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Venerable Master Hua's Talks on Dharma Volume Four 

化老和尚开示 Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua



Chan Meditation Involves Practicing the Six Paramitas

Haste will make you stumble; tarry, and you'll fall behind.
Not too fast, and not too slow, you'll get there right on time.



Each of you who has the job of Ceremony Master, please note that when the meditation period is over, you should hit the handbell once to alert the sitters that it is time to stand up. When you see that they are all ready to stand, hit the bell again. At that signal, everyone will stand up together. The Ceremony Master then will strike the wooden fish two times to signal the beginning of the walking meditation period. During the walk, we should make two separate lanes: one for fast walkers, and one for slower walkers. The faster walkers should use the outer lane, and the slower walkers should use the inner lane. This is a way to ensure harmony, so that everybody can be free and at ease in their cultivation. Both slow and fast walkers are accommodated. A saying goes,

Haste will make you stumble;
Tarry, and you'll fall behind.
Not too fast, and not too slow,
You'll get there right on time.



This is the principle of there being no fixed dharmas. A line from the Vajra Sutra (Diamond Sutra) says, "There is no fixed dharma known as Unsurpassed, Proper, Equal, and Right Enlightenment (Anuttara-samyaksambodhi)." As soon as you want to determine a dharma absolutely, you'll create a problem right there.



Another line from the Vajra Sutra says, "The Dharma is equal and impartial; it has no aspects higher or lower than any other." Therefore, as we cultivate the Dharma, we want to be impartial. Even though the Buddha possesses the Three Bodies, Four Modes of Wisdom, Five Spiritual Eyes, and Six Wisdom Powers, he does not feel that he is in any way different from living beings. As it's said, "The mind, the Buddha, and living beings are one and the same, and are in no way distinguishable from one another." The mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is living beings; living beings are the Buddha, and the Buddha is the mind.




You can investigate Chan while walking quickly; you can also investigate Chan while walking slowly. Set your own pace according to your own physical strength. Let your walking speed be completely natural; don't be artificial in the least. Avoid forcing it; just be vigorous as you work, and be patient. Even if your back hurts or your legs ache, pay them no mind. You should want nothing; just that is giving. When the body doesn't do anything bad, this is purity in physical karma. When the mouth doesn't say evil things, this is purity in speech karma. When the mind doesn't indulge in idle thoughts, this is purity in mental karma. When these three modes of karma are purified, then you are upholding precepts. If you can endure any kind of pain, then this is patience. If you can apply yourself without cease to the cultivation of the Way, if you never retreat regardless of the difficulties you encounter, then this is vigor. If you can sit down and become "Thus, thus unmoving, resolved, and always clear," then this is Chan samadhi. Wisdom is born of Chan samadhi, and this wisdom is Prajna. When these Six Paramitas are perfected, you can reach the other shore.




When it's time to end the walk, the Ceremony Master watches for the senior monk to return to his seat, then he strikes the wooden fish once. When everyone has returned to his seat, the Ceremony Master strikes it once more, and everyone sits upright and properly with a straight back, without letting the head droop or the back curve. This is called "sitting like a bell." This means the head is erect and the back is straight, just like a great iron bell, very stable and solid.




Investigate the sentence: "Who is reciting the Buddha's name?" Don't merely recite the sentence, but investigate it, look into the word "who." Someone may say, "I know, the one reciting the Buddha's name is me!" That's wrong. If you really understand the answer to this meditation topic, then you can "understand your mind and see your nature." Then you have "penetrated to the the source of Dharma," and you have "found your way home." To understand is not as simple a matter as you make it out to be. "It's just me! I'm the reciter!" you insist. Well, after you die, is there anyone still reciting? No, there isn't. Since there isn't, how can you claim that you are there reciting the Buddha's name? You should realize that the person who recites the Buddha's name is a person who does not die. You, however, can die, so you can't be considered the one who is reciting. We recite the Buddha's name, and we can become Buddhas. But who is the one who becomes a Buddha? Who goes realizes Buddhahood? You've already died. This is what you must look into, and don't slack off even when "the ocean dries up and solid rocks fall apart." Investigate to the ultimate point; then you'll see the waters part and the rocks appear. Suddenly you'll enlighten to the truth that it was just this way all along!


一九八○年禅七 十二月开示


A talk given during a Chan Session
in December, 1980


法界佛教总会 . DRBA / BTTS / DRBU