A verse in praise says:
The mirror before and after it’s been polished,
Is there any difference between the two?
Just take a look!
Two heads and three hands.
Do not be alarmed if we appear lax.
Family customs are exposed for their ugliness.
When guests come, simply greet them.
Drink your tea, then quickly be on your way!
Venerable Yun wrote eight lines of verse, with four characters each, in praise of this Dhyana Master. Having recited this verse out loud, I still do not understand it; and when you hear me explain it, you also will not understand it. However, I will do what is difficult for me to do and try to explain it for you. And although you do not understand, it won’t hurt if you reserve some time to listen to this Dharma which you do not understand.
The mirror before and after it’s been polished: This is a bronze mirror, not a glass mirror. An ancient mirror is fashioned from bronze, therefore you have to rub it constantly. It’s said in the verse:
The body is a Bodhi tree,
The mind a bright mirror stand.
At all times diligently wipe it clean;
Let no dust alight.
The Venerable Shen Xiu composed this verse. The body is like a Bodhi tree, and our mind is like a bright mirror stand. Always we should polish the mirror so that it is clear. Do not let dust alight. Before the mirror is polished it is covered with dust and you cannot see anything in it. That is, before one understands one’s mind, what is it like? And, having polished it, what is it like?
Is there any difference between the two?
The Dhyana Master drew in the two eyes of the dragon. He pointed out: Ultimately, who is making the discrimination anyway? Before the mirror was polished, what is it like? After it is polished, what is it like? Ultimately, who is entertaining all those random thoughts and making all those discriminations? Who is telling you to think? Is there someone who knows the difference?
Just take a look! If you want to know, simply take a look in the mirror. Before the mirror is polished, you cannot see anything in it. After it is polished, you can see into it. When your mind is cluttered with habits and flaws, you can’t illumine and reflect things. After your change your mistakes, then “When things come along, they are reflected. After things pass by, they are no longer there.” Quite naturally you will know the difference. People endowed with great wisdom are able to do things just right. They won’t go too excess, nor will they stop short. However, if you lack great wisdom, you may have intentions of doing what is good, but the outcome is not so favorable. That is because you don’t know how to deal with the situation in the right way.
Two heads and three hands. Take a look in the mirror. Will you see two heads and three hands? No, you will still see one head and two hands. If you see a strange creature with two heads and three hands, then the reflection in the mirror is off. You haven’t done a good job of polishing your mirror. In cultivating the mind, be sure to recognize principles clearly. You can’t go for something that appears to be right but which is in fact off. That way you won’t tally with the truth. After your polish the ancient mirror will, you won’t come up with an image of someone with two heads and three hands. If you get an image of one head and two hands, then you have done a good job.
Do not be alarmed if we appear lax. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, thinking that we are lazy. In fact, if we are truly lazy, we are not afraid of letting people know about it. We should speak the truth. If we are not lazy, we won’t need to publicize it outside.
Family customs are exposed for their ugliness. If we put out false publicity, then we are exposing our ugliness. If we want to conceal our shortcomings, then we are exposing our ugliness. Our family custom is that we act in a true and actual way. We are not afraid of letting people know about our mistakes. We also do not want to let people know even if we have virtue in the Way.
When guests come, simply greet them. When the six thieves arrive at the gate of the six senses, when external defiling states called “guest-dust” come along, do not refuse them. Simply deal with them.
Drink your tea, then quickly be on your way. Invite them to tea. After the tea, they should quickly leave. Why should they leave? Because they are guests. They are not the host who will not leave and go somewhere else.
Another verse says:
The seven Buddhas of antiquity were all based in Hangzhou;
Today’s Lingyin Monastery was built by virtuous ones of old.
Dhyana Master Wen Sheng was the Dharma Host.
And monastics and scholars all came to learn from him.
When guests arrive, drink tea, and quickly be on your way.
After people are gone, vigorously head for the top of the mountain!
When the mind’s mirror is bright, it shines in both darkness and daylight,
With a dazzling aura that shoots all the way up to the Big Dipper.
The Seven Buddhas of antiquity were all based in Hangzhou. The District of Hangzhou in China was a land of blessings. The Seven Buddhas of the past were all born there. Therefore Hangzhou was a land graced with magical energies.
Today’s Lingyin Monastery was built by virtuous ones of old. It was a famous Way-place in China. According to the popular novel,
Biography of the Monk Ji Gong, the monk Ji Gong lived at Lingyin. Everyone in China knows that he lived there. For that reason, Lingyin Monastery was considered a magical Way-place. It was built by virtuous ones of old.
Dhyana Master Wen Sheng was the Dharma Host. He was the abbot there, the Dharma Host of that area.
And monastics and scholars all came to learn from him. Left-home people and lay scholars came and sought the Dharma from him.
Someone asked him,, “When guests arrive, what do you do?” The Master replied, “We go and take some tea.” It doesn’t really mean to take some tea.
When guests arrive, drink tea, and quickly be on your way. “Guests” refers to vistors who came to learn. It also refers to an external state in terms of cultivation.
After people are gone, vigorously head for the top of the mountain—work for the highest level of your cultivation!
When the mind’s mirror is bright, it shines in both darkness and daylight, with a dazzling aura that shoots all the way up to the Big Dipper. Understanding your true mind and seeing your inherent nature causes a great brilliance to soar up to the heavens.