The Lighthouse in the Ocean of Chan


Chapter 1 Redundant Talks Spoken First


Section 1 Be Keenly Mindful of Impermanence

Section 2 Thorough Renunciation

Section 2.1 Renounce the Worldly

Section 2.2 Renounce Desires

Section 2.3 Renounce Others' Help

Section 2.4 Renounce Speeches and Sentences

Section 2.5 Renounce Views and Understanding

Section 2.6 Renounce Practices of Precepts, Meditation and Wisdom

Section 2.7 Renounce Environment, Body, Conceptual Mind

It is because you have not yet comprehended that the Patriarchs had in excess so many redundant talks. Should know that these redundant talks will not add anything to you. If you eventually comprehended, these redundant talks cannot take anything away from you. If you have not engaged in real quest and attained true comprehension, and yet you don't want to listen to such "same old stories," would not accurately reflect upon yourself, then you are ungrateful indeed towards the grandma's heart of the patriarchs. Desire to attain comprehension, wait till the year of the donkey! [There is no such year in the Chinese calendar.]

Section 1 Be Keenly Mindful of Impermanence

Huang Bo said, "Do not take it easy, holding a piece of clothing and a mouthful of food, vainly pass through one life. Knowing only to learn speeches, pack into the skin bag, could life and death then be substituted? Even though having learned all the various theories, eventually cannot take the place of one's own insight. Ultimately, only applying efforts would do!" Jian Min [Yogi Chen's first name in Chinese] says, "Nowadays the ordinary arrogant Chan people only teach you to rest, with no regard to whether you know or not a real resting place. Huang Bo, on the contrary, taught people not to pass time in vain, should apply efforts. Ultimately, when will be the time for you to rest? What is the matter that you should apply efforts to? In this book of mine, from beginning till end, the personally plowed fields as indicated by all the patriarchs are revealed in their entirety. After you finish reading, only then would you know to what field you have indeed attained. For the time being would ask you to reflect keenly on impermanence; the following quotations are all this kind of redundant talks."

Huai Hai said, "Work hard! Make every effort! Do not wait until ears deaf and eyes dim, hair white and face wrinkled, and the suffering of senility falls upon the body. Then there will be tears in your eyes and terror in your heart, and yet no place to go to. At such a time under such circumstances, even though with merits, intelligence, and full of acquired knowledge, could not be salvaged. If the mind's eye is as yet unopened, only follow the environment, not knowing to introspect, nor see the Buddhist path, then all the evil karma accumulated in this lifetime would completely appear before one, and one will take rebirth where one's heavy karma lies, without any freedom of choice."

Zhi Chang said, "People these days cannot stand up and accomplish on their own, passing time in vain. You fellows should not ill apply your minds; nobody can replace you!"

Xuan Sha said, "Suddenly the impermanent killing environment has arrived, with eyes wide open, the view of body and that of life, at such a time are most difficult to sustain; just like a tortoise being stripped of its shell alive, too much suffering!" Again, he said, "The three realms have no security, like houses in flames. Furthermore, you are not one who has achieved the ultimate peace and joy. You are still one of the crowd that are running hither and thither like a bevy of wild deer. All you know is to seek for food and clothing; in this way, how could you tread the royal path? Parents released you to join the Sangha, patrons supply you with food and clothing, and the local deities and the dragon gods protect you. You should at least feel ashamed and be grateful. Don't be unworthy to people, sleeping away in a row on the long adjacent beds! As to the ultimate peace and joy, still lacking. All are fed by porridge and rice into the semblance of a rotten winter squash. Will transform, will be buried under ground. In the maze of karmic consciousness, without a root to hold onto. If you do not finish it now, tomorrow or the day after, see you transform into the womb of a donkey or the belly of a horse; pulling ploughs and harrows, biting an iron bit and carrying a saddle on the back, and being boiled and burned in water and fire, that will very much be not easy to bear! It is you burdening yourself, know this? Once it is finished, for all eternity, will never let you have this message." Again said, "If you fellows can maintain throughout life as if just lost your parents, I guarantee that you eventually will attain thorough liberation." Jian Min says, "Try ask yourself, are you one who has achieved ultimate peace and joy, or are you one who has not? Wasting the whole life to practice Chan only by mouth, has any use?"

Wen Yan said, "Hurry! Hurry! Time waits for no one. Breathing out does not guarantee breathing in. Someday facing King Yan Luo [the King of the underworld], that you can say it nicely would not be taken into account. If one has attained, then still passes days among the multitude. If still has not attained, then definitely should not take it easy. Urgently need be careful!" Again, he said, "Definitely need to look out! Suddenly one day eye sight drops to the ground, what will be used to confront things ahead? Don't become just like crabs fallen into boiling soup, disorderly busy with hands and legs. There is no place for you to glide over and brag. Do not easily pass it in vain. Once the human body is lost, in ten thousand kalpas it may not repeat. This is no small matter!" Jian Min says, "Try to see for yourself, are you one who has attained, or one who has not attained? If you ask how would one pass for having attained, I thereby know that you indeed are one who has not attained. Now that one has attained, still need to ask others? Definitely need to pity oneself."

Jian Min says, "Nowadays during the last period of Buddha Dharma, ordinary upasakas who pretend to be Dharma teachers talk big and criticize wide in teahouses and barrooms. The four-inch space between ears and mouth has nothing but some koans well remembered. Why not suddenly reflect upon oneself, indeed to what field has one arrived? Upon encountering a person of real quest and true comprehension, all such practices become laughing stocks. Cheating oneself while fooling others, once impermanence arrives, it would be even harder to take."

Section 2 Thorough Renunciation

With neither beginning nor end, originally irrelevant; when has never renounced? Everywhere is Tao, everything is blameless; what to renounce from? Pick up one thing would not do; discard one thing would not do. In the article "On Precepts of Nature" as found in my book Records of Reflections, it is written, "Damages, who caused? Benefits, who guards?" If the intent of the patriarchs is discussed, say to renounce would do, say not to renounce would also do; is there still any position for you to discriminate and to attach to? Saying to renounce, you would reckon that there is a place that can be renounced from, and a place that can be approached to. Saying not to renounce, you would reckon that now is just it, even though that is the case only when you have arrived this field. In The Lighthouse in the Ocean of Chan all are sutras without words; no one dot or one check could serve as something for you to think of in your mind or to grasp in your hand. It is still necessary for you yourself to reflect on your face, and to plant your feet on the solid ground. Say to renounce, should not go where there is no grass for thousands of miles; Say not to renounce, should not become entangled in muddy water. You just ponder carefully on it yourself; do not guess about and feel around here. At what field, say what words. Some ready sayings of the ancients are quoted below just because you are temporarily not ready to renounce yet. Rather first talk about renunciation for you, than to talk about non-renunciation. The key is for you yourself to treat the whole book as a single word, and this word as the character "wu" which Zhao Zhou could not glance at enough throughout his life. Do not look at it as Mahayana; here there is not even one yana, let alone Maha- and Hina- ones. Do not look at it as Hinayana; the followings are all examples set by famous Chan patriarchs. Nowadays the arrogant Chan people, as soon as renunciation is refer to, would denounce it as of Hinayana. Much like reciting the history but forgotten about the ancestors.

Section 2.1 Renounce the Worldly

Chan teacher Tian Ran originally was traveling to the capital to participate in the national civil examination, met a Chan teacher who advised him, "To attend the Officials Selection Field would not be as significant as to attend the Buddhas Selection Field." If, at that time, once fallen into achievements, fame, gains and emolument, into the sphere of great power and much influence, that would be the source of grave crimes and sins, could he still have a chance to comprehend Tao? Could he still be entitled to riding on the neck of a holy monk?

Pang Yun's son and daughter remained single, and he threw all his valuables into the river Heng. Could he be more ignorant than us who hanker after clothing and food?

Fa Chang of Mei Shan, in declining the invitation of Yan Guan said:

A ruined and withered tree takes shelter in a bleak forest;
Several times encountered spring without change of heart.
Woodcutters running into it would even not bother to look;
How could a master craftsman seek it so hard?

Monk Long Shan lived in a secluded place without going out, and there was no access to the spot. Once he was caught sight of by Dong Shan, then he burned the house, moved deeper into the mountain to hide away. His poem reads:

Staying in a three-room straw hut ever since;
A flash of awareness light in peaceful surroundings.
Do not discriminate me as right or wrong;
Fabrications of a transient life is simply irrelevant.

Hui Zhong, ever since receiving the seal of heart from the Sixth Patriarch, lived in the Dang Zi Valley up on the Bai Ya Mountain at Nan Yang for more than forty years without ever coming down the mountain.

Li Zong lived at Zi Hu for forty-five years without coming down the mountain. His poem reads:

For thirty years lived at Zi Hu.
Two meals of rice porridge, qi and strength strong.
Without events walk up the hills for a round.
Ask you people of today, comprehend or not?

Cong Lang lived at Mu Chen of Wu Zhou, also for thirty years without coming out of his abode for even one step. His poem reads:

For thirty years lived at Mu Chen;
All this time nothing accomplished through efforts.
Someone asks me the intention of Bodhidharma's coming from the west,
What would it be to lift up eyebrows?

Hui Lang lived in the Zhao Ti Monastery of Tan Zhou. For thirty years he did not take a single step outdoors.

Da Tong lived on Tou Zi Shan for thirty years. Plums and peaches are without words, beneath would naturally form a path. Disciples gathered in groups.

Nan Quan erected by himself a Chan shed at Chi Yang; for more than thirty years did not come down from it.

Chan teacher Jing Qin said: "For forty-nine years I am here, still at times miss it."

National Master Wu Ye, due to compulsory summons from Emperor Mu Zong of the Tang Dynasty, therefore said, "Please go ahead; I shall come by another route." He then bathed, cut his hair, and at midnight sat cross-legged and passed away. He even refused the summons by death.

Section 2.2 Renounce Desires

Chan teacher Qing Hu never wore silk or satin throughout his life. He wore only clothing made of paper.

Chan teacher Ju Hai wore only linen clothing and straw sandals.

Zhi Feng ate only from the trees and drank only from the mountain streams for ten years.

Hui Man intended to remain thrifty; kept only two needles. In winter he would beg for them to patch his clothing, but give them away in summer. He often ate from begging, and never stayed at one place for the second night. When coming to a monastery he would split wood and make sandals. Sometimes he would sleep in an old tomb. All his life, no fear in heart, no flea on body, and no dream during sleep.

When Ling You first went up the Gui mountain, apes and monkeys were company, acorns and chestnuts were taken to relieve hunger.

Superior Seat Xuan Tai of Nan Yue never wore silk; people called him the "Great Cloth Monk." He swore not to have disciples. All those who came to ponder Chan under his blessing were treated as friends. Right before his death, there was no one around. At the last moment he called a person to kindle the funeral pyre for him. His gatha reads:

No need to shave,
No need to bath,
One pyre of fierce fire,
Enough! Enough!

Huai Hai said, "You fellows should, first of all, leave off all entanglements, put down all your affairs. Not to think about fame, gains, food and clothing; not to yearn for merits and benefits; and not be hampered by worldly things. Coarse food to sustain your breathing, patched clothing to ward off the chill, already enough!"

National Master Wu Ye said, "Nowadays in the world people who understand Chan or doctrine are as numerous as river sands. A speck of dust not rid of, have not freed from transmigration. Thinking and longing not forgotten, all should sink and fall. Even a hermit of character would not respond to official summons. Would like to see the great virtuous, after having comprehended, in a straw hut or stone cave, cook meals in a tripod with broken legs, and eat like that for twenty or thirty years; fame and position are of no concern, wealth and treasures are not in thoughts. Your younger brother discusses real stuff but not fabrications. Just this mouthful of food and the clothing on the body, all are obtained through cheating saints and deceiving worthy people. Seen through telepathy and wisdom eyes, it is like eating pus and blood. After death will follow the past, again become an ant, or repeat the life of a mosquito or flea. If straight down go to rest, suddenly cease all clingings would do. Otherwise, it would be incomparable to practicing and acting in accordance with the teachings of Hinayana and Mahayana; it would not hurt to achieve the four fruits [of Hinayana] and the three sages [of Mahayana]." An ancient of virtue said, "Finished, then karmic hindrances are originally void. Not finished, still need to pay off old debts."

Jian Min says, "According to the above, whether or not one has comprehended, before attaining the wonderful use, there is no point in talking about withdrawing light to mingle with the worldly. Once use is attained, already beyond the secular and free from desires. Even that wonderful use need be renounced, then you would move around without efforts. Now in the final generation of the Dharma, so many mouthy Chan people are wasting their whole lives; it is so pitiable! Recall that I, in 1936, went up E Mei mountain to enter solitary retreat. I stayed for one night in Wan Xing Zhuang, a foothill hut of the Golden Pinnacle Monastery. A certain Chan elder was heard talking high and criticizing wide, at that time I had no choice but to follow the sound and spoke in praise. By the time I finished retreat and came down, he had already died. I asked about how the signs near death were, Rev. Guo Yao was still extant at the time, according to his words, the Chan elder cried to heaven and shouted to earth, confessing that he had completely no assurance. All that Rev. Guo Yao could do was to advise him to dedicate his merits toward rebirth in the Western Pureland. I said, 'At that time why did not Dharma teacher remind him of the koan of De Shan Xuan Jian: When De Shan was dying, a monk asked, 'Is there still one who does not fall ill or not?' De Shan said, 'Ouch! Ouch!' and thereby enabling him to comprehend thoroughly through pain and suffering? Simply told him to dedicate merits toward rebirth in the Western Pureland, could not help but have already departed from the style of Chan family.' Rev. Guo Yao said, 'All his life's efforts were only at the mouth; he had never put words to deeds, how could he pass through while dying?' Alas! One life at lips, ended like that; isn't it deluding oneself while deceiving others? Nowadays there are many who are like this Chan elder. When they mention renunciation, immediately consider it as belonging to the Hinayana, without knowing that great Chan masters had all voiced unanimously, advocating as above. Why not reflect and ask oneself, to what field has one's attainment arrived? How does it compare with that of the patriarchs above?"

Section 2.3 Renounce Others' Help

This matter originally is readily accomplished; nobody can give you; nobody can rob you. Saying to use the fist with an open palm is still an outsider's talk. There is no path consented, nor place for you to apply efforts. All the patriarchs from the past, all three pitakas and twelve categories of Buddhist scriptures, have spoken not a word arriving at this. A koan here, a gatha there, as presented by the Chan patriarchs, the principles of each of the five Chan schools, even the Altar Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, the Five Relationships between the Sovereign and his Officials, the Song of the Twelve Hours, and the Pictures of Herding the Ox, all cannot add a bit of anything to you. Let alone my saying something here and something there; what handle is there for you to bite on? There is a poem in my book The Flute which reads:

Intending to transmit it to you, yet no way to fetch.
Imitate me by heart, still cannot succeed.
Looking back, it will always be that you were meddling.
Letting hands loose, still suspect that I am destitute of sentiments.

Try glance the koans selected below exemplifying the renunciation of others' help. Be they masterful patriarchs, who would leave harm on their progeny? Be one smart Chan practitioner, who would seek advices from passers by on how to build a house?

Ma Zu mounted the rostrum and remained silent for a long while. Bai Zhang rolled up the mat in front. Ma Zu descended. Such a style; from such a teacher can there be such a disciple. How much caring! How much instruction! All are in this speechlessness. However, others' help is not separated from one's self-help, wherein could you look for others' help?

Xuan Jian mounted the seat and said, "Tonight no reply to questions. He who asks will be given thirty blows." A Korean monk moved forward to prostrate. The teacher thereupon hit him. The monk said, "Did not ask, why hit?" The teacher said, "The thirty blows should have been administered when you got on the boat to come here."

Zhen Sui said, "Over the mountain, upon seeing the flagstaff of Zi Fu, had turned the heels around and returned, still deserved thirty blows. Let alone having crossed the river to come here."

Yuan An said, "Were one a man of superior order, would not post the views of Buddhas and patriarchs on the forehead. Like a smart turtle carrying a map on its back, it is taking the cause of losing its body."

Xuan An said, "This one gate transcends the magnificent Vairocana universe, transcends Sakyamuni's Gate of Expedience. Right away to all eternity, will not let a single thing for you to hold as the view."

Wei Yan, due to a monk's having puzzles, made an appointment with him to clear them in the assembly. When the time came, Wei Yan asked, "Who asked for the solution?" The monk stepped forward. Wei Yan descended from his seat, grabbed the monk and announced to all present, "This monk has some doubts!" Then he pushed the monk aside and returned to the abbot chamber.

A monk asked Da Dian, "How is it like when the insider comes?" "Already not inside." "How is the insider?" "Does not ask this question."

Ding Shan said, "In life and death, no Buddha, no life and death." Jia Shan said, "In life and death there is Buddha, not deluded by life and death." Jointly asked their teacher Fa Chang, "Which statement is close? Which statement is distant?" Fa Chang made an appointment with them to come again the next day. On the next day Jia Shan came alone to ask again. Fa Chang said, "He who asks is not close; he who is close does not ask."

Shan Hui said, "Arduously holding on to things of life and death, simply seek deliverance from Buddha; losing sight of the right path in front, looking for a water bubble in the fire."

Pu Yuan said, "Just as the great virtuous, after meal, walks from the east corridor to the west corridor; should not keep asking people may or may not."

Chu Nan said, "Simply wear clothing and eat meals, no need to read the Sutras; Isn't it easy!"

A monk asked Zhi Hui, "How do I behave to smooth the path?" Zhi said, "If I point it out to you, you will go in all directions!"

A monk asked Hui Gong to instruct, the teacher said, "Instruct would wrong you." The monk said, "Teach learner how to do it right?" The teacher said, "Do avoid right and wrong."

Gui Chen said, "Buddha Dharma is not tertian malaria. Seeing me pick up a stick, guess at the intention; seeing me hold a broom, reflect on yourselves. While you ordinarily gather woods, why not watch yourself?"

Tian Ran visited an ancient monastery. At porridge time a practitioner filled a bowl for his teacher, then his own, but not for Tian Ran. Tian Ran thereupon filled his own. The practitioner said, "Very early at the fifth watch already got up, and yet there were night travelers." Jian comments, "Such behavior, then counts a man!"

You Zhang said, "I have worked through all Chan monasteries under the sky. All do not have different sayings. Only teach the person in front, to put to complete rest the wild mind but not to search from others."

Section 2.4 Renounce Speeches and Sentences

Be it the teacher benefiting others or the seekers gaining comprehension on their own, neither would employ many speeches or sentences. How then, could the readers want to memorize some slick and slippery expressions from this Lighthouse? Carrying dung to a dunghill will only add to its foul odor. All the sutras, sastras and literature learned should be abandoned; even if replaced with Xin Xin Ming (Inscription on Faith), Tan Jing (The Sixth Patriarch's Altar Sutra) and Deng Lu (Records of Lamps), would not avoid the ridicule of replacing one tyrant for another. Definitely must swallow ashes to cleanse intestines, drink water to wash stomach, thoroughly clean it up; only then could have little bit of mutual response.

Xuan Sha ascended the rostrum, remained silent for a long time. The congregation began to vacate the hall, thereupon Xuan Sha scolded, "Always the same! Not a single one has wisdom! Whenever seeing me open these two pieces of skin [lips], all come flocking around, looking for speeches to conjecture on. When I truly help others, yet always would not know it!"

Tou Zi said, "If you ask me, I will reply in response, but there could be no wonders to reach you. I do not teach you to pack root; never will I say to head up or to head down. I dare not deceive you. There is neither surface nor interior to attain."

Wen Yan said, "Citing one statement, immediately teach you to undertake; that would already amount to pissing on your head."

Qing Zhu said, "We sramaneras have no affirmative path; to discriminate is off, not to discriminate is to sit into muddy water."

Yuan Zhi said, "Where intellect does not reach, should not be mentioned; once mentioned, horns would grow on the head." Dhuta Zhi asked, "How do they grow?" The teacher thereupon went out. Yun Ju said, "The statement that it should not be mentioned is most deadly; both dragons and snakes are killed in one blow."

A monk requested Yi Chun to indicate; Yi said, "Rather shatter the body by oneself than to blind a monk's eyes."

Zhu Yu asked a practitioner, "Ever seen Zhao Zhou or not?" The practitioner said, "Dare monk say it or not?" Zhu said, "Not just Zhu Yu alone cannot say it." The practitioner said, "Monk let this one pass." Zhu said, "Here, ever since before, does not pass favoritism." The practitioner said, "Do let compassion sprout." Zhu beat him right away, and said, "Having awakened, come to help you."

A monk asked He Shan, "Why not spell it out completely?" He Shan said, "If the law is carried out to the limit, there will not be a citizen left." The monk said, "Not afraid of no citizens; teacher please execute the law to the limit." He Shan said, "Losing the body for an intimate friend." The monk asked, "Why?" He Shan said, "Good intention without good rewards."

Zhong Xing followed Dao Wu to a condolence visit. He asked Dao Wu, "Birth or death?" Dao Wu said, "Birth also not Dao [In Chinese, the word Dao could mean 'path' or 'say'], death also not Dao." "Why not Dao?" "Not Dao! Not Dao!" "If not Dao, then hit." Dao Wu said, "Hit as hit be; birth also not Dao, death also not Dao." Zhong thereupon hit Dao Wu. Dao Wu told him to leave quickly lest he be beaten by others. Zhong therefore went to Shi Shuang, and asked Shi to say it. Shi said, "Didn't you see what he said, 'Birth also not Dao, death also not Dao'?" Suddenly Zhong greatly comprehended, and repented by offering meals to the congregation.

The Ground Beating Monk would beat the ground with his staff whenever someone asked him a question. Someone, first hid his staff, then asked him a question. The monk then simply opened his mouth.

A monk asked Hui Jue, "Why is monk like a pillar in front of the temple?" Hui Jue replied, "Chirping until bleeding is useless, not comparable to keeping the mouth shut to spend the fading Spring."

A monk asked Zhi Xian, "How is the ultimate matter?" Zhi said, "Avoid sixteen feet [Buddha's height] on the lips."

Ling Guan, due to a monk's inquiry, extended tongue to indicate. The monk did prostration. The teacher asked, "Seeing what reason?" The monk said, "Thank monk for extending the tongue to indicate." The teacher said, "Old fellow lately grew a boil on the tongue."

Cao Shan asked Ling Guan, "How is the teacher of Vairocana, the master of Dharmakaya?" The teacher said, "If I say, there would be another one." Cao Shan related this to Dong Shan. Dong Shan said, "What a good Hua Tou; Why not ask again?" Cao Shan thereupon asked Ling Guan the same question again. Ling Guan said, "If said that I did not say it, that would be muting my mouth; if said that I had said it, that would be blocking my tongue." Dong Shan deeply approved it.

A monk asked Da Tong, "Came over thousand miles to find the teacher; beg for a reception." Replied, "Old monk today waist hurts."

Cai Tou pleaded Da Tong for instructions. The teacher said, "Leave for now; come tomorrow when there is no man." The next day Cai Tou pleaded again. The teacher said, "Come up near." Cai Tou having moved near, the teacher said, "Always should not mention to others."

Li Ao asked Chong Xin, "What is called prajna?" Chong said, "I have no prajna." Ao said, "Fortunately met monk." "This is still speech beyond share."

A monk asked Da Tong, "When a grain of dust contains the Dharmadhatu, how?" Da Tong said, "Already several grains of dust."

Wei Yan mounted the rostrum and assembled the congregation. He remained silent for a long while, then returned to the abbot chamber and closed the door. The head monk came to ask for an explanation. The teacher said, "For sutras, there are sutra teachers; for abhidharmas, there are abhidharma teachers; for vinayas, there are vinaya teachers. How could old monk be blamed?"

Fa Zhen mounted the rostrum, showed a wry mouth as if stroke stricken, and said, "Could any one cure this?" After all the monks have each offered some medication for stroke, the teacher slapped his own mouth to restore it, and said, "For such a long time flapping two pieces of skin [lips], no one could cure."

Yan Zhao said, "Even if understood through speech, still is detained by shell and deluded by boundary. Even though well versed in sentences, could not avoid arrogant views touching the path."

Ven. old-hand Chen asked a monk, "To the old hand of Liu Yang, how is the general idea of Buddha Dharma?" The monk said, "Walk all over the ground without a road." The teacher said, "Actually had this saying or not?" "Actually had." The teacher thereupon beat the monk and said, "This speech repeater!"

Liang Jia offered a feast in honor of Yun Yan. A monk asked, "Teacher became known when first met Nan Quan; why offer a feast in honor of Yun Yan?" Liang said, "Not value morality, not value Buddha Dharma, only value not revealing it to me."

A monk asked Chan teacher Yue of Bao Gai Mountain, "High, high hangs Bao Gai [Gem Canopy], how is the matter inside? Please reveal the meaning of the teacher's speeches; one sentence, need no more." Replied, "Bao Gai hangs in the sky; there is a path that has never been traversed. The meaning of speeches were sought after, then there would be west and east."

A monk asked Xuan Sha, "How is it that the learner cannot say it?" The teacher said, "Clog your mouth; how could you know to say it?"

Section 2.5 Renounce Views and Understanding

Ordinary verbal Chan fellows, having coarsely understood some reasons, right away say this and say that; in fact, all are some cognitive understanding and sentimental views. For sutras, there are sutra teachers; for abhidharma, there are abhidharma teachers; for attainment in the Chan family, how could that be at the mouth? As to swift exchange of opportune and sharp expressions, and the wondrous redirection of speeches, people of attainment naturally speak and reveal differently. However, in this last period of the Dharma, people of no attainment are yet cheating others to great extent; in the eyes of those who understand it, those are just a stage of seeping and leaking. Substituting a few Chan terminology, compared with ordinary sutras and sastras, what is the difference? It would be like using fresh water to boil the same old herbs. For a truly smart Chan practitioner, spitting and pecking are simultaneous; what is the need for lots of speeches? This field, even mind need not be used, how could there still be any cognitive understanding? Even cognitive understanding is absent, how could there still be any cognitive view?

Xuan Sha said, "A sramanera's eyes are fixed on the universe, encompassing the world, without leaving any bit out; where could there be one thing as your view?"

Yi Zhong said, "Were to run seeking for understanding meanings and sentences, that would be to aspire for the native land by going thousands of miles away!"

Vasi Asita, the Twenty-fifth Patriarch of Chan in India, said, "A sage talks about cognitive views, right in the phenomenon there is neither right nor wrong. Now I truly comprehend, there is neither path nor reason."

Hui Lang asked Ma Zu, "What is called 'Buddha's cognitive view'?" Ma Zu said, "Buddha has no cognitive view."

Zhao Zhou met an old woman. She asked, "Where does the teacher stay?" Zhao Zhou said, "The East Court of Zhao Zhou, xi [see below for explanation]." The old woman had no words. Zhao Zhou returned and asked the assembly of monks, "That xi, was it the xi as in xi po (stay), or the xi as in dong xi (east and west)?" Some answered, "west," while others "stay." Zhao Zhou said, "You fellows could only serve as government officials dealing with the trading of salt and iron." The monks asked, "Why does monk say so?" Replied, "Because you always recognize words."

Gui Chen asked Wen Yi about where to, Wen Yi said, "Traveling on Chan quest." Gui Chen said, "What is such traveling for?" "Don't know!" "'Don't Know' is most intimate." Thereupon, Wen Yi greatly comprehended.

A monk asked Seng Mi, "'One who hears nothing is truly listening to Sutras'; how?" "Do you want to comprehend it?" "Yes, I do." "You don't understand how to listen to Sutras."

A monk asked Shi Hu, "Just joined the assembly, beg the teacher for guidance." "Before teacher entered, I have already indicated." "How to comprehend?" "Do not comprehend."

A monk came to Gao Ting from Jia Shan. He made prostration, and was beaten. He made prostration again, then returned. Jia Shan asked, "Have you comprehended?" "Not comprehended." "Fortunately you haven't. Had you comprehended, Jia Shan would be dumb."

A monk from Gui Shan went to practitioner Gan Zhi's home to beg for alms. Gan asked, "Gui Shan raises the duster; how does the Superior Seat understand that?" The monk said, "Using events to illustrate intentions, attaching objects to demonstrate reasons." Gan did not make an offering but said, "It would be better to return to Gui Shan for now." Jian, on behalf of the monk, says, "Sometimes Gui Shan hangs the duster up; how would you understand that?"

A poem of Monk Lin reads:

Heaven and Earth indicate the path in front,
The contemporaries should not shift by force!
To construe interpretations among these phenomena
Is to install another eyebrow upon an eyebrow.

Shao Xiu said, "Replete with the makings of a commoner, a commoner does not know. Replete with the makings of a Buddha, a Buddha does not understand. If a Buddha understands, he would be a commoner. If a commoner knows, he would be a Buddha." These two sayings are two meanings of one reason.

Section 2.6 Renounce Practices of Precepts, Meditation and Wisdom

The Chan gate is straightforward. No walking of devious path, no establishment of any path. Completely without path to proceed, completely without path consented. Arrival without departure; both "arrived home" and "on the way" are one-sided talk. Herein there is nothing to renounce, nothing to adopt. Good and evil, right and wrong, sentiments and views, all are not matters in the gate of Chan. The doctrinal teachings of the three yanas, especially the foundational teaching for human-and-heaven yana, "Commit no evil, do all good," are of course natural laws between sky and earth; however, they are completely irrelevant to the Chan family. Since neither good nor evil are thought of, there is no need to separately set up precepts, and yet naturally is in agreement with the precepts. There is no need to separately set up Samadhi attainment, and yet naturally possesses Samadhi attainment. There is no need to separately receive the essentials of Prajna, and yet naturally possesses wonderful Prajna. The reasons being: Originally possessed, readily available, without deliberate usage, and following the natural flow. With the slightest effort applied, it would be thousands of miles apart. What is there for you to practice? Where should you not go? Therefore, the Third Patriarch said, "The Great Path has no difficulty; it only abhors discriminative selection."

Patriarch Bodhidharma instructed Yang Xuan Zhi, "Neither become repugnant upon seeing evil, nor become diligently engaged upon seeing good."

The Sixth Patriarch taught Hui Ming, "Not thinking about good, not thinking about evil; how is the original face of Superior Seat?"

Chan teacher Ben Jing said, "Renounce evil, where to send? Adopt good, who to safeguard? Deplorable are those with dualistic views; grasping conditions, going in both directions."

Hui Zhong said, "Not thinking about good and evil, naturally will see Buddha nature."

Fa Chang said, "Mind, simply not attaching to good and evil, yet yields everything; originally itself is as such."

Po Zao Duo said, "Good and evil are like floating clouds; nowhere do they arise from or disappear to."

Huai Hai said, "Neither be afraid of the misery of hell, nor crave for the joys of heaven."

When Shi Tou, having shaved Tian Ran in ordination, began to mention the precepts, Tian Ran walked out with ears covered.

While Ma Zu was practicing meditation, Huai Rang of Nan Yue attempted to grind a piece of stone into a mirror. Ma Zu said, "How could a piece of stone be ground into a mirror?" Rang said, "How could you accomplish Tao by practicing meditation?" "How?" "A cart does not move; would beating the ox do? would beating the cart do?" "Beat the ox."

While Yi Xuan (i.e., Lin Ji) was sleeping, Huang Bo knocked on the bed three times. He opened his eyes, saw that it was Huang Bo, resumed sleeping. Huang Bo then knocked on the matting three times. Huang Bo went to see the First Seat who was right then practicing meditation. Huang Bo said, "Yet the young fellow below is practicing meditation; why are you engulfed in delusions here?"

Yuan Zhi asked Yun Yan, "What would be the seat of bodhi?" Yun said, "Non-preconceived activity as the seat." Yun then asked it of Gui Shan. Gui said, "Sunyata as the seat." Gui then asked it back of Yuan Zhi. Yuan said, "Sit, as he likes to sit; lie, as he likes to lie; there is someone who neither sits nor lies, quickly say! quickly say!" Jian says instead, "Cannot be taken as two persons."

Shi Tou said, "This Dharma gate of mine was transmitted from earlier Buddhas, without references to Samadhi and diligence."

Da Dian said, "Eliminate all random thoughts, then the immediate experience is your real Mind. This Mind has nothing to do with the dust-like environment, nor with watching, recognizing, motionless and speechless. Just this Mind is the Buddha; no waiting for amendment and fixture." Jian says, "If your attainment has arrived home, even these random thoughts need not wait till being eliminated, naturally become immediate experiences."

Liang Jia said, "Simply need to be: thought after thought, not touching things; step after step, no positions."

Fa Chang said, "What comes cannot be refused; what goes cannot be pursued."

Dao Ying said, "First of all, do not bring it up. Whatever been brought up, does not resemble."

Zhi Chan said, "Subjectivity and objectivity are both extinct; that is named 'seeing the nature.'"

Wei Kuan said, "Originally without damages; why want to repair? Be it clean or dirty, to all do not raise thoughts."

Tian Ran said, "Here at my place, there is no Tao to practice, no Dharma to realize; each sip and each bite is each one's share naturally, no need to doubt or ponder!"

Ling You said, "If truly comprehended the origin, one would know the time oneself. Practice and no-practice are sayings on two ends." Again, he said, "Do not say there are other teachings, and causing people to pursue them."

Chan teacher Ming said, "Were outside the three realms (triloka), then the three realms are destroyed. Were in the three realms, then the three realms are obstructed. Neither destroying nor obstructing, is to have transcended the three realms."

Hui Zhong said, "That both streams of commoners and sages have not the slightest measure of rising and extinction, is to transcend consciousness."

A monk asked Yun Ju about the passage concerning being despised. Replied, "Move, then should fall into the worse realms. Still, then will be despised by people."

A monk asked Ben Ji, "How to maintain?" Replied, "Just as water that have been poisoned, even a drop should not be stained with."

A monk asked Yue Lun, "How to see the original face?" Yue said, "No need to hang up a stone mirror; at dawn naturally cocks will crow."

Puryamitra, the Twenty-sixth Patriarch of India, said, "The true nature is hidden in the field of mind, with neither head nor tail."

A monk asked Yuan An, "Making offerings to hundreds and thousands of Buddhas is incomparable to making offerings to one who is beyond practice; don't understand what faults are with the Buddhas?" Yuan said, "A piece of white cloud floats across the mouth of the valley; how many returning birds have lost the way to their nests?"

A monk asked Wei Yan, "How are precepts, meditation and wisdom (silas, samadhi, and prajna)?" Replied, "I don't have such idle implements here."

Section 2.7 Renounce Environment, Body, Conceptual Mind

Huai Hai said, "You fellows should first relinquish body and mind so that they are at ease; mind be like wood and stone, making no discriminations."

Hui Zhong said, "Neither dirty nor clean; why need to intend on watching pure state?"

Hui Nan said, "A slight arising of thought would involve the five skandhas and the three realms. Transmigration in the cycle of life and death originates from one single thought of yours."

A monk asked Wei Yan, "My own affair is not clearly comprehended; beg the teacher for instructions." The teacher remained silent for quite a while, then said, "It is not difficult for me to say a sentence for you; but it would be better that you simply see it as soon as it is spoken. If you would enter thinking, that would become my sin."

Dao Qian said, "If conjectures and interpretations are attempted in the mind, for all eternity there would never come the opportunity to rest."

Gui Chen said, "Buddha Dharma should not be conjectured in the mind or within the body. Where would you start to bite? Is there still one thing which can get nearer to you? Is there still one thing which can get farther from you? Become the same as you? Become different from you? Why have you made it difficult for yourself?"

Dao Ying said, "Learning supplementary matters of Buddha is to misapply the mind. If limited mental consciousness is used for what is limitless, it would be like trying to fit a piece of square wood into a round hole. How mistaken it is!"

A monk asked Dao Ying, "How is what a sramanera values?" "Where the conscious mind does not reach."

Jing Cen Said, "Learners of Tao fail to recognize the truth, simply because they have always heeded the conscious spirit. Since beginningless kalpas being the root of life and death; fools call as the original self."

A monk asked Shui Lu, "How to apply the mind?" Shui replied, "To apply the mind is to err."

Wen Yan said, "Mentioning 'pay no attention' is already off the course; attempting to ponder, which kalpa will one comprehend?"

Shi Tou, at the assembly hall, said, "The Nature is neither dirty nor clean. It is profound, complete and bright. It is the same in commoners and sages. There is no limit to its applications. It is beyond the mental consciousness."

Jian Min says, "Body and environment have various depths. Consciousness has various degrees of refinement. Only because step after step you cling to, therefore it is said to renounce one after another. The foregoing are all general instructions dealing with coarse elements before comprehension. The four stages to be described later, step by step having renounced, only then attain purity."

[Home][Back to main list][Back to Chenian][Table of contents][next chapter][Go to Dr. Lin's works]