The Sixth Day
The ancients said: “Days and months pass quickly like a shuttle (and) time flies like an arrow.” Our Ch’an week began only the other day and will come to an end tomorrow. According to the standing rule, an examination will be held tomorrow morning, for the purpose of a Ch’an week is to set a time limit for experiencing (the truth). By experiencing, it means awakening to and realization (of the truth). That is to say, the experiencing of one’s fundamental self and the realization of the Tathagata’s profound nature. This is called the experiencing and realization (of the truth).
Your examination is for the purpose of ascertaining the extent to which you have reached attainment during these seven days and you will have to disclose your achievement to the assembly. Usually this examination is called the collection of (the bill of) fare from all of you. (This means that) you must all appear for this examination. In other words, all of you must be awakened (to the truth) so that you can expound the Buddha Dharma for the liberation of all the living. Today, I am not saying I expect that you must all be awakened to the truth. If even one of you is awakened, I can (still) collect this bill of fare. That is to say, one person will pay the bill for the meals served to the whole assembly. If all of us develop a skilful and progressive mind in quest of the truth, we will all be awakened to it. The ancients said:
“It is easy for a worldly man to win Buddhahood,
(But) hard indeed is it to bring wrong thinking to an end.”
It is only because of our insatiable desires since the time without beginning that we now drift about in the sea of mortality, within which there are 84,000 passions and all sorts of habits which we cannot wipe out. (In consequence), we are unable to attain the truth and to be like Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are permanently enlightened and are free from delusion. For this reason, (Master) Lien Ch’ih said:
It is easy to be caught up in the causes of pollution,
(But) to earn truth producing karma is most hard.
If you cannot see behind what can be seen,
Differentiated are (concurrent) causes,
(Around you) are but objects which, like gusts of wind,
Destroy the crop of merits (you have sown).
The passions of the mind e’er burst in flames,
Destroying seeds of Bodhi (in the heart).
If recollection of the truth be as (intense as) passion,
Buddhahood will quickly be attained.
If you treat others as you treat the self;
All will be settled (to your satisfaction).
If self is not right and others are not wrong,
Lords and their servants will respect each other.
If the Buddha-dharma’s constantly before one,
From all passions this is liberation.
How clear and how to the point are these lines! The (word) pollution means (the act of) making unclean. The realm of worldly men is tainted with desires of wealth, sensuality, fame and gain as well as anger and dispute. To them, the two words “religion” and “virtue” are only obstacles. Every day, they give way to pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy and long for wealth, honor, glory and prosperity. Because they cannot eliminate worldly passions, they are unable to give rise to a single thought of the truth. In consequence, the grove of merits is ruined and all seeds of Bodhi are destroyed. If they are indifferent to all worldly passions; if they give equal treatment to friends and foes; if they refrain from killing, stealing, committing adultery, lying and drinking intoxicating liquors; if they are impartial to all living beings; if they regard other people’s hunger as their own; if they regard other people’s drowning as if they get drowned themselves; and if they develop the Bodhi mind, they will be in agreement with the truth and will also be able to attain Buddhahood at a stroke. For this reason, it is said: “If recollection of the truth be (as intense) as passions, Buddhahood will quickly be attained.” All Buddhas and saints appear in the world to serve the living, by rescuing them from suffering, by bestowing happiness upon them and by aiding them out of pity.
We can practice self-denial as well as compassion for others, thus foregoing all sorts of enjoyment. (if we can do so), no one will have to endure suffering and there will remain nothing that cannot be accomplished. It will follow that we will be able to obtain the full fruit of our reward, in the same manner as a boat rises automatically with the tide. When dealing with others, if you have a compassionate and respectful mind, and are without self-importance, arrogance and deception, they will certainly receive you with respect and courtesy. On the other hand, if you rely on your abilities and are unreasonable, or if you are double-faced aiming only at (your own enjoyment of) sound, form, fame and wealth, the respect with which they may receive you, will not be real. For this reason, Confucius said: “If you respect others, they will always respect you. If you have sympathy for others, they will always have sympathy for you.
Therefore, we should not develop a mind which discriminates between right and wrong and between self and others. If we serve other people in the same manner as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did, we will be able to sow Bodhi seeds everywhere and will reap the most excellent fruits. Thus, passions will never be able to hold us in bondage. The twelve divisions of the Mahayana’s Tripitaka were expounded by the World Honored One because of our three poisons, concupiscence, anger and stupidity. Therefore, the aims of the twelve divisions of this Tripitaka are: discipline (s’ila) imperturbability (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna). Their purpose is to enable us to wipe out our desires, to embrace (the four infinite Buddha states of mind): kindness (maitri), pity (karuna), joy (mudita) and indifference (upeksa) and all modes of salvation, will appear everywhere.
Today, most of you who have come for this Ch’an week, are virtuous laymen (upasakas). You should subdue your minds in an appropriate manner and get rid of all bondages. I will now tell you another kung an so that you can follow the example (given by those mentioned in it). If I do not tell it, I am afraid you will not acquire the Gem and will go home empty-handed, and (at the same time) I will be guilty of a breach of trust. Please listen attentively:
In the T’ang dynasty, there was an upasaka whose name was P’ang Yun, alias Tao Hsuan, and whose native town was Heng Yang in Hu Nan province. He was originally a Confucian scholar and since his youth, he realized (the futility of) passions and was determined in his search for the truth. At the beginning of Chen Yuan’s reign (A.D. 785-804), he heard of master Shih T’ou’s learningand called on him (for instruction). (When he saw the master), he asked him: “Who is the man who does not take all dharmas as his companions?” Shih T’ou stretched Outhis hand to close P’ang Yun’s mouth and the visitor immediately understood the move. One day, Shi T’ou asked P’ang Yun: “Since you have seen this old man (i.e. me), what have you been doing each day?” P’ang Yun replied: “If you ask me what I have been doing, I do not know how to open my mouth (to talk about it).” Then he presented the following poem to Shih T’ou:
There is nothing special about what I do each day;
I only keep myself in harmony with it,
Everywhere I neither accept nor reject anything.
Nowhere do I confirm or refute a thing.
Why do people say that red and purple differ?
There’s not a speck of dust on the blue mountain.
Supernatural powers and wonder-making works
Are but fetching water and the gathering of wood,
Shi T’ou approved of the poem and asked P’ang Yun: “Will you join the Sangha order or will you remain a layman (upasaka)?” P’ang Yun replied: “I will act as I please,” and did not shave his head.Later, P’ang Yun called on (master) Ma Tsu and asked him: “Who is the man who does not take all dharmas as his companions?” Ma Tsu replied: “I will tell you this after you haveswallowed all the water in the West River.” Upon hearing this, P’ang Yun was instantaneously awakened to the profound doctrine. He stayed two years at the monastery (of Ma Tsu). Since his complete realization of his fundamental nature, the Upasaka gave up all worldly occupations, dumped into the Hsiang River his whole fortune amounting to 10,000 strings of gold and silver (coins) and made bamboo-ware to earn his living. One day, while chatting with his wife on the doctrine of the unborn, the Upasaka said:
Hearing their dialogue, their daughter Ling Chao said laughingly: “Oh, you two old people! How can you talk like that?” The Upasaka said to his daughter: “What, then, would you say?” She replied: “It is not difficult! And it is not easy! When hungry one eats and when tired one sleeps.”
P’ang Yun clapped his hands, laughed and said: “My son will not get a wife; my daughter will not have a husband. We will all remain together to speak the language of the un-born.” Since then, his dialectic powers became eloquent and forcible and he was admired everywhere.
When the Upasaka left (master) Yo Shan, the latter sent ten Ch’an monks to accompany him to the front door (of the monastery). Pointing his finger at the falling snow, the Upasaka said to them: “Good snow! The flakes do not fall elsewhere.” A Ch’an monk named Ch’uan asked him: “Where do they fall?” The Upasaka slapped the monk in the face, and Ch’uan said: “You can’t act so carelessly.” The Upasaka replied: “What a Ch’an monk you are! The god of the dead will not let you pass.” Ch’uan asked: “Then what does the (Venerable) Upasaka mean?” The Upasaka slapped him again and said: “You see like the blind and you talk like the dumb.”
The Upasaka used to frequent places where sutras were explained and commented on. One day, he listened to the expounding of the Diamond Sutra, and when the commentator came to the sentence on the non-existence of ego and personality, he asked: “(Venerable) Sir, since there is neither self nor other, who is now expounding and who is listening?” As the commentator could not reply, the Upasaka said: “Although I am a layman, I comprehend something.” The commentator asked him: “What is the (Venerable) Upasaka’s interpretation?” The Upasaka replied with the following poem:
There is neither ego nor personality,
Who is distant then and who is intimate?
Take my advice and quit your task of comment
Since that cannot compare with the direct quest of the truth.
The nature of the Diamond Wisdom
Contains no foreign dust.
The words “I hear”, “I believe” and “I receive”
Are meaningless and used expediently.
After hearing the poem, the commentator was delighted (with the correct interpretation) and praised (the Upasaka).
One day, the Upasaka asked Ling Chao: “How do you understand the ancients’ saying: ‘Clearly there are a hundred blades of grass; clearly these are the Patriarchs’ indication?’” Ling Chao replied: “Oh you old man, how can you talk like that?” The Upasaka asked her: “How would you say it?” Ling Chao replied: “Clearly there are a hundred blades of grass; clearly these are the Patriarchs’ indication.” The Upasaka laughed (approvingly).
(When he knew that) he was about to die, he said to Ling Chao:
“(Go out and) see if it is early or late; if it is noon, let me know.” Ling Ghao went out and returned, saying: “The sun is in mid-heaven, but unfortunately is being swallowed by the heaven-dog. (Father) why don’t you go out to have a look?” Thinking that her story was true, he left his seat and went outside. Thereupon. Ling Chao (taking advantage of her father’s absence) ascended to his seat, sat with crossed legs and with her two palms
brought together, and passed away.
When the Upasaka returned, he saw that Ling Chao had died and said, with a sigh: “My daughter was sharp-witted and left before me.” So he postponed his death for a week, (in order to bury his daughter).
When magistrate Yu Ti came to inquire after his health, the Upasaka said to him:
After saying this, he rested his head on the magistrate’s knees and passed away. As willed by him, his body was cremated and the ashes were thrown into the lake.
His wife heard of his death and went to inform her son of it. Upon hearing the news, the son (stopped his work in the field), rested his chin on the handle of his hoe and passed away in a standing position. After witnessing these three successive events, the mother retired (to an unknown place) to live in seclusion. As you see, the whole family of four had supernatural powers and could do works of wonder and these laymen who were also upasakas like you, were of superior attainments. At present, it is impossible to find men of such outstanding ability not only among you upasakas (and upasikas) but also among monks and nuns who are no better than myself, Hsu Yun. What a disgrace!
Now let us exert ourselves again in our training!