「僧問」：僧人在那地方住，就有一個調皮的和尚──也可以說是 Too much talking、歡喜講話的和尚就問，「古鑑未磨時如何」：什麼叫「古鑑」呢？就是我們現前的一念心，像個古鑑似的。你這個心沒有修行如法，沒有改過自新，生生世世習氣毛病太多了，就有一些個塵土在那兒遮住了，它把這個心都遮住了。遮住了這時候怎麼辦？「如何」，這叫什麼？
The Master was a dharma heir of Dharma Master Dao Qi (Consonant with the Way) of Yunju (Cloud Abode) Mountain. Once a monk asked him, “What is an ancient mirror like before it is polished?”
The Master answered, “An ancient mirror.”
“What is it like after it has been polished?”
The Master answered, “An ancient mirror.”
The monk further asked, “Is there any difference between the two?”
The Master answered, “Just take a look in the mirror!”
Another question, “What is the family custom of the Venerable Master?”
The Master answered, “Do not be alarmed if we appear lax.”
Question, “If guests suddenly arrive, what do you do?”
The Master replied, “We go and drink some tea.”
The Dhyana Master lived in Ling Yin (Efficacious Seclusion) Monastery.
The Master was the Dharma heir of Dhyana Master Dao Qi (Consonant with the Way) of Yunju (Cloud Abode) Mountain in Jiangxi Province. After he received the transmission of Dharma from his teacher, he went to Lingyin Monastery and became the abbot there. Many monastics lived there. Among them was a naughty monk—he was garrulous and liked to talk.
Once a monk asked him, “What is an ancient mirror like before it is polished?” An ancient mirror is a symbol for the present thought in your mind. Before you cultivate, the habits and flaws accumulated over lifetimes are too many, and they cover over the mirror. At this point, what should one do?
The Master Wen Sheng
answered, “An ancient mirror.” “It’s simply a mirror. Before you have understood, before you have polished off the dust, it is just a mirror. You can’t call it by another name.”
“What is it like after it has been polished?” the monk asked. Since Dhyana Master Wen Sheng did not come up with any additional comment, the monk asked another question. In actuality, before you understand, it’s a single thought of your mind. After you have understood, it is still a single thought of your mind. There’s no difference.
But the monk was long-winded. He had not yet understood.
The monk further asked, “Is there any difference between the two? I am not aware of any difference between the two: is there any? Before it is polished—is there any difference between the two?”
Now Dhyana Master Wen Sheng came back with a more concise answer. He said,
“Just take a look in the mirror!” Just take a look, and you will know the difference. Before you have polished it, and after you have polished it, take a look in the mirror and compare the two. After you understand your mind and see your nature, you will naturally obtain great wisdom. You will illumine and realize everything. The myriad phenomena of the world will all show up in the mirror. You have to make use of the mirror, and then you will know the difference. If you don’t use it, it will remain an ancient mirror. If you make use of it, you will know the difference yourself.
Another question, “What is the family custom of the Venerable Master?” Since that monk was not yet satisfied with the exchange, he came up with another question.
The Master answered, “Do not be alarmed if we appear lax.” Do not make such a big fuss, saying, ‘Oh, they are so lazy. They don’t do anything.! Don’t think it’s so strange that we are lazy and casual. Don’t think it strange that we do not cultivate the Way.
The Master was discussing the issue in a reverse way. “Don’t think it strange that we are lazy.” The underlying meaning is that we are certainly quite vigorous. That’s one way to explain it. Another way to explain it: the people here look as if they are not doing anything. We are cultivators of the Way with no mind. Just that is applying effort. There are double innuendos in the Dhyana Master’s comment: To work vigorously is our family tradition. To be lazy is also our family tradition. Don’t think it is so strange.
Question, “If guests suddenly arrive, what do you do? Your family custom being that way, if guests come, how do you greet them?”
The Master replied, “We go and drink some tea. We simply invite them to some tea.” The word “go” implies that after the tea, if the guests wish to leave they are free to do so. It can also mean that we accompany them and together we go for some tea.
To be continued