(See Original Chinese text below)

Written by Yuan Yin Lao Ren

Published in the "Zen" journal, issues from the 3rd quarter of 1993 to the 3rd quarter of 1995

Gao Feng: Where is the master?

Master Gao Feng first visited Master Duanqiao Lun for Zen meditation, focusing on the question "Where does life come from and where does death go?" He diligently pursued this day and night, without rest or sleep. Later, he visited Master Xueyan Qin, who asked him, "Who brought you this dead corpse?" Before the master could answer, he was expelled. Despite numerous such experiences, the master not only harbored no resentment but grew more devout in his meditation. (Nowadays, people get offended by just a bit of harsh speech, let alone physical discipline. This shows how earnestly and sincerely the ancients practiced Zen. Such dedicated practice surely leads to enlightenment and realization. Shouldn't we, the younger generation, feel ashamed and strive even more diligently?)

During his meditation, the master once dreamt of his time in Master Duanqiao Lun's chamber, recalling the question "All things return to one, but where does that one return to?" This sparked a great doubt in him, keeping him awake for three days and nights. (In Zen, it is essential to foster doubt; when doubt arises, it encompasses the whole being, and good news is imminent.)

On the day commemorating Bodhidharma, the master went with others to chant scriptures at the Three Pagodas. Looking up, he saw a portrait of the Fifth Patriarch Yanhe with the inscription: "For thirty-six thousand mornings and evenings over a hundred years, it turns out to be this man." Suddenly, he had an epiphany and broke through the question of the dead corpse.

After his enlightenment, he visited Master Qin again. Upon seeing him, Qin asked, "Who brought you this dead corpse here?" The master responded with a shout! (His demeanor was extraordinary after enlightenment.) Qin picked up a stick (to examine further), and the master firmly said, "Today, you cannot beat me." (Very impressive.) Qin asked, "Why can't I beat you?" (Oh heavens, spare him this.) The master left with a flick of his sleeves. (Thanks to this move.)

The next day, Qin asked, "All things return to one, but where does that one return to?" (The compassionate heart of the world.) The master replied, "A dog licking a hot oil pan." (Knowing you can neither advance nor retreat.) Qin asked, "Where did you learn this nonsense?" (Who are you asking? It's because of Master Qin's dullness.) The master replied, "Exactly, I wanted Master Qin to doubt it." (Rightfully unyielding.) Qin withdrew. (What can he do but swallow his pride?) From then on, the master's responses were unmatched. (Alone above all.)

One day, Qin casually asked, "Can you be the master during the day?" (Fishing deeply with the hope of catching a golden fish; why harm oneself?) The master replied, "I can be the master." (It seems, it seems, originally, originally. He's lost his anchor star.) Qin further asked, "Can you be the master in your sleep and dreams?" (Adding insult to injury, unforgivable!) The master replied, "I can be the master." (Still not fully awake, how deep is the mud under your feet?) Qin asked again, "When you're in deep sleep, without dreams or thoughts, without seeing or hearing, where is the master?" (Please tell me, Master. Don't hesitate to strike harder! It's not elsewhere.) The master was silent. (The ancient Buddha has long passed; it's a complete defeat.) Qin advised, "From today, don't bother with studying Buddhism or delving into ancient and modern times. Just eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired, and when you wake up, invigorate your spirit and ask yourself where the master resides in that instant of awareness." (Don't deceive anyone; treat a 'live' horse as if it's 'dead'.)

The master then redoubled his efforts in meditation, vowing to be a simple monk all his life, determined to understand this point clearly. (Worthy of respect, a true man does not rot like plants and trees.) One day during a nap, a fellow monk accidentally knocked his pillow to the ground, making a loud thud, and the master had a great realization. (It's already late! Was this monk an incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion?)

(Note: The text in brackets is the author's commentary.)

From reading this case, in addition to our genuine admiration for Master Gao Feng's earnest and relentless pursuit of Zen and his profound state of enlightenment, we also gain the following valuable insights:

If we truly want to transcend reincarnation and understand life and death, we must dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to Zen meditation, focusing on a seemingly meaningless question day and night, in all situations, tirelessly. Only then can we open up to our true nature and personally witness the truth. It's not about understanding some literary meanings or being able to engage in clever banter and writing verses; that's not enlightenment. Nor is it about being physically healthy, living comfortably, and feeling relaxed and at ease.

It's crucial to have doubt in Zen meditation. With doubt, we can cut off false thoughts and accumulate explosive energy. When the right time and conditions come, like gunpowder meeting a spark, we can instantly break through and see our true nature. Otherwise, with incessant false thoughts and no explosive energy, we waste our time. As the ancients said, "Great doubt leads to great enlightenment, little doubt to little enlightenment, no doubt to no enlightenment."

Those who engage in clever speech and writing in Zen, though seemingly profound, only display a temporary facade. Their minds are not truly empty and clear; they always have something in mind. Even if they forcibly calm their minds in meditation, there's always something lurking, preventing the light from shining through. Without realizing their true nature, how can they calm their monkey mind and horse-like desires and achieve great tranquility? Thus, when adversity strikes, their previously peaceful and joyful state disappears.

Such people can't master themselves in their daily lives, let alone in their dreams. They can't remain unmoved in both favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Especially when illness strikes, they're unable to resist and suffer painfully.

Master Dahui Zonggao reprimanded such practitioners as being like mercury in medicine that evaporates upon heating, unable to be truly utilized. How can they transcend life and death, escape reincarnation? Therefore, we must earnestly and genuinely engage in Zen meditation, not just seek answers in words and theories.

Master Gao Feng's first two answers, "I can be the master," show good practice and are exemplary for us. We practice Buddhism to be masters in the face of life and death, not to be dragged down by karma and sink into the sea of suffering. To achieve this, we must first be masters in our daily activities, unaffected by changing circumstances and emotions, and then in our dreams. If we can't do this, how can we talk about transcending life and death? The root of life and death lies in the incessant wandering of thoughts, clinging to circumstances.

For practitioners today, it's already difficult to be masters during the day, let alone in dreams. Sleep is a state of semi-unconsciousness, and death is a state of complete unconsciousness. If we can't master semi-unconsciousness, how can we master complete unconsciousness and transcend life and death? Therefore, to transcend life and death and realize the Way, we must first master our state in dreams. Even those with bold and spirited dispositions, who can remain unattached and free from anger and attachment in daily life, often find themselves involuntarily carried away by dreams. Master Gao Feng's ability to be the master in his dreams, unaffected by dream demons, is a remarkable achievement of meditation. Without enduring great hardships and diligent practice, how could he have achieved this? It's not easy for practitioners to reach this level, and we should admire and praise them.

In contrast, many practitioners today are unwilling to engage in earnest and diligent practice. They avoid the difficult and focus on easy discussions of literary meanings, or they seek answers from others. After understanding some similar principles, they write articles and verses, believing they have attained enlightenment. But this is just living off others' leftovers, not truly their own practice. They can't be masters in the face of life and death. Their words and verses should flow from their own hearts to cover heaven and earth.

Some practitioners, upon experiencing a bit of meditative absorption, such as physical growth, levitation, cessation of breath, entering a fetal breathing state, or exhibiting some psychic powers, mistakenly believe they have achieved enlightenment. However, these are just illusions within meditation, far from true realization. In meditation, one must not cling to any state; clinging halts progress. Especially if psychic powers arise, one must not be self-satisfied, thinking one has attained something. Such satisfaction not only prevents enlightenment but also risks falling into demonic states. The fifty demonic states mentioned in the "Shurangama Sutra" refer to these illusory processes, which are obstacles to the Way. Practitioners must not cling to them to avoid falling into the wrong path and into demonic realms.

Some arrogant individuals misinterpret the "Heart Sutra" and "Diamond Sutra," saying, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form," and "All phenomena are illusory." Since all phenomena are illusory




and unattainable, they think, why bother with Zen meditation or chanting the Buddha's name? If there is Zen to meditate on or a Buddha to chant, isn't that adding delusion upon delusion? While these words seem correct, when faced with adversity or an unexpected accident, their beliefs crumble into nothingness.

There are also those who mistakenly think that once enlightened, that's the end. After their initial breakthrough, they believe they have reached the goal and no longer diligently observe and train their minds. As a result, their old habits persist, and they become arrogant and self-satisfied, failing to truly benefit from their realization. In the end, they fall into post-enlightenment confusion, still wandering in the cycle of birth and death. Isn't that a tragic waste?

Furthermore, some people, misled by others, use psychic powers to verify enlightenment. When their practice is effective, and they reach a point where their body, mind, and world dissolve into emptiness, clear and lucid, they mistakenly dismiss this as not their true essence because they don't experience any magical powers. They hurriedly pass over this crucial moment, a great pity! Having missed this critical opportunity themselves, they then wrongly deny others' achievements. This is truly self-destructive behavior. The ancients lamented, "Because it's too close, it's often overlooked."

Today, we record this case for everyone's reference, hoping that everyone can learn from it, improve themselves, strive upward, and attain true realization, so as not to waste their lives in vain.

After learning from and admiring the main character's sincere dedication to the path and his profound practice in the case, we should further discuss the subtleties of the case and the key to practicing the Way, so that everyone can clearly understand the intent of our school, thoroughly investigate the source, and not be misled by halfway efforts, thereby honoring the deep intentions of the ancients.

Master Gao Feng's first two answers, "I can be the master," indeed show good practice, beyond the reach of ordinary Zen practitioners. However, from the standpoint of "sudden enlightenment" in our school, they are somewhat lacking. Let's briefly discuss the subtle aspects:

Zen Buddhism emphasizes direct realization of one's nature and becoming a Buddha, not a gradual process of cultivation. The ancients said, " 'Equal Enlightenment' (Dengjue) and 'Wonderful Enlightenment' (Miaojue) is akin to wearing second-hand straw sandals." If even the 'Equal Enlightenment' (Dengjue) and 'Wonderful Enlightenment' (Miaojue) is disregarded, what about below that? Therefore, our school does not allow for an intermediate process and does not tolerate any trace of effort.

Zen—The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana—is naked and unadorned, without a speck of dust. With neither an objective external world nor a subjective perceiver, who is there to be the master of whom? Master Xueyan Qin, in his first two questions, "Who brought you this dead corpse?" and "All things return to one, but where does that one return to?" tried to gauge whether Master Gao Feng had completely eradicated any utilitarian thinking. Alas, Master Gao Feng was not yet firm in his practice and fell for the bait, replying, "I can be the master." Isn't this falling into the trap of relativity, of subject and object? This is not in accord with the naked Zen. In our school, such a response is considered "not cutting off completely." It's like binding oneself. By the time he replied the same for the second time, he had completely tied himself up, leaving no room to move. When the third question came, "In deep sleep, without dreams or thoughts, without seeing or hearing, where is the master?" he could only swallow his words and be defeated by the question.

Only later, when the time was ripe and his pillow fell to the ground, did he completely break free and realize that the master was not elsewhere. Everything, including the mountains, rivers, vegetation, and forests, is a manifestation of the master; the chirping of birds, the fragrance of flowers, the singing of orioles, and the dancing of swallows are all the marvelous functions of the master! What more is there to say about being the master or not? Weren't his previous answers utterly messy?

Finally, let's offer three alternative answers to Snow Rock's questions, as a tribute to our fellow practitioners and as a greeting to Master Gao Feng:

Question: Can you be the master during the day?

Answer: Eat when hungry, sleep when tired.

Question: Can you be the master in dreams?

Answer: The sun rises in the morning, and the moon sets behind the mountains.

Question: In the absence of dreams, thoughts, sight, and hearing, where is the master?

Answer: The great void absorbs light and widens the gap; the wind sways the light green willow threads lightly.

元音老人著   載於《禪》刊 1993 年第 3 期至 1995 年第 3 期 高峰·主人公在什麼處? 高峰妙禪師初參斷橋倫和尚,令參「生從何來,死從何去」話。即日夜不懈,不眠不休。後參雪岩欽和尚,欽問:「阿誰與你拖個死屍來? 」師未及答話,即被打出。如是不知經過幾多次,師非但毫無怨忿之意,卻更虔誠參叩。( 這在今人不用說經過多次棒打,即稍為語重一點,即心懷不滿,把腳底板給你看了。于此可見古人用功多麼懇切誠篤! 這樣精誠專一的用功,哪得不開悟、證道? ! 吾等後輩小子對之能不慚惶愧汗而奮起精進乎? ) 師於參話次,偶於夢中憶斷橋倫室中所舉「萬法歸一,一歸何處」話,疑情頓發,三晝夜目不交睫。( 參禪貴起疑情,疑情一發,籠罩全身,凝作一團,好消息即將至矣。) 一日適逢達摩祖師忌辰,隨眾往詣三塔諷經,偶抬頭,睹壁間五祖演和尚(  臨濟宗楊歧會一支白雲端和尚嗣,圜悟勤和尚之師。) 遺像讚云:「百年三萬六千朝,反覆原來是這漢。」驀然省悟,打破拖死屍話頭。 悟後,詣南明,再謁欽和尚。欽一見便問:「阿誰與你拖個死屍到這裏來? 」師便喝! ( 悟後氣概便不凡。) 欽拈棒,( 再勘過。) 師把住云:「今日打我不得。」( 的是可兒。) 欽曰:「為什麼打不得? 」( 蒼天蒼天,放過一著。) 師拂袖便出。( 賴有這一著。) 翌日,欽問:「萬法歸一,一歸何處? 」( 天下慈父心。) 師曰:「狗舔熱油鐺。」( 也知你欲進不能,欲退不得。) 欽曰:「那裏學這虛頭來? 」( 你問阿誰? 由和尚鈍置來。) 師云:「正要和尚疑著。」( 得理不讓人。) 欽休去。( 奈何伊不得,只索飲氣吞聲。) 自是機鋒不讓。( 天上天下,唯吾獨尊。) 一日,欽作尋常問話云:「日間浩浩時還作得主麼? 」( 垂釣千尺意在金鱗;好肉上挖瘡作麼? ) 師曰:「作得主。」( 將謂將謂,原來原來。果然失卻定盤星。) 欽進問云:「睡夢中作得主麼? 」( 雪上加霜,再犯不容! ) 師答云:「作得主。」( 猶自不惺惺,腳根下泥深多少! ) 欽更問云:「正睡著時,無夢無想,無見無聞,主人公正在什麼處? 」( 請問和尚。不妨更加一槌! 豈在別處。) 師無語。( 古佛過去久矣;早納敗闕了也。) 欽囑曰:「從今日始,也不要你學佛學法,也不要你窮古窮今,但只饑來吃飯,困來眠,才眠覺來,卻抖擻精神,問我這一覺主人公在什麼處安身立命? 」( 莫瞞人家男女好;「活」馬權作「死」馬醫。) 師乃奮志參究。自誓:拼一生做個粥飯僧,決要這著子明白。( 不愧鬚眉,好男兒豈甘與草木同腐! ) 一日午睡,同宿友僧莽撞,推師枕落地,噗通一聲,師乃大徹。( 已遲八刻! 這僧莫非大悲菩薩現身麼? ) ( 註:括弧內係本文作者的著語。) 我們讀了這則公案,除了由衷的崇敬讚仰高峰祖師精誠不懈的參究精神與深徹的悟境外,同時也獲得了下述的珍貴啟示: 第一,如果我們真要超輪迴,了生死,參禪必須放捨一切,死心塌地抱定一則無義味話頭,朝於斯,夕於斯,流離於斯,顛沛於斯,孜孜兀兀地日夜參究,方能打開本來,親證實相。絕不是懂得一些文字義理,會打兩句機鋒,下得幾句轉語或舞文弄墨地寫得幾首偈頌,就作為開悟的;更不是在色身強健,生活優裕時,過得輕鬆愉快,安祥自在,即是開悟。 第二,參禪必須起疑情。以疑情生起,方能遮斷妄念,蘊集爆發力。一旦時節因緣到來,如火藥碰到火星,頓時爆炸,當下打開玄關、識鎖,親見本真。否則,妄念不斷,無力爆發,徒喪光陰。故古德云:「大疑大悟,小疑小悟,不疑不悟。」非虛語也。 第三,說得口頭禪與舞文弄墨的禪客,雖然一時看起來也不無禪味,但這只是暫時的假相,他們心中並非清空廓徹,眼前總有個物在;即使勉強靜心打坐,心中也隱隱地有個物在,光明始終不得透脫,如何能消融身、心、世界,而親證本來! 既未親證本來,又如何能息卻猿心意馬而得泰然大定? 所以一旦逆境來臨,平時說的那種安祥愉悅的心情,便不知飛向何處去了。 這種人不要說於睡夢中作不得主,便是于白天尋常日用中也作不得主;不要說於較難覺察的順境中不能做到泰然不動,無有絲毫移易,即是較易知曉的逆境來時,也不能不隨境流轉而忿怒怨懣。尤其當病魔來侵時,更是無法抵禦而痛苦呻吟,萬般無奈。 大慧杲禪師呵斥此等禪客如藥水汞,遇火即飛,不得真實受用,又如何能了生死、出輪迴? 故告誡我等後輩參禪務必真參實究,不可在言句義理邊討消息也。 第四,高峰禪師的前兩答「作得主」確是好功夫。是我輩後學做功夫的典範與榜樣。我們學佛修道,就是為了在生死岸頭做得主,不為業障所牽累而沈淪苦海。要做到這一點,就須于生時首先在白天日常動用中作得主,不為順逆境緣所遷移,不為喜怒哀樂之妄情轉換,而後方能於睡夢中作得主。假如這一點也做不到,還說什麼了生死呢? 因為生死的根源,就是妄念不息,隨境攀緣呀! 就現階段的用功人說來,白天能作主、不為境緣所牽已是不易,何況更須於睡夢中作得主呢?睡夢是半昏迷,死時四大分散是大昏迷。假如半昏迷作不得主,大昏迷如何能作主而了生死呢?所以修心了道,出生死輪迴,必先於睡夢中作得主。但是任你慷慨豪放、意氣風發之士,白天縱能於順逆境緣上既無牽掛也無嗔愛,但於睡夢中往往情不自禁地為夢魔所攝而隨之流轉。今高峰禪師能于睡夢中作得主,不為夢魔所牽,這是何等定功! 不經出幾番大汗的苦苦參究,何能致此? !修心人功夫做到這步田地,確是不易! 我等如何能不欽仰讚歎! 反觀現在做功夫的人,大都不肯腳踏實地地孜孜參究,而是避重就輕地在文字義理上作道理會,或是向他人口邊討消息。領會得一些相似的道理後,便舞文弄墨地寫文章,作偈頌,下轉語,以為徹悟證道了。其實這只是食他人的殘羹餿飯,非幹己事,於生死岸頭絲毫作不得主。出言吐語,寫文作頌,要從自己胸襟中流露出來,方能蓋天蓋地。 有些人做功夫時,偶爾得了一點定境,例如:色身長大、飛空,呼吸中斷,進入胎息狀態,或是發了某種神通,便認為已經證道成聖了。其實這僅是禪定中顯現的一些幻境,離證道還遠在。在禪定中任何境界都不能著,一著便停滯不前,尤其是發了某些神通,更不能沾沾自喜,以為有得,一有得意,非但不能證道,入魔大有份在! 《楞嚴經》說的五十種陰魔,就是說這種虛幻過程,是障道的陰魔,修道人千萬不能著,以免誤入歧途而墮魔道。 有些狂妄人引用《心經》與《金剛經》的話說,「色即是空,空即是色」;「凡所有相,皆是虛妄。」一切境相既皆虛幻不實、不可得,那麼管它順、逆、美、惡,我只無心應之,不為所牽即得,何用參禪、念佛? 假如有禪可參、有佛可念,豈不妄上加妄? 這些話語,看來未嘗不是,但是一旦碰到逆境或遭一場意外事故,便雞飛蛋打一場空了。 也有些人誤以為一悟便了,初破本參,便以為到家,不再勤於觀照,歷境練心,以致習氣依舊,狂妄傲慢,不得真實受用。到頭來,落得個悟後迷,仍隨生死流浪,寧不冤苦? 更有些人誤聽人言,以神通來驗證開悟與否。當功夫得力,恰到好處,忽然身心世界化空、粉碎而靈明不昧,了了分明時,因不見神通玄妙,不知這是什麼而誤以為不是自己本命元辰,匆匆滑過,豈不可惜! ? 自己既錯過了這千鈞一髮之機,貽誤了本身,又以此來否定他人,此誠自作孽不可活者也。古德嘗歎息云:「只為親切甚,轉令薦得遲! 」良可慨也。 今天我們把這則公案錄供大家參考,就是希望大家從中吸取教訓,知所改進,努力向上,真實證取,以免虛度光陰,錯過一生。 我們在學習、讚仰了公案中主人公的為道精誠和深厚的功力後,還要進一步將公案的精微處與為道的關鍵來和大家探討一下,俾大家深明宗下的的旨,直下窮源,不為半途的功夫所誤,方不負古人的深心。 高峰祖師的前二答:「作得主」確是好功夫,非一般禪和子所能企及。但就宗下「頓悟」的立場細詳起來,不免遜色,茲將其幽微處略述如下: 禪宗是直下見性頓悟成佛的,不是次第漸修的法門。古德嘗云:「等妙二覺猶是它提草鞋漢。」等妙二覺也不屑一顧,遑論等妙二覺以下呢? 所以宗下不許有個中間過程,不能夾雜一點功夫痕跡。 禪—正法眼藏,涅槃妙心—是一絲不掛,一塵不染,淨裸裸、赤灑灑的。既無相對的客觀物境,也無主觀能見能聞的人,更有誰來作誰的主呢? 雪岩欽和尚在前二問「誰與你拖死屍來? 」與「萬法歸一,一歸何處? 」勘不破高峰後,故作尋常說話以釣高峰,看他是否已經剿絕至無功用地。哪知高峰腳根未穩,一釣即上鉤,答云:「作得主。」這不是有落處、有相對的主客了嗎? 這和淨裸裸的禪就不相應了。這答話在宗下說來是「傷鋒犯手,不剿絕」。這樣就捆了自己的手腳。迨至第二次答作得主,更把自己渾身捆了個結實,動彈不得了。到第三次問:「無夢無想,無見無聞時,主人公在什麼處? 」就只好咽氣吞聲,死於句下了。 等到後來時機成熟,枕子落地,徹底打脫,始如夢方醒,主人公原來不在別處。舉凡山河大地,草木叢林,無不是主人公之顯現;鳥語花香,鶯歌燕舞,無不是主人公之妙用! 有什麼主不主,更有什麼作不作? 前所答者,豈不狼藉不堪? ! 最後,就雪岩之問另作三答,以饗同參,並藉作與高峰禪師相見之禮: 1 、問:白天作得主麼? 答:饑來吃飯困來睡。 2 、問:睡夢中作得主麼? 答:朝陽升起月含山。 3 、問:無夢無想,無見無聞時,主人公在什麼處? 答:太虛飲光消契闊;風搖淺碧柳絲輕。 
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