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Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over

Volume 1

Jeweled Seal Hand and Eye 



“In this region the true substance of the teaching is purely found within sound. Return the hearing to hear the self-nature and the nature realizes the supreme Way.” This is the Dharma-door which Kuan Yin Bodhisattva cultivated, the Dharma-door of returning the hearing to hear the self-nature.  

   Do not seek outside. Most living beings listen outwardly to the sounds around them and are unable to return the hearing within. Now we cultivate to return the hearing, and not seek outside. So it is said, “Return the hearing to hear the self-nature and the nature realizes the supreme path.” Kuan Yin Bodhisattva certified to perfect penetration of the ear organ by entering the stream and forgetting the place of entry. “Entering the stream and forgetting the place of entry” refers to entering the Dharma nature stream of the sage. This involves moving against the stream of common people, which consists of the flow of sense impressions.  

   Entering the Dharma nature stream of the sage is called “entering the stream.” Going against the stream of the common person, which consists of the six sense objects, is what is meant by “forgetting the place.” This is entering the stream and forgetting the place. “Forgetting the place” also means coming from nowhere and going nowhere. In your cultivation you should imitate Kuan yin Bodhisattva. Imitating Kuan Yin Bodhisattva is to enter the stream and forget the place.  

   Now as we recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, our mouths recite, clearly and distinctly “Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva.” In our hearts we think very clearly and distinctly of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, and our ears hear very clearly. If your mouth recites, your heart recollects, and your ears listen with careful attention, you will be unable to have false thinking. When you don’t have false thinking you will not feel tired, you will not feel weary.  

   During the past two days, I’ve heard the sound of your recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. You are reciting but you are not as sincere as you were the first two days. How so? I’ve listened to each of you recite, and you sound like you are about ready to doze off, weak and tired. This means that you are being turned by states. Turned by what states? Turned by the sate of fatigue. You feel, “I have recited one day, two days, three days, four days, recited so many days and I think it is unbearable suffering. I’ve suffered for three days, suffered for four days. It’s a lot of suffering.” Your sound says you are tired.  

   When you recite, you shouldn’t do it too loudly or too softly. If it’s too loud, you waste a lot of energy; if it is too soft, it’s very easy to nod off and go to sleep. Another problem arises when it’s as if you are reciting but you aren’t. You don’t even hear yourself clearly. Why not? There are two reasons. First, you’re doing a lot of false thinking and so you don’t know whether in fact you are reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. What false thinking? You know that yourself. I don’t need to tell you in detail. Second, you want to sleep. When you sleep, when you nod off, you plunge into one of the eight great following afflictions.  

   There are three days left, and in these three days everyone should obtain the aid of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. To do so, you must recite sincerely. You can’t be sloppy about it, and you can’t be lax or lazy. In cultivation, the harder you work, the more response you will obtain. If you are sincere, there will be a response and the more true-hearted you are, the more of a response you will obtain. You must have a true heart and a true will. True, not false. You must have nothing false, nothing phony.

   Use a true heart to recite, and recite to the level where the wind blows with the sound of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, the rain falls with the sound of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva too. The wind blowing, the grasses waving, and even the door when it rattles—what are they doing? They are saying, “Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.” The pigeons walking around, “Teng, teng, teng!” What are they doing? They’re reciting, “Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.” If you can, at all times, in all places, and in all states of mind, hear the sound of the recitation of kuan Yin Bodhisattva, then you will have attained the Kuan Yin Recitation Samadhi. You won’t know whether or not you’ve eaten. You won’t know whether or not you’re wearing clothes. You won’t think of anything at all, and you won’t know anything at all. Your true heart will then manifest, and your nature will realize the supreme Way.

   Now we are reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva together in this hall. Those who are reciting in accord with Dharma will be able to attain a response. Those who are not reciting in accord with Dharma, in accord with the rules of cultivation, may recite for any length of time, but it will be useless.  

   What is meant by reciting in accord with Dharma? It’s what I just said. Your mouth recites clearly, clearly and distinctly. Your mind thinks of it clearly and distinctly. Your ears listen clearly and distinctly. No other false thoughts are entertained. Your sound is neither loud nor soft. Then you are reciting in accord with Dharma. If you recite in accord with Dharma, your heart will be clear and pure, and not a single thought will be produced. When one thought is not produced, you’ll be able to see your original self-nature. If you produce a thought, a cloud appears in empty space covering the sun. and so it is said,  

     When the six roots suddenly move
       There is a covering of clouds.
     When one thought is not produced,
       The complete substance manifests.  

   When the six roots move, there is suddenly a covering of clouds. The six roots are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. When the eyes see forms, they follow the forms and run off after them. When the ears hear sounds and are unable to return the hearing to the self-nature, they run outside after them. When your eyes see something, you should return the light and reverse the illumination. When your ears hear something, you should return the hearing to hear the self-nature.

   When your nose smells, you should know where the objects of smell come from. When your tongue tastes, you should know where the tastes come from and how they arise. You should return the light, reverse the illumination, return the hearing to the self-nature, and seek it within yourself. Ask yourself, “Why does my body crave touch and smoothness? Why? What’s the reason for this?” If you don’t understand, ask. Ask your self-nature.  

   Your mind conceptualizes dharmas and runs off after ideas. Use the wisdom sword of your enlightenment to cut through them. If, at the gates of the six organs, you can apply effort, then the gates of the six sense organs will emit light, and the earth will shake. This light will illuminate the peak of existence, and below will illuminate the unspaced hells. What is meant by the peak of existence? It refers to the Heaven of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception. And so you illumine the heavens, and illumine the avici hells. If you can cultivate to this level, you won’t have wasted your time. So when working, don’t start getting lazy after only a little time has passed. The harder you work, the harder you should want to work and the more vigorous you should be. You should work every day. This is not just something you can accomplish in a single day and night.  

   The Kuan Yin session is just a battle. We are battling with karmic obstacles which have come with us from limitless kalpas in the past. We don’t know how many karmic obstacles we have. They goad us saying, “Don’t cultivate! Don’t recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. Come on, rest a little bit, sleep a little more. Sleep is a real tangible comfort!” If you go through so much bitterness to recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, your karmic obstacles will have a meeting with you. You will have to object to them because they will tell you not to cultivate. You will have to say, “You don’t want me to cultivate? Fine, I’ll cultivate even harder! I will work a little harder just to show you. You don’t want me to cultivate, but I’m telling you I’m going to cultivate.”  

   There was once a gluttonous old cultivator who had quite a bit of skill. One day he had a false thought. He said, “Vegetable dumplings are really good to eat. I must eat a meal of vegetable dumplings and then my stomach will be satisfied,” so he made some. What did he do? He had a good method. He chopped up the vegetables and he used rice husks to make the wrappers for the dumplings. He wrapped them up and cooked them. When they were ready he said to himself, “Okay, come on and eat these vegetable dumplings. Come here, come on over here,” the old cultivator said to himself, “Come and eat.” And he ate them. And ugh! The more he ate of the chaff-skin dumplings the worse they were. But he said, “Ugh! They’re terrible, but I have to eat them. Even if I don’t want to, I have to eat them. I must eat them. I wanted them and now I’ve got them. I’m not going to be polite about this. There they are, vegetable dumplings! Go on! Eat them!” He ate them and then he never wanted to eat vegetable dumplings again.

   He realized that basically, originally the vegetable dumplings were just like that. And he never wanted to eat them again. This is called, “curing your own sicknesses.” But not only did he not like these vegetable dumplings, I don’t think anybody would have wanted to eat such vegetable dumplings. This is also called the skill of being able to discipline yourself. Cultivation has to be that way. Whatever false thought you may have, you should not follow it. If you want to follow your false thinking you should find a way to cure it. Be like the old cultivator, who, for some unknown reason, got greedy for vegetable dumplings and used husks to make the wrappers. He cured himself of his own false thinking.  

   You say, “He was really stupid.”  

   Of course he wasn’t as smart as you are. If he had been as smart as you, he wouldn’t have eaten those vegetable dumplings. But although the old cultivator was very stupid, he still knew how to cultivate. Consequently, he realized his Way karma and became greatly enlightened. On the other hand, you’re so intelligent, but you still haven’t gotten enlightened. You’re still a common ordinary person and you haven’t obtained the sagely fruit. Stupidity may be true intelligence and intelligent people can sometimes be really stupid.  

   You say, “What is stupidity and what is intelligence? What is wisdom?”  

   Stupidity is just stupidity and wisdom is just wisdom. Wisdom is just stupidity. Stupidity is also just wisdom.  

   You say, “This is entirely too illogical. It’s not in accord with either philosophy or psychology. This is a dharma I most certainly do not believe.”  

   Of course you don’t believe it. If you believed this dharma, you would be able to be perfectly fused without obstruction. If you don’t believe in this dharma, you must study it. All dharmas must be studied. If you believed in this dharma, you wouldn’t have to study any dharma at all because they would all be yours. But you don’t recognize this dharma, and so now all I can do is recite the names for you and let you listen to them. I don’t care whether you disagree or agree with them. In the future when you become enlightened you’ll know that it is truly that way—no problem. Now, you have a whole lot of problems and I can’t solve them. When the time comes when you have no problems, you will need me even less to solve them. Is this right or not? Okay, now we’ll do the Great Transference of Merit and work hard at our cultivation. 

Blue Lotus Hand and Eye  

   Reciting Kuan yin Bodhisattva’s name is a Dharma-door which is perfectly fused without obstruction. If you can recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, you will enlarge your Bodhi-heart. In the future you can be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Some people say, “Kuan Yin Bodhisattva is just you, yourself.” Other people say, “Kuan Yin Bodhisattva is simply Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. There is a Bodhisattva with that name.” If you recognize that you, yourself are Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, then your attachment to self has not been emptied.

   If you recognize that outwardly there is a Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, then your attachment to dharmas has not been emptied. Since you have an attachment to self and an attachment to dharmas, then “people” have not been emptied and dharmas have not been emptied. When people and dharmas have not been emptied, your recitation plants good roots and develops your Bodhi-heart, but it is still not genuine recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. With true recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, inside you view no self and outside you view no Bodhisattva; there’s no self, and there’s no Bodhisattva.

   You say, “If there’s no Bodhisattva then how can I recite the Bodhisattva’s name?” There doesn’t necessarily have to be a Bodhisattva in order for you to recite a Bodhisattva’s name. If you can arrive at the state where you recite and yet do not recite, then you can recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name without even realizing that you are reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. And when you are not reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, it recites itself. You may want to stop, but you can’t. It’s like flowing water; you can’t stop it even if you want to. So, you recite, and yet do not recite; you do not recite, and yet you recite. This is genuine recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. By not reciting and yet reciting, you get rid of the attachment to self. By reciting and yet not reciting, you get rid of the attachment to dharmas.

  Thus, people are empty, and dharmas are also empty. People empty, dharmas empty. When you get to this state then you are truly, genuinely reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. You are not saying, “I, myself, recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.” Where is this “self?” Didn’t I say to you a few days ago, “If you search over your entire body you won’t find a single thing that is, “I.” Why do you insist on having an “I”, a self? If you have an “I”, you have a lot of trouble, a lot of problems. Without a self, an “I”, there’s no trouble. Pigeons think about eating all day long because they can’t put down the self, the “I.” If they had put down the self, the “I”, then why would they run around looking for food? Have you put it down? Not necessarily. If you wait a while, it will return. Why will it return? Because the self hasn’t really been renounced. If you put down the self, the “I,” then it’s all the same thing whether you eat or not.  

   In reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, you recite to “people empty and dharmas empty” and, at that point, you fuse into a unity with the whole universe. And so you can say it is great, since there’s nothing greater than it. Or, you can say it is tiny, since there is nothing smaller than it. This is the genuine state of reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. What can’t we put down? We can’t put down the false. What can we not pick up? We can not pick up what is true. What is false? Your body, which is a combination of the four elements, is false. People say, “My body is what is real at present. How can you say it’s false?” On the other hand, what is true? Your inherent Buddha nature is true, but people say, “ The Buddha nature is just something you talk about. How can you say it’s true? If it’s true, then I should be able to see it. Why can’t I see my Buddha nature? You say that my body is false, but every day I can see it, at any time. How can you say it is false?”  

   I’ll tell you something very straight-forwardly now. Your body is a false combination of the four elements. What are the four elements? Earth, water, fire, and air. Our bodies have flesh, muscles, and bones. These are the solid parts, and are composed of the element earth. The temperature of our bodies is the element of fire. Our breath is the element air. The sweat on our bodies and all the liquids that flow out of it belong to the element water. When it’s time for you to die, the four elements all go back to where they came from. The water goes back to the water, the fire returns to the fire, the air returns to the air, and the solid earth parts return to the earth. They all return to where they came from, but your Buddha nature has no “where” that it goes back to. So it says, “The Buddha nature is true.” "

     Our body is just like a house:
     Our human body is like a house.
     The mouth is the door, and the eyes are like windows.
     The four limbs are like the pillars;
     The hair is like the thatch on top.
     In the morning and evening keep it in good repair.
     Don’t wait until it falls apart,
     And then run around and busily try to fix it.

Our bodies are like houses. You can only say that the house is “my house.” You can’t say that the house is “me.” For example, if you visit a house and someone asks you, “Whose house is it? Do you rent it or do you own it?” even if you own the house, you can’t say, “The house is me.” If you said that the house is you, would you be smart or stupid? You can only say that the house is “mine.” Our bodies are the same way. You can only say that the body is “mine,” it’s your body. You can’t say that the body is “me.” So this is a point that you should understand clearly. If you understand this clearly, then you won’t simply do the bidding of your house. We shouldn’t freeze our bodies to death, or starve them to death. If we can keep our bodies, our houses, from falling apart, then that is sufficient.  

   What is it we should be doing? We should be cultivating the Way. This is the number one most important thing. Secondly, we should be establishing merit, establishing virtue, and establishing literature. These are the three important responsibilities in human life. Establishing merit. How does one do this? For example, if there is something you can do which will benefit everyone, your accomplishment of this task will accrue merit for you. When this extends even to giving up your own money to do good things without any hope of gaining any recompense, then you have a virtuous nature. Establishing literature means that your words are so valuable that they cause everyone in the world who hears your words or reads your writings to wake up. Once they wake up they won’t be able to do muddled things. For people in the world, establishing writing is very important.  

   You can’t live as if drunk and die in a dream, thinking, “If I have wine today, tonight I’ll get drunk,” paying no attention to whether or not it will be right or wrong tomorrow. “Today I have wine, and I’ll drink till I get drunk and don’t know anything at all; let tomorrow take care of itself.” This is a mistaken way of thinking. People in the world must be of benefit to other people. One must benefit oneself and benefit others to practice the Bodhisattva path. This is our responsibility as people.

   Therefore, in his life every person should go down a road that is meaningful and not walk a road which has no meaning. This is also to say that we should walk down the brightly lit road, and not go down the dark and twisted path. The brightly lit, proper path means following the regulations, doing things in accord with the rules. The black road, the dark road means not following the rules. Not following the rules means doing anything at all with a total lack of concern for the consequences, such as committing arson and theft or using drugs. All those improper things are the black, twisted path.

   Students of the Buddhadharma must recognize these two roads clearly; one is proper and one is deviant. Be careful not to have stupid thoughts about doing deviant actions. To go down the proper path you have to follow the rules, so many people think, “I’d like to go down that wrong path.” It’s blissful for a while—there are no hindrances, nothing to tie you down, and you don’t have to follow the rules, but in the future it will be extremely painful. For people who go down the right road, although for a while it’s a bit difficult and not quite so blissful, in the future there will be eternal happiness.

   Just as I have said, if you want to undergo suffering, then during this week you can have seven days of suffering. This is going down the proper road. In the future you will obtain the brightness of your self-nature and be without suffering. If, on the other hand, you don’t go down the proper road in these seven days, perhaps you will take some drugs, drink some wine, or casually waste your precious time. This is all considered to be going down the improper path. Although for a while you may feel very free and independent, you won’t be able to end your suffering and stupidity. You won’t be able to leave your ignorance behind.  

   If you recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, and continue reciting until you recite even when not reciting and are as if not reciting when you recite, then your recitation accomplishes the samadhi of reciting Kuan Yin’s name. This samadhi is the attainment of genuine concentration. It is the absence of stupidity and the birth of wisdom. Now as we recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva we are travelling down the great, bright, upright path. We are running down the great, bright, upright path. All day we circumambulate the Buddha, and for every step we take a large, brilliant lotus flower blossoms forth. As you sit there you are sitting on the lotus blossom which you have created from your recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. When you walk around you are walking on the lotus blossom too. However, do not get arrogant and think, “I am a Bodhisattva,” because the time has not come yet. Slowly, slowly.  

   Yesterday I said that there were three days left, and that within these three days everyone should recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva until light comes forth to illumine them. If you have good experience, don’t be overly happy about them. If you don’t have those experiences don’t worry about it. The only think to worry about is that you won’t believe in this Dharma-door. If you have a heart of faith, Kuan Yin Bodhisattva will always be right above you, right in front of you, right behind you, as well as on your left and on your right, helping you. And the day will certainly come when you will personally see Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s original face. All you have to do is cultivate, make vigorous progress, and not be lazy, and you will obtain a response.  

   Time is very precious. There are two days left and we must certainly have some accomplishment in these two days. Then we will not have wasted our time. This is my hope for all of you, and I believe that each one of you also has this hope; that is why you have come to attend this Kuan Yin session. You may not know what benefits or how much advantage you have gained from this session. After this your thinking will be altered, your behavior will be different from what it was before. You will use genuine wisdom in whatever you do, and you won’t be able to do muddled things ever again. This is the very least advantage you will obtain. You will not have any more upside-down, dream-like fantasies and thoughts. You will leave behind upside-down dream-thinking, and in the future you will be able to obtain Ultimate Nirvana.

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