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The elimination of defilements is called the way of the “Two Vehicles.” The non-arising of defilements is called the “Great Nirvana.”
“Elimination” involves a subject and an object. “Non-arising” lacks both subject and object.
Empty your mind and reflect with clarity. You must have faith in the fact that the causal arising of each thought is actually non-arising.
This is just meant to clarify “essence arousal.”56
If you observe closely, you will see that killing and stealing, lasciviousness, deceit all arise from the One Mind. Since the place from which they arise is quiescent, what need is there to try to cut off the defilements again?
The above paragraph deals with both the Original Nature and appearances.
A sutra says: “When not even a single thought arises, ignorance is said to be eliminated forever.” It also says, “One must awaken at the arising of thought.”
If you understand that it is a mirage, you drop it. There is no need for skillful means. If you drop it, you awaken. There is no need for gradual steps.
The mind is a magician. The body is a magically created castle. The world is a set of magically created clothes. Names and appearances are magically created food. Even the arising mind and activated thoughts are so. For, talk of what is false and what is true is all just a magical creation. What’s more, the beginningless magical creations comprising ignorance all arise from the awakened mind.
These magical creations are like the flowers in the sky that a person with an eye disease sees. When magical apparitions are destroyed, one is said to have reached the stage of non-perturbability. If a person dreams he is sick and is searching for a doctor, he no longer seeks a remedy after he wakes up. It is the same for a person who realizes that everything is just a magical apparition.
Sentient beings abide in non-arising; yet, they perceive both birth/death and nirvana like flowers appearing and disappearing in the sky.57
Your True Nature is originally non-arising, so there is no birth and death, and there is no nirvana. Originally, there are no flowers in the sky, so there is no appearing or disappearing. If you perceive birth and death, it is like a man who sees flowers appearing in the sky. If you perceive nirvana, it is like a man who sees flowers disappearing from the sky. But appearing is originally non-appearing and disappearing is originally non-disappearing. There is no need to argue about these two views.
For this reason, the Su-yi ching Sutra58says, “All of the Buddhas1 appearances in this world are not to save sentient beings; they are only to help eliminate the two mistaken views regarding 1) birth and death, and 2) nirvana.”
The Bodhisattva saves sentient beings, leading them to nirvana. But there are actually no “sentient beings” that attain nirvana.59
Every thought of a Bodhisattva is born out of concern for the welfare of sentient beings. To fully understand that each thought is essentially empty is to save sentient beings. Thought is intrinsically empty and quiescent. This is what is meant by the statement that “there are actually no ’sentient beings’ that attain nirvana.”
(The above discussion deals with faith and understanding.)
At the noumenal level, enlightenment is sudden, but at the phenomenal level, habits60 are not eradicated instantly.
The Bodhisattva Mañjushri achieved the wisdom of the Dharma-body. The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra clarified dependent origination. The former’s understanding is like a flash of lightening, and the latter’s actions are like a poor child.61
(The above discussion deals with cultivation and realization.)
Being lustful while practicing Seon is like boiling sand to make rice.
Killing while practicing Seon is like wearing ear-plugs and then yelling to hear oneself.
Stealing while practicing Seon is like trying to fill up a leaking vessel.
Lying while practicing Seon is like cutting off a chunk of excrement to make incense.
Even if you have much wisdom, such actions put you on the path of demons.
The above paragraph clarifies the principles of practice. It discusses the Threefold Training62 that is free of the outflows.63
Hinayanists believe that the precepts consist of receiving Dharma instruction and so they regulate externals. Mahayanists believe that the precepts consist of gathering in the mind so they skillfully cut off the defilements at their root. So, keeping the “Dharma precepts” means that one does not violate the precepts with one’s body. Keeping the “mind precepts” means that one does not violate the precepts even in one’s thoughts.
A person who lusts loses his purity. A person who kills loses his compassion. A person who steals loses his merit. And a person who lies loses truth. A person may develop wisdom and completely possess the Six Supernatural Powers, 64 but he is still certain to fall onto a demonic path and be forever bereft of wisdom and knowledge of the correct path if he fails to put an end to killing, theft, sensual lust and deception.
These four precepts are the basis for all the precepts.65 They have therefore been separately treated to keep people from violating them even in their thoughts. Refrain from longingly for things66 is called "sila."67 Non-thought is called "samadhi."68 Not being foolish is called “prajna.”69 Sila captures the thief, 70 samadhi binds the thief, and prajna kills the thief. The sila-bowl must be firm, without a crack. Only then can the samadhi-water settle and become clear and fully reflect the prajna moon. Since the Three-fold Training actually forms the foundation for the myriad dharmas, it has been especially elucidated in order to put an end to all of the outflows. Can it be that the Buddha at Vultures’ Peak71 had done no good deeds and that our patriarch at Shaolin72 was a liar?
Men of little virtue do not rely on the Buddhist precepts and do not keep watch over the three forms of karma.73 They are carefree and lazy and they look down on others. When they meet people, they argue; and still, they consider this to be the basis for practice!
Once the mind precepts are broken, a hundred transgressions or “faults” also arise.
Those who practice must take into consideration the fact that bands of demons, just like those people mentioned above, roam about everywhere during the period of the Dharma’s decline.74 Like a raging fire, they throw the correct Dharma teachings into chaos.
If you do not keep the precepts, you won’t be able to receive even a fox’s body with the mange in your next incarnation, let alone, hope to attain the fruit of pure wisdom.
You should give the precepts the same respect you would give the Buddha.75 Then, it is as if the Buddha were always with you. You should take the example of the monk wrapped in grass76 and the monk who refused to tell of the goose who ate the jewel.77 as a guide.