Ch’an Talks of the Venerable Master Lai Kuo

Translated by Bhiksu Heng Kuan
Reviewed by Upasaka Kuo-jung Epstein

When people who have first made the resolve to realize enlightenment do the work, they fear false thought. Those people who have sat for a long time fear drowsy confusion. I say that people like these are not capable of doing the work, and don't have a share in liberation from birth and death. What is that? Because you don't realize the scope and sphere of your false thinking, and what is more, you don't know the places to which your drowsy thinking takes you.

You should understand that from beginningless kalpas past until the present, that which has ascended into the heavens is just your false thinking; that which has fallen into the hells is none other; that which has transformed into a cow or a horse is just false thinking; that which wants to cultivate the Way is just your false thinking; that which wants to put an end to birth and be liberated from death is none other; and that which wants to accomplish Buddhahood and become a patriarch is just false thought.

You should understand that above, all the way to the perfection of Buddhahood, and below all the way into the hells, in every stupid animal and in every magical spirit, false thought is the host and master. The strength of false thought is huge, so you ought to be afraid of it, and it is necessary that you get away from it. You want to get away from your false thought, but how much strength do you have? Its strength is waterproof; your strength is only amounts to a single drop.

You think it over: how can the little bit of strength you have get away from the overwhelming strength of false thought? It's for sure that you are afraid of it, but even though you try, you can't get away from it, and unable to get away from it, you are even more afraid of it. For every day you can't get away, you are afraid of it, but the more you fear, the less you can get away from it.

For three years, five years, you've lived in fear like this, and thought about getting away like this...straight through a whole lifetime just thinking about get­ting away from it and being afraid of it. You think it over: are you still able to do the work?  Since you are not able to do the work, can you still find your place among those who put an end to birth and death?

Therefore your fear of false thinking, and your fear of drowsy confusion are a mistake!

Let's look at this again. How could you possibly get away from false thought? Basically you are totally within the sphere of false thought. Your mind is false thought, and your body is false thought; the world is just false thought, and everything in space is false thought; everything beyond empty space is also false though. The mind arising, thoughts moving, movement and stillness whatever acts and every place—is all just a false thought.

To be continued