From last issue: When Master Yunmen asked Master Mingxue to say something about the stream, he said, "Knocking on space makes a sound. Beating on wood makes no noise."
Someone might ask, "But didn't the Sixth Patriarch say, 'The Buddhadharma is here in the world; / Enlightenment is not apart from the world. / To search for Bodhi apart from the world / Is like looking for a hare with horns'? Isn't he saying that it's still in the world?"
If you can turn worldly dharmas around, they become the Buddhadharma. If you can turn yourself around, then you have the Buddhadharma.
Worldly people crave good food. They insist on eating well every day. We, on the other hand, aren't greedy for good food; as long as we don't go hungry, that's good enough. Worldly people enjoy wearing beautiful and fine clothes; cultivators of the Way don't need that. They are satisfied as long as their clothes serve to protect them from excessive cold and heat. In general, those who cultivate have to be different from worldly people. That's why I say, "Knocking on space makes a sound. Beating on wood makes no noise." I want to awaken you and make you aware. You were confused before, and now you ought to wake up.
Hearing him, Master Yunmen was pleased and knew that he understood, that he had turned his back on worldly defilement and had merged with enlightenment. "Knocking on space makes a sound; beating on wood makes no noise" represents turning one's back on defilement and merging with enlightenment. If "knocking on space makes no sound and beating on wood does make noise," then that is turning one's back on enlightenment and merging with defilement. It means one is pursuing worldly states and is unable to return to the origin and go back to the source; one has not truly become enlightened. Master Yunmen was very delighted with him, so he showed his approval, saying, "You're right!"
The Master had not yet truly understood at that point. But he continued applying effort without a break, wondering to himself, "I blurted out, 'Knocking on space makes a sound; beating on wood makes no noise,' but what exactly does that mean?" He kept up his investigation of the question, because he hadn't found the answer yet. Even though the words had come from his own mouth, he hadn't truly understood them. That is, he hadn't fully fathomed their meaning; his awakening was not complete. But six days later, upon hearing the tolling of the bell, he experienced a great awakening. He became thoroughly enlightened. He turned around and recognized his original face.
From then on, his eloquence was outstanding in all situations. From that point on, his eloquence was unlimited. No one could outdebate him. No one could match his intelligence. His intelligence, wisdom, and eloquence were without bounds. He was peerless.
Master Yunmen transmitted the Mind Dharma and the robe and bowl to him. When Master Yunmen passed away, the Master became the next abbot of Xiansheng Monastery. Dhyana Master Mingxue took Master Yunmen's place as the abbot of Xiansheng Monastery after Master Yunmen completed the stillness.
In the year of gengwu during the reign of Chongzhen, he founded the Ancient Longhua ("Dragon Flower") Monastery at Bianshan in Huzhou and served as the abbot at eight monasteries. On the fifteenth day of the third lunar month in the year of xingsi, he told his attendant to help ease him into an upright coffin. This kind of coffin is rectangular in shape and the top of it resembles a miniature temple. There is room for one person to sit inside it, so it's also called a "sitting coffin."
He wrote a verse and then beckoned everyone with a wave of his hand. By the time they walked over to him, he had already passed away. He waved his hand telling everyone to gather around, but when they reached him, he'd already completed the stillness. A stupa containing his whole body was erected at Longhua Monastery. A stupa holding his flesh body was built for him at Longhua Monastery.
A verse in praise says:
The master craftsman flourishes in his time,
Like the sun lighting up the dark streets.
The teacher and the disciple see eye-to-eye;
The golden lion lets out a great roar.
Subtly harmonious is the proper, middle path.
The parched and thirsty receive the nourishment of the Dharma.
Grave and dignified is this exemplary teacher
Whom everyone looks up to in admiration.
The master craftsman flourishes in his time, / Like the sun lighting up the dark streets. The "master craftsman" is a great artisan, a great spiritual teacher. He is compared to the sun rising above the dark streets.
The teacher and the disciple see eye-to-eye; / The golden lion lets out a great roar. The teacher and the disciple meet each other and find that their views agree. Their mutual concordance is compared to the thunderous roar of a golden lion.
Subtly harmonious is the proper, middle path. / The parched and thirsty receive the nourishment of the Dharma. The Buddha-dharma moisturizes thirsty living beings, just as water moistens dry, withered trees.
Grave and dignified is this exemplary teacher / Whom everyone looks up to in admiration. One could say that he "revived the souls of the dying." He was able to bring those who were supposed to die back to life. That's why people all looked up to and admired him. As a teacher, he was very upright and proper. He was a bright-eyed spiritual advisor.
Another verse says:
Pure and white are the flurries of auspicious snow.
All living beings return to their homes.
The four elements are but temporarily joined; who is the host?
When all thoughts are emptied, how happy I'll be!
Those who are unenlightened drag their corpses about.
One who recites the Buddha's name and seeks rebirth will have a lotus dais.
The sounds of knocking and beating cause one to enter samadhi.
Whether you are born from a womb, an egg, moisture,or by transformation, don't be dazed.
Pure and white are the flurries of auspicious snow. / All living beings return to their homes. The auspicious snowflakes drift in the air, clean and white. Seeing the snowy scene, every living being should return to his own original hometown.
The four elements are but temporarily joined; who is the host? Of the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air which are temporarily combined, which is the host? There isn't one. When all thoughts are emptied, how happy I'll be! When the myriad thoughts are emptied and there is nothing at all, just think how happy I'll be! I won't be worried about the affairs of the north, south, east or west. I won't remember anything at all. How fine!
Those who are unenlightened drag their corpses about. People in the world who drag their corpses around are unawakened; they have turned their backs on enlightenment and merged with the "dust" of the world. They fail to wake up. One who recites the Buddha's name and seeks rebirth will have a lotus dais. If you want to be liberated from birth and death, simply recite the Buddha's time and seek rebirth in the Pure Land. A ready-made lotus dais is waiting for you there. Amitabha Buddha prepared it for you long ago.
The sounds of knocking and beating cause one to enter samadhi. When you beat on a drum or knock on wood, a sound is made. Only when one enters a state of samadhi can there be a change. This is not referring to the use of spiritual powers. He simply spoke two verses, and it had nothing to do with spiritual powers. So don't be so quick to think that his speaking a sentence involved the use of spiritual powers. It wasn't that way. If you think it was, you're just indulging your imagination. He was in a state of samadhi, so that it didn't matter whether a sound was made or not.
Whether you are born from a womb, an egg, moisture, or by transformation, don't be dazed. Don't get stuck in that state and think that it's pretty nice, that it's quite enjoyable. You're just dazed! You're not enlightened!