On The Way: The Daily Zen Journal

December 01, 2005

Treatise on the True Sudden Enlightenment School – Part 2

Guifeng Zongmi (780–841)

The Great Path is fused with Mind, revealing the true pattern of reality. All worthy sages past and future tend toward this gate. For those who awaken, the triple world is only mind. Those who do not awaken create dreams as they sleep. Those who completely awaken know that all phenomena are peaceful and still, that causal connections produce events, and that temporary combinations give rise to names. Those who do not comprehend become attached to names and abide in words, grasp concepts and run around misguided.

If you want to rein in the false and return to the real, so that defilement and purity are equalized, you must focus your attention and contemplate the self-revealed meaning of the mind’s fundamental enlightenment. When your contemplation has power, you are still not beyond this meaning: mindfulness reaches the Other Shore, and you are constantly in the deepest meditative concentration. If you practice this for a long time without stopping, naturally everything will be accomplished.

If you have concerns in your contemplation, gradually let your body and mind go toward the real. Empty out what is in your breast, so that all doings are forever stilled. Aware of things without giving them forms, you move freely in samadhi, closely nurturing the Path and its power. By this means you achieve the dharmakaya, the body of reality.

When you turn back and awaken to the mind source, there are no hindrances and no obstructions. Its body is like empty space, so it is called boundless samadhi. Mind has no going out or coming in, so it is called the samadhi of stillness. Amid all being it is pure and without seeking, so it is called inconceivable samadhi. Samadha is undimmed and does not follow causal origination, so it is called the samadhi of the real nature of things.

Students are all seeking interpretive understanding: they do not seek direct experience. If you want to cultivate the Great Vehicle without knowing how to pacify mind, your knowledge is sure to go wrong

There was a layman named Li Huiguang, a man of Changan: his dharma name was Great Awareness. He paid no attention to glory or profit, but was intent on seeking enlightenment. He had served Huian and later on Shenhui. He received oral instructions personally from both of them and was given the gist of their teaching. He became able to reach the root and fathom the source of refined truths and subtle principles: he appeared amid being and entered into nothingness in perfect fusion and freedom.

When not engaged in Chan contemplation, Layman Li lamented that the multitudes were deluded, so he published these Dharma essentials, revealing the abstruse gate of phenomena and inner truth and displaying subtle truths. This treatise could be called a boat for crossing the seas directly to enlightenment, that those not at peace would find peace, and that those not yet liberated would find liberation.

Question: The Buddha Dharma is abstruse and mysterious, unfathomable to ordinary people. Its literature is vast, its meanings hard to understand. May we inquire about the Chan Master’s essential teachings? Let us have some provisional words, some expedient means, a direct approach through direct words without secrets, that does not abandon us worldly types.

Great Awareness answered: Excellent! Excellent! Observing your question, I see that your basis as a bodhisattva is about to become pure and ripe. I am forty-five; it has been more than twenty years since I entered the Path, and there has never been anyone who has asked about this.

What concerns do you have? What doubts are you trying to resolve? Speak directly; there’s no time to bother with words.

Questioner: If we wish to enter the Path, what Dharma should we practice, what Dharma should we study, what Dharma should we seek, what Dharma do we experience, what Dharma do we attain, in order to proceed toward enlightenment?

Answer: No Dharma is studied, and there is no seeking. No Dharma is experienced, and there is no attaining. No Dharma is awakened to, and there is no Path that can be cultivated. This is enlightenment.

Question: Since time without beginning we have been flowing along with birth and death at odds with inner truth. Having just heard the sudden teaching, we are confused and do not understand; our consiousness is dimmed and we do not know where we are. We are like drunks who cannot yet wake up sober. We humbly hope that you will extend yourself down toward the deluded multitudes and bestow some teachings on those of little learning, so that by your skillful means we may meet with reality. What is our true identity?

Answer: It does not give rise to false states of mind: it is forever formless and pure.

Question: What is self-identity?

Answer: Seeing, hearing, knowing, the four elements, and all things each possess self-identity.

Question: From what is self-identity born?

Answer: It is born from false mind.

Question: How can one detach from self-identity?

Answer: When false states of mind do not arise, this is detachment.

Question: What is the Path? What is inner truth? What is mind?

Answer: Mind is the Path. Mind is inner truth. There is no inner truth outside of mind and no mind outside of inner truth. Since mind is capable of equanimity, it is called inner truth. Since inner truth is aware and can illuminate clearly, it is called mind. Since mind and inner truth are equal, it is called buddha. When mind finds this inner truth, you do not see birth and death: ordinary and sage are no different, objects and knowledge are not two, principle and phenomena are both fused, defiled and pure are one suchness. With true awareness according to inner truth, nothing is not the Path. Detached from self and other, you practice all practices at once. There is no before and after and no in between. Your bonds are untied and you are free: it is called the Path.

Guifeng Zongmi (780–841)

Excerpted from Zen Dawn: Early Zen Texts from Tun Huang

Some pieces read like a prayer or an active meditative experience. This piece needs nothing extra. Offered in honor of those who are still on the Way…

Om Tat Sat,
Elana, Scribe for Daily Zen

Related Journals

Recent Journals

Journal Archives