The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment
Last Revised: 10 February 2005
Details of bibliographic acronyms are available here .
Subject: Bodhidharma, First Zen Patriarch in China
Dates: b 440-470 AD; d 543 AD.
Tradition: Ch’an Buddhism.
If, while you're walking, standing, sitting or lying in a quiet grove, you see a light, regardless of whether it's bright or dim, don't tell others. And don't focus on it. It's the light of your nature. (ZTB, 16.)
If, as in a dream, you see a light brighter than the sun, your remaining attachments will suddenly come to an end, and the nature of reality will be revealed. Such an occurrence serves as the basis for enlightenment. (ZTB, 16.)
Without this [original] mind, we can't move. The body has no awareness. Like a plant or stone, the body has no nature. So how does it move? It is the [original] mind that moves. (ZTB, 21.)
To transcend motion and stillness is the highest meditation. Mortals keep moving, while arhats stay still. But the highest meditation surpasses that of both mortals and arhats. People who reach such understanding free themselves from all appearances without effort and cure all illnesses without treatment. Such is the power of great zen. (ZTB, 24.)
Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists nor doesn't exist. Mortals keep creating the mind, claiming it exists. And arhats keep negating the mind, claiming it doesn't exist. But bodhisattvas and buddhas neither create nor negate the mind. That is what's meant by the mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist. The mind that neither exists nor doesn't exist is called the Middle Way. (ZTB, 26.)
Seeing through the mundane and witnessing the sublime is less than an eye-blink away. (ZTB, 56.)
Subject: Seng-Ts’an, Third Zen Patriarch in China
Dates: Dates unknown; Mid-Sixth Century A.D.
Tradition: Zen Buddhism
When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness,
We return to the origin and remain where we have always been. (PP, 74.)
The Mind of Absolute Trust
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 is 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 to achieve 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 the 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.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain in the dualistic state;
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.
When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes.
Things are objects because of the subject;
the mind is such because of things.
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
To live in the Great Way
is neither easy nor difficult,
but those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute;
the faster they hurry, the slower they go,
and clinging cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way,
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things [your own nature],
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,
for everything is murky and unclear,
and the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefits can be derived
from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way,
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many;
from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the mind is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams or flowers in the air:
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong:
such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.
If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion:
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the Way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
with a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination
are of no value.
In this world of Suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just simply say when doubt arises, ‘Not two.
’ In this ‘not two’ nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space;
in it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Emptiness here, Emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands
always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small:
no difference, for definitions have vanished.
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this.
One thing, all things:
move among and intermingle,
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no today. (HHM)
Dates: D. 593
Tradition: Roman Catholic
In the nunnery ruled over by the blessed Radegund there died a girl called Disciola, who was the niece of Salvius, the saintly Bishop of Albi. The circumstances of her death were as follows. When she began to feel ill, the other nuns nursed her with great care. The day came when she was on the point of death. At about nine o'clock, she said to the nuns: "I seem to be lighter in body than I was. My pain has gone. Please do not worry about me any more, or nurse me with such great care. Perhaps you will leave me now, so that I can manage to sleep for a while." When the other nuns heard this, they left her cell. Later on they returned and stood there at her bedside, wondering if she would have the strength to speak to them. She spread her hands wide and seemed to be asking a benediction of someone. "Give me your blessing, holy messenger from God on high," she whispered. "This is the third time today that you have taken the trouble to visit me. Why, holy one, do you take such pains for a poor, feeble woman?" The nuns asked her whom she was speaking to, but she did not answer. Some time passed and then she laughed aloud. Just as she did so, she died. [A man possessed of a devil said:] "The Archangel Michael has just received that sister's soul," said he, "and he is even now carrying it off to heaven. My own master, he whom you call the Devil, has no share in her at all!" Those who washed Disciola's body said that it shone with a snow-white purity, and that the Abbess could not find in her cupboard a winding-sheet which was whiter than she was. They wrapped her in clean linen and committed her to the grave. (HF, 356.)
The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment
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