On The Way: The Daily Zen Journal

June 14, 2021

Treatise on the True Sudden Enlightenment School – Part 3

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. Samadhi is undimmed and does not follow causal origination, so it is called the samadhi of the real nature of things.

Q: If the World Honored One did not speak of false thinking, then who created false thinking?

A: Sentient beings themselves create it.

Q: Why do they not create correct wisdom, but go on perversely creating false thinking?

A: They do not know correct wisdom, so they have false thinking. If they knew correct wisdom, there would be no false thinking.

Q: If there is correct wisdom, there must be false thinking. How can you say there is no false thinking?

A: In reality, sentient beings have neither false thinking nor correct wisdom. Neither can be found.

Q: If both of them are unattainable, then it must be that neither ordinary people nor sages exist.

A: There are ordinary people, and there are sages too, but you yourself do not know them.

Q: What is an ordinary person? What is a sage?

A: If you differentiate, you are an ordinary person. If you do not differentiate, you are a sage.

Q: Those who differentiate are ordinary, those who do not are sage. What about an infant, which does not differentiate? Can it be a sage?

A: If you adopt this interpretation, you are very foolish. Infants and children do not know good and bad, just as ignorant people do not recognize what is honorable and what is not. How could this be “not differentiating?”

What is necessary is always to operate the differentiating mind within the inner truth of True Thusness, to attain non-differentiating wisdom.

Q: Is no birth equivalent to non-differentiating wisdom?

A: Observe for a while. Observe pure mind. Observe states of mind arising. You must perceive that mind has been pure from the beginning, not stained by external objects.

With things and events, you must completely comprehend and see that as products of causes and conditions, no permanent identity can be found for them.

Then you know that the products of causes and conditions are both empty and not empty. That is, worldly phenomena, all the profuse array of myriad images in the world, conventional relationships like lord and minister, father and mother, benevolence and righteousness, propriety and good faith—these are not destroyed by the teaching of emptiness.

Therefore the scriptures give entry into nirvana without destroying worldly phenomena. If you destroy the worldly dharmas, then you are an ordinary person flowing along with birth and death.

The phenomena of worldly causes and conditions have no independent existence.

Being temporary combinations of causal factors, their essential identity is empty and ultimately cannot be found. Seeing this inner truth is called seeing reality-nature.

Then, amid differentiation you find non-differentiating wisdom. You always practice differentiating, yet without differentiating. This is not “destroying worldly phenomena.”

Thus the sutra says:

“Distinguish all causal conditions and forms as entering into supreme reality without moving.”

Those who can awaken to this thereby have stillness right within movement.

Excerpted from Zen Dawn- Early Zen Texts from Tun Huang trans by J.C. Cleary 1986

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.

How to make the leap into experiencing that causal connections produce events? What does it feel like to experience the world as a sage? And exactly what does he mean by “causal connection?”

We know there is a difference between “understanding” a principle and having it transform our very perception of what we see, hear, feel, perceive, etc.

We “know” there is no permanent self when we take the time to examine, and yet in the dream world we move through there seem to be innumerable egos and entities performing actions and responding.

Can we differentiate and non-differentiate at the same time?

To read and re-read this piece opens us to greater depth.  And how often do we read that carefully? Sometimes there are just more questions than answers, and that is not such a bad thing.

Aware, miraculously aware!

Humbly offered,

Elana, Scribe for Daily Zen

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