Dahui’s wisdom

A teaching (yulu) from zen master Dahui (1088-1163) on knowledge and enlightenment.

There are three mistakes. Saying you are obstructed by knowledge is one, saying you are not yet enlightened and willingly being deluded is another, and going on within delusion to use mind to wait for enlightenment is another.

These three mistakes are the root of birth and death. You must stop producing them for a moment, so the mind of these errors is cut off: only then do you realize that there is no delusion to be smashed, no enlightenment to be expected, and no knowledge that can cause obstruction.

Once you recognize the origin of knowledge, then this very knowledge is a field of liberation, the place to get out of birth and death [samsara].

If views of delusion and enlightenment perish and interpretations of turning towards and turning away are cut off, then this mind is lucid and clear as the bright sun and this nature is vast and open as empty space; right where the person stands, he emits light and moves the earth, shining through the ten directions.

Those who see this light all realize acceptance of things as unborn [anutpattika-dharmakshanti].

When you arrive at such a time, naturally you are in tacit accord with this mind and this nature. Only then do you know that in the past there was basically no delusion and now there is basically no enlightenment.

(Cleary, Jonathan C.: Swampland Flowers; the letters and lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui.
Boston 2006, p. 81, 82, 84)

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Mazu’s truth

A dharma talk by zen master Mazu (709–788).
Here the contents of this fragment:

“All dharmas [all phenomena] are mind dharmas; all names are mind names. The myriad dharmas are all born from the mind; the mind is the root of the myriad dharmas.

The sutra says, ‘It is because of knowing the mind and penetrating the original source that one is called a shramana [monk].’ The names are equal, the meanings are equal: all dharmas are equal. They are all pure without mixing. If one attains to this teaching, then one is always free.

If the dharmadhatu [dharma-sphere] is established, then everything is the dharmadhatu.

For instance, though the reflections of the moon are many, the real moon is only one. Though there are many springs of water, water has only one nature. There are myriad phenomena in the universe, but empty space is only one. There are many principles that are spoken of, but ‘unobstructed wisdom is only one.’

Whatever is established, it all comes from one mind. Whether constructing or sweeping away, all is sublime function; all is oneself. There is no place to stand where one leaves the truth. The very place one stands on is the truth; it is all one’s being.

(Foster, Nelson & Shoemaker, Jack:
The roaring stream; a new Zen reader. Hopewell 1996, p. 450)

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Dogen’s certainty

Spoken by Eihei Dogen (1200-1255) at the beginning of a summer retreat. Here the contents of this fragment:

Once when Zikong was at Tiantong monastery in Siming at the beginning of a summer retreat he said, “For people in meditation the most important thing is that the nostrils be right; then the eyes must be thoroughly clear.

Then it’s important to realize the source and understand the explanation, and after that capability and its actualization are equally realized – only then can you enter among enlightened ones and demons as well, where oneself and others succeed together at once.”

What does this mean?

When the nostrils are right, everything is right. It is like a man in a house; if the master is upright, his family naturally influenced. But how can you get your nostrils straight?

An ancient sage said. “Certainty does not drift into a second thought; only therein you can enter the gate to our school.”

(from the Record of Sayings of Zen Master Dogen of Eihei;
source: Clearly, Thomas: Timeless spring; A Soto Zen Anthology. New York 1980, p. 100)

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Linji’s freedom

“If you want to be free to live or to die, to go or to stay as you would put on or take off clothes, then right now recognize the one listening to my discourse, the one who has no form, no characteristics, no root, no source, no dwelling place, and yet is bright and vigorous. Of all his various responsive activities, none leaves any traces.

Followers of the Way, don’t acknowledge this illusory companion, your body – sooner or later it will return to impermanence. What is it you seek in this world that you think will bring you emancipation? You hunt about for a mouthful to eat and while away time patching your robe. You should be searching for a good teacher!

Don’t just drift along pursuing comfort. Value every second. Each successive thought-moment passes quickly away. The grosser part of you is at the mercy of [the four elements]: earth, water, fire, and wind; the subtler part of you is at the mercy of the four phases: birth, being, decay, and death.

Followers of the Way, you must right now apprehend the state in which the four elements are formless, so that you may avoid being buffeted about by circumstances.”

Someone asked, “What is the state in which the four elements are formless?”
The master said, “An instant of doubt in your mind and you’re obstructed by earth; an instant of lust in your mind and you’re drowned by water; an instant of anger in your mind and you’re scorched by fire; an instant of joy in your mind and you’re blown about by wind. Gain such discernment as this, and you’re not turned this way and that by circumstances.”

(Sasaki, Ruth Fuller; ed. Kirchner, Thomas:
The record of Linji. Honolulu 2009, p. 198-201)

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Yunmen’s commitment

My brothers, if there is one who has attained it, he passes his days in conformity with the ordinary. If you have not yet attained it, you must at any price avoid pretending that you have. You must not waste your time, and you need very much to pay close attention!

The old men definitely had some word-creepers which could be of help. For instance my teacher Xuefeng said: ‘The whole world is nothing but you’. Try to get a firm hold on the meaning of this saying, pondering it from all angles – and after days or years an entrance will open up by itself!

You absolutely must fix your eyeballs directly on this! If you have not yet found any clue but have met an undisguised skillful master who goes after you like a dog that bites a boar, and who doesn’t care about his own life and won’t shy away from going through mud and water for you, and if he has something good for chewing: then blink your eyes and raise your eyebrows, hang your bowl bag high on the wall, and for ten or twenty years exert yourself to the utmost!

You must see for yourself! There is nobody to stand in for you, and time does not wait for anyone; one day you’ll be about to pass away and your gaze will fall on the earth. Big words won’t help you much there, you windbags!

App, Urs (vert.): Master Yunmen; from the record of the Chan Teacher “Gate of the Clouds”.
New York 1994, p. 108-109

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