Keep Up with Practice Even After the Retreat
Dharma Talk to Commence 2014 Summer Retreat
‘Keep Up with Practice Even After the Retreat’
His Eminence, the Most Venerable Jinje, the Supreme Patriarch of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, delivered a Dharma talk to commence the three month-long 2014 summer retreat.
Supreme Patriarch, the Most Ven. Jinje ascended the Dharma seat (上堂), raised the Dharma staff (拄杖子) to the assembly and said:
The iron cow pulverizes and destroys the heavens <鐵牛耕破洞中天>
Radiant colors of thousand-year-old peaks maintain their brilliance <千古峰巒色轉新>
During the golden age of Seon (Chi: Chan Jap: Zen) led by Seon Masters Mazu (馬祖) and Shidou (石頭), the two most preeminent Chinese masters of that era witnessed a great proliferation of Chan Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty. Virtuous monks and lay practitioners alike flocked to their sides to receive training and guidance. One day, drawing from the depths of his faith, Layman Pang (龐居士) mustered up his courage with the notion ‘I must also realize the truth of Buddha and become a saint’ and went to see Master Shidou, walking hundreds, even thousands of miles on foot, taking one mindful step at a time. He prostrated himself in front of Master Shidou by way of three bows and asked a noble question, "What kind of man is he who is not a companion to the ten thousand Dharmas?”
In reply, Seon Master Shidou placed his hands on Layman Pang’s mouth and clamped it shut. How much have you had to muster to ask for a man who is not a companion to the ten thousand Dharmas?
With this response, Layman Pang’s mind suddenly became enlightened, and it opened about 80% of the way.
"Master, thank you so much." Layman Pang prostrated to Master Shidou in farewell, and then in gratitude walked hundreds of miles to meet Master Mazu.
After offering three deep bows to the Seon Master, Layman Pang asked again, "What kind of man is he who is not a companion to the ten thousand Dharmas?" Master Mazu answered, "I will tell you after you have swallowed the entire West River (西江) in one gulp."
With these marvelous words, Layman Pang’s mind completely opened, filled with the radiant glory of enlightenment. As he gained the Supreme Truth of Seon, equal to all the Buddhas and Patriarchs, Layman Pang became Master Mazu’s disciple.
After Layman Pang gained the supreme truth of Seon, he distributed all his family’s wealth and treasures to his neighbors. He, his wife and their daughter then lived a simple life in a small thatched hut near a river. They concentrated on the practice of Seon, supporting themselves by making bamboo utensils. In time, the eyes of the whole family were opened to the truth of the Buddha-Dharma.
As the stories of Layman Pang’s family spread, countless practitioners came to witness the wonder of an entire family living with the realization of their true nature. One day, when Lingzhou was washing vegetables near the well, Seon Master Danxia Tianran (丹霞天然) who was the disciple of Master Mazu came to visit Layman Pang. He asked her, “Is Layman Pang home?” Lingzhou (靈照) stopped what she was doing, placed her palms against her chest respectfully, and stood still.
The Master asked again, “Is Layman Pang home?” She answered by putting her hands down, then she picked up the basket containing the vegetables and went into the hut. Master Tiaran turned away at once and left.
Do all practitioners gathered here understand this meaning?
When Master Danxia Tianran asked “Is Layman Pang home?” – What does it mean when she responded with her palms against her chest and stood still? And what is the meaning of her answer when she put her hands down when asked again, then picked up the basket went back into the hut? These types of teachings are extremely profound and difficult to understand, thus impossible to realize unless one has the discerning mind of Bodhisattva Manjusri (文殊) and Samantabhadra (普賢).
One day, Layman Pang decided to test his daughter’s attainment. He said to her, “On the tip of each blade of grass rests the dazzling truth of the Buddha.” Lingzhou immediately replied, “Your hair has turned white and your teeth have yellowed from prolonged practice. Is this the only opinion you can mange?”
Layman Pang then questioned his daughter, “So what is your opinion?”
She replied, “On the tip of each blade of grass rests the dazzling truth of the Buddha.”
The daughter came up with a reply no less formidable than her father’s – thus demonstrating the true clarity of her mind.
When Layman Pang was resting at home with his family one day, he suddenly mumbled to his wife, “Difficult! Difficult! It is like smearing the top of a tall tree with a bushel of oil.” His wife retorted, “Easy! Easy! The truth of Buddha Dharma is reflected on the tip of every blade of glass.”
Now, Lingzhou jumped in like a flash of lightning and said, “It’s not difficult, and it’s not easy. When I’m tired, I sleep. When I’m thirsty, I drink tea.”
When the world of truth spoken by this great family is understood correctly, one will realize one’s original, true self-nature.
Layman Pang lived such a great life and one day, when the layman was sitting in meditation, he realized that he would pass away soon (世緣). When Lingzhou entered the room, he said, "I intend to pass away when the sun is directly overhead. Go outside and watch for the moment that noon has come.”
In a few minutes, Lingzhou returned and shouted "Oh, Father! There's been an eclipse of the sun (日食) so I cannot see it!"
Layman Pang replied, "Is there an eclipse? Let me take a look.” When Layman Pang stood up and went outside, Lingzhou took her father’s seat and laid down her sack full of attachments.
Layman Pang returned to the room and found his daughter dead. “Oh, wicked girl, she has tricked me! But my daughter, it was splendidly done!” Layman Pang cried. “I will put off my departure for one week to give your body a proper cremation and a funeral.” A week later, he too, entered Nirvana.
After a while, an old woman living next door came knocking on their door. When no one answered, she opened the door and found Layman Pang dead sitting upright on his meditation cushion. She ran to the field where Layman Pang’s wife (道伴) was squatting down and picking weeds out and told her, "It looks like your husband has entered Nirvana." At that very moment, his wife calmly shrugged off her body right there, with one hand still grabbing the weeds and the other hand still holding the hoe.
Everyone from the four-fold assembly! Do you know Layman Pang, his wife and Lingzhou now?
When no response is heard from the assembly the patriarch states,
All members of Layman Pang’s family deserve 拄杖子 thirty blows 三十棒 from the mountain monk山僧.
A new branch will spring up in the coming year <來年更有新條在>
But the light-hearted spring breeze does not allow a moment of rest <惱亂春風卒未歇>
Master Jinje hit he dharma desk (法床) once with the Dharma staff (拄杖子) and descended (下座) from the Dharma Seat.