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Dharma Talk

Part3: Formal Dharma Discourses - Summer Meditation Retreat 1977

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First Lecture

The Master ascended the Dharma-seat, struck his staff three times and said, “All of you virtuous ones have gathered at this Ch’an temple and are bearing these thousands of hardships and ten thousands of sufferings. This is all because of the great affair of birth and death. If there are any superior men here, may they speak. How do you attain liberation? Even if you were to speak, serenity extends in space like a long iron pillar. Haven’t you experienced it yet? Nonetheless, in this mountain monk’s dispensation, you will not avoid thirty strokes (of the staff). Where is the mistake? If someone can discern this, I will certify that he has brought his meditation training to completion.” After a pause he said, “Now listen to the gatha:

“Snow and moonlight fill the mountains
And are fully interfused.
When in one gulp you have swallowed the universe,
There is no inferior or noble.
When you don’t accept the six sense objects,
You will possess true joy.
When you don’t rely on anything in the three realms,
The body in its entirety is exhibited.

“Take care!” After striking his staff three times, the Master descended.
 
Second Lecture

The Master ascended the high seat, struck his staff three times, and said, “The (Complete Enlightenment) Sutra says: ‘Because this illusory extinguishing is extinguished, that which is not illusory is not extinguished.’ Assembly present here now! Have you known that One Thing which is not extinguished? May any of you monks endowed with the Dharma-eye speak! What is it?”

After a short pause the Master shouted and said, “In the middle of the night, the golden crow flies across the sky. The midday bell pierces the mist, sounding from within the darkness. Do you understand?

“The swordsman, freed from sense-objects
is cold like ice.
The true man who practices the Dharma:
His mind is unfathomable.
The white clouds atop the peaks
Indicate that tomorrow it might rain.
Between the boulders there are still
Fallen leaves from last autumn.

“When you are practicing, you must vividly give rise to a deep doubt on your basic kung-an and be persistent in developing it. When a cat who is stalking a rat is spying on its hole, whether a man, a dog, or a chicken passes near, his gaze remains absolutely unshakeable. Finally, once the tip of the rat’s nose appears, he pounces like lightening. With the hua-t’ou it’s just the same.

“You should also be like a hen who is sitting on her eggs. Normally, from dawn to dusk, that is, for the whole day long, she thinks of nothing but searching for food and water; but when she is sitting on her eggs, if she only eats once in two or three days, the fifteen or twenty eggs will hatch. But if she goes looking for food or drink two or three times a day, then only four or five eggs will hatch and the rest will rot. How can it be easy?

“Moreover, when you are raising the hua-t’ou to your attention it must be like the tuning of a lyre: if it is too loose, the string will not sound, but if it is too tight, the string breaks. But when the string is neither too loose nor too tight, then the harmony of the sound will be startling. Meditation is just the same: it is essential that you find the proper balance, and then it will be as natural as it is to wipe your nose when you wash in the morning, or as it is for waves to subside when the wind quietens.

“Do not sigh that it is the degenerate age. It is not that you cannot do it; it’s that you don’t do it. A poem says:

“One note of the pure sound pervades the ten directions>
The white stork descends from the dark clouds
into the mountain hall.
We follow the stream and reach the marvel,
We are sitting deeply absorbed:
All things and each object are as diamond.

“Take care of yourselves!” The Master struck his staff three times on the high seat and descended.
 
Third Lecture

From the high seat Master Ku San said, “In this matter (of awakening to the self-nature and attaining Buddhahood) you do not rely on another’s strength but rather solely on your own painstaking efforts. May the assembly please speak! Have you reached ‘this’ yet or not? If you haven’t yet reached it, then whose fault is it?”

After a pause he said, “Only if you pluck the eyebrows of a living tiger, and seize the whiskers of a flying dragon will you reach it. A gatha says:

“Burning the body and crushing the bones
Is really for your own benefit.
Become exactly like dry wood or cold ashes.
If in this life you don’t follow this instruction,
You will regret it for ten thousand kalpas?
Then to whom can you complain?

“When cultivating meditation you should be endowed with three essentials. First, great anger: the Buddhas and Patriarchs of the three time periods have all said, though with different lips, that mind, Buddha and sentient beings are indistinguishable; but you are still sentient beings. So how can you not but give rise to a mind of great anger? Second, great ardor: since beginningless time you have regarded the six conciousnesses as ‘I’, and turning your back on enlightenment, have united with the dust of the world. Who prevents you from becoming a Buddha? Since you still wander through birth and death, how can you not give rise to great ardor? Third, the feeling of great doubt: when the Buddhas, Patriarchs, and enlightened masters give rise to a mind of great compassion and ferry across sentient beings, they directly point out the right way. However you are lost along that way. Therefore you cannot but produce the feeling of great doubt. The ancients said, ‘Under great doubt there must be great awakening.’ If you don’t awaken now, you will regret it for ten thousand kalpas.” A poem says:

“The mandarin ducks might be able to show you their embroidery, but they couldn’t give their golden (embroidery) needle to anyone else. In the lion’s den there are no other wild animals. When a dragon-stallion gallops the waves strike the heavens.”

“Take care!” The Master then descended from the high seat.
 
Fourth Lecture

The Master mounted the platform, struck his staff three times, and said, “Because of this one great matter (of awakening), this assembly present here now came together for this retreat on the fifteenth of the fourth month. Now, after this short period, we have arrived at the half-way point. Have you been able to understand this matter yet? If you still have not understood ? well, the time is passing and will never come again. The current of time does not wait for men. The significance of birth and death is great, and impermanence is fast closing in. how can you be heedless? If you are heedless, then your bowl of rice is worth one bowl of blood, and one article of clothing is worth one pound of flesh. Who can repay your debt for the gift of the four requisites?”

“Mok-u-ja said, ‘A sentient being is one who is deluded in regards to the One Mind, and receives boundless suffering. The Buddhas are those who have awakened to the One Mind, and receive boundless happiness.’ Isn’t it really only up to you whether you become a Buddha or remain a sentient being? May any of you monks endowed with the Dharma-eye speak! What is that mind which is neither awakened nor deluded?” After a pause he shouted and said, “If you don’t abide where there are Buddhas, but quickly run past that place where there are no Buddhas and in all circumstances conform with wisdom, then you will understand.” A poem says:

“The dharmadhatu of the ten directions is the One Mind. They myriads of phenomena in the universe are the functioning of the sacred sword-blade. The water falling from a sheer cliff splashes back up. From the window of my mountain abode, the early morning orioles sing amidst the green trees.”

“The Dharma-nature is perfectly interfused. Although it is devoid of duality in its sublime functioning, in the One there is everything, and in everything there is the One. For this reason, eastern and western cultures are interacting with each other these days; it is certainly a good period. However, as far as the objective of my sect is concerned, even if the whole world were transformed into pure gold, it would not be precious to me. On one hand we shouldn’t grasp at highly developed technology and skills, but on the other hand we should not foolishly endure the austerities of underdevelopment. Do not follow after conditions, but break the lacquer barrel and transcend the triple world. If thereby you become a teacher of gods and men, you will be a lion with horns. At such a time, the four billion people of the world would be as one. As you would have realized the great truth of the universe and cut off all relativity, how could you not but be in bliss?”

“You should remain alert and give rise to the doubt on your original kung-an as if you were trying to save your head from burning, or as if you were a baby longing for his mother’s milk. Don’t be heedless!”

“Gold dust is precious until it gets in your eyes ? then it is only dust. What could be compared with realizing the Dharma of Emptiness, and suddenly returning to the Truth? East and West sit together discussing absolute and phenomenal. The four wisdoms and the triple body transcend both host and guest.”

The Master struck his staff three times and descended from the platform.
 
Fifth Lecture

Addressing the monks from the High Seat the Master said, “The Tao is nothing special. Over your head you carry the blue heavens. With your feet you tread the great earth. When you open your eyes you see the sun. And yet still you tire your legs with long sittings. All you monks gathered here! Do you understand? Let anyone who is endowed with the Dharma-eye speak. What is the Tao?”

After a pause he shouted and said, “The still brightness of this precious three-foot sword (of wisdom) is dazzling. (The worlds of) the ten directions are before my eyes; one instant of thought is ten thousand years. Do you understand? If you understand, then whenever you turn your body or move your thoughts, it is all the sublime functioning (of the True-mind). However, if entangled in externals you give rise to thoughts, then not only when you are discriminating between right and wrong but actually whenever you even raise your hands or step forward; it is all a malfunctioning of the mind.” A poem says:

“The Great Way is without a gate, it has no entrance or exit. The Dharma-realm of the ten directions is in front of your eyes. The true face which embraces everything equally, produces ever new merits in the flow of life.”

“Now I will give some superfluous explanations. Once long ago Ts’ao-shan told a monk, ‘The true Dharmakaya of the Buddha is like empty space. Its manifestation of form in objects resembles the moon in the water. How do you explain this responsiveness?’”

The monk said, “It is like a donkey looking down a well.”
Ts’ao-shan replied, “By speaking about it, you completely kill the Tao. Anyway, your answer only expresses eight-tenths of it.”
The monk asked, “How about you, Venerable?”
Ts’ao-shan replied, “It is like a well looking at a donkey.”

Fa-chen’s poem says:

“Manifesting form in material objects resembles the moon in water. You should know that in this responsiveness there are no feelings involved. Finally, the donkey looking into a well is a difficult analogy. How can a well looking at a donkey be fully ten parts of ten?”

“Today this mountain monk is not of the same opinion. My poem says”:

“In the Great Perfect Mirror there is no discrimination. In manifesting forms in external objects, it leaves no traces. A donkey is looking at a donkey; a well is looking at a well. Of all the dusty sense-objects in the dharmadhatu, there isn’t a single one that is not the ultimate.”

“Do you understand? Be careful!”

The Master struck his staff and descended from the platform.
 
Sixth Lecture

The Master ascended the High Seat, struck his staff three times and said, “Everyone has a native homeland; have any of you reached it yet? If you have not yet reached it, then this world is a road which you will never come to the end of. How could you delight in it?” After a pause the Master raised his staff, struck it once and said, “If you wish to reach it you should know that your will must be established just as if you were willing to brave pulling out a tiger’s eyebrows; your spirit must be firm as if you were willing to brave grabbing a flying dragon’s beard. Only then will you reach it.” A poem says:

“The snow has stopped, the clouds have dispersed, and the north wind is cold. The pines and cypresses flourish, and fill all the mountains in the four directions. When within one’s words there is no speech, then that is to speak in accordance with Dharma. Birds enter the forest to sleep and in the morning happily go back out.”

Ling Chuan asked Su Shan, “When flowers bloom on a withered tree it is in accordance with that. Is this a sentence of ‘this side’ or ‘that side’?”

Master Su Shan replied, “That is a sentence of ‘this side.’”

Ling Chuan asked, “What is a sentence of ‘that side?’”

Su Shan replied, “The stone bull exhales the breath of spring. The sacred sparrow doesn’t roost in a shadowless tree.”

Tan Hsia Chun’s poem says:

“When there is no wind over the wide sea, the waves are calmed. When the mist disappears, the water is placid and contains the moon. One bad of cool moonlight ? when we look at it, it is unlimited. Who can distinguish the dragon who has left his bones in its center?”

“Should I have been there when Ling Chuan asked for a sentence of ‘that side,’ I would have said”:

“Cold ashes produce flames and nothing is left unburned. The rock endowed with eyes sees beyond worldly things. In the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom the ten thousand images are all empty. Spring within the green bamboo and evergreen pines is beyond kalpas of time.”

The Master struck his staff and descended from the High Seat.
 
Last Lecture

Addressing the monks, the Master said, “Today in all the monasteries throughout the country it is Free Season. Actually if this were really the case, you should have already understood the matter with which we are concerned. Monks in this assembly! Tell me one word. What is it?”

After a pause he shouted and said, “If with one kick you can overturn heaven and earth, and with your hand touch the sun and the moon, then you will know. But if you say that you haven’t yet reached it, then how can you speak in terms of Free Season? Rather, you should increase your efforts and continually refine your practice. Be like an incense burner in an old shrine and remain indifferent to the outer environment. Great enlightenment is your aim; you should not act wrongly or transgress propriety. Rather investigate your basic kung-an.” A poem says:

“In one though you trace back the light (of the mind) and see your self-nature. Immeasurable sublime wisdom is then freely put into use. Originally there are no defilements and the stream of passion is pure. Beneath the moon I calmly play my bamboo flute.”

Once Yun-men asked Ts’ao-shan, “What is the practice of the sramana?”

Master Ts’ao-shan answered, “He eats the ordinary monastery rice.”

Yun-men asked, “What is that like then?”

The Master said, “Can you store it?”

Yun-men answered, “What is so difficult about wearing clothes or eating rice?”

The Master asked, “Why don’t you talk about wearing fur and donning horns?”

Yun-men bowed.

“Quoting this dialogue Yun-men Kao said, ‘With such questions and answers these two venerables cannot hope to avoid making plans for their future lives from inside the womb of a donkey or the belly of a horse. Nevertheless, when a dog carries a writ, all the feudal lords should keep off the road.’”

“I, Ku San, am not of the same opinion. If someone were to ask me what the duty of the sramana is, I would prefer to say, ‘The foam of the ocean vanishes; you go here and there freely.’” A poem says:

“Once you arrive at the heaven within heaven, you see the chiliocosm before your eyes. When you are unmoving amidst the eight worldly winds, everywhere you sit is a golden lotus.”

Concluding, the Master descended.
 

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