The Sutras say, “Birth and death and Nirvana, ordinary people and Buddhas are all but images of flowers in space.” Space originally had no flowers; where did the images come from? Ordinary people take the aggregate of the four elements to be their body and the shadows of the six sense objects to be their own mind. The dispersal of the four elements is called death, and the imbalance of the four elements is called sickness. When the four elements are regulated, one’s body is healthy. When the four elements disperse, where is the false body to be found? Thus we know that this body has no real substance. It is merely a temporary coming together of elements. In reality, it is an illusion. In the state of the unproduced, we falsely see production and destruction, and thus we flow and turn in birth and death, taking the false to be true and taking a thief as our father.
The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas destroyed this false attachment and realized Nirvana. The Platform Sutra says,
“Do not give rise to views of ordinary people or sages. Do not have the concept of Nirvana. Put an end to the two sides and three limits. You should constantly use the faculties, but not have the thought of their use. Discriminate all phenomena, but have no thought of discrimination.” That is, the sentiments of ordinary people and sages are put to an end, self and others are both empty. When things arise, there is an appearance. When they are gone, they leave no trace. This is the purity of Nirvana, which is thus and unmoving, clear and understanding. It is also called the real substance of true suchness. The names are different but the reality is the same. It is also called the knowledge and vision of the Thus Come One.
‘Knowledge’ refers to constantly knowing the empty stillness.
‘Vision’ refers to the vision of the unproduced. Because it is unproduced, it is also undestroyed. Being undestroyed, it has no location. This Buddha-nature of True Suchness is neither more in sages nor less in ordinary people. It is inherently within us. Discriminations arise only because of the difference between confusion and enlightenment.
When has the Venerable Master To Lun’s Dharma-nature of True Suchness ever left the Saha World? When has it ever left us? There’s no need to indulge in excessive grief and give up hope just because the Master has gone. We should continue to follow the Master’s lifelong vows to make Buddhism flourish. That way, we won’t let the Master down. Let us urge each other on!