The Third Patriarch of Zen
Hsin Hsin Ming by Seng-T’san
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
2 December, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
Gyalwang Karmapa continued the section in the text on the theme of death and impermanence, the second contemplation of the four common preliminaries. Today’s transmission began with a powerful evocation of the moment of death. Death is inevitable and cannot be escaped, however wealthy or powerful we are. Life is short and the time of death is uncertain, what can we have confidence in? Only the Dharma.
The text continues with various meditations on death and impermanence, followed by examples from different Buddhist texts and namthar which reinforce this view.
Life is like people meeting at a weekly market; the next day everyone is gone. The only thing which will accompany us at death is the Dharma. Thus we need to supplicate the Gurus, be diligent in our dharma practice, and devote our lives to virtue, as a matter of urgency.
A story from the life of the 11th century Kadampa master and meditator, Kharak Gomchung, provides an example of the attitude a dharma practitioner should adopt. Kharakpa gave many teachings on how to overcome attachment to mundane concerns, and he himself was renowned for his renunciation.
Once a tea merchant came to Kharakpa’s cave and left an offering of a brick of tea. Three years later the merchant returned to make another offering, but he found the first brick of tea untouched and gathering dust. Puzzled, he asked the meditator why he had not used the tea and Kharakpa replied, “I didn’t know whether I would boil the tea or the tea would boil me, and so I had no time! Take them both and go!” So the merchant picked up the two bricks of tea and left. Such is the urgency he felt of dharma practice. Continue reading
Renunciation mind is very simple in a way: we have renunciation mind when we realise that all this is not a big deal. Somebody steps on your toe – what’s the big deal? The more we get used to this notion, the more we have renunciation mind. Renunciation somehow has this connotation of giving something up. But it is like the example of the mirage. You can’t give up the water because there is none; it is only a mirage. Moreover, you don’t have to give up a mirage, because what is the point of giving up a mirage? One need simply know that it is a mirage. Such understanding is a big renunciation. The moment you know that it is a mirage, most likely you will not even go there because you know it is fake. Or even if you do go, there is no disappointment because you already know what is there. At the very least you will only have a little disappointment. ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Our misery or happiness depends on how we react to external events and internal thoughts. We judge and label everything based on our reactions. Sometimes our reactions are so strong that they destroy us. But the real problem is in not understanding that reactions themselves come and go based on ever-changing circumstances. ~ 17th Karmapa
To live as equals with others requires a wide range of experience. The wise have much experience and fools have little. To gain experience, you need to go through good and bad times. How can you grow if your experiences are always the same? Anything that happens, good or bad, can be constructive in the end — as long as you learn something useful from it. So when you face difficulties, don’t feel too bad! ~17th Karmapa
Tibetan teaching story
‘The 12th century master Geshe Ben was renowned for his goodness and integrity.
Once, while begging for alms, a family of devout Buddhists invited him to their home to be fed. He was so hungry that he found it difficult to wait while his hosts were elsewhere preparing the meal. To his complete shock he found himself stealing food from a jar when no-one was looking. Geshe Ben suddenly burst into loud cries of “Thief! Thief! I’ve caught you red-handed.”
His hosts rushed into the room to find him berating himself and threatening his hand with being cut off it ever behaved like that again.’
Buddha used to be a rabbit in one of his previous lifetimes
A Tale of Selfless Generosity.
In this lifetime the Bodhisattva was born as an animal, a rabbit. Yet even as a rabbit, he possessed incredible virtue, goodness, beauty, and vigor; so much so that the other animals viewed him as their king. None feared him and none caused him fear. Among his devoted following, three animals in particular became his closest students and companions. They were an otter, a jackal, and a monkey, who through the Bodhisattva’s teaching, forgot their lower animal nature and became infinitely compassionate themselves.
As instructed by the rabbit in a teaching one night, it was customary that on the next day, a holy day, to offer alms to anyone who passes through their forest. Later that night, the rabbit was distraught as he realized he had nothing to offer. His three companions had ample means to feed a guest, but the rabbit had nothing but the meager blades of grass he ate to sustain himself, which were far too bitter to offer a visitor. Then he realized he could offer his own flesh as food and without hesitation, decided this was what he would do.
Hearing this, Shakra, the lord of gods, went to test the animals and disguised himself as a weary traveler who had lost his way. Hungry, thirsty, and crying with despair, the four beasts rushed to his aid. The otter was able to supply the man with seven fish, the jackal a lizard and some sour milk, and the monkey some soft ripe mangoes. Seeing that the man had built a fire, the rabbit explained that he was offering his own body and then, without hesitation, lept into the hot coals and swirling flames.
Shakra rejoiced, reached into the fire and pulled out the rabbit and then lifted him up into the heavens and displayed him before the gods. Continue reading