Daily Zen Journal for the Month of June – Inner Constancy

New Age Comments & Graphics

On The Way

Inner Constancy

Tao-shin (580-651)

Those who “maintain unified-mindfulness without deviation”  use the eye which is empty and pure to fix the mind on seeing one thing  constantly day and night without interruption, exclusively and zealously  without moving. When the mind is about to gallop off, a quick hand still  gathers it in, like a cord tied to the foot of a bird still controls and holds  onto it when it wants to fly.  Throughout  the whole day seeing has not been abandoned, disturbance is eliminated and the  mind itself is settled.  The Vimalakirti  Sutra says:  “The mind which is collected  is the place of enlightenment.”

This is the method of collecting the mind.

The Lotus Sutra says: “For innumerable kalpas of time up to  now through eliminating drowsiness and always collecting your thoughts, and by  using all the various merits, you are able to attain various meditative  states.”  The I chiao ching says:  “Consider the mind as the lord of the other  five sense organs; fixing it in one place there is nothing you cannot do.”  That’s it!

True principles of the Great Vehicle:

“Briefly, I suggest that overall  there are five principles:

1. Know the essence of the  mind.  The essential nature is pure. The  essence is the same as the Buddha.

2.   Know the function of the mind.  It  functions to give rise to the jewel of the Dharma.  It is always productive but constantly  tranquil.  The 10,000 delusions are all  like this.

3. Constant awakening is  unceasing.  The awakening mind is always  present.  The teaching of this awakening  is without form.

4.   Always view the body as empty and tranquil.  Inside and outside of yourself are  transparent to each other. Your body enters into the center of Ultimate  Reality.  There never have been any  obstacles.

5.   Maintain unified-mindfulness without deviation.  Both movement and stillness constantly  remain.  Those practitioners are able to  clearly see their Buddha Nature and enter into the gate of meditation without  delay.”

All are based on that which is  stated in the scriptures and commentaries, and none are false teachings  contrary to the truth.  This is not the  activity of illusion but is the ultimate truth.

Transcending the Sravaka stage, one immediately advances  quickly along the path of a Bodhisattva.   Those who hear these teachings should practice and not have any  doubts.  Like a man who is studying  archery, first he shoots with great license, but then he hits the bulls-eye  with a small leeway of error.  First he  hits something big, next he hits something small, then he hits a hair, and then  he divides a hair into 100 parts and hits one hundredth of a hair.

Next, the last arrow hits the end of the previous arrow shot  into the air.  A succession of arrows do  not allow the previous arrows to drop to the ground.  It is like a man who practices the Way.  Moment after moment he dwells in his  mind.  Thought after thought continuously  without even a short interval in awareness; he practices correct awareness  without interruption and correct awareness in the present.

As the Prajna-paramita Sutra says:  “Use the arrow of wisdom to hit the three  gates of liberation and by a regular succession of arrows do not allow them to  fall to the ground.”

Also, like fire produced by friction, before it is hot one  gets tired and stops.  Although one wants  to start a fire, the fire is difficult to get.

It is also like the wish-granting jewel which a family  had.  There was nothing which they wanted  that they didn’t get, but suddenly their heritage, the gem, was lost.  Thus, there never was an instant when their  thoughts forgot about it.

It is like a poisoned arrow piercing the flesh.  The shaft is out, but the barb is deep  inside.  In this manner you receive  severe pain, and there is no instant when you can forget it. Moment after  moment it is on your mind.  Your state of  contemplation is to be considered just like this.

This teaching is profound and significant.  I do not transmit it to unsuitable  people.  It is not because I am miserly  about the Dharma that I do not transmit it to them, but only for fear that the  above-mentioned people will not believe but will fall into the error of  slandering the Dharma.  One must select  people in order to avoid taking a chance of speaking hastily.  Be careful!   Be careful!

Although the sea of the Dharma is unlimited, in actual  practice it is contained in a single word.   When you get the idea, you can dispense with words, for then even one  word is useless.  When you understand  completely in this way, you have obtained the mind of the Buddha.

When you are first beginning to practice sitting meditation,  dwell in a quiet place and directly contemplate your body and mind.  You should contemplate the four elements and  the five skandhas, the six sense organs (the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and  mind), and the three poisons of desire, anger, and delusion, whether they are  good or evil, whether they are enemies or allies, whether they are profane or  sacred, and so on through all the various items of existence.  From the very beginning they are  non-substantial and tranquil, neither arising nor disappearing, being equal and  non-dual.  From the very beginning they  have never existed, but ultimately are utterly tranquil.  From the very beginning they are totally pure  and free.

Without any interval both day and night, whether walking,  staying, sitting or lying down, always practice this contemplation.  Then instantly you will understand that your  own body is like the moon reflected in the water, or like an image in a mirror,  or like the air in the hot summer, or like an echo in an empty valley.  If you say these exist, everywhere you look  you are not able to see them.  If you say  these do not exist, then you completely understand that they always are in  front of your eyes.  The Dharma body of  all the various Buddhas is just like this.   This means you should understand that your own body from an unlimited  number of ages ago ultimately has never been born, and from the present and  forever, there is absolutely nobody who dies.

If you are able to constantly practice this contemplation,  then this is repentance in accord with true reality.  The most extreme forms of evil karma  accumulated during a thousand or ten thousand kalpas are utterly destroyed  spontaneously.  Only those with doubt who  are not able to develop faith are excluded and are not able to achieve  enlightenment.  If one develops faith  based on this practice, there is no one who cannot achieve entrance into the  uncreated correct truth of reality.

And again, if your mind attaches itself to devious phenomena  when sitting in meditation, the moment  you realize this occurring then immediately  concentrate on the fact that the place where it arises ultimately does not come  into being.  When this mind does begin to  attach itself, it does not come from any place in the ten directions, and when  it goes there is no place at which it arrives.   Constantly watch any clinging to objectified phenomena, or any  conceptualizing, or any false thinking, or scattered ideas.  If this chaotic mind does not arise, it means  that you calm down those coarse mental activities.

If you achieve a calm mind and do not have the mind which  clings to objectified phenomena, then your mind gradually becomes tranquil and  stable and step by step eliminates the various passions.  Therefore, you finally do not create new  illusions, and it can be said that you are free.  When you notice that your mind is becoming  tied up with passions or sad and depressed and falling into a mental stupor,  then you should immediately shake this off and readjust yourself.  Very slowly things will become orderly.  Now, having attained this, the mind  spontaneously becomes calm and pure, but you must be fiercely alert as if to  save your life.  Don’t be negligent.  Work hard! Work hard!

When you first begin practicing sitting meditation and  viewing the mind, go off by yourself and sit in one place.  First make your body erect and sit  correctly.  Make your clothes roomy and  loosen your belt.  Relax your body and  loosen your limbs.  Massage yourself  seven or eight times.  Expel completely  the air in your belly.  Through the  natural flow you will obtain your true nature, clear and empty of desire, quiet  and pure.  The body and mind being  harmonized, the spirit is able to be peaceful.   Then obscure and mysterious, the inner breath is clear and cool.  Slowly, slowly, you collect the mind and your  spiritual path becomes clear and keen.

The state of the mind is lucid and pure.  As contemplation becomes increasingly lucid,  and inner and outer become empty and pure, the nature of your mind becomes  utterly tranquil.  The manifestation of  the awakened mind is utterly just like this.

Although the nature of your awakened mind has no form, inner  constancy always exists.  The mysterious  spiritual power is never exhausted but always shines clearly.  This is called your Buddha-nature.  Those who see their Buddha-nature are forever  free from the stream of birth and death, and are called “people who have  transcended the world.”  The Vimalakirti  Sutra says:  “Suddenly you regain the  original mind.”  Believe these words!

Those who awaken to their Buddha-nature are called  Bodhisattvas.  They are also call “people  awakened to the Way”, “people conscious of the Truth”, “people who arrived”,  and “people who have obtained their true nature.”  Therefore the scripture says that “The  succession of time is endless for the spirit that becomes colored by a single  true phrase.”  This is an expedient aid,  for those who are just beginning practice.   Therefore, you should know that the cultivation of the Way involves  using expedient aids, and that this is the very place for the awakened mind to  be manifest.

Generally, in the practice of giving up attachment to your  self, you should first of all calm and empty your mind in order to cause your  mental phenomena to become tranquil and pure.   When thinking is allowed to settle, it is mysterious and tranquil and  causes the mind not to deviate.  When the  nature of the mind is tranquil and settled, clinging to conditioned phenomena  is immediately cut off.  Being elusive  and hidden, the completely pure mind is vacant, so that there is a still and  peaceful calm.  As the breath is  exhausted in death of this present life, you receive no further rebirths but  dwell in the utterly pure body of ultimate reality.  But if you produce a mind which loses  mindfulness, rebirth is unavoidable.  The  method of attaining the mental state prior to Samadhi which we have just  described should be like this.

This is our method of cultivation.  The basis of our method is no-method.  The method of no-method was from the  beginning called the method.  This  method, therefore, is not to be cultivated.    Thus, the method of non-cultivation is the true method of reality.  This is based on the scripture which  says:  “Non-substantiality,  non-cultivation, non-vowing and non-form is true liberation.”  Therefore, based on this interpretation the  real method is not produced by cultivation.

As for the method of giving up attachment to yourself, it  means that while temporarily imagining there is a real body, you see the lucid  state of your mental condition, and then use this spiritual lucidity to  determine things.

The Teachings of the Fourth Chan Patriarch Tao-shin  (580-651)

David Chappell

Early Ch’an in China  and Tibet

*

This is a teaching vast in scope, covering the beginning,  middle, and end of practice.  Stunning to  see the dates of the writing and to feel a deep connection with something so  ancient/contemporary!  With each reading  new insights jump out, and Master Tao-shin holds no secret teachings back from  us.  He is at once clear for a beginner  and very encouraging to those who seem stuck in practice and a bit  discouraged.  This teaching bears up to  continued contemplation.

“When the mind is  about to gallop off, a quick hand still gathers it in”

Like riding a horse who wants to run away with us, we  are tuned into the tendency and catch the intention before the action  manifests, thus drawing in the energy before the full blown run has had a  chance to take off. This is truly the ongoing practice of a lifetime.  And what attention this actually takes!

 “If you achieve a calm mind and do not have the mind which clings to  objectified phenomena, then your mind gradually becomes tranquil and stable and  step by step eliminates the various passions.   Therefore, you finally do not create new illusions, and it can be said  that you are free.  When you notice that  your mind is becoming tied up with passions or sad and depressed and falling  into a mental stupor, then you should immediately shake this off and readjust  yourself.”

Once we recognize our error, we “pick ourselves up, dust  ourselves off, and start all over again.”   We don’t give in to the distractions that pull us in every direction;  for a while we may get caught up, but once we notice, then it’s time to return  to our center point.

“Generally, in the  practice of giving up attachment to your self, you should first of all calm and  empty your mind in order to cause your mental phenomena to become tranquil and  pure.”

Attachment to self seems to be the root of our suffering  here.  We need just enough to maintain  our practice and survival needs, but not so much that we believe everything we  think or feel as real.  We need that  right amount to feel compassion for others and ourselves, but not so much that  we get lost and lose our Way.

Blooming together,

Elana

 

~Magickal Graphics~

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