Ch'an instruction given by the Venerable Ch'an Master
Hsuan Hua during a two week intensive session.

translated by Bhikshuni Heng Ch'ih
reviewed by Bhikshuni Heng Yin

edited by Upasika Kuo Yuan Larrick

transcribed by Shramanerika Heng Chu

      Every year we have Ch'an session and each year different people attend them. But I believe this year's Ch'an session is going to be different from the previous ones in several ways.

      Once the session has begun, everyone should be clearly attentive to the question of birth and death. During this session we must be determined to end birth and death. We must be determined to become enlightened. If anyone remains unenlightened, he or she is going to have to undergo one hundred strokes of the incense board. And my incense board is very heavy. When you're beaten with it, it can pulverize your bones and smash your body. When beaten with it, you experience indescribable pain, unspeakable agony. Indeed, it is to be feared that it you have to go through a hundred blows from my incense board, you will have no further opportunities to attend Ch'an sessions. You should be clear about this.

      In this year's Ch'an session, two have brought forth the Bodhisattva mind and are bowing once every three steps, seeking for world peace. Because they didn't want all of us to become enlightened without them, they are also coming to join us and have a share in our enlightenment. During this Ch'an session those two in particular should open great enlightenment’s, most especially Kuo Yu, who has grown so tall. If he doesn't become enlightened, then he's not living up to the large frame he has been endowed with. And Kuo Tao, although he's short, should also become greatly enlightened.

      This year we want to be sure to put down body and mind and work at investigating Ch'an. The Dharma of investigating Ch'an is the mind-ground Dharma door. The mind ground Dharma door must be personally cultivated in order to reap the Bodhi fruit. This year nobody should be lazy.

      Some people think, "Well, if the two who are bowing once every three steps become enlightened, it's not necessary for us to become enlightened." You don't have to become enlightened, but if you don't, you will have to undergo a beating with the incense board. If you are afraid of a hundred blows from the incense board, then absolutely everybody has to become enlightened. Whoever doesn't become enlightened is surely going to get beaten. Not only will you be beaten, but you'll make me so angry that I'll reach the point of losing my temper and wanting to kill somebody! I'm telling you this frankly, because otherwise you'd be gutless, lazy, and not want to work at all. What use is it to be like that and still remain in the world?

      This year some who work outside are at the Ch'an session. When they have finished working they can immediately come and participate in the Ch'an session. Whoever comes to take part is going to have a share in it. Whoever fails to come and participate won't have a share. So it's very equal, it's a very fair method. None of you should miss this rare opportunity.

      Now I will recite a verse and afterwards say the word ch'i and everyone will follow me saying the word ch'i.

The furnace in the great foundry smelts vajra. All Buddhas of the ten directions protect the Bodhimanda.
Every Sage and Worthy One comes forth from this,
And in the Saha World another Dharma King comes forth.



-by Shramanera Heng K'ung

Fasting is good if you don't know the faster.

Fasting is feasting if you do know the faster.

A mind cultivating: the faster is not known.

A moment's rest and a painful fall.

A delicate balance between fasting and feasting.

Too much false thinking will tip the scale.

Relaxed cultivation because I am fasting.
A delicate pass: travel with care.
You may as well eat if you think: I am fasting.
For to rest on this thought is foolish indeed.
And when it's all over what's been said here is true.
Subdue your desires and forget that you've fasted.
With increasing vigor improve your old ways.
Grace is not taken but comes as a gift.