Another verse says:
He investigated the great intent for coming from the West.
A bar of soap was lifted: “Do you understand?”
Putting down the soap is an ordinary matter.
He bowed in deep gratitude for the Dharma.
Dissolve the glue, break through attachments,
understand the path of the mind.
Return to the source and behold the Buddha of your nature.
When the winds are calm and the waves are still,
Keep on working hard.
On top of a hundred-foot pole, do not be lazy!
He investigated the great intent for coming from the West. Master Huiji asked about the ultimate meaning of the Patriarch coming from the West. Master Xuanquan, without thinking, picked up a bar of soap.
A bar of soap was lifted: “Do you understand? Master Huiji said, “No, I don’t understand.” Then Xuanquan put down the soap, and made the gesture of washing clothes. At that moment, Master Huiji understood that with Buddhadharma, the ordinary mind is the Way.
Putting down the soap is an ordinary matter. Cultivation is done in a very ordinary way; it is not in lofty and profound principle that cultivation is found. When you cultivate, do not renounce what is near to seek what is far away. Do not renounce the roots and seek the branches. Do not go looking for some inexpressibly wonderful principle, some profound, unfathomable, secret meaning. Don’t go looking for those things. Instead, right in your common everyday activities—in rising, walking, standing, sitting, and lying down—if you can understand this, then all of this is the Buddhadharma. Everything is expounding the wonderful Dharma. If you understand, then you will be able to practice right in everyday matters. Do not seek for what is lofty and far away. For example, everyday we eat. However, we should have a philosophy with respect to our eating. Putting on clothes, we should know how to put on clothes. Sleeping, we should have wisdom with regard to sleeping. If you do not understand these matters, you will either go overboard, or not have enough. Let’s take eating, for example. If you eat too much, you will get sick. If you don’t eat enough, you will go hungry. Eating too much will give you a bloated stomach which is very uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you go hungry, you will also feel uncomfortable. You should eat just the right amount. Although this is a very common matter, if you understand it, then you will know how to apply effort. The same principle applies to wearing clothes. If you wear too many clothes, you will get hot; if you don’t wear enough, you will feel cold. At this time, you should find the middle way. Sleeping is the same. You may like to sleep. You may sleep from nighttime to the morning, and then sleep from morning to night, to the exclusion of doing other things, even eating and wearing clothes. That won’t do. If you have wisdom, you will be able to regulate your sleep. It will suffice if you get enough, but don’t overdo it. If you do not get enough sleep, you won’t have enough energy. On the other hand, if you oversleep, you will also feel uncomfortable. Therefore, there has to be wisdom associated with sleeping as well. We should understand these three necessities of life: eating, wearing clothes, and sleeping. Now, because these are ordinary affairs, everybody knows how to do them and engages in them daily. However, it’s not for sure that everybody does them well, or properly. Sometimes when people do not do these things properly, problems arise.
Master Xuanquan picked up the soap, and Master Huiji did not understand. Master Xuanquan put it down, and made the gesture of washing clothes, whereupon Master Huiji understood. These are very ordinary matters, but it’s right here where we want to focus our attention and energy.
He bowed in deep gratitude for the Dharma. Master Huiji thanked his teacher for instructing him in the ultimate meaning of the Middle Way. We should work on our cultivation right in our everyday encounters, . For example, since we are not supposed to get angry, we should learn not to get angry. Since we should not have attachments, we should try to get rid of them.
Dissolve the glue, break through attachments, understand the path of the mind. If you can put down your attachments, you will awaken to the path of your mind. That’s true cultivation. If you barely understand and say, “Yes, I’m supposed to break my attachments,” but you don’t actually break them, it is useless. You are still talking about food but not eating it. You are merely counting other people’s money, and cheating yourself. You should understand the path of your own mind.
Go back to the basics, return to the source, behold the Buddha of your own nature. You will realize that your mind is the same, not different, from the Buddhanature. If you can understand your mind and see your nature, go back to the origin and return to the source, you will arrive at the Land of Eternal Stillness and Light.
When winds are calm and waves are still, when it’s smooth sailing and you aren’t faced with demonic obstacles, does that mean you can relax a little and be lazy? No. Right at this time you should
keep on working hard and push ahead. You don’t want to be lax for even a second.
On top of a hundred-foot pole, do not be lazy! When you are reaching the peak of your skill, the highest point, be very careful that you do not become lax. “Because of one false move,
You lose the entire chess game.”
At this critical point, you want to work hard and vigorously push forward. “ On the top of a hundred-foot pole, keep on progressing.The worlds of the ten directions appear in their entirety.”