the Vajra
Unborn, yet continuing without interruption, neither coming nor going, omnipresent, Supreme Dharma,
unchangeable space, without definition, spontaneously self-liberating—
perfectly unobstructed state—
manifest from the very beginning,
self-created, without location,
with nothing negative to reject,
and nothing positive to accept,
infinite expanse, penetrating everywhere, immense, and without limits, without ties, with nothing even to dissolve
or to be liberated from,
manifest beyond space and time, existing from the beginning, immense ying3, inner space, radiant through clarity
like the sun and the moon, self-perfected,
indestructible like a Vajra, stable as a mountain,
pure as a lotus,
strong as a lion,
incomparable pleasure beyond all limits, illumination, equanimity,
peak of the Dharma,
light of the universe,
perfect from the beginning.

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Zen Mind Has No “I”

Rigpa, Primordial Awareness has no “I”
Rigpa or Zen Mind, is an awareness without a personal experiencer nor a personal perceiver who perceives.
The Bahiya Sutra
“The Buddha was approached and asked by a person named Bahiya to reveal the insight necessary to realize enlightenment:
“Teach me the Dhamma (supreme truth), O Blessed One! Teach me the Dhamma, O One-Well-Gone, that will be for my long-term welfare and bliss.”
The Buddha responded: “Then, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus:
In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard.
In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cog­nized.
That is how you should train yourself.
When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no ‘you’ in terms of that.
When there is no ‘you’ in terms of that, there is no ‘you’ there. When there is no ‘you’ there, you are neither here nor there nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of samsara (suffering).”
At this moment, Bahiya’s mind fully awakened.”
Lama Zopa:
“Another way to meditate on emptiness is to ask yourself, “What am I doing now?” You reply, “I’m sitting.”
“Then ask yourself, “Why do I say that “I” am sitting?” “There’s no other reason at all to believe that “I” am sitting except that my body is doing the action of sitting.”
“And when you say, “I’m thinking” or “I’m listening to teachings,” why do you believe “you” are thinking or listening to teachings? There’s no other reason at all except that your mind is thinking or listening to teachings.”
“This way of meditating helps us to recognize the object to be refuted. It is only because the aggregates (body/mind) are sitting, standing, eating, drinking or sleeping that we believe “I’m sitting,” “I’m standing,” “I’m eating,” “I’m drinking” or “I’m sleeping.” The I is merely imputed in dependence upon the aggregates ( body/mind) and the actions of the aggregates (body/mind). With this reasoning, there’s suddenly a big change in your view of the I. The concrete I, the seemingly real I, suddenly becomes empty right there. The seemingly real I from its own side that appeared before is not there.” Prasangika View
Lama Zopa

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The Play of the Mind

The Play of the Mind: Form, Emptiness, and Beyond
By John Welwood
Form is emptiness, emptiness itself is form; emptiness is no other than form, form is no other than emptiness. -Heart Sutra
In every crescendo of sensation, in every effort to recall, in every progress towards the satisfaction of desire, this succession of an emptiness and fullness that have reference to each other and are one flesh is the essence of the phenomenon. -William James
In the gap between thoughts nonconceptual wisdom shines continuously. -Milarepa
Western philosophy has studied the mind mainly through conceptual thought and rational analysis; as a result, it has granted thinking, even “thinking about thinking,” the highest status. Modern depth psychology has gone beyond this traditional understanding by giving greater importance to what eludes thought–subconscious feelings, wishes, impulses, images. Yet modern psychology’s view of mind remains limited because, in characteristic Western fashion, it focuses on the contents of mind, while neglecting mind as an experiential process.
William James (1890, 255) was an early critic of psychology’s tendency to overemphasize the contents of the mind, while ignoring the flowing stream of consciousness itself–which for him was like saying that a river consists of nothing but pailsful, spoonsful, quartpotsful, barrelsful, and other molded forms of water. Even were the pails and the pots all actually standing in the stream, still between them the free water would continue to flow.
In directing attention toward the flow of consciousness, the free water that cannot be confined to its molded forms, James comes close to the Buddhist understanding of everyday mind as a mindstream, a continuous flow of moment-to-moment experiencing.
Buddhist psychology goes one step further, however. Beyond the static Western focus on contents of mind and the more dynamic view of the mindstream as a flow of experiencing, it recognizes a still larger dimension of mind–the presence of nonconceptual awareness, or “nonthought,” as it is sometimes called. In contrast to the forms that consciousness takes–thought, feeling, perception–the larger nature of consciousness has no shape or form. Therefore, it is often described as “emptiness.” If the contents of mind are like pails and buckets floating in a stream, and the mindstream is like the dynamic flowing of the water, pure awareness is like the water itself in its essential wetness. Sometimes the water is still, sometimes it is turbulent; yet it always remains as it is-wet, fluid, watery. In the same way, pure awareness is never confined or disrupted by any mind-state. Therefore, it is the source of liberation and true equanimity.
When we start to observe the play of the mind, what we most readily notice are the contents of consciousness–the ongoing, overlapping sequence of perceptions, thoughts, feelings. As we develop a subtler, finer, more sustained kind of witnessing, through a discipline like meditation, we discover in addition to these differentiated mind-moments another aspect of the mindstream that usually remains hidden: inarticulate gaps or spaces appearing between our discrete thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. These spaces between the pailsful and bucketsful of water floating in the stream are hard to see at first and impossible to remember because they have no definite form or shape we can grasp. Yet if we do not try to grasp them, these undifferentiated mind-moments can provide a glimpse of the larger reality that lies beyond the mindstream: the pure ground of nonconceptual awareness that encompasses and also surpasses all the activities of mind.
Thus the play of the mind includes three elements: differentiated and undifferentiated mind-moments, and the larger background awareness in which the interplay between these two takes place. In the Tibetan Mahamudra tradition, these three elements are known as movement, stillness, and awareness. The alternation between movement and stillness–differentiated and undifferentiated mind-moments–makes up the flowing stream of consciousness that is the foreground level of mind. And through the relative stillness of the silent spaces between thoughts we find a doorway into the essence of mind itself, the larger background awareness that is present in both movement and stillness, without bias toward either. This larger awareness is self-existing: it cannot be fabricated or manufactured because it is always present, whether we notice it or not.
In terms of the Buddhist teaching of the three kayas, we could say that the contents of consciousness belong to the nirmanakaya, the realm of manifest form. The pulsation of the mindstream, with its alternation between movement and stillness, belongs to the sambhogakaya, the realm of energetic flow. And the larger open ground of awareness, first discovered in moments of stillness, is the dharmakaya, the realm of pure being itself, eternally present, spontaneous, and free of entrapment in any form whatsoever.
Form and Emptiness in the Stream of Consciousness
Our most common experience of nonthought or emptiness is the appearance of little gaps between our thoughts–which are continually occurring, though normally overlooked. For instance, after speaking a sentence, there is a natural pause, marked by a punctuation mark when written out, which allows a split-second return to undifferentiated awareness. Or between the words of the sentence itself, there may be halts and gaps (often covered verbally by “hm” or “ah”) that allow split-second attention to a preverbal sense of what we wish to say.
As one of the first Western explorers of consciousness, William James was particularly interested in these undifferentiated moments in the mindstream–which he called the “transitive parts,” in contrast to the more substantial moments of formal thought and perception. James (1890, 243-4) also understood the impossibility of using focal attention to try to observe these diffuse transitional spaces that occur between more substantive mind-moments:
Now it is very difficult, introspectively, to see the transitive parts for what they really are. If they are but flights to a conclusion, stopping them to look at them before the conclusion is reached is really annihilating them. . . . The attempt at introspective analysis in these cases is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks.
The difficulty of apprehending these undifferentiated moments through focal attention has led Western psychology to disregard or deny them as having any importance in the stream of consciousness, an error that James (1890, 244) called the “psychologist’s fallacy”:
If to hold fast and observe the transitive parts of thought’s stream be so hard, then the great blunder to which all schools are liable must be the failure to register them, and the undue emphasizing of the more substantive parts of the stream.
The mind’s tendency to hold onto solid forms is like a bird in flight always looking for the next branch to land on. And this narrow focus prevents us from appreciating what it is like to sail through space, to experience what one Hasidic master called the “between-stage”–a primal state of potentiality that gives birth to new possibilities. Continually looking for a belief, attitude, identity, or emotional reaction to hold onto for dear life, we fail to recognize the interplay of form and emptiness in the mindstream–out of which all creativity arises.
Beauty itself is a function of this interplay. Things stand out as beautiful only in relation to the space surrounding them. The loveliest antiques mean nothing in a cluttered room. A sudden clap of thunder is awesome not just because of the sound, but because of the silence it has interrupted, as James (1890, 240) points out:
Into the awareness of the thunder itself the awareness of the previous silence creeps and continues; for what we hear when the thunder crashes is not thunder pure, but thunder-breaking-upon-silence-and-contrasting-with-it. . . . The feeling of the thunder is also a feeling of the silence as just gone.
Similarly in music, the contour, meaning, and beauty of a melody derive from the intervals between the notes. Recognizing this, the great pianist Artur Schnabel once wrote, “The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes–ah, that is where the art resides.” A single tone by itself has little meaning, and as soon as two tones are sounded they are instantly related by the shape of the space or interval between them. The interval of a third conveys a totally different feeling-quality than does a fifth. Since any pair of tones the same interval apart will sound rather similar, the sequences of intervals are what give a melody its particular quality, rather than the particular tones themselves.
Thus music provides an interesting analogy for the interplay between form and emptiness within the larger ecology of mind. Form is emptiness: the melody is actually a pattern of intervals between the tones. Although a melody is usually thought of as a sequence of notes, it is equally, if not more so, a sequence of spaces that the tones simply serve to mark off. Emptiness is form: nonetheless, this pattern of intervals does make up a definite, unique melodic progression that can be sung and remembered. And the ground of both the tones and the intervals is the larger silence that encompasses the melody and allows it to stand out and be heard.
Our usual addiction to the grasping tendency of mind causes us to overlook the spaces around thoughts, the felt penumbra that gives our experience its subtle beauty and meaning. Neglecting these fluid spaces within the mindstream contributes to a general tendency to over-identify with the contents of our mind and to assume that we are the originator and custodian of them. The troublesome equation “I = my thoughts about reality” creates a narrowed self-sense, along with an anxiety about our thoughts as territory we have to defend.
Absolute Emptiness: The Larger Ground of Awareness
So far we have focused on gaps in the mindstream–spaces between thoughts, moments of quiet–that represent a relative kind of emptiness. These gaps are relatively formless in comparison to the more graspable forms of thought, perception, or emotion. And the stillness in these gaps is only relative because it is easily disrupted or displaced by the next moment of activity that occurs in the mindstream. This type of stillness is simply an experience among experiences–what the Tibetans call nyam (temporary experience).
Beyond the relative emptiness we discover in these gaps in the mindstream there lies the much larger, absolute emptiness of nonconceptual awareness, which Buddhism regards as the very essence of mind. This nonconceptual awareness is an absolute stillness or emptiness because its space and silence actually pervade, and thus cannot be displaced by, whatever goes on in the mind. Meditation practice can help us find this larger stillness in movement, this larger silence within sound, this nonthought within the very activity of thinking.
Without sustained and disciplined inner attention, it is almost impossible to discover, enter, or abide in this absolute ground of steady awareness. For as long as we skim along the surface of consciousness, our moments of stillness are quickly disrupted by the activity of thought, feeling, and perception. Meditation practice provides a direct way to tune into this larger dimension of nonconceptual awareness. As one Tibetan text (Trungpa and Hookham 1974, 8) describes this discovery:
Sometimes in meditation there is a gap in normal consciousness, a sudden complete openness. . . . It is a glimpse of reality, a sudden flash which occurs at first infrequently, and then gradually more and more often. It may not be a particularly shattering or explosive experience at all, just a moment of great simplicity.
Meditation is designed to help us move beyond the surface contents of the mind. Underneath the mind’s surface activity, the ocean of awareness remains perfectly at rest, regardless of what is happening on its surface. As long as we are caught up in the waves of thought and feeling, they appear solid and overwhelming. But if we can find the presence of awareness within our thoughts and feelings, they lose their formal solidity and release their fixations. In the words of Tibetan teacher Tarthang Tulku (1974, 9-10):
Stay in the the thoughts. Just be there. . . . You become the center of the thought. But there is not really any center. . . . Yet at the same time, there is . . . complete openness. . . . If we can do this, any thought becomes meditation.
In this way, meditation reveals the absolute stillness within both the mind’s turbulence and its relative calm.
Here then is the deeper sense in which form is emptiness: The essence of all thought and all experience is complete openness and clarity. In this sense, Buddhist psychology provides an understanding of mind that resembles the quantum physics view of matter. In quantum field theories, “the classical contrast between the solid particles and the space surrounding them is completely overcome” (Capra 1975, 210). Just as subatomic particles are intense condensations of a larger energy field, so thoughts are momentary condensations of awareness. Just as matter and space are but two aspects of a single unified field, so thought and the spaces between thoughts are two aspects of the larger field of awareness, which Zen master Suzuki (1970) described as “big mind.” If small mind is the ongoing grasping and fixating activity of focal attention, big mind is the background of this whole play–pure presence and nonconceptual awareness.
The following diagram illustrates the relationship between the three aspects of mind discussed here:

In this figure, the dots are like differentiated mind-moments, which stand out as separate events because of the spaces between them. Although these spaces appear to be nothing in comparison to the dots, they nonetheless provide the context that allows the dots to stand out as what they are and that joins them together. The spaces between the dots also provide entry points into the background, the white space of the page, which represents the larger ground of pure awareness in which the interplay of form and emptiness takes place.
Big Mind
The big mind of pure awareness is a no-man’s-land–a free, open reality without reference points, property boundaries, or trail markers.
Although it cannot be grasped as an object by focal attention, it is not an article of faith. Quite the contrary, in the words of a Tibetan text, “The nothingness in question is actually experienceable” (Guenther 1959, 54). Unfortunately, when the untutored mind regards it as a mere blankness or nothingness, the jewel-like radiance of this pure awareness becomes obscured. As Dzogchen teacher Tenzin Wangyal (1997, 29) points out:
The gap between two thoughts is essence. But if in that gap there is a lack of presence, it becomes ignorance and we experience only a lack of awareness, almost an unconsciousness. If there is presence in the gap, then we experience the dharmakaya [the ultimate].
The essence of meditation could be described quite simply, in Tenzin Wangyal’s words, as “presence in the gap”–as an act of nondual, unitive knowing that reveals the ground of being in what at first appears to be nothing at all. As another Tibetan text (Guenther 1956, 269) explains, “The foundation of sentient beings is without roots. . . . And this rootlessness is the root of enlightenment.” Only in the groundless ground of being can the dance of reality unfold in all its luminous clarity.
References
Capra, Fritjof. 1975. The Tao of Physics. Berkeley, CA: Shambhala.
Guenther, Herbert V. 1956. “Tibetan Buddhism in Western Perspective: The Concept of Mind in Buddhist Tantrism.” Journal of Oriental Studies 3:261-77.
Guenther, Herbert V. 1959. “The Philosophical Background of Buddhist Tantrism.” Journal of Oriental Studies 5:45-64.
James, William. 1890. The Principles of Psychology. New York: Holt.
Suzuki, Daisetz T. 1970. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. New York: Walker, Weatherhill.
Tarthang Tulku. 1974. “On Thoughts.” Crystal Mirror 3:7-20.
Trungpa, Chogyam, and M. Hookham, trans. 1974. “Maha Ati.” Vajra 1:6-8.
Wangyal, Tenzin. 1997. A-Khrid Teachings. Vol. 2. Berkeley, CA: privately published.
[author’s note:]
John Welwood, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the associate editor of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. He has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for thirty years and is the author of many articles and seven books. This article is excerpted from his latest book, Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation (Shambhala, 2000). Copyright © John Welwood, 2000.

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Morning Bell Chant

Morning Bell Chant
Our vow:
may the sound of this bell
spread throughout the universe,
make all the hell of dark metal bright, relieve the three realms of suffering, shatter the hell of swords,
and bring all beings to enlightenment.
Homage to the shining, loving, holy one,
the great master Vairocana, Buddha of Light.
Now we recite the treasured verse from the golden book and display the jewelled box with the jade axle.
Each particle of dust interpenetrates every other one.
Moment by moment, each is perfectly complete.
One hundred million, ninety-five thousand, forty-eight words are the complete teaching of the one vehicle.
Homage to the great, wide Buddha: the Hwa Yen Sutra.
The first verse:
If you wish to understand thoroughly
All Buddhas past, present, and future,
You should view the nature of the universe
As created by mind alone.
The mantra of shattering hell:
Na-mu a-ta shi-ji nam sam-yak sam-mo-ta gu-chi-nam om a-ja- na ba-ba ji-ri ji-ri hum (three times)
We vow for our entire life to keep our minds, without distraction, on Amita Buddha,
the Buddha of infinite time and space.
All minds are forever connected to this jade brightness. No thought ever departs from this golden form.
Holding beads, perceiving the universe;
with emptiness as the string,
there is nothing unconnected.
Perceive and attain the western Amita Buddha.
Become one with the great western master,
the “just like this” Buddha of infinite life. Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.
The blue mountain of many ridges is the Buddha’s home. The vast ocean of many waves is the palace of stillness.
Be with all things without hindrance.
Few can see the crane’s red head atop the pine tree. Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.
Sitting quietly in a mountain temple in the quiet night, Extreme quiet and stillness is original nature.
Why then does the western wind shake the forest?
A single cry of winter geese fills the sky.
Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.
Vowing openly with all world beings,
Entering together Amita’s ocean of great vows, Continuing forever to save sentient beings,
You and I simultaneously attain the way of Buddha. Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.
Become one with the western pure land,
a world of utmost bliss.
The thirty-six billion, one hundred nineteen thousand, five hundred names of the Buddha are all the same name.
Great love, great compassion, Amita Buddha.
Become one with the western pure land, a world of utmost bliss.
This Buddha’s body is long and wide. This auspicious face is without boundary and this golden color shines everywhere, pervading the entire universe.
Forty-eight vows to save all sentient beings.
No one can say, nor say its opposite.
No one can say, because Buddha is like the Ganges’s innumerable grains of sand, or the infinite moments in all time,
or innumberable dust particles,
or countless blades of grass,
numberless number.
The three hundred sixty billion,
one hundred nineteen thousand,
five hundred names of the Buddha are all the same name.
Great love, great compassion, our original teacher.
Homage to the golden Tathagata Amita Buddha. Become one: infinite time, infinite space Buddha.
The mantra of original mind’s sublimity: Om a-ri da-ra sa-ba-ha (three times)

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Un Mun and the Dragon’s Treasure Chest

A long time ago in China, Zen Master Un Mun went into town one day with one of his monks. As they walked down the street, Un Mun looked ahead and saw a shop with a sign that read “Dragon’s Treasure Chest.”
On seeing the sign, Un Mun turned to the monk and asked, “What kind of treasure comes from a dragon’s treasure chest?”
The monk couldn’t answer, so Un Mun said, “A flattened toad!” The monk still didn’t say anything, so Un Mun spoke again: “A fart!” When the monk still didn’t reply, Un Mun tried one more time and said: “Steamed buns!”
We can imagine the two of them walking down the street and coming across a flattened toad on the road; then Un Mun cuts a fart, as people do; and then they pass a bakery display of steamed buns.
We can also imagine the monk’s mind. Anyone who has done kong-an interviews can imagine the confusion, embarrassment and resistance in the monk’s mind as he walked down the street with his teacher.
Perhaps we can also imagine Un Mun’s incredible kindness and generosity as he repeatedly tried to bring the monk to the reality and aliveness of the moment as the two of them walked down the street.
That’s our job as human beings: to bring others and, of course, ourselves, into reality, even when reality is a dried toad, or a smell, or a meal. That’s what I wanted to talk about today. How do we come into reality in each moment? —Barry Briggs JDPSN #zen #kongan #moment #alive #reality #kwanumzen

May you only go straight, achieve enlightenment and free us all.
Ian
https://zenawakened.com – Zen Buddhism and more!!!

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Is That So?

The Zen Master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a very pure life. This is a story about his patience. One day, the parents of a beautiful unmarried Japanese girl found that their daughter was pregnant. This made the parents very angry. She would not tell them who the father was, but after continued questioning, the girl confessed that Hakuin was the father. In great anger, the parents went to the Master and confronted him with the accusation. All he said was, “Is that so?” After the child was born, the parents brought the baby to Hakuin, demanding that he care and raise his son. By this time his reputation had been completely smeared by the parent’s and townspeople’s accusations. He accepted the baby and took great care of the child. He obtained milk from the neighbors and provided everything that the baby needed. A year later, the girl-mother could not stand it any longer. She finally confessed to her parents the name of the true father. Of course, this was NOT Hakuin. The mother, father and daughter immediately went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness. They apologized at length, then asked for the baby back. Hakuin was willing. In returning the child to the mother, all he said was “Is that so?”

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The Essentials of Chan Practice

The Essentials of Chan Practice
Xu Yun (1839-1959)
The purpose of investigating Chan is to illuminate the Mind and see your self-nature.
You must eradicate the mind’s impurities so as to personally perceive the true face of your self-nature.
The mind’s impurities are wandering thoughts and attachment; self-nature is the wisdom and virtue of the Tathagata. Sentient beings are replete with the wisdom and virtue of buddhas; they are not two and not separated from one another. If you can leave behind wandering thoughts and attachments, then you will attain this wisdom and virtue that is within you. This is buddhahood. Otherwise you remain an ordinary sentient being.
It is because you and I have been, for unlimited kalpas, wallowing in birth and death, defiled for a long time, and unable to immediately cast off wandering thoughts that we cannot perceive our intrinsic nature. For these reasons, the first prerequisite of investigating Chan is to eradicate wandering thoughts.
How do we eradicate wandering thoughts?
Shakymuni Buddha taught much on this subject. His simplest and most direct teaching is the word stop, from the expression "Stopping is bodhi."
From the time when Bodhidharma transmitted Chan teachings to our Eastern land, after the Sixth Patriarch, the winds of Chan have blown far and wide shaking and illuminating the world. Among the many things that Bodhidharma and the Sixth Patriarch taught to those who came to study with them, none is more valuable than the saying "Put down the myriad entangling conditions; let not one thought arise."
Putting down the myriad entangling conditions simply means to put down all conditions. So this phrase "Put down all conditions and let not one thought arise" is actually the foremost prerequisite of a Chan practitioner. If you cannot fulfill this requirement, then not only will you fail to attain the ultimate goal of Chan practice, but you will not even be able to enter the gate of Chan.
How can you speak of practicing Chan if you are entangled by worldly phenomena, wallowing in the arising and passing of your thoughts?
"Put down all conditions and let not one thought arise" is a prerequisite for the practice of investigating Chan. Now that we know this, how do we accomplish it?
The best practitioner, one of superior abilities, can in an instant put to rest all deluded thoughts forever, arrive directly at the realization of the unborn, and instantly experience bodhi, without being entangled by anything.
The next best kind of practitioner uses principle to rid himself of phenomenal appearance and realizes that self-nature is originally pure; vexation and bodhi, samsara and nirvana—all are false names that have nothing to do with self-nature; all affairs and things are dreams and illusions, like bubbles or reflections.
My physical body that is composed of the four elements, the mountains, rivers, and this great earth—these are all contained within my self-nature, like bubbles on the surface of the ocean, arising and disappearing, yet never obstructing the ocean’s fundamental essence.
Do not be captivated by the arising, abiding, changing, and passing away of illusory phenomena that give rise to pleasure and aversion, grasping and rejecting. Give up your whole body as if you were dead, and the six sense faculties, six sense objects, and sense consciousnesses will naturally disperse.
Greed, hatred, ignorance, and craving for affection will be destroyed. All the physical sensations of pain, itchiness, agony, and pleasure—hunger, cold, satiation, warmth, glory, insult, birth and death, calamity, prosperity, good and bad luck, praise, blame, gain and loss, safely and danger—will no longer be your concern. Only this can be considered "putting down of all conditions." When you put everything down forever, this is what is meant by "Put down all conditions."
When the myriad conditions are renounced, wandering thoughts will disappear on their own accord, discrimination will not arise, and attachment is left far behind. In this instance of nothing arising in the mind, the brightness and clarity of your self-nature manifests completely. Only at this time will you have fulfilled the necessary conditions for investigating Chan. Then, further hard work and sincere practice will enable you to illuminate the Mind and see into your true nature.
Everyone Instantly becomes a Buddha
Many Chan practitioners ask questions about the Dharma. The Dharma that is spoken is originally not the true Dharma. As soon as you try to explain things, the true meaning is lost. If you realize that this Mind is originally the Buddha, then at that very instant there is nothing more to do. Everything manifests its perfected state. All talk about practice or attainment is deception.
Bodhidharma’s "direct pointing at the Mind and seeing into one’s nature and thus attaining buddhahhood" clearly instructs that all sentient beings are buddhas.
Once pure self-nature is recognized, you can harmonize with the environment yet remain undefiled. The Mind will remain unified throughout the day, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down.
This manifests the already perfected buddha. At this point there is no need to put forth effort and be diligent, let alone act in a certain way or be pretentious. Nor is there a need to bother with explanations or discursive thinking. Thus it is said that to become a buddha is the easiest, most natural task. Moreover, it is something you can control, without seeking help from outside.
All sentient beings in this vast land can instantly realize buddhahood if only they desire to avoid transmigration of four forms of birth and death and the six realms of existence in this long kalpa, tumbling in the sea of suffering without end.
Buddhahood can be attained if you desire the four virtues of nirvana (eternity, joy, self, purity) and wholly believe in the sincere words of the Buddha and the patriarchs, renounce everything and think neither of good nor bad. All buddhas, bodhisattvas, and patriarchs have vowed to exhaustively save all sentient beings; this vow is not a boast, nor is it groundless, making some sort of grand vow or empty remark.
The Dharma is exactly such. It has been elucidated again and again by the Buddha and the patriarchs. They have exhorted us with the truth and do not deceive us. Unfortunately, sentient beings are confused, and for limitless kalpas they have been wallowing in birth and death in the ocean of suffering, reborn here and reborn there, without any control of their endless transmigration. Confused with inverted views, they turn their backs on awakening and embrace the worldly dust of their senses, like pure gold in a cesspool.
Because of the severity of the problem and the degree of their defilement, the Buddha compassionately, without any choice, expounded eighty-four thousand Dharma doors to accord with the varying karmic roots of sentient beings, so that sentient beings may use these methods to cure themselves of eighty-four thousand habits and illnesses, which include greed, hatred, ignorance, and craving for affection.
Xu Yun (1839-1959)
Excerpted from Attaining the Way-A Guide to the Practice of Chan Buddhism – Sheng Yen 2006

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The One Mind


THE SERMON ON ONE-MIND
If you would free yourself of the sufferings of Samsara, you must learn the direct way to become a Buddha.
This way is no other than the realization of your own Mind.
Now, what is this Mind?
It is the true nature of all sentient beings, that which existed before our parents were born and hence before our own birth, and which presently exists, unchangeable and eternal. So it is called one’s Face before one’s parents were born.
This Mind is intrinsically pure.
When we are born it is not newly created, and when we die it does not perish.
It has no distinction of male or female, nor has it any coloration of good or bad.
It cannot be compared with anything, so it is called Buddha-nature,
Yet, countless thoughts issue from this Self-nature as waves arise in the ocean or as images are reflected in a mirror.
If you want to realize your own Mind, you must first of all look into the source from which thoughts flow.
Sleeping and working, standing and sitting, profoundly ask yourself, ‘What is my own Mind?’ with an intense yearning to resolve this question.
This is called “training” or “practice” or “desire for truth” or “thirst for realization.”
What is termed zazen is no more than looking into one’s own mind.
It is better to search your own mind devotedly than to read and recite innumerable sutras and dharani every day for countless years.
Such endeavors, which are but formalities, produce some merit, but this merit expires and again you must experience the suffering of the Three Evil Paths (greed/hatred/delusion).
Because searching one’s own mind leads ultimately to enlightenment, this practice is a prerequisite to becoming a Buddha.
No matter whether you have committed either the ten evil deeds or the five deadly sins, still if you turn back your mind and enlighten yourself, you are a Buddha instantly.
But do not commit sins and expect to be saved by enlightenment [from the effects of your own actions.]
Neither enlightenment nor a Buddha nor a Patriarch can save a person who, deluding himself, goes down evil ways.
Imagine a child sleeping next to its parents and dreaming it is being beaten or is painfully sick. The parents cannot help the child no matter how much it suffers, for no one can enter the dreaming mind of another, if the child could awaken itself, it could be freed of this suffering automatically.
In the same way, one who realizes that his own Mind is Buddha frees himself instantly from the sufferings arising from (ignorance of the law of] ceaseless change of birth-and-death.
If a Buddha could prevent it, do you think he would allow even one sentient being to fall into hell?
Without Self-realization, one cannot understand such things as these.
What kind of master is it that this very moment sees colors with the eyes and hears voices with the ears, that now raises the hands and moves the feet?
We know these are functions of our own mind, but no one knows properly how they are performed.
It may be asserted that behind these actions there is no entity, yet it is obvious they are being performed spontaneously.
Conversely, it may be maintained that these are the acts of some entity; still, the entity is invisible.
If one regards this question as unfathomable, all attempts to reason [out an answer] will cease and one will be at a loss to know what to do.
In this propitious state deepen and deepen the yearning, tirelessly, to the extreme.
When the profound questioning penetrates to the very bottom and that bottom is broken open, not the slightest doubt will remain that your own Mind is itself Buddha, the Void-universe.
There will then be no anxiety about life or death, no truth to search for.
In a dream, you may stray and lose your way home. You ask someone to show you how to return or you pray to God or Buddhas to help you, but still, you can’t get home.
Once you rouse yourself from your dream-state however, you find that you are in your own bed and realize that the only way you could have gotten home was to awaken yourself.
This [kind of spiritual awakening] is called “return to the origin” or “rebirth in paradise.”
It is the kind of inner realization that can be achieved with some training.
Virtually all who like zazen and make an effort in practice, be they laymen or monks, can
experience to this degree.
But even such (partial) awakening cannot be attained except through the practice of zazen.
You would be making a serious error, however, were you to assume that this was true enlightenment in which there is no doubt about the nature of reality. You would be like a man who has found copper gives up the desire for gold.
Upon such realization question yourself even more intensely in this wise: “My body is like a phantom, like bubbles on a stream. My mind, looking into itself, is as formless as empty-space, yet somewhere within sounds are perceived. Who is hearing?”
Should you question yourself in this wise with profound absorption, never slackening the intensity of your effort, your rational mind eventually will exhaust
itself and only questioning at the deepest level will remain.
Finally, you will lose awareness of your own body, Your long-held conceptions and notions will perish, after absolute questioning, in the
way that every drop of water vanishes from a tub broken open at the bottom, and perfect enlightenment will follow like flowers suddenly blooming on withered trees.
With such realization, you achieve true emancipation.
But even now repeatedly cast off what has been realized, turning back to the subject that realizes, that is, to the root bottom, and resolutely go on.
Your Self-nature will then grow brighter and more transparent as your delusive feelings perish, like a gem gaining luster under repeated polishing, until at last it positively illumines the entire universe.
Don’t doubt this!
Should your yearning be too weak to lead you to this state in your present lifetime, you will undoubtedly gain Self-realization easily in the next, provided you are still engaged in this questioning at death, just as yesterday’s work half done was finished easily today.
While you are doing zazen neither despise nor cherish the thoughts that arise; only search your own mind, the very source of these thoughts.
You must understand that anything appearing in your consciousness or seen by your eyes is an illusion, of no enduring reality. Hence you should neither fear nor be fascinated by such phenomena.
If you keep your mind as empty as space, unstained by extraneous matters, no evil spirits can disturb you even on your death bed.
While engaged in zazen, however, keep none of this counsel in mind.
You must only become the question “What is this Mind?” or “‘What is it that hears these sounds?”
When you realize this Mind you will know that it is the very source of all Buddhas and sentient beings.
The Bodhisattva Kannon is so called because he attained enlightenment by perceiving (i.e., grasping the source of) the sounds of the world about him.
At work, at rest, never stop trying to realize who it is that hears.
Even though your questioning becomes almost unconscious, you won’t find the one who hears, and all your efforts will come to naught.
Yet sounds can be heard, so question yourself to an even profounder level.
At last every vestige of self-awareness will disappear and you will feel like a cloudless sky.
Within yourself you will find no “I,” nor will you discover anyone who hears.
This Mind is like the void, yet it hasn’t a single spot that can be called empty.
This state is often mistaken for Self-realization. But continue to ask yourself even more intensely, “Now who is it that hears?”
If you bore and bore into this question, oblivious to anything else, even this feeling of voidness will vanish and you will be unaware of anything – total darkness will prevail.
(Don’t stop here, but) keep asking with all your strength, “What is it that hears?”
Only when you have completely exhausted the questioning, will the question burst; now you will feel like a man come back from the dead. This is true realization.
You will see the Buddhas of all the universes face to face and the Patriarchs past and present.
Test yourself with this koan: “A monk asked Joshu: “What is. the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming to China?”
Joshu replied: ‘The oak tree in the garden “.
Should this koan leave you with the slightest doubt, you need to resume the questioning, “What is it that hears?”
If you don’t come to realization in this present life, when will you?
Once you have died you won’t be able to avoid a long period of suffering in the Three Evil Paths.
What is obstructing realization?
Nothing but your own half-hearted desire for truth.
Think of this and exert yourself to the utmost.
Bassui Tokusho, (抜隊 得勝, 1327–1387)

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Zen Meditation Instructions

PRINCIPLES OF SEATED MEDITATION
The bodhisattva who studies prajna should first arouse the thought of great compassion, make the extensive vows, and vigorously cultivate samadhi. Vowing to save sentient beings, you should not seek liberation for yourself alone.
Now cast aside all involvements and discontinue the myriad affairs. Body and mind should be unified, with no division between action and rest.
Regulate food and drink, so that you take neither too much nor too little; adjust sleep, so that you neither deprive nor indulge yourself.
When you sit in meditation, spread a thick mat in a quiet place. Loosen your robe and belt, and assume a proper posture.’ Then sit in the cross-legged posi­tion: first place your right foot on your left thigh; then place your left foot on your right thigh.’ Or you may sit in the semi-cross-legged position: simply rest your left foot on your right foot.
Next, place your right hand on your left foot, and’ your left hand on your right palm. Press the tips of your thumbs together.
Slowly raise your torso and stretch it forward. Swing to the left and right; then straighten your body and sit erect.
Do not lean to the left or right, forward or backward.
Keep your hips, back, neck, and head in line, making your posture like a stupa. But do not strain your body upward too far, lest it cause your breathing to be forced and unsettled.’
Your ears should be in line with your shoulders, and your nose in line with your navel.
Press your tongue against your palate, and close your lips and teeth.
The eyes should remain slightly open, in order to prevent drowsiness.
If you attain samadhi [with the eyes open], it will be the most powerful.
In ancient times, there were monks eminent in the practice of meditation who always sat with their eyes open. More recently, the Ch’an master Fa-yiin Yiian-t’ung criticized those who sit in meditation with their eyes closed, likening [their practice] to the ghost cave of the Black Mountain.
Surely this has a deep meaning, known to those who have mastered [meditation practice].’
Once you have settled your posture and regulated your breathing, you should relax your abdomen.
Do not think of any good or evil whatsoever.
When­ever a thought occurs, be aware of it; as soon as you are aware of it, it will vanish.
If you remain for a long period forgetful of objects, you will naturally become unified. This is the essential art of seated meditation.
Honestly speaking, seated meditation is the Dharma-gate of ease and joy; if, nevertheless, people often become ill [from its practice], it is because they do not take proper care.
If you grasp the point of this [practice], the four elements [of the body] will naturally be light and at ease; the spirit will be fresh and sharp; thoughts will be correct and clear; the flavor of the Dharma will sustain the spirit; and you will be calm, pure, and joyful.’
One who has already developed clarity may be likened to the dragon gaining the water or the tiger taking to the moun­tains.
Even one who has not yet developed it, by letting the wind fan the flame, will not have to make much effort: if you just assent to it, you will not be deceived.
Nevertheless, as the path gets higher, demons flourish, and agreeable and disagreeable experiences are manifold. Yet, if you just keep right thought present, none of them can obstruct you.The Surangama-sutra, T’ien-t’ai’s Chih­ kuan, and Kuei-feng’s Hsiu-cheng i give detailed explications of these demonic occurrences, and those who would be prepared in advance for the unforeseen should be familiar with them.’
When you come out of samadhi, move slowly and arise calmly; do not be hasty or rough.After you have left samadhi,10 always employ appropriate means to protect and maintain the power of samadhi, as though you were protecting an infant; then your samadhi power will easily develop.
This one teaching of meditation is our most urgent business.
If you do not settle [the mind] in meditation, or dhyana, then, when it comes down to it, you will be completely at a loss.11
Therefore, [it is said,] “To seek a pearl, we should still the waves; if we disturb the water, it will be hard to get.”
When the water of meditation is clear, the pearl of the mind will appear of itself.
Therefore, the Per­fect Enlightenment Sutra says, “Unimpeded, immaculate wisdom always arises dependent on meditation.” And the Lotus Sutra says, “In a quiet place, he prac­ tices control of the mind, abiding motionless like Mt.Sumeru.”12 Thus, we know that transcending the profane and surpassing the holy are contingent on the con­dition of dhyana; shedding [this body] while seated and fleeing [this life] while standing are dependent on the power of samadhi.Even if one devotes oneself to the practice one’s entire life, one may still not be in time; how then could one who procrastinates possibly overcome karma? Therefore, an ancient has said, “With­ out the power of samadhi, you will meekly cower at death’s door.” Shutting your eyes, you will return [to the earth] in vain; just as you are, you will drift [in saiTI­ sara].
Friends in Ch’an, go over this text again and again.
Benefiting others as well as ourselves, let us together achieve perfect enlightenment.13
The following translation of the T so-ch ‘an i is based on the Ch ‘an-yiian ch ‘ing-kuei text appearing in Kagamishima Genryii et al., Yakuchii Zen ‘en shingi (Tokyo: Soto-shii shiimucho, 1972), pp. 279-284. Notes in the translation refer to variants in the Ta-tsang i-lan text (Showa hobO somokuroku 3.1305a-b). A fully annotated Japanese translation is provided in Kajitani Sonin et al., Shin}in mei Shodo ka Jiigyo zu Zazen gi, Zen no goroku, vol. 16 (Tokyo: Chikuma shobo, 1971), pp. 145-164.
May you only go straight, achieve enlightenment and free us all.
Ian

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Who Is It?

WHO IS IT?
Fortunately, you believe there is a truth specially transmitted outside the scriptures and scholastic teachings. Then why bother about the meaning of these scriptures?
Renounce forthwith all such reflections and see the master directly. What is the master who at this very moment is seeing and hearing?
If you reply, as most do, that it is Mind or Nature or Buddha or one’s Face before birth or one’s Original Home or Koan or Being or Nothingness or Emptiness or Form and Color or the Known or the Unknown or Truth or Delusion, or say something or remain silent, or regard it as Enlightenment or Ignorance, you fall into error at once. What is more, if you are so foolhardy as to doubt the reality of this master, you bind yourself though you use no rope. However much you try to know it through logical reasoning or to name or call it, you are doomed to failure.
And even though all of you becomes one mass of questioning as you turn inward and intently search the very core of your being; you will find nothing that can be termed Mind or Essence. Yet should someone call your name, something from within will hear and respond. Find out this instant who it is!
– Bassui Tokusho, Zen master 14th century, Letters

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Tulku Urgyen’s Pointing Out Instructions

Tulku Urgyen’s “Direct Introduction to Rigpa” video and transcript:
Transcript:
“Freeing the moment of seeing, meaning the very moment of seeing your own nature, in the first and second instant or a second afterwards, there is no thought.
Is there anything more fantastic than being totally free of thought?
Even just that shock because there is nothing else in this world that can totally bring a halt to thinking. You can blow up nuclear bombs and so forth and use all different techniques, but nothing really stops thoughts.
But the very moment that you turn your attention to watch your own mind it is evident that it is simply and empty cognizance with no thing whatsoever.
And yet there is a seeing of that because mind is also cognizant and these are the primordial original unity of being empty and cognizant.
But before it happens we don’t believe that this is really it because it’s too easy. There’s nothing more easy than this—just like that. Okay.
Don’t think of anything and totally abandon thinker and what is thought of. At that moment you already seen that there is nothing to see. It is not something you gradually approach like a spirit entering you. This is what is meant by the phrase “one moment makes a difference, in one moment complete enlightenment.” That moment like this,… is the unmistakened Buddha Mind.
Don’t project outwardly. Don’t concentrate inwardly. Don’t keep a state in between. Totally give up any mental effort. This is what the old [something] call utterly or “sheer emptiness.” You don’t block your 5 senses. Not at all.
Just remaining like this everything is vividly experienced, but if you start to investigate and label you are involved in thoughts. This is what Padmasambhava said in the seven-fold supplication:
“no matter what appears in the field of your vision for your eyes, the world and so forth, even though experienced just let it be without any fixation.”
In other words, disown everything. Dissolving of subject and object is the pure form of the deity. Whatever moves or occurs in the realm of your ears in sound or the sounding whether pleasant or unpleasant, just let be in the continuity of the sound being emptiness because no matter what you are hearing in the sound it is indivisible from emptiness. The empty resounding beyond arising and ceasing is the voice of the victorious ones.
Do not get involved in concepts, leading or following; by leading you’re thinking to yourself. It dissolves naturally into dharmakaya—erm, thinking means our thoughts of this and that. If you just let it be, it naturally dissolves.
So, to introduce wakefulness don’t do anything to it—accept or reject, hope or fear—then, it’s enough. That is sufficient.
So what you naturally need to train in is to not imagine something by an act of meditating, but also not to be distracted for even a second. Being distracted is the same as forgetting.
And it is said on the path of distraction the demon is lying in ambush.
The moment you look towards and acknowledge empty cognizance, that is called having recognized.
And then there is the continuity of empty cognizance which you don’t need to fabricate in any way.
Just don’t forget it. Once you forget and start to think then continuity is lost. The moment you look, empty cognizance is seen and recognized.
And then allow the continuity of this seeing to continue and be sustained automatically. Then, for an ordinary person, again a thought occurs. Then, you remember, “Oh, I forgot!” Then again notice who forgot and simply recognize again and again you arrive back in the state of recognizing your natural face.
That doesn’t mean sitting and straining trying not to be distracted. It’s like ringing the bell once and the sound continues. It doesn’t mean ringing the bell continuously.
Once the continuity fades, that means we start forgetting and we get involved in thought.
Then again we notice “Oh, I forgot! I got carried away.” Then, alright, go towards and again you’re back recognizing and again there is natural stability in the continuous state of empty cognizance.
You need to train in that: short moments, many times.
We have learned to live in this life through training, how to move about…We have to train while involved in the activities of this life, to move about… For example while eating, you taste the food, then we start to think about the food and then notice, “Oh, I got carried away!” Again, recognize while eating. That moment, you arrive back vividly in the state of the essence.
Then you forget again, get lost, you know while walking about, moving around…you can still recognize Buddha Nature…when you lie down to sleep, if you are diligent also recognize again…when you sit, recognize…actually, there is no time when you are not allowed to recognize nature of mind, even when you sit on the toilet.
It is said like this, in the naked state of dharmadatu, which is unimaginable, relax in incredible state of awareness, a thought occurs, it arises from yourself and dissolves back into yourself.
Any thought that occurs is your own expression, comes out of your own essence. It is only when forgetting the essence that the “expression” takes the form of a thought.
But the moment you recognize your own expression, it arises out of yourself, dissolves back into yourself, meaning dissolves into the expanse of the essence. This is what we need to train in, to become used to.
There is no other meditation or object or act apart from that as much as dust mote, even. But, if you forget and get distracted, you are involved in thoughts.
So please train in this. That is the practice. This is what rinpoche (Padmasambhava) taught in the past and today he has nothing to say besides this.”