觸 背 俱 非
佛 祖 倒 跨
直 下 會 去
早 涉 周 遮
松 庭 月 冷
獅 子 爪 牙
正 偏 互 錯
雪 裡 藏 鴉
松 庭 月 冷 夜 寒 涼
門 牆 高 峻 莫 商 量
折 攝 二 則 方 便 用
恩 威 並 運 巧 妙 詳
鬼 窟 尋 寶 空 費 力
火 宅 苟 安 甚 勉 強
迥 脫 根 塵 無 所 住
逍 遙 自 在 歸 故 鄉
The Master was born in Jin Dyan of Sung Yang, the son of the Ren family. He studied under Sung Ting. Ting brought up a topic which Ywe Yin had used to instruct people, saying "When you meet a dead snake on the road, don't beat it to death. Fill up a bottomless basket and bring it back. What do you say? If it were a reckless Chan pro, how could he penetrate in this moment?" The Master said, "This is an indirect provocation. Isn't this what it means?" Ting said, "Laughing so hard, I split my mouth." The Master was at a loss. Ting said, "What are you begging for in the ghosts' grotto?" The Master was even more disconcerted. One day, Ting entered the hall and said, "One word brings radical liberation and solitary excellence." At that moment, the Master became greatly enlightened. In the Geng Wu year of the Hung Wu reign, he became the Abbot at Ju Ting. In the year of Syin Chou in the reign of Yung Le, without any illness, he suddenly gathered the great assembly together to bid farewell. He spoke a verse, "I will part from you this evening, at the age of eighty-seven. I put it all down before the time of Awesome Sound. A golden rooster crows at dawn. After he finished the verse, he composed himself and entered Nirvana.
A verse in praise says:
Direct and indirect, both are wrong;
The Buddha turned around and came back.
Right here and now, try to comprehend;
You're already embroiled in complications.
The cold moon at Sung Ting's place,
The claws and fangs of a lion.
Proper and partial are meshed together
Crows are hidden in the snow.
Another verse says:
The moon at Sung Ting's was cold, and the nights were chilly
The gate and wall were high and stern, uncompromising.
The two methods of subduing and attracting were
Kindness and awesomeness functioned together -
skillful, wonderful, and all-pervasive.
Seeking treasure in the cave of ghosts, he wasted his efforts.
In the burning house, he enjoyed a fool's paradise,
but it was all unreal.
Completely liberated from the sense organs and objects,
he dwelt nowhere.
Free and at ease, he returned to his native village.
The Sixty-second Generational Patriarch was also of the Tsau-Dung School, also known as the Dung-Ning School. Regardless of what school he belonged to, this Dhyana Master's name was Ning Ran, and his title was Lyau Gai. Ning means "congealed together." Lyau Gai means he understood (Lyau) and changed (Gai) for the good. This Dhyana Master was born in
Jin Dyan of Sung Yang. Sung Yang refers to Mount Sung in Henan. In the south of Jung Ywe there's a small town called Jin Dyan (Golden Shop). But don't think about going there to pan for gold, because it's a gold shop, not a gold mine. Don't be greedy and say, "It's a gold shop, so I'll go there to get some gold." Gold isn't so wonderful, because when you have a lot it gets too heavy to carry. His lay surname was Ren. He went to visit Sung Ting, which refers to Dhyana Master Dz Yen.
Ting brought up a topic which Ywe Yin had used to instruct people. Sung Ting mentioned some phrases which Ywe Yin (Moon Seal) had used to instruct everyone. Among these was a line which Ting quoted:
When you meet a dead snake on the road, don't beat it to death. This statement is doesn't make sense. It's just like something said to humor a child. Since the snake is already dead, why would you clobber it? Even if you don't clobber it, it's still dead, so how can you not beat it to death? Of course you shouldn't beat a live snake to death, but now the snake is dead, so what's going on here? "When you meet a dead snake on the road, don't beat it to death" means cultivators should not cultivate in a stiff, lifeless way. It's said, "Dragons do not thrive in stagnant water." Cultivators should use modern jargon. You should study and apply your learning in a lively, dynamic way. Don't be as rigid as a wooden board. "When you meet a dead snake on the road, don't beat it to death" is talking about your cultivation being too inflexible. The more rigid you are, the more rigid you become. Being so stagnant you won't be able to produce a dragon. This simply means you don't know how to cultivate.
Fill up a bottomless basket and bring it back. A basket needs to have a bottom to be able to hold things. If it doesn't have a bottom, how are you going to carry things in it? "Fill up" means to put things in the basket, but what can a basket without a bottom hold? It cannot hold things. This is all a kind of verbal swordplay. Although there's no principle in it, he insists on speaking this way, causing you to not understand. How can a bottomless basket hold things? At this point you have no road left to take. It's just when you get to a dead-end that you can suddenly penetrate all directions! It's said, "When you reach the end of the mountains and rivers and there is no road to take, beyond the dark willows and bright flowers is another village." This means that, although it can't be this way, he still says it's like this. This is just where the secret of Chan lies. The secret of Chan is that you have to turn it, just as a watch won't run until you wind it up. Fill up a bottomless basket and bring it back: what can you carry back in a bottomless basket? At this point you have to think.
What is it which is bottomless? It is just our mind of greed. If you have a greedy mind, then let me tell you, just this is the bottomless basket. "When you meet a dead snake on the road, don't beat it to death" is talking about stupidity. Only a fool would beat a snake which is already dead. If that's not stupid, then what is it? You could also say it's hatred. Here it's talking about the three poisons. "Fill up a bottomless basket and bring it back" is a mind of greed. Our greedy mind is just like a bottomless basket. No matter how much you put in, it never gets full. Do you believe this? Greedy desire is just like a mountain ravine which is very difficult to fill up. Your greed is insatiable. This includes greed for wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep. You are greedy for all of these, not just for one thing. Wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep are the five causes for falling into the hells, and they are also a bottomless basket. You keep wanting to put things into this bottomless basket to carry back, but you won't be able to bring anything back. If you're greedy, there will never be a day when you are satisfied. Just look at the past emperors of China, who owned the whole country, had enjoyment in their afterlife, and were glorified by their descendants. But they were not content with all that, and still wanted to devour up other countries. Before they finished swallowing them, they died. After they died, control would be lost, and it would be all over. Now the superpowers and larger countries of the world also want to swallow up the other countries and make them their own. They keep devouring until they cannot swallow anymore, and then they choke to death and run into problems. Therefore, a greedy mind is just like a bottomless basket, a bottomless ravine of desire. We people are also like bottomless baskets, always greedy, so our bodies have outflows. Having no outflows is like a basket that has a bottom. Having outflows is like a basket with no bottom. That's the way it is.
What do you say? Right when these two lines of Chan banter are spoken, what would be appropriate to say in reply? What would be right?
If it were a reckless Chan pro. Reckless means hasty and brash, one who acts impulsively without consideration. A reckless Chan pro is someone who doesn't pay attention to Heaven or Earth, and who doesn't carefully consider anything. A "Chan pro" is a monk who investigates Dhyana; this is a slang expression in Buddhism. A reckless Chan pro is someone who is coarse and rough.
How could he penetrate in this moment? At this point how can he comprehend? To penetrate means to understand. Under these conditions, how can he understand? If you want to understand this principle, you cannot be reckless and hasty.
The Dhyana Master Lyau Gai said, "This an indirect provocation. Isn't this what it means?" "indirect" means the opposite side, "provocation" means stimulation. This is to speak Dharma for you from the opposite side, not to speak directly, but to speak indirectly from the other side, from behind you. "Provocation" means to touch one point and be able to infer the rest, enabling you to understand. But at this time do you have the most thorough understanding? You probably have a pretty thorough idea. After you say this, I'll say, "This is probably already the ultimate, already pretty good! It's already just about there!" This is cheating talk, someone pretending to be an expert. Does he really know? No, he doesn't. But although he doesn't know, he still wants to speak, to pretend he's an expert, to pretend that he knows.
Ting said, "Laughing so hard, I split my mouth." Ah! When you talk like this, you really make me laugh so hard that I hurt my mouth. This is too laughable. Why? Just what are you begging for in the ghosts' grotto? The ghosts' grotto is the cave of the ghosts. What are you begging for at the place where ghosts live? Begging means begging for food. What are you seeking?
To be continued