A verse in praise says:
The Way-place of No Marks:
Where won’t you see it?
Without being turned, it revolves by itself,
Instantaneously transcending expedient means.
He feared what he said would get recorded on paper,
But his words were inscribed on stone tablets everywhere.
In the dead of night, right in the middle of the sky,
A solitary sun appears.
The Way-place of No Marks: Where won’t you see it? Every place is just the Way-place of no marks.
Without being turned, it revolves by itself, instantaneously transcending expedient means. You don’t need to give it a spin; it can turn and revolve by itself. With sudden enlightenment, one can transcend all the expedient dharma doors.
He feared what he said would get recorded on paper. Dhyana Master Jingxuan was afraid that what he said would be recorded on paper,and so he didn’t want to leave any traces. He wanted nothing at all. Leaving traces behind is an attachment to marks, and not a Way-place of no marks.
But his words were inscribed on stone tablets everywhere. But Dhyana Master Liangshan thought those words should be chiseled in stone because nobody had ever said those words before, or had ever had the insight required to say something like that.
In the dead of night, right in the middle of the sky, a solitary sun appears. The night seemed to turn into day; the sun shone brightly. That means he was an outstanding person among his fellow cultivators; he was different from the rest.
Another verse says:
The markless Way-place is vast and empty.
The human mind is dangerous: hold to the Middle.
Thinking about plums to try to quench
one’s thirst is just cheating oneself.
Drawing cakes to satiate one’s hunger is only
fit for placating children.
Fearing lest what he said would be recorded
with brush and paper, he stopped speaking.
Wishing to serve as a model, he ate one meal a day at noon.
In eighty-five years, it was still hard to see it:
After he seated himself and departed,
affairs unfolded layer after layer.
The markless Way-place is vast and empty. Way-places all have marks. “The Way-place with no mark” is just a term, and basically there is no such place. Therefore, here it says “vast and empty”. Basically, there is no Way-place that is markless.
The human mind is dangerous: hold to the Middle. In Confucianism, it is said that “the human mind is dangerous; the Way-mind is subtle. Concentrate and be singleminded: sincerely hold to the Middle.” This is (a translation of) the sixteen word mind-dharma of the Confucian School. “The human mind is dangerous,” it cannot be trusted. If you don’t want to be caught in a dangerous situation, then you should not try to seek what is subtle and wonderful. You should stick to the Middle Way. Why is that?
Thinking about plums to try to quench one’s thirst is just cheating oneself. when we feel thirsty, if we think about sour plums, lots of saliva will be produced in our mouths. Then we will no longer feel thirsty. However, although it is possible to alleviate our thirst temporarily by thinking that way, we are cheating ourselves.
This refers to an incident that occurred during the Three Kingdoms Period. Cao Cao told his troops: “Very soon we will arrive at a plum orchard, and then we will eat sour plums and will no longer feel thirsty.” The moment his troops heard that, they started to imagine the taste of sour plums, and so they forgot their thirst. That is known as “to quench one’s thirst by imagining plums.” In fact, this is just cheating oneself.
Drawing cakes to satiate one’s hunger is only fit for placating children. Children like to eat cakes. You may draw the picture of a cake on paper and tell them, “Eat it and you will not be hungry,” but that is a child’s game. This principle applies to one who is looking for that which has no mark. Actually, you do not need to look for it, because there is no markless Way-place after all.
Dhyana Master Jingxuan asked about the markless Way-place. Dhyana Master Liangshan pointed to the image of Guanyin Bodhisattva, painted by Wu Dao Zi. When Dhyana Master Jingxuan was about to say something, Dhyana Master Liangshan quickly said, “Since this has marks, you should know what has no marks.” Upon hearing that, Dhyana Master Jingxuan immediately became enlightened. He did not need to “quench his thirst by imagining plums, nor did he need to “draw a picture of cakes to satisfy his hunger.”
Fearing lest what he said would be recorded with brush and paper, he put an end to speaking. Then Dhyana Master Jingxuan was about to leave Dhyana Master Liangshan. The latter asked him, “Why didn’t you say anything?” Dhyana Master Jingxuan answered that he was afraid to leave traces on paper, and so without saying anything, he left. Why did he leave? Because he understood; he was enlightened, and so he said nothing.
Wishing to serve as a model, he ate one meal a day at noon. Because he wished to be an example of one who holds the precepts, he ate one meal a day at noon.
In eighty-five years, it was still hard to see it. He wrote a verse saying, “In my eighty-five years, the causes of my cultivation are such that I have not seen the invisible mark atop the summit.”
After he seated himself and departed, affairs unfolded layer after layer. He sat there and went off to rebirth. Specifics unfold layer upon layer; principles open up layer after layer as well. Specifics and principles both expand layer upon layer and are inexhaustible.