Chapter 20: Less Than an Eye Blink Away
But the Bathhouse Sutra says, “By contributing to the bathing of monks, people receive limitless blessings.” This would appear to be an instance of external practice achieving merit. How does this relate to beholding the mind?
Here, the bathing of monks doesn’t refer to the washing of anything tangible. When the lord preached the Bathhouse Sutra, he wanted his disciples to remember the dharma of washing. So he used an everyday concern to convey his real meaning. .
The bathhouse is the body. When you light the fire of wisdom, you warm the pure water of the precepts and bathe the true buddha-nature within you. By upholding these seven practices, you add to your virtue. The monks of that age were perceptive. They understood the Buddha’s meaning. They followed his teaching, perfected their virtue and tasted the fruit of buddhahood. But people nowadays can’t fathom these things. .
Our true buddha-nature has no shape. And the dust of affliction has no form. How can people use ordinary water to wash an intangible body? It won’t work. When will they wake up? To clean such a body, you have to behold it. Once impurities and filth arise from desire, they multiply until they cover you inside and out. But if you try to wash this body of yours, you’ll have to scrub until it’s nearly gone before it’s clean. From this you should realize that washing something external isn’t what the Buddha meant.
The sutras say that someone who wholeheartedly invokes the buddha is sure to be reborn in the western paradise. Since this door leads to buddhahood, why seek liberation in beholding the mind? .
Buddha means awareness, the awareness of body and mind that prevents evil from arising in either. And to invoke means to call to mind, to call constantly to mind the rules of discipline and to follow them with all your might. .
To invoke the buddha’s name, you have to understand the dharma of invoking. If it’s not present in your mind, your mouth chants an empty name. As long as you’re troubled by the three poisons or by thoughts of yourself, your deluded mind will keep you from seeing the buddha. . If you cling to appearances while searching for meaning, you won’t find a thing. Thus, sages of the past cultivated introspection and not speech.
This mind is the source of all virtues. And this mind is the chief of all powers. The eternal bliss of nirvana comes from the mind at rest. Rebirth in the three realms also comes from the mind. The mind is the door to every world. And the mind is the ford to the other shore. Those who know where the door is don’t worry about reaching it. Those who know where the ford is don’t worry about crossing it.