Zen (Ch’an) Master Hui Hai: Q. What method must we practice in order to attain liberation?

 

dazhu_huihai

Hui Hai was one of the great Ch’an (Zen) masters from the 8th Century CE. This excerpt is taken from Hui Hai’s Text on the Importance of Sudden Enlightenment, Dialogue 2:

Question: what method must we practice in order to attain liberation?

Answer: It can be attained only through the gate of sudden illumination (or sudden enlightenment).

Q: What is a sudden illumination?

A: ‘Sudden’ means instantaneously ridding yourselves of deluded thoughts’. ‘Illumination’ or ‘Enlightenment’ means the realisation that illumination is not something to be attained.

[Tom – This can also be translated as ‘Enlightenment’ means the realisation there is no ‘Enlightenment’ to attain, there is nothing to attain’. Compare this with : ‘The benefit of this Light of Supreme Truth is the understanding that there is not the least thing such as ‘attainment’, since the Supreme Self is the Ever-Attained One Whole.’ Sri Ramana Maharshi,Guru Vachaka Kovai, Verse 8]

Q: From where do we start this practice?

A: You must start from the the beginning, the fundamental root.

Q: And what is that?

A: Mind is the fundamental root.

Q: How can this be known?

A: The Lankavatara Sutra says:

‘When mental processes (hsin) arise, then do all phenomena (dharmas) spring forth; and when mental processes cease, then do all dharmas cease likewise.’

[Tom – compare: ‘If the ego rises, all else will also rise; if it subsides all else will also subside.’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?]

The Vimalakirti Sutra says:

‘Those desiring to attain the Pure Land’ must first purify their own minds, for the purification of mind is the purity of the Buddha Land.’

The Sutra of the Doctrine Bequeathed by the Buddha says:

‘Just by mind control, all things become possible.’

[Tom – compare: ‘If only the mind is kept under control, what matters it where one may happen to be?’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?‘]

In another sutra it says:

‘Sages seek from [their own] mind, not from the Buddhas; fools seek from the Buddhas instead of seeking from [their own] mind.’

and

‘The Wise regulate their minds rather than their body; fools regulate their body rather than their minds.’

The Sutra of the Names of the Buddha states:

‘Evil/sin springs forth from the mind, and by the mind is evil/sin overcome.’

[Tom – compare ‘…man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and Liberation too is caused by that alone.’ Shankara, Vivekachudamani verse 172]

Thus, we may know that all good and evil proceed from our minds and that mind is therefore the fundamental root. If you desire liberation, you must first know all about the root, mind. Unless you can penetrate to this truth, all your efforts will be vain; for, while you are still seeking something from forms external to yourselves, you will never attain.

The Dhyana Paramita Sutra says:

‘For as long as you direct your search to the forms around you, you will not attain your goal even after aeon upon aeon; whereas, by contemplating your inner awareness, you can achieve Buddhahood in a single flash of thought.’

[Tom – compare: ‘Let people quote the Scriptures and sacrifice to the gods, let them perform rituals and worship the deities, but there is no Liberation without the realisation of one’s identity with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put together.’ Shankara, Vivekachudamani verse 6]

Q: By what means is the root-practice to be performed?

A: Only by sitting in meditation, for it is accomplished by Dhyana (Ch’an) and Samadhi (Ting). The Dhyana-Paramita Sutra says:

‘Dhyana and Samadhi are essential to the search for the sacred knowledge of the Buddhas; for, without these, the deluded thoughts remain in confusion and tumult, and the roots of goodness suffer damage.’

Q: Please describe Dhyana and Samadhi.

A: When wrong thinking does not arise, that is Dhyana.

When you sit and see your original nature, that is Samadhi, for indeed that original nature is your eternal unborn mind. In Samadhi, there is the natural situational response of no-mind, and the ‘eight winds’ do not function.

The ‘eight winds’ are gain and loss, calumny and eulogy, praise and blame, sorrow and joy. By practising in this way, even ordinary people may enter the state of Buddhahood. How can that be so? The Sutra of the Bodhisattva-Precepts says:

‘All beings who observe the Buddha-precept thereby enter Buddhahood.’

There are those who in this way have crossed over to the other shore and attained liberation, transcending the six rafts (the six Paramitas), and freeing themselves from the three worlds (greed, anger and delusion). The great power of the ‘Enlightened Ones’ is the infinite power of the Honoured, the Courageous, the ‘Conqueror’!

Some pointers for you from this week’s Satsang

We had a wonderful satsang on Thursday here in the UK. Thank you for those who attended. The teachings I share are not scripted, and I do not really have any fixed teachings of my own, so it is always interesting to me what teachings arise from ‘Tom’s mouth’ through the interaction of seeking energy with non-seeking energy.

Here are some points we discussed and some reflections that I hope you don’t mind if I share with you:

1. Most of the popular spirituality that is on the scene is that which benefits the ‘me’ – ie. it makes the ‘me’ happier and makes the me’s life easier. This is also known as self-improvement, self here referring to the limited identity as body-mind. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this – in fact it is actually quite good – this type of spirituality is limited in that it does not ultimately liberate.

Most of us in the group noted that we all spent a period of time in self-help type activities and we indeed found them helpful, and sometimes still do, but there was a point beyond which self-help was no longer helpful in easing our suffering. So, we left that paradigm behind and eventually stumbled onto non-duality and non-dual teachings/presentations which tackle the cause of suffering at its very root.

2. Teachings that are formulaic are for the ego, at least initially, and these are the ones that are easiest to comprehend and spread ‘en mass’, eg. we can create workshops and write books and teach others easily using formulaic methods. Again, without a genuine insight, these teachings alone do not ultimately liberate.

3. All teachings are eventually to be cast aside, otherwise we are bound to the teaching we carry around with us, and this itself becomes a subtle burden and perpetuates the ‘me’ or ignorance and the resultant suffering continues.

4. Are we not all seeking a deep sense of peace? Or a deep sense of fulfilment in which we are no longer burdened with the travails of life?

5. Do we not, each and every night, find this deep lasting peace in deep dreamless sleep, albeit unconsciously?

6. What does this teach us about the nature of peace and suffering?

7. When the egoic mind is no longer active, peace is all there is.

8. Teachings about awareness and consciousness can be very useful and liberating – but only to a point – these too are dualistic concepts that must be cast aside for liberation to be complete.

9. The mind, which is egoic thought, convinces us that the mind is required for our survival. But is this true?

10. It can be seen directly at some point that this ‘me’ which feels and thinks it is needed to survive is actually an addition that is not required at all. It is fear-based and causes suffering.

11. When the ‘me’ is no longer here, then all division and duality ceases. There is only Oneness. Even this concept of Oneness can be a hurdle – even the concept of Oneness is too complex – it also needs to be let go of when the time is right.

12. Trying to get this is more ‘me’, a subtle form of greed and fear which is trying to make life better for the ‘me’, just like point (1)

13. What is there to say? Can this and need this be put into words at all?

14. ……..

LOVE & SURRENDER

Never underestimate the importance of surrender or letting go of the ‘me’. It is the same as meditation or being still. It is something that is the natural result of insight into non-duality/no separation and is not something you have to necessarily do, although it may start off that way. It takes us to Love, total and ordinary Love. ❤

We could say that if you are doing surrender in order to become enlightened then that is more ‘me’ or egotism. It is totally fine to do this btw. However surrender naturally results when this ‘me’ and the control me neurotically tries to exert is seen/felt/realised to be totally unnecessary and therefore the ‘me’ is non-conceptually/non-verbally realised to be a waste of energy.

Many staunch non-dualists do not advocate surrender, as who or what is there to do the surrendering? I totally agree!

And yet never underestimate the value of surrender!

😂😂

When the heart is open, even slightly, it is easy to sense those teachers whose hearts are not fully open, whose hearts remain resistant to the naturally purifying effect of love, whose minds cling on to the ‘me’, and in whom the me energy (ie. egoic vasanas) continues despite their words saying otherwise.

❤🙏❤

TRUTH!

None of my words are really true, and neither are any of your words either, not when it comes to ‘Non-duality’. This is not ultimately about having the right concepts or having an accurate description of the ways things ‘really’ are, thankfully.

It is much simpler than that, and from the vantage point of the dualistic mind, much more radical too.

There is just an energetic pointing to a total freedom which can never be encapsulated solely by words, but words may be used (apparently) nonetheless.

It simply is ‘what is’.

Chan (Zen) Master Huang Po: How is it possible to develop the Supreme-Enlightenment Mind?

Huang Po Zen Teachings

Question: How is it possible to develop the Supreme-Enlightenment Mind?

Huang Po: Bodhi [enlightenment or enlightened mind]* means nothing to attain. Even now, just as you allow thought to arise, you get nothing. Thus, realising that there is absolutely nothing to attain is the Bodhi Mind.

The realisation that there is nowhere to abide and nothing to attain is the Bodhi.

Therefore, Shakyamuni Buddha [the original Buddha, also known as Gautama Buddha] said ‘…there was really no Dharma [teaching or method] by means of which the Tathagata [the Buddha] attained Supreme Enlightenment…’

*[Tom – square bracket comments added by me]

Almost got it?

mike

If you have found a spiritual or non-dual teaching that makes sense for you, or if you think you have ‘almost got it now’, know that it is way off the mark! This doesn’t make sense! 😂 Non-duality or advaita doesn’t make sense! Liberation or enlightenment doesn’t make sense! It cannot be understood!

What’s more – no learning is required. It just is! It is everything. It is ‘what is’. And ‘what is’ works all by itself without need for a ‘me’ or ‘you’. Simply THIS in its totality, beyond all concepts and including all concepts.

But words, even the most precise and wonderfully erudite words, may only give a flavour, an indication of what they are pointing to.

You CAN get quite a good conceptual understanding of liberation- eg. just THIS, as it is, empty of belief in separation/me/subject-object, empty of the personal stories, but allowing everything/all without exclusion (you can substitute in your own personal understanding of non-duality or liberation here if you like).

But the words and concepts are not it – they are never it. They are (initially at least) for the illusory ‘me’ that believes it lives in time and space and has free will. The ‘me’ now thinks it understands, and this conceptual understanding allows the perpetuation of this illusory ‘me’ as well as the concomitant suffering.

…yes, where the ‘me’ is, suffering follows…

There may, however, and apparently, be a ‘transmission’ beyond the words…’one Guru enlightening another Guru’ (not that there are really two)…and the ‘me’ may totally and completely collapse…it is Mystery…it is Grace in Action…what is left cannot be understood at all! It is Self-Celebrating and it doesn’t need to be understood.

…but, paradoxically, there is also no need for any transmission, no need for any collapse, no need for a ‘moment’ – for THIS cannot go anywhere or be lost – it is already whole and unfractured – it is already complete and not lacking a single thing – it has never been lost, and always IS whatever IS.

(How can you lose ‘whatever is’?)