Wrote these two articles in Chinese (Chinese original at the bottom) back when I was 20 years old, now translated to English with the help of ChatGPT.

**June 29, 2010:**

On February 9, 2010, I had a realization in my practice. I realized what self-nature, original face, and true self are. At that time, I was meditating with a question in my mind: What was my original face before I was born? I wanted to find the answer, but I knew it couldn't be understood through thoughts or reasoning. Suddenly, all thoughts disappeared, self-nature revealed itself, and I understood clearly. All doubts vanished as well. Since receiving the Dharma transmission, I had small insights over the years, but this time, there were no doubts at all.

Because this is a truth beyond words and language, what can be expressed is limited (like drinking water, only you know if it's hot or cold). Most of my interactions with friends are in English, but today, I will try to express my realization in my simple and limited Chinese. What exactly is the "self-nature" I mentioned? What is the "original face before I was born"?

If you let go of all thoughts and delusions of self, even completely let go of body and mind, at this moment, do you completely disappear and cease to exist? Does your body become a corpse? No. At this moment, there is nothingness, and what remains is the undying self-nature, the original face, which is your very existence. It is formless and shapeless, yet it has always existed without increase or decrease, transcending time and space. Its nature is awareness: it is clear, vivid awareness that can illuminate everything, like a mirror reflecting all things. Everything seen and heard naturally appears because of this awareness. With this Existence Itself and awareness as a foundation, the body has vitality; this is the marvelous function of awareness. As the Treatise on the Bloodstream by Bodhidharma says, "Buddha is a Sanskrit word, in this land it is called awareness. Awareness is the spiritual awareness, responding to situations, raising eyebrows and moving eyes, moving hands and feet, all are the functions of one's mystical awareness."

If the illuminating power of awareness is strong, even the smallest actions, like eating or walking, will feel wonderful, as they are the marvelous functions of awareness. This is something that ordinary people, who constantly think while doing things, cannot understand or experience.

Our hearing nature does not change; all thoughts and feelings arise and fall within awareness, but awareness constantly illuminates and is unaffected. Usually, we consider our body and mind as "me," and when we walk or move, it seems like "I" (body and mind) are moving in the surrounding environment. But if there is awareness while walking or running, you will find that the surrounding environment and scenery move within your true nature, but you (formless and shapeless, encompassing everything like space) are not moving.

If you truly witness the truth of the "original face before I was born," there will be no doubt at all. It will be impossible to deny this truth; you will know that in your life, self-nature/awareness/existence itself is the only undeniable truth. Everything is a manifestation of self-nature. Without self-nature, you couldn't be here reading this article. And this is something you can affirm without thinking. It is not something that can be concluded or understood through thinking. For example, a person may look refined and wear deep glasses, so they seem to be knowledgeable. This is a conclusion reached through thinking, but you cannot be entirely sure it is true. Realizing one's true nature is completely different; it is affirmed without thinking, in a state where the previous thought has passed, the next thought has not arisen, and there are no thoughts at all. You can affirm that this is your true nature without any doubt.

About one or two months later, I had a deeper realization. From this realization, I deeply understood that self-nature is like the vast sky. The vast sky does not belong to me, nor to you, but "I" and "you" and all sentient and insentient beings arise from this universal substratum/vast space. I also understood what is meant by "Heaven and Earth share the same root, all things are of one body." This vast space is filled with awareness, capable of manifesting everything. I also clearly saw through the illusion of "self" and "others." Originally, everything is a phenomenon of the universal substratum. Even walking, coughing, speaking are not done by "me" or "you," but are entirely the natural operations of the universal substratum. The "I" is completely false, and clinging to this "I" and "mine" is the root of all suffering. Practice is like the small air merging into the big air/universe, letting go of the "small self," and everything operates freely in this universal substratum, how liberating.

In fact, it is not that you have to completely stop the mind to practice, because if that were the case, then you wouldn't be able to practice in daily life and work. Our thoughts are like clouds, our self-nature is open and vast like the sky. If you maintain awareness while doing things, thoughts will arise and pass with conditions, but awareness will vividly observe the arising and passing of thoughts like clouds drifting across the sky, but the sky remains calm and peaceful, pure and unstained (originally there is not a single thing, where can dust alight?). The sky does not reject the clouds, and the clouds do not obstruct the sky, everything happens naturally without leaving traces. The most important thing is to maintain awareness and not cling to thoughts. If you cling to the delusions of "self" and "mine," you will not be liberated. Moreover, clinging to distinctions and attachments of consciousness will not lead to liberation either. Awareness is to illuminate everything without distinctions and attachments, so "awareness" and "mind" should be clearly distinguished. For liberation, there must be "awareness." If there are thoughts but also awareness, it is not the ordinary "conscious mind," but the aware mind.

I don't think these realizations are much because anyone who practices seriously for a period of time will have their own realizations, and these realizations do not mean liberation. Practicing from the point of realization is very important; I feel my path of practice has just begun. In fact, ultimately, there is nothing to practice because self-nature is inherently complete, originally so, just needing to "maintain" (maintain awareness). If everything is completely let go, what remains is our originally pure and unstained inherent awareness.

**January 14, 2011:**

Four months after writing the previous article, I had a new realization.

I realized that seeing the phenomena is seeing the nature, without distinguishing between nature and phenomena. I once read in Master's article, "Green bamboo is all Dharma body [Dharmakāya], lush yellow flowers are nothing but prajna," and this time I deeply understood the meaning of this sentence.

From this, I understood that what I realized in February 2010 was only the essence, though I mentioned that everything is the marvelous function of Buddha-nature, there was still a distinction between essence and function. At that stage, my understanding of the aware nature was only "formless and shapeless awareness," so I wanted to always hold onto that emptiness, leaning towards emptiness and creating an attachment to emptiness. I did not yet know that all phenomena are originally equal and are the marvelous function of Buddha-nature. Until mid-October, when I followed the instructions in the Bahiya Sutta for contemplation, I had a new realization.

The sutra records that Bahiya, receiving respect and offerings from people, wondered, "Am I already enlightened?" A deva who had been his fellow practitioner in a previous life knew Bahiya had this doubt and appeared, telling him that he had not only not attained enlightenment but had not even entered the path of enlightenment. Bahiya asked, "Who is enlightened now?" The deva replied, in Savatthi, there is an enlightened sage teaching the path of enlightenment; he is the Buddha. When Bahiya arrived in Savatthi and met the Buddha, the Buddha was on his alms round. Bahiya requested the Buddha to teach him the Dharma, but the Buddha refused, saying it was not the time. Bahiya persistently requested, saying no one knows the dangers in their lives, and eventually, the Buddha agreed to give him instructions. The Buddha told Bahiya, "In the seen, there is only the seen; in the heard, there is only the heard; in the sensed, there is only the sensed; in the thought, there is only the thought. Therefore, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: In the seen, there will be merely the seen; in the heard, there will be merely the heard; in the sensed, there will be merely the sensed; in the thought, there will be merely the thought. When for you there is only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the thought in reference to the thought, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor there nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of suffering." Hearing this, Bahiya immediately attained liberation. Unfortunately, Bahiya was gored to death by a cow that very day. The Buddha's disciples asked the Buddha where Bahiya had been reborn, and the Buddha replied, "Bahiya was wise. He practiced according to the Dharma and did not trouble me with questions about the Dharma. Bahiya has attained complete liberation."

When I followed the Buddha's instructions in the Bahiya Sutta to observe everything (I was practicing in movement at the time), I realized that seeing mountains and rivers, there was no separation between the observer and the observed; the distinction between subject and object completely disappeared. The observer is the observed! Awareness is not a "formless and shapeless awareness," awareness is what is seen and heard: in hearing, there is only sound, but no hearer; in seeing, there is only the scene, but no seer; in thinking, there is only the thought, but no thinker. And because there is no subject-object distinction, there is no distance, as there is no standpoint ("I" versus the "external scene") to arise distinctions or measure distances. The universe is self-nature, without a standpoint, there is no limitation of time and space. Seeing mountains and rivers, there is no feeling of "I inside the body looking at the outside scene" - the body is also an illusory sign - body and mind drop away, subject and object both vanish, there is no inner or outer distinction. The mountains and rivers are the Dharma body [Dharmakāya], the entire universe is a vast expanse of great luminosity, without inner or outer, without center or periphery, without a specific place. Seeing the phenomena is seeing the nature - but without a "seer" and "seen." Although body and mind drop away, subject and object both vanish, everyday life and actions continue as usual, but without a "doer" doing it, without an "observer" observing it, yet everything is clear and vivid, everything appears naturally according to conditions. Without straying outwards nor withdrawing from everything seen and heard, everything in this very moment is the marvelous function of Buddha-nature. Thoughts are the same, like waves on the sea, whether more or less, the nature of the waves is still water (water symbolizes the nature and essence of all phenomena as emptiness, awareness). So, practice is not about having or not having thoughts, but whether there is delusion regarding the thoughts. This way of practice does not create a distinction between movement and stillness.

Many people think "no self" is an achievement in practice, such as practicing to the point where there is no attachment to the self, which is indeed important and an achievement in practice. But what the Buddha spoke of in the Bahiya Sutta about "no self" is not an achievement but a "Dharma seal" - inherently, all phenomena are without self, without the duality of subject and object, without the seer/hearer/doer! In hearing, there has always been only sound, without a hearer, without "me," inherently so, there is no need to "eliminate" a "me," as there has never been a "me" to eliminate. This must be realized, it is not an achievement or state attained through practice. If there is no true realization, no matter how one practices, liberation cannot be reached. So, "no self" is not an achievement or state, inherently, the Dharma has no self, it has always been so.

Many people think practice requires eliminating birth and death phenomena/thoughts to reach the undying self-nature, which was also my previous understanding. But now I know that if birth and death phenomena are not distinguished, they are inherently undying, not coming and going, without distinction between movement and stillness. This is no longer the distinction mentioned in the previous article of "birth and death phenomena coming and going in the unmoving self-nature," because this thought, this sound, if not distinguished, at the moment is the true nature, transcending past, present, and future. Although everything is constantly evolving, at the moment of evolution, there is no signs of movement, no signs of coming and going, only the true nature, neither moving nor still. Therefore, the Surangama Sutra says, "Ananda, all illusory sense organs and every illusory form arise and perish exactly where they manifest. These are falsely named and conceived, yet their true nature is the luminous essence of marvelous awakening. So it is with everything, from the five skandhas to the six entrances, from the twelve bases to the eighteen realms. The union of causes and conditions gives rise to their illusory arising; their separation bestows the illusory name of extinction. It is profoundly elusive to discern that the arising and ceasing, the coming and going, are fundamentally the ever-present, wondrous clarity of the Tathagatagarbha. The unmoved, perfect, all-encompassing nature of true suchness — within this constant and true nature, seeking the coming and going, delusion and enlightenment, birth and death, one will never find them." The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana says, "Those who see the Dharma self, due to the dull roots of the two vehicles, the Tathagata only speaks of the non-self of persons. This is not the ultimate teaching, seeing the arising and perishing of the five aggregates, they fear birth and death, falsely clinging to nirvana. How to counter this? By seeing the self-nature of the five aggregates as unarisen, there is no perishing, originally nirvana." Therefore, trying to eliminate birth and death phenomena to reach "undying" is still within the distinction/opposition of subject and object, not knowing that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence, illusions arising from conditions, they are the wondrous function of the wondrous bright clarity of pristine awareness, with no signs of arising and perishing. Also, it is crucial to understand that without phenomena, there can be no Buddha-nature. Essence and function cannot be separated - emptiness is manifested through form, form appear because of emptiness. True nature and illusion are not two different things. Seeing the same thing, in delusion, one clings to forms, in awakening, everything is the true nature. Everything is like a dream, illusion, bubble, shadow, but also the manifestation of the luminous self-nature, without contradiction.

So, the so-called "detaching from forms" and "no thoughts" is not about eliminating all forms and thoughts, but detaching from the deluded realm of subject and object, seeing through the inherent existence and attachment to all forms, without creating opposition or distinction, and not rejecting anything. What is encountered at the moment is the true nature. Therefore, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch says, "Huineng immediately understood the master's intention, entered the room at the third drum; the master covered with a robe to prevent people from seeing, explaining the Diamond Sutra. When he reached “should bring forth a mind that does not abide anywhere” Huineng was greatly enlightened, realizing all phenomena do not depart from self-nature." Trying to find a "Buddha-nature" apart from what is seen and heard is entirely unnecessary. To realize the unity of essence and function, one must see the essence through form, realize the Way through sound, without leaning towards emptiness, maintaining neither emptiness nor form, not clinging to either.

Finally, I summarize with a verse:

In-depth contemplation, Bahiya Sutta.

Understanding the sutra's essence, directly pointing to no mind.

No attachment to subject or object, forgetting body and mind.

Only then understanding seeing nature, only requires apperceiving [the nature of] forms.

Apprehending forms [is] seeing nature, seeing forms [is] apprehending the Mind.

True mind is empty in nature, manifesting appearances according to conditions.

In delusion, illusory signs manifest, in awakening, it is true mind.

Mountains and rivers, originally the Dharma body [Dharmakāya].

Forms, sounds, smells, and tastes, are all the marvelous Mind."







差不多一两个月后,我又有更深的体会。从这体会中我深入地了解了自性就像大空气,大空气并不属于我的,也不属于你的,但“我”和“你”和一切有情无情的万物都从这宇宙本体/大虚空产生,也了解什么是所谓的“天地同根, 万物同体”。而这虚空充满着觉性,能显现一切。我也很清楚地看破了“我相”,“人相”的虚幻。原来一切都是宇宙本体的现象,连走路,咳嗽,讲话,都不是“我”或“你”在做,而完全都是宇宙本体的自然运作,那个“我”是完全虚假的,而如果不舍这个“我”和“我所”的执着的话就是一切烦恼的根源。修行就像小空气融入大空气/大宇宙,把“小我”舍掉,在这宇宙本体中一切运作自如,多自在。













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