In Cultivation, One Need Not Seek Outside

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


Whoever can subdue the eighteen realms of the six sense faculties, the six sense objects, and the six consciousnesses so that they don’t act up, is a Bodhisattva. Whoever can clean up his emotions so that they are no longer messy, is a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas neither cry nor laugh. They are free and at ease everywhere and all the time. They are not subject to any bounds, limitations, worries, obstructions, or afflictions. They are neither produced nor extinguished, neither defiled nor pure, and they neither increase nor diminish. Students of Buddhism should work to achieve this state.

The principle of the Chan Sect is not to establish words. Why? For fear that beginners might cling to the literary aspect and become attached to dharmas. As long as we are attached to the self or to dharmas, we are not free. Being physically and mentally oppressed by afflictions and false thoughts, we drift in birth and death, bobbing up and down in the sea of suffering endlessly.

We should wake up and realize that life is impermanent, and that the ghosts of impermanence may come for us at any time. When they come, we can’t bring anything along except our karma. Even Shakyamuni Buddha had to enter Nirvana and did not dwell in the world forever. How much the more should we ordinary people be alert to impermanence! There’s not much time left. We should hurry up and vigorously study the Buddhadharma in order to end birth and death. If we fail to work hard now, how many great eons will we have to wait before we succeed?

We should put however much we have learned into practice and not be unrealistic. We should know that drawing a picture of a pancake cannot satisfy our hunger. We should return to our native land and watch over our own home, which is a treasure trove. What need is there to look outside? Everything is included within our own nature. At the point where we no longer lose touch with it, then we have attained it. No loss and no attainment, that is freedom. Neither increasing nor diminishing, neither coming nor going, it is right here in front of us! And so we do not have to seek far. "The Song of Enlightenment" says, "Dharma wealth is lost, and merit and virtue destroyed, due to nothing other than the conscious mind. Through the door of Dhyana the mind is ended, and one suddenly enters the powerful, unproduced knowledge and insight." When we don’t use the conscious mind, we become one with the Way. Then what trouble or problems could there be?

A talk given on December 1, 1985

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