Vimalakirti’s pleasure

The daughters of the gods asked:
What is this pleasure that has as its object the garden of the Law (dharma)?

Vimalakirti replied:

It is the pleasure which consists in believing firmly in the Buddha, in desiring to hear the Law (Dharma), attending to the community (Sangha), driving away pride and respecting the teachers, extricating oneself from the triple world, not stopping over any object, considering the aggregates (skandha) as transitory and like killers, considering the eighteen elements like poisonous snakes, considering the twelve bases of consciousness [senses] like an empty village, protecting the thought of enlightenment (bodhicitta), benefiting beings, excluding all avarice in giving (dana), avoiding all relaxation in pure morality (shila), exercising endurance and self-control in patience (kshanti), cultivating good roots in vigour (virya), possessing undisturbed knowledge in meditation (dhyana), excluding even a shadow of defilement in wisdom (prajna), spreading enlightenment, overcoming Maras, destroying passions, purifying the Buddha-fields, accumulating all good roots, not trembling on hearing the profound dharmas, penetrating in depth the three doors to deliverance, assembling skillful means (upaya), and finally, cultivating the auxiliary dharmas of enlightenment (bodhipakshikadharma).

It is in this garden of the Law that the great Bodhisattvas always reside.

Lamotte, Etienne: The teaching of Vimalakirti.
Oxford 1976, p. 103


Hongzhi’s fulness

Practice in emptiness and forget conditioning as dazzling light gleams from the shadows. When each portion of spirit is luminous and unhindered, the mind of the three times is interrupted and the four material elements are in balance.

Transparent and marvelously bright, in solitary glory for multitudinous kalpas, a patch-robed monk can practice like this and not be bound by life and death. In upright practice let go from the edge of the high cliff, not grabbing anything. The ropes around your feet are severed. In wholeness take one step. The buddhas and ancestors all do not reach one’s own genuine, wondrously illuminating field, which is called one’s self.

At this juncture sustain the family business. Just when involved in deliberations, turn around from the stream of thoughts. Empty with enduring spirit, pure with enduring illumination, clear and white, reed flowers and bright moonlight are mixed together. Oars pulled in, the solitary boat drifts past without difficulty.

At this time please tell me, who would be anxious to display the eye of discrimination?

Leighton, Taigen Dan: Cultivating the empty field;
The silent illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi.
Boston 2000, p 50


Clear your mind (Huihai)

[A sutra says:] Wise men regulate their minds rather than their persons; fools regulate their persons rather than their minds. Another sutra states: ‘Evil springs forth from the mind, and by the mind is evil overcome.’ Thus, we may know that all good and evil proceed from our minds and that mind is therefore the root.

Q: By what means is the root-practice to be performed?
A: Only by sitting in meditation, for it is accomplished by dhyana (ch’an) and samadhi.

Q: Please describe dhyana and samadhi.
A: When wrong thinking ceases, that is dhyana; when you sit contemplating your original nature, that is samadhi, for indeed that original nature is your eternal mind.

Blofeld, John: Zen teaching of instantaneous awakening;
being the teaching of the Zen master Hui Hai.
Devon 2015, p. 44-45


Suzuki’s ground

Usually we are not interested in the nothingness of the ground. Our tendency is to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest the most important thing is to make the soil rich and to cultivate it well.

The Buddha’s teaching is not about the food itself but about how it is grown, and how to take care of it. Buddha was not interested in a special deity or in something that was already there; he was interested in the ground from which various gardens will appear. For him, everything was holy.

Buddha was great because his understanding of people was good. Because he understood people he loved them, and he enjoyed helping them. Because he had that kind of spirit, he could be a Buddha.

Suzuki, Shunryu: Not always so;
practicing the True Spirit of Zen. New York 2002, p. 48


Buddha’s non-thinking

[Buddha said:] In the transparent lucidity of the original nature of thought, in the perfect purity of its original nature, no genesis of a thought takes place. Where there is an objective support, there the foolish common people produce a thought.

The bodhisattva, however, wisely considers the objective support, as well as the genesis of thought, and asks himself wherefrom the thought is produced. Bearing in mind that “this thought is translucent in its original nature”, he thinks to himself, “this thought is being produced conditioned by an objective support”.

Once he has comprehended the function of the objective support, he does not produce a thought or stop it. And so that thought of his becomes translucent, undefiled, beautiful, perfectly pure. Established in nonproduction, that thought does not produce or stop any dharma.

This is of the bodhisattva, who courses in the perfection of wisdom, the comprehension of the non-production of thought.

Conze, Edward: The short Prajnaparamita Texts.
London 1973, p. 53-54


Shibayama roshi

Dharma teaching from Zenkei Shibayama roshi.

A Zen master said in his teisho [dharma-talk]: “Whenever it may be, wherever you may be, your mind is at peace, because there’s no mind outside your body; because there’s no body outside your mind. Since your body and mind have already dropped away, what is there to be pacified or not pacified? How wonderful is this mind that is always just at peace!”
Let me add my words here. It is said, “However wonderful a thing it may be, it is better not to have it at all!” A Zen man ought not to be easily self-satisfied.

Shibayama, Zenkei: The gateless barrier;
Zen comments on the Mumonkan. New York 1974, p. 290


Huang Bo

Huangbo said to the assembly, “You people are all slurpers of dregs. If you travel like this, where will you have today? Do you know that in all of China there are no teachers of Chan?”

At that point a monk came forward and said, “What about those who guide followers and lead groups in various places?”

Huangbo said, “I don’t say there’s no Chan, just that there are no teachers.”

Cleary, Thomas: The book of serenity.
Hudson 1990, p. 223.