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Chapter 32: Desirelessness


One day Ku Shan approached Hsueh Feng. Feng knew his circumstances were ripe, so he suddenly got up, held him tight, and said, “What is it?” Opening up, Ku Shan was completely enlightened - he even forgot his comprehending mind and just raised his hand and waved, nothing more. Feng said, “Will you express some principle?”

Having left the fifth patriarch’s place, Hui Neng traveled south for two months, and had reached the Ta Yu range. He was pursued by the monk Hui Ming, who was originally a general, accompanied by several hundred men, who wanted to seize the robe and bowl (emblematic of succession to the patriarchs). Ming was the first to overtake him. The sixth patriarch threw down the robe and bowl on a rock and said, “This robe signifies faith: how can it be taken by force?” Ming tried to pick up the robe and bowl, but was unable to move them. At that point he said, “I have come for the dharma, not for the robe.” The patriarch said, “Since you’ve come for the dharma, you should put to rest all your motivations, and don’t give rise to a single thought, and I will explain for you.” After a silence, he said, “Without thinking of good, and without thinking of evil, at just such a time, which is your original face?” At these words Hui Ming was greatly enlightened. He also asked, “Besides the intimate words and meaning that struck home of a moment ago, is there any further intimate message?” The patriarch said, “If it were said to you, it wouldn’t be intimate. If you turn around and reflect, what’s intimate is in you.” Ming said, “Though I was at Huang Mei, I never really had insight into my own face. Now, encountering your instruction, I am like a man drinking water who knows for himself whether it’s cold or warm.”

“Just know how to be a buddha: don’t worry that a buddha won’t know how to talk.” Since ancient times, people who have attained the path, since they are full themselves, have put forth their own surplus to respond to potentials and receive beings. They are like a bright mirror on its stand, like a bright jewel in the palm of the hand; when an outsider comes, an outsider appears, and when a native comes, a native appears. And it’s not intentional: if it were intentional, then there would be a real doctrine to give to people. You want to be clear.

Ta Hui still continues with the meaning of release. The question is so fundamental that however often it has to be repeated it will never be said completely.

There are things which you can only indicate, and the indication is always capable of being misunderstood - most probably it will be misunderstood - because the indication is only an arrow. Unless you know to look in that direction, unless you are aware that the arrow is pointing to something beyond itself, there is every possibility you may cling to the arrow itself.

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