A full and complete ‘Ch’an Week Retreat’ was held within the Donghua Ch’an Temple between the 25th - 31st of August, 2014. The content and format of this meditation session remained basically the same as the two previous two Ch’an Week Retreats, except that the requirements for the students on this occasion was much stricter, with more than 90% of the students voluntarily requesting a far greater silence! In order to facilitate the reduction of ‘delusive’ movement in the mind and to facilitate the ‘stilling’ of the mind ‘realisation’ – the three-meals served each day in the ‘Fast Hall’ (斋堂 - Zhai Tang) were administered each day according to the Strict Vinaya Discipline as required by the ‘Arahant’ (罗汉 - Luo Han) tradition of rules followed by ordained Buddhist monks and nuns. The lay practitioners were amazed to experience this vehicle for ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ stillness and benefitted greatly from its practice! For many of the lay-practitioners – tis was the first-time they had encountered a deliberately ‘conscious’ approach to ‘eating’ and ‘drinking’ - realising just how integrated with ‘greed’, ‘hatred’ and ‘delusion’ such apparently ‘mundane’ activities can involve!
The 'Great Venerable' - and 'Head Monk' - Qi Xiang (起香): 'All Things Are Gathered Together from Across the Ten Directions into a Single 'Still' Moment. This is where You Learn 'Wuwei' (无为) - Or How 'Action' and 'Inaction' Embrace One-Another Without Conflict. The Realised 'Empty' and 'Still' Mind Permeates and 'Purifies a Complete Buddha-Field! All This is Achieved Through Cultivating an All-Embracing 'Empty Mind' Within Which All-Thing Arise and Pass Away!'
The Venerable Mangala Thero had no interest in the Mahayana teachings. I had turned-up in Sri Lanka with my very worn copy of Charles Luk’s English translation of the ‘Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra’ - which deals in-part in the limitation of the Hinayana Path (which I personally do not associate with the Theravada School) as opposed to the broad-minded and more complete Mahayana Path. Vimalakirti – as an enlightened layman – was able to ‘turn the words’ of the more conservative monastic followers of the Buddha and prove through wisdom that their interpretation of the Dharma was incomplete and lacking in attainment and understanding. Knowing this would happen – the Buddha deliberately engineered a number of meetings between his leading disciples and Vimalakirti so that the resulting engagements would ‘push’ their development and understanding into new orbits of transcendence and universal balance! When I showed the Ve. Mangala Thero this Sutra he just appeared to ‘look through it’ as if it was not there – this was lesson number one for me! Instead, Mangala Thero handed me a copy of the Ānāpānasati Sutta and told me to master it ‘beyond the words’ and ‘beyond the limitations of the page’. He also advised that ‘in the West a superficial Buddhism has developed which plays second fiddle to technology – but in here, Sri Lanka – this is not the case!’ I saw that materially ‘poor’ people were spiritually enriched by the Dhamma in ways that most Westerners simply would not understand or recognise. In Sri Lanka, and particularly the remote forests outside of major cities, the Dhamma continued to function very much as it had done for thousands of years – empowering each individual and community through a method of mind and body self-discipline! A practitioner becomes aware of the breath, uses the awareness to ‘penetrate’ the breath, and then penetrates the empty essence from which each aspect of the breath arises, manifests and subsides as a bodily process.
Polarity is a funny business. Life and death – health and illness, etc – all this often occupies the human mind (and body) above and beyond every other subject. Of course, we must also feed and house the body, but if one of these is missing, at the very least we must provide nourishment for the human-body. Many in the West fear homelessness as the weather in this part of the world is often cold, wet and difficult to endure for at least six months of the year! When I lived in Sri Lanka, poverty and good weather went hand-in-hand so that holy men and women – that is the truly committed to the realm beyond the senses – walked around in the flimsiest of attire – except the Jains who give-up even this modest association with the world! A naked body is not as much of a problem as is a naked ego...
Of course, I have heard of a Western Zen monk living (voluntarily) homeless on the streets of New York, although this was at least fifteen years ago, and perhaps more. It is not just the weather that distinguishes East from West – but history and culture as well. There is a particular ‘coldness’ to the ‘individuality’ of the West which is lacking in the ‘collective’ cultures of the East. Even so, regardless of how humanity sets about organising the external aspect of its existence, there is always the thorny issue of how the ‘inner’ life is to be approached, reconciled and processed, etc.
Is it possible to ‘give-up’ all desire for physical life – and yet continue to still ‘exist’ on this plane of reality? Can ‘we’ be both ‘here’ and ‘not-here’ simultaneously and in a manner that is not paradoxical or contradictory in any disconcerting or disruptive sense? Can there be ‘peace of mind’ and ‘health of body’ in a state that is ‘beyond all states’? I suspect that this all comes down to the balancing of what the Buddha defines as ‘perception’ and ‘non-perception’. A mind (and body) that is beyond the realms of the world still needs to be fed at least the minimum of food – hence the Buddhist monastic and the agency of ‘begging’ and/or growing their own food (with an emphasis upon vegetarianism). It is in this rarefied ‘space’ that all sophistry for the world is ‘not yet arisen’ and all is peace and tranquillity despite the nature of the external world (which ultimately must also include the ‘health’ of the physical body).
Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) is the embodied of the Confucian ideal that the manner with which a person organised their inner-being – has a direct co-relation upon how the outer world surrounding that person operates. Why is this correct? It is correct because on the molecular-level, body-cells resonate with a particular frequency. If an individual possesses a mind polluted with greed, hatred and delusion, then his or her body-language will exude these attitudes and his or her behaviour will engineer a physical reality that best represents this inner chaos. In other words, good people will be driven away, and equally bad people will be attracted. Combining these ‘bad’ patterns of behaviour will generate social and cultural structures that emphasis greed, hatred and delusion – and push away or ‘de-emphasis’ any other mode of existence!
This is not to say the mind is literally ‘creating’ physical matter – as the world already pre-exists each individual born into it – but rather a ‘frequency’ of existence is manifested through each mind and body living in the world! An individual’s attitude toward life can influence others into changing their lives for the better. An individual whose inner being is thoroughly corrupt will build a life premised upon this chaos and attract others who feel the same way. On the other hand, if an individual meditates effectively, and disciplines their behaviour, then this sets a very different example – as if the ‘frequency’ of the air molecules surrounding such a being resonate with purity, goodness and inspiration! This reality takes on a ‘foundational’ existence which underlies any other expression of communication.
This is indicative of the ‘type’ of person the individual happens to be, and pre-exists the words they use and the behaviour patterns they exude! A ‘sagely’ person exhibits every character trait and behaviour pattern that guides humanity away from greed, hatred and delusion, and toward the direct perception of the ‘empty mind-ground'. This is an attitude toward existence that is permanent and no longer a matter of choice or forced will-power. A sagely and awe-inspiring deportment becomes as natural as the wind blowing across the face of a mountain! There is no contrivance – only an eternal and resonating ‘presence’ of ‘goodness’ for all to benefit from! Once an individual establishes this reality within and without them – then their words and actions become messengers of this reality that lead all other beings to this ‘frequency’ of being! This is how greed, hatred and delusion are permanently ‘uprooted’ from the mind of humanity and the patterns of behaviour humanity routinely choices to exhibit to the world!
A number of myths dominate the Western intellectual landscape regarding the history and practice of Chinese Buddhism. Many of these myths are even perpetuated within Japanese scholarship upon the subject. Eurocentric bias, cultural misidentification and blatant racism are often to blame. However, China is a vast country which continues to manifest its own culture (and destiny) regardless of the nonsense said about it in the surrounding countries. Within Chinese Buddhism, for instance, it is not uncommon to find examples of Buddhist nuns and monks ‘dying’ whilst a) sat uptight in the cross-legged meditation posture, and b) to continue hold this posture unassisted after the physical dying process has finished. Indeed, there are many famous examples of this kind in China today, with even ‘enlightened’ lay-people being able to perform this feat!
Moreover, even within modern China, for the devout Buddhist the ability to ‘leave the body’ in this manner is seen to be of great spiritual significance (similar to the shocking examples of the Vietnamese Buddhist monastics in the 1960s – who possessed the spiritual maturity and ability ‘not to move’ during the process of setting-fire to themselves in protest to US and Catholic interference in their country). Chinese Buddhism is often thought to have inherited this practice not from India (where some people believe it never existed), but rather from the very similar (if not identical) Daoist practice. This entire procedure is referred to as ‘Seated Transformation’ (坐化 - Zuo Hua) and involves the departing practitioner to retain the meditation posture with full and clear psychological awareness – whilst the breath is slowly brought to a standstill. This process functions through the conscious awareness integrating into the ‘space’ between each breath – so that the breath is finally left behind.
Situated near to the Indo-China Border is the Indian village of ‘Gue’, located in the Spiti region of the State of Himachal Pradesh in North India. As Indian collaborates with the US intrusion into Chinese territory – this area is used by the Indian government as a staging post for the 14th Dalai Lama and his ‘movement’. However, during 1975, an earthquake struck this area of Northern India and opened an old tomb that contained the mummified body of the Buddhist monk Sangha Tenzin – who was sat upright and very well preserved. In 2004, the local police excavated the tomb and removed the mummy. On discovery, it astonishing to find that the mummy was well preserved, with his skin intact and a crop of hair on his head. The mummy was eventually placed in a temple and is open to the public – despite the area being very remote and difficult to travel to.
This Buddhist monk is said to be around 500-years old and he has a name that is partly Sanskrit (Sangha) and partly Tibetan (Tenzin). He was placed in a ‘stupa’ after he died, and it is this structure that collapsed during the 1975 earthquake. His name was written on the stupa and he appears to have been protecting the area with his spiritual presence. Interestingly, Chinese Buddhist monks were performing this feat over a thousand years prior to this date (c. 1500 CE) with ‘Hui Neng’ (the Sixth Patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism) still sat upright in a temple in Southern China (d. 713 CE)! Even within the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Thailand there are stories of so-called ‘samadhi suicides’ whereby a Buddhist practitioner enters such a profound state of disembodied bliss that they never re-enter their physical bodies again! Hundreds of years later, these bodies are found still sat upright in remote corners of the isolated jungle, and when ‘touched’ usually collapse into piles of dust...
Although the example of ‘Sangha Tenzin’ has attracted all kinds of Western speculations about how he actually managed to ‘mummify’ himself – claiming he starved himself, or ate special food – contradictory processes all apparently carried-out whilst absurdly ‘running’ a lit candle over his body! - the reality is that within Chinese Buddhism (a tradition all but ‘ignored’ by the West) - the ability to leave the body through ‘Zuo Hua’ is carried-out only as a product of advanced spiritual attainment that requires no other ability than to have realised the goal of one’s chosen spiritual path! In other words, to ‘die’ whilst sat upright appears all the way through the Chinese Ch’an literature and is generated through the auspices of ‘spiritual’ will-power alone! There is no trickery involved and examples of naturally dying whilst sat upright is still seen within modern China!
Original Chinese Language Text: ‘Human Existence Book of Origin’ (人生书本 - Ren Sheng Shu Ben)
Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD
Translator’s Note: The (Mainland) Chinese Language internet is a treasure-trove teeming with these kinds of texts just waiting to be discovered, translated and shared. As I follow Master Xu Yun’s instruction to ‘never charge money for Dharma instruction’, I am able to translate as I encounter rather than waiting to traverse the petty-politics that dominate the bourgeois publishing industry in the West. This text is a Dharma-Talk given by an unnamed Buddhist Master who has inherited both the Chinese Ch’an Dharma and the Chinese Tantrayana tradition. As you can see, despite the outer differences of different Buddhist schools and techniques, all share a common spiritual essence. These types of texts test my translation and inter-cultural skills as simply reading Chinese characters is not enough when confronted with wisdom of this type. I have had to spend a number of days on this project – leaving off when things became too opaque - and disappearing into my own mind for a few hours to search out and extract the implicit meaning. ACW (31.1.2021)
Although the Naga creature is a snake in India, within the Ch’an tradition it is often referred to as a ‘dragon’. If a person’s consciousness is not yet expanded and all-embracing, the ‘qi’ (气) flow will be erratic and move independently up and down the body without control. This is where a distinction should be made between ‘气’ (Qi) which is energy acquired from food, drink and exercise – and ‘炁’ (Qi) which represents congenital q-energy bequeathed by both parents at conception. Whereas ‘炁’ is pre-natal - ‘先天 ‘ [Xian Tian] - (that is, active in the body prior to birth), ‘气’ (Qi) only becomes active ‘post-birth’ (后天 - Hou Tian) and replaces fully the earlier (and far ‘purer’) bodily energy flow. As for terminology, ‘先天’ (Xian Tian] literally translates as ‘Earlier Divine Sky’ (which symbolises ‘life’ in the process of becoming), whilst (后天 - Hou Tian) means ‘Latter Divine Sky’ - the state of life already born and functioning in the world. Enriched qi (炁) is related to the ‘Earlier Divine Sky’ because it is unsullied and thoroughly pure – whilst mundane qi ‘气’ represents the ‘Latter Divine Sky’ stage which sees life involved in a constant battle for survival and prevention of instability!
As human-being expend qi ‘气’ energy during the day – at night the body attempts to replenish its supply through the generation of ‘night qi’ (夜气 - Ye Qi). This type of qi-expression only manifests at night if individuals sleep properly. Poor sleep leads to poor ‘night qi’ being generated and in extreme cases, it has been shown that those who do not sleep for days or weeks on end can sometimes die from this lack of proper routine! To younger generations, it is often taught that the human body – like a mobile telephone battery – needs to be recharged regularly to work properly! The ‘Central Channel’ (中脉 - Zhong Mai) is also called the ‘Spirit Channel’ (灵脉 - Ling Mai). There is no such energy-channel found within Traditional Chinese Medicine. It ascends up - through the centre of the torso - from the Sea-Bed Chakra (perineum) to the Crown Chakra (fontanelle) travelling as a straight channel. This is a unique two-way channel which facilitates the flow of essential and vital energy both ways (that is ‘simultaneously’) along the same single meridian. This is different from conventional meridians with TCM (and Daoist thinking). Conventional meridians are divided into yin and yang, with the yang meridian flowing up the head, and the yin meridian flowing out in the direction of the hands and feet. Each energy channel is dedicated to directing qi-flow in one direction only.
The main Central Channel is the route through which the ‘Spirit of the Snake’ (灵蛇 - Ling She) will ‘raise’. When the human consciousness is as yet undeveloped, it is what is termed ‘constricted’ or ‘compressed’. This means it is as yet undeveloped, ascended, expanded and all-embracing. This journey of conscious development begins with the ‘snake’ of consciousness beginning its journey of awakening by gently emerging from the ‘Sea-Bed' (海底 - Hai Di) Chakra (轮 - Lun) and ascending to the Crown (顶 - Ding) Chakra (轮 - Lun). This supplies an enriched nutrient comprised of qi (炁 ) - vital force - and jing (精) - ‘essential nature’ - which assists the ‘stilling’, ‘cleansing’ and ‘expanding’ of ‘conscious awareness’ (神 - Shen). This feeds into the Governing Channel (任脉 - Ren Mai) - running up the backbone - and the Conception Vessel (督脉 - Du Mai) - running down the front of the torso, etc. This flow is also reversed – whereby this energy circulation (as distinct from blood flow) ‘returns’ to the Sea-Bed Chakra for spiritual and physical renewal. This cyclic developmental process rejuvenates the entire (mind) and body!
Naga Samadhi self-cultivation, however, does not ‘focus’ upon qi rejuvenation. Although this will happen quite naturally, this is not the primary purpose. Buddhist self-cultivation is designed to uproot every trace of greed, hatred and delusion from the psychic fabric of the mind and the behavioural patterns of the body. This process ‘stills’ the mind for the penetration and realisation of the empty mind ground – so that the conscious awareness ‘expands’ and becomes ‘all-embracing’. Material reality is understood to arise and pass away (moment after moment) within a great and all-embracing void! Any genuine Ch’an practitioner, however, who realises enlightenment will also gain an intricate experiential awareness of the energy channels of the body, and will directly understand the importance of the Central Channel and its processes. Indeed, within Chinese Ch’an Buddhism it is impossible to realise a genuine enlightenment without first experiencing the reality of ‘qi-flow’ and mind and body rejuvenation. The Buddha’s method is superior and so includes all known possible methods of self-development.
When a baby is born, if the child is healthy and free of injury, etc, then he or she already exists in a natural state of ‘Naga Samadhi’ due to their continuous and ‘inherent’ purity of being. However, as the child grows, unless they live in very unusual circumstances, they are transformed by the ‘desires’ they experience in relation to external objects. This generates a suppression of conscious awareness that is inhibited by its tendency toward viewing reality in a self-limiting ‘subject-object’ dichotomy. As deluded and dualistic thinking becomes ‘normalised’ - ‘desire’ pushes the ‘Naga Samadhi’ back into the ‘Sea-Bed’’ Chakra. Consciousness is ‘suppressed’ by this path of worldly development. Duality generates the conditions for greed, hatred and desire to permeate and pollute the mind. The ‘Naga Samadhi’ is pushed back into its essential base whilst the ‘empty mind ground’ is obscured. The mind and body become thoroughly polluted and loses any sense of identity with the highest spiritual realities.
As the ‘Divine Sky’ is permanently divorced from the ‘Broad Earth’, the spiritual practitioner is given the task of applying the appropriate methods of meditation. Buddhist meditation is a method that ‘reverses’ this explained polluting process. Greed, hatred and delusion are permanently ‘uprooted’ so that the empty mind ground will be perfectly perceived. This is how the pristine nature of the mind (心性 - Xin Xing) is both perfected and fully realised. This is often described as the practice and realisation of the ‘Tathagata Ch’an’ (如来禅 - Ru Lai Ch’an) - which relies upon the practice of the ‘Four Jhana’ (四禅 - Si Ch’an) and the ‘Eight Concentrations’ (八定 - Ba Ding). This sets thr groundwork for the rising of the ‘Naga Samadhi’ - which does yet re-appear. The next stage is the cultivation of the ‘Patriarch’s Ch’an’ (祖师禅 - Zu Shi Ch’an). The realisation of the ‘Patriarch’s Ch’an’ coincides with the rising of the ‘Naga Samadhi’ - as the two events are synonymous.
The theory of the ‘Naga Samadhi’ is very simple. Its ‘Great Path’ (大道 - Da Dao) should not be complicated through over-thinking. Give-up deluded living and pointless desire. Do not pursue worldly fame or public recognition. Withdraw from society and sit quietly to ‘look within’ with strength and clarity. This is how ‘virtue’ (德 - De) is generated. It is a matter of ‘giving-up’ modes of thought and behaviour that are of no use to cultivating the mind (and body). Do not pursue fame and fortune. Do not become caught-up in superficial spiritual practices that seek only to cultivate limited selfish motives. The first priority to establish a ‘still’ and ‘peaceful’ mind (平稳的心 - Ping Wen De Xin). When the ‘mind’ does not ‘move’ (不动 - Bu Dong) and is all-expansive – it is naturally in the state of ‘Naga Samadhi’. It is very simple to explain but very difficult to achieve! Living within the five evil worlds means that everyone has their own particular problems to ‘uproot’ and ‘transcend’ as the sorrows of existence know no bounds. The Ch’an method ‘returns’ all thought to its ‘empty’ origins to penetrate and realise the empty mind ground. If the mind is not ‘stilled’ and ‘expanded’ - the individual will continue to experience endless suffering through repeated experiences of birth and death! For the Ch’an practitioner – the way out of this predicament is simple – as ‘It is like chopping wood and carrying water’ - this is how the Naga Samadhi is clearly perceived through a purified mind engaged in the midst of ordinary events! Do not fear life and do not fear death – the Naga Samadhi can traverse the three realms without difficulty or hindrance!
The human mind is like the sea. Even if the sea is calm, the waves below surface may be rough. Many people suffer from insomnia because their minds cannot settle down. Ask what trouble them? He can't tell. And yet there is always upset and delusion. This is because most people can only observe their own surface consciousness. They lack the insight to observe the consciousness that lies beneath the surface and which is suffering terrible turmoil! This is exactly where beginners have to start. They must build the strength of their concentration so that they can penetrate the depth of their own mind and perceives its inner workings. Realising ‘stillness’ is the first significant attainment but it is not the ultimate realisation of ‘emptiness’. As important as this is – this is only ‘emptiness’ only within the head – also known as ‘sat on the hundred-foot pole’. A further stage of successful training has to be accomplished. A genuine practitioner must ‘let go’ of this stage of ‘attachment’ to relative ‘emptiness’ so that the conscious awareness ‘expands’ to ‘embrace’ all of existence! This achieved by not falling into the habits of everyday life (such as writing posts, reading books or thinking about unnecessary things). Those who achieve the ‘Four Jhana’ and ‘Eight Concentrations’ will have no trouble realising the Naga Samadhi as the empty mind ground underlies all these authentic states of attainment. The Naga Samadhi does not have to ‘retract’ as the mind is cleared of all ‘klesa’ or habitual defilements. This allows the Naga Samadhi to shine forth in a permanent manner for all to see! This is how the Naga Samadhi benefits the world with its wisdom, loving kindness and compassion!
As you ‘still’ the mind you are gathering and focusing the qi and jing which builds to such a powerful extent that a wave of internal energy will eventually pulsates through the mind and body! This is the rising of the Naga Samadhi united in essence with all genuine Buddhist states of attainment! When the inner potential reaches a certain frequency of intensity - ‘emptiness’ limited to the head dissolves into an ‘all-embracing’ emptiness that expands beyond the limits of the physical body and permeates out into the physical universe! This is how the Naga Samadhi becomes a permanent expression of enlightenment in the world! Eventually, as the experience ‘matures’ and settles down, all energy flow becomes peaceful and less obviously dramatic as the enlightened state ‘normalises’ and becomes ‘nothing special’.
Chinese Language Source:
When ‘new’, or recently produced, the ‘Seated Transformation Great Cylinder’ (坐化大缸 - Zuo Hua Da Gang) is usually clean, freshly varnished and exhibits pristine Buddhist (symbolic) artwork (although never in an extravagant fashion). Although not ‘sad’ or deliberately ‘sombre’ these ceramic ‘Jars’ are generally designed to be ‘uplifting’ and ‘positive’. The seated (or sometimes ‘standing’) images of the Buddha or monk is common in various numbers, often holding different hand-positions (or ‘mudra’), as is lotus flowers, Chinese ideograms, birds and other meaningful markings, etc. The primary idea represented is not the ‘sadness’ usually associated with physical death, but rather the ‘happiness’ associated with the ‘transcendence’ of the usual limitation's humanity faces when reaching the end of individual life-spans. Quite literally, the advanced Ch’an practitioner, regardless of whether they are a monk or nun, or lay-practitioner – transitions through the ‘dying process’ so that their bodies retain an upright, seated meditation posture. This eternal expression of the ‘Dharmakaya’ is then carefully placed into the ‘Great Cylinder’, which is then sealed and respectfully placed in a suitable area for a peaceful ‘storage’. This is often a quiet part of a temple, monastery, cave or even a domestic home – as the ‘Jars’ are sealed air-tight. Of course, just as the West has strict hygiene laws regarding the handling, storage and treatment of deceased bodies, so does modern China. There is a balance between religious rights and public health which is carefully (and respectfully) maintained. Occasionally, and for various reasons, these ‘Jars’ are opened years later to reveal a body that has not decayed. Sometimes, a Buddhist monk or nun might pass-away whilst sat alone in the remote forest or on top of a distant mountain - where their perfectly intact body is discovered (by accident) years later - and usually removed and respectfully placed in a ‘Great Cylinder’ or ‘Burial Jar’. In the case where a body has been sat upright for hundreds of years (often in a remote cave), sometimes it collapses with the slightest of ‘touches’ (even a faint breath) as its structure turned into dust long ago (and believed to be held together by the ‘purity’ of the intent of the practitioner). From my own experiments with seated meditation over the years, it seems that the bones and joints must be ‘perfectly’ placed so that they are in complete alignment. All unnecessary muscular tension must be removed from the body so that each bone and joint naturally ‘supports’ the bones and joints above and below its anatomical position. For this ‘alignment’ to be achieved, the mind must be ‘calm’, ‘still’ and ‘expansive’. Conscious awareness must ‘permeate’’ every molecule and atom of the physical body – both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. The body then ‘transitions’ during the dying process so that the ‘Dharmakaya’ or ‘Buddha-nature’ manifests and ‘supports’ the body in retaining its upright position. When the mind is not settled or expansive, and the body is not aligned – then as soon as conscious effort ceases – the body will fall-over at the point of physical and psychological death. ACW (27.10.2020)
‘What is Maha? It means “Great”. The capacity of the mind is as great as that of space. It is infinite, neither round nor square, neither great nor small, neither green nor yellow, neither red nor white, neither above nor below, neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, neither first nor last. All Buddha Ksetras (lands) are as void as space. Intrinsically our transcendental nature is void and not a single Dharma can be attained. It is the same with the Essence of Mind, which is a state od “Absolute Void” (I.e. the voidness of non-void).
Learned audience, when you hear me talk about the Void, do not at once fall into the idea of vacuity, (because this involves the heresy of the doctrine of annihilation). It is of the utmost importance that we should not fall into this idea, because when a man sits quietly and keeps his mind blank he will abide in a state of Voidness of Indifference.
Learned Audience, the illimitable Void of the universe is capable of holding myriads of things of various shape and form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, worlds, springs, rivulets, bushes, woods, good men, bad men, Dharmas pertaining to goodness or badness. Devi planes, hells, great oceans and all the mountains of the Mahameru Space takes in all these, and so does the voidness of our nature. We say that the essence of Mind is great because it embraces all things, since all things are within are nature.
When we see the goodness or the badness of other people we are not attracted by it, nor repelled by it, nor attached to it; so that our attitude of mind is as void as space. In this way, we say our mind is great. Therefore we call it ‘Maha’ (Great).
Wong Mou-Lam, The Sutra of Hui Neng, San Yang, (1929), Pages 28-29
Whereas scientists are not sure where the COVID19 infection came from, the Buddhist response is one of enhanced loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom. The Buddha’s compassion never wavered during his lifetime, regardless of what he experienced. In times of hardship, chaos and disaster, the minds and bodies of ordinary people become infected with a ‘fear’ that permeates every waking moment and is the basis for every action. All is change. Fear comes and fear goes and during these times, we must not become ‘attached’ or ‘polluted’ by this process – this is exactly the same requirement for monastics as it is for the laity as the ‘mind ground’ underlies all evenly. Sit strongly, breathe deeply and return all sensation to its empty essence. Still the mind and expand the awareness as from this all universal love, compassion and wisdom will flow! If you are ill, sit like an iron mountain until you can ‘see through’ the phenomenon of discomfort! The enlightened mind is like a giant (empty) and round mirror (with no limits) that reflects all things!
Shi Da Dao
Adrian Chan-Wyles (釋大道 - Shi Da Dao) is permitted to retain his Buddhist Monastic Dharma-Name within Lay-society by decree of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese Buddhist Association (1992). A Buddhist monastic (and devout lay-practitioner) upholds the highest levels of Vinaya Discipline and Bodhisattva Vows. A Genuine Buddhist ‘Venerates’ the ‘Dao’ (道) as he or she penetrates the ‘Empty Mind-Ground' through meditative insight. A genuine Buddhist is humble, wise and peace-loving – and he or she selflessly serves all in existence in the past, present and the future, and residing within the Ten Directions – whilst retaining a vegetarian- vegan diet. Please be kind to animals!
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