Ch'an Dao Links:
On the Mind’s Entry into the Dharma-Gate
Translator’s Note: I have rendered into English below, the Chinese language text entitled ‘心要法门’, authored by Qing Liang. This text is relatively short and designed to be read in a single flowing motion, and because of this necessity, I have refrained from my usual habit of dispersing Chinese characters throughout the English translation, in the hope that this omission will assist the fluidity of the reader. I have, however, retained the original Chinese text as an ‘Appendix’. The Tang Dynasty master known as National Teacher Qing Liang (737-838), was also known by the name of ‘Cheng Guan’, and was renowned for his advanced knowledge regarding the theoretical premise of the Hua Yan (or ‘Avatamsaka’) Sutra, together with the application of this understanding to actual practice. The name of this important Buddhist text is often rendered into English as ‘Flower Garland Sutra’, and Qing Liang is famous for writing his extensive commentary upon it. Indeed, Han Shan (1546-1623), the famous Ming Dynasty Ch’an master, wrote in his biography that he had read and mastered Qing Liang’s work on the Hua Yan, and that in the year 1582-83, he delivered a lecture that lasted for one hundred days, to a large gathering of monastics and laity, referencing Qing Liang’s wisdom throughout. This demonstrates the typical attitude of compatibility that has existed between Ch’an and Hua Yan masters and practitioners throughout the history of China. So profound is Qing Liang’s understanding of reality, that he is considered the 4th Patriarch of the Hua YanSchool, and a physical incarnation of Manjushri Bodhisattva. This text was directly provided to me by Upasika Sheng Hua, and is believed never to have been translated into English before.
If the Way is to be fully penetrated, it must be understood that the essence of the mind-dharma is found within the realisation of non-being. When ignorance is thoroughly dispelled, then the enlightened state of there being no difference between mind, body, and non-being is realised. The Buddha-nature is experienced as both silent and tranquil. It manifests through infinite actions of virtue in the world, but never abandons the established harmony that exists between the inner mind and outer world. Give up all notions of eternalism, and nihilism, together with ideas of birthlessness and immortality. Also ‘give up’ the idea of ‘giving up’, as attachment to the realisation of a one-sided ‘emptiness’ only serves to fan the flames of the substantial delusion and suffering that already exist in the world. It is better to directly realise and experience the ‘empty essence’ of true emptiness.
Although it is true that ‘mind’ is identical with ‘Buddha’,only those who have been ‘certified as enlightened’ by a qualified master, truly understand this statement. For those who rely only on the limitations associated with book-learning, this wisdom remains forever obscured from their mind. If an enlightened master has not authenticated the understanding of a disciple as genuine, then there is no enlightenment discernable within the mind of the disciple. In this situation, the mindless chatter of the deluded mind permanently obscures the gateway that facilitates entry into the realisation of emptiness. As soon as the reality of non-being is realised, then the deluded notion of a permanent self is forever broken, and non-attachment to the physical body secured. In this state all things are clearly perceived as being inter-connected. The light of wisdom shines directly from the centre of the mind, but if there is no realisation of wisdom, there is no emanating light. If there is no proper training, the mind is not ‘stilled’. If there is no directed effort, effective cultivation can not occur. If there is a dedicated seeking, then there is a leap over into profound truth. A shallow attainment is avoided through the instigation of hardwork, and then there is a leap over life and death when the profound truth is realised. If the right effort is not made, then the ten thousand things (in their entirety) will not be illuminated, and the capacity for innate wisdom will not be activated. If the right effort is not made here and now, in this very life, than at death wisdom will still not have been realised, and the cycle of birth and death will continue unabated.
To live without worry and distress in this world, it is important to cognise the source from which all things flow. Stop the senseless chatter (in the mind and body) and the subtle mystery will not be lost. In this way both activity and stillness will always accord with the discipline of the Dharma. Too many words obscure wisdom and do not understand the essence of duality. When words are silent, innate wisdom shines forth and reveals the non-dual essence. Words alone are not enough, and shallow reasoning can not penetrate the essence of reality. Serene wisdom is not limited to ‘serenity’, and true wisdom is the essence of ignorance. The realisation of the ‘one mind’ immediately reconciles all duality, as all contradictions merge into the harmonious Way. Non-being is a state of non-dualistic manifestation, that does not seek (or attract) attention from the world. Abiding in the enlightened state of ‘not-two’,all duality is left behind and forgotten. Transcending enlightenment is true enlightenment; this is the realisation of prajna here and now.
Prajna does not lie outside the mind, isolated in the external conditions of a new life, but is rather the unsurpassed true essence of the original nature. However, the deluded mind can not perceive this essential nature until the power of prajna is activated through correct cultivation. When prajna is activated, the intellectual capacity of the mind acts as its complementary and harmonious function in the world. The realisation of true wisdom reconciles all duality into the absolute state. Only those who have been certified as enlightened enter into the absolute and bright essential state. When enlightenment is realised, the cause and effect of karma comes to an end. Mind is Buddha, and yet no-mind and non-Buddha are also mind. Certified enlightenment is everywhere, the same realisation of truth. In the land of non-Buddha, there is no obscuring dust to be found anywhere. This is why I find it absurd to seek reality, as there is nothing that is not part of it. The mind of the Buddha, together with all sentient beings, share exactly the same essence of luminosity. Inspire the people by teaching the Dharma to them. The Dharma has ten thousand methods of entry, which correspond to the different capabilities of the people. This means that the Dharma adjusts itself to the needs of the people, and no matter how different the individual minds, all differences eventually integrate into the Dharma. If words are not properly used, then cause and effect can not be understood. In this situation, how can enlightenment be achieved? Even if physical form is essentially empty, how can there be talk of ‘sameness’, and ‘different’? All records show that there is only the realisation of a bright and empty mind, which has washed away all (dualistic) discursive and disruptive thought. This perfected mind contains all things without hindrance – like a bright moon reflected in still water. This is void and form perfectly integrated. The state of no-mind reflects all things without effort. The void that contains all things is continuously bright.
Poem in Praise of the Mind Entering the Dharma-Gate
To reach the pure essence of the mind, I must directly penetrate emptiness.
Understanding void and form here and now, I do not stray from the source.
Bright spiritual essence is revealed, and the world is quickly transcended.
Hidden gold is truth revealed, just as the sunrise emerges from the dark dawn.
Realisation reveals that mind is Buddha, and the Buddha is the same everywhere.
(National Teacher Qing Liang [also known as ‘澄观’, or ‘Cheng Guan’] on the subject of the Mind Entering the Dharma-Gate)
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2014.
Appendix: Original Chinese Text (Provided by Upasika Sheng Hua)