Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Huang Po - Sermons and dialogues

From: The Chun Chou Record of
the Zen Master Huang Po (Tuan Chi)

A collection of sermons and dialogues recorded by P’ei Hsiu while in the city of Chun Chou.

 The Master said to me: All the Buddhas and all sentient beings are nothing but the One Mind, beside which nothing exists.  This Mind, which is without beginning, is unborn and indestructible.  It is not green nor yellow, and has neither form nor appearance.  It does not belong to the categories of things which exist or do not exist, nor can it be thought of in terms of new or old.  It is neither long nor short, big nor small, for it transcends all limits, measure, names, traces and comparisons.  It is that which you see before you - begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error.  It is like the boundless void which cannot be fathomed or measured.  The One Mind alone is the Buddha, and there is no distinction between the Buddha and sentient things, but that sentient beings are attached to forms and so seek externally for Buddhahood.  By their very seeking they lose it, for that is using the Buddha to seek for the Buddha and using mind to grasp Mind.  Even though they do their utmost for a full aeon, they will not be able to attain it.  They do not know that, if they put a stop to conceptual thought and forget their anxiety, the Buddha will appear before them, for this Mind is the Buddha and the Buddha is all living beings.  It is not the less for being manifested in ordinary beings, nor is it greater for being manifest in the Buddhas.


Q: From all you have just said, Mind is the Buddha; but it is not clear as to what sort of mind is meant by this “Mind which is the Buddha.”
A: How many minds have you got?
Q: But is the Buddha the ordinary mind or the Enlightened mind?
A: Where on earth do you keep your “ordinary mind” and your “Enlightened mind?”
Q: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is stated that there are both.  Why does Your Reverence deny it?
A: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is clearly explained that the ordinary and Enlightened minds are illusions.  You don’t understand.  All this clinging to the idea of things existing is to mistake vacuity for the truth.  How can such conceptions not be illusory?  Being illusory, they hide Mind from you.  If you would only rid yourselves of the concepts of ordinary and Enlightened, you would find that there is no other Buddha than the Buddha in your own Mind.  When Bodhidharma came from the West, he just pointed out that the substance of which all men are composed is the Buddha.  You people go on misunderstanding; you hold to concepts such as “ordinary” and “Enlightened,” directing your thoughts outwards where they gallop about like horses!  All this amounts to beclouding your own minds!  So I tell you Mind is the Buddha.  As soon as thought or sensation arises, you fall into dualism.  Beginningless time and the present moment are the same.  There is no this and no that.  To understand this truth is called complete and unexcelled Enlightenment.
Q: Upon what Doctrine (Dharma-principles) does Your Reverence base these words?
A: Why seek a doctrine?  As soon as you have a doctrine, you fall into dualistic thought.
Q: Just now you said that the beginningless past and the present are the same.  What do you mean by that?
A: It is just because of your SEEKING that you make a difference between them.  If you were to stop seeking, how could there be any difference between them?
Q: If they are not different, why do you employ separate terms for them?
A: If you hadn’t mentioned ordinary and Enlightened, who would have bothered to say such things?  Just as those categories have no real existence, so Mind is not really “mind.”  And, as both Mind and those categories are really illusions, wherever can you hope to find anything?


Q: Illusion can hide from us our own mind, but up to now you have not taught us how to get rid of illusion.
A: The arising and the elimination of illusion are both illusory.  Illusion is not something rooted in Reality; it exists because of your dualistic thinking.  If you will only cease to indulge in opposed concepts such as “ordinary” and “Enlightened,” illusion will cease of itself.  And then if you still want to destroy it wherever it may be, you will find that there is not a hairsbreadth left of anything on which to lay hold.  This is the meaning of: “I will let go with both hands, for then I shall certainly discover the Buddha in my mind.”
Q: If there is nothing on which to lay hold, how is the Dharma to be transmitted?
A: It is a transmission of Mind with Mind.
Q: If Mind is used for transmission, why do you say that Mind too does not exist?
A: Obtaining no Dharma whatever is called Mind transmission.  The understanding of this implies no Mind and no Dharma.
Q: If there is no Mind and no Dharma, what is meant by transmission?
A: You hear people speak of Mind transmission and then you talk of something to be received.  So Bodhidharma said:

The nature of the Mind when understood,
No human speech can compass or disclose.
Enlightenment is naught to be attained,
And he that gains it does not say he knows.

If I were to make this clear to you, I doubt if you could stand it.

From: The Wan Ling Record of
the Zen Master Huang Po (Tuan Chi)

A collection of dialogues, sermons and anecdotes recorded by P’ei Hsiu during his tenure of the prefecture of Wan Ling.

Q: If our own Mind is the Buddha, how did Bodhidharma transmit his doctrine when he came from India?
A: When he came from India, he transmitted only Mind-Buddha.  He just pointed to the truth that the minds of all of you have from the very first been identical with the Buddha, and in no way separate from each other.... Whoever has an instant understanding of this truth suddenly transcends the whole hierarchy of saints and adepts.... You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can ATTAIN to this oneness by various practices.
Q: If that is so, what Dharma do all the Buddhas teach when they manifest themselves in the world?
A: When all the Buddhas manifest themselves in the world, they proclaim nothing but the One Mind.  Thus Gautama Buddha silently transmitted to Mahakasyapa the doctrine that the One Mind, which is the substance of all things, is co-extensive with the Void and fills the entire world of phenomena.  This is called the Law of All the Buddhas.  Discuss it as you may, how can you even hope to approach the truth through words?  Nor can it be perceived either subjectively or objectively.  So full understanding can come to you only through an inexpressible mystery.  The approach to it is called the Gateway of the Stillness beyond all Activity.  If you wish to understand, know that a sudden comprehension comes when the mind has been purged of all the clutter of conceptual and discriminatory thought-activity.  Those who seek the truth by means of intellect and learning only get further and further away from it.  Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.

[Translator’s footnote:] These words recall the admonitions of so many mystics – Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Sufi – who have committed their experiences to words.  What Huang Po calls the total abandonment of hsin – mind, thought, perceptions, concepts and the rest – implies the utter surrender of self insisted on by Sufi and Christian mystics.  Indeed, in paragraph 28 he used the very words: “Let the self perish utterly.”  Such striking unanimity of expression by mystics widely separated in time and space can hardly be attributed to coincidence.  No several persons entirely unacquainted with one another could produce such closely similar accounts of purely imaginary journeys.  Hence one is led to suppose that what they describe is real.  This seems to have been Aldous Huxley’s view when he compiled that valuable work The Perennial Philosophy.

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