Chapter 16: The Courage to Say “I Don’t Know”
You say that our true buddha-nature and all virtues have awareness for their root. But what is the root of ignorance?
The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions and evils, is rooted in the three poisons: greed, anger and delusion. These three poisoned states of mind themselves include countless evils, like trees that have a single trunk but countless branches and leaves. Yet each poison produces so many more millions of evils that the example of a tree is hardly a fitting comparison.
The three poisons are present in our six sense organs as six kinds of consciousness, or thieves. They’re called thieves because they pass in and out of the gates of the senses, covet limitless possessions, engage in evil and mask their true identity. .
But if someone cuts off their source, rivers dry up. And if someone who seeks liberation can turn the three poisons into the three sets of precepts and the six thieves into the six paramitas, he rids himself of affliction once and for all.
But the three realms and the six states of existence are infinitely vast. How can we escape their endless afflictions if all we do is behold the mind?
The karma of the three realms comes from the mind alone. If your mind isn’t within the three realms, it’s beyond them. .
And how does the karma of these six differ?
Mortals who don’t understand true practice and blindly perform good deeds are born into the three states. . Those who blindly perform the ten good deeds and foolishly seek happiness are born as gods in the realm of desire. Those who blindly observe the five precepts and foolishly indulge in love and hate are born as men in the realm of anger. And those who blindly cling to the phenomenal world, believe in false doctrines and hope for blessings are born as demons in the realm of delusion. .
If you can just concentrate your mind and transcend its falsehood and evil, the suffering of existence will automatically disappear. And once free from suffering, you’re truly free.
The sutras for this evening.. Bodhidharma is facing the ultimate question which nobody has ever been able to answer. The ultimate question is ultimate because it cannot be answered. Every philosophy, theology, mysticism, finally comes to the ultimate question, and there is no answer for it.
But even a man like Bodhidharma, a man of tremendous courage, intelligence, awareness, still has not the ultimate courage to say that there is no answer to this question. He tries - just as millions of philosophers, thinkers, mystics, have always tried but have always failed.