The Great Affair
This affair is like the bright sun in the blue sky, shining clearly, changeless and motionless, without diminishing or increasing. It shines everywhere in the daily activities of everyone, appearing in everything. Though you try to grasp it, you cannot get it; though you try to abandon it, it always remains. It is vast and unobstructed, utterly empty. Like a gourd floating on water, it cannot be reined in or held down. Since ancient times, when good people of the path have attained this, they’ve appeared and disappeared in the sea of birth and death, able to use it fully. There is no deficit or surplus: like cutting up sandalwood, each piece is it.
Since there is no place to locate it, buddha is illusion and dharma is illusion: the three worlds, twenty-five states of being, the sense organs, sense objects, and consciousness are utterly empty. When you get to this realm, there’s no place to put even the word ‘buddha’; if even the word ‘buddha’ has no applicability, where is there true thusness, buddha-nature, enlightenment or nirvana? Thus the great being Fu said, “Fearing that people will give rise to a view of annihilation, we provisionally establish empty names.”
In all the sutras up to now, Ta Hui has not been able to establish himself as an enlightened being. He is trying hard, he is using the most logical and intellectual methods, but they are empty; they don’t carry any weight. For example, when he says, “All the senses, self-nature, dharma, all are illusory,” one has to ask him, “To whom are you talking?” And, “Who is talking?” He has used the word illusory without understanding its implications.
Anybody who is not aware of both the intellectual potentialities and the nature of ‘no-mind’ will not be able to figure out whether this man is authentic or pseudo.
Before I go into his sutras, I am reminded of a beautiful incident about the Adi Shankaracharya, the first Shankaracharya, who established four temples – the four seats of shankaracharyas for all the four directions. Perhaps in the whole world, he is the most famous of those philosophers who are trying to establish that everything is illusory. Without doubt he was a great logician, because he went on conquering other philosophers; he moved all over the country and defeated all other schools of philosophy. He established his philosophy as the only right vision, the only right perspective: that all is maya, illusion.
Shankaracharya was in Varanasi. One day, early in the morning – it was still dark because traditionally the Hindu monks take a bath before sunrise – he took a bath. And as he was coming up the steps, a man touched him on purpose, not accidentally, and told him, “Please forgive me. I am a sudra, I am untouchable. I am sorry, but you will have to take another bath to clean yourself.”