The 1970 98-Day Lecture and Cultivation
Session, held at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, began with a week
devoted solely to the recitation of the name of Avalokitesvara
Bodhisattva, called a Kuan Yin Seven. Following this session,
students dug in for 10 weeks of meditation and Sutra
study, every day spending six hours in class, and eight hours on the
cushion. The remaining hours were spent in recitation and study.
Following these ten weeks, on September 13th, a Ch'an Seven was held
to complete the summer's work. Students arose at four every morning
for seven days, and spent seventeen hours in meditation until the
evening's rest period, which began at ten p.m. To guide students in
proper cultivation, the Master Hsuan Hua gave Dharma talks to open
and close the Session. These talks, translated by the Buddhist Text
Translation Society, of great interest to those interested in
meditation, are presented in their entirety in this issue of V.B.S.
The opportunity to attend a Ch'an Seven is rare
and should not be wasted. During the next seven days you will have
an opportunity to work very hard investigating your hua t'ou (lit.
"word-head'), or doing the work you usually do. But you must apply
your own effort. Don't strike up false thinking. During these seven
days you must find a way to beat your false thinking to death and
give birth to wisdom. After you have given birth to wisdom, you can
open enlightenment. If, during these seven days, you penetrate to
the bottom and meet your original face, you will not once have
toiled in vain. Ordinarily you allow time to pass by emptily. This
is extremely pitiful.
During this week some people may fall asleep
during periods of meditation. Perhaps some will snore, and hinder
other people's work. If the person on either side of you falls
asleep, tap him lightly, and wake him up. Don't make any noise; just
wake him up. This is being mutually helpful; you help him and he
helps you. Don't fall asleep! Do the work!
Investigation of the word-head is practiced by
the Ch'an School in China. But it is not just the Chinese Ch'an
School that does so, it is the Buddhist Ch'an School. So now we
vigorously investigate the word-head. What is it? It is the word
before it has arisen; that is called word-head. You should not
investigate the tail of the word. You should investigate the word
before it has been spoken. Investigating the tail of the word is
just to recite without investigating the meaning, and is useless.
What is the word-head? Now, most people take up
the word-head, "Who is reciting the Buddha?" Reciting Buddha...which
one is it? Say it is you...If you die, if you burn up in a fire,
does no one then recite Buddha? Is it this way or not? No. We should
find out who is mindful of the Buddha.
At other times we recite "Na Mo A Mi T'ou Fo" (Namo
to Amitabha Buddha). Now you should find out who recites "Na Mo A Mi
T'ou Fo", find the one who is mindful of the Buddha. If you can find
him, that is just enlightenment. If you don't find him, then slowly,
slowly, undertake the search.
During this Ch'an Seven there will be no
informal talks in the daytime. In the evening, lectures on
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
will continue from 7 until 9. When listening to the Sutra lectures,
if you work just as hard as you do during the meditation periods, I
believe you will certainly be able to open enlightenment. If you
don't apply effort to meditation, you can certainly waste your time.
You mistakenly err if you waste this opportunity.
No one will be allowed to talk during this
week. Have several of you made a vow not to talk?
Dharma Master Heng Ching: Yes. Upasaka Kuo Fa, and Upasaka Steve Berman.
Master Hsuan Hua: If you don't talk outside, you also shouldn't talk
inside. Constant chatter inside your belly is useless. To remain
silent this week, and then, when the week is over, to talk twice as
much, is also useless.
The Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats of the
ten directions all come out of the Ch'an Hall. Therefore, the Ch'an
Hall is also called the Prajna Hall, and is the mother of all
Buddhas. If you don't look upon yourself as too little, if you don't
belittle yourself, and are able to say, "In the future I will have
the right to accomplish Buddhahood", then you do not hinder yourself
in giving it a try. If, however, you say, "In the future I will
certainly be an animal", then you should leave immediately. Don't
If you look upon yourself lightly, although I
wish to help you accomplish Buddhahood, there is no way to do so.
Because you don't want to do it. If you want to accomplish
Buddhahood, you must raise your spirits, and be like a wild tiger
plunging down a mountainside. You must chew your karmic obstacles to
death and kill the karmic obstacle ghost. I believe you would like
to do this work. Now we have the opportunity to open enlightenment,
the opportunity to accomplish Buddhahood.
Now some people are striking up false thoughts.
I see them. What false thoughts? They think: "I fear that I won't be
able to open enlightenment during this week."
Don't worry. If you have no awakening this
week, on the 15th of November, fourteen more weeks of opportunities
will begin. You can come again then, and we will genuinely do the
work. We will truly chew the karmic obstacle ghost to death. During
that fourteen weeks we will cultivate 21 hours and sleep 2 or 3
hours every day. It will be an excellent time for opening
Others have false thoughts, "I couldn't hack
that. Much too bitter." If you don't want to suffer, then you don't
want to accomplish Buddhahood. If, in this state without bitterness
you don't truly practice, there will be no genuine sweetness
obtained. Moreover, the forging of your Vajra indestructible bodies
is done right within suffering.
We smelt gold to burn away the residue so that
only pure gold remains. Now it is just as if we were refining gold.
Whoever wishes to be gold should come here and try it out. If you do
not want to be gold, but would rather be dirt...dirt is everywhere.
You don't have to come here.
Do you understand the meaning of all this?
From a Vajra Seed Formerly Sown,
Now Shoots forth a Bodhi Sprout;
Awaken to the Proper Enlightenment Fruit,
Straightway Arrive at the Dharma King's House.
On the last day of the Session the Master said:
Who recites Buddha? Does anyone know? (No
answer) Most important in a Ch'an Seven is not to have false
thinking. Having even a hair's worth of false thinking is losing the
battle. In the beginning I asked. "Who recites Buddha?" and told you
to investigate this question. I was sure that you, intelligent as
you are, would easily find the answer. But now, nobody opens his
mouth. Originally, not opening your mouth is right—if you really
understand. But you make a mistake if you don't understand and keep
your mouth shut.
You like to sit in Dhyana? This means that you
have good roots. Not everyone can practice this Dharma door.
We started the 1970 Summer Lecture and
Cultivation Session with a Seven Day Kuan Yin（觀音） Recitation, followed
by three months of hard study, and a Seven Day Ch'an Session. But
the Ch'an session wasn't a real Ch'an session. If it had been a real
Ch'an Seven, everyone would have gotten up at three in the morning
and gone to bed at midnight, and all day long practiced sitting,
walking, sitting, walking, with no time for false thinking. You had
it easy this week. Consequently no one can answer my question. If
you had chased away your false thinking, you would be able to
answer; because, you would understand the four marks as empty: no
mark of self,others, living beings, or a life.
During the first Summer Session a phony
patriarch came here. He wanted me to certify him, to gold plate
him. I told him I would take his head, and he got scared and ran
out, uncertified. If he had really been a patriarch, he could have
given me his head, he could have given anything to anyone. Had he
seen through to the bottom of the four marks, there would have been
For example, in the T'ang Dynasty（唐朝）, the Fourth
Patriarch declined four imperial invitations. Finally, Emperor T'ai
Tsung（太宗） sent his attendant with orders to bring back the Patriarch or
his head. So the Fourth Patriarch stuck his neck out and said,
"Here, Here, take my head. Go ahead, take it." The attendant stood
there for a long time, bewildered, and finally the Fourth Patriarch
said, "Why don't you cut it off!" And the attendant said, "Oh, I
wasn't really going to take your head." The Patriarch replied, "Now
you know that there is still a true man."
Did the Fourth Patriarch know that the Emperor
was bluffing? He knew he wanted his head, and, he knew that he
didn't want his head. This is not so easy to understand. There is a
"who?" inside it. If we cultivate the Way, we must really
cultivate. The Fourth Patriarch sat for 60 years without lying down.
We know that his state was very high.
What kind of place is the Buddhist Lecture
It is a place for selecting patriarchs. The
Buddhist Lecture Hall and the Sino-American Buddhist Association are
proving grounds for patriarchs. If you want to realize Buddhahood,
if you want to be a patriarch, you should certainly come here. Come
here and get the seal of approval.
Tomorrow you will receive your graduation
certificates. They are patriarch certificates. Not now, but in the
future when you have them validated, they will be certificates of
patriarch ship, if you want your certificate validated, bring it
here and we will have a little chat. If I approve, then you can be a
patriarch. If I don’t approve, then you have to cultivate some more.
Now the Ch'an Seven is completed.
The Ch'an Seven Already Finished.
(Whether you got hit or not)
Thought Must Still Be Cultivated.
can answer "Who?" then you can rest)
Sudden Enlightenment is in a Ksana,
long effort must be applied, like sowing
in the spring, blooming in summer, harvesting in the fall, eating in the winter)
Good Attainment, Rest in the Wonderful.
(Real resting, not coarse
resting. This is the wonderful in the
wonderful—the mysterious in the mysterious.)
Now we have finished. Everyone stand and we
will bow to the Buddha three times to thank him. We thank him,
because even if we did not have a great enlightenment, we had a
small enlightenment. If we did not have a small enlightenment, at
least we didn't get sick. If we got sick, at least we didn't die. So
let's thank the Buddha.