When Master Hui-Hai arrived in Chiang-Hsi Province, he first went to pay a visit to Master Ma Tsu.
Ma Tsu asked: "Where have you come from?"
Hui-Hai answered: "I have come from Great Cloud Temple, which is in Yüeh Chou."
Ma Tsu asked: "What is your reason for coming here?"
Hui-Hai answered: "I have come to seek the Buddhadharma. "
Ma Tsu replied: "You do not regard or cultivate your own store of treasure, but, instead, you have left your home and gone wandering. However, I have nothing at all here, so how can you hope to seek the Buddhadharma in this place?"
Then Hui-Hai prostrated himself and asked:"What and where is Hui-Hai's own treasure-store?"
Ma Tsu answered: "Just that one there who just asked this question is your own treasure-store, and it is perfect and complete for you to make use of when you attain mastery. So why on earth are you futilely seeking anything outside?" Suddenly, on hearing this, Hui-Hai attained Great Enlightenment, instantly recognizing his own Original Mind. Then he fully prostrated himself, placing his head at Ma Tsu's feet, to show his deep and sincere gratitude. From that moment on, the Master served Ma Tsu for the next six years. Then, because his original teacher had become quite old, he returned to his own temple in Yüeh Chou to serve him. During that time, Master Hui-Hai concealed his real ability, appearing to be halting in his speech somewhat foolish, but he wrote his sastra entitled Entering the Tao of Sudden Enlightenment. Later, Hsüan Yen, his Dharma nephew, stole Hui-Hai's sastra from the temple and took it and presented it to Ma Tsu, who, after reading it, proclaimed to his assembly, "There is now, in Yüeh Chou, a Great Pearl (Ta-Chu), whose luster radiates everywhere and who is free and has gained self-mastery with no obstacles." It came about that one monk in the assembly knew that the Master's family name was Chu (the same sound as the word for pearl) and informed the others, who then, together, went to Yüeh Chou to pay their respects to and follow Master Hui-Hai. Thenceforth, the master was called Ta-Chu (Great Pearl).
Once Master Hui-Hai, addressing his disciples, said: "I do not understand Ch'an; and I really do not have a single Dharma that I can disclose to anyone. Therefore, it is not necessary to trouble you by having you stand here for a long time; so, everybody, please go take a rest."
During that period, gradually more and more students, wishing to learn more, came from many different places and enquired about the Dharma day after day. The Master, accordingly, answered all their questions, his power of speech being totally confident and unhindered. At one point, a company of Dharma Masters who had come to meet with Hui-Hai stated: "We have a question for you, Master. Would you please give us an answer." The Master replied: "The moon is reflected in this deep pool and can be apprehended by yourselves only."
The Dharma Masters asked: "What is the Buddha?"
The Master replied: "Just look into that clear pool right in front of you. If that is not the Buddha, who is it?"
All of them were mystified. After a long silence, one monk spoke up again, asking: "What Dharma do you speak to convert people?"
The Master replied: "I have not one single Dharma to speak to convert people."
Another monk asked: "Is this the customary method of all you Ch'an Masters?"
Immediately the Master asked: "And just what Dharma do you speak to convert people?"
The monk answered: "I expound The Diamond Sutra."
The Master asked: "And just how many times have you expounded it?"
The monk answered: "Over twenty times."
The Master asked: "And this Sutra was spoken by whom?"
The monk exclaimed: "Surely, this Ch'an Master is playing with me! Wouldn't it be absurd not to know that the Sutra was spoken by the Buddha!"
The Master replied: "But that very Sutra states: 'If someone says that the Tathagata expounds this Dharma, he is slandering the Buddha! Really, he does not understand at all what I am saying. On the other hand, if someone says that this Sutra is not expounded by the Buddha, he is slandering the Sutra.' Would you please try to explain this." The monk could give no answer. Then, after awhile, the Master continued: "The Diamond Sutra says: 'He who sees me by outward appearances and sees me in sound treads the heterodox path and cannot perceive the Tathagata.' Would please tell me who the Tathagata is?"
The monk answered: "Now I'm completely confused!"
The Master retorted: "Never having been enlightened, how can you say you are only now confused?"
The monk asked: "Would you please explain this Dharma to me?"
The Master asked: "Since you have expounded The Diamond Sutra more than twenty times, how can you not understand who the Tathagata is?" The monk prostrated himself before the Master and asked again for an explanation.
The Master said: "'Tathagata' means the Suchness of all Dharmas. This you should not forget!"
The monk replied: "Oh, yes! The Suchness of all Dharmas!"
The Master retorted: "You say, 'Yes!', but that is not correct."
The monk replied: "But it clearly says so in the Sutra, so how can you say I am not right?"
The Master asked: "Are you Suchness?"
The monk replied: "Yes, I am Suchness."
The Master asked: "Are that piece of wood and that stone Suchness?"
The monk replied: "Yes, they are Suchness too."
The Master asked: "Then is your Suchness and the Suchness of the wood and the stone the same Suchness?"
The monk replied: "Yes, they are not different."
The Master asked: "Then what is the difference between you and the wood or stone?"
The monk could not answer, and, after a short time, he sighed and said: "It is very difficult to debate with such a superior master!" Then, after a long silence, he asked: "How can the Great Nirvana be realized?"
The Master replied: "Merely by not creating any karma that binds you to the Wheel-of-Birth-and-Death."
The monk replied: "How is the karma of birth-and-death created?"
The Master replied: "To seek the Great Nirvana, to be attached to purity and to disdain impurity create the karma of birth-and-death. Also, realizing and clinging to attainments create the karma of birth-and-death. Finally, not letting go of the stage of relative thinking creates the karma of birth-and-death."
The monk asked: "How can we realize Liberation?"
The Master replied: "Since originally you have never been bound, there is no use in seeking to become unbound or liberated. If both function and action are clear and direct, then all things are equal."
The monk responded: "A Ch'an Master like you is very rare, indeed!" Then the group of Dharma Masters who had come with questions made obeisance to the Master and left.
Once an attendant of the Master asked: "If the Mind and Buddha are one, which is truly the Buddha?"
The Master answered: "Since you have doubt about what the Buddha is, can you point out what the Buddha is not?"
The attendant did not answer.
The Master said: "If you understand this completely, then everything is all right everywhere; however, if you do not understand it, then nothing is all right anywhere."
Once a Vinaya Master named Fa-Ming asked: "Do most Ch'an Masters fall into the void?"
The Master replied: "It is only you who fall into the void!" Fa-Ming, shocked, asked: "Why do you say I am the one who falls into the void?"
The Master replied: "The Sutras and the Sastras are merely words, written with ink on paper -- just empty contrivances! Creating words and phrases of the Dharma based merely on something one has heard is also empty. Thus, if you grasp at and are attached to written or spoken words and phrases of the Teaching, you will, without doubt, fall into the void."
Fa-Ming then asked: "And, Ch'an Master, do you also, fall into the void?"
The Master replied: "No, I do not fall into the void."
Fa-Ming asked: "Why not?"
The Master replied: "All words and phrases (of the Dharma) are produced by Wisdom, the great function of which appears right before us. So where is there any void to fall into?"
Fa-Ming replied: "So, I assume from this that if there is someone who has not grasped the meaning of every single Dharma, then he cannot be a Hsi-Ta (Siddham)."
The Master replied: "It seems that you not only fall into the void, but you also use wrong words and terms!"
Fa-Ming's face turned red, and he angrily asked: "Just what is my error?"
The Master replied: "If you do not even understand what Chinese word is used to express whatever Sanskrit word, how can you ever hope to expound the Dharma?"
Fa-Ming asked: "Would you please just point out my error."
The Master replied: "You do not seem to understand that 'Hsi-Ta', the Chinese word for the Sanskrit word 'Siddham' has different meanings, using the same tone."
Fa-Ming realized his error at once, but he still remained angry.
Continuing, Fa-Ming asked further: "It is said that the Sutras, the Sastras and the Vinaya were all spoken by Buddha. So if one reads, recites and practices according to the Teachings, why then can he not see his own nature?"
The Master replied: "A sane lion bites a man, but a crazy dog bites a piece of clay! The Sutras, the Sastras and the Vinaya are the functions of Self-Nature, while reading, reciting and practicing them are merely the nature of dharmas (phenomena)."
Fa-Ming asked: "Did Amitabha Buddha have parents and a family name?"
The Master replied: "Kausika was Amitabha Buddha's family name. His father's given name was Superior-Moon and his mother's was Exceeding-Beauty."
Fa-Ming asked: "And from just what sutra do these facts come?"
The Master replied: "From The Collection of Dharanis."
Fa-Ming paid reverence humbly and withdrew.
Once a Tripitaka Master asked: "Does the Bhutatathata (Absolute Reality) ever change?"
The Master replied: "Yes, it does change."
The Tripitaka Master retorted: "You, Venerable Ch'an Master, are wrong!"
The Master then asked the Tripitaka Master: "Does the Bhutatathata exist or not?"
The Tripitaka Master answered: "Yes, the Bhutatathata does exist."
The Master replied: "So if you say it does not change, then you are just an ordinary, worldly monk. Doubtlessly, by now you must have heard that the lowest vices can be changed into the highest virtues, the three poisons into the three cumulative disciplines, the six consciousnesses into the six supernatural powers, all the defilements into Bodhi, and the most abysmal ignorance into the highest wisdom. Thus, if you say that the Bhutatathata does not change, then you, a Tripitaka Master, are really a heterodox-sect follower."
The Tripitaka Master responded: "If you put it that way, then I have to admit that the Bhutatathata does change."
The Master retorted: "But if you, indeed, hold that the Bhutatathata does change, that is also a heterodox view."
The Tripitaka Master asked: "Ch'an Master, you just said that the Bhutatathata does change, but now you say it does not change. How can that be?"
The Master responded: "If one sees his own nature clearly-which, like Mani-Jewels, can manifest itself in different colors-then he is correct in saying that the Bhutatathata both changes and does not change. In contrast, however, if one has not seen his own nature, he will, on hearing that the Bhutatathata changes, grasp at the idea of mutability. Also, oppositely, he will, on hearing that the Bhutatathata does not change, grasp at the idea of immutability."
The Tripitaka Master concluded: "Now I really understand what is meant when it is said that the Southern Ch'an Sect is truly unfathomable."
Once a Taoist priest asked: "Is there any Dharma that surpasses the forces of nature?"
The Master answered: "Yes, there is!"
The Taoist priest asked: "Just what is the Dharma that surpasses the forces of nature."
The Master answered: "The power of understanding that fathoms the forces of nature."
The Taoist priest asked: Does vitality constitute the Tao?"
The Master answered: "Vitality is vitality. The Tao is the Tao."
The Taoist priest asked: "If this is the case, are they two different things?"
The Master answered: Understanding does not come from two different persons."
The Taoist priest inquired further: "Then what is wrong and what is right?"
The Master responded: "When the mind is turned by external things, that is wrong; but when external things are turned by the mind, that is right."
Once a Vinaya Master came and asked: "In your practice of the Tao, do you still work hard?"
The Master answered: "Yes, I still work hard."
The Vinaya Master asked: "How hard?"
The Master retorted: "If I'm hungry, I eat. If I'm tired, I sleep. "
The Vinaya Master asked: "Do all other people work hard just as you do?"
The Master answered: "No, not in the same way."
The Vinaya Master asked: "Why not?"
The Master answered: "While they are eating, they are not really eating due to too much thinking. While they are sleeping, they are not really sleeping due to too much mental agitation. Therefore, they do not work in the same way I do."
The Vinaya Master, on hearing this, fell silent.
Once a certain Bhadanta, Yun Kuang, asked: "Do you understand the meaning of birth?"
The Master answered: "Since we do not know the meaning of death, it is useless to talk about the meaning of birth. If you really understand birth, then you know, based on the Dharma of no-birth, that everything is unborn. Also, by not holding to any Dharma of separate birth, you must conclude that during birth there is, in reality, no birth."
Bhadanta Yun Kuang asked: "If one has not yet seen his own self-nature, is he somehow lacking it or just unable to look at it?"
The Master answered: "If one has not yet become aware of his own self-nature, that does not mean he is without self-nature, because perception, as such, is that very nature. Without that nature there would be no perception. Consciousness, also, is that nature; therefore, it is called the nature of consciousness. Clear understanding, also, is that nature; therefore, it is called the nature of clear understanding. Furthermore, because it can produce all dharmas (phenomena), it is also known as the Dharma-Body. The Patriarch Asvaghosa once observed: 'All the so-called dharmas (phenomena) are, in reality, the mind of sentient beings; for when the discriminating mind comes in to being, then various conceptions (dharmas) come to be. In contrast when the discriminating mind ceases to be, then these various conceptions, as well as their names, cease to be.' However, deluded people do not understand this. The Dharmakaya (Dharma-Body) has no form, but it assumes different forms according to the needs of sentient beings. Thus, some say that green bamboo is the Dharmakaya and that the fragrance of yellow flowers is Prajna. If green bamboo really were the Dharmakaya, then the Dharmakaya would merely be like wood or grass. Thus, a person eating bamboo shoots could say that he was eating the Dharmakaya. If one talked like this, would there be any possible benefit for anyone in recording it? Such a person is really quite confused about the Buddha, who is right before him, as well as about his substance, which permeates all things; and so he seeks him elsewhere, outside, in error, kalpa after kalpa. Therefore, to practice the Tao correctly, one should do it while walking, standing, sitting and lying down, all the time remaining in the Tao. Finally, one becomes capable of moving always at ease in any direction or in any situation since all things are included in the Dharma."
Bhadanta Yun Kuang inquired further: "Can the Great Void create spiritual wisdom? Does Real Mind still cling to ideas of good and evil? Can a person possessing deep desire embrace the Tao? Can a person grasping ideas of right and wrong go beyond the discriminating mind? Can a person who comes into contact with and clings to his surroundings ever develop completely focused concentration? Can one who remains alone, in isolation, ever achieve wisdom? Does one who is overbearing to others really have a strong ego? Can one who grasps at concepts of existence and non-existence ever realize wisdom? Are those who depend on words to seek attainment or those who seek the Buddha in austere practices or those who hold the Buddha to be different from the mind or those who hold the mind to be Buddha really in harmony with the Tao? Please, Master, reply to each of these questions."
The Master replied: "The Great Void cannot create spiritual wisdom. Real Mind does not cling to ideas of good and evil. A person full of desire has shallow potential. Minds clinging to ideas of right and wrong are narrow and obstructed. Those who come into contact with and cling to their surroundings rarely achieve focused concentration. The overbearing person just continues his delusion of possessing a strong ego. People who grasp at ideas of existence and non-existence are merely foolish. Those who seek attainment through mere words are grasping and deluded. All those who seek Buddha through austere practices are just confused. Those who abandon their minds to seek the Buddha are nothing but demons!"
Bhadanta Yun Kuang then observed: "If it is really, as you say, like this, then there is really absolutely nothing whatsoever."
The Master responded: "No! It is just absolutely the Bhadanta, not 'absolutely nothing whatsoever'."
On hearing this Dharma, the monk felt very happy. Then he made obeisance and withdrew.
Once the Master spoke in the Dharma hall as follows: "Very fortunate, indeed, is the person who has nothing to do! Most people working hard or behaving in an affected manner, are in reality, only bearing locked cangues about their necks and slowly sinking into hell. They are constantly on the run, day and night, announcing loudly to the world that they are practicing Ch'an, learning the Tao and spreading the Buddhadharma. If they are of this sort, there is no need to listen to them; for they are, heedlessly and ceaselessly, only following sounds, names and forms. When will they ever take a rest!?
"Once I heard Master Ma Tsu of Chiang-Hsi say: 'Your own treasury includes everything you need. Be Free! Master yourself! There is no need to seek anything outside yourself.' From that time on, I understood that making use of one's own treasury and enjoying it at all times and in all places are the only true happiness. Remember, there is neither a single thing that can be grasped nor a single thing that can be rejected. Just do not view a single thing as being born or dying. Just do not view a single thing as coming or going. Then, in all ten directions throughout the universe, there will not exist even a single atom that will not belong to your own treasury. Just carefully and steadily perceive your own Mind! Then the one substance of the Precious Three permanently manifests itself. About this there is no doubt! So do not endlessly intellectualize and seek elsewhere. Originally the nature of the mind is pure and spotless. Therefore, The Avatamsaka Sutra says: 'All dharmas are neither created nor destroyed. If one can comprehend this, then all Buddhas are permanently manifested before him.' Also, The Vimalakirti Sutra says: 'Observe the Body of Reality and, likewise, observe the Buddha.' So if you do not allow a single thought to arise based on sounds, names and forms and if you do not have a discriminating mind about anything whatsoever, then you will have nothing to do. You will have no more problems. Now, don't just stand there! Go and take good care of yourselves!"
One day the whole assembly gathered before the Master to hear him speak. Afterwards, they did not break up as usual but remained standing there in front of him.
The Master said: "Why don't you all go take a rest. I've finished speaking. But if you still have some doubts or questions, you should resolve them now. Don't allow wrong views to arise that waste your time and energy."
At that moment a monk named Fa-Yuan asked: "What is the Buddha? What is the Dharma? What is the Sangha? What is the One Substance of the Precious Three? Would you please enlighten us?"
The Master said: "The mind is the Buddha, and you should not use the Buddha to seek the Buddha. The mind is the Dharma, and you should not use the Dharma to seek the Dharma. The Buddha and the Dharma are not different, and their harmony creates the Sangha. This, then, is the substance of the Precious Three. A sutra says: 'Mind, Buddha and sentient beings are not different from one another. When one purifies one's own body, speech and mind, it is said that a Buddha appears in the world. In contrast, when these three become impure, a Buddha is extinguished.' For example,when you are angry, you are not happy; and when you are happy, you are not angry. Yet there is only one mind, not two different substances. Originally, there is only Suchness; then the outflow appears while Suchness remains unchanged. It is like a snake transforming into a dragon without changing its scaly covering. Also, it is like a sentient being transforming his mind into Buddha Mind without changing his Original Nature. Thus, the Original Nature is pure and is not created by practice. If one thinks he can realize his Original Nature through practice and attainment, he is just a man filled with overweening pride. The True Void is without clinging or obstacles, is inexhaustible and is without beginning or end. Those with keen faculties and profound roots are enlightened suddenly and awakened to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. This is Supreme Enlightenment, perfect and universal. Mind without form is the Wonderful Form Body (Sambhogakaya), and formlessness is the reality of the Dharmakaya. The fundamental void substance, which is the primary nature of all forms, is as boundless as the infinite body of universal space. The Dharmakaya is adorned by ten thousand meritorious acts. Also, the Dharmakaya is the fundamental reality of all things. Names are created and applied to it expediently according to circumstances. The wisdom it possesses is inexhaustible; thus it is called the Inexhaustible Store. It generates and creates all things; thus, it is called the Fundamental Store of Dharma. It is the source of, contains, and fully endows infinite wisdom and knowledge. Thus, it is called the Store of Wisdom . Finally, because all things return to Suchness, it is called the Store of Tathagata. A sutra says: "'Tathagata' Means the Suchness of all dharmas. Every dharma in the universe, no matter whether it is manifesting itself or going into dissolution, must ultimately return to Suchness."
Once an Upasaka asked the Master: "I am a lay-Buddhist. Would you please be kind enough to distinguish among the Vinaya Master, the Dharma Master and the Ch'an Master and tell me which one surpasses the other two?"
The Master responded: "The Vinaya Master teaches the Dharma Store of Vinaya, transmitting the essence of the Teaching as expounded by preceding masters. He understands the rules of discipline thoroughly -- what is permitted, what is prohibited, who maintains, who transgresses, and who upholds the rules. Furthermore, he knows who follows the tradition and the rule of asking the Karmananda the question three times to generate the first cause of the Four Fruitions. If he were not an old master with seeds planted in his previous existence, as well as practicing much virtue and having much experience throughout his life, how could he ever reach this stage?
"The Dharma Master sits on the Lion's Seat to spread Dharma. His power of speech is unhindered as, before the Assembly, he reveals the Three Wheels and expounds the wonderful Dharma Door of Prajna. If he did not hold a dragon's or an elephant's position and power, how could he ever do this?
"The Ch'an Master knows how to select what is important and how to understand directly the source of Mind. He is skillful at revealing or covering up, according to each person's potential, the equality of the Absolute and the relative so that one might realize the Tathagata suddenly. Furthermore, by pulling out by the roots one's clinging-vine of birth-and-death, he enables him to attain samadhi immediately. If such a Master were not deeply concentrated in meditation, then, in preaching the Dharma according to what is appropriate for the moment, he would be completely at a loss.
"Thus, although the three studies (Vinaya, Dharma and Ch'an) are different, presenting the Dharma according to the ability and circumstances of each person, nevertheless, one must come to understand the profound, wordless meaning that includes all in One Vehicle. Therefore, The Lotus Sutra says: 'In all Buddha-Lands in the ten directions, there is only the One-Vehicle Dharma.' There are neither two nor three except as expediently spoken by the Buddha when he uses conventional names and relative terms in order to guide sentient beings."
Then the Upasaka exclaimed: "Master, you understand the Dharma profoundly. Your powers of speech, analysis and argument are unobstructed."
Then the Upasaka asked the Master: "Are the three doctrines of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism the same or different in essence?"
The Master answered: "For one who has a great capacity for understanding they are the same, but for a person of limited potential, who clings to views, they are different. All of them arise from the one fundamental Self-Nature, but due to different potentialities and views among people, they become three doctrines. However, remember that a person remains confused or becomes enlightened based upon his own efforts, not upon whether the teachings are different or the same."
Once a Master of the Dharmalaksana (Yogacara, or Mere Consciousness) Sect asked: "Would you please, Ch'an Master, point out to me what mind you use to practice the Tao?"
The Master answered: "I have no mind to use and no Tao to practice."
The Dharmalaksana Master asked: "If there is really no mind to use and no Tao to practice, why do you always gather people together and urge them to learn Ch'an and practice the Tao?"
The Master answered: "I'm just an old monk, and I do not even have a plot of land as tiny as the point of an awl where I can gather people together. Furthermore, I do not even have a tongue, so how can I urge people to do anything whatsoever?"
The Dharmalaksana Master retorted: "Ch'an Master, you are telling me a direct lie right to my face!"
The Master asked: "How can I, without a tongue, ever tell a lie?"
The Dharmalaksana Master said: "1 really do not understand what you are saying!"
The Master replied: "I myself, also, do not understand."
Once an abbot who expounded The Avatamsaka Sutra asked the Master: "Why don't you admit that these green bamboo shoots are the Dharmakaya and those fragrant yellow flowers are Prajna?"
The Master answered: "The Dharmakaya is formless but responds to the green bamboo shoots and, accordingly, takes shape. Likewise, Prajna is non-discriminating but responds to the yellow flowers and the green bamboo shoots and, accordingly, takes shape. However, this does not mean that the yellow flowers and the green bamboo shoots possess either Prajna or the Dharmakaya. Therefore, one sutra says: 'The true Dharmakaya is like space, responding to things and, accordingly, taking their shapes like the reflection in the water.' If the fragrant yellow flowers were really Prajna, then Prajna would be the same as things. If the green bamboo shoots really were the Dharmakaya, then they could not be used. However, green bamboo shoots can be used, but how do you use the Dharmakaya? Do you understand?"
The Avatamsaka Master responded: "No, I do not understand."
The Master explained: "If one has become aware of his own Nature, whether he understands or does not understand is all right; for he speaks according to the requirements of a situation and is not hindered by ideas of right or wrong. In contrast, if one has not become aware of his own Nature, then, when he speaks of green bamboo shoots, he grasps at the concept of green bamboo shoots. Similarly, when he speaks of fragrant yellow flowers, he grasps at the concept of fragrant yellow flowers. Then, when he speaks of the Dharmakaya, he grasps at the concept of the Dharmakaya, which then becomes a hindrance. Similarly, when he speaks of Prajna, he does not really have any knowledge of it. Thus, everything he says falls into dispute."
At this, the Avatamsaka Master paid reverence to the master and departed.
Once someone asked the Master: "If one practices the Dharma by just using his mind alone, when will he attain liberation?"
The Master answered: "If one practices the Dharma by using his mind alone, that is just like using mud to wash away dirt. The great functions of profound and wonderful Prajna, originally itself without birth, appear right before us without regard to any fixed time."
Again, someone asked: "Do worldly people have access to this sphere?"
The Master responded: "If one see his own Nature, he is no longer a worldly person. If one is suddenly enlightened about the Supreme Vehicle, he has transcended both the worldly and the holy stages. Only a deluded man talks about worldly and holy. The enlightened man transcends both samsara and nirvana. While the deluded man talks about action and basic principles, the enlightened man talks about the Great Function without limits. The deluded man seeks to obtain or attain something, while the enlightened man neither seeks, obtains nor attains anything whatsoever. The deluded man yearns for attainment in some distant kalpa in the future, while the enlightened man perceives the nature of all things suddenly and instantaneously."
Once an expounder of The Vimalakirti Sutra observed: "The Vimalakirti Sutra says: 'The six teachers of the heterodox views are all your teachers. They have left home and, therefore, they are your teachers. If they fall, you should follow them and, also, fall. If someone supports you, he should not be thought to have gained any blessings. If someone makes offerings to you, he will fall into the three evil ways of existence. Slander the Buddha, destroy the Dharma, forget the Sangha!! This is the best way, and if you do not follow it, you can never attain the stage of liberation. However, if you do follow this path, you will partake of the right food.' Ch'an Master, please explain clearly the meaning of this passage."
The Master explained: "Since one's delusions arise from the six sense organs, they are called the six teachers. Believing that one can seek the Buddha outside of the mind is a heterodox view. To get something as a gift cannot properly be called a blessing. If even a single thought arises about receiving offerings, you will fall into the three evil ways of existence. Slandering the Buddha just means you no longer grasp the Buddha. Destroying the Dharma just means you no longer grasp the Dharma. Not entering the Sangha just means you no longer grasp the Sangha. When you no longer clutch at the idea of the attainment of liberation, then, and only then, freed from all obstructions and grasping, do you realize that inherent Wisdom and its functions have manifested themselves, suddenly and instantaneously, right before your very eyes. If one can understand this profound Dharma, he will acquire the wonderful food of Joy-in-the-Dharma."
Once a monk asked: "If someone is asked about the Buddha and just answers 'Buddha!' or is asked about the Dharma and just answers 'Dharma!', is this a legitimate method or not?"
The Master responded: "Such a person is just like a parrot which learns to speak from people but has nothing to say for itself because it has no inherent wisdom. This method can be likened to using water to wash water and fire to burn fire -- unnecessary, ridiculous and completely meaningless!"
Once a man asked: "Are words and speech the same or different?"
The Master answered: "They are one. When words become sentences, they are called speech. If one is skilled in debate, his speech can be likened to a great, ceaselessly flowing river. His eloquence, so lustrous and beautiful, can be likened to perfect pearls poured from a vessel into a circular silver tray. Thus, to speak eloquently is to penetrate, interpret, and reveal all meanings in the boundless ocean of doctrine. In contrast, the individual word represents the mind, which harbors profound meanings within itself and manifests its wonderful form outwardly. However, even though it is surrounded by the ten thousand things, it remains undisturbed and unconfused; and, even though interwoven with turbidity, it remains clear and bright. Thus, even the Emperor Chi was humbled by his minister's ability with words. Thus, even Manjusri always praised the powerful words of Vimalakirti. How can this be understood by ordinary people?"
Vinaya Master Yuan observed: "You Ch'an Masters very often say that Mind is the Buddha. That is not correct! Even Bodhisattvas at the first stage of their development toward Buddhahood can attain the first stage of being Buddhas in one hundred worlds simultaneously; and those at the second stage of their development toward Buddhahood have ten times more power than the first. Would you, please, try to manifest your power?"
The Master asked: "Acarya! are you worldly or holy?"
Vinaya Master Yuan answered: "I am worldly."
The Master responded: "This being the case -- that you are merely a worldly monk -- how can you ask this sort of highest-level question? A sutra says: 'Your thinking, being inverted, will never correspond with the Wisdom of Buddha'."
Vinaya Master Yuan declared further: "You Ch'an Masters always say that if one is enlightened regarding the Tao, he can attain liberation in his present lifetime. You are wrong!"
The Master asked: "If a person does good his whole life, but, at some point, suddenly steals something, is that person a thief in his present lifetime?"
The Vinaya Master answered: "Yes, he is!"
The Master asked: "Then why cannot one who, suddenly, clearly perceives his own nature, after a lifetime of dark ignorance, attain liberation instantly?"
The Vinaya Master answered: "He cannot in his present lifetime! He must pass through three asamkhyeya kalpas before he can attain liberation."
The Master asked: "Can three asamkhyeya kalpas be calculated?"
The Vinaya Master retorted loudly and indignantly: "How can you possibly think it is correct reasoning to draw a comparison between thievery and liberation?"
The Master retorted: "Acarya! You obviously do not understand the Tao, but please do not become an obstacle to others who are striving to understand. Since your own eyes are not open, don't become so upset, angry and hateful when others do see."
At this, Vinaya Master Yuan, becoming even angrier, retorted as he was leaving: "You're just a confused, unreasonable, fuddled old muddler, with no Tao whatsoever."
The Master, getting the last word, retorted: "That one who is just now leaving is your only Tao!"
A Master of The Samatha-Vipasyana (Chinese: Chih-Kuan) Doctrine asked: "Ch'an Master, can you distinguish among the various kinds of demons?"
The Master answered: "The arising of a single thought in the mind is the heavenly demon, while the non-arising of a single thought is the demon of the five aggregates. A mind in which there are both the arising and the non-arising of thoughts is the demon of defilement. These conditions and demons can never exist in my Right Dharma."
The Samatha-Vipasyana Master asked: "What is the meaning of the concept of non-existence of the three time periods in the one Mind?"
The Master answered: "The past mind is already past; the future mind has not yet come; the present mind does not stay. Besides the minds of these three time periods, which mind do you employ for Vipasyana?"
The Samatha-Vipasyana Master declared: "Ch'an Master, you seem not to understand The Samatha-Vipasyana Doctrine."
The Master inquired pointedly: "Do you understand it yourself?! "
The Samatha-Vipasyana Master asserted: "Yes, I do!"
The Master responded: "The T'ien-T'ai Master Chih-Che said, 'Speak about Chih (ceasing thought) to remove Chih; speak about Kuan (clear awareness) to remove Kuan. To grasp Chih is to sink into the condition of birth-and-death; to grasp Kuan is to confuse the mind. Can one reasonably use the mind to achieve the cessation of mind (Chih) or stir up the mind to meditate on or observe clear mind (Kuan)? If one thinks he has a mind to observe, that is clinging to the view of permanence. On the other hand, if one thinks there is no mind to observe, that is clinging to the view of annihilation. Finally, if one thinks there is both existence and non-existence, that is clinging to the view of dualism. Would you, please, try to explain all of this clearly for me."
The Samatha Vipasyana Master answered: "If all this is as you show it to be, I really have nothing whatsoever to say."
The Master, concluding, asked: "Where, then, is Chih-Kuan?"
A monk once asked: "Is Prajna great?"
The Master answered: "Yes, it is."
The monk asked: "How great?"
The Master answered: "Boundless."
The monk asked: "Is Prajna small?"
The Master answered: "Yes, it is."
The monk asked: "How small?"
The Master answered: "So small you can't see it."
The monk asked: "Then where is it?"
The Master answered: "Where is it not?"
Once a Master who expounded The Vimalakirti Sutra asked: "Our Sutra says, 'All Bodhisattvas spoke about entering the non-dual Dharma Door to Enlightenment, but Vimalakirti kept silent.' Is this the Perfect Absolute?"
The Master responded: "This is not the Perfect Absolute. If that holy thought had really been exhausted, what more would there have been to say in the third roll of the Sutra?"
The Vimalakirti Master asked: "Would you please explain why it is not the Perfect Absolute?"
The Master responded: "The first roll of the Sutra teaches disciples how their minds ought to abide. The second roll reveals how each Bodhisattva in attendance spoke of his entrance into the non-dual Dharma Door, using words to disclose the wordless. Then Manjusri used no words or speech to disclose the wordless. Later Vimalakirti used neither words nor no words to disclose the wordless. He just remained still and silent, thus concluding all words about the wordless. In the third roll, his silence continues, and the function of the Absolute is thus made manifest. Do you understand?"
The Vimalakirti Master said: "You have a strange way of explaining it."
The Master responded: "It's really not so strange."
The Vimalakirti Master asked: "Why not?"
The Master responded: "I put it in just this way to help people eradicate all attachment. If you follow the meaning of the Sutra, it says that both the mind and forms are void, to enable people to see their Original Nature as well as to abandon false practice and embrace right practice. Thus, one should not dwell on thoughts and meanings about words and speech from ink and paper. Basically, just to understand the two words making up Vimalakirti's name -- 'Vimala' (pure) and 'kirti' (name) -- is enough. 'Vimala' (pure) represents the Original Substance, while 'kirti' (name) represents the expression and traces of its function. From the Original Substance arise the traces and expression of function, and from these traces we return to the Original Substance. However, since there is, in truth, a non-duality of substance and function, the Original Substance and its expression and traces are not different. Therefore, the Ancients concluded, 'Even though the Original Substance and the traces and expression of its function are different in name, yet the Inconceivable, from which they both proceed, is just one. However, even that One is, in reality, not one!' Thus, if you really understand the meaning of the two words -- 'Vimala' (pure) and 'kirti' (name) -- you would know that it is useless to discuss the Absolute versus the Non-Absolute. Without a front there is no back. Without a beginning there is no end. Without 'Vimala' (pure) there is no 'kirti' (name). So the only purpose of this teaching is to demonstrate to all sentient beings the inconceivable liberation that comes from recognizing their Original Nature. However, those who do not yet see their own Original Nature will never be able to comprehend this doctrine."
A monk once asked: "Since all dharmas are void, the nature of consciousness must, also, be void. Just as a bubble, once burst, can never re-form again, so the present body, once dead and nothing remaining, is never reconstituted nor does it ever live again. What, then happens to consciousness when it disperses?"
The Master answered: "The underlying substance of a bubble is water; but when the bubble bursts, you cannot say that the water no longer exists. Similarly, the underlying substance of the body is our fundamental nature. So when the body dies, how can you say that its fundamental nature is annihilated?"
The monk asked: "Since you assert there is such a fundamental nature, can you point it out?"
The Master, in turn, asked: "Do you believe there was a T'ang Dynasty?"
The monk replied: "Of course!"
The Master asked: "Can you point it out?"
The monk replied: "There was a real T'ang Dynasty, but I cannot point it out just now."
The Master responded: "Right! But even though you cannot now point out the T'ang Dynasty, you cannot say there was no T'ang Dynasty. You yourself cannot see your own fundamental nature, but you cannot say, therefore, that it absolutely does not exist. At this moment you can only see that which is walking, standing, sitting, lying down, wearing clothes and taking food, but you do not recognize its essence clearly. If you try to prove the existence of the T'ang Dynasty now, one might judge you stupid and foolish; for if you try to point out the T'ang Dynasty now, it is just like trying to use your own fundamental nature to discover your own fundamental nature. Even after ten thousand kalpas, you'll never succeed! You are just like a man who cannot see the sun, but that does not mean there is no sun."
Once a Master of The Ch'ing Lung Commentary asked: "The Diamond Sutra says, 'There is really no Dharma to teach, but this is called teaching the Dharma.' Ch'an Master, what is your explanation of this?"
The Master responded: "The substance of Prajna is absolutely clear and pure, without a single thing that can be grasped. Thus, it is said that 'There is no Dharma to teach.' Also, because the substance of this still and void Prajna is fully endowed with functions as countless as the sandgrains of the Ganges, it knows everything. Thus, it is said to be 'teaching the Dharma.' This then, is the meaning of 'There is really no Dharma to teach, but this is called teaching the Dharma'."
An Avatamsaka Master once asked: "Ch'an Master, do you believe that non-feeling beings or inanimate objects have Buddha-Nature?"
The Master answered: "No I do not believe that non-feeling beings or inanimate objects have Buddha-Nature. If such beings or objects did indeed have Buddha-Nature, then a living person would be no better than a dead person. One sutra says, 'The Buddha-Body is the Dharmakaya. It is created through discipline and concentration, by the three insights, by the six supernatural powers and by all good Dharmas.' If it were the case that non-feeling beings and inanimate objects had Buddha-nature, then were you, Bhadanta, to die right now, you would automatically become a Buddha."
A Dharmalaksana Master once asked: "Do you believe that to hold and recite The Prajnaparamita Sutra assures the most merit?"
The Master responded: "No, I do not believe it. If such an action really had that much spiritual effect, then the remainder of the many rolls of all the other sutras could no longer be effective or be believed. Now let's look at it in another light. If a man shows his filial piety, he, naturally, gets both spiritual effect and merit; but there is no spiritual effect or merit whatsoever from his dead parents' white bones. Similarly, the sutra is made of paper with words recorded in ink; but the fundamental nature of words, as well as that of paper and ink, is void. So how can there possibly be any spiritual effect or merit from these objects in themselves? In reality, the spiritual effect comes from the mind of the one who recites the sutra. Thus, in this manner, it can properly be said that any spiritual power that manifests itself is a response from living beings. Just try putting a roll of the sutra on the table with no person about to hold and recite it. How can it possibly have any spiritual effect or response by itself?"
A monk once asked: "How is one to understand the meaning of name and form, as well as speech and silence, so that there is neither front nor back?"
The Master responded: "Since originally there is neither name nor form, when a thought arises how can there be a front or back? Because you do not know the original purity of all that has name and form, you then use false thought to establish both front and back, as well as speech and silence. Without the key of Wisdom, you cannot open the locked gate of name and form, which holds you back. If you cling to the idea of the Middle Way, then you have the defect of the Middle Way. Likewise, if you cling to the idea of duality, then you have the defect of duality. You do not know that the present manifesting functions are already the unequaled Dharmakaya. Thus, because they are worldly, all ordinary people experience the duality of delusion and Enlightenment, as well as gain and loss. Allowing a thought of creation and destruction to arise overwhelms and buries one's own genuine Wisdom. Breaking off defilements and seeking Bodhi just amounts to people's turning their backs on Prajna (Wisdom)."
Once someone asked: "Why don't Vinaya Masters believe in Ch'an?"
The Master answered: "The deep doctrine is difficult to comprehend, but the way of name and form is easy to practice. Thus, one who does not yet perceive his self-nature does not believe in it. One who sees his self-nature is called Buddha. Only one who recognizes the Buddha can achieve the position of Buddha. The Buddha is never far away from people, but people are always far away from the Buddha. By Mind only can Buddhahood be achieved. Deluded men seek it from words, while enlightened men realize it from their own minds. Deluded men follow the way of material cause and effect, while enlightened men understand that the mind is without form. Deluded men grasp at things and cling to ego, while enlightened men use their Prajna (Wisdom), which responds spontaneously and appropriately, as required. Foolish people grasp at the obstacles of existence and non-existence, while men of Wisdom have insight into their own Original Nature and understand that form is not an obstacle. Those who only speak eloquently, but dryly, about Wisdom just tire their jaws, while men of Great Wisdom, comprehending Mind, rest easily. When a Bodhisattva responds to things, things are illuminated; while a sravaka, because he fears the world, can only bedim his mind. Enlightened men, in daily life, do not wander from the Uncreate, but deluded men block out the Buddha, who is right before their very eyes."
Once someone asked: "How can we attain supernatural power?"
The Master answered: "The spirit of Self-Nature pervades everywhere, spreading quickly throughout the universe. Even mountains and rivers cannot hinder it, and it comes and goes without trace, covering infinite distances instantly. It can neither be burned by fire nor drowned by water. Foolish men, having no Wisdom, want to fly using the four-element body. A sutra says, 'Ordinary people cling to forms,' so the Dharma preached to them must be appropriate according to their capacities. Therefore, for them, the formlessness of Mind is spoken as the fine and wonderful Sambhogakaya. This formlessness is Reality, and the 'substance' of Reality is voidness. Hence it is called the Boundless-Void Body. Since it is adorned by all meritorious action, it is therefore also called the Dharmakaya of Merit. This Dharmakaya is the basis of all meritorious action. Even though various names have been employed reflecting its functions, actually there is only the pure, clear Dharmakaya."
Once a man asked: "If we follow the Tao of One Mind, will all sorts of karma created in previous lives be eradicated?"
The Master answered: "For one who has not yet had insight into his own Original Nature, the various sorts of karma created in previous lives cannot be eradicated. However, if one has had such insight into his Original Nature, then all sorts of karma will be dissipated, just as the sun illuminates and melts away frost and snow or just as a single spark of fire can spread, consume and completely wipe out a pile of firewood, even though it were piled as high as Mount Sumeru. His karma is like that firewood, and his Wisdom is like that fire."
The same man asked: "How can we know when every sort of karmic hindrance has been wiped out?"
The Master answered: "When you suddenly perceive your own Mind, you will at that moment understand the affairs of the past and those of the future as if they were right before your very eyes. All past and future, as well as present, dharmas will be perceived simultaneously. The Sutra says, 'All the dharmas known by your purified mind constitute the Bodhimandala, which is the totality of all Wisdom'."
Once a practicer asked: "How can I abide in the right Dharma?"
The Master answered: "One who seeks to dwell in the right Dharma is wrong, because the 'right' Dharma is neither right nor wrong."
The practicer asked: "Then in what way can I become a Buddha?"
The Master answered: "Just let not a single thought arise about abandoning any sentient being, and do not ever defile your own Self-Nature. The Sutra says, 'Mind, Buddha, and sentient beings are not different from one another!"
The practicer answered: "So if I understand this, can I attain liberation?"
The Master answered: "Since originally you are fettered, it is really quite useless to 'seek' liberation. The Dharma surpasses both words and speech, so there is no use seeking it in intricate sentences in books. The Dharma is without past, present and future; therefore, it is useless to seek it in the law of cause and effect. The Dharma transcends all things that possess form; therefore, you should not deny the phenomenal world in order to seek liberation."
A monk asked: "What is Prajna?"
The Master answered: "Just try to tell me what Prajna is not! "
The monk asked: "How can we perceive our own Nature?"
The Master answered: "That which does the perceiving is your own Nature, and without it there can be no perception."
Again, the monk asked: "What is proper practice and how is it done?"
The Master answered: "Just not defiling your own Self-Nature is proper practice. Just not deceiving oneself is proper practice. In line with such practice, when the great function of your own Nature is revealed, that is the unequaled Dharmakaya."
Again, the monk asked: "Is there any evil in our own Self-Nature?"
The Master answered: "Our own Self-Nature does not even contain any good!"
Again the monk asked: "If it includes neither good nor evil, then how is the mind to be used?"
The Master answered: "To employ the mind to use the mind is a great perversion!"
In conclusion, the monk asked: "Then what is it and what should we do?"
The Master answered: "There is nothing at all to do, nor is it anything whatsoever."
Once someone asked: "If a person takes a boat out onto the ocean and the keel of the boat crushes and kills some shellfish, does that person bear the karma or does the boat bear it?"
The Master responded: "Since both the person and boat have no mind to kill anything, there remains just you to bear the karma. Similarly, when violent winds topple a tree that kills someone, there is neither perpetrator to act nor victim to suffer. However, all sentient beings throughout the world, without exception, must bear suffering."
Once a monk asked: "How can liberation be realized in a ksana (single thought-moment) through the influence of someone's feelings, pointing, speech and silence, moving eyes or raised eyebrows?"
The Master answered: "There is nothing outside of Self-Nature. The use of this subtle mind, both in its movement and its stillness is truly wonderful! One who uses the True Mind, whether he speaks or remains silent, always manifests that truth. If one understands the Tao, then whether he is walking, standing, sitting or lying down, all resides in the Tao. However if one is ignorant and deluded about his own Self-Nature, then only ignorance and delusion spring forth."
Again, the monk asked: "Ordinary people perceive dharmas according to words, names and meanings, but Manjusri Bodhisattva perceived that fundamentally all dharmas dwell in the non-dwelling void. Is just a great void, then, all there is?"
The Master asked: "Do you fear a great void?"
The monk answered: "Yes, I fear it!"
The Master observed: "But for the one who understands that he fears it, it is not a great void."
Finally the monk asked: "How can we understand that which mere words and speech cannot express?"
The Master, in turn, asked: "While you are speaking, what is it that cannot be expressed by mere words and speech?"
Ten Dharma Masters came and inquired of the Master: "Some sutra says that the Buddhadharma will be destroyed, but we do not know if that is possible. How do you feel about this?"
The Master responded: "Worldly and heterodox people assert that the Buddhadharma can be destroyed, but the Two-Vehicle believers assert that it cannot be destroyed. In my 'right' Dharma, there is no place for these two opposing views. In relationship to that 'right' Dharma, it is not just worldly and heterodox people who do not understand, that have an almost insurmountable problem. Even those who faithfully follow the Two-Vehicle view but who have not yet arrived at the highest stage are just as badly off."
Again, the Ten Dharma Masters asked: "Do the Dharma of truth, the Dharma of delusion, the Dharma of voidness, and the Dharma of non-voidness all have individual seed-natures?"
The Master responded: "Even the Buddhadharma is without any seed-nature, but it assumes different forms according to the needs of sentient beings. If the mind clings to illusion, then everything is illusion. If there were even a single dharma that is not illusion, then illusion would be stable or real. If the mind is void, then all things are void. If there were even a single dharma that is not void, then the idea of voidness would have no meaning. When a person is deluded and confused, he grasps at phenomena (dharmas); however, when a person is enlightened, all phenomena are void. The various phenomena in the world are all void, just as all rivers are separate but merge into the one Ocean. Similarly, all saints and sages and holy ones can ultimately achieve Buddhahood. The twelve divisions of the Sutras, the five divisions of the Vinaya and the four Vedas are all fundamentally rooted in the One Mind. This One Mind is the source of all dharmas (phenomena) as well as the wonderful, fundamental basis of all Dharani. It is also called the Storehouse of Great Wisdom as well as Non-Abiding Nirvana. Although there are names without number for it, all of them specify and point to Mind."
The Ten Dharma Masters asked finally: "What is illusion?"
The Master answered: "Illusion is without fixed form or appearance; it is like a rapidly turning wheel of fire, like a mirage, like a dancing puppet, like sunbeams, like sky-flowers -- all unreal dharmas."
The Ten Dharma Masters asked again: "What is the greatest exemplar of illusion?"
The Master answered: "Mind is the greatest teacher and exemplar of illusion. The body is the great city of illusion. Name and form are the great array and nourishment of illusion. In all the worlds of infinite space, as numberless as the sandgrains of the Ganges, there is not even one single thing that stands or exists outside of illusion. Worldly people are not able to comprehend illusion and so are, everywhere and always, deceived by illusory karma. Sravakas fear the realm of illusion, so they enter Nirvana. Bodhisattvas, however, recognize that the names, forms and substance of all dharmas are illusion, and so they are not bound by any of these things whatsoever. The Buddha is the great teacher and master of illusion, who turned the great, illusory Dharma-Wheel, entered great, illusory Nirvana, transformed illusory birth-and-death into that which is neither birth nor death, and turned impure worlds, as numberless as the sandgrains of the Ganges, into the spotless, pure Dharmadhatu."
A monk once asked: "Why do you forbid people to recite the sutras and say that their understanding of the words is like that of guests who do not understand the language?"
The Master replied: "Because people are like parrots learning to imitate the speech of human beings without understanding the meaning or purpose of words. The sutras transmit the words and meaning of the Buddha; however, if you do not understand the Buddha's purpose and meaning and merely recite the words, then you too are just like a mimicking parrot. Therefore, I do not let people merely recite the sutras."
Again the monk asked: "How can words and speech be separate from meaning?"
The Master replied: If you speak like this, then you also are only learning to mimic others' words like a parrot."
The monk asked again: "But since people and parrots speak the same language, why not just let people recite the sutras?"
The Master replied: "Just listen attentively! The sutra clearly says, 'There is a meaning that transcends words when I speak. However, there are only empty words, without meaning, when worldly people talk.' So just understand that the real meaning is beyond words and that the Doctrine is beyond language. The Buddhadharma surpasses words, so how can one seek it from mere words or speech? Therefore, if one desires to generate his Bodhi Mind, he should just understand the meaning of the Dharma and forget the words. Having attained enlightenment about the true meaning of Reality, beyond words, he should then abandon the doctrines and teaching, just as the fisherman ignores his net after catching his fish, and the hunter disregards his trap after catching his rabbit."
A Dharma Master once asked: "What do you think about the idea that, in Mahayana, reciting the name of the Buddha is Ch'an with form?"
The Master replied: "Since even Ch'an without form is still not true Mahayana, how much less so is that with form. A sutra says, 'Since ordinary people are always attached to form, when spreading Dharma to them you should use an appropriate method'!"
Again the Dharma Master asked: "People commonly wish to be reborn in the Pure Land. Is there really a Pure Land?"
The Master replied: "A sutra says, 'If one wants to attain the Pure Land, then he should purify his own mind. If his mind is pure, then that very mind of purity is the Buddha's Pure Land.' If his mind is pure, then the Pure Land exists everywhere. Just as a prince who is born into the emperor's family must continue the authority of that family's imperial powers, so one who makes up his mind to become a Buddha creates causes for rebirth in the Buddha's Pure Land. On the other hand, if one's mind is impure, then impurity is everywhere; and, consequently, the Pure Land is unattainable. Just understand that purity and impurity proceed wholly from the mind and do not depend on any 'land' whatsoever."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "I have often heard the Master speak of the Tao, but I know of no one who can perceive the Tao. Are you able to explain this?"
The Master responded: "If one possesses the Wisdom-Eye, he can perceive the Tao."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "I like the Mahayana very much, but how can I attain it successfully?"
The Master responded: "Only by becoming enlightened. If you are not enlightened, you cannot attain the Mahayana."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "How then can Enlightenment be achieved?"
The Master responded: "Through attentive intuition."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "Just what is this attentive intuition?"
The Master responded: "It is like nothing else whatever."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "Then is it absolute voidness?"
The Master responded: "It is void without being absolute."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "Then does it exist?"
The Master responded: "It exists without form."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "And if I cannot comprehend it, what then?"
The Master responded: "If you cannot comprehend it, that is your own choice. No one has set any obstacles before you."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "Does the Buddhadharma pertain to the three time periods?"
The Master responded: "Perceived as formless, it is thus not external. Responding inexhaustibly to all things, it is thus not internal. Also, since there is no middle ground where it abides, it therefore cannot be attained in the three time periods."
The Dharma Master declared: "Your answers are very perplexing. "
The Master asked: "When you just said the word 'perplexing', was there anything internal or external about it?"
The Dharma Master answered: "After considering it, I find that there is no trace of it within or without."
The Master responded: "If there is no trace, then it is clear that all I have just said was neither perplexing, confusing, nor disordered."
Continuing, the Dharma Master asked: "How can one achieve Buddhahood?"
The Master responded: "Since one's mind is fundamentally the Buddha, it can in actuality achieve Buddhahood."
Again the Dharma Master asked: "When sentient beings enter hell, does their Buddha-Nature go with them?"
The Master in turn asked: "In just that moment when one is performing an evil act, is there any good in it?"
The Dharma Master answered: "No, there is no good accompanying the evil."
The Master observed: "Likewise, when sentient beings enter hell, their Buddha-Nature does not accompany them."
Finally the Dharma Master asked: "Of what use is the Buddha-Nature, which all sentient beings possess?"
The Master responded: "To engage in activity of the Buddha is to employ the Buddha-Nature. However, if you steal, you are using the nature of a thief. Also, if you act like a worldly sentient being, then you are using the nature of a sentient being. This Nature, which is formless and without distinguishing features, is differentiated and named according to form and function. One sutra says, 'All Buddhas and Aryas are discerned by their accordance with the Eternal Dharma'."
Once a monk asked: "What is the Buddha?"
The Master answered: "Besides mind, there is no Buddha."
Again the monk asked: "What is the Dharmakaya?"
The Master answered: "Mind is the Dharmakaya. Because it can create all dharmas, it is therefore called the body of the Dharmadhatu. The Sastra of the Awakening of Faithsays, 'The principal thing is the mind of all sentient beings, for Mind is depended upon to manifest the Truth of the Mahayana."'
Again the monk asked: "What is the meaning of the saying, 'The Great Sutra exists inside an infinitesimal particle of dust'?"
The Master answered: "Wisdom is just that Great Sutra. One sutra says, 'There is a Great Sutra, equal in scope to a great chiliocosm, which nevertheless exists inside an infinitesimal particle of dust.' This particle of dust suggests the dust of one mind whereby a single thought arises. Thus it is said, 'In an infinitesimally small dust particle of the mind whereby one single thought arises are present as many gathas as there are sandgrains in the Ganges.' However, present-day people do not recognize this."
Again the monk asked: "What is the City of the Great Principle, and what is the King of the Great Principle?"
The Master answered: "The body is the City of the Great Principle, and the mind is the King of the Great Principle. One sutra says, 'If one has a great ability to listen, that is good for comprehending the meaning of the Great Principle but not good for speaking about it.' Words are as temporary as birth and death, but the meaning of the Great Principle is eternal, formless and beyond words. Beyond speech, beyond words is Mind, which is the Great Sutra as well as the King of the Great Principle. If one does not understand this, he is merely a person who has learned to speak by parroting words, having no real comprehension of their deeper meaning."
Finally the monk asked: "The Prajnaparamita Sutra speaks about leading the nine kinds of sentient beings into nonresidual Nirvana. It says further, 'After they have been so led, not one of them in fact achieves final extinction or escapes suffering.' How are we to understand these passages of the Sutra to resolve the seeming contradiction? Most interpreters say that sentient beings really are led but that one should not grasp the forms of these beings. I have been in some confusion and had doubt about this for quite awhile. Can you please explain it clearly to me?"
The Master answered: "The nine kinds of sentient beings exist, in full, in the physical body, which is created or materializes according to a person's actions (karma). Thus, ignorance produces an oviparously born being. Defilement produces a viviparously born being. Absorption in the love fluids produces a being born of moisture and humidity. The sudden arising of vehement emotion or overwhelming passion produces a metamorphous being. When we are enlightened, we are Buddhas. When we are ignorant, we are just worldly, sentient beings. The Bodhisattva, thought after thought, never separates himself from sentient beings; and since he understands that the substance of the mind is void, that in itself is known as and called 'the conversion and delivery of all sentient beings.' Thus, the wise man converts and delivers himself and thereby imperceptibly converts and delivers all other sentient beings from either reincarnation or extinction. This then is the meaning and resolution of the seemingly contradictory passage in The Prajnaparamita Sutra, which states that even though the nine kinds of sentient beings are led to non-residual Nirvana, not one of them, in fact, achieves final extinction."
A monk once asked: "Is it so that words and speech are mind?"
The Master responded: "Words and speech are causes and conditions; they are not mind."
Again the monk asked: "Without causes and conditions, what is the mind?"
The Master responded: "Without words and speech, there is no mind."
Again the monk asked: "If without form, words, and speech there is no mind, what then is mind?"
The Master responded: "The mind is without form or attributes. It is neither separate from words and speech nor not separate from them. The mind is permanently clear and still and is used for self-mastery. The Patriarch has said, 'If one realizes that mind is really no-mind, then he really understands the Dharma of Mind'."
A monk once asked: "What is the meaning of 'the balanced study of meditation (dhyana) and wisdom (prajna)'?"
The Master responded: "From meditation wisdom arises, and wisdom returns to meditation. They are just like water and waves, which are in reality one substance without distinction. This is known as 'the balanced study of meditation and wisdom.' One who leaves home (a monk) should not seek words or cling to concepts. Walking, standing, sitting, and lying down -- all are the great functions of your own Nature. In what way are you not responsive to the Tao? Go and be at peace! If you are not constantly being pulled about by or following outside influences and forces, then your own Nature, like permanently pure, deep water, continues to be forever clear and calm. So, everybody, attend to and take care of your own Nature."