What is the essence of enlightenment?
I. How to practice and achieve enlightenment
As to the causes and conditions of this Great Cause, [this Buddha nature ] is inherent in everyone; as such, it is already full inside of you, without a single defect. The difficulty is that from the beginningless times the seeds of passion, darkenedthinking, emotional representations and deep-seated habitual addictions obscured this wonderful radiance.
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You can not truly realize it because you stumbled around in the remains of the clouded thoughts of the body, mind and world, opposing and thinking [about that and this]. Therefore, you wandered in a cycle of births and deaths [endlessly]. And yet all the Buddhas and the ancient Masters appeared in the world, using countless words and suitable methods to expound Ch’an and clarify the teaching. By following the different dispositions of [sentient beings] and agreeing with them, all these suitable means are like tools for crushing our mind of clinging, for realizing that there is not originally a real materiality of “dharmas” or [feelings] “I”.
What is usually known as practice means simply to be in harmony with [any state of] the mind in which you are to purify and leave the darkened thoughts and traces of your habitual inclinations. To make efforts to this is what practice is called. If, for a single moment, the clouded thinking suddenly ceases, [then you] deeply perceive your own mind and realize that it is vast and open, bright and radiant – essentially perfect and complete. This state, originally pure, devoid of a single thing, is called enlightenment. Apart from this mind, there is no such thing as cultivation or enlightenment. The essence of your mind is like a mirror, and all traces of clouded thoughts and clinging to conditions are dust that pollutes the mind. Your idea of phenomena is such a dust, and your emotional consciousness is pollution. If all the clouded thoughts are melted, the inner essence will unfold according to itself. It’s like if the dirt is erased, its clarity returns to the mirror. Similarly, with the Dharma.
However, our habits, pollution and self-grasping, accumulated over the eons, hardened and deeply rooted. Fortunately, thanks to the condition of leading a good spiritual friend , our inner prajna as a cause can influence our being so that this inner prajna can expand. Realizing that [prajna] is intrinsic to us, we can awaken the mind [Bodhi ] and direct our path to aspiration to leave the [circulating existence] of birth and death . This task, uproot the roots of birth and death – accumulated for countless eons- all at once, this is a delicate matter. If you are not one who has a great fortress and ability, brave enough to take such a burden and cut straight [to this] without the slightest hesitation, then [this task] will be extremely difficult. As the ancient [mentor] said: “This is a matter of how one can oppose ten thousand enemies.” These are not false words.
II. Entering practice and enlightenment
Generally speaking, in this age-ending-Dharma, more than those people who practice than those who actually exercise. More than those who spend their energies than those who gain strength. Why is that? They do not exert their efforts directly and do not know the way straight. Instead, many simply fill their minds with past knowledge of words and language based on what they have heard, or they measure things with their emotional differences, or they suppress the clouded thoughts, or they turn their heads, astonished at the visions of the gates of their senses. These people linger on the words of the ancients in their minds, and take them for truth. Moreover, they cling to these words as for their own view. They know little about the fact that all this does not bring the slightest benefit. This is what is called “clinging to someone else’s understanding and clouding their own entrance to enlightenment.”
In order to practice, you must first separate knowledge and understanding, and with one mind put all your efforts to one thought. Be firmly convinced of your own [true] mind that initially it is pure and clear, without the slightest delaying thing – it is bright, perfect and permeates the entire Dharmadhatu. By the inner essence, there is no body, mind or world, and there are no overshadowed thoughts and emotional representations. Right at this moment, this one thought – itself is not born! Everything that is shown to you now is illusory and insubstantial, all these are reflections cast by the true mind. Work in such a way as to overwhelm [all your clouded thoughts]. You should fix [your mind] on seeing where thoughts come from and where they stop. If you practice this way, it does not matter which kinds of clouded thoughts arise – one blow, and they will all be smashed to smithereens. All will dissolve and disappear away. You should never follow darkened thoughts or continue them. Master Yongjiaadvised: “It is necessary to chop off the mind [hungry] of continuation.” This is because the illusory mind of obscuration does not initially have roots. You should never take a sullen thought for reality and try to hold on to it in your heart. As soon as it arises, notice it right away. When you notice her, she flies away. Never try to suppress thoughts, but let your thoughts be, as you look at the pumpkin floating on the water.
Put aside your body, mind and world, and just bring forward (create) this one thought [method], like a sword piercing the heavens. Whenever the Buddha or Mara appears, just cut them out like a lump of tangled silk thread. Use all your efforts and power patiently, promoting your mind to the very end. What is known as “the mind supporting the right thought of true tacos ” means that the right thought is a non-thought. If you are able to contemplate a non-thought, then you are already heading towards the wisdom of the Buddhas.
To those who practice and have recently given birth to the mind [Bodhi], one must be convinced of the teachings of the mind alone. The Buddha said:
The whole Buddhadharma is only a further description of these two lines, so that everyone can discern, understand and generate faith in this reality. Passages of the sacred and philistine are only ways of defilement and awakening in your mind. Beyond the mind, all karmasVirtues and vice are unattainable. Your [inner, essential] nature is wonderful. It’s something natural and spontaneous, and not something that you can “enlighten” [because it’s natural you have]. So, what is there, what can be mistaken (clouded)? Delusion refers only to your unconsciousness of the fact that your mind, by its very nature, does not have a single thing, and that the body, mind and world are initially empty. Since you are obstructed, therefore there is a defilement (delusion). You have always accepted the mind of overshadowed thinking, which constantly comes and goes, for reality. For the same reason, you also take for reality different illusory transformations and appearances from the worlds of the six senses. If today you want to awaken your mind and head off [from there], and follow the highest road, then you should throw aside all your past glances and understandings. Here, not a single iota of mental knowledge or sharpness will do any good. You must only see through the body, mind and the world that appear before you, and realize that they are all impotent. Like imaginary reflections – they are the same images in the mirror or the moon reflected in the water. Listen to all sounds and voices like the wind passing through the forest; perceive all objects as clouds floating in the sky. Everything is in a constant flow; everything is illusory and insubstantial. Not only the outside world is like that, but your own overshadowed thoughts, emotional differences of the mind, and all the seeds of passion, habitual inclinations, as well as all anxieties, are also groundless and insubstantial.
If you can so engage in contemplation, then whatever the thought appears, you will find its source. Never let it accidentally slip past you [without looking through it]. Do not be deceived by her! If you work this way, then you do a real practice. Do not try to collect any abstract and intellectual views on it, do not try to work out some kind of shared understanding about it. Even just talking about practice is truly an extreme case. For example, when using a weapon, it is in fact not a favorable object. But it is used as a last resort [in battles]. The ancients spoke of the study of Ch’an and the bringing forward of the Huatou . This is also the last resort. Although there are innumerable koans, only using the huatou “Who says the name of the Buddha?”, you can get power from him quite easily among troubled situations. And although you can easily get power out of it, [it’s huatou] – it’s just [broken] shingles to knock on the door. In the end, you have to throw it away. Yet while you must use it. If you are going to use the huatou for your practice, you must have faith, unshakable firmness and perseverance. You should not have the slightest bit of hesitation and uncertainty. And also you should not be on the same road today, but on the other tomorrow. You do not have to worry that you do not wake up, do not and feel that this is not deep enough! All these thoughts are just obstacles. I must talk about this now, so that you do not develop doubt and suspicion,
If you can extract power from your strength, the outside world will not affect you. However, inwardly your mind can generate much more frantic distractions without [apparent] reason. Sometimes desire and passion can flood; sometimes there is anxiety. Numerous hindrances can arise inside of you, causing you to feel mentally and physically exhausted. You will not know what to do. This is all the karmic propensities that were stored in your eighth consciousnessfor countless kalpas. Today, thanks to your vigorous practice, they will all come out. At this critical point, you must be able to recognize and look through them, and then pass beyond [these obstacles]. Never be controlled and manipulated by them, and, most of all, do not take them for reality. At this point, you must refresh your spirit and awaken your courage and diligence, then bring forward (bring forth) this urgent inquiry in your study of huatou. Fasten your attention to the point from which thoughts arise, and constantly move forward and forward, and ask: “Initially there is nothing inside me, so where does the [obstacle] come from? What is it?” You must be anxious to find the very bottom of it. Pressing this way, killing every [sorrow at a glance], leaving no trace, until even demons and spirits flee in tears. If you can practice like this, naturally good news will come to you.
If you can break through a single thought, then all the clouded thinking will suddenly peel off. You will feel like a flower in the sky, not casting shadows, or like a bright sun emitting unlimited light, or as a transparent pond, translucent and clear. After this experience there will be immeasurable sensations of light and lightness, as well as a feeling of liberation. This is a sign of drawing strength from practice, for beginners. There is nothing wonderful or supernormal in this. Do not rejoice and do not get involved in this delightful experience. Otherwise, Mara Joy will keep you, and you will get another kind of obstacle! In your storage consciousness, your deeply rooted habitual propensities and the seeds of passion are hidden. If your practice of huatou has no effect, or you are not able to contemplate and illumine your mind, or you are simply unable to apply yourself to practice, then you should practice prostrations , read sutras , and practice repentance . And you can chant mantras to get a secret seal of Buddhas ; this will ease your difficulties. Because all the secret mantras are the seals of the Buddha’s diamond mind. When you use them, it’s like holding an indestructible diamond zipper that can smash everything. Everything that comes close to it will be blown to dust. The essence of all esoteric teachings of all Buddhas and ancient masters is contained in mantras. Therefore it is said that “All the Tathagata in ten directionsreached unsurpassed and correct perfect enlightenment through such mantras. “Although the Buddha said, it is clear, the last master of the tradition, fearing that these words can be misunderstood, kept this knowledge a secret and do not use this method. However, to draw strength from use the mantra, you should practice it regularly, for a long time and a lot, and even then you should never expect or seek wonderful answers from its use.
III. Enlightenment-understanding and enlightenment-embodiment
There are those who first enlighten, and then practice, and others who first practice, and then enlighten. And also there is a difference between enlightenment-understanding and enlightenment-incarnation.
Those who understand their minds after hearing the oral teachings of Buddhas and ancient masters reach enlightenment-understanding. In most cases, these people fall into views and knowledge. When they are confronted by all conditions, they are not able to apply what they have learned. Their minds and external objects are in opposition. Neither unity, nor harmony. So they always face difficulties. [What they have accomplished is] called “prajna by appearances,” and does not come from genuine practice.
Enlightenment-incarnation is the result of a firm and sincere practice when you reach a dead end where the mountains are barren and the waters are exhausted. Suddenly, [at the moment when] the thought stops, you deeply perceive your own mind. At this time, you will feel as if they saw their own father at a crossroads – in that there is no doubt! It’s like when you yourself drink water. Cold or warm, only you know, and this is not something that you can describe to others. This is genuine practice and true enlightenment. Having gained this experience, you can unite it with all situations of life and purify, and also leave, the karma that has already manifested, the flow of your consciousness, your clouded thinking and emotional representations, until everything merges into the One True Mind. This enlightenment is the embodiment.
This state of enlightenment-incarnation can be further divided into small and deep implementations. If you apply your efforts to the root of your existence, breaking away the cave of the eight consciousnesses, and instantly throwing down the den of fundamental ignorance, by one jump directly entering [the world of enlightenment], then there is nothing else you can learn. This is when they have higher karmic roots. Your embodiment will be really deep. The depth of incarnation for those who practice gradually, [on the other hand], will be shallow.
Worst of all is self-satisfaction with small [experience]. Never allow yourself to fall into the dizzying experiences that arise from the gates of your senses. Why? Because your eighth consciousness is not broken yet, so that whatever you experience or do will be conditioned by your [overshadowed] consciousness and feelings. If you think that this [consciousness] is reality, then it’s like taking a thief for your own son! The ancient said:
Here is the barrier through which you must pass.
The so-called “sudden enlightenment and gradual practice” refers to one who experienced profound enlightenment, but still has residual habitual propensities that are not immediately purified. Such people must apply principles that they realized in their enlightenment to meet all the conditions of life, and to bring forth strength from their contemplation and insight to test their minds in difficult situations. When one share of their experience in such situations agrees [with the enlightened path], they embody one share of the Dharmakaya. When they dissolve one part of their clouded thinking, to this extent their fundamental wisdom is manifested. What is crucial is the seamless continuity of practice. [For such people] it is much more effective when they practice in different situations of real life.