The Teaching of
II. Upholding the
Precepts, Being Patient under Insult
Chan, Reciting the Buddha's Name
IV. The Cultivation
of Those Who Renounce the Householder's Life
Cause and Effect, Repentance and Reform
- To cultivate the Way is to turn yourself around. What does
that mean? It means to benefit others, and take a loss yourself. It means to renounce
oneself (the small self) in order to accomplish the greater good for all.
- Do not harbor animosity even towards the demons; treat them
as good and wise advisors who aid you in cultivation.
- Our varying degrees of false-thinking are due to the varying
karma we have created in life after life throughout limitless aeons. Heavy karma results
in abundant false-thoughts; light karma results in fewer false-thoughts.
- Cultivators should cultivate the Way in order to end birth and death and cross over
living beings - not for the sake of obtaining a response.
- Cultivators Of the Way should reflect within at all time.Do not seek outside, for the
Way cannot be found there.
- When we first resolve to cultivate the Way, our biggest obstacle is sexual desire. This
remains the fundamental problem.
- Cultivators of the Way! Take heed! Do not get involved in defiled situations with
anyone. Otherwise, entangled and confused, you will surely fall.
- We are fortunate to have this human body. If we fail to take advantage of our human
bodies to cultivate, then it will be too late.
- Bring forth your true mind in studying the Buddhadharma. Your every move and action,
your every word and deed needs to be true.
- You should conserve the resources of every Way-place. It is said, "Cherish all the
properties of the Permanently Dwelling as you would the pupils of your eyes. "
- Neither loving nor hating anything is the Middle Way. We speak of cultivating the Way,
but what is this Way that we cultivate? It is the Middle Way - treating everyone with
equanimity, kindness and compassion.
- Cultivating the Way today with the hope of attaining Buddhahood tomorrow is like
expecting to dig a well with just one scoop of a shovel. That would be impossible.
Cultivating the Way is like grinding an iron bar down into the size of a needle - after
you exert sufficient effort, you will achieve your goal.
- Before learning any mantras, you should first develop proper mindfulness and mature a
sincere intent. If your mind is not proper, then any mantra you learn wiII miss the mark.
Only when you have proper mindfulness will you evoke a response from learning mantras.
- Ignorance has two accomplices. What are they? The partners of ignorance are the desire
for food and the desire for sex. Both conspirators help ignorance commit a variety of bad
- It's said that "When you try to be good, karmic debts will appear; when you attempt
to accomplish Buddhahood, first you have to undergo the insults of the demons." If
you do not aspire to be good, your karmic debts will not know where to look for you. The
more you resolve to be good, the more your karmic debts will come looking for you,
determined to claim what you owe.
- The difference between a Buddha and a demon lies in just a single thought. A Buddha has
a kind and compassionate mind. A demon has a contentious mind.
- Those who truly know cultivation do the work right within their daily activities. Every
act, and every deed constitute cultivation.
- A cultivator should not sell or advertise his cultivation. Whoever sells his cultivation
wiII fall under the spell of demons.
- Cultivators of the Way should, on all occasions, conceal their brightness and erase
their tracks. They should not show off their extraordinary qualities.
- Our minds always exist in the "other's" place rather than in the
"selfs" place. Existing in the other's place means that one is physically
present but mentally absent.
- Lecturing on sutras is cultivating wisdom. Meditating is cultivating samadhi. Refusing
to speak casually is cultivating precepts.
- It is said, "Affliction is Bodhi." If you know how to do it, you can turn
affliction into Bodhi. If you do not know how, Bodhi can turn into affliction.
- Cultivation is "training to play the fool." Training to play the fool means to
appear clumsy and inept. For in cultivation, the more stupid you are, the better. If you
are foolish to the point of knovving nothing, you will do no further false-thinking.
- Ignorance means "not understanding." The root of ignorance is desire.
- The main purpose of cultivation is to end birth and death, not to obtain efficacious
- A cultivator has to protect his purity as he protects his eyes, which cannot tolerate a
single grain of sand.
- Gambling can create karmic offenses; making offerrings can accumulate merit and virtue.
Meditation can eliminate stupidity and increase wisdom.
- A cultivator should watch his words when in a crowd, and should guard his mind from
false and selfish thoughts when he is sitting alone. A cultivator can then gradually
concentrate and "see his mind."
- To endure suffering puts an end to suffering, but to enjoy blessings uses up blessings.
- A true cultivator controls his own actions and behavior, and doesn't stray from his
mindfulness whether he is walking, standing, sitting, and reclining. Don't be a mirror
which only can reflect others and not yourself.
- Whoever has attachments has the "merely human mind," but whoever lives without
attachments has the "mind of the Way."
- "Someone who wants to escape death must first become a living dead-man." That
means treat yourself as if you were already dead. That is to refrain from greed, hatred,
- Whoever studies Buddhism must make vows, because the power of vows can spur you to
advance toward the proper Way. Vows prevent you from going astray. But if vows are not put
into practice, they're just like blossoms on an ornamental tree that doesn't bear fruit -
- You can use your tongue to accumulate merit and virtue by speaking Dharma. You can also
use your tongue to create offenses by gossiping. If, instead of speaking Dharma, you
gossip or speaks frivolously, then you have created twelve thousand offenses.
- A cultivator ~II naturally evoke a response if both inside and outside, he always uses
attitudes of kindness, compassion, joy, and renunciation towards all people, no matter
whether they are young, old, honorable or humble.
- Cultivating the Way is nothing more than the practice of honesty and sincerity. As the
saying goes, "if the mind is sincere, everything will be auspicious."
- We should try to do good deeds constantly during our time here in this world. Each
breath and every bit of strength we have should be channeled into performing good deeds
and accruing merit and virtue. In this life do not draw on the good roots you planted in
past lives and thus exhaust all the blessings you earned.
- The Buddha can tum all living beings into Dharma vessels. Thus the saying: "Borrow
the artificial to cultivate the genuine. The 'stinking skin bag' is just a temporary
abode." We live inside this house to cultivate the Way. This is the meaning of
"borrowing the artificial (physical body) to cultivate the genuine (Dharma
- Someone who is too greedy, insatiably greedy, in the future may fall into the
hells. Someone who is too hateful, constantly flaring up day and night, may become a
hungry ghost. Someone who is too stupid, always doing foolish deeds, may become an animal.
- The greatest shortcoming of living beings is foolish love. Day in and day out, people
foolishly fall in love. They cannot let go at any moment. If they can only channel their
lust into leaming the Buddha-dharma, never forgetting to study the Buddha-dharma, then
they could quickly attain Buddhahood.
- One who is truly enlightened would not proclaim that he has attained enlightenment. When
Sages appear in the world, they definitely do not reveal their true identity. For this
reason, anybody who proclaims himself to be a Buddha or Bodhisattva is a twisted
- People of noble and virtuous conduct are limited neither by position nor age. With quiet
speech and silent actions, they just naturally project a character and personality that
people respect. Such a character and personality do not evoke fear in others. Fear would
make people stay away from them. Theirs is an air that commands respect, not fear.
- Everybody has three afflicted thieves, namely: greed, hatred, and stupidity. There is no
need to annihilate them; transform them into Bodhi seeds instead.
II. Upholding the Precepts,
Being Patient under Insult
- A cultivator cultivates the hallmark of no-self. If you are free of
the hallmark of self, you can endure everything. When states manifest, your mind will not
be influenced. You will see yourself as if the same as empty space.
- To become a Buddha is not so easy! If you don't cut off your sexual desire yet still
want to become a Buddha - that is absolutely impossible. There's no such principle in this
world. Nowadays, most people are greedy for lucky breaks and shortcuts. We get attracted
easily to the mysterious and miraculous. Then we become confused and fall into the demon's
- Why do people lie? Because to do so will put them at a disadvantage; they don't want to
come up with the short end of the stick.
- If one breaks the precept against sexual misconduct, then it's easy for him to break the
precept against killing, stealing and lying. Therefore, breaking the precept that
prohibits sexual misconduct also includes the breaking of the precepts against killing,
stealing, and lying.
- By upholding the Five Precepts and practicing the Ten Good Deeds, you will be born into
the human and the deva (heaven) realms. If you have an attitude of greed, hatred and
stupidity, then you may fall into the three evil paths.
- If you understand the precepts, then you can penetrate the entire Buddha-dharma. If you
don't understand the precepts, then you're like a cloud floating in the sky, you lack any
- There's only one basis for the precepts and that lies in not being
- You should vigorously uphold precepts in places where people can't see. You should not
only make progress in front of people, or uphold precepts in front of people. Instead, you
should forge ahead vigorously and uphold precepts when you are all by yourself as well.
- Studying the Buddha-dharma is learning not to initate others or to bring others harm.
Therefore, Buddhists must eat vegetarian food because eating meat harms other lives.
- Eating a vegetarian diet requires that you suffer a loss when you are still alive,
because you cannot satisfy your palate. But if you are not a vegetarian and eat a lot of
meat, after your death you will have to settle your accounts before the Kings of Hell .
- If someone who studies Buddha-dharma does not uphold precepts, that person is like a
bottle with a hole in the bottom. The water leaks out as soon as it is filled. If one can
uphold precepts, one will gradually obtain a state free of outflows (Anasrava).
- No matter what Dharma-door you practice, as long as you have patience, you will get some
achievement. If you don't have patience then you can't cultivate any Dharma doors to
- What Way do the left-home people cultivate? They cultivate the Way of patience.
- "Patience is a priceless gem,
Which few know how to mine,
But once you've truly mastered it,
Then everything works out fine.
- A cultivator has to endure the things that others cannot bear,
renounce the matters that others cannot give up, eat the foods that others cannot swallow,
and wear the garments that others cannot put on. In brief, a cultivator ought to bear
vuhat others cannot bear.
- In cultivating the Way, the most im portant thing is not to fight. We should not fight
with anyone, not quarrel over people's good points and short-comings, nor gossip about
people's rights and wrongs.
- Do not be greedy for anything at all. Know contentment and be
patient. This is the unsurpassed wonderful Dharma, that is, alas, neglected by all. By not
fighting and not being greedy one will have boundless blessings and a long life. If you
contend, are greedy, and are always inviting trouble, then you will incur many karmic
offenses. Even if you wanted to leave the Triple Realm there would be no way for you to do
III. Investigating Chan,
Reciting the Buddha's Name
- Why is it that we cannot recognize our original face? It's because we haven't demolished
our mark of self and selfishness.
- The word "investigate" in "investigating Chan" means to contemplate.
Contemplate what? Prajna. So that you're constantly aware of the presence or
absence of self, and pay no heed to the presence or absence of others. Are you really
there or not?
- People who investigate Chan must first recognize the basic problem clearly. What
problem? Our bad habits and faults. Participating in a Chan session is to rid ourselves of
bad habits and faults.
- In the Chan hall, everybody investigates Chan and meditates. This is a test to see who
can pass and attain Buddhahood. How do you pass? Inside, be free of body and mind;
outside, cast off the world.
- Many people who investigate Chan commit two mistakes: one is having an unsettled state
of mind, the other is drowsiness. They are either having idle thoughts or falling asleep
during their meditation.
- To investigate Chan, one must have patience and perseverance. The secret to
investigating Chan is patience. Even if you can't bear it anymore, you must persevere.
Once you have endured to the extreme, then everything will be interpenetrating and you
will become enlightened.
- When your investigation of Chan reaches maturity, not only will you have no false
thinking, you'll also have less anger, your afflictions will decrease, your character will
improve, and your measure will expand.
- Why don't we have any response in the Way? It's because our wild
minds do not rest.
- To investigate Chan, one must have patience, for that is your means to enlightenment.
- We have the opportunity to become enlightened when we investigate Chan. When our true
nature appears, it's like when Spring returns to the earth and the myriad things start to
- A person who truly investigates Chan is a person who truly recites the Buddha's name; a
person who truly recites the Buddha's name is also a person who truly investigates Chan. A
person wtio truly upholds the precepts is also a person who truly investigates Chan; a
person who truly investigate Chan is also a person who truly upholds the precepts.
- What is the "real me?" It is the inherent nature and the attainment of
Buddhahood. Only when one attains Buddhahood, can one find the "real me." Before
that, everything is false.
- Whoever does not have any defiled attachments is a Buddha. Whoever has defiled
attachments is a living being. What is a defiled attachment? To put it in simple words, it
is whatever one can not see beyond and leave behind, and what causes one to constantlyhave
- When you have applied exacting effort to your cultivation, food and clothing become
secondary. How much the more in regard to other external objects. All the more
should you let go of them.
- Cultivation is not limited to practicing Chan meditation and reciting
Sutras. Instead, cultivation is for one to be at all times without too much
discrimination. Furthermore, do not contend for power; do not vie for leadership to
supervise other people and show off before the Master.
- The essential quality of the Way is concentration; that of a general is his strategic
skill, not his courage; that of an army is its quality, not its size.
- Sincerely reciting the Buddha's name is to constantly concentrate one's mind on the
recitation vvithout any false thinking or desire to eat and drink. Reciting to the point
where everything is forgotten is true mindfulness of the Buddha.
- When you are mindful of the Buddha, the Buddha will also be mindful of you. It is a bit
like sending a telegram to Amitabha Buddha. This is knovvn as the "intertwining of
the response and the Way." If you are not mindful of the Buddha, he will not receive
your message. Therefore, it is imperative that you uphold the Buddha's name.
- In reciting mantras, one should so recite that the mantra flows out of one's mind and
returns to one's mind. The mantra mind and the mind mantra - the mantra and the mind are
united in sound after sound and are never apart from each other. One is reciting, yet not
reciting; one is not reciting, yet constantly reciting.
- When you venerate the Buddha, and the Buddha accepts your veneration,
you will increase your blessings and wisdom. That is to say that bowing to the Buddha is
an influence, and his receiving the veneration is a response. That is the
"intertwining of the Way."
IV. The Cultivation of Those Who Renounce
the Householder's Life
- The Sangha is attained when four or more vrho have given up the householder's life live
together in harmony and peace, ~thout conflicts or attachments.
- The Ones Who Give Up the Householder's Life should observe strict deportment when they
walk, sit, stand, or recline. As it is said,'YValk like the breeze, sit like a bell, stand
like a pine tree, and when lying, bend like a bow."
- Those who seek transcendental Dharma leave behind the worldly Dharma. It is impossible
to stand in two different boats when one is going north and the other, south.
- All high and lofty Dharma Masters and the greatly virtuous ones obtained their
enlightenment by ascetic practices and diligent cultivation. You can search through the
Great Buddhist Canon and not find even a single one who attained enlightenment through
- What are the criteria for choosing an Abbot? He must be respectable, even-tempered,
congenial and affable. He should practice democracy, and the abuse of power should be
unknown to him.
- The Ones Who Give Up the Householder's Life may accept offerings, but, like true
disciples of the Buddha, do not seek them.
- The Ones Who Give Up the Householder's Life leave behind concern for fame and social
status. Disciples of the two-fold assembly (monks and nuns) have a correct spirit and
mind; they will suffer on behalf of all living beings in order to save them.
- The Ones Who Give Up the Householder's Life vigorously
investigate Chan; they practice meditation; they uphold mantras; they recite sutras, and
strictly uphold the precepts. If instead they simply rely on the Buddha for food and
clothing, they will fall into the three evil paths.
- When filled with essence, cold does not exist; when filled
with energy, hunger does not exist; when filled with spirit, exhaustion does not exist.
Therefore, essence, energy, and spirit are three treasures cultivated by the Ones Who
- Left-home people serve as models for laypeople. If you
cannot be a good model, then you cannot evoke faith within the laypeople and you won't be
able to influence them. Therefore, left-home people should comport themselves in a way
proper for left-home people.
- Left-home people should have proper knowledge and proper
views. Without them, one will surely fall into demonic ways and be caught by the fifty
skandha- emons. Left-home people should do things together as a group. One should not have
a special style, or just do whatever one pleases.
- "Concentration yields efficacy. Distraction leads to
hindrance." What do we concentrate on? To attain concentration, one should get rid of
desires and love. If desires and love are not cut off, then even if one leaves the
home-life and cultivates for eighty thousand great eons, one will not achieve the Way.
This point is of vital importance.
- We have to cultivate the Way and nurture our virtue all the
time. When our virtue and our cultivation in the Way are both perfected, then we will be
worthy of being a left-home person.
- Left-home people take propagating the Dharma as their main
responsibility. Spreading the Buddhadharma is our basic duty and obligation. Therefore,
our every thought should be devoted to propagating the Dharma. Our every movement should
speak the Dharma for living beings.
V. Cause and Effect,
Repentance and Reform
- It is said, "Karmic retribution is not subject to one's control." We are
driven by our karma and were born into this world to undergo the corresponding
retribution. As we have created varying karma in the past, we now receive varying
retribution. This is "being entangled in the net of karma."
- The Chinese character for meat, consists of a person being eaten and a person eating.
The person being eaten has transformed into an animal. The person eating and the person
being eaten thus create a relationship wherein the knot of hatred cannot be untied. They
take turns in dominating and preying on each other.
- If we truly wish to detoxify this world, then every one of us must be vegetarian and
refrain from eating meat.
- The ancients said,'The Superior One molds his own destiny." An upright person
endowed with Way Virtue is capable of modifying his destiny and transcending fate. Why are
there unpropitious happenings? It is because there is unpropitiousness in our minds which
plants evil causes resulting in evil retributions. If we can rectify our wrongs and
conform to wholesomeness, we will be able to draw close to auspiciousness and avoid ill
- It is not easy to eliminate one's faults, but, if one can eradicate his faults, he will
have Samadhi power.
- As it is said,'Those who see my faults are my teachers." We should be thankful to
them instead of hateful .