道家抗議人格唯物化，追求人格獨立和精神自由，要求恢復和回到人的「本性」。不要被外在環境、條件、觀念、制度等所決定、所支配、所影響。〈道德經〉中所說的「致虛極、守靜篤」(第十六章)就是解脫的自覺，代表道家的工夫。「極」是最高境界，達到虛的極點就是「致虛極」。守靜的工夫要作得篤實徹底，所以說「守靜篤」，這就是「虛一而靜」的工夫；由虛靜的工夫，使得生命虛而靈、純一無雜、不浮動；這時主觀的心境，就呈現無限心的作用。所謂「夫物芸芸，各復歸其根，歸根曰靜，是謂復命。」(同上)。主觀的心境一靜下來，天地萬物都靜下來，就都能歸根復命，能恢復各自的正命。不能歸根復命，就會「妄作、凶」。當萬物皆歸根復命，就含有莊子所嚮往的消遙遊的境界。莊子所嚮往的消遙、齊物等，均已包含在老子的基本教義裏，莊子再把它發揚出來而已。當虛一而靜的心境朗現出來，則大地平寂，萬物各在其位、各適其性、各遂其生、各正其正的境界，就是消遙、齊物的境界，這只有在無限心( 道心) 的觀照之下才能呈現。無限心的觀照，也是一種智的直覺，這種智的直覺與物一體呈現；如果主觀浮動就不自得，萬物也隨之不自得。
表層意識掩蓋、埋藏了我們原本真實、光明、圓滿、一切具足的本心；要修的，就是這個虛假的妄心 ─ 表層意識。古人說「借假修真」，就是借我們的表層意識來恢復、發掘出自己原本的真心。
B. Awakening Oneself to Liberation
In contrast to the Confucian philosophy of society and government, the Taoist school of thought pursues transcendental studies.
With the rapid advancement of the culture of materialism, mankind has gradually become controlled by material objects. They allow themselves to be governed by their self-created greed and desire and obsession with money and power. This has already become a powerful force which controls people’s bodies and minds.
Taoism is opposed to the human character becoming solely materialistic. It pursues independence of the human character and freedom of the spirit. It seeks to regain and return to the “fundamental nature” of humankind, and not be influenced and controlled by external states, conditions, views and regulatory structures. In the sixteenth chapter of the
Daodejing (The Classic of the Way and Virtue), it is said, “Attaining the ultimate emptiness, maintaining quietude and earnestness.” This quote discusses the skill of Taoism, which is the awakening of oneself to liberation. “Ultimate” means the highest state. To achieve the ultimate point of emptiness is what is meant by “attaining the ultimate emptiness.” The skill of “maintaining quietude” is to be thoroughly honest and sincere, hence it is called “maintaining quietude and earnestness”. This is the skill of “quietude through attaining emptiness.” From the skill of empty quietude, one can cause one’s life to be empty and efficacious (spiritual), pure without the slightest defilement and without fluctuation. Then the subjective state of mind will reveal the limitless functioning of the mind, so it is said, “All the myriad things return to their source; returning to the source is called quietude and is what is called invigorating life.” (Daodejing, Chpt. 16). When the subjective state of mind is stilled, the myriad things in heaven and on earth attain quiescence. All can return to the source and regain their vitality - their own proper life. If they cannot return to the source to regain their vitality, they will act recklessly and their lives will be inauspicious. When all the myriad things return to the source to regain vitality, this approximates the state of carefree wandering that Zhuangzi aspired to attain. The carefree existence and equalization of things that Zhuangzi looked forward to is already encompassed within the basic meaning of Laozi’s teaching; Zhuangzi just promulgated it again. When the state of the mind of “quietude through attaining emptiness” is revealed in its luminosity, the great earth becomes peaceful and quiet, everything has its place, each is suited to its nature, everything follows its natural course and assumes its proper state. This is the carefree state of existence. This is only revealed through the contemplation of the limitless mind (the mind resolved on the Way). The contemplation of the limitless mind is also a kind of direct awareness of knowledge, and this kind of direct awareness of knowledge is present in the one substance of things. If one is personally moved, and influenced by things, then one will not be in one’s own proper place, nor will all the myriad things.
For example, in the Chapter of “The Yellow Emperor” in the Liezi, there is a parable called “The Seagulls Know the Motive”: There was a person who liked seagulls very much. Everyday at dawn he would go to the seaside and frolic with the seagulls. The seagulls that flew down and played with him were more than a hundred. One day his father said to him, “I have heard that the seagulls play together with you, why don’t you bring some home and let me play with them too?” The following day at dawn, he went to the seaside again but this time the seagulls remained flying in the sky and refused to come down.
This parable illustrates that when the state of the mind of “quietude through attaining emptiness” is revealed in its luminosity, it will present the limitless functioning of the mind, and there is a mutual inter-penetration and awareness of all the myriad things between heaven and earth. In other words, as long as one harbors no ulterior motive, and does not hanker after personal gain, one can play together with the seagulls, and achieve the perfect harmony between the inner and outer and attain a state in which objects and self are forgotten and left behind. This is what Cheng Hao meant when he said, “The myriad things are naturally at peace, if you can quiet down and contemplate.” If one is personally moved and influenced by things, everything will not be at ease. Once one hankers for personal gain, even the seagulls can instinctively sense it, and they will avoid you by remaining high up in the sky. From this parable, we can know that if a person can constantly maintain a mind that does not hanker after personal gain, he can be at ease no matter where he is.
Laozi said, “Learning consists of daily accumulation; cultivation of the Way involves daily diminishing until one realizes the unconditioned.” “Learning” is to pursue knowledge, and knowledge is accumulated through experience. Hence it is said, “Learning consists of daily accumulation.” “Cultivation of the Way” means attaining self-restraint through nurturing one’s inherent virtue. “Nurturing one’s inherent virtue” is often interpreted by Laozi and Zhuangzi as life and wisdom. Hence “Cultivating the Way” means cultivating wisdom to nourish life. The wisdom that is cultivated is the fundamental luminous wisdom, and the kind of life to be nourished is the fundamental truth of life. From the standpoint of cultivating the Way, the wisdom of self-restraint must stand in opposition to conventional worldly knowledge in order for one to regain the fundamental luminous wisdom. A life of self-restraint should counteract worldly societal influences in order to regain the fundamental truth of life. Cultivating the Way eradicates the biases, prejudices, false thoughts, habits and desires in our minds. Hence it is said, “Cultivation of the Way involves daily diminishing.” When all faults are eliminated without any residue, life becomes efficacious and pure, without a trace of defilement. The Dazhongshi Chapter of
Zhuangzi describes how Yan Hui forgot about propriety and music, humaneness and righteousness, and reached a state of “sitting and forgetting.” This is a state of effortless action attained through doing less everyday in the practice of the Way. It is the self-awakening to liberation taught by Taoism.
According to Buddhism, self-awakening is the inner awakening to the truth that all beings have an everlasting Buddha-nature which is neither produced nor extinguished, and outwardly realizing that all dharmas are illusory and impermanent. The word Buddha is Sanskrit and means awakened being. What has the Buddha awakened to? He has awakened to the truth of the universe and the ultimate reality of existence. Both refer to the truth that all phenomena arise from conditions and are empty in nature. All sentient beings are deluded about this principle, and mistakenly take the appearances of all things in the universe as being real. They falsely take the illusory body which is made up of the four elements as the true self, and endlessly grasp at the objects of their deluded affections. The Buddha is awakened to the truth and is not deluded by the appearances of things. Hence he is called the “awakened one.”
To awaken oneself, one must first recognize one’s own mind. All dharmas are not apart from the mind. When states of mind are produced, dharmas come into being. When these states of mind cease to exist, dharmas are also extinguished. This mind does not refer to the physical heart within our body. (The Chinese character for the mind is a pictograph of a heart.)
The Shastra on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana says that the one mind has two doors: the door of the mind of true suchness and the door of the mind of production and extinction. The door of the mind of production and extinction is the mind-consciousness, which is also the mind of living beings. How do the minds of living beings come about? They are formed when the six sense organs contact the six sense objects. The seventh consciousness is the mind-consciousness of the ego, and the sixth consciousness is the mind-consciousness which makes discriminations using the information collected and taken in by the five sense organs… with the passage of time it becomes the superficial mind-consciousness that is the mind of living beings.
The door of the mind of true suchness is the source of the mind, and is
maha-prajna, which is the pure mind of the inherent nature. Every person has this mind, and each is complete and perfect in itself. Enlightened beings do not have more of it and ordinary beings do not have less of it.
The superficial mind-consciousness covers over and conceals our original, true, luminous, perfect and complete fundamental mind. We must cultivate to remove the unreal and illusory false-thinking mind—the superficial mind-consciousness. In ancient times people talked about borrowing the false to cultivate the true; this is to borrow our superficial mind-consciousness to regain our original true mind.
When the First Patriarch Bodhidharma faced the wall in a cave, the second Patriarch Hui Ke severed his arm to seek the Buddhadharma and requested Patriarch Bodhidharma to settle his mind for him. Patriarch Bodhidharma then asked Hui Ke to bring his mind out to be settled. Hui Ke searched for his mind in vain and was awakened to the true nature of the mind. This historical record from the Chan school shows that the mind has no form or appearance, yet clearly exists and can be used. We depend entirely on the functioning of this mind in all our activities, in dwelling, sitting, and lying down.
The purpose of cultivation is to recognize our own mind, regain our lost self and awaken to the true nature of existence.
The true mind is complete and perfect, but it has been covered over by the six sense objects. The main thing is that we do not recognize, or cherish it. So we must contemplate with awareness. This means to contemplate the mind with the mind. It is like the pearl that emits light to shine upon itself. In the same way, the mind is aware of and perceives itself.
In cultivation, the first priority is to trim and prune the wayward branches and discipline the false mind, which wanders in all directions. Then there will be no need to cultivate the true mind. When the Buddha came into the world, he took seven steps, pointed to heaven with one hand and to the earth with the other, and proclaimed, “In the heavens and below, I alone am honored.” “In the heavens and below” represents limitless space and time. “I alone am honored” expresses that the true mind inherent in every one of us is absolute, nondual, and uniquely honored and at ease.
The most important matter in life is to awaken oneself. If one does not awaken oneself, it is not possible to make the best of life.
If a person is unawakened, he will be deluded and confused, and be manipulated by external circumstances. When things are going his way, he is happy and walks with a light step; tomorrow if he suffers a setback, he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. We cry and laugh as circumstances dictate. We are influenced and controlled by illusory appearances. After we have awakened, we will no longer behave this way.
The Chinese word for awakening is a composite of two words – “I” and “mind.” To become awakened is to awaken to the original mind. Awakening is to realize that the original mind is the true self, and no longer be mistaken and be attached to the physical body as self. The Buddhadharma is nondual.
That is, the universe does not stand in opposition to human
existence. So it is said, “The mountains, rivers and the
great earth all reveal the body of the Dharma King.” The
mountains, rivers, heaven and earth and the universe are all
manifestations of the Dharma body. They flows from the pure
mind of the self-nature. This is similar to what Mencius
meant when he said, “The myriad things are replete in me.”
Hence it is said, “I am one with the universe.” Awakened
people are clearly aware that the universe and living beings
are of the same substance as their own self.
The ancients said, “People are the same as those of old, but the paths they trod are different.” People now are the same as people in the past, but their attitudes have changed. That is, their refinement of character, feelings towards life, demeanor and actions are completely different. This is a brief explanation of self-awakening.
To be continued