Chapter 11: Emptying
Stillness and Commotion
Worldly passions are like a blazing fire: when will they ever end?
Right in the midst of the hubbub, you mustn’t forget the business of the bamboo chair and reed cushion (meditation). Usually (to meditate) you set your mind on a still concentration point - but you must be able to use it right in the midst of the hubbub.
Vimalkirti said, “It’s like this: the high plateau does not produce lotus flowers; it’s the mire of the low swamplands that produces these flowers.” The old barbarian (Buddha) said, “True thusness does not keep to its own nature, but according to circumstances brings about all phenomenal things..”
Don’t Cling to Stillness (to K’ung Hui)
Once you have achieved peaceful stillness of body and mind, you must make earnest effort. Do not immediately settle down in peaceful stillness. In the teachings this is called “the deep pit of liberation,” much to be feared. You must make yourself turn freely like a gourd floating on the water, independent and free, not subject to restraints, entering purity and impurity without being obstructed or sinking down. Only then do you have a little familiarity with the school of the patchrobed monks. If you just manage to cradle the uncrying child in your arms, what’s the use?
Don’t Pray for Relief
Lin Chi said, “If you can put to rest the mind that frantically seeks from moment to moment, you will be no different from old Shakyamuni Buddha.”
He wasn’t fooling people. Even Bodhisattvas of the seventh stage seek buddha-knowledge without their minds being satisfied: therefore it is called “affliction.” really there’s no way to manage: it’s impossible to apply the slightest external measure.
Several years ago there was a certain layman, Hsu, who was able to find an opening; he sent me a letter, expressing his understanding, that said, “Empty and open in my daily activities, there’s not a single thing opposing me; finally I realize that all things in the three worlds are fundamentally nonexistent. Truly this is peace and happiness, joyful liveliness, having cast it all away.” Accordingly I instructed him with a verse:
Don’t be fond of purity: purity makes people weary. Don’t be fond of joyful liveliness: joyful liveliness makes people crazy. As water conforms to the vessel, it accordingly becomes square or round, short or long. As for casting away or not casting away, please think it over more carefully. The three worlds and myriad things are no refuge - where is there any home?
If you are just thus, this is a great contradiction. This is to inform layman Hsu that his own kin are creating disaster. Open wide the eye of the thousand sages, and do not keep praying for relief.
Emptying Mind and Objects