On The Way: The Daily Zen Journal

June 07, 2012

Practice Instructions

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)

With Total Trust Roam and Play in Samadhi

Empty and desireless, cold and thin, simple and genuine, this is how to strike down and fold up the remaining habits of many lives.  When the stains from old habits are exhausted, the original light appears, blazing through your skull, not admitting any other matters. 

Vast and spacious, like sky and water merging during autumn, like snow and moon having the same color, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, magnificently one entity without edge or seam.   Further, when you turn within and drop off everything completely, realization occurs. 

Right at the time of entirely dropping off, deliberation and discussion are one thousand or ten thousand miles away.  Still no principle is discernible, so what could there be to point to or explain? 

People with the bottom of the bucket fallen out immediately find total trust.  So we are told simply to realize mutual response and explore mutual response, then turn around and enter the world.  Roam and play in samadhi.  Every detail appears before you.  Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces. 

The outside and myself do not dominate each other, only because no perceiving of objects comes between us. Only this non-perceiving encloses the empty space of the dharma realm’s majestic ten thousand forms.  People with the original face should enact and fully investigate the field without neglecting a single fragment.

Simply Drop off Everything

Silently dwell in the self, in true suchness abandon conditioning.  Open-minded and bright without defilement, simply penetrate and drop off everything.  Today is not your first arrival here.  Since the ancient home before the empty kalpa, clearly nothing has been obscured. 

Although you are inherently spirited and splendid, still you must go ahead and enact it.  When doing so, immediately display every atom without hiding a speck of dirt. Dry and cool in deep repose, profoundly understand.  If your rest is not satisfying and you yearn to go beyond birth and death, there can be no such place. 

Just burst through and you will discern without thought-dust, pure without reasons for anxiety.  Stepping back with open hands, giving up everything, is thoroughly comprehending life and death.  Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world.  Merge together with all things.  Everywhere is just right.  Accordingly we are told that from ancient to modern times all dharmas are not concealed, always apparent and exposed.

The Ancient Ferryboat in Bright Moonlight

A patch-robed monk’s authentic task is to practice the essence, in each minute event carefully discerning the shining source, radiant without discrimination, one color unstained.  You must keep turning inwards, then the source is apprehended.  This is called being able to continue the family business. 

Do not wear the changing fashions; transcend the duality of light and shadow.  Accordingly the ancestors’ single trail is marvelously enacted.  The residual debris of the world departs, its influence ended.  This worldly knowledge does not compare to returning to the primary and obtaining confirmation.  Observing beyond your skull, the core finally can be fulfilled and you can emerge from the transitory. 

The reeds blossom under the bright moon; the ancient ferryboat begins its passage; the jade thread fits into the golden needle. Then the opportunity arises to turn around, enter the world, and respond to conditions.  All the dusts are entirely yours; all the dharmas are not someone else’s.  Follow the current and paddle along, naturally unobstructed!

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)

Excerpted from Cultivating the Empty Field – The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongshi – translated by Taigen Dan Leighton 2000

While the tone of Hongzhi’s Practice Instructions is lyrical and evocative beyond ordinary “instructions,” this is a voice rarely heard in a teaching hall and immediately transporting. While we think our own times are tumultuous and distracting, the human condition is ever the same. We all come with our own unique baggage…

Many lifetimes of misunderstanding come only from distrust, hindrance, and screens of confusion that we create in a scenario of isolation. With boundless wisdom, journey beyond this, forgetting accomplishments.

Further, when you turn within and drop off everything completely, realization occurs. 

Entering the Equinox with balance,

Elana, Scribe for Daily Zen

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