Ch’an Talks 
of the Venerable Master Lai Kuo


Translated by Bhiksu Heng Kuan

Reviewed by Upasaka Kuo-jung Eptstein

-Continued from issue #117


I ask you, if you were to separate from false thought, then where would you be? Apart from false thought, what kind of a person are you? All of you should carefully and minutely examine this for a moment. Are you yet able to comprehend a little of what I say?

Then what do you have to do to be able to apply skill in cultivation?

When the false thought comes on even more, you should not be afraid of it. But in not fearing it, should you become fond of it? You also cannot become fond of it. You don't fear it, so you don't look upon it as an evil companion, and you are not fond of it, so you don't take it as your good friend.

If you become fond of false thought, when the time comes, you will fall into the hells again. Being fond of them, you want to follow and comply with them. When you follow them, you necessarily break the precepts, and doesn't breaking precepts cause you to fall into the hells?

Therefore, fear won't do you any good, and fond regard won't help you either. All you should do is take up WHO RECITES THE BUDDHA'S NAME—which one is it? Bring it up, examine it, inquire in it and search it out, but in your investigation, you are only allowed to investigate WO RECITES THE BUDDHA'S NAME? Ultimately who is it? At the very basis of it all, who is it?

But if you take the WHO of WO RECITES THE BUDDHA'S NAME? and try to find out who that really is, not only is this approach not investigation, on the contrary it is turning in the opposite direction; it is a marginal affair of your consciousness—your conscious spirit—and is not called investigating dhyana, and is not capable of putting an end to birth and death.

Then how does one investigate?

Today I will tell all of you, the straight and narrow road is just in WO RECITES THE BUDDHA'S NAME? Mho is it? You don't know? Ultimately who is it? You still don't understand; at the very end, who is it? You still don't know, and you don't understand. Apart from this there is not the slightest trace of thought, not the slightest trace of dust.

All of you right in this place should examine the facts. Take a look. Do you still have any false thought? Do you still have any confused drowsiness? Examine this carefully for a minute for it is not a trifling matter. When you are investigating dhyana and have to go to relieve yourself, you go to the bathroom and then come back and pull your legs up into full lotus again. After you've gotten into sitting posture, the period of still meditation has not yet begun—you must wait a minute. With three strokes of the wooden fish, you remain in stillness for an hour, and it's then you consider WO RECITES THE BUDDHA'S NAME? But as soon as you bring up this topic, the false thinking arrives—what an annoyance! You want to shake off the false thoughts, try to get away, but you can't do away with them. What is more, as soon as you break out of your false thoughts, you get drowsy. You can't break through that, and so you just go along with it. At the end of the period of silent meditation, again you haven't gotten anywhere. The period of "running the incense" (walking) is just the same. For the most part all of you are like this. How pathetic! Going along like this to the end, to the limits of the future, there will never be a time of success.

You must see the suffering of birth and death, the suffering of the three evil paths of rebirth. In the blink of an eye, that's where you fall! How frightening! How terrifying! My only wish is that all of you thoroughly recognize this and immediately take up WO RECITES THE BUDDHA'S NAME? And investigate until you penetrate through, until you have no share in birth and death. Then where will the turning in the six-path wheel of rebirth come from? Each of you be determined—MEDITATE!

-End of instruction on second day of second week, 1942 session.