Food for the Soul
to the influence of the six sense faculties—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body
and mind—people are reborn in the hells or become hungry ghosts or animals.
It’s also due to the functioning of the six senses that people become asuras
or are reborn in the heavens or as humans.
is also because of the functioning of the six sense faculties that we can
become Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, Bodhisattvas, or Buddhas. Why are the six
sense faculties so powerful that even influence whether we are reborn in the
heaven or fall into the hells? Do they determine whether people become Buddhas
the six sense faculties aren’t in control; it’s just that we don’t know
how to use them. The master is within everyone’s own nature, the bright
nature of enlightenment. This master is also known as the inherent
Buddha-nature. When it is in charge, proper thoughts manifest, and one is free
and at ease, not obstructed by anything. But once this nature is covered up by
even a single thought of ignorance, a dull darkness is erroneously stirred up;
the six sense faculties become the masters and take control. As a result, we
are plundered by the six thieves—the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and
mind. They rob our house and steal all our precious treasures. So it is said,
not a single thought arises,
entire substance manifests.
the six sense faculties suddenly move,
is a covering of clouds.
of this, people who are supposed to advance along the Buddha path go down to
the ghostly path instead. This is like a driver who should be driving his car
along the highway, but instead drives it into the ocean, both drowning himself
and sinking the car. It’s also like somebody who aims high without doing the
fundamental work, or someone who climbs a mountain and falls off a cliff,
getting smashed to bits. When a person is not familiar with the road
conditions and doesn’t know how to drive, he’s prone to accidents. The six
sense faculties of our bodies can be compared to the car. If we know how to
drive, we can reach our destiny safely; if we don’t, we risk losing our
lives in an accident.
inherent nature, which is clear, perfect, and wonderfully bright, pervades the
ten directions and permeates heaven and earth. It is omnipotent, capable of
doing anything. However, as in the analogy about driving, even though we may
know how to drive, once we go into the womb and enter this “stinking skin
bag,” we become muddled. After this we can’t even distinguish between
east, south, west, north, above, or below, and run around aimlessly.
Originally we wanted to become Buddhas, if we are at the least bit careless,
we may end up being reborn as horses, cows, or sheep.
Buddhists are most pitiful. They single mindedly want to leave the three evil
paths, but because they don’t know how to drive the car of the six sense
faculties, they are controlled by them instead, and so they let a demon king
get a hold of them. Trapped in this illusory body of the five skandhas and
incapable of freeing themselves, these people suffer unbearable pain. Their
inherent natures have been buried, and the bright light of wisdom cannot
myriad things are speaking dharmas. If you understand, they are speaking the
Buddhadharma, the transcendental Dharma; if you do not understand, then they
are speaking worldly dharma, defiling dharma. In this way everything is
contained within a single thought of your mind. When you have wisdom, you’ll
able readily solve any kind of problems; when you don’t have wisdom, there
are obstacles everywhere.
body depends on food to survive. However, this kind of food is course. In
addition, we also rely on the Buddha-nature and the bright light of wisdom to
survive. Just as a car needs gasoline to run, people need food and drink to
generate energy in order to move. But some cultivators can survive without
food or drink. How do they do this? They eat the bright light of wisdom—that
is their nourishment.
the course level, our body needs food and drink; on a finer level, our souls
need the spiritual nourishment of the Buddha’s nature. During the day, when
we work, walk, stand, sit, and recline, we exhaust a lot of our energy, use a
lot of gasoline. At night, when we rest, our pores open up and come into
contact with the Buddha light. The bright light of wisdom from the Buddha’s
radiant treasury enters our pores, replenishing the energy we lost during the
day. After we get enough rest at night, our energy returns to its normal level
the next day.
this principle, some people become greedy and think, “Oh, so the Buddha
shines his light on me while I sleep. Then if I sleep more, will I be
wiser?” In reality, we all need a certain amount of sleep. However, if we
sleep too much, our brains will become muddled and dull, and our wisdom will
be diminished. It’s said, “The longer the night, the more you dream.”
Dreaming also wastes energy. Sleeping too much gives you headaches. So in all
things we must know where to stop, and not go to extremes.
people don’t understand this principle. They think people can survive on
just food and drink. But skilled cultivators concentrate on food for the soul.
They enjoy sitting in Cha’n meditation and developing samadhi. By being in
touch with the Buddha’s wisdom light, they replenish their energy and
increase their wisdom power. But you can’t be greedy for meditation, either,
or get attached to it. Too much meditation will give you “Cha’n
students of Buddhism should not run east and west, seeking outside for some
secret dharma, looking for short cuts, being greedy for bargains, wanting to
get enlighten quickly. This will only waste the limited gasoline we have,
exhaust us, and diminish our wisdom, and we’d gain nothing. This is the
problem with not understanding the principles of fundamental Buddhadharma and
seeking outside for dharmas.
I said today is not a myth. It can be called a spiritual principle. Even the
most advanced scientists have not discovered this principle, let alone
understood it. They can’t even dream of this wonderful doctrine. Basically
it’s a very ordinary principle, but everyone has overlooked it.
talk given in May 1983
the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas