I, the disciple Hui-Hai, humbly bow before all Bodhisattvas in the ten directions. Even though I have written this thesis, I fear that it does not correspond to holy thought. If this is so, I hope that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions will give me a chance to repent. However, if the treatise tallies with the holy doctrines, then I desire that all merit acquired therefrom be returned and contributed to all sentient beings; and I wish all of them to become Buddhas in the future.
Q: What method must be practiced to attain liberation?
A: Only by practicing the Dharma of Sudden Enlightenment can we attain liberation.
Q: What is Sudden Enlightenment?
A: "Sudden" means instantly stopping false thought. "Enlightenment" means [awareness] that one attains nothing.
Q: What method is used to begin this practice?
A: Just practice using the fundamental teaching.
Q: What is it and how does one practice using the fundamental teaching?
A: Mind is the fundamental source.
Q: How do you know that mind is the fundamental source?
A: The Lankavatara Sutra says: "When the mind comes into being, then various conceptions (dharmas) come to be; and when the mind ceases to be, then these various conceptions cease to be." The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says: "If you wish to attain the Pure Land, you should purify your own mind, because if your mind is pure, all Buddha-Lands are also pure." The Sutra of Transforming Teaching says: "Just concentrate the mind on one point and all things are achieved." Another sutra says: "The holy person seeks Mind and does not seek Budha. The foolish man seeks Buddha and does not seek Mind. The wise man regulates the mind and does not regulate the body, while the foolish man regulates the body but does not regulate the mind." The Sutra of the Buddha's Names says: "The evil arising from the mind can be extinguished only by the mind." Thus, we see that all good and evil arise from one's own mind and that the mind itself is the fundamental source. Therefore, if one wishes to seek liberation, he should recognize this fundamental source. On the other hand, if one does not understand this truth, he will seek liberation outside himself, always laboring in vain. The Dhyanaparamita Sutra says: "As long as you seek it from external forms, you cannot come to complete Enlightenment even after many kalpas. However, through perceptive insight Bodhi is suddenly attained."
Q: How is the fundamental Dharma to be practiced?
A: Only through meditation and dhyana contemplation in samadhi. The Dhyanaparamita Sutra says: "To seek the wisdom of Buddha, you need both dhyana and contemplation. Without dhyana and contemplation together, thought will be disordered and break the root of goodness."
Q: What is dhyana and what is contemplation?
A: The non-arising of a single thought is dhyana. The original nature is your increate Mind. Contemplation in samadhi happens when opposites and external objects do not cause a single thought to arise. In contemplation (samadhi), the mind cannot be moved by the so-called eight winds: benefit and loss; fame and ignominy; praise and ridicule; suffering and happiness. If only one can abide in this kind of contemplation, then, even though he is a worldly person, he, nevertheless, can enter Buddhahood. The Sutra of Bodhisattva Discipline says: "All sentient beings who receive the discipline of the Buddha thus assume the position of all Buddhas." Achieving this state is called "liberation". It is also described as arriving on the other shore by leaping over the three realms of samsara ... Such a one is a great, powerful Bodhisattva with immeasurable sway and influence as well as a conqueror of all obstacles.
Q: Where does the mind dwell in its real abode?
A: Dwelling nowhere is its real abode.
Q: What is dwelling nowhere?
A: It is the mind not dwelling anywhere or on anything.
Q: What does "not dwelling anywhere or on anything" mean?
A: Not to dwell anywhere or on anything means not to dwell on good or evil, existence or non-existence, within or without or on the middle, nor on concentration nor dispersion, and neither to dwell on the void nor on the non-void. This is the meaning of "not dwelling anywhere or on anything". Just this alone is real abiding. This stage of achievement is also the non-abiding Mind, and the non-abiding Mind is the Buddha Mind.
Q: What is the non-abiding Mind like?
A: The non-abiding Mind is not green, yellow, red or white. It is not long or short, nor does it come or go. It is not pure or impure, nor does it have birth or death. It is only deep and permanent stillness. This is the non-abiding Mind, which is also called the Original Body. The Original Body is the Buddha's Body, which is also called the Dharmakaya.
Q: In perception through body and mind, are there several forms, such
as eye perception, ear perception, nose perception, body perception,
mind perception, etc.?
A: No, there are not several forms like these.
Q: If there are not several ways of perceiving, what, then, is perception?
A: This so-called "perception" is one's own Nature. One's own Nature, originally pure and clean, deep and still, is, in fact, in its voidness, perception.
Q: Since this pure, clean "substance" cannot be located, where does perception come from?
A: It is like a great, bright mirror that, even though it has no images inside it, can perceive and reflect all kinds of shadows. It is just utterly void no-mind. If the mind of the practicer does not grasp anything, then false thought will not arise; and the ego and its objects will vanish. Then the mind would naturally be pure and clean because it would be one with the pure and clean perception of void Original Nature. The Dharmapada Sutra says: "Perception manifesting itself in the Absolute Void -- this is the learned master."
Q: What is the meaning of the sentence in "The Diamond-Body Chapter" of The Mahaparinirvana Sutra, which
goes as follows: "To perceive nothing -- neither not knowing nor
without not knowing -- this only is clear perception"?
A: To perceive nothing describes the Self-Nature, which is without shape and so cannot be grasped; therefore, it is described as perceiving nothing. Also, because it is deep and still, it cannot be grasped. It neither comes nor goes; it is not separate from worldly concerns, but neither do worldly concerns disturb it. "Clear perception" means being fully at ease. "Not-knowing" means the Self-Nature has no shape and is non-discriminating. "Without not-knowing" means that the "substance" of non-discrimination has as many functions as the numberless sandgrains in the Ganges River and can discriminate all things clearly. The Prajna Gatha says: "Unknowing, Prajna knows all; unseeing, Prajna sees all."
Q: One sutra says: "To perceive neither existence nor non-existence is real liberation." What does this mean?
A: Attaining pure Mind is known as perceiving existence, while no thought of pure Mind arising at that time is known as not perceiving existence. Furthermore, when the stage of no continuation is attained, no thought of no birth and no continuation should arise. This is known as not seeing anything as existent or as non-existent. The Surangama Sutrasays: "Intellect acts as the knower, and this is the root of your ignorance; but if it is free from perception, it will be Nirvana, which is also known as Liberation. "
Q: What does "There is no object to perceive" mean?
A: To see men and women and all objects and not let a single thought of love or hate relative to any of them arise -- as if they were not beheld at all -- is the meaning of "There is no object to perceive".
Q: Regarding all objects is called perception, so can not perceiving any object whatsoever still be called perception?
A: Yes, it is still called perception.
Q: When regarding objects, we perceive them as existing; so how can
there be any perception at all if there are no existent objects to be
A: Perception does not depend on the existence or non-existence of objects. The nature of perception is permanent. For example, to behold an object is seeing, but even without an object, seeing remains. Thus, you should understand that even though things come and go, the nature of seeing neither comes nor goes. The same is true with all your other sense organs as well.
Q: If I see an object, does something really exist within that focus of perception?
A: No, nothing really exists within that focus of perception.
Q: When there is sound, there is hearing. When there is no sound, is there still hearing?
A: Yes, There is still hearing.
Q: When there is sound, we say we hear, so how can there, logically, still be hearing without sound?
A: In hearing, it does not matter whether there is sound or no sound. Since the nature of hearing is permanent, when there is sound there is hearing; and when there is no sound there is still hearing.
Q: Who is the knower of hearing?
A: It is one's own nature that is generally referred to as the knower of hearing.
Q: What is wrong thinking, and what is right thinking?
A: Thoughts of existence and non-existence are wrong thinking, while no thoughts of existence and non-existence are right thinking. Thoughts of good and evil are wrong thinking, while no thoughts of good and evil are right thinking. Also, thoughts of suffering and happiness, birth and death, acceptance and rejection, like and dislike, love and hate, etc., are all wrong thinking, while no thoughts of suffering and happiness, etc., are right thinking.
Q: So what, in a nutshell, is right thought?
A: In a nutshell, right thought means thinking only of Bodhi.
Q: Can Bodhi be acquired?
A: No! You cannot acquire Bodhi.
Q: Since it cannot be acquired, how can one, reasonably. think only of Bodhi?
A: To name Bodhi is false, because it cannot be described or possessed. It is neither in front nor in back of one who tries to acquire it, because it cannot be acquired or thought about. Only not thinking about it is true and right thought. Bodhi, then, is not a thought-object and, thus, there is no mind whatsoever anywhere. However, all the various kinds of non-thinking which have been touched upon accord with the needs of particular circumstances, being merely expedient terms; and even though different names are used expediently, there is no difference whatsoever in the substance. There is only no mind whatsoever dwelling nowhere at all. When this stage is reached, one is, quite naturally, liberated.
Q: How can one perform the actions of the Buddha?
A: Not to engage in or perform any action whatsoever is the Buddha's action. It is also called right action or holy action, which is, as I have said before, not acting with concepts of existence and non-existence, love and hate, etc. The chapter on the discipline of the Bodhisattva in the fifth volume of The Great Vinaya says: "The Holy Ones do not act like other sentient beings, nor do ordinary sentient beings act like the Holy Ones."
Q: What is the right view?
A: To perceive without perceiving any object whatsoever is the right view.
Q: What does "to perceive without perceiving any object whatsoever" mean?
A: Perceiving all sorts of things without grasping -- that is, not being clouded by the arising of any thought of love or hate, etc. -- is perceiving without any objects. If one can see without seeing any object whatsoever, that is using the Buddha-Eye, which is like no other eye. On the other hand, if one sees all sorts of things that cause thoughts of love and hate, etc., to arise, that is known as "perceiving objects" with ordinary eyes, and sentient beings have no other kind of eyes. This is true, likewise, with all of the other sense organs.
Q: You said earlier that wisdom is the function of the Way of Sudden Enlightenment, but what is wisdom?
A: If you understand that the nature of non-duality is voidness, then you are liberated. However, if you understand that the nature of duality is not void, then you are not liberated. Thus, wisdom is understanding what is right and what is wrong. It is also recognizing universal substance and its functions. The understanding of the voidness of duality is the substance of wisdom, while liberation, which is never allowing any thought whatsoever of existence or non-existence, good of evil, love or hate, etc., to arise, is known as understanding the function of the voidness of duality.
Q: Where can one enter the doorway to this understanding?
A: Through the perfection of charity (dana-paramita).
Q: Buddha has said that the six paramitas are the action of the
Bodhisattva path, so how can we enter the doorway to this understanding
by practicing, as you have said, only the dana-paramita?
A: People who are confused or deluded do not understand that the other five paramitas all evolve from the dana-paramita. Therefore, in practicing the dana-paramita, one also fulfills the practice of the other five paramitas.
Q: For what reason is it called the dana-paramita?
A: "Dana" means the perfection of charity.
Q: What things can be given up in the name of charity?
A: Clinging to thoughts of duality can be given up.
Q: Just what does this mean?
A: It means to give up clinging, in the name of charity, to thoughts of good and evil, existence and non-existence, love and hate, emptiness and fullness, concentration and non-concentration, pure and impure, etc. In the name of charity, give up all of them. Then, and only then, can you attain the stage of the voidness of duality, while, at the same time, letting neither a thought about the voidness of opposites nor about charity arise. This is the genuine practice of the dana-paramita, which is also known as absolute detachment from all phenomena. This is only the voidness of all dharma-nature, which means that always and everywhere is just no-mind. If one can attain the stage of no-mind everywhere, no form will be perceived, because our self-nature is void, containing no form. This, then, is true Reality, which is also called the wonderful form or body of the Tathagata. The Diamond Sutra says: "Those who have abandoned all forms are called Buddhas."
Q: But the Buddha spoke about six paramitas, so how can you
reasonably say that one paramita (the dana-paramita) can include the
A: The Sutra of the Benefits of Thinking says: "The Jalavidyadeva spoke to Brahmadeva as follows: 'Bodhisattvas who abandon all defilements are said to have completed the dana-paramita. This is the perfection of charity. If there is the non-arising of a single thought, they are said to have completed the sila-paramita. This the perfection of discipline. If there is no injury to or harm by any dharma, they are said to have completed the ksanti-paramita. This is the perfection of patience. If there is non-attachment to all dharmas, they are said to have completed the virya-paramita. This is the perfection of zeal. If there is non-dwelling on any dharma whatsoever, they are said to have completed the dhyana-paramita. This is the perfection of serenity. If there is no use of sophistry in speaking of any dharma, they are said to have completed the prajna-paramita. This is the perfection of wisdom. These are also known as the six Dharmas without any difference. The first one involves giving; the second one, non-arising of sensation; the third one, the non-arising of thought; the fourth one, being detached from form; the fifth one, non-dwelling in any dharma; and the sixth one, speaking without sophistry. These six paramitas are given different names expediently to meet different needs, but the wonderful principle underlying them all is not different. Thus, if one thing is abandoned, then everything is abandoned; and if one thing does not arise, then nothing whatsoever arises. Deluded people cannot understand this, and even insist that these six paramitas, or methods, are different. Thus, these foolish people, clinging to the variety of methods, revolve endlessly on the Wheel-of-Life-and-Death. Therefore, I urge all you students just to practice the one method of the dana-paramita, which, since it includes completely all dharmas, must, logically, include the other five paramitas. "'
Q: What are the three methods of study, and how can they be used equally?
A: The three methods of study are discipline, meditation and wisdom.
Q: Can you describe these methods of study: discipline, meditation and wisdom?
A: Discipline is centered upon purity and non-defilement. Meditation is centered upon stilling the mind so that it is moved by no object whatsoever. Wisdom is reached when the knowing mind is agitated by no object, but yet does not hold any thought of being unagitated. Wisdom is reached only when the knowing mind is clear and pure but has no thought of being clear and pure. Wisdom is reached when you can discriminate between good and evil, as well as other dualities, but, grasping none if them, remain free. Finally, if you realize that the "substances" of discipline, of meditation and of wisdom, none of which can be possessed, are indistinguishable -- i.e., are of only one substance -- this, in itself, is equal to the three studies undertaken and completed separately.
Q: If the mind dwells in purity, does it not, then, grasp the pure?
A: When the mind dwells in purity, not allowing a thought of purity to arise, it is not grasping the pure.
Q: If the mind abides in voidness, is it not, then, grasping the void?
A: If you have a thought of voidness, that is grasping the void.
Q: If the mind dwells in non-dwelling, is it not, then, grasping non-dwelling?
A: If your mind is void of thinking, then there is no grasping. If you wish to recognize clearly the non-dwelling mind, then during your meditation just be aware that your mind does not think about any object or hold on to any dualities, such as good and evil, etc. Since past things are already past, you should not think about them anymore; and, thus, any thought about the past vanishes. This is known as being without the past. Furthermore, since future things have not yet arrived, you should neither seek nor wish for them; and, thus, any thought of the future vanishes. This is known as being without the future. Finally, since present things are already present, you should not grasp them nor allow a thought of love or hate to arise; and, thus, any thought about the present vanishes. This is known as being without the present. In summary, if no thought about these three time periods arises, then the three time periods do not exist. If a thought of moving arises, do not follow it; and the thought of moving will vanish. If a thought of dwelling arises, do not follow it; and the thought of dwelling will vanish. However, grasping at the thought of non-dwelling is abiding in non-dwelling. On the other hand, if you understand clearly that your mind does not abide anywhere whatsoever that is abiding, then you are neither abiding nor not abiding anywhere. If you understand clearly that your mind does not abide anywhere at all, then you are clearly seeing your Original Mind, which is also referred to as "clearly seeing the nature of seeing." Just this Mind, that abides nowhere at all, is the Mind of Buddha and the Mind of liberation, the Mind of Bodhi and the Mind of the Uncreate. It is also referred to as realizing that the nature of form is void. Finally, it is what the sutra calls "Attaining the patient endurance of the Uncreate." If you have not yet arrived at this stage, then you should dedicate yourself to the task, make a great effort and practice diligently. When you have succeeded completely, you will then know that you have come to the understanding of truth from your own self. You will then understand from a non-abiding mind -- that is to say, a mind dwelling neither upon the real nor the unreal. What is the unreal? Any thought of love or hate. What is real? Any thought without love or hate. Only a mind without thoughts of love or hate is void of duality. And it follows that when the mind is void of duality, liberation naturally ensues.
Q: Does he who practices stilling the mind do it only while sitting in meditation?
A: The practice of stilling the mind means not only doing it while sitting, but also while walking, standing or lying down and, uninterruptedly, during all other actions at all times. This is referred to as truly abiding in permanence.
Q: The Vaipulya Sutra lists five kinds of
Dharmakaya: (l) The Absolute Reality-Dharmakaya; (2) The Merit
Dharmakaya; (3) The Dharma-Nature Dharmakaya; (4) The
Infinite-Transformation Dharmakaya; and (5) The Voidness Dharmakaya.
Which of these refers to one's own body?
A: The awareness that mind cannot be destroyed is the Absolute-Reality Dharmakaya. The awareness that mind includes all things is the Merit Dharmakaya. The awareness that mind is no-mind is the Dharma-Nature Dharmakaya. The potentiality to spread the Dharma is the Infinite-Transformation Dharmakaya. The awareness that the mind is without shape or form and cannot be grasped is the Voidness Dharmakaya. If you understand this doctrine, you should also understand that there is nothing whatsoever to be attained. Knowing that there is nothing to be gained or attained is the realization of the Dharmakaya of Buddhadharma. If one harbors any thought whatsoever of gaining or attaining, he holds the wrong view and, being a person of overweening pride, is labeled heterodox. The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says: "Then Sariputra asked of the devakanya, 'What have you gained or attained that has given you supernatural powers?' The devakanya answered, 'Just because I have really neither gained nor attained anything whatsoever, I can be as I am. "' So if one thinks he has gained or attained something, he is, in Buddhadharma, known as a man of overweening pride.
Q: The sutra speaks about both Universal Enlightenment and Wonderful
Enlightenment. What is Universal Enlightenment and what is Wonderful
A: To realize that form is void is known as Universal Enlightenment. To realize the voidness of dualities is known as Wonderful Enlightenment. Also, to realize there is really neither enlightenment nor non-enlightenment is known as Wonderful Enlightenment.
Q: Are Universal Enlightenment and Wonderful Enlightenment different or not?
A: Actually, the two names are used only as an expedient, but, since their substance is the same, there is really no difference between them. Likewise, this mutual substantiality is true of all phenomena.
Q: What does it mean when The Diamond Sutra says: "There is really no Dharma to expound, and this is really expounding the Dharma?"
A: Since the substance of Prajna is absolutely pure and bright, not even a single thing can be attained. This is the meaning of "There is really no Dharma to expound". Also, the substance of Prajna is stillness, but it, nevertheless, includes functions as numerous as sandgrains in the Ganges; thus, it is aware of everything. This is known as "really expounding the Dharma". Therefore, it is said that having no Dharma whatever to expound is really expounding the Dharma.
Q: What does it mean in The Diamond Sutra when
it says, "If a virtuous man or woman receives, reads, holds in mind and
recites this Sutra and is despised by other people, then this person,
who was bound to suffer an evil destiny in retribution for his past
sins, will now have his bad karma eradicated by the others' contempt"?
Will he then attain Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi?
A: He is just like a person who has not yet met a great and learned master. Even though his original mind is pure and bright, it is covered by evil karma, ignorance and the three poisons; and so it cannot manifest itself. Thus, he is held in contempt by others. Because he is shown contempt by others, he makes up his mind to seek the Tao of Buddha. Then the three poisons cannot arise, his ignorance is also destroyed and all evil karma vanishes. He recovers his original, bright, pure mind and never becomes confused again. So we can then say that he has found liberation and attained Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.
Q: What are the five eyes of the Tathagata, and what are their functions?
A: The Tathagata's fleshly eye sees form as pure. The Tathagata's deva eye sees substance as pure. The Tathagata's wisdom eye sees all sorts of forms and can discriminate among them regarding their qualities of good or evil but, by not grasping, remains free. The Tathagata's Dharma eye sees formlessness. The Tathagata's Buddha eye neither sees nor does not see either form or formlessness.
Q: What is the difference between the Mahayana and the Supreme Vehicle?
A: The Mahayana is the Bodhisattva's vehicle, and the Supreme Yana is the Buddha's vehicle.
Q: How can one practice to attain these vehicles?
A: To practice the Bodhisattva's vehicle is simply Mahayana practice. After attaining the Bodhisattva stage, where there is no longer any need to practice, one arrives at the stage of no-practice, which is permanently still and deep and where there is neither increase nor decrease. This is called the Supreme Vehicle or the Buddha's Vehicle.
Q: What is the meaning of the passage in The Mahaparinirvana Sutra which
states, "More meditative contemplation than wisdom cannot separate one
from ignorance, while more wisdom than meditative contemplation merely
multiplies wrong views; thus, only with an equal balance of meditative
contemplation and wisdom can there be liberation"?
A: To discriminate among the various kinds of good and evil is wisdom, while, during such discrimination, never allowing thoughts of love and hate to arise -- and if they do, not being defiled by them -- is meditative contemplation. This is the functioning of meditative contemplation and wisdom in equal balance.
Q Having neither words nor speech is referred to as concentration of
mind, but can this concentration still take place even while one is
A: When I spoke of concentration, I was referring to that deep and constant concentration, which is held both during speaking and non-speaking. Since the function of concentration is constant, it continues even while we discriminate among things and are speaking. If one uses the mind of voidness to see forms, then forms are void. Oppositely, if one uses the mind of voidness not to see forms and not to discriminate, the result is also void. This is true, likewise, of our senses -- seeing, hearing, feeling and cognition. Because our Self-Nature is void, it continues to be void everywhere and under all circumstances. Thus, because voidness is non-attachment, this non-attachment is identical with the sense functions. Bodhisattvas use this Dharma of Voidness to attain the stage of the Absolute. It is, therefore, identical with concentration and wisdom and is also known as liberation. But allow me to give you a vivid example to end your doubt once and for all. When a bright mirror illuminates things, does its brightness fluctuate? No! When the mirror does not illuminate things, does its brightness fluctuate? Again, no! And why not? Just because the brightness of the mirror possesses no feeling or sensation of illumination. Therefore, during illumination, the brightness does not fluctuate. Again, why not? Since the mirror has no feeling or sensation, there is neither movement nor non-movement of its brightness. We can use the sun as another example. The light of the sun illuminates the world. Does its light fluctuate when it is shining? No! Does its light fluctuate when it is not shining? Again, no! And why not? Since the light has no feeling or sensation when it illuminates, it, therefore, shines or does not shine, all the while never fluctuating. Wisdom is illumination, while concentration of mind is no fluctuation whatsoever. All Bodhisattvas depend upon an equal balance of concentration and wisdom to attain perfect Enlightenment. Thus, it can be said that a perfect balance of wisdom and concentration is liberation. Finally, let me emphasize, in using these examples, that although to have no feeling in the meditative concentration of mind means to be without worldly feeling, I do not imply that it means to be without holy feeling.
Q: What, then, is worldly feeling, and what is holy feeling?
A: If you give rise to a thought of duality, that is worldly feeling. On the other hand, if you do not give rise to a thought of duality, that is holy feeling.
Q: What does it mean when the sutra says: "The sound of discussion has ceased, and the role of thought is done"?
A: Words are used to manifest the doctrine. After understanding the doctrine, then, words are useless. The doctrine is void, voidness is the Tao, and the Tao is without words. This is the meaning of "The sound of discussion has ceased". Since the real meaning of the doctrine does not give rise to a single thought or perception and because no thought or perception arises, it is unborn. Furthermore, because it is unborn, then the fundamental nature of all forms is void, Next, since the fundamental nature of all forms is void, then everything in the world is non-existent. Finally, since all things are fundamentally non-existent, "the role of thought is done".
Q: What is the meaning of "The immutability of the Absolute is maintained in every state"?
A: "The immutability of the Absolute is maintained in every state" means, simply, that it is both never moved and forever unmoving. This is the mind of Bhutatathata, which is also referred to as Suchness. In reality, all Buddhas in the past attained Enlightenment by means of the principle of immutability. Also, all Buddhas in the present have attained Enlightenment in this way. Finally, all Buddhas in the future who practice in this way will attain Enlightenment. The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says: "It has ever been like this with all Buddhas; and it will ever be like this with Maitreya as well as with all sentient beings, because none of them can ever be dissociated from their Buddha-Nature."
Q: Is the awareness that form is void and that the worldly is holy the same as Sudden Enlightenment?
Q: Just what is the meaning of "form is void and the worldly is holy"?
A: The mind defiled is the same as form, but the mind undefiled is void. Similarly, the mind defiled is worldly, but the mind undefiled is holy. To say it in another way, the Absolute Void mysteriously exists as form, but because its "form" cannot be grasped, it is void. Here, when we refer to "void", we are speaking of the voidness of Self-Nature. We are not referring, in this instance, to the voidness which occurs after the destruction of form. Similarly, when we refer to "form", in this context, we mean the form of the void-nature of the Absolute Void; but we are not speaking, in the usual sense, of form that creates other forms.
Q: What does it mean when the sutra speaks of "the Dharma of the exhaustible and the inexhaustible"?
A: The nature of both the exhaustible and the inexhaustible is void. Thus, when there is no further creation of forms by the senses -- such as seeing and hearing -- then that is the end, or exhaustion, of all things in the world. In contrast, the untreated substance, with functions as numerous as the sandgrains in the Ganges River and which manifests all kinds of activities in response to circumstances, is inexhaustible and includes all dharmas. Also, in the original substance there is no decrease in spite of its infinite manifestations. This, then, is the meaning of "the Dharma of the exhaustible and the inexhaustible".
Q: Are the exhaustible and the inexhaustible the same or different?
A: Their substance is identical; but when spoken of, they seem to be different.
Q: Since their substance is identical, how can they appear to be different when spoken of?
A: Their "sameness" is the substance of speech, and speech is the function of their substance, which is used appropriately to respond to all kinds of circumstances. Therefore, we say that their substance is identical; but when spoken of, they appear to be different. To illustrate this let's use a vivid example. Although there is only one sun in the sky, when it is reflected in many containers of water below, there appears to be one sun in each container. Each reflected sun is perfect and complete like the real sun in the sky; and since there is no difference among them, it can be said that they are of one substance. However, when each sun is spoken of relative to its own container, it appears to be different from all the others. Therefore, we can say that even though their substance is identical in reality, they, nevertheless, appear to be different when pointed out and spoken about separately. Finally, all the reflected suns are perfect, and there has been no decrease of the original sun in the sky. Therefore, original substance is spoken of as being inexhaustible.
Q: One sutra says that nothing is born and nothing dies. Which dharmas are not born and which dharmas do not die?
A: Evil dharmas are not born, and good dharmas do not die.
Q: What dharmas are good and what dharmas are evil?
A: Evil dharmas are produced by the flowing or agitated mind. Non-defilement and stillness do not increase evil dharmas. When one arrives at the stage of non-defilement and non-flowing stillness, then the mind is perfectly pure and bright, deep, still and permanent, neither creating nor destroying. This is truly the condition of no birth and no death.
Q: What does it mean in The Sutra of Bodhisattva Discipline when
it says: "When sentient beings practice the Buddha's Discipline, they
assume the position of all Buddhas, which is the same as Great
Enlightenment, thus becoming authentic sons of all Buddhas"?
A: The Buddha's Discipline in the Buddhadharma is the practice of pure mind. If one can make up his mind to practice the conduct of purity of mind without attachment, he can be said to have received the Buddha's Discipline. All Buddhas in the past engaged in pure-mind practice and consequently attained the Tao of Enlightenment. If one can engage in the practice of pure mind without attachment, then his merit is equal to and no different from the merit of the Buddhas; and he can be said to have gained the position of all Buddhas. If one attains enlightenment like this, it is the same as the enlightenment of a Buddha; and, therefore, it can be said that his state is completely identical with the Great Enlightenment. He, then, becomes the authentic son of all Buddhas. Finally, if one engages in pure-mind practice, then the mind is pure and everything else is pure. Such a one is then called the son of all Buddhas as well as the authentic son of all Buddhas.
Q: Concerning the Buddha and the Dharma, which preceded the other?
Did the Buddha come first or did the Dharma come first? If the Buddha
came first, upon what Dharma did the Buddha depend to attain
A: In one way of speaking, the Buddha precedes the Dharma, but succeeds it in another.
Q: How can this reasonably be so?
A: If you are speaking about the Dharma of stillness and voidness, then the Dharma precedes the Buddha. However, if you are speaking about the Dharma of words, then the Buddha precedes the Dharma. Furthermore, we can observe that because all Buddhas depend on the Dharma of stillness and voidness to attain Perfect Enlightenment, the Dharma must, logically, precede the Buddha. However, the opposite of this is, also, logical and reasonable, when the sutra says: "The Dharma is the teacher of all Buddhas." After attaining Perfect Enlightenment, they begin to expound on the twelve divisions of the Sutras in order to convert all sentient beings. In turn, all sentient beings depend upon the teaching of the Dharma to practice and to attain Enlightenment, which is an example of the Buddha preceding the Dharma.
Q: What is the meaning of transmitting Dharma through words but not through Tsung (Ch'an)?
A: When words are different from action, then what is transmitted though words is not conveyed through action.
Q: How can Dharma be transmitted through both Tsung and words?
A: When words and action are not different, then Dharma can be transmitted through both Tsung and words.
Q: What is meant when the sutra says: "To arrive is not to arrive, while not to arrive is to arrive"?
A: Just to speak of arriving (at intuitive understanding) but not yet having arrived in action is known as "arriving that has not yet arrived". Having arrived in action but not speaking about arriving is known as "not arriving that has arrived". However, arriving in both speech and action is known as Complete Arrival.
Q: The Buddhadharma neither rejects the existent (activity) nor
clings to the transcendental (non-activity). What does this mean?
A: From the beginning of his practice to generate his Bodhi-Mind until he attained Perfect Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and, finally, even to the moment he entered the forest and sat under the twin Sala trees to enter Parinirvana, the Buddha never abandoned a single dharma or a single sentient being. This is the meaning of not rejecting the existent. On the other hand, even though he engaged in the practice of no-mind, he did not have even a single thought about the attainment of no-mind. Also, even though he concentrated on voidness, he did not have even a single thought about the attainment of voidness. Finally, even though he contemplated the nirvana of Bodhi, which is without form and without activity, yet he did not have even a single thought about the attainment of no-form and no-activity. This is the meaning of not clinging to the transcendental.
Q: Does hell exist or not?
A: One can say that there really is a hell, and one can also say that there really is no hell.
Q: What reason is there to say that hell both exists and does not exist?
A: All evil karma is created by the mind, and, thus, hell may be held to exist. However, if the mind is without defilement and void of self-nature, then hell may be held not to exist.
Q: Do suffering sentient beings have the Buddha-Nature?
A: Yes! All of them have the same Buddha-Nature.
Q: This being the case, do they have their Buddha-Nature when they
enter hell? That is, does their Buddha-Nature enter hell along with
A: No, it does not enter hell along with them.
Q: So, just at that very moment when they enter hell, where is their Buddha-Nature?
A: It also enters hell along with them.
Q: Since it enters hell along with them and since those sentient
beings encounter suffering, does their Buddha-Nature also encounter
A: Even though their Buddha-Nature enters hell with sentient beings, only those sentient beings themselves bear the suffering. Their Buddha-Nature never encounters any suffering.
Q: Since it enters hell along with sentient beings, why doesn't their Buddha-Nature encounter any suffering?
A: All sentient beings grasp at thought and form; and since they have form, they are, therefore, subject to creation and destruction. The Buddha-Nature does not possess form, and, having no form is, thus, in its nature, void. Because its nature is perfectly void, it, therefore, is subject neither to creation nor destruction. Let me use a vivid example to illustrate this. A person who tries to store up firewood in the sky is really trying to do the impossible, so this delusory firewood is inevitably destroyed by itself. However, the sky itself, which is permanent, can never be destroyed. The sky is void like the Buddha-Nature, while the firewood is subject to creation and destruction like sentient beings. Therefore, we can say that even though they enter hell together, only sentient beings encounter suffering, while the Buddha-Nature does not.
Q: The eight consciousnesses are turned into the Four Wisdoms, and
the Four Wisdoms are bound together to become the Three Bodies. Which
Wisdoms are the transformation of multiple consciousnesses? Which
Wisdoms are the transformation of only one consciousness?
A: Eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body -- these five consciousnesses together become Perfecting Wisdom. The sixth consciousness alone becomes Wonderful-Observing Wisdom. The seventh consciousness alone becomes Equality-Nature Wisdom. The eighth consciousness alone becomes Great-Perfect-Mirror Wisdom.
Q: Are these four kinds of wisdom the same or different?
A: Their substance is the same, but their names are different.
Q: Since their substance is the same, why are there different names
for it? Also, if it is true that these differentiating names are used
only as expedients, then what is it that -- even though it is, in
reality, just one substance -- is, nevertheless, named
A: Deep and still void that is bright and completely motionless -- this describes Great-Perfect-Mirror Wisdom. When no object causes a single thought of love or hate to arise, then duality is void. This voidness of duality is Equality-Nature Wisdom. When all the sense organs and all objects can discriminate and be discriminated, but no confused thought arises to limit freedom -- this is Wonderful-Observing Wisdom. When all the sense organs experience in a correct way with no discrimination of form -- this is Perfecting Wisdom.
Q: In relationship to the binding together of the Four Wisdoms to
become the Three Bodies, which Wisdom alone becomes one Body, and which
Wisdoms come together to form one Body?
A: Only Great-Perfecting-Mirror Wisdom becomes the Dharmakaya. Only Equality-Nature Wisdom becomes the Sambhogakaya. However, Wonderful-Observing Wisdom and Perfecting Wisdom combine to become the Nirmanakaya. These Three Bodies are set up as names and differentiated as concepts only as an expedient to assist those who do not yet understand. If one readily understands this doctrine, the expedient concept of "Three Bodies" is not necessary, for he clearly comprehends that their nature and substance are formless and that they are rooted neither in impermanence nor in non-impermanence.
Q: How can one see the True Body of Buddha?
A: Neither to see anything as existent nor as non-existent is to see the True Body of Buddha.
Q: What does it mean when you state that neither to see anything as
existent nor as non-existent is to see the True Body of Buddha?
A: Since the idea of existence depends upon the idea of non-existence to be conceived of and since the idea of non-existence depends upon the idea of existence for its manifestation, then if, originally, the idea of existence is not conceived of, the idea of non-existence cannot be sustained. If it were separated from non-existence, where would existence come from? Existence and non-existence are interdependent; and since both of them cause each other, both of them relate to the endless round of birth and death. If one can detach himself from this duality of existence versus non-existence, then he perceives the True Body of Buddha.
Q: If even the concepts of existence and non-existence have no
validity, then how or where can the concept of the True Body of Buddha
A: It can be conceptualized just because one asks about it. If no one asked about it, the concept of the True Body of Buddha would never arise again. It is just like a bright mirror that reflects objects that face it but reflects nothing if nothing is there before it.
Q: What is the meaning of "never ever departing from the Buddha"?
A: The mind that is free from the concepts of birth and death and that is still and silent in the face of things, so that it is forever motionless and void, is eternally with the Buddha.
Q: What is the meaning of the Dharma of the Supramundane?
A: It is merely mundane.
Q: I asked about the supramundane. So why do you reply that it is mundane?
A: Because the idea of the existent is set up by that of the non-existent, and the notion of the non-existent is made manifest by that of the existent. However, if originally the existent is not postulated, then the non-existent has nowhere from which to arise. Truthfully, the Real Supramundane is neither existent nor non-existent. This is the Dharma of True Activity. The Diamond Sutra says: "If one grasps the concept of Dharma, that is attachment to the false notion of an ego and a personality. In contrast, if one grasps at the concept of non-Dharma, that also is attachment to the false notion of an ego and a personality. Therefore, one should not hold either the notion of Dharma or of non-Dharma." This is really holding the True Dharma. If one can understand this doctrine and the Dharma of non-duality, then he is truly liberated.
Q: What is meaning of "the Middle Way"?
A: It designates the extremes.
Q: I asked about the Middle Way, so why do you reply that it designates the extremes?
A: The concept of the extremes is derived from that of the middle, and the concept of the middle is derived from that of the extremes. However, if originally there is no extreme, where would the middle come from? Thus, we talk about the Middle Way because we conceive of extremes; therefore, we know that the concepts of the Middle Way and the extremes are derived from each other and that both are impermanent. This is also true of form, feeling, conception, impulse and consciousness.
Q: What are the five aggregates (skandhas)?
A: When non-form grasps form and then follows form, this leads one to be born. This is the aggregate of form. Thereafter, the eight winds are embraced, which cause the accumulation of wrong thoughts and views, which are followed for pleasure and which lead one to be born. This is the aggregate of feeling. Then, using the confused mind to follow false thought, one allows conceptions to arise that lead one to be born. This is the aggregate of conception. Consequently, collecting and pursuing actions, one allows impulses to arise that lead one to be born. This is the aggregate of impulse. Finally, in uniform, pure substance a false thought arises that discriminates and grasps at false consciousness that leads one to be born. This is the aggregate of consciousness. The first aggregate relates to the body and objects, while the second, third, fourth and fifth aggregates relate to the mind.
Q: What is meant when the sutra talks about "the twenty-five elements of existence"?
A: This relates to the body undergoing future incarnations -- i.e., rebirths in the six conditions. All sentient beings have confused their minds in their present lifetimes, creating all sorts of karma; and later they must follow that karma to their rebirth, which is known as reincarnation. However, if one exists in the world with great ambition to practice the Absolute Liberation and to attain the Patient Endurance of the Uncreate, he will transcend the three realms forever, never again going through reincarnation. Rather, he will then attain only the Dharmakaya, which is nothing other than the Body of Buddha.
Q: What are the different names of the twenty-five elements of existence?
A: Their substance is one, but, depending on their functions, the twenty-five elements of existence are given different names, which are the ten virtues, the ten vices and the five aggregates.
Q: What are the ten virtues and the ten vices?
A: The ten vices are as follows: killing, stealing, carnality, lying, slander, coarse language, affected speech, cupidity, anger and perverse views. The ten virtues are quite simply defined as not engaging in the ten vices.
Q: I am still not clear about the idea of "no thought", which you referred to earlier. Can you please explain it further?
A: No thought means no mind grasping anything whatsoever. It is being without any view whatever, not even the thought of seeking something or not seeking anything. Having no thought means that in the face of any object or form, not even a single thought arises. This being-without-thought is called Real Mind. However, if one grasps the thought that this being-without-thought is the Real Mind, then it is not right thought but merely the wrong view. The sutra says: "Abandoning the six thoughts is True Thought." Again, the sutra says: "Virtuous ones abide in the Dharma of No Thought and obtain the golden color and the thirty-two characteristics of Buddha, which emit great, radiant light that illuminates the whole universe." If the merits thus gained are inconceivable and indescribable even by the Buddhas, then how much less can be known about them by the followers of other Vehicles! When the stage of no thought is arrived at, the six sense organs no longer grasp anything; and then the perception of all Buddhas is realized quite naturally. When this state is realized, it is called the Storehouse of the Buddhas and the Dharma, which includes all Buddhas and all Dharmas, because it is without mind. This same sutra says: "All Buddhas have become enlightened through this sutra."
Q Since it is without mind, how is it possible to conceive of and realize Buddha-Perception?
A: It is possible just because it is conceived of and realized without mind. A sutra says: "On original non-abiding all dharmas are based." The same sutra states further: "Take the example of a bright mirror. Even though there is no reflection in the mirror, yet it can manifest all forms." And just how is this possible? Just because the mirror's brightness is void, it can, therefore, manifest all forms. Similarly, if one can maintain no-mind, then false thoughts do not arise anymore, and the sense of an ego and a personality comes to an end. Only Absolute Purity remains, which makes one capable of boundless wisdom and Sudden Enlightenment. Sudden Enlightenment means liberation during this lifetime. Just as a lion-cub, from the moment it is born, is a real lion, likewise anyone who practices the Sudden-Enlightenment method has, from the moment he begins his practice, already entered the Buddha-Stage. Just as the bamboo-shoots growing in springtime are not different from the parent bamboo-shoots, because they are also empty inside, likewise anyone who practices the Sudden-Enlightenment method to rid himself suddenly of false thought abandons, like the Buddhas, the sense of an ego and a personality forever. Being absolutely deep, still and void, he is, then, without an iota of difference, equal to the Buddhas. Thus, in this sense it can be said that the worldly is holy. If one practices the Sudden-Enlightenment method, he can transcend the three realms during this lifetime. The sutra also states: "Do not annihilate the world; rather, transcend the world. Do not abandon defilements; rather, enter Nirvana. " If one does not practice the Sudden-Enlightenment method, he is just like a wild fox that, though following and pretending to be a lion, can never become a lion even after hundreds of thousands and endless kalpas of trying.
Q: Is the nature of Absolute Reality truly void or not? If it is not
really void, that suggests form; however, if it is truly void, that
suggests annihilation. So upon which Dharma should sentient beings
depend in their practice to attain Liberation?
A: The nature of Absolute Reality is neither void nor not void. Since the "wonderful substance" of Absolute Reality is without shape or form and cannot be perceived, it is void. On the other hand, since in the "substance" of Absolute Reality functions are included. as numerous as the sandgrains of the Ganges, that respond to everything, it is also not void. A sutra says: "If one can understand this point, one can understand a thousand others. However, if one is confused about this point, then ten thousand delusions envelop him. In no-mind practice, all problems vanish." This is the wonderful way of Enlightenment. The sutra also says: "All kinds of views result from one Dharma." Why and how can all kinds of views result from one Dharma? All merit depends upon practice. If one cannot subdue his own mind and depends only upon words to attain Enlightenment, he will never achieve anything. He is just deceiving himself, and will fail on both counts. Everyone should be extremely careful, neither grasping anything nor letting the mind dwell anywhere. If one is able to practice like this, then he can enter Nirvana and attain the Patient Endurance of the Uncreate. It is also known as attaining the Dharma Door of Non-Duality, the absence of debate and the samadhi of single, perfect Wisdom, because it is absolutely pure. Being without ego and personality, knowing neither love nor hate, and having no need of the concept of self versus objects, the practicer realizes the voidness of all duality. This is the stage of absolute eloquence with no disputation whatsoever.
This doctrine should not be transmitted to those who do not believe but should only be entrusted to those who share the same view and practice. You should see that someone having some potential is also totally sincere, possesses deep faith and will not backslide before expounding to him this doctrine directing him to Enlightenment. I have not written this thesis for fame or personal benefit, but only for those whose past conditions make it possible for them to receive it wholeheartedly. Thus, I follow all the Buddhas of the past who expounded a thousand different sutras and ten thousand different sastras appropriate for all kinds of sentient beings with all the different sorts of mental confusion. To follow this doctrine of Absolute Liberation, just do not form mental concepts about anything, allow the mind to dwell nowhere, always keep it still and void, and maintain it in a state of absolute purity; then Liberation will follow quite naturally.
Furthermore you should not seek false fame, because the ordinary mind, like an overactive monkey, is unstill and constantly grasping so that words and acts are forever in conflict with each other. Seeking false fame, we deceive only ourselves and surely will fall into evil ways. Thus, to repeat, you should not seek false fame and happiness in this lifetime that could cause suffering forever. Every person should be very careful. Sentient beings must seek to save themselves and not wait for the Buddha to do it. If the Buddha could liberate sentient beings, then, since there have been Buddhas as numerous as all the dust motes that have ever existed, surely all of them would have been delivered by now. So why do we still loaf about in these realms of birth and death, unable to become Buddhas? Everyone should understand that sentient beings must save themselves. The Buddha will not do it. Make an effort! Practice yourself! Do not depend upon the power of other Buddhas. Therefore, the sutra says appropriately: "To seek and find the Dharma, do not depend upon the Buddha."
Q: In the future, there will be many followers who hold mixed views. How can we live together with them?
A: You can be on friendly terms with them, but do not follow them in their pursuits. That is why one sutra says: "It follows worldly affairs, but its nature is permanent." Students of the Way should not brag that only they themselves possess the causes and conditions for Liberation and Enlightenment. Do not disrespect those who do not study the Dharma, and never boast about your own merit. Do not downgrade others' goodness and capabilities, and never expose the faults of others. Rather, examine yourself! If you do this, you will meet with no obstacles anywhere; and happiness will, quite naturally, ensue. Let me epitomize all this in a gatha:
Patience is the foremost way,
But first let go of ego and personality.
Just do not form concepts about anything --
This is the true Body of Buddha.
The Diamond Sutra says: "If a Bodhisattva knows the non-ego Dharma completely, the Tathagata declares him to be a true Bodhisattva." The sutra also declares: "If you neither take nor reject anything, you are freed from the Wheel-of-Birth-and-Death forever. To practice non-dwelling everywhere is to be a real son of the Buddhas." The Mahaparinirvana Sutra says: "When the Tathagata attained Nirvana, he freed himself from the Wheel-of-Birth-and-Death forever." Let me epitomize all this in some additional gathas:
I am wonderfully fine in my mind
And feel not defiled when abused.
In "no words" there's no right or wrong;
Samsara, Nirvana -- the same.
Recognizing my own sect,
I ignore petty weeds and grass.
All false thoughts discriminate,
But the worldly do not understand.
Hopefully all people in the future
Will rid their minds of weeds and grass.
I am wonderfully free in my mind;
With "no words" there's nothing there.
Knowing liberation and freedom,
I wander easily everywhere.
With "no words" and still all day long,
I focus on the Doctrine each moment.
To see the Tao naturally
Ends the birth-and-death cycle.
All my circumstances are wonderful:
Old clothes, simple food are enough;
Knowing fame and wealth are both false,
I do not cheat in the world.
Meeting people, I do not speak,
So they all say I am foolish.
Manifestly dull in appearance,
I am crystal-bright in my mind,
Holding Rahula's recondite practice,
That the worldly can't understand.
Q: The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says: "If you wish rebirth in the Pure Land, you should first purify your mind." What does "purify the mind" mean?
A: The mind is purified when it is absolutely pure.
Q: But what does "the purified mind is absolutely pure" mean?
A: When it is neither pure nor impure, but beyond both, it is absolutely pure.
Q: But what does "neither pure nor impure" mean?
A: Mind that dwells nowhere is pure; but when the pure mind is attained, there should be no thought of being pure, for that would no longer be pure. Also, conversely, when the impure is encountered, there should be no thought of being impure; and then there remains only the pure.
Q: What is the meaning of "attainment" (of the goal) for a practicer of the Way?
A: Only Absolute Attainment is attainment.
Q: But what is "Absolute Attainment"?
A: Neither attaining something nor not attaining something is Absolute Attainment.
Q: What is the meaning of "neither having non-attainment nor not having non-attainment"?
A: Neither grasping at form and sound outside nor allowing a false thought to arise inside is known as attainment. However, when there is attainment, there should be no thought of attainment; and this is known as having non-attainment. Furthermore, when non-attainment is realized, there should be no thought of non-attainment; and this is known as not having non-attainment.
Q: What does "a liberated mind" mean?
A: A mind that does not hold concepts of a liberated mind or a non-liberated mind is truly liberated. The Diamond Sutra says: "If even the Dharma must be cast aside, then how much more so the non-Dharma." Dharma, in this context, means existence, and non-Dharma means nonexistence. Thus, grasping neither the Dharma nor the non-Dharma is real, total liberation.
Q: What does "attainment of the Tao" mean?
A: Absolute Attainment is attainment of the Tao.
Q: But what does "Absolute Attainment" mean?
A: As I said before, neither attaining anything nor not attaining anything is Absolute Attainment.
Q: What does "Absolute Voidness" mean?
A: Having no concept of voidness or voidlessness is Absolute Voidness.
Q: What does "concentration on Reality" mean?
A: Having no attachment to concentration or non-concentration is Reality Concentration. The Diamond Sutra says: "There is no fixed Dharma called Supreme Enlightenment, and there is no fixed Dharma the Tathagata can expound." Another sutra also means this when it says: "In your practice of meditating on and perceiving the void, do not think you have attained the void." When engaged in the practice of concentrating your mind, do not ever think you have attained the highest realization; for even if one attains Pure Mind, there should never be any thought whatsoever of having attained it. When the goal of mind-concentration is realized, there is only purity and non-dwelling mind everywhere. If anyone has a thought of attaining something, that is a false thought; he is then bound by grasping thought, which cannot possibly be called Liberation. One who truly realizes this stage understands clearly in himself that he cannot grasp this attainment nor even hold a thought of having attained something. This is true self-mastery and Real Liberation. Finally, if one allows the thought of vigorous perseverance toward attainment to arise, that is false, not real, vigorous perseverance. However, if one does not allow a false thought to arise regarding vigorous perseverance, then that is real, boundless perseverance.
Q: What does "the Middle Way" mean?
A: The way that has neither a middle nor the two extremes is the true Middle Way.
Q: But why do the two extremes exist?
A: The two extremes exist because we have thoughts of this and that.
Q: Just what do "thisness" thought and "thatness" thought really mean?
A: If one is bound by sounds and forms, he is controlled by "thatness" thought; conversely, if one allows a false thought to arise inwardly, he is controlled by "thisness" thought. However, if one does not grasp outside forms, he is no longer controlled by "thatness" thought; and if he does not allow a false thought to arise inwardly, he is no longer controlled by "thisness" thought. This is known as abandoning the two extremes. If the mind does not contain the two extremes, then where can the middle be? When this awareness is attained, it is know as the Middle Way, the Way of Tathagata, the Way of Bodhi, and the Way of Liberation. The sutra says: "The void has neither a middle nor extremes, and it is the same with the Body of the Buddha." The voidness of all forms means that mind dwells on nothing whatsoever; and dwelling upon nothing anywhere implies the void nature of all forms. As such, the meaning of these two extremes is the same. This is known as the Dharma of the voidness of form as well as the voidness of non-form. If you do not accept the non-dwelling of mind anywhere, then, in your practice, you cannot realize Bodhi, Liberation, Nirvana, stillness, extinction, concentration in dhyana or the six paramitas. On the other hand, if you do accept the non-dwelling of mind anywhere, then, in your practice, you will realize Bodhi, Liberation, Nirvana, stillness, extinction, concentration in dhyana and the six paramitas -- all of which means seeing your Original Nature. Apropos of this, The Diamond Sutra says: "I have not gained even the least Dharma from Supreme Enlightenment; therefore, it is known as Supreme Enlightenment."
Q: If one performs all sorts of good deeds and is completely
successful in his practice, can it be reasonably predicted that he will
realize his Original Nature?
A: No, that cannot be predicted.
Q: If one does not practice any Dharma at all, can it be reasonably predicted that he will realize his Original Nature?
A: No, that, also, cannot be predicted.
Q: If this is true, is there any kind of Dharma whatsoever that can be used to bring about such a prediction?
A: When you practice non-dwelling on the existence of good deeds or the non-existence of good deeds, then the prediction will be fulfilled. The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra says: "The form and the nature of all deeds are impermanent." Also, The Mahaparinirvana Sutra says: "The Buddha declared to Mahakashyapa, "All phenomena are impermanent and are void of self'." You need only have no-mind about anything -- neither in the realm of phenomena nor in the realm of non-phenomena -- and just this, in itself, is the fulfillment of the very prediction you asked about. Having no-mind anywhere whatsoever means being free of love and hate. Being free of love and hate means that when you see good things, you do not allow a thought of love to arise, which is known as the "no-love" mind. Conversely, when you see evil things, you do not allow a thought of hate to arise, which is known as the "no-hate" mind. A mind that is void of love and hate is also known as a non-defiled mind, wherein the voidness of all forms is realized. This is also known as the termination of all conditions, and the termination of all conditions means attaining Liberation naturally and spontaneously.
Think deeply about all this. If there is anything that you do not understand, you should ask questions about it immediately. Don't waste time! If you all depend upon this teaching, that I have delivered, in your practice and still do not attain salvation, may I fall into the deepest hell! If I have misled or fooled you in any way, may I be seized and devoured by a tiger or a wolf! However, if you do not have faith in this teaching and diligently practice accordingly, I really don't know what may happen to you! Just remember this: once you have lost your human body, you might not acquire another one for ten thousand kalpas. Therefore, you should understand how to use your present opportunity and make a determined effort to attain Liberation.