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.On The Way

Sayings of Lin-chi, Part II



The buddhas and Zen masters of all times and places have emerged only on account of a search for truth. Present day seekers are also in search for truth. Only when you attain truth will you be done; until you have attained it, you will repeat your former ways.

One who is without obsession is noble. When you go searching elsewhere outside yourself, your whole approach is already mistaken. You just try to seek buddhahood, but buddhahood is just a name, an expression. Do you know the one who is doing the searching?

What is truth? The truth is the reality of mind which is formless and pervades the ten directions. It is being used presently right before your eyes, yet people do not trust it sufficiently, so they accept terms and expressions, seeking to assess Buddhism conceptually in the written word. They are as far away as the sky is from earth.

What truth am I talking about? I am talking about the truth of the ground of mind, which can enter into the ordinary and sacred, into the pure and polluted, into the absolute and the conventional, and yet is not absolute or conventional, ordinary or sacred, but is able to give names to all that is absolute, conventional, ordinary, and sacred. If you can grasp this, then use it, without labeling any more. This is called the mystic teaching.

There is no place for overexertion of effort in Buddhism; it is just a matter of being normal and unobsessed, taking care of bodily functions, dressing and eating, lying down when tired. Fools laugh at me; it is the wise who understand this. An ancient said, "Those who work on externals are all ignorant."

For now, be a master wherever you are, and then wherever you stand is reality, and situations that come up cannot move you. Even if you have existing habit energy that would impel you to evil deeds, it naturally becomes an ocean of liberation.

Students today do not know the truth at all. They are like goats nosing around, taking whatever they find into their mouths. They cannot distinguish the servant from the master, the guest from the host. People like this enter the path with the wrong attitude; they cannot enter into clamorous situations, yet they call themselves genuine renunciants. In fact they are really worldlings.

As for renunciants, they must master constant truth and authenticity of insight and understanding. They must distinguish the real from the false, the ordinary from the holy. Do not hastily let teachers give you a stamp of approval, claiming, "I understand Zen, I understand Tao." They may talk glibly, but they are making a strange karma.

Genuine students of the Way do not look for the faults of the world; what is most urgent is to seek real true insight and understanding. If you attain real true insight, it will be complete and clear before you are finished here.

Obtain genuine, accurate insight and understanding. Then you can travel freely anywhere and avoid being confused by the common sort of spiritual charmer.

from The Five Houses of Zen, Lin-chi (d. 867)
Translated by Thomas Cleary (1997)




"Obtain genuine, accurate insight and understanding."

Succinct and clear, the way lies before us, baffling at times but the thread is always there to pick up and continue. We end the year's journals with the completion of the sayings of Lin-chi. As the days shorten it is vital that we keep our spirit strong and the light inside clearly illuminating what is before us.

"Seek real true insight and understanding"

your host, the monkessBest Wishes for a fulfilling year ahead,
The Monkess


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