THE SIXTH PATRIARCH’S DHARMA JEWEL PLATFORM SUTRA
A Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
CONCENTRATION AND WISDOM
The Master instructed the assembly: “Good Knowing Advisors, this Dharma-door of mine has concentration and wisdom as its foundation. Great assembly, do not be confused and say that concentration and wisdom are different. Concentration and wisdom are one substance, not two. Concentration is the substance of wisdom, and wisdom is the function of concentration. Where there is wisdom, concentration is in the wisdom. Where there is concentration, wisdom is in the concentration. If you understand this principle, you understand the balanced study of concentration and wisdom.
“Students of the Way, do not say that first there is concentration, which produces wisdom, or that first there is wisdom, which produces concentration: do not say that the two are different. To hold this view implies a duality of dharma. If your speech is good, but your mind is not, then concentration and wisdom are useless because they are not equal. If mind and speech are both good, the inner and outer are alike, and concentration and wisdom are equal.
“Self-enlightenment, cultivation, and practice are not a matter for debate. If you debate which comes first, then you are like a confused man who does not cut off ideas of victory and defeat, but magnifies the notion of self and dharmas, and does not disassociate himself from the four marks.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, what are concentration and wisdom like? They are like a lamp and its light. With the lamp, there is light. Without the lamp, there is darkness. The lamp is the substance of the light and the light is the function of the lamp. Although there are two names, there is one fundamental substance. The dharma of concentration and wisdom is also thus.”
Concentration comes from holding precepts. With concentration, one can bring forth wisdom. Precepts, concentration, and wisdom are the three studies which have no outflows. If you wish to obtain concentration, you must begin by holding precepts. That is:
All evil not done.
All good respectfully practiced.
The Sixth Patriarch said, “Although you are Good Knowing Advisors, don’t be attached and say that concentration and wisdom differ. In this Sudden Teaching Dharma-door of mine, concentration is wisdom and wisdom is concentration; although there are two names, there is only one substance.
What is the function of concentration? Concentration produces wisdom. When wisdom is produced, concentration is certainly within it. If you understand that concentration and wisdom are one substance with two different functions, then you understand “the balanced study of concentration and wisdom.”
“If the speech is good, but the mind is not:” If your mind is full of jealousy, obstruction, insolence, conceit, deviant views, greed, hatred, and stupidity, “concentration and wisdom are useless,” they are not present, “because they are not equal.” But if your “mind and speech both are good,” then your mouth says what is in your mind, and “concentration and wisdom are equal.”
You should understand and cultivate on your own. Do not argue with people in order to show off your cultivation and advertise yourself. To debate whether concentration or wisdom comes first is to be “like a confused person who does not cut off ideas of victory and defeat:”
In debate, thoughts of victory and defeat
Stand in contradiction to the Way;
Giving rise to the mind of four marks.
How can one obtain samadhi?
Attached to the mark of self, others, living beings, and a life, how can you obtain samadhi? As soon as you argue, you have no concentration and, consequently, no wisdom. This is extremely stupid. When you argue, you give rise to the attachment to self and dharmas and then the four marks arise. With attachment to self comes attachment to others; with attachment to others comes attachment to living beings; with attachment to living beings comes attachment to life.
The analogy of the lamp and light illustrates the identical substance of concentration and wisdom. As a lamp produces light, so concentration produces wisdom. As light is the function of a lamp, so wisdom is the function of concentration. But despite the discrimination, concentration and wisdom are fundamentally one.
The Master instructed the assembly: “Good Knowing Advisors, the Single Conduct Samadhi is the constant practice of maintaining a direct, straightforward mind in all places, whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. As the Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘The straight mind is the Bodhimandala; the straight mind is the Pure Land.’
“Do not speak of straightness with the mouth only, while the mind and practice are crooked, nor speak of the Single Conduct Samadhi without maintaining a straight mind. Simply practice keeping a straight mind and have no attachment to any dharma.
“The confused person is attached to the marks of dharmas, while holding to the Single Conduct Samadhi and saying, ‘I sit unmoving and falseness does not arise in my mind. That is the Single Conduct Samadhi.’ Such an interpretation serves to make him insensate and obstructs the causes and conditions for attaining the Way.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the Way must penetrate and flow. How can it be impeded? If the mind does not dwell in dharmas, the Way will penetrate and flow. The mind that dwells in dharmas is in self-bondage. To say that sitting unmoving is correct is to be like Shariputra who sat quietly in the forest but was scolded by Vimalakirti.”
You should not speak of directness, and act dishonestly. If you greet rich people with smiles and compliments, saying, “Welcome, welcome!” when in fact it is not the person you welcome, but their money and power instead, that is flattery.
If you speak about the Single Conduct Samadhi, but you act improperly, such hypocrisy betrays a crooked mind. But if you practice keeping a direct mind, then your mind is the Bodhimanda. You should manage all your affairs with a direct mind and have no attachments.
A stupid person gives rise to a dharma-attachment. “I sit here unmoving and I have no false thinking. This is the Single Conduct Samadhi.” He is completely wrong. One who thinks this way turns into a vegetable. The Way should flow without obstruction. If you stop your thought, you turn into dead ashes and rotten wood and become useless. You should “produce that thought which is nowhere supported,” by attaching yourself neither to emptiness, to existence, nor to dharmas. Attachment to dharmas results in attachment to existence, and attachment to existence results in perishing in emptiness. But when you are unsupported, the Way will circulate freely.
“The mind that dwells in dharmas is in self-bondage.” If you get attached to the meditation-dharma and sit without moving, you tie yourself up and become a prisoner. Shariputra, the foremost of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples in wisdom, sat in the forest, quietly meditating, but the layman Vimalakirti reprimanded him, saying, “What are you doing? What use are you, sitting there like a corpse!”
“Good Knowing Advisors, there are those who teach people to sit looking at the mind and contemplating stillness, without moving or arising. They claim that it has merit. Confused men, not understanding, easily become attached and go insane. There are many such people. Therefore you should know that teaching of this kind is a great error.”
The deluded person does not understand the principle. They think, “I’ll just sit here and not get up. This is the way to attain skill in Ch’an.” They get attached to what they are doing, and they go insane. For example, many people have come here saying that they are enlightened. That is insanity.
There are many such people. Teachers from their number say, “If you certify my enlightenment, I will certify yours.” That is a big mistake. In China in the T’ang dynasty, there were false Buddhist Patriarchs who practiced “intellectual zen”–they had clever answers but no foundation in actual cultivation. It is not surprising that we find such people in America today. But these imposters who falsely claim to be enlightened pave the way for those of true enlightenment. No one knew about enlightenment, so the impostors said, “We are enlightened!”
Everyone then said, “So this is enlightenment!” and they examined them closely to see what enlightenment is like. Suddenly a truly enlightened person comes and no one believes in him. They think that the truly enlightened one is the same as the impostors. You who now cultivate to become enlightened will be forced to deal with the widespread influence of such pretenders. That leads me to advise you that when you become enlightened, you should not say that you are. That is the best method.
This is the way of the world: true, true, false; false, false, true. If you are true, they say you are false. If you are false, they say you are true. Therefore you should not speak of true and false. Tell people to go and see for themselves.
Unenlightened people will say that they are enlightened. If you who have already become enlightened claim to be enlightened, then you are just like those who are not. Why? People who actually are enlightened do not introduce themselves saying, “Don’t you know me? I am enlightened! I am the same as so and so, and he is enlightened. He is enlightened and I am just like him.” Enlightenment and non-enlightenment are the same, not different. Do not hang out a false name. Enlightened, you are a human being. Unenlightened, you are still a human being. The enlightened and the unenlightened both can realize Buddhahood. It’s a question of time.
Do not advertise yourself. If no one knows you, that is the very best! Then your straight mind is the Bodhimandala.
The Master instructed the assembly: “Good Knowing Advisors, the right teaching is basically without a division into ‘sudden’ and ‘gradual.’ People’s natures themselves are sharp or dull. When the confused person who gradually cultivates and the enlightened person who suddenly connects each recognize the original mind and see the original nature, they are no different.
“Therefore, the terms sudden and gradual are shown to be false names.
“Good Knowing Advisors, this Dharma-door of mine, from the past onwards, has been established from the first with no-thought as its doctrine, no-mark as its substance, and no-dwelling as its basis. No-mark means to be apart from marks while in the midst of marks. No-thought means to be without thought while in the midst of thought. No-dwelling is the basic nature of human beings.
“In the world of good and evil, attractiveness and ugliness, friendliness and hostility, when faced with language which is offensive, critical, or argumentative, you should treat it all as empty and have no thought of revenge. In every thought, do not think of former states. If past, present, and future thoughts succeed one another without interruption, it is bondage. Not to dwell in dharmas from thought to thought is to be free from bondage. That is to take no-dwelling as the basis.
“Good Knowing Advisors, to be separate from all outward marks is called ‘no-mark.’ The ability to be separate from marks is the purity of the Dharma’s substance. It is to take no-mark as the substance.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the non-defilement of the mind in all states is called ‘no-thought.’ In your thoughts you should always be separate from states; do not give rise to thought about them.”
Basically, real Buddhism has no sudden or gradual Dharma. Stupid people cultivate it bit by bit, whereas enlightened people immediately cut off false thinking, bad habits, and involvement with external objects and so understand the mind and see their own nature.
From the time of Shakyamuni Buddha right up until the present, the Sudden Teaching Dharma-door which the Sixth Patriarch transmitted established no-thought, no-mark, and nodwelling as its doctrine, its substance, and its basis.
Thoughts of the past, present, and future are continuous like waves on water. To be attached to such thoughts is to tie yourself up, to lock yourself up so that you cannot be free. You should not be attached to any dharmas.
In your own clear, pure thoughts, keep constantly separate from states and do not think about the external environment.
“If you merely do not think of the hundred things, and so completely rid yourself of thought, then as the last thought ceases, you die and undergo rebirth in another place. That is a great mistake, of which students of the Way should take heed.
While you should not produce thoughts with regard to external states, that does not mean that you should completely rid yourself of thought.
Attached to marks,
whatever you do is wrong;
But in non-activity
you fall into emptiness.
“What should I do?” you ask. It is just at this point that the greatest difficulty arises, but if you handle it, just that is no-thought.
If you want to have no-thought, then die. That is to have no-thought. But if you die here, you will be reborn somewhere else. That is really wrong! If you want to cultivate the Way, you should pay special attention and take heed!
“To misinterpret the Dharma and make a mistake yourself might be acceptable, but to exhort others to do the same is unacceptable. In your own confusion you do not see, and, moreover you slander the Buddha’s Sutras. Therefore no-thought is established as the doctrine.
“Good Knowing Advisors, why is no-thought established as the doctrine? Because there are confused people who speak of seeing their own nature, and yet they produce thought with regard to states. Their thoughts cause deviant views to arise, and from that all defilement and false thinking are created. Originally, not one single dharma can be obtained in the self-nature. If there is something to attain, or false talk of misfortune and blessing, that is just defilement and deviant views. Therefore, this Dharma-door establishes no-thought as its doctrine.
You may be stupid yourself and not understand your mind and nature. What is more you may slander the Buddha’s Sutras and say that they are incorrect. For that reason, no-thought is set up as the doctrine.
Some people say that they have seen the nature. They say they are enlightened, but they have all kinds of thoughts about externals, deviant views, and defilements.
But your own clear, pure origin, the wondrous, bright enlightenment nature has not one single dharma within it. It is the clear, pure, source, the wondrous, bright, true nature. Originally, there is not one single thing.
Some people speak of misfortune and blessing, saying, “Tomorrow you are going to die, unless, of course, you buy great merit today by giving me a million dollars.” Hearing such talk, the victim immediately buys some merit and, naturally, he does not die. He claims that the prediction was certainly efficacious, but does not mention the fact that he was cheated out of a million dollars.
Or someone says, “You have great blessings, but you are off by just a little bit. If you create a million dollars worth of merit, next term you can be president.”
“The presidency is certainly cheap. If I buy it for a million, I’ll still have several billion left,” says the victim, and he buys the presidency. That is false talk of misfortune and blessings. It is defilement and deviant views.
I will speak to you more about no-thought, no mark, and no-dwelling. Without a mark, where do you dwell? Without thought, what mark do you have? Isn’t that right? No-thought, no mark, and no-dwelling: no-thought is no production, no mark is no extinction, and no-dwelling is the fundamental absence of production and extinction, of right and wrong.
No-thought, no-mark, and no-dwelling are the same as no right and no wrong, no good and no evil, no male and no female. Without deviant thought, how could there be male and female? This is truly marvelous. If you master this dharma there is no mark. Without the mark of self, who has sexual desire? Sexual desire is just a thought; without thought there is no sexual desire and no mark of a self and no attachment. Is this anything but true freedom and true liberation?
No-thought, no-mark, and no-dwelling; no movement, no stillness; no right, no wrong; no male, no female; no good, no evil: this is extremely miraculous. You need only use no-thought, no-mark, and no-dwelling. Without a body, where do you dwell? Right? This is wonderful. You should investigate it in detail.
“Good Knowing Advisors, ‘No’ means no what? ‘Thought’ means thought of what? ‘No’ means no two marks, no thought of defilement. ‘Thought’ means thought of the original nature of True Suchness. True Suchness is the substance of thought and thought is the function of True Suchness.
“The True Suchness self-nature gives rise to thought. It is not the eye, ear, nose, or tongue which can think. The True Suchness possesses a nature and therefore gives rise to thought. Without True Suchness, the eye, ear, forms, and sounds immediately go bad.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the True Suchness self-nature gives rise to thought, and the six faculties, although they see, hear, feel, and know, are not defiled by the ten thousand states. Your true nature is eternally independent. Therefore, the Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘If one is well able to discriminate all dharma marks, then, in the primary meaning, one does not move.’”
The Patriarch addressed the assembly saying, “Good Knowing Advisors, all of you with wisdom, when I say ‘no,’ what is not? When I say ‘thought,’ what is the thought of? ‘No’ means no two marks; further, not even one mark. ‘No thought’ means no thoughts of defilement; no defiled, improper, deviant thoughts of sexual desire.
“‘Thought’ means the thought of the True Suchness inherent in each of us. This is the Tathagata Store nature, the Buddha nature.”
You ask, “Then if there is no thought, is there no True Suchness?”
‘No’ means no two marks; ‘thought’ means thought of the Truly Such original nature.
Thought arising from the Truly Such self-nature is true thought. The eye, ear, nose, and tongue cannot think. True Suchness is the kind spoken of in Chapter III: “When your nature is present, the king is present; when your nature goes, there is no king.”
Although thought does arise and seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing do occur at the gates of the six organs, there is no attachment when you use your True Suchness nature because there are no deviant thoughts. The true nature is eternally independent. Because of the function of True Suchness, you are well able to discriminate all dharma marks. Even so, you are not attached to any state and so in the final analysis you do not move.