A Frank And Sincere Talk On Chan


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen
Based on the Chinese original, this booklet has been revised by Dr. Yutang Lin

Beginning the study of Chan, we probably have many perplexing questions weighing on our mind. We might notice the fact that several Buddhist practitioners of great wisdom like Pang Yun and Kan Chih never left home to become monks and practiced at home without the need to meditate in solitude on a mountain. On the other hand, there were many great Chan masters like Pu Yuan who, lived as a hermit for thirty years, and did not leave Chin Yang; Ta Tung who, for thirty years, did not come down from the Tow Tse Mountain; Lee Tsong who, for forty-five years, did not come out from Tse Hu; and Hui Tsong who, for forty odd years, did not emerge from Don Tse Valley. Should we undertake renunciation or not?

Some say that we should sever ourselves from all virtuous deeds, and wholeheartedly devote ourselves to meditation; others say that we do not need to meditate. Some say that we should undergo a great death"; others say that we should not remain in "stagnant water". Whose advice should we follow?

Some say that we should do away with illusive thoughts, while others say that we do not need to. It has even been said that it is not right for Bodhidharma to say "mind like the wall", not right for Hui Neng the sixth patriarch to say "not to think of good or evil." Where should we stand on this matter?

To the same koan the answers made by one Chan master and another are both correct, although the answers differ. If both answers are right, how can one differ from the other? If both are wrong, why were they selected by editors of Chan records? If only one can be right, which one is right and which one wrong?

Some say that what counts is your view more than your activities; others say that you should walk on the solid ground in order to reach the ultimate. What is truly the right view? What is truly walking on the solid ground?

It has been said that you do not need a brick for knocking on the gate: before the days of the five schools of Chan no hua-tou (a perplexing chan question) was ever used. Further, it has been said that from lesser spirit of inquiry comes a lesser awakening; from greater spirit of inquiry comes a greater awakening; and that from lack of spirit of inquiry, no awakening at all. Hence, to become awakened, we should hold on to some hua-tou and keep up the spirit of inquiry. Should we chew over some hua-tou or not?

Supposing that it is necessary to work on some hua-tou, some suggest this one: "All things are reducible to the one, but where is the one?" "What was I before I was born by my parents?" Some say that "I was in the intermediate state between death and reincarnation." That seems reasonable. But can any spirit of inquiry arise from such an answer? Some suggest this hua-tou: "Who repeats the name of Buddha?" Some say "I dont like to hear the word Buddha," how then could I work on it? Others suggest that we work on the single word "wu" (naught). From among all these suggestions, which one is the best one for us?

The ancient masters advised us to obtain an entrance. What could be regarded as attaining such an entry? They further advised us about going out from here. But where shall we go out from? Whither shall we go? And how do we go out? These masters further said that there should be "great opportunity for great use." What could be regarded as "great opportunity for great use?" Besides, it often happened that when the ancient masters answered questions about the ultimate truth, they broke or smashed something to pieces. What were they doing?

Some say that we should walk in a cauldron of seething oil; but how to do that? What ability should we have before we can do so?

Thus far I have written down quite a number of questions which might baffle beginners in the study of Chan. In order to answer questions like these, in addition to giving blows, shouting and "picking and pushing," the ancient masters sometimes resorted to a frank and sincere talk in plain words. The followers of the Pure Land school are advised to repeat the name of Buddha sincerely. Likewise, how should we sincerely practice Chan? Now I do not mind taking the trouble to write this chapter. Of course, I am well aware that my words might be clumsy and annoying, and consequently causing ridicules. Nevertheless, I am doing so for the benefit of beginners, and hence I am obliged to do so.

First of all, you must make up your mind to practice renunciation. Practicing Chan without renunciation is the source of arrogance. One who talks about high ideals, scorns Hinayana, and advocates "blooming of red lotus in the fire" and "walking into the cauldron of seething oil," but, in fact, has no measurement of realization, is simply using his talks to camouflage his unwillingness to practice renunciation. Let us examine ourselves. What is our natural capacity? How do we compare with the Chan master Pu Yuan who never left Chih Yang for thirty years? In Chapter One, "Superfluous Words", the ancients?time-honored precedents have been cited. They were mostly great Chan Masters of great wisdom and great attainment from the Tang dynasty. Still they had all practiced renunciation to such an extent. Do we have wisdom comparable to what they had? Upasaka Pang Yun cast all his family possessions into the river at Heng Yang, and did bamboo work to support his family. Both his son and daughter remained unmarried. And they were all able to practice Chan. Is our family like Pangs? If so, even though you are staying home, you are practicing renunciation. Why? What you are doing day and night is improving your virtue in order to attain the truth. Likewise, Upasaka Kan Chih, together with his wife and daughter, were not hindered by common affairs. It may be said that renunciation like theirs is much more thorough. Renunciation does not mean that you should leave the world. It means rather that you should find yourself an environment in which you will be able to devote all your efforts of a lifetime to the truth, without being distracted by common affairs. Supposing that day and night, together with your wife and children, you were able to carry on this inquiry at home, then your home would be the Dharma Hall of Chan and you would be practicing renunciation. On the other hand, if you should fail to follow the above examples and, consequently, not see the nature of reality through your dealings with necessities like firewood, rice, oil and salt, or you could not stop quarrelling with others, then I would be under the impression that you were tied to your wifes apron strings, or that you served as your childrens beast of burden, or muddled along through your life time as a cloth-hanger or a glutton, or that you were a "walking corpse," busy with trifles. Such a life as this is not worth your while, and you should be fully and quickly aware of your lot.

If you are not going to practice renunciation, what is that which makes you hesitate? If fame and wealth hold you in bondage, how can you have a part in this inquiry into truth? I suppose that you are still not keenly aware of the suffering of transmigration, the transiency of life (anitya), the preciousness of human birth and the rarity of receiving Buddhas teaching. Or you are buried in the midst of others?praise or flattery, and you might laugh along your way, day and night, and as a result, your mind would be deprived of any joy coming from awakening. You will never become a practitioner of Chan. You must realize that favorable circumstances have acted as your enemy. Your case is hardly different from that of an ox being led to the slaughterhouse: the animal is under the illusion that he be led to the pasture for grazing until the moment when the knife be put upon his neck or throat. Why dont you have pity for yourself? You have muddled along as a youth for the first twenty or thirty years of your life, wasting away valuable time, floating in the "eight winds of worldly ups and downs." Human life can end at any moment of exhaling or inhaling. How many days will you have hesitating to make your decision? Of late, causes of death abound on every hand. Another world war could break out at any instant, with a burst of deadly weapons, the atomic or hydrogen bombs. Your beloved wife and children, your valuable possessions, your relatives and friends, and all your worldly endeavors, all could easily be extinguished instantly by the devastation of warfare. Then you would be left alone in the intermediate state (between death and rebirth) burdened with heinous sins, floating about lonely in the face of threatening wind, rain, lightening and thunder, and high and perilous cliffs and pursued by the ruler of demons and the Yaksas (demons in the earth, in the air, or in the lower heaven.) Could you bear all these horrible things?

Eventually you would be brought before the Yama, God of the dead. If he should ask you, "Why didnt you practice complete renunciation in your previous life, seek after the truth through practicing Chan, and learn to become a Buddha?" Could you use as your excuses these commonplace affairs: your beautiful wife was still young, your children were too young, both your parents were still living or your familys possessions were scant? If you should reply thus, "Although I have not practiced renunciation, I did take refuge in the Triple Gems of Buddhism. Could I be forgiven on that account?" The Yama might say, "Didnt you say that you would knock down Sakyamuni to feed the dogs?" How would you reply? After judgement the Yama might throw you into a cauldron of seething oil. Seeing you wail in pain, the Yama might say, "You were arrogant in your previous life and advocated walking in the cauldron? why dont you show off that ability now?" What would your answer be? Or the Yama might put you between two mountains squeezing you to death, and seeing you wail incessantly, he might say, "why dont you show off your ability to let the eastern wall strike at the western one as when you were so proud of your Chan accomplishment?" How would you reply? He might throw you down into Freezing Ice Hell, where up and down and in all directions, it is white. Seeing you wail incessantly, he might say, "why dont you show off your ability in Chan realization, the so-called snow-filled silver bowl?" How would you answer that question? At that time the wife you left behind might have married someone else; your children love their own sweet-hearts; your rice fields and garden no longer belong to you, those who used to speak highly of you, disparage you. Even if there are one or two relatives or friends who burn a paper house for you, can you then dwell in it? The past evil Karma accumulated in the favorable circumstances of your previous life are the real cause of your suffering. Then it would be too late for you to regret eating the evil fruit due to the evil deeds. For these reasons, I advise you to practice renunciation while there is still time. Are you willing to follow my advice?

Needless to say, in the past, out of their compassion, many patriarchs of the Chan school have given us many words of good advice. Now someone as insignificant as I am, merely for your sake, I have spent ten to twenty years isolating myself for meditation. I have dwelled on cliffs or in caves, have lived on nothing but wild fruits and nuts and drunk from the mountain stream, have offered incense and lighted lamps before Buddha, have prostrated myself at his feet, and reverently informed him of my wishes and finally have wept bitterly and felt grieved, for your sake.

At the moment I am still in retreat in my hermitage in India, and am shedding tears for your sake. Out of sheer necessity, I am now writing this long essay just to form a good connection with you. To hire weepers to mourn over the death of a father will never do for a filial son. You shall have to be compassionate to your own self and to pity your own self. You might say: "To practice renunciation requires a proper time for the suitable conditions to meet. Allow me three to five years to put in order my family affairs before I begin at the task." But I should like to ask you: "How do you know for sure that you could live another three years? Would the Yama grant you a leave of absence for three to five years? On no account should you be so neglectful as to allow the occasion to slip away and time wasted. The ancients used to say, "If you give it up right now, it is given up; if you want to find time to finish it, youll never find the time." This is the last counsel I should like to give you:

Once you have decided,
then it is the very time for renunciation.
Mindful of impermanence,
you do not wait for the meeting of conditions.

Are you willing to give up now?

The whole world busy themselves to death;
Who ever is willing to renounce before his death?
The patriarchs have given us all their good advice;
Now for your sake, I cannot help shedding tears.

If you actually renounce, your mind will become pure, your head clear, and you will have ample time and zeal to practice Chan. When you possess these virtuous indications, you will have a solid foundation and will be free from evil disturbances. Then you can seek after Chan and masters. At that time you still need to do many good deeds to serve people, and you should constantly turn the merits toward the important matter of awakening. As you become one who practices renunciation, you will no longer turn your merits toward wealth, wife, prosperity, or children. Before you attain entry to the truth, you should not slow down doing good deeds. But after attaining such an entry, you should not be afraid of "sitting in the stagnant water." You should stop doing good deeds temporarily until you attain the "use" of truth. Then resume good deeds. This is so called "after you have attained awakening on this side, you practice on the other side." With regard to koan study, before your awakening and meeting the enlightened teacher, you may do so. At least you should feel convinced that Chan is a special transmission outside formal teaching and that the inanimate objects could serve as pointers to the understanding of truth. You should appreciate that the grace of the patriarchs?body-teaching is superior to the word-teaching of Buddhas. This enables you to bear blows or roars of the masters. You should also understand that occasions for a sudden awakening are ever present anywhere. You may refer to the examples of awakening to Chan cited in the various "Stories" contained in this book. Further, you must understand this style of the ancients: "The words do not hold back the ideas, the ideas do not hold back the profundity, and the use does not hold back the opportunity." With this understanding you will not be possessed by any koan, while reading it, nor be hindered by any hua-tou, while working on it. As to which hua-tou is good for you to work on, there is hardly a general rule to guide us. It all depends on which hua-tou you feel could easily inspire your own spirit of enquiry. Working on a hua-tou is not to look for an answer, but is to arouse within yourself the spirit of inquiry, which is where your emphasis should be. Holding up a hua-tou and maintaining the spirit of inquiry, during the twenty-four hours of the day, whether walking or standing, whether sitting or reclining, delve into this spirit of inquiry. All the time the spirit of inquiry would remain whole, without the mixing of other thoughts. Whenever a clear thought arises, strike it out; strike out a vague one equally, and also false ones from all directions. Whenever the empty space arises, fight it to the finish. When nothing would arise, just keep on inquiring. Then, all of a sudden, surprisingly and accidentally, the so called "white bull on the bare ground" would emerge. But you should on no account seek after it before it comes up by itself. You simply keep yourself constantly in the mood of a filial son who has just lost both parents, or of the critical moment when you are trying to put out the fire on your head. If you have not attained awakening today, dont drop the inquiry tomorrow. Just keep doing the ploughing and weeding, and no need to care about reaping the crop. If you have perseverance, your success will come in time.

The ancients preferred to remain silent about what is regarded as gaining entry to the Truth. For your sake I venture to reveal unreservedly what the ancients kept in secrecy. You must first know that once you cross the Truth, you will recognize it. What is said about it beforehand only amounts to a semblance of it, and that might cause your thinking to get confused. Then what is the reason for my giving you a semblance of it? Because lately there are very few enlightened teachers who could certify it for you, while there are many arrogant members of the Chan school. Although we could not divulge the truth beforehand, there is always the necessity of certifying it afterwards. If you should come across some arrogant member of the Chan school who arbitrarily certifies your experience of the Truth, then you might get some intellectual understanding, and follow their arrogant example. That would do you harm throughout your lifetime. Therefore, to give you a semblance of truth seems much better than to keep a strict silence about it. Of late, most beginning practitioners are apt to become lazy and lack perseverance. If we do not give them the conditions of verification, then they get disheartened easily, or they might feel satisfied with scanty attainment. Therefore I venture to violate the tradition of the past patriarchs and risk this attempt to give you a semblance of truth. Though the pointing finger is not the moon itself, yet we know where the moon is by following the direction of the pointing finger. As to those who have attained entry to the truth, what I say below will do them no harm.

  1. The sign of Brightness When you attain entry to the truth, mountains, rivers, the earth, and everything you see become extremely pure and white, as if you were seeing them through a pair of crystal glasses, when compared with what you used to see. This is what the ancients used to call the "white bull on the bare ground," or what they meant by something naked, untrammeled, and glorious, or what they used to call the "snow-filled silver bowl." In the case of common practitioners they might even have some experiences of brightness in their practice of Chan. However, their experiences of brightness might disappear in a wink, might be only a layer, or confined to the space of a room, or might appear for only a while. What is meant by the sign of brightness here is a kind of brightness omnipresent and everlasting. As time goes on, it may reveal itself in varying degrees. When it reveals itself to a greater degree, it is like sitting in a crystal palace. To a lesser degree, it is like the clear sky immediately after the raining has stopped, all clean and white, in any place and at any time.

  2. Absence of Thoughts When we are talking about either having thoughts or having no thought, it is but a dualistic way of speaking. Judging by the right view of reality we cannot allow that only absence of thoughts is right while having thoughts is wrong. Nevertheless, for beginners at their entry to the truth, it is certain that they will have no thoughts at all. Why? Because at that time when their awakening power is not strong enough, only in the case they entertain no thoughts can such an entry have a chance to arise, while having a thought would render the awakening difficult to happen. It is only having later at the stage of use that one could stay in the awakening experience while having any thoughts, illusive ones, scattered ones or even evil ones. Therefore, for those at the beginning of awakening, it is always imperative to get rid of illusive thoughts. it is only after attaining the stage of use that you could do without getting rid of illusive thoughts. As to Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarchs statement that he had no skills and that he would not cut off all his thoughts, beginners at attaining entry to the truth could hardly follow his example.

  3. Unconscious of the subject and object distinction At the beginning of awakening, though you are fully aware, yet you do not sense that your mind is the subject that is able to attain entry to the truth, nor that the brightness attained is the object entered. At that time your mind has returned to the nature of all things, and you only feel clear and bright prevailing everywhere. You feel at ease, undisturbed, open and composed. For more details, the readers may refer to the article on Tathata (Suchness) in the authors Chinese work entitled "A Record of Introspection."

  4. The Breath Ceases Exhaling and Inhaling In the Chan school, as a rule, we even do not talk about the mind, still less the breath. Nevertheless, as a matter of fact, when we are still alive, we certainly do not cease breathing; it does not hold that , because you practice Chan, you have no breath. With respect to achievements in deeds we should not cling to the breath, but for certifying the measurement of realization, the breath could serve as a factor of justification. Hence, Bodhidharma said, "speech without panting;" was he not talking about the breath? Those at the beginning of awakening will feel that the breath might suddenly stop, no breathing out, nor in for a short period. They do not even know what has become of the breath. But in the case of those having attained the awakening for quite a long time, when they recall later that experience, they would remember that the breath ceased exhaling and inhaling. While I am writing this, I recall a case that would serve as a good example illustrating this point. There was a so-called "ground-beating" monk who had deeply attained entry to the truth. Whenever someone asked him as to what is the meaning of Bodhidharmas coming from the west, he would, with a staff in his hand, beat the ground. One day someone hid the staff and then repeated the same question. With no staff to beat the ground the monk resorted to opening his mouth. as he was deep in awakening and the breath ceased moving, so he beat the ground to convey the message, when he was further without the staff, all he could do was to open his mouth. This also proves to us that in instructing their disciples, Chan masters use only their realization, but not speech. Even when they spoke some words, their speech belongs to personal demonstration of realization, but not to oral teaching. The ground-beating monk gave instruction by demonstrating entry to the truth; others, teaching their disciples by belching breath, gave instruction by demonstrating the stage of exit from the truth, as in the case of Shih Tous teaching Yin Feng. Incidentally, when the breath ceases exhaling and inhaling you would feel as if you had lost your weight, feeling very light and relaxed.

The above four signs (or conditions) will happen, not in succession, but simultaneously. Furthermore these are not just the experiences of a single individual, but are applicable to every one of us.

Of the above four signs, only the first one, the sign of brightness, would not easily slip away, while the remaining three are apt to slip away from us. Therefore, after awakening to the truth, in order to maintain the entry to the truth, it is necessary for us to practice meditation. When the ancients disapproved the practice of meditation, they only mean that this practice is not needed before the awakening or after attaining the stage of use. Besides, meditation is even deemed improper before awakening, while needless after attaining the stage of use. Some people misunderstood what the ancients really meant, took it for granted that, once the awakening is attained, there is no longer the need of practicing meditation. Furthermore, they could not carry on the force of awakening in their daily activities. What a pity for them! Why did they not ponder this fact: Some of the ancient masters, after forty odd years of practice, sometimes still had minor inconsistency between activity and truth. Who among us has the ability to do away with discipline? For those who have diligently made progress and have already attained entry to the truth, it is an opportune time to go into retreat and practice meditation. The ancients used to say, "Do not go into retreat before breaking the first barrier (of Chan) and do not dwell in a mountain before breaking the second barrier (of Chan)." Those who have just attained entry to the truth are ones who have broken the first barrier. They would do well to undergo with earnest effort a "great death." In the mean time they had better even stop doing all good deeds. Whenever we are speaking of not doing away with good deeds, we mean at the time after having attained the great use.

Those having really undergone a "great death" after attaining the stage of entry to the truth must have had profound achievements in meditation, have attained a stage of awakening with daily advancement, and consequently have possessed, to some extent, supernatural power. But they should not be distracted by such power to do worldly business such as healing disease or driving away demons, which can not be ultimately beneficial to others. Instead they should proceed to achieve the attainment that belongs to the second stage of Chan.

Why do we call the second stage "exit?" After we have attained the entry to the truth, we undergo a "great death" for ten to twenty years, meanwhile we often have a mind holding firmly the state of awakening. In the parlance of the ancients, there seems to be in our mind something indistinct and obscure, or there seems to be a ruling master there. This is the root of life-and-death, and it should be eradicated. Hence the ancients advise us not to remain in the state of voidness, nor in the "stagnant water," nor in the demons cave. They also advise us to release the master of the pass. Often they spoke of the second barrier. All these are referring to this problem.

How do we get out by the exit? When we sit in the meditative state of awakening, after it has become illumined, undisturbed, and completely free from any intentions. Then we try, meticulously, in our meditation to find whether or not there is a mind which is holding the meditative state. If so, we let go of this state of mind completely, leaving no trace of it, making sure that the Suchness nature remain void, illuminating, and revealing by itself, but not due to the holding on of my mind. Now the mind no longer holds it firmly, the state of awakening will not only not slip away, but the sign of brightness will become more extensive and open, one feels more at ease and light, the breath and even the inner breath, the pulse and blood circulation, and the process of metabolism will all come to a standstill. The prolongation of life and the driving away of disease through the development of supernatural powers is carried out more effectively.

When we come out of the state of meditation we should not get up from our seat in a hurry. First, we look to the right, and stay in the state of awakening with the sign of brightness present as before. Then we look to the left in the same way. Each action lasts two minutes. Then we release the mudra of meditation by extending forward the right hand making the mudra of granting fearlessness, and stay in the state of awakening for two minutes, with the sign of brightness present as before. We do the same thing in the same way with the left hand. We release our right leg from the crossed-leg position and put our right hand on the right knee, keeping the position for one minute with the sign of brightness present as before. We do the same thing in the same way with the left leg and hand. Slowly we get down from the seat and walk about in a meditative mood. Without intentional efforts, we constantly feel the sign of brightness present and the mind void and open. As a result, we could feel ourselves, whether walking or standing, whether sitting or lying, to be in harmony with Chan. At this time whether sitting in meditation or not makes no difference, hence, one may dwell on a mountain and need not stay in retreat. Paying exclusive attention to the state of meditation, we have previously suspended doing all good deeds. But now we must resume doing all good deeds immediately, doing each one from the state of awakening without clinging to anything. At this time we should get in touch only with nice persons and not plunge into sorrows. It is still premature to talk about "walking in the cauldron of seething oil." We may dwell on a mountain for ten to twenty more years so that our meditative force will have penetrated into our sitting, walking, standing, and lying. And even delusive thoughts will bring about the meditative state of awakening, and our meditative strength will have increased to such extents. Then we could enter into the third stage of "use."

At the stage of "use," we make use of sorrows to develop Bodhi(Enlightenment). First, we begin with the sorrow of anger that gives rise to fear which is just a delusion. In dealing with fear, it is necessary for us to combine it with the state of awakening of the second stage of "exit." We should go to cemeteries where ghosts are numerous, or to haunted houses, or under big trees, or to the forests where the spirits of the hills dwell. We should walk around and sit there all alone. Whenever the spirits cause us trouble, making us fearful, we should harmonize the fear with the non-self of the state of awakening. While in harmony with fear, the awakening would become more penetrating and bright, and these spirits would benefit from the brightness of awakening. Under these adverse circumstances it is easier for us to practice the penetration of awakening, while under favorable circumstance it is much more difficult.

After training done in the midst of the sorrow of anger, next we should step into the sorrow of lust. While playing games of chance for money, we should harmonize our worries over gain and loss, or benefit and injury, with the state of awakening. As a result, we will have more strength to use expedient methods in order to rescue all beings. Then we can train our ability in theaters or in cinemas where we are tempted by sounds and forms. Later we can practice this in a brothel, and finally in the internal and external touch or contact. Here our purpose is the same as that shown in the story about the woman who burned the hut she built for a monk (see Section 1, Chapter IV of this book). It is also the same thing that Hui Ko, the second patriarch, was seeking when he said, "I am only training my mind." (In reply to charges that he was breaking the silas.) This is a very hot cauldron, unless one has enough accomplishment beforehand, it would be better for him to be exposed to mockery or insult rather than to fall into the snare. However, if he has gone through all the training at the foregoing stages well, but has no ambition to proceed one step further, he would be considered an inconsequential fellow who has not stood on the solid ground. It is advisable for him to leave his hometown for a distant, strange country, and pretend to be a madman on a visit to the frontier, e.g. Tibet and Si Kon where manners and formality are not very important to common people. He will have more opportunities to practice without suffering the civil punishment or the criticism of society. By that time he should have been in possession of supernatural powers and women and girls in those regions would make offerings by surrendering their bodies to him. Therefore his ability will grow considerably. He should pay no heed to observing the rules in order to be thought well of. He should make further efforts to transcend all sorrows. Many manly fellows, past and present, stop here without going further, and hence cannot achieve greater accomplishment; what a great pity! But anyone who is not well prepared might risk his wisdom life in going further. A puppy cannot jump down from the place where a lion can jump from. Great care must be exercised and one should never become self-conceited.

As an aid to the beginners at the stage of "use," the author would like to recommend the "Hymn of Victorious Reflection" from his work "Collection of Hymns" as follows:


Salutation to the indifferentiability of Guru and my minds Great Perfection

When the Cooperative Unification is suddenly breaking up,
There is still on that branch the nectar of flowers, O, bee! Pick it up.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When you desire supernatural powers,
and someday to become altruistic,
These powers will naturally develop to the full extent.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When sentiments are suddenly flowing,
These will run deep and unwearied.
Though externally differing, things are in nature the same.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When you are doing things with the whole mind,
you are still careful lest there be any omission.
But it is still here.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When in daily life nothing particular is going on,
The withered Chan is like a corpse.
But your demeanors become alive.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When the scene of covetousness confronts you,
Iron dusts suddenly meet a loadstone.
Take advantage of the occasion and make the entry into it.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When the mind of anger is stimulated,
Wrath will get off control.
Directly fit into it!
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When you are bound up with silly dreams,
You will become unconscious.
Suddenly it is in agreement with the truth.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When arrogant thoughts are running high,
No respect is due to Buddha, nor to the Patriarchs.
Step up further, and
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When Doubt and envy are growing and become diffusive,
It is as though the shadow of a ghost is here.
But joy would arise through realizing the sorrows voidness.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When common affairs cause you to feel vexations,
It is like a corpse to be torn asunder by five horses.
Nevertheless, it is still here.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When loud arguing are getting confused,
You are apt to be bigoted and obstinate.
It is like the echo reverberating in the vale.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When the wondrous pleasure is in its abundance,
Defeat it on every occasion it arises.
Thus one obtains the joy of Chan harmony.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When in the absence of thought there is tranquility,
It is like a clear sky with no clouds whatsoever.
Urge yourself on for further advance.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When you are full of the joy of Dharma,
You will sing and dance to please yourself.
Indeed, there is! Indeed, there is!
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When you have some fun and are playing,
Various ways of demeanor will be assumed.
That is it; that is it!
Recall to the mind the Victorious Reflection!

When circumstances are changing,
New forms will constantly appear.
At each of these, you will enter the Reality.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

When the "eight winds of worldly concerns" are blowing,
How could you entertain no thought?
Walk on the path of Chan inwardly as well as outwardly.
Recall to mind the Victorious Reflection!

With respect to the stage of "liao" (traceless), the author regrets not having such measurement of realization nor such experience to offer to the readers. However, as to the right view of it, he has already seen it through. The beginners to the practice of Chan should make efforts to "See it through." But "seeing it through" does not necessarily mean reaching it. In order to reach it, it is necessary to go through all the foregoing three stages. It must be understood that attaining "liao" without going through the first three stages is apt to be a false "liao" and not a true "liao."

The main purpose of setting up such a stage is for the opportune uses of the third stage to become natural and pure, more and more pure to such an extent that they are completely free from acting or functional purposes. Only then is it a true "liao." To help understand this point, readers may refer to the koans on the stage of "liao" in this book.

To stand on the brink of a deep river and covet the fish will get you nowhere. Better, go home and make a net for catching fish. Anyone with the ambition to realize the truth is advised to begin by practicing renunciation. Permit me to pose the following question: Where is not Chan? Where do we go to through renunciation?" I ask you to ponder on these questions. If you fail to see it through, even renunciation will get you nowhere. But if you do see it through, you may renounce without renunciation. Finally, I beg you, the readers, to excuse my chattering on at such length.

Lunar December 10th,
Pin Shen year (1956-57)
The Five Locust Hermitage,
Kalimpong, India

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