A Sermon

d. 867

The important thing in the study of Buddhism is to achieve a true understanding. If true understanding is achieve, one will not be defiled by birth and death and wherever he may be he will be free. It is not necessary to achieve anything of particular excellence, but this will come by itself.

Followers of the Path, from days of yore, worthy masters had their ways of helping people. As to my way, it is intended merely to help people from being deceived. If you need to use it, do so and don't hesitate any more.

Why are students today not successful? What is the trouble? The trouble lies in their lack of self-confidence. If you do not have enough self-confidence, you will busily submit yourself to all kinds of external conditions and transformations, and be enslaved and turned around by them and lose your freedom. But if you can stop the mind that seeks [those external conditions] in every instant of thought, you will then be no different from the old masters.

Do you wish to know the old masters? They are none other than you who stand before me listening to my sermon. You students lack self-confidence and therefore seek outside yourselves. Even if what you have found is all literary excellence, you will not get the real ideas of the old masters.

Make no mistake! If you miss it in this life, you will have to go through the three worlds for many, many long periods. If you are carried away by the external world to which you have thrown yourselves, you will be reborn in the womb of an ass or a cow.

Followers of the Path, my views are no different from those of Shakyamuni. They are being applied in many ways; what is wanting in them? The light emanating from our six senses is never interrupted or stopped. If you realize this, you will enjoy peace throughout life.

Reverend Sirs, there is no peace in the three worlds, which are like a house on fire. They are not places for you to dwell in for long. The devil of impermanence may visit any of us at any time without regard to rank or age. If you do not want to be different from the old masters, don't seek outside yourself. The light of purity which shines out of every thought of yours is the Dharma-Body within you. The light of nondiscrimination that shines out of every thought of yours is the Body of Bliss within you. The light of nondifferentiation that shines out of every thought of yours is the Transformation-Body within you. These Three Bodies are you who are now listening to my talk on the Law. It is only by not seeking or pursuing outside that this can have its effect.

According to scholars of the scriptures, these Three Bodies are to be taken as the Ultimate Principle. But my view is different. They are but names and words and they all depend on something. As the ancients say, the body is dependent on its meaning and the ground is described in terms of its substance. It is clear that the body of Dharma-Nature and its ground are but reflections of light. Reverend Sirs, know and get hold of this person who handles this light, for he is the original source of all the Buddhas and the final abode of truth-seekers everywhere. Your bodily make-up of the four elements does not understand how to talk or listen. Nor does the liver, the stomach, the kidneys, or the bladder. Nor does vacuity of space. Then who understands how to talk or listen? It is the single light which is formless but very clear before your eyes. It is this that understands how to talk and listen. If you realize this,. you will be no different from the old masters. But don't let this realization be interrupted at any time. You will find it everywhere. It is only because wrong imagination is produced, insight is obstructed, thoughts are changed, and essence becomes different that we transmigrate in the three worlds and suffer all kinds of pain. As I view it, you all have a profound realization of this and none will fail to be emancipated.

Followers of the Path, the Mind has no form and penetrates the ten directions. In the eye it sees, in the ear it hears, in the nose it smells, in the mouth it speaks, in the hand it grasps, and in the leg it runs. Originally it is but clear intelligence which divides itself into six natural functions. Let the mind be free from all external searching. You will be emancipated wherever you are.

Why do I say so? What is the idea? It is only because Followers of the Path cannot cut off the thought of seeking outside that old masters play tricks on you.

Followers of the Path, if you view things as I do, you will be able to sit on and break the heads of the Bliss- and Transformation-Buddhas. The bodhisattvas who have successfully gone through the ten stages [toward Buddhahood] will look like hirelings. Those who have attained the stage of full enlightenment will be like prisoners. Arhats [saints] and pratyeka-buddhas [who have attained enlightenment through self-exertion] will be like outhouses. And Perfect Wisdom and Nirvana will be like a stake to which donkeys are fastened. Why so? It is only because Followers of the Path do not understand that all periods of time are empty that there are such hinderances. This is not the case with the one who has truly attained the Path. He follows all conditions and works out all past karmas. He freely wears any garment. He walks wherever he wants to walk and sits wherever he wants to sit. He does not for a single instant think of seeking Buddhahood. Why so? An ancient saying says: ``If one seeks after Buddhahood, the Buddha will become the cause of transmigration.''

Reverend Sirs, time is precious. Don't make the mistake of following others in desperately studying meditation or the Path, learning words or phrases, seeking after the Buddha or patriarchs or good friends. Followers of the Path, you have only one father and one mother. What else do you want? Look into yourselves . An ancient sage said that Yajna-datta thought he had lost his head [and sought after it], but when his seeking mind was stopped he realized that he had never lost it.

Reverend Sirs, be yourselves and don't pretend anything. There are some old bald-headed fools who cannot tell good from bad and therefore see all kinds of spirits and ghosts, point to the east or to the west, and prefer rain or shine. People like this are sure some day to pay p their debts and swallow burning iron-balls before Old Yama [Lord of Hades]. Sons and daughters of good families become possessed of such fox-spirits and go astray. Poor blind fellows! The day will come when they will have to pay up their board.

From Sources of Chinese Tradition (de Bary, Chan and Watson, ed. and trans.), pp. 360--363

Typed 31 March 1995