Highly recommended, Zen Master Hong Wen Liang audio talks (Chinese).
[日期：2010-9-25] 来源： 作者：洪文亮老师开示 [字体：大 中 小]
Form-seeking, sound-seeking, the path is not correct
[Date: 2010-9-25] Source: Author: Teacher Hong Wenliang's Lecture [Font: Large, Medium, Small]
Form-seeking, sound-seeking, the path is not correct
Excerpts from the teachings of Master Hongzhi Zhengjue
Lecture by Teacher Hong Wenliang
The Diamond Sutra says: "If one seeks me through form or through sound, such a person is walking the evil path and cannot see the Tathagata."
Everyone, think about it. Nowadays, many friends who practice the Dharma regard this as a good state and a beautiful state. The Diamond Sutra clearly states this, but when we practice, we forget these things.
Many people sit in meditation, recite Buddha's name, or practice mindfulness of breathing. They hear mantras or Buddha's name constantly in their ears, and at that time, they feel very special and happy.
Besides the visible form, the nose smells the fragrance. When entering the Buddha hall, sitting in meditation, reciting Buddha's name, or chanting sutras, soon one feels the room is filled with the fragrance of sandalwood, which is extremely wonderful and delightful.
Isn't this what the Diamond Sutra says, "If one seeks me through form or through sound"?
Seeking Buddha through form, sound, smell, taste, and touch, all of these are wrong. One cannot see the Tathagata, and such a person is walking the evil path. This is the way of demons.
However, when we actually practice, we do not pay attention to these things, and forget about them, putting them out of our minds. This needs to be examined.
Today's topic: "Seeing forms and seeking sounds, taking an improper path," this is a phrase spoken by Zen Master Hongzhi in the "Inscription of the Pure Joy Room." The meaning of this is the same as what was just mentioned in the Diamond Sutra.
Seeing forms, such as seeing the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, seeking sounds, such as hearing mantras, it seems that only then is there merit in practicing the path. In this case, taking an improper path, such practice is not acceptable, "improper" refers to walking the deviant path, which is wrong! It's such a simple matter, but we just don't believe it.
Not coming or going based on forms
Seeing forms and seeking sounds, taking an improper path, then how should one seek?
Seeing forms should not be during practice, isn't it good for the Buddha and Bodhisattvas to appear? It is good, but don't take it too seriously, thinking that this is a great progress, it's not allowed! So, seeing forms and seeking sounds, taking an improper path, why is this wrong?
"Not based on the mind for movement or stillness, not based on forms for coming or going," (the character "象" in the original text does not have the "person" radical). To explain why this is wrong, let's add some basic neuroscience and use a simpler, easier-to-understand approach.
First, let's discuss "coming and going not determined by form." For example, when a person walks in, everyone says they have come in. After a while, they leave, and we say they have left. Don't we determine their appearance and disappearance, coming and going, based on their form?
So, if "coming and going are not determined by form," and we don't use the person's physical form to determine their coming and going, how do we know that they have come and gone? Even for someone with good spiritual practice or a truly enlightened practitioner, in Zen, it's about realizing one's true nature and truly awakening. When a person comes in and goes out, does the enlightened one not determine their coming and going by the person's form? What do they use instead? Their mind? Their emotions? Their thoughts and what they're thinking in their head?
If the enlightened one knows what the person is thinking, when the thought comes in, they know it has come in. What the person's thoughts are, because the enlightened one is awakened, they know what the person is thinking. If the enlightened one can know what the person is thinking, of course, it's not determined by form. They don't use their form but know what's in their mind. When that thing which thinks of whatsoever has left, has come in, that is not being determined by form, is that the meaning?
Enlightened people have supernatural powers! They don't look at the person's form; they know what's in the person's mind. "Oh! I don't look at them; I look over there. They came in. I didn't see their form, but I have the ability to know what they're thinking. When they came in, the power of their thoughts got closer and closer. Oh! They came in." Is it like this? If not, what does "coming and going are not determined by form" mean?
"Coming and going are not determined by form," so what do we base their coming and going on if we can't look at their physical form? The Buddha said, "If one seeks me through form or seeks me through sound, they are practicing a deviant path and will not see the Tathagata." We all think we seek the Buddha! I see the Buddha! We cannot rely on his appearance or the sound of his mantra. We cannot use this as a basis for knowing he has come or gone. This doesn't only apply to the Buddha but also to ordinary people coming and going; we cannot use their form as a basis for knowing they have come or gone.
After reading the Diamond Sutra, we think that if we want to see the Buddha, we cannot see him through his physical appearance.
For example, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Mahakala, and Vajravikinis are all manifestations; we use their physical appearances to distinguish which one is which or chant mantras to think that a certain Bodhisattva has come.
He said it's not possible and shouldn't be done like this; actually, the Diamond Sutra doesn't mean this.
If a dog runs in or a cockroach crawls in, it's neither a Bodhisattva nor a human. If you are a truly enlightened person who has realized the nature of things, you wouldn't regard the appearances of a dog or a cockroach as having comings and goings.
So what should we do? Base it on the Tathagata's nature? The Tathagata's nature has no coming or going? How do you know there's no coming or going? The scriptures say so.
So we need to explore why it is said this way. The Śūraṅgama Sūtra also says: everything has no coming or going. So that's good! Originally exist, that which moves or not exists, movement and stillness are both due to causes and conditions.
What is this existence, in reality? In fact, it's like how we see a person or a dog, seeing their appearance coming in and seeing their appearance leaving, going away. This way of talking is convenient.
When we talk, we can say that someone has left, and someone has entered.
However, its ultimate truth is that its true state has no coming or going.
It is not about eliminating the appearance, nor is it about saying, "Oh! I have achieved something; I have practiced well. Although they have entered, I cannot see them."
In that case, you would become blind, like someone who has practiced well but turned blind. It is not like that!
Accomplished people see them come in and go out, dogs, cats, birds, and even fish in the pond, all are fine, and there is coming and going!
It does not mean that when one attains a high level of practice, the appearances vanish; that is not the point.
The true meaning of the appearances having coming and going is that, in dreams, there are comings and goings. Once one awakens, the coming and going within the dream cease to exist.
However, one must awaken; before awakening, one simply does not know. During dreaming, there are actual comings and goings within the dream world. This is an analogy using dreams.
Shakyamuni Buddha also knew that in actual life, people do not dream during the day, but the state is still similar to that of dreaming.
We have a hard time accepting this completely; it is clearly daytime, and I am not asleep. You want me to treat this as a dream, but I cannot!
A dream is a dream. Sleeping at night is one thing, and dreaming while asleep is very different from meeting with others during the day!
If we are forced to think of daytime situations as being like dreams, we always resist accepting it, don't we?
There is a state in the dream world! The present is the present; how can you treat it as dreaming or as the same?
We are always reluctant to accept this. Using dreams as an analogy, what we see now, with its movement and stillness, is actually the same as the dreamscapes in our dreams, and saying it this way makes it clearer.
We understand it, but we cannot treat the realm of daytime like a dream because they are completely different. So when we read scriptures or listen to masters explaining these as if they were dream-like, we listen in our hearts and feel it's strange. Dreams and daytime are clearly different, and it's not easy to treat them as the same as dreamscapes.
How are appearances produced?
Now let's explain using modern science, which encounters less resistance. For example, how do I see someone? Do I rely on my ears? Nose? It's the eyes that see. How do the eyes see? There is light and distance. If the person is too close and there is no space between them and my eyes, I cannot see them. There must be a certain distance, light, and my eyes must be healthy; a blind person cannot see. Additionally, the brain must be healthy; a vegetative person cannot see because they have no vision. A person who has just died may not have damaged eyes, but they have no picture and no response. (All phenomena arise from dependent origination and therefore have no intrinsic nature.)
So, when we usually say someone is coming, how do you know?
The image of the person coming in, their appearance, is seen through the eyes, with the help of light, just like a camera, but the camera doesn't know what it's taking a picture of.
Our eyes are the same, capturing the image here, where the light creates an inverted image that is received on the retina. The image is on the retina, and that's how light works, but we don't know because our eyes are like cameras, stimulating the image on the retina and turning it into another message.
In simple terms, where does it send this message?
It sends it to the part of our brain responsible for vision. There are many specialized areas in our brain that work together, some for seeing, some for hearing, some for smelling, some for tasting, and some for thinking.
When a person comes in, there is an image, just like a camera. Our eyes move, and this stimulus or message is sent to the brain through nerves. The part of the brain responsible for vision receives the stimulus, and we don't say what this stimulus is, but there is a change due to the light, so there are 'synapses' (the junctions between nerve cells).
The synapses transmit this image as another message to the brain's visual center, receiving the message, just like a television, when the station broadcasts a program, the television receives it.
There is a place in our brain that receives this, stimulates a change, and this change is the change in the brain's nerve cells.
Pay attention to this change in the brain's nerve cells; it is not the image of a specific person.
Don't think that a dog's image is a dog, a cat's image is a cat, or a fish's image is a fish; it's not like that! The image only goes as far as the retina, and this image on the retina is inverted, as anyone who has studied physics knows, with the head down and the feet up.
Then the message is transmitted to the part responsible for vision, which turns the image right-side up, making it normal. After passing the retina, the shape and existence of the image are no longer there.
To simplify further, when we see him, in fact, we see him now, his image, due to the relationship of light, changes occur on the retina of my eye. The retina turns "this message," not "this image," into another message that is transmitted to the visual center outside. This place changes, and brain cells are stimulated and change (just like knocking on a table, due to the vibrations, changes occur through the air, and sound is emitted). When seeing him, due to various reasons, the brain nerve cells in the part of my brain that is responsible for seeing change, but his image is not in my brain. This is a relative (correspondence) change. Red is the change of red, white is the change of white, green is the change of green, and various different changes are happening here.
How can this change direct the changes in brain cells?
For example, when you see red, it moves like this [↑], when you see white, it moves like this [→], when you see green, it moves like this [←], and when you see yellow, it moves like this [↓].
How can you have the ability to turn this into an image that appears before my eyes?
It's because we have the ability, it's not something we came up with.
We can't possibly turn this change into an image that appears before our eyes; it's not something we change or something we think of.
With such changes here, they naturally appear before our eyes.
A flower is the image of the flower in front of our eyes, but in fact, the image of the flower is not displayed here. If this image does not go through the changes of light, retina, and visual nerves to the brain nerves, we wouldn't know that the image of the flower is here.
In fact, this image doesn't directly go into the brain; knowing this is crucial!
It's me here, the part of my brain responsible for vision, because there is a flower in front, this place has changed, but it's not the image that goes directly into the brain.
So, this place, the changes in my brain, I have the ability to transform this change into an image in front of me, get it?
So, the changes in the brain are like this, with a single brain nerve cell; assuming brain cells are like this, when they see you, they move like this, and when they see someone else, they move like that.
Is this movement an image?
When it corresponds to you, because of the light, refraction, reflection, and various factors through the visual nerves, it moves like this; is this movement your image?
Are the changes in the brain nerves your image?
Your image is just a different change, right?
When it corresponds to someone else, moving like this or like that, is it your image or their image?
No, it's just that the changes in the nerves are different.
Red, white, long, short, round, changes in size and range are different; we have this ability, which is really amazing, to transform the movements and changes of brain nerve cells into dogs, cats, fish, blue sky, and white clouds in front of our eyes. Strange!
This is just the change in brain nerve cells, not the image being projected into my brain.
These are two separate things, completely different, and we need to be clear; we cannot rely on appearances and sounds. All the changes are happening in the cells within the brain, and the changes in the visual nerve cells are quite stable.
The naturally perfected precepts, meditation, and wisdom
Just now, we used the visual (PICTURE) as an example, and the auditory nerves are the same. The brain cells responsible for hearing receive changes in the pitch of sounds. When the sound is "AH," they move like this, and when it's "EE," they move like that. Isn't there stability? It's very stable!
When the sound "A" comes, it must move like this. If the same "A" sound sometimes moves like this and sometimes moves differently, we would be confused. This is called "our original purity," very stable, not stable because we have cultivated stability. Our six senses, regardless of our mental state, move like this when it's "A," like this when it's "B," and like this when it's "C." They never mislead us. They are very stable and observe precepts.
Drinking alcohol moves like this, and not drinking alcohol moves like this too.
It is not that when you drink alcohol, the A sound wave becomes like this, and you hear it as something else. It's the difference in the ability to interpret and analyze. When the auditory nerve cells in your ears move, no matter what, they should move like this for this sound, and they always move like this. They don't sometimes move like this, sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, regardless of your likes and dislikes. If you like the sound, it moves faster; if you don't like the sound, it moves lazily. Right? That's our differentiation! The broken mind consciousness differentiates there. The auditory cells in the ears don't do this.
Whether happy or unhappy, they move like this, very loyal to their duty, very stable, all equal and impartial.
How can you hear A and E? It has wisdom, natural wisdom, not learned from studying, reading scriptures, listening to teachings, or receiving empowerments. The information coming into our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind can make us truly feel that there are such flowers and sounds. This is not wisdom or supernatural power; what is it?
We inherently possess it, yet you still seek precepts, concentration, and wisdom, which is a deceptive scheme.
But why do we emphasize this? Because we treat what is not self as self, therefore we need to cultivate precepts, concentration and wisdom. It is not that you are very annoying, perform evil misdeeds; it needs to be corrected and become more well-behaved.
In reality, the true us is the substance-functioning aspect of the six sense bases in motion – it is ourselves, our true self.
This functioning aspect consists of six sense bases with six different functions. Although their modes of action differ, they form a single functioning whole. This body is like a great cosmic storm or earthquake, constantly in motion, and thus there is no self-concept.
The problem arises only because we think there is an "I."
"Not relying on forms" means that the image of a flower does not directly enter our brain, and then our brain reads it, "Oh, this is a white flower!" It is not like that. No image runs into the brain. Instead, it borrows various shapes, sizes, and spaces of light to transform the image into another message, which is sent to our brain. The brain accepts the change and triggers various different changes.
This change, we have the ability and wisdom, which is called non-discriminative wisdom. Why non-discriminative? Because there is no active thought, so the change can become a white flower. Because there is no active thought, without thinking, it becomes Ms. Liu. Why?
Because here, I have wisdom, non-discriminative wisdom. This is called great supernatural power, the real great supernatural power that the Buddha talks about. Everyone has it; it refers to this.
Otherwise, how can the change here become a white flower and the change there become a fish? Have we ever thought about it? Have we ever tried? There's no need! It is innate.
So, when you say that the images come in and go out, the changes in my brain here are due to physical relationships, such as light, distance, etc. The changes are caused by the relationships of light's illumination, reflection, and refraction. With changes coming in and going out, is the change of the image still there? There is no image, and this change is not there. So, what is it here? It is the movement of cells; their appearance, the movement of this kind of change, and their disappearance, this "movement." It's just the movement of brain cells; where is the image?
Coming and going without relying on images, we were originally in this state. It's not that after cultivating well, being very moral, reciting sutras, observing precepts, and meditating, one will have this ability. No! It's not like that. Dogs and cats are the same, not just us; the Buddha is also the same. When the Buddha takes a step and we take a step, it's the same. The Buddha listens to "AH," we listen to "AH," the same "AH" character. Will it change into an "E" character when the Buddha listens to it? It won't, right!
We listen to E, and when the Buddha is present, he also listens to E. This ability has no distinction between ordinary people and sentient beings; the mind, Buddha, and sentient beings are not separate. We always talk about this. We insist on cultivating to become a great master or attain enlightenment, but we are originally enlightened; not knowing is called delusion, and after knowing, where is there delusion and enlightenment?
象的去来，就是我这里的脑细胞在变化，有了就这样地动，你的象没有了，它就没有这样的动，是“这里”有动跟没有动的分别而已，这里哪里有你的象？没有。以你的象的来去当做来去，脑细胞会提出抗议。这个就是佛法说的颠倒妄想。这个要先弄得懂，佛经才读得懂。我没有讲我的，佛也没有讲他的，实际上是这样，它只是这样，他不是把理论学说想出来了，给我们讲。佛的道理是他发现我们是这样真正动，那是事实，HE POINT IT OUT！指出来而已，佛没有讲他的意见、理论。不管你的理论懂不懂，我们就是这样动，耳朵、眼睛、鼻子、舌头、身体的感觉都一样，最难的是我们搞不清楚“意”和“想”。
The coming and going of images are just the changes in my brain cells here. When there is movement, your image disappears, and it no longer moves like this. It is just the difference between having movement and not having movement "here." Where is your image here? There is none. If you take the coming and going of your images as real, your brain cells would protest. This is what the Buddha Dharma calls inverted delusion. You have to understand this first before you can understand the Buddhist sutras. I am not talking about mine, and the Buddha is not talking about his. In reality, it is like this; it is just like this. He did not come up with theoretical doctrines to teach us. The Buddha's principle is that he discovered that this is how we truly move; that is the fact. He pointed it out! That's all. The Buddha did not express his opinions or theories. No matter whether you understand the theories or not, this is how we move; ears, eyes, noses, tongues, and body sensations are all the same. The most difficult part is that we cannot figure out the difference between "mind faculty” and "thought."
There is a thought, the thought of "flower."
When the mind's intention moves, the thought of a flower arises, not through the eyes but through the mind's intention.
Intention is not like eyes, ears, or nose, which have distinct shapes, because intention is dispersed.
For example, thinking of a "flower" is like hearing A with the ears, and the changes in B, C, the thought of a white flower, and the thought of a dog all cause different movements in our mind faculty. The movement of mind faculty when the thought of a "white flower" arises is a certain way, but if it's the thought of a fish or a dog, the changes in the thought are different.
When the ear receives a sound and sends it to the auditory cells, which then move, does this allow you to hear the sound?
The movement itself is just movement; we have the ability to differentiate this movement as an AH or E sound. Why can we differentiate it?
It is because the function of consciousness is added in.
The changes in the cells that hear and see are the same; just by their changes, we don't know what we hear or see.
We have another power, the power of the sixth consciousness, which differentiates.
Oh, A, B, red, white - this power reads the changes as various different sounds, distinctions, and different names and forms, the function of the sixth consciousness in differentiating consciousness.
The mind faculty is the same; when the thought of a white flower comes in,
the mind faculty receives this visiting thought and also changes, but does it know it is a white flower at this moment? No, it doesn't.
The discriminating consciousness has not yet distinguished what thought it is.
This point is crucial, and many people do not understand it.
When a thought comes to the mind faculty, the change in the mind faculty is similar to the change that occurs when the ear hears a dog barking or a bird chirping, although the changes are different, the way they manifest is the same.
The mind faculty has a thought of a white flower and a thought of a dog, and the changes in the mind faculty are different.
But with these two changes, do you know what you are thinking about at this moment? No, you don't!
Only after the discriminating consciousness is added in, can you say, "Ah! I thought of a white flower, thought of a dog." Can you understand me?
It's not that the mind faculty moves, and you immediately know it's a dog.
When a thought comes, you still don't know what kind of thought it is; the function of the discriminating consciousness has not been added in yet. It's just a thought coming, just the change of the sound waves being received by the ear, and you still can't distinguish whether it's a dog barking or a cat meowing. These two situations are the same.
A thought comes, it is received, the mind faculty moves, and it moves truthfully; how it moves depends on the thought, but you still don't know.
It's only after your discriminating consciousness comes into play that you know what kind of thought it is.
"Oh! I thought of you, thought of him." The thought of you comes in first, and then you distinguish that it is the thought of you.
Inanimate objects expound the Dharma.
Among those who practice with the mind faculty, there are more Chan/Zen masters.
When the Buddha saw a bright star, it was through the eye faculty, seeing the star and peach blossoms. It is to use "coming and going are not determined by form". Originally, it was not about the form coming and going.
When a peach blossom falls from the tree, I see the flower falling (usually, we are always in this state), but suddenly that one time, the visual cells are moving, in the difference between moving and not moving, that kind of change, "that change itself is my awareness," it's not that another awareness arises to read this change.
This is the final move. Normally, we are upside down in assuming that there is an "I" that has the ability to read the changes in our visual and auditory cells, treating this change as a delusion, which is wrong.
Because that change itself is awareness, it is called "knowing without contact, illuminating without conditions." Therefore, it is called "seeking through sight and sound, the path not yet straight."
If one does not investigate from this perspective, seeing me by form and seeking me by sound, even if they can recite the Diamond Sutra fluently, do they truly understand its meaning?
Now, we use scientific knowledge to help us understand. Originally, it was like this movement, but we didn't know. We thought there was an "I" watching and an "I" listening, so comings and goings are just appearances. In fact, this place is just about whether there is change or not. We can even clearly see that the change itself is awareness, not another ability to observe the change, read it, and treat it as an external appearance.
That change itself is knowingness; do not create another knowing subject to read this change.
What it is considered as is a last resort; in reality, there is no so-called subject and object in the actuality!
There is no designated "knower" to know the "known"; therefore, this flower, the shadow of the flower, undergoes changes here. The change itself is already the knower; there is no ability of a knower to read the brain changes; it is not like that!
That "change itself" includes the knower; this is the Dharma spoken by the insentient; flowers also speak Dharma. Do not regard "Buddha's awareness" as the spiritual function of knowing; this is Buddha-nature, not the highest profound Dharma of knowing, extremely true, good, beautiful, compassionate spirit, or the purest knowledge. Already taken the knower of the human ability to discriminate and recognise, that is to take the knower's highest dharma (function) as if it is Buddha's awareness, which is completely wrong and utterly confused.
So the insentient speaking Dharma is unknown. What is the insentient speaking Dharma? This thing undergoes changes here; without it, there would be no changes. The four great elements of this change, the brain composed of the four great elements, do the four great elements have a master/agent? No master/agent. Does the external four great elements have a master/agent? No master/agent either.
The four great elements within and outside are all without a master, interconnected, without distinction. They are the same thing in motion, "motion itself" is knowingness, and there is no knower to observe this motion. (There is no subject-object knowledge, so it is called the insentient speaking Dharma.)
Zhaozhou Zen Master said: What is Buddha-nature? It is a stone by the roadside or a cypress tree in the courtyard.
Motion and stillness are not based on the mind.
Motion and stillness are not based on the mind; it is the same. Raising my hand, I know it is moving; putting my hand down, it is still. Every incoming image is different; the change in light is different. Then, the changes in the brain happen suddenly, like this and like that, subject to different stimuli, and it changes accordingly, responding truthfully, as a whole thing!
Originally, the outside and us are not separated. We think we see and hear outside, but in reality, our six senses do not go through this. It is actually our own chaotic thoughts; they all move together.
Whoever is scolding me, it is just the sound of scolding me that is moving here. The moving auditory cells do not say it is you scolding me. If the movement is smaller, it is not heard! Loud sounds move large, and soft sounds move small; this is our original state.
You scold, and I get angry. That's because we inexplicably have a delusion of an "I." When we hear something uncomfortable, an "I" emerges, and this thing interferes, causing us to become disordered.
The six sense faculties are originally pure. We consider these pure six sense faculties as our own function, and then we take the delusion added by the sixth consciousness as ourselves, causing a lot of suffering. That is why the Zen patriarchs often said not to discuss Zen, the Dharma, or the Buddha. How to practice? Truly recognize our true nature. Where does this nature manifest? It manifests in our six sense faculties. The six sense faculties are the functioning body; what power does this function have? That power is the Buddha's power; everyone has it, and it's that simple. However, we keep reciting mantras, chanting Buddha's name, receiving empowerments, and seeking blessings. Isn't it that we imagine an ideal state in our minds? Isn't that what our sixth consciousness demands? This old fellow [I-image] is terrible, constantly demanding different things every day, every year. We might think that a master is not good enough, so we look for another one because we are used to listening to him; this master is not that special.
This sixth consciousness is like Sun Wukong, never satisfied and always seeking novelty, thinking that novelty is the truth. Our six sense faculties are originally pure and natural, and our Buddha-nature is originally manifested in these six sense faculties.
Activity and stillness do not depend on the mind. It is easier to explain using hearing. When there is sound, there is movement; when there is no sound, there is stillness. In our case, when there is sound, the mind arises; is it the function of the mind? When a dog barks, there is movement like this; when a cat meows, there is movement like this; when a bird sings, there is movement like this. It distinguishes! And it distinguishes very clearly. But is there any thought saying, "I heard the sound of a dog barking, a cat meowing, a bird singing," this thought, this idea, does it arise in the ear? No! There is no such thought, but it genuinely brings forth corresponding changes, distinguishing without discrimination. That is our original mental landscape, the pure and wondrous manifestation of the field of enlightenment.
Before waking up from the dream, there are many afflictions; we want to become Buddhas, but where is the West?
Is the West closer, or is the East closer?
The Buddha of the Southern Realm protects our health, while the Immovable Tathagata of the North has many miraculous manifestations.
Amitabha Buddha is in the West, don't take the wrong path and go to the East... Afflictions are all thoughts, and everyone has their own opinions.
Suddenly thinking of the East, then of the West, how should our eyes and ears react?
Suddenly liking something, then disliking it; following our preferences, our eyes see things more clearly or more vaguely, but our eyes don't care about this.
Red is red, white is white, blue is blue, big is big, small is small; what our eyes see, they don't perceive as beautiful or ugly.
After seeing, our consciousness differentiates according to habits like culture, upbringing, and conditions, then beauty and ugliness are distinguished.
It doesn't matter; this discriminating consciousness is originally the function of the Dharmakaya/Dharma body. Knowing how to differentiate, we can use it without being deceived by it; this is the "self." As Zen Master Zhaozhou said, "Before enlightenment, I was used by the twelve hours; after enlightenment, I use the twelve hours."
Motion and stillness are not based on the mind; it is not that there is a mind knowing the presence or absence of the sound. It has no mind, and the sound outside is one with the movement here.
When there is no sound outside, there is no movement here. If there is no movement here, it is useless no matter how much movement there is outside.
Thus, the movement here and the sound outside are one. We should not separate the inner from the outer; the distinction between inner and outer is just for the sake of explanation.
We can easily discover the non-dual state in body and mind; this non-dual state is the Buddha's state, the Pure Land. Where else should we look for the Pure Land?
At this very moment, we are moving within the Pure Land, yet we don't know it. We hold on to false things, trying to cultivate them to reach the Pure Land. How strange! We are already standing in the Pure Land, but we still look for it outside.
Motion and stillness are not based on the mind; coming and going are not based on forms. Seeking visual forms and sounds, we follow the wrong path, all because we don't understand and want to find the Buddha and the Pure Land outside.
Following the wrong path refers to people practicing deviant methods.
"Completely manifest primordial nature"
The Zen patriarchs don't look at your knowledge or cultivation, but only discuss whether one has realized their true nature or not. What does it mean to realize one's true nature? Have you discovered who the real "I" is? It's not that by having a good heart, reading, cultivating or reciting sutras, one can reach that realm. We need to be clear that since beginningless time, the six senses have given us great abilities and functions, yet we don't appreciate them. Instead, we grasp onto the false and take it as ourselves. This false self has never been born, so it will never die. We take this illusory stinking bag of skin as ourselves, then seek eternal life, rebirth, and clarity – this is insanity! It's because of this false self that there is samsara (cycle of birth and death). Do we recognize that the great life of the universe itself also has birth and death? Earthquakes happen, great storms arise, and when they arise, they arise. Where is birth and death in that?
Here, with a "bang," the conditions come together, and there's an earthquake; over there, when the conditions come together, there's a major earthquake. When typhoons arise in the Pacific Ocean, do they have life and death?
Dependent origination is empty in nature. When conditions are present, it arises; when conditions are absent, it disappears. Its very essence is the pure and wondrous field of clarity. Can you say it exists? You can't see it. Can you say it doesn't exist? It changes according to various conditions.
To understand this clearly, one must realize their true nature, knowing that they are not this stinking skin bag, and not treating this false self as their true self. It's the same for everyone, whether you are deluded or enlightened, whether you are interested in Esoteric or Vinaya schools, it's all the same. That is the great function's functioning substance that moves there.
Ksitigarbha Zen Master had a disciple named Wenyi Zen Master, who was knowledgeable and advocated the theory that "the three realms are only mind, and all phenomena are only consciousness." One day, Ksitigarbha Zen Master asked Wenyi Zen Master, "Wenyi, you said that all phenomena are consciousness, and the three realms are transformed by the mind alone." He pointed to a large stone in the pavilion and asked, "Tell me, is this large stone inside or outside your mind?" Wenyi Zen Master couldn't answer because if it were outside the mind, the theory of the three realms being only mind would not stand. If he said that the large stone was not inside his mind, then the theory of the three realms being only mind would become a lie. Wenyi Zen Master replied, "It's in my mind." Ksitigarbha Zen Master then asked, "If you place a large stone in your heart, won't it be very tiring? It will be very tiring!"
This problem made Wen Yi Zen Master think for a month and a half. During this time, he went to his master every day to discuss one answer and seek another. Dizang Zen Master said, "Buddhism is not like this; it's not correct within or outside the heart. It's neither inside nor outside, not in the middle of my heart, nor in between the inside and outside!"
After a month and a half, all answers were refuted. On the last visit, unable to think of a better answer and wanting to leave, Dizang Zen Master took pity on him and said, "Wen Yi! Actually, let me tell you, everything is completely manifest!" At that moment, Wen Yi Zen Master became enlightened.
Where is the cloud? The cloud is in the sky. Where is the water? Water is in the cup (there is a cup of water in front of Teacher Hong). Everything is completely manifest! Don't overthink.
We haven't realized our true nature, and we don't understand. Everything is completely manifest!
Have you heard the sound of stones or bamboo? Have you seen peach blossoms fall? Everything is completely manifest, not through thoughts. Don't try to understand it as a thought, and you'll become enlightened!
We fundamentally do not understand our own nature, have never encountered the original scenery, have not touched the profound root source, and it cannot be reached by learning, thinking, or emotions. However, we should pay more attention, as form-seeking and sound-seeking, the path not yet correct, has already pointed out the direction of practice. Truly putting in effort here is genuine effort.
The truly enlightened Master Wenyi gave a lecture, someone asked, "Master, what is the ultimate meaning of the true first principle of the Buddha's teachings? What does the Buddha want to pass on to us? What is the supreme meaning of the Buddha's teachings?" Master Wenyi said, "If I were to tell you, it would be the second principle." As soon as it is spoken, it becomes the second principle, not pointing to the thing itself. Analyzing things with scientific theories seems impressive, but these are just words and sounds! They have nothing to do with the function itself. Once spoken, it is the second principle, not the thing itself. For example, mountain durians are delicious, but no matter how well we talk about them, or watch videos, it is not the durian itself. Unless we personally experience durian, it is not durian. Can the first principle be spoken? No matter how it is spoken, it is not it, the same is true for the Dharma.
Master Sengcan said, "The Supreme Way is not difficult, if only you do not pick and choose." Since we are already on the path, the Supreme Way should not be difficult. What else are we seeking?
The true manifestation of the ultimate path, the great path, and Buddha-nature is our very own nature. Yet, we are still searching outside. The ultimate path is not difficult! Do not love or hate; the six senses inherently have no love or hate; it is the false "I" that loves and hates. Movement and stillness do not depend on the mind.
"All three realms are only mind, and all phenomena are only consciousness." Everything, including living beings, sentient and insentient beings, is all included. We hear about a "mind," which sometimes is expressed in language or writing as "heart." In fact, this mind is not referring to the clinging mind.
However, it is generally believed that apart from all forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch, there is nothing else; all things are transformations of this mind. Many people misunderstand and ask how it transforms, how things change here. It is not about changing; it is what it is, but it is also not what it is, and it is not just that, which is "neither this nor that."
But without this mind or the essence of our true nature, we cannot manifest that appearance. Therefore, it is neither identical nor separate. It is a thought, and for it, the stone is the mind, and the mind is the stone. Neither is it, but without the great mind of Buddha, it is not a clinging mind, and it cannot exist without the Buddha-mind.
我们在佛学上就用非即非离NOT EQUAL TO，NOT SEPERATED FROM，不就是它，但不能离开它而存在。
In Buddhism, we use the term "neither identical nor separate" (not equal to, not separated from) to describe that it is not just it, but it cannot exist without it.
This is the principle, the theory, but in reality, it is not it. The term "neither identical nor separate" is a concise summary of the theory, where neither is neither, nor is nor is not. In Buddhism, this is the simplest way to describe the state of realizing the Buddha's path, and when explaining it in theory, we often use the term "neither identical nor separate."
Is this stone it? It is not, but it is neither identical nor separate. Without it, can there be a stone? No, there cannot be a stone, so it is not separate.
Therefore, it is difficult to manifest this appearance in this place. It is not something that can be deduced through theories. It is not about asking the Buddha to tell you so that you can enter the same state as the Buddha. There is no way, even the Buddha cannot do it!
Therefore, this place is called "wondrous," penetrating deeply, penetrating here, penetrating the source: the source of the stone, the source of the earth, the source of space and emptiness. We need to penetrate this source, and the original source is what we call the innate wondrous brightness.
Grasping at matters is originally confusion; understanding the principle is not enlightenment.
Using this principle, how does it manifest the stone? Does it originally exist? The more we try to depict it, the further away we get.
So, Dizang Zen Master taught Wenyi Zen Master, "Everything is already complete." We should not add more thoughts to discuss it. If we treat it as an object of study and talk about this and that, we are already playing with it in the realm of theory.
Hence, "grasping at matters is originally confusion." Being attached to things, like preferring white flowers and disliking red ones, removing them – this is grasping at matters, being attached to fame and position, which is originally confusion.
After hearing the Buddha's teachings, everything is empty, without self-nature, and dependent origination; everything is a manifestation of Buddha-nature.
So how does the stone transform? It is explained thoroughly to you, convincing your heart and mouth, "understanding the principle is not enlightenment." It is very reasonable, and there is no way to refute it theoretically. You agree, but this is understanding the principle, which is not enlightenment and not awakening. Pay attention to this.
Being attached to affairs is originally confusion; ordinary people in society are attached to fame and position, constantly caught up in the pursuit of fame and gain.
Yet they tell others that they practice Buddhism, know that everything is empty in nature, and it seems nobler to listen to the Buddha's teachings in theory, talking all day about the emptiness of the three realms, reincarnation, and the six realms, all the theories are correct, not a single one is wrong, but understanding the principles is not the same as enlightenment, it is not enlightenment, and one must not go down this path.
This knowledge should be used with the hope that one day we can see our own true nature and help us use it in this way, but if we are used by it, we might as well become scholars and Buddhologists!
The inexplicable "I"
Meditation, chanting, visualization, and various practices are all the same, it's not that the methods are wrong, but if we fundamentally do not understand, we treat the means as an end. These methods are meant to help us quickly find our true selves, just like climbing tools to help us climb a mountain. Climbing tools are not the mountain top, but we cannot simply deny the tools after hearing about the mountain top, that would be a misunderstanding. However, when using them, we must know that we want to reach the summit.
Our inherent nature is Buddha-nature; we are the manifestations of Buddha-nature, as are stones. But are stones Buddha-nature themselves? No, but can they exist apart from Buddha-nature? No, they cannot!
You say that the stones in the pavilion are like the stones in the courtyard, and I am here looking at the stones. This is not the correct state of mind; it is because we do not know our true selves.
Therefore, we think that the stones are in front of us, in the courtyard, but in fact, the stones and I cannot be separated. Why? Because without assuming the existence of "I," how can they be separated?
If I think there is an "I," then I will discuss the stones in the pavilion, whether they are transformed by Buddha-nature or not, and how they are transformed. "I" have not even been accounted for, "I" already separated stones from "I" over there.
The stones we see are one with us, the manifestation of the entire Dharma realm. But before we have realized our true nature, we always think there is an "I." So when we see the stones in the courtyard, we want to apply the great theories of Buddhism to say that this is the manifestation of Buddha-nature, spinning around there, turning into stones. We always treat stones as external things, as objects of observation, and constantly use theories.
Buddha tells us that stones and us are fundamentally one, why are we one?
If there is no false "I", "I" think that this "I" is gone, and it becomes one, is there anything else?
I talk about you because there is an "I"; without "I", how can I talk about you?
It is not mine, so it is called you!
This one is considered me, so I can say this is not me, so it's called you; how do I talk about you?
It's not you, nor me, but them; the third party appears, where does it fundamentally come from?
First, there must be me; without me, how can I talk about you?
You are NOT ME, not me; only then can I talk about you!
So when I talk about you, there must be an "I" first, then I can distinguish what is not mine and call it you; after you, the third, fourth, and fifth appear; first, I must believe there is an "I" to establish you.
If I don't admit my existence, I can't acknowledge you; if there is no "I" concept, without me, how can I define you?
When I look at you now, it's not that there is a Hong Wenliang here seeing Miss Liu; this is us discussing and practicing Buddhism at this level since time immemorial without seeing our true nature.
You are desperately cultivating the false "I"; until when do you want to cultivate? No matter how the false "I" is cultivated, it will be eliminated.
I am looking at you because this is me, whatever I think, I am looking at you, you are you, I am me, you are here, I am in Taiwan, only with me can I speak this, I talk about you, because I admit me, what am I?
Buddha asks you to look carefully, is there the "I" that you admit? Don't talk about practice or discuss theories, don't do that. First, look at yourself who is practicing, or the one opposing Chan Buddhism. Since you oppose Chan, do you oppose Buddhism?
What is the thing that opposes? Have you ever thought about it? You are just opposing, that's just talking nonsense, who is advocating this? "I". What is "I"? Messy responses, this is the most important point.
No matter whether you practice this, agree or disagree, it is always the one who thinks there is a false "I" advocating. What is the thing that advocates? Isn't it someone? What is it? Go find it.
When you see a flower, is the flower outside? Can you know the flower without you? Without you, whether the flower exists or not is irrelevant to me, but without the flower, how can I say I see the flower?
It's the very act of seeing itself; can it separate me and the flower? Seeing is just an action, and me seeing the flower is just my own chaotic speech and thoughts. Buddhism asks you to directly experience this well (it means you cannot seek the Dharma outside your own mind).
In everyday life, it's like this everywhere, but we always confuse ourselves, not others. Our function is so subtle that we can't grasp it! I see it, but how can I see it without myself?
Cultivation and realization are one and the same, wonderful cultivation at the level of fruition.
The "subject" and "object" move together, they cannot be separated; separating them would be meaningless. Originally, there was no "subject-object." In our Buddhist studies, the fundamental ignorance is actually not fundamental ignorance, but our natural confusion. Everyone is confused there, but "that subject-object" originally did not exist. The double extinction does not mean you extinguish them, but realize that the subject-object originally did not exist, so it is called the double extinction of subject and object.
Don't think that cultivation is the result of my efforts, there is a distance between cultivation and the result of cultivation. What the Buddha really transmitted to Kasyapa was that cultivation starts at the level of fruition; the one who cultivates and the one who attains are one, not the first ground, the second ground, or the third ground. Whether the Avatamsaka Sutra has the Ten Bodhisattva Grounds or not, it is an expedient way for us to start like this. What the Buddha really gave to Kasyapa was the realization of this point, that cultivation and realization are one and the same.
It is not that after practicing for several years, months, or countless eons, we will attain the fruit position of the Buddha. No! From the beginning of practice, we are already Buddhas. There is a saying that our original nature is originally the Buddha, so our nature cannot be defiled. In the hell realms, the beings in the animal realm, they may appear as beings in the realms of evil spirits, animals, or hells, but their nature cannot be defiled. They are all the same Dharma nature and Buddha nature. Don't think that the Buddha nature will not go to hell to become sentient beings. The beings in hell are all formed by the Buddha nature. Therefore, it is called "self-nature cannot be defiled." Even the beings in hell have Buddha nature, and Buddha nature cannot be changed. But when one follows evil habits, the Buddha nature manifests as your evil karma, and its nature remains unchanged, extremely wonderful. It manifests the appearance of an evil spirit, but its nature does not change; it is still the Buddha nature, which is extremely wonderful. Because the Buddha nature has no fixed form, when it creates old evil karma, it manifests the appearance of the six realms of existence, but it is all the manifestation of the Buddha nature, so the nature cannot be defiled.
Are we already at the fruition stage, so we don't need to practice anymore?
Japanese Zen Master Dogen traveled far to China to find Zen Master Ru Jing to solve this difficulty, asking him, "Since our true nature is the manifestation of Buddha nature and Dharma nature, why do I still need to practice, meditate, and recite the Buddha's name?"
Zen Master Ru Jing replied, "True nature cannot be tainted! Everything is Dharma nature, but practicing is not absent. There is indeed practice!"
You cannot say there is no practice; you still need to practice. It is originally like this: sleeping, eating, and dressing are all following conditions and going with the flow. Here, following conditions means following Dharma nature, not the false self. It means following the loudness when it is loud and the quietness when it is quiet, dogs are dogs, and cats are cats, appearing according to conditions.
It is not about imposing something on top of this and following how I answer or how I steal; that is the false self following conditions.
Knowing that our true nature is the manifestation of Dharma nature, why can't we be without practice?
For example, recognizing the mistaken self, I have many karmic offenses, afflictions, doubts, and delusions. I need to do good deeds and recite mantras to gradually eliminate my karmic offenses and slowly walk the path to Buddhahood.
We often embrace a false self as our true self, so we clean it every day with a very clean cloth, diligently wiping and polishing the shadow, and dressing it up.
Bodhidharma said, "No! This is not right. The Buddha only says that the shadow is not you; you need to discover that this thing is originally pure."
But it is not easy to discover this; one must use many methods to one day attain enlightenment, and that is the result of practice.
The true self is not achieved by slowly reciting mantras and sitting in meditation. The true self dares not acknowledge itself, cannot affirm itself, and there is nothing more pitiful than this.
If you realize something is wrong, you must practice, which is even more difficult than wiping and dressing up the shadow. Do not think that because it is originally like this, you do not need to practice. That would be a huge mistake.
Because when the false "I" sits in meditation, recites mantras, and contemplates, the mind is calm, and good conditions will come in, the shadow will change, conditions arise and cease, and the shadow is the same.
So, by doing good deeds, not getting angry, and not being greedy, the physical and mental conditions will gradually improve, step by step.
However, the Zen patriarchs do not have such a narrow and suspicious view, turning quickly and slowly. The narrow view refers to having such a small capacity for understanding that even the shadow's view must be small. Using the shadow to bring out the true self, which is a vast life as large as the universe, can the true self truly know that it is me?
The true self cannot play a cognitive role, seeing itself as "me." How can I see myself? It is necessary to use the subtle and penetrating root source, which is what this is talking about.
We cannot use a dualistic cognitive function; when I use cognition in the vast universe, I am the universe itself. The vast universe becomes the object of your observation, and you stand outside of the vast universe.
The essence cannot see itself, the essence cannot know itself. To understand this point is to practice meditation, and when conditions are added, the realm of concentration changes.
As soon as our thoughts move, they are in the subject-object dualistic realm. Therefore, after Zen Master Wen Yi's enlightenment, he said, "What you are talking about is the first principle, where all phenomena return to one. What is one? Where does one return to? Is what you can know a part of one, or not a part of one? To know one, you must jump out of one's exterior, right? But is that one? It's already two!"
Thus, we cannot use language, writing, thoughts, or theories to explain this. "One" needs to recognize that it is "one" and needs subtle penetration.
Subtly penetrating and subtle, turning around is difficult all the way! When you realize emptiness, you are emptiness itself, and Dharma nature itself.
How can the Dharma nature itself recognize that it is the Dharma nature? It cannot be recognized, so turning around is difficult! It is difficult to turn around even in the emptiness eon.
A Touzi Zen Master instructed his students, "You must get it done for me, no night travel allowed, you must arrive by tomorrow morning!" No night travel is allowed, and you must arrive early the next day.
This is about cultivating and realizing unity; from the very beginning of practice, you are already in the fruit land. The six sense organs are originally liberated and at ease.
(End of the full text)
Date: December 31, 2000
Location: Singapore, Main Hall of Enpo Buddhist Charity Association