(Announcement number 40)
This announcement that is being disseminated contains the great dharma of zen (dhyana in Sanskrit but generally known as zen) practice that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III taught a group of cultivators in March of 2013 in the Hall of the Three Holy Ones at Bodhi Monastery in the United States. Today is December 4, 2013. We now for the first time formally publish this great dharma on the internet.
Today H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III performed an initiation and transmission involving necessary mantras in the practice of zen. Additionally, this great dharma enables everyone to understand what the standard, proper practice of zen actually is. All of you will now be able to understand what the levels of those zen practice dharmas you encountered before this announcement actually are and whether such dharmas are correct. This great dharma will enable you to know whether those masters who teach you are qualified to give discourses on the dharma. Are those masters clear about what the practice of zen is? Are they clear about what zen practice is in the entirety of the Buddha-dharma? If one does not even understand zen practice, can one understand the Buddha-dharma? If one does not understand zen practice, one of course does not understand the meaning of zen. One also does not understand the meaning of samadhi. Thus, just the fact that one does not understand the meaning of zen practice shows that one does not understand Buddhism at all. Correspondingly, it shows that one also does not understand the Buddha-dharma.
Therefore, when a group of masters entreated H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to let them give discourses on the dharma to their disciples, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said the following: Anyone who is a qualified master may give discourses on the dharma as long as he or she truly understands Buddha-dharma and transmits dharma according to the teachings. However, those who recklessly expound Buddha-dharma are certainly not qualified to give discourses on the dharma. Therefore, masters must pass a test. Only then may they give discourses on the dharma. Otherwise, one is not qualified to give discourses on the dharma no matter what one's status may be. That is because giving discourses without understanding Buddhism and Buddha-dharma is undoubtedly an act of deceiving the public. Thus, people who do not understand Buddha-dharma are not allowed to give discourses on the dharma. That is because the concept of discourses on the dharma means that those Buddhists who listen to the discourses have to receive them as being the truth. If what they are receiving is evil karma, then their wisdom-roots will be destroyed.
This not only applies to not understanding the practice of zen. It applies to other problematic aspects, such as misunderstanding the sutras. All of these seriously harm the interests of living beings or even mislead practitioners. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III will not approve of any words or actions that harm or destroy the interests of living beings. With respect to anyone who pretends to understand but who truly does not understand yet who still wants to give so-called discourses on the dharma, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has said that He has no right to control everyone. However, those who give erroneous discourses on the dharma will be unable to bear the ensuing karmic consequences. That is because the karmic hindrance produced from the sin of defiling the minds of living beings for millions of eons is passed on to those people who listen to the erroneous discourses.
Just as expected, the results of the exam on zen were completely as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III thought they would be. There were those of holy virtue who passed, including one with the status of three stars sun-moon wheel. There was a person of holy virtue with the status of two stars sun-moon wheel who barely passed with a score of 68. A person with the status of one star sun-moon wheel got a score of 61. Nobody else is qualified to give discourses on the dharma, no matter what their status may be. That is because they do not understand even basic Buddha-dharma. There was even someone who is the reincarnation of a very famous person whose answer to the exam question was devoid of a single good point. Moreover, the answer was unresponsive to the question and full of fallacies. How can this type of people, who on the surface are figures within Buddhism but who in essence are heretics who deceive disciples, be allowed to give discourses on Buddha-dharma and thereby mislead practitioners?
Therefore, those who did not pass that exam, no matter who they may be, may only lead people in respectfully listening to recorded dharma discourses given by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. What those of you who are masters say to your disciples can be used as a reference only and cannot be used as the basis for set principles. With respect to receiving disciples who take refuge, transmitting rituals, and transmitting mantras, this is what you should do. You should tell people about the ten kinds of wholesome behavior, the four immeasurable states of mind, the six perfections, bodhicitta, the precepts, and the disciplines. However, you absolutely may not deviate from the sutras. You also may not pretend to understand that which you do not understand. Anyone who pretends to understand that which he does not understand, who cooks up tales and speaks recklessly, is definitely engaging in the conduct of a fraud, the conduct of an evil spirit.
H.H. DORJE CHANG BUDDHA III EXPOUNDS
Sit down, everyone.
Has everyone sat down? Is everyone ready?
(Everyone answers: Yes.)
First, put your palms together. Recite the Taking Refuge Vows once. Generate the four immeasurable states of mind and bodhicitta. All right, listen attentively. I will now begin to expound the dharma for all of you.
I summoned you disciples to gather here today mainly in response to the requests of some Westerners who are white, black, and Hispanic, as well as in response to some Asians. Some of those people are rinpoches. You have said that you especially like zen (pronounced chan in Chinese) and that you want to learn the practice of zen. Therefore, today I have come here to fulfill your wishes. I will transmit to all of you a high-level great dharma of zen.
Actually, all of you sitting here have heard the name "zen practice dharma." However, truthfully speaking, none of you know what is meant by zen practice. I can say that all of you present here and even many masters who teach zen practice, which include some of you sitting here today, do not understand what true zen practice is. Is what I just said going too far? I tell you unequivocally that what I just said is not going too far in the least! I will now ask you a few simple questions. What is zen practice? What is it used for? Why should one practice zen? What is the goal of zen practice? What is zen? Do you know? Can those of you who are masters and who teach zen practice answer me?
(Some people say: We are not very clear about such things. Would the Buddha please teach such dharma.]
I am one with a heart of humility. It would be acceptable for you to just call me Master. You say you are not very clear about such things. Actually, that is wrong. It is not that you are not very clear about such things. Even if you claimed to know, your understanding would be wrong. If you do not even understand what the concept of zen is after all, if you know nothing about the path of zen yet still want to teach it to people, that would be harming living beings and ruining people's wisdom-roots! You would have to bear the consequences of such karma. Human life is a few dozen years or a hundred years. Why would you want to commit such an offense?
Today I will first talk about zen. Zen is divided into the four kinds of zen and eight kinds of samadhi. Of course, you know about these. The sutras contain this term. What, after all, are the four kinds of zen and eight kinds of samadhi used for? Why does one engage in zen? What are the effects of zen? All of you have scanty knowledge of the answers to such questions. Many people like to engage in sitting zen. Many people like to practice zen . What do they actually want to accomplish? What do they want to obtain? What goal do they want to achieve? Everyone should first clearly understand the answers to these questions.
Within Buddhism, there are more practitioners who engage in zen practice than there are practitioners of any other dharma. Moreover, most of them are learned people. However, they are all in blind pursuit. I will not speak any more about this now. I will now directly teach zen. Zen is a dharma method. It is one type of dharma practice that is part of the Buddha-dharma taught by the Buddha. However, this dharma practice is independent. Nonetheless, the dharma-flavor and the key or essence of this dharma practice relate to the practice of any dharma method.
To put it concisely, zen is the absolute truth. The absolute truth is truth that never perishes. It is the source of the unity and equality of the three times: past, present, and future. This is the meaning of zen. Of course, there are many other ways of expressing this. I will not at this time talk about other theories. Those who engage in zen practice should understand certain simple principles. Today I will use the simplest, easiest to understand principles to teach you, principles that relate to a state when consciousness transforms.
That is, when consciousness that differentiates or discriminates changes into a state in which consciousness does not differentiate or discriminate, what is that non-conscious state? Is it devoid of wild fancy and improper thoughts? Is it nothingness? Is it very pure? Such an understanding is completely erroneous. All of you who want to thoroughly understand this non-conscious state must study Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra that I spoke. After you study Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, you will apprehend what we are searching for, what our goal is, what we want to find, what we want to awaken to, and what we want to realize in the religious truths of zen.
Given that, will we be able to find the thing that we want to find? We will never find that thing through searching! As long as we search for it, we will not find it! Why will we not find it? It is because when we search we must use our own consciousness to search. It is like going outside and searching everywhere for your own child who is already being carried on your own back. You say, "Oh no, where did my child go? What place did my child go to?" You will never find your child since you are the one who is actually carrying the child on your back.
Therefore, you will never find zen by using consciousness, by using the mind to intentionally search. A type of practice method is necessary to find zen. Zen itself is not a practice method. However, we can find, obtain, and realize zen only through a practice method. Listen attentively because this is not at all easy to understand. If you do not listen carefully, if your thoughts are not focused, you will not understand. Today I will teach all of you this method of practicing zen.
Let's first understand the basic concept of zen. With this basis, it will be easier to obtain zen. We want to obtain a state of zen. It is called a state. Actually, there is no state. If a state appears and we are able to use our consciousness to differentiate what type of state has appeared, then that already is not zen. However, the word state must be used as a figure of speech; otherwise, there are no words to express this. If state is not used, what word should be used? There has to be a term to express it.
What thing is that state? It is a thing that enables you to not be born and not die. That thing is you. You are that thing. The word thing is used as a figure of speech. It is an expedient way to explain something. Otherwise, just like with the word state, there would be no word to express it. Precisely because of this, there is the saying, "No speaking, no activities of consciousness." Simply put, the goal of practicing zen is enlightenment! The goal of enlightenment is to obtain the thing that is not born and does not die! It is a so-called thing. There is no such thing. I am talking about a so-called thing or state. Actually, there is no such thing. That is because if such a "thing" exists, it was produced by a differentiation or discrimination made in our consciousness. It was produced out of our thoughts.
For example, this is a round thing. This is a long thing, both ends of which are black. It is a pen. This is a string of beads. This is an image of a Buddha. This is a lotus. This is an expanse of emptiness. Who told you all of that? It came from differentiations, distinctions, or identifications made in your own consciousness. If your consciousness can distinguish and identify things such as an image of a Buddha or a lotus, then you are already not zen. Instead, your mind of differentiating thoughts is that of an ordinary person.
I return to what I said. If you read and are able to understand Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, you will solve all forms of zen. That is, you will obtain all forms of zen! Of course, you might say, "Since I have read treatises and writings by Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Dignaga, Candrakirti, Fuhu, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Santideva, Xuanzang, and others of prior generations, I shouldn't have to read Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, right?" All I can tell you today is that those treatises and writings that you read are not bad, since they are expositions by people on the level of a patriarch. However, those books do not have the effect of Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra. So I reiterate that you must study Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra! If you truly understand it through studying it, you will have succeeded.
Speaking of zen, there are a great many types of zen. Other than the states of the four kinds of zen and eight kinds of samadhi, there are many methods to reach awakening or enlightenment. Each of those methods is different. The relative level of each method is also different. There is tathagata zen, patriarchal zen, altar lamp zen, wooden fish zen, thought cessation zen, one sense organ zen, unification of two states zen, introspection zen, breath counting zen, pure water zen, dharma characteristics zen, focusing on moon zen, guard the orifices zen, tummo (inner-heat) zen, cold air zen, "who is chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha?" zen, afflictions elimination zen, great enlightenment zen, and immovable zen of kalachakra. Of course, there are even more zen methods, a great many more. This would include the so-called cypress tree in front of courtyard zen and the so-called no-voice, no speech zen.
There are many forms of zen. There are so many. If I were to introduce you to them one by one, it would take three to five years. Therefore, today I will not go into such detail. What you mainly want to understand is what zen is, what you want to attain as a goal in engaging in zen practice. You want to attain introspection, enlightenment, understanding of your mind and seeing your original nature. You want to see your own original nature that was not born and does not die! Do you understand? I return to that principle: After you study and understand Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, zen will be kid's stuff. At that time, you naturally will clearly understand in one reading the Diamond Sutra and the Sutra on Understanding and Realizing the Definitive Truth, and you will realize the sameness of principles and essence.
We engage in zen for the purpose of realizing original nature, emptiness, or dharmakaya. This dharmakaya was not born and does not die. I will give an example to all of you. Some methods of zen practice are truly inexplicable but unfathomably profound. Take, for example, the Gaomin Monastery in Yangzhou. In ancient times, a great number of people there became accomplished through the practice of zen. At the Gaomin Monastery in Yangzhou, basically every seven days one person would awaken to zen, becoming enlightened and accomplished. That being the case, how did they do their zen practice? The dharma methods that they applied were not called by any of the names of those forms of zen that I just mentioned. Those dharma methods also did not include any of the zen practice techniques of those forms of zen that I just mentioned. That is why I say that there are a great many zen dharmas.
First of all, in ancient times when someone entered the Gaomin Monastery to practice zen, that person would first have to sign an agreement. That agreement was very simple. To put it bluntly, they agreed that they could be beaten to death with impunity. The one who beat them to death would not have to lose his own life. Additionally, they agreed to voluntarily carry out the dharma rules of the monastery. After they entered the monastery, there were many ways for them to practice zen. Here I will talk about three of those ways. They had to give up all of the dharmas that they previously learned. As soon as one arrived at Gaomin Monastery and entered the zen hall, one could not apply any previously learned dharmas.
Five people carried cudgels. Those five were called "the five great cudgel carriers." Their specific task was to beat people. The practitioners had periods of running zen, each of which lasted the time it took for a stick of incense to burn from top to bottom. The stick of incense was not long. It was only this long. The practitioners had to jog. In the zen hall, many practitioners formed a circle and jogged. As they jogged, one of the cudgel carriers would strike his cudgel against something, which made a loud noise. As soon as he struck his cudgel against something, that loud noise sounded. When the jogging practitioners heard the striking sound from the cudgel, they had to immediately stop jogging. They were not allowed to jog even one more step. When the striking sound of the cudgel sounded again, they had to immediately resume their jogging. Have any of you seen a cudgel used by a cudgel carrier in a zen hall?
(Everyone answers: No.)
Sometime in the future I will find a time to show you a cudgel from the Gaomin Monastery in Yangzhou that was used in the past. As soon as the striking sound from his cudgel sounded, if you were still jogging, you would be taken aside and beaten to death. If you were not beaten to death, you were at the very least maimed. Thus, the minds of those practitioners were of course extremely focused. They were always focused on the sound of the cudgel. They were always fearful that they would be taken aside and severely beaten for continuing to jog after the striking of the cudgel sounded, or, if they had stopped jogging, for not immediately resuming their jogging after the striking of the cudgel sounded. Do you understand?
There was a sitting period, which lasted as long as it took for a stick of incense to burn from top to bottom. As soon as they sat down, the cudgel carriers in back of them would keep an eye on them. While sitting, the practitioners were not allowed to move in any way. The practitioners were absolutely forbidden to move. They were not permitted to recite the name of any Buddha or chant any mantra. If one was seen moving a bit, he was taken aside and severely beaten, t