The Collected Lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua on

The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

--Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society.


"Great assembly, the worldly man's own physical body is the city and the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body are the crates. Outside there are five grates and inside there is the gate of the mind. The mind is the ‘ground’ and one's own nature is the 'king.' The 'king' dwells on the mind 'ground'. When the nature is present, the 'king' is present, but when the nature is absent, there is no 'king'. When the nature is present, the body and mind remain, but when the nature goes the body and mind are destroyed. The Buddha is made within one's own self-nature. Do not seek for it outside the body. Confused, self-nature is a living being. Enlightened, self-nature is a Buddha."


The Sixth Patriarch said that he would bring the Western Paradise to the assembly, and I agreed to move it to the Buddhist Lecture Hall. But if I were to do so, it would be a lot of work and trouble, and so now we shall change our own bodies into the Western Paradise instead.

Good Knowing_Advisors, the worldly man's own physical body is the city...Your very own body is the Western Paradise. When your mind is pure, the Buddhaland is pure. The pure Buddhaland is bliss. In the pure mind there are no defiled dharmas, for they are purified when one is no longer turned by their defilement. Therefore your own body is a city and the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body are the gates.

0utside there are five crates and inside there is the gate of the mind.  The mind is called a gate because it opens and closes; sometimes it thinks and sometimes it doesn't. The mind is the ground and the nature is the king.  The mind itself is the fine, gold sand of the Western Paradise and the nature is Amitabha, Buddha. The king dwells on the mind ground. Amitabha, your nature, dwells within your own mind. When the nature is present, the king is present, but when the nature goes there is no king. If you know that your own nature is constantly present, thus, thus, and unmoving, finally, completely and constantly bright, then the king is present. If you understand the mind and see the nature, Amitabha Buddha manifests.

When the nature is present, the body and mind remain, but when the nature goes, the body and mind are destroyed. The Buddha is made within the self-nature. The Buddha is to be cultivated within your self-nature. Your mind is Buddha; your nature is Buddha. If you work on your self-nature, you can realize Buddhahood. Do not seek outside the body. The self-nature is the Buddha nature; the Buddha nature is the self-nature. The self-nature and the Buddha nature are non-dual and non-differentiated; therefore if you wish to be a Buddha, you must apply effort to your self-nature by purification of your mind and will, heart and nature. Break your bad habits and correct your faults. If you do not get rid of the ten evils, the eight deviations, and your imperfections, you will never become a Buddha. Do not look outside!

Confused, self-nature is a living being. If, in confusion, you lose your self-nature, or perhaps forget about it, you are just a living being.  Enlightened, self-nature is a Buddha. If you wake up and understand that "all bad dharmas should not be practiced and that all good ones must be, then you cut off the bad and practice the good; just this is the Buddha.


"'Kindness and compassion' are Avalokitesvara and 'sympathetic joy and giving' are Mahasthamaprapta. ‘Purification' is Sakyamuni and 'equanimity and directness' are Amitabha. 'Others and self’ are Mount Sumeru and 'deviant thoughts' are ocean water. 'Afflictions' are the waves. 'Cruelty' is an evil dragon. 'Empty falseness' is ghosts and spirits. 'Defilement' is fish and turtles, 'greed and hatred' are hell and 'delusion' is animals.”


"Kindness and compassion" are Avalokitesvara...Do you wish to be like Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva? It's easy! Practice the compassionate way, practice the compassionate dharma, and be compassionate toward all living beings. Heng Ch'ien once said to me, "Your compassion is something new. I never understood before what compassion was." Not only Heng Ch'ien, but many, many Westerners are ignorant about compassion. They are not taught compassion and so they are unfamiliar with it. It is said, "Even right in front of you, you do not recognize Avalokitesvara." Because you do not understand compassion you do not know Avalokitesvara. If you wish to know this Bodhisattva, then practice the compassionate dharma. With kindness, make people happy and with compassion, relieve their sufferings. This is genuine happiness, unlike worldly pleasures such as gambling, horse-racing, the movies, or dancing. Worldly pleasures are just a form of suffering. If you can lead others to true understanding and awakening, then you give them true happiness. Putting an end to all confusion, cutting off ignorance, and manifesting the Dharma nature is true happiness. If you wish to be like Avalokitesvara, practice these dharmas of kindness and compassion.

..."sympathetic joy and giving" are Mahasthamaprapta. To delight in giving is just Mahasthamaprapta.

1)    Kindness (maitri),

2)    compassion (karuna),

3)    sympathetic joy (mudita), and

4)    giving (upeksa),

are the four unlimited thoughts of the Buddhas. If you can give with joy, you are just like Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva who practices great giving and great sympathetic joy, while Avalokitesvara has great kindness and great compassion.

      Purification” is Sakyamuni...Your own purification of the mind, will and heart, your own return to the original source, to your originally wonderful, bright mind, perfectly bright enlightened Tathagata store, all of this is just Sakyamuni Buddha. Sakyamuni also means “able to be humane.”

      “Equanimity and directness” are Amitabha...If your actions can be perfectly impartial without the slightest prejudice, compassionate and just towards all men, this is just the behavior of Amitabha. This is an analogy, so don't say, "Equanimity and directness are Amitabha!" When you listen to Sutras and hear Dharma, avoid giving rise to such attachments. To say, "I heard the Dharma Master say that equanimity and directness are Amitabha," is to slight Amitabha. If you are fair-minded, that is the conduct of Amitabha Buddha.

"But the Sixth Patriarch said it!" you say. "Can't we believe him?"

Did he really say that? Why didn't I hear him?

"Others and self" are Mount Sumeru...This phrase is important in that nothing is higher than Mount Sumeru. When you evaluate yourself and others, you have your status and they have theirs. Sumeru is a Sanskrit word which means "wonderfully high", wonderful because no one knows just how high it is.  Arrogance and pride, notions of self and others, are like Mount Sumeru. Is this clear?

These analogies are used to teach you to see Amitabha Buddha within your own self-nature and to recognize the imperfections there as well.

...and "deviant thoughts" are the ocean water. Are you afflicted? Your deviant thoughts are the salty ocean, and your afflictions are the waves. Small waves do not cause much damage, but big waves may rise hundreds of feet and sink ships. How many ships lie on the bottom of the sea? No one knows. The ships were invited as guests of the dragon king and escorted to the sea's bottom by the big waves. Big waves sink ships; big afflictions smother your self-nature's brilliant wisdom. Take care not to make affliction waves.

"Cruelty" is an evil dragon. Cruelty: the wicked dragon king sends a wave to swamp your ship and bring you to his palace for a feast and some dragon wine.

" Empty falseness" is ghosts and spirits. You say, I don't believe in ghosts and spirits. If they exist, why have I never seen one?" They are empty and false; how could you see one? If you try to catch a ghost, you cannot grab him. You may see what appears to be a physical shape, but when you reach out to grab it--it remains right where it was. It is just a shadow, empty, false, and not actually there.

Apart from frivolity one removes the cover of distractedness.

I will tell you about ghosts and spirits: Ghosts are black, because they are yin; spirits are white, because they are yang. You may see them, but you cannot touch them because they are empty and false.

"Defilement" is fish and turtles. Weariness with sense objects is represented by fish and turtles.

I have explained Sutras for you for so long and I have never told you that "greed and hatred" are hell. It is not that greed and hatred are hell, but thoughts of greed and hatred will certainly send you to hell. You plant the seeds of hell now with thoughts of greed and in the future you descend into the hells.

"Delusion" is animals. When I explain Sutras I sometimes say, "That person is as stupid as a pig." Some people say, "Pigs are intelligent. They eat and sleep and they don't do any work." Such people think that not doing anything is intelligent, and would like to be pigs. As soon as they eat they go to sleep and when they wake up they eat again. When the time comes, they are slaughtered for food.

Animals are stupid and yet, as meaningless as their lives are, they still wish to live. As you kill a pig, he screams, "I don't want to die! I don't want to die!” He begs for his life, but you don't understand his language. What a pity. If you understood, you might be merciful and spare him.


"Good Knowing Advisors, always practice the ten good practices and the heavens can easily be reached. Get rid of others and self and Mount Sumeru topples. Do away with deviant thought and the ocean waters dry up. Without defilements, the waves cease. End cruelty, and there are no fish and dragons.  The Tathagata of the enlightened nature is on your own mind—ground, emitting great bright light which outwardly-illuminates and purifies the six gates and breaks through the six desire heavens. Inwardly, it illuminates the self-nature and casts out the three poisons. The hells and all such offenses are at once destroyed, inwardly and outwardly there is bright penetration. This is no different from the West. But if you do not cultivate, how can you go there?"


I previously spoke about the small waves, which represent subtle thought processes in the mind. You are unaware of these thought-waves, but they are present nonetheless. The big waves represent big afflictions and the small waves the extremely subtle ignorance within your mind, running in a current like waves on water. Are you ignorant or not? With ignorance come greed, hatred, and stupidity. You are greedy because ignorance tyrannizes you. It says, "I want that thing; go get it for me!" and the greedy mind goes and gets it. Beauty, wealth—if he doesn't get it he flies into a rage, like one of my disciples who says, "I must have my way! Why isn't everything the way I want it!" Ignorance, anger, waves...Small waves are not important, but big waves may get you an invitation to the dragon's party.

Don't be cruel; don't hurt people; don't be a venomous dragon. If you end cruelty, the fish and turtles, and the dragons will disappear.

Your enlightened nature is just the Tathagata. Giving rise to great wisdom light, it outwardly illuminates and purifies the six gates, so that

the eye sees, but is not turned by forms,

the ear hears, but is not turned by sounds,

the nose smells, but is not turned by smells,

the tongue tastes, but is not turned by tastes,

the body feels, but is not turned by touchables,

and the mind cognizes dharmas,

but makes them disappear.

This bright light breaks through the six desire heavens:

1) Heaven of the Four Great Kings (Caturmaharaja)

2) Heaven of the Thirty-Three (Trayastrimsa)

3) Suyama Heaven

4) Tusita Heaven

5) Nirmaparati Heaven

6) Paranirmitavasavartin Heaven

When the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind are purified, you have broken through the six desire heavens. The causes, the seeds, of the six desire heavens are planted within your six organs. If you are fond of beauty, you may be reborn in a heaven of beautiful goddesses. Turned by sounds, you may be reborn in a heaven where you listen to music all day long, much finer music than that made by your guitars and mandolins.

"The smells in this world are so nice," you say, "certainly the smells in the heavens are even nicer," and so you are reborn in a heaven full of good smells. When your nose is not turned by smells, you smash that desire heaven and so forth for the remaining five organs.

You ask, "When the desire heavens are destroyed is the Earth destroyed as well?" Empty space itself disappears, how much more so the Earth!

"But where will I live?"

You can live in emptiness, and you need not return. This is the very best.

Inwardly: When you return the light and reverse the illumination, investigate and awaken to the enlightened nature Tathagata, then the three poisons are wiped away and the offenses of the hells destroyed. At this moment you become enlightened to the fact that the nature of offenses is fundamentally empty. But unless you destroy ignorance, your offenses are not removed.

Inwardly and outwardly there is bright penetration. This is no different from the West. Inside and out, there is bright light, inside and out, there is not obstruction. The three evil destinies and the three obstructions no longer exist, and their absence is just the Western Paradise.  For this reason we do not need to move the Western Paradise to the Buddhist Lecture Hall, and we do not need to consult a travel agent for passports and visas. The Western Paradise is right here. But if you do not cultivate, how can you go there? It's so far away. It takes several days just to go to the moon. The Western Paradise is ten billion Buddhalands away, millions of times farther than the moon. Then how do you go there? Purify the mind.


On hearing this speech, the great assembly clearly saw their nature.  They bowed-together and exclaimed. "Good indeed! May all living beings of the Dharma Realm who have heard this at once awaken and understand!"


"Originally our own bodies are the Western Paradise," they cried, "but we did not understand because we did not know how to use them." Those present in the assembly saw their own nature: "Really good!" they exclaimed, "we have never before heard such wonderful Buddhadharma. Inconceivable! May all who hear it immediately enlighten and certify to the fruit."


The Master said, "Good Knowing Advisors, if you wish, to cultivate, you may do so at home. You need not be in a monastery. If you are able to practice at home, you are like the man of the East whose mind is good. If You do not cultivate in the monastery, you are like the man of the West whose mind is evil. Merely purify your mind; that is the 'West' of your self-nature."


The Sixth Patriarch had manifested himself in a layman's body in order to teach the Dharma. After his enlightenment, he did not leave home, but went to live with hunters for fifteen years instead. During that time he cultivated and worked hard. So he said it is not necessary to be in a monastery to cultivate the Way.


The_Honorable Wei again asked, "How should those at home cultivate?  Please instruct us."

The Master said, "I have composed a markless verse for the great assembly. Merely rely on it to cultivate and you will be as if always by my side. If you cut your hair and leave home, but do not cultivate, it will be of no benefit on the way. The verse:

The mind made straight, why toil following rules?

The practice sure, of what use is meditation?

Filial deeds support the father and mother.

Right conduct concords with those above and below.

Deference: honored and lowly in accord.

Patience; no rumors of the evils of the crowd.

If drilling wood can spin smoke into fire.

A red-petalled lotus can surely spring from mud.

Good medicine is bitter to the taste.

Words hard against the ear must be good advice.

Correcting failings gives birth to wisdom.

Guarded errors expose a petty mind.

Daily persist in just, benevolent deeds.

Charity, is not the means to attain the 'Way.

Search out Bodhi only in the mind.

Why toil outside in search of the profound?

Just as you hear these words, so practice:

Heaven then appears, right before your eyes.


            The Way must be walked.
            If you do not walk it,
                  How is it the Way?

Virtue must be cultivated.
      If you do not cultivate it,
      How is it virtue?

      The straight mind is without greed, hatred, and stupidity. Precepts are designed to protect you from these three poisons, but if your mind is straight, what function do the precepts serve? The straight mind has no waves, no ignorance, and does not need to toil at holding precepts.

      The straight mind is ch’an. Ch’an is used to rid you of your faults. Someone is thinking, “The Sutra says, ‘Why toil at following rules,’ so I won’t hold the precepts." Is that person's mind straight or not? He doesn't care whether or not his mind is straight and his conduct sure, he just cares about not having to follow any rules. If your mind is not straight, how can you not hold precepts! If you continue to be selfish, greedy, habit—ridden, envious, and obstructive, how can your mind be straight?

Your parents gave birth to you. You should repay their kindness by being filial and good to them.

The honored and the lowly, the master and the servant should be courteous and polite to each other.

What is patience? Refusing to speak of the shortcomings of others, not slandering, not being jealous or obstructive, all this is patience. Do not say, "This man is evil. I saw him shoplifting!" The incident never occurred, but the rumor spreads. "He took the precepts and then he went out drinking!" It never happened, but someone started talking...

Do not discuss people's bad points. Bring up their good points. The impatient person never speaks of the good, only of the bad. If you have no bad points, he will create them for you.

In China, about four thousand years ago wood drills were used to make fire. Wood was drilled and drilled until fire flared up.

If wood can make fire and the mud can grow a red lotus, then it is not absolutely necessary to leave home in order to cultivate. If you cut off your desire while still at home, you can have success.

One who criticizes you is your Good Knowing Advisor. Just as bitter medicine cures your disease, the critic's words may be unpleasant, but they are sound advice. "Do not be lazy," says the teacher, "do not go to sleep!" The student answers back, "All you ever do is watch over me!" Americans in particular respond like this because they are so remarkably independent that they don't listen to anyone's advice. They want to be unsurpassed and supremely honored. "Right or wrong," they say, "I listen only to myself. I don't care what anybody says. I may turn into a senseless block of wood, but nonetheless I am going to stand on my own principles." I understand Americans; they don't like to hear words, which are hard against the ear.