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Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over
When the Nature is in Samadhi,
The Demons are Subdued,
And One is Peaceful Every Day
The “nature” refers to the self-nature inherent in us all. It also refers to the Buddhanature and the kernel of humanity within us all. This kernel undergoes a thousand changes and a myriad transformations. You can’t explain it with just one theory. The nature can also be called “humaneness” The quality of the nature of plant-life is found in what we call its “kernel.” The nature of people is that quality which makes us humane. We refer to this quality in plants as the kernel, because vegetable life has no conscious awareness.
However, people have conscious awareness, and so this quality in people is called “humaneness.” It has the function of continual change and transformation, being the force behind birth and change—the on-going process of life itself. It is that which animates, that which causes everything to undergo birth after death and death after birth. Birth and death is the most major change that human nature undergoes.
Therefore, the couplet begins, When the nature is in samadhi…Why haven’t people become Buddhas? It is just because their natures are not in samadhi. This means that the nature is turned by whatever state it encounters, rather than controlling the state. If you can turn the states that arise, then you have samadhi. If you can’t be in control, then you turn and flow in birth and death. Without samadhi, you are turned by states. This specifically refers to the third of the Three Coarse Marks mentioned in the Shurangama Sutra.
- The Mark of Karma
- The Mark of Manifestation
- The Mark of Turning
When the nature is not in samadhi, then the Mark of Karma gives rise to the Mark of Manifestation and that gives rise to the Mark of Turning. Because the nature is not in samadhi, the mountains, rivers, great earth, and all the things upon it become manifest. Forms and shapes manifest within the unfixed nature. If your nature is in samadhi, then forms are not forms and shapes are not shapes. Basically, it is just this way:
All dharmas are swept away.
All marks are left behind.
When the nature is not in samadhi, you turn in birth and death. When the nature is in samadhi, you enter Nirvana.
A lot can be said about this. If your nature is in samadhi, then the heavenly demons and those of externalist ways, as well as any ghosts, weird beings, demons, li,mei and wang liang are all tamed. The demons are subdued, and one is peacefulevery day. You are always happy.
Why are you so unhappy? It’s because your nature is not in samadhi, and so the demons are not subdued. The demons of birth and death are not subdued, the demons of afflictions are not subdued, the demons of karmic obstructions are not subdued, the heavenly demons and human demons are not subdued. If your nature were in samadhi, then all would be in a state of unmoving Suchness. You would be comfortable and at ease, ultimately clear and always bright. That is the meaning of the first line of the couplet. Let’s see how you match it.
IF YOU DON’T MAKE IT THROUGH THE GATE
Today is the beginning of the New Year, so I wish you all “Happy New Year!” Basically this is a worldly custom, and we people who study transcendental dharmas should not continue to have such habits. On the other hand, we are all still here together in this world, and if we separate ourselves too far from the world, then we also become distant from people. So I still will use the worldly custom and wish you a Happy new Year.
New Years is a happy time, and by the same token, we should, in our investigation of Dhyana, obtain the bliss of Dhyana as our food. We should take investigation of Ch’an as our food and drink. So people who truly investigate Ch’an don’t even remember if they have eaten or not. They don’t even remember putting on their clothes. They forget whether they have slept or not. When one investigates Ch’an to the ultimate point, one is not aware of heaven above or the earth below. In the midst of this, one is also unaware of people. One unites with the great void. There are no people, no self, no living beings, and no lifespan. Since that’s how it is, one does not fear the pain in one’s legs or the ache in one’s back.
One applies the skill of patience to all situations. With no self, no people, no living beings, and no lifespan, who hurts? Besides which, you have to pass through the gate of pain. Once you get through the gate, there won’t be any more pain. But if you don’t go through the gate, there will always be pain. Once you’re through that gate, not only is there no pain, there is an exceptional comfort. You are extremely blissful. You feel that there is no Dharma more wonderful than the investigation of Dhyana. It is then that you experience “taking the bliss of Dhyana as one’s food—and being filled with the happiness of Dharma.”
That is why in times past, cultivators would sit for days on end investigating Ch’an. They wouldn’t even get up from their seats. Is it the case that their legs didn’t hurt? No. Their legs hurt just the same. But they knew how to be patient. They could bear what other people could not. They could endure what others could not endure. They had a kind of vigorous strength that propelled them forward and kept them from ever retreating. This is the investment that those who investigate Ch’an must make in order to get enlightened; they have to have the strength of patience. With that kind of capital behind you, your business is bound to prosper. Only with vigor can you get through that gate. Once you’re through it, then,
The mountains are gone and the waters disappear.
There isn’t any road ahead.
That’s what it’s like before you get through the gate.
Beneath the dark willows and the bright flowers,
There is yet another village.
That’s the way it is when you’ve gotten through the gate. In cultivating,
If you can’t give up death,
you can’t exchange it for life.
If you don’t renounce what’s false,
you can’t accomplish what’s true.
If you can’t give up your suffering, you won’t attain bliss. If you can smash through the difficulties, then afterwards you’ll attain some other kind of state. Since that’s how it is, we don’t come here to investigate Ch’an just to pass the time. You have to get hold of some genuine determination and true and actual patience. In this world you can’t get something for nothing, no matter what it is. If you don’t apply any effort at all, you won’t be successful.
When you want to develop some worldly skill, you first have to go through a process of training and study before your ability is perfected. Studying transcendental dharmas is even more difficult than worldly skills. It requires even more effort, hard work and refinement before any success is possible. During a Ch’an session, the most important requisite is patience. This kind of patience is such that we are able to go forth and do things which we really don’t want to. We undergo suffering which is basically unendurable. It follows then that the things we want to do, we should even more want to do. The suffering we are able to endure, should even more so be endured by us. Pay attention to this point.
Before we went to Asia this time, I knew beforehand that there would be a lot of obstacles; there would be a lot of tests by demons. Why? I know that wherever I go, people get jealous of me, and try to obstruct me. But I have control of the situation, because the deviant cannot overcome the proper. The cow-ghosts and snake-spirits can try as they will with their jealousy and obstructiveness, but they cannot get at me. Why not? Because I deeply believe that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will protect my Dharma. Every place we went we encountered tremendous demonic obstacles, and yet no problems actually arose.
Also, the people who wanted to see me every day were people with sicknesses. There are reasons why people get sick. The first is that their karmic obstacles are deep and heavy. If it weren’t for karmic obstacles, they wouldn’t get such weird diseases and strange illnesses. Most of the people who came to see me were afflicted with such weird problems. People who get these kinds of illness are those who in their past lives tried to get off easy. They always looked for a bargain, a way to come out ahead. They never took a loss, but always looked out for themselves at every point. They were selfish and sought for self-benefit. So their karmic obstacles kept getting heavier and heavier until they ended up with strange diseases.
Another reason for their sicknesses is that for the most part, they were people who slandered the Triple Jewel. They slandered the Great Vehicle Sutras and so they fell into the hells. When they finally get out of the hells they become animals—birds or beasts.
After they finish being animals, they have a lot of deficiencies. They may be blind or deaf, or mute, or crippled, or mentally retarded. They totally lack wisdom and have to spend their entire life being unable to understand anything at all. People like this created evil karma in the past and so they now undergo these kinds of retributions. Being in the midst of such retributions, they should bring forth a tremendous sense of shame and do all kinds of meritorious and virtuous deeds. That would be the correct thing for them to do.
But these people who came to see me—who sought me out to cure their illnesses—still were hoping for a bargain. They wanted a free cure. Of course no one said anything about money to them, and no one charged them a fee, so after the healing was done, the most generous among them offered red envelopes. What would you guess was in them? Some had a dollar, some two, the most was four dollars or five—and this was in Malaysian and Singapore money. So there they were, still thinking to get a bargain at the expense of a left-home person.
It apparently never occurred to them how much they would have to pay in fees if they wanted to be cured and went to a regular doctor. And so, since they had come to be healed by a Dharma Master, they should at least have offered the same amount of money as the doctor’s fees would have been. They couldn’t bear to part with that much money and yet they expected to be cured. With karmic retributions like they were undergoing, they still were out to get a bargain.
Why do I bother to tell you this? Because I hope that all of you will be very careful not to create evil karma. Don’t slander the Triple Jewel from the inside. Don’t remain within Buddhism and slander the Great Vehicle Sutras. Don’t harbor fox-like doubts and be continually skeptical. By doing so you will create all kinds of karmic offenses, and in the future will fall so far that I will have no way to help you.
When practicing the Dharma of Ch’an you have to actually go forth and do it. You have to bow your head and shoulder the load. Progress with vigor and never retreat. The first requisite is to have patience. You have to bear what you cannot bear, endure what others cannot endure. When you sit in Ch’an your legs will hurt and your back will ache. It’s something that’s basically impossible to bear, but it’s at that point that you must go ahead and bear it. If you want to become enlightened, and yet you are without patience, it will be impossible for you to do so. Patience includes enduring hunger and thirst, heat and cold, as well as pain. In order to have patience you first must break through your view of self.
Contemplating the mind within,
you find there is no mind.
Contemplating external objects,
you find they too have disappeared.
Contemplating afar the material world,
You find all these things have disappeared as well.
When inside there is no body and mind, and outside there is no world, you are experiencing a kind of emptiness. But you also cannot become attached to that emptiness. As long as you hold on to emptiness, you still have an attachment. You have to dispense with emptiness as well. When there is no emptiness either, then you unite with the Dharma Realm. You become no different from emptiness itself. When you reach the ultimate understanding of the state of emptiness, you gain samadhi. In samadhi, you are not muddled or confused. You are clear and aware. You are in a state of unmoving suchness, and are always lucid and clear. It’s not that you sit in meditation and are greedy for some state or other. Don’t hope for “states.” As the VAJRA SUTRA says,
Everything that has an appearance is empty and false. If you see all appearances as no appearances, then you see the Thus Come One.” So people who investigate Ch’an cannot get attached to any state that might occur. Don’t be greedy for spiritual penetrations, because if you do, you will walk into the fire and enter a demonic state. Don’t be greedy for the flavor of Ch’an either. If you get interested in the flavor of Ch’an and are greedy for it, then you will wind up in the side doors and on the wrong forks of the road—the various heterodox cults and sects.
Why do beings end up as heavenly demons and those of externalist ways? It is because they are greedy. They are greedy to be “number one,” greedy for phoney reputation, greedy for false acclaim, greedy for vain and empty states. So they cultivate, but because of this greed, they end up as part of the retinue of a demon king. Do these people want to become demons? Basically, no, they don’t. But their deviant knowledge and deviant views—their improper views of things—lead them in that direction. That is why people who investigate Ch’an must not be attached to anything or be greedy for anything. So we say,
When the Buddhas come,
slice through them.
When the demons come,
cut them down.
Don’t be greedy for petty states and think that you’ve thereby obtained some skill. During the period of the session, the best is to forget about others and have no self. Forget about time and space as well.Sweep away all dharmas;
Separate from all appearances.
Don’t be attached to anything at all. If you can be this way, you can reach the Ground of Happiness of Being Apart from Production—the state of the First Dhyana. The First Dhyana represents the breakthrough of living beings’ attachments and the attainment of dhyana bliss as food, so that one is filled with the happiness of Dharma. This is the function derived. In the First Dhyana, one’s pulse stops but this doesn’t mean one is dead. This brings a particular happiness which is unknown to those in the world.
The Second Dhyana is called the Ground of the Happiness of Giving Rise to Samadhi. In this dhyana one enters samadhi and is extremely happy. In the second dhyana, one’s breath stops. There is no detectible breathing in and out, but at that time an inner breath takes over.
The Third Dhyana is the Ground of the Wonderful Joy of Separating from Happiness. One renounces the dhyana bliss as food and the happiness of Dharma that occurs in initial samadhi. One goes beyond that kind of happiness and reaches a sense of wonderful joy. It is something one has never known before, and is inexpressible in its subtlety, and is inconceivable.
At the level of the Third Dhyana, thoughts also stop. There is no active thought process—not a single thought arises.
When not a single thought arises,
The entire substance manifests.
When the six sense organs suddenly move,
There is a covering of clouds.
At the point when not even a single thought arises, the entire substance and great function are in evidence. But once your six sense organs suddenly move, then you are obscured. It just takes a slight movement by the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind to cause this to happen. Then one is covered over by the clouds of the five skandhas.
The Fourth Dhyana is called the Pure Ground of Renouncing Thought. In the third dhyana thoughts were stopped—held at bay—but they still had not been renounced altogether. In the heavens of the Fourth Dhyana, not only are thoughts stopped, they are done away with completely. There basically are no more thoughts and considerations. This state is extremely pure, subtlely wonderful, and particularly blissful.
However, reaching the fourth dhyana is simply the most initial expedient state of the investigation fo Ch’an. Having reached this state is of no use at all in itself. It is not certification to sagehood. You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that reaching these four levels makes you somehow very special. It’s of absolutely no use in and of itself. You’ve only experience a bit of the flavor of Ch’an. Don’t forget the ignorant Bhikshu who mistook the fourth dhyana for the fourth fruition of Arhatship. He later made a gross false claim, and as a result, fell into hell.
People who cultivate the Way must take particular care not to become arrogant. Don’t consider yourself higher than everyone. Don’t think that your cultivation is much better than everyone elses. As soon as you start thinking like that, it’s for sure a crazy demon has taken possession of you. You’ve gone insane. When that happens, you won’t be able to progress with developing your skill.
If you want to genuinely understand the principle of sitting Ch’an, investigate the Fifty Skandha Demon-States described in the SHURANGAMA SUTRA, (Volume VIII, IIIBT, BTTS, 1983). If you make yourself familiar with these fifty states, you can avoid falling into the pits and developing deviant views. You won’t walk into the fire and enter a demonic state. But if you don’t even recognize these states and just make wild guesses about what’s happening to you, thinking yourself to be “out-of-sight,” then you are making a big mistake.
Ch’an is defined as “stilling one’s considerations.” It is also known as “cultivation pertaining to thought.” “Stilling one’s considerations” means constantly wiping clean so that no dust can alight. “Cultivation pertaining to thought” means bringing up your Ch’an topic—your hua t’ou. It means always keeping your mind on what you’re doing, and never ever forgetting your topic. Day and night you stick with it. You apply your effort to yourself. You don’t seek anything external. It’s not that you listen for sounds and voices which send you messages. Sounds and voices like that are external states. They do not arise from your own self-nature. If you are turned by external states, it’s very easy to go down the wrong road.
The Dharma of stilling considerations and cultivating thought is a skill that’s developed invisibly, imperceptibly, and unceasingly. Developing this skill can be likened to a mother hen sitting on her brood of eggs. When the hen is incubating her eggs, she never leaves them. It is the warmth of her body that will hatch the eggs. When she has sat there long enough, the little chicks will hatch. Investigating one’s hua t’ou is the same technique. When the old mother hen is sitting, she gets very upset if she has to leave the nest at all. So, when she eats, she does it in a rush and races right back to her eggs. When she goes to relieve nature, it’s the same way—she hurries right back to the nest. Her whole attention is centered on hatching those eggs. Cultivators must also have this type of sincerity.
Investigating Ch’an is also like a dragon guarding its pearl. The pearl is the dragon’s most valuable possession. A dragon just loves its pearl, and takes care of it in the same way a hen sits on her nest. He’s always got his mind on that pearl and in this way, makes it shinier and shinier, and more and more useful.
Investigating Ch’an is also like a cat stalking a mouse. The old cat sits outside the mousehole and waits. The moment the mouse scats out the hole, the cat is ready to pounce. The Dharma of Ch’an is the same way. You have to be patient and enduring, you have to be firm and constant. You must be firm, sincere, and constant. When you investigate Ch’an don’t think about what’s in it for you. If you spend your time on that idea, you’re just having false thinking, and false thoughts don’t bring about any genuine ability.
That is why people who investigate Ch’an must have patience. This means real patience that gets you through when things are unbearable. If you can be patient, in the future you will certainly accomplish some skill. But if you don’t have patience, and can’t take suffering, and won’t undergo toil so that when you meet with something tough, you give in, then you won’t have any success.
Investigating “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” is a Vajra Jeweled Sword. If you drill in with the word “Who?” investigating unceasingly “Who is mindful of the Buddha,” then after awhile you’ll have Ch’an. It’s said,
When you sit for a long time, you have Ch’an.
When you dwell somewhere for a long time,
you set up conditions.
After you sit for a period of time you will develop Ch’an and your skill will come forth. When that happens you will experience a sense of bliss. At that point, your temper will diminish, your moral character will improve, and your afflictions will decrease. You will understand principle, and have wisdom. All this will come about because of your single minded intent in developing your skill. You will be able to totally clean up your greed, hatred, and stupidity. All that remains will be precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. Ch’an comes from patience. It is gotten in exchange for undergoing suffering. It’s not that when you sit to the point that your legs hurt, you turn back and retreat, or that you admit defeat when you encounter a bit of difficulty. If you’re like that there will never be a response. When you sit to the ultimate point, you attain light. It’s said,
When the stillness is ultimate,
The light is penetrating.
When you become ultimately still, the light of your wisdom shines forth. At that point you have no thoughts of arrogance or pride. You are not overbearing, jealous or obstructive of others. You see that all living beings in the entire world have the Buddha-nature, and can become Buddhas. You don’t obstruct other people in their cultivation. Your wisdom is in evidence at all times. Your stupidity is continually diminished.
When we cultivate here in the Ch’an hall, we are also holding the precepts, cultivating samadhi, and developing wisdom. These three non-outflow studies are perfected in the Ch’an hall. In the Ch’an hall we don’t talk, so we don’t use harsh speech, loose speech nor do we lie or gossip. We shut our mouths, and so there is no way to commit the four evils of the mouth. When in your mind there is no greed, hatred, or stupidity, then the three evils of the mind are also gone. In the Ch’an hall you won’t kill, steal, or commit acts of lust, lie, or take intoxicants, so the five precepts are also held perfectly.
In the Ch’an hall you should cultivate while standing, sitting, walking, and lying down. You practice samadhi all the time. When your samadhi power comes into being, your wisdom power will also appear. So there is samadhi “when the stillness is ultimate,” and there is wisdom when “the light is penetrating.” We must cultivate to the point that we have wisdom. Don’t get turned by the states of demons. Don’t take a thief to be your own son. It’s really no good to cultivate on the one hand, and get greedy on the other. You must free yourself of greed, as well as hatred and stupidity. That is why we cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and try to become replete with these three non-outflow studies.
This time when we went to Malaysia, we encountered lots of people with weird illnesses. Prior to this I honestly never paid attention, so it never occurred to me that certain people who pass themselves off as Lamas also use ku poisoning to hex people. This time in Malaysia we encountered a lot of people who were victims of these phoney Lamas, who wanted to control their lay disciples by laying hexes on them. They use voodoo on their Dharma protectors so that their own disciples get karmic-obstacle sicknesses. In this way the phoney Lamas control these good men and faithful women. This kind of conduct is atrocious!
I knew that a certain fake Lama in Canada was a very unprincipled person, but it never occurred to me that Asia was also full of phoney Lamas who manipulate people with their deviant tricks. Now I think that these kinds of Lamas are not limited to Asia, but that there are also many of them in America as well. So, in America, there are also many weird illnesses to be found.
One young woman came here to study and before, she had studied under a phoney Lama in America. She kept going insane and could not control herself. I believe now that she also had been hexed to some extent by a deviant trick of that Lama. But as yet, the people in this world still haven’t awakened and figured this out. They get confused and become enamored with the “Secret school,” thinking that because it’s “secret,” there must be some wonderful Dharma which will quickly bring them benefit. But this a mistaken view. Basically I don’t have time to discuss such questions, but if I don’t say something, it’s to be feared that people will wind up in a situation of the blind leading the blind and will end up going down a bad path. The phoney Lamas apply their hexes to people with money. They don’t bother with those who are not wealthy. So anyone who is wealthy should exercise extra precautions.
Our Ch’an session has carried us right into the new year. So today I will speak a New Year’s verse for you
Now we come to 1982.
Those of the ten directions come
together to investigate Ch’an.
Return the light and illumine within,
contemplate you own being.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas,
Sages and worthies are selected.
This is 1982 and there are people here from the ten directions who have come together to investigate Ch’an. Each of you should return the light and shine it within to see if you are self-present or not. If you’re “present,” that means you are applying your skill. If you’re “not present,” it means you are here, but are having false thinking that takes you away from here.
In the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, saints and sages are chosen. People who truly cultivate the Way are selected. People who come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, are those with great, good roots. If you didn’t have those good roots, then even if you wanted to come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, it wouldn’t be easy for you to actually get here. Or you’d get here and be unable to take it, so you’d run away. The only Way place in the world right now where people work so hard is the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. These people don’t fear suffering, because they want to obtain some genuine wisdom. Anyone who comes to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has to maintain proper knowledge and proper views.
When the nature is in samadhi,
and the demons are subdued,
everywhere is blissful.
When false thoughts do not arise,
everywhere is peaceful.
When people are unhappy with what’s going on around them, and with their environment in general, it’s because their nature doesn’t have any samadhi. Without samadhi, they seek to the east, seek to the west, seek to the north and south—always seeking outside. These are the tricks that greed plays. If we weren’t greedy we wouldn’t seek for anything. When we don’t seek for anything, our natures are calm and our temperament is compliant. We are happy every day.
But if we are never satisfied, getting upset about his and not being content with that, so that our false thoughts run away with us, and we never feel like we’ve got enough, we are in perpetual suffering and distress. If your nature is in samadhi you can subdue any demon, and every day is blissful for you. This kind of bliss is not external. It does not come from something outside yourself. It arises from within. If you don’t give rise to false thoughts, then wherever you go you will find peace.
If we look at Buddhism in the West, it can be seen that the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is the most proper and comprehensive Bodhimanda to be found. Here, we work hardest at developing our skill and cultivating the Way. So the people within the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas must have virtuous conduct. People without virtuous conduct cannot remain here.
Buddha sessions and Ch’an sessions are like big tests. During those periods we work non-stop without rest, applying effort to develop our skill. Even though the majorities are that way, there are still those who are lazy and steal off for some rest. They like to take it easy. Lazy people are only cheating themselves. They don’t want to get enlightened, they don’t want to have any accomplishment. They think they’ve got a good deal, being lazy, and taking it easy. Actually, they are taking a great loss. It’s like going to a mountain of jewels, and coming back empty-handed. You don’t get anything at all from it.
People who work at their skill have to be patient and endure suffering all the time. They have to work hard and endure the toil. They don’t look for easy ways out. People who try to get off cheap in their cultivation can be said to be thieves among the virtuous. They cause others to feel very pained at heart. If everyone in the Bodhimanda were like these sorts of people, then there would be no way to make Buddhism grow.
We people participating in this session have been lazy in the past throughout limitless kalpas, and that is why we still haven’t accomplished our deeds in the Way. And to this very day we still haven’t changed these bad habits. We haven’t gotten rid ofthis fault. At this rate, how long do you think we’ll have to wait before we can end birth and death? So we should not allow ourselves to be swayed by our own lazy habits. We’re in such a good Way place where it’s so convenient to cultivate, and if we still don’t make the effort and seek the Dharma-door of ending birth and death, then I ask you, how long do you intend to wait?
People who are developing their skill hold the Vajra Jeweled Sword at all times. That’s our wisdom sword. The wisdom sword in turn, is just enlightenment. In order to become enlightened, you have to use the skill of contemplating and illuminating. We watch that thought of investigating Ch’an to be sure that it’s functioning at all times. If we find that we are having false thoughts, then we should put those thoughts away. That’s what’s meant by,
When the thought arises, awaken to it.
When you awaken to it, it goes away.
Everybody has false thinking. To be without false thinking is to have your genuine wisdom manifest. Because we have been creating different kinds of karma throughout limitless aeons, the false thoughts which each of us have are accordingly different. What brings about false thinking? It comes from karma made throughout limitless kalpas. We start out like the ocean when it’s calm, when there is no appearance of agitation on its surface. As soon as the false thoughts come upon us, however, it’s just like waves arising on the sea. The waves are caused by the wind, so the first thing we must do is quiet the winds of our karma. In that way, we can decrease our false thinking.
How do we quiet the winds of karma? By not creating any further offenses.
Don’t do any evil.
Offer up all good conduct.
By not doing any evil, you can get rid of the waves of false thinking. By offering up all good conduct, your wisdom will manifest. When our wisdom manifests, we are able to break through all ignorance and false thinking. We can change our habits and get rid of our faults. What is cultivating about? Initially, it is changing our habits and faults. But if you don’t even do that initial work of changing habits and faults, you will never be able to have a response with the Way. If you change your habits and faults you can unite with the Way, unite with Truth, and unite with enlightenment. So, as you cultivate, pay particular attention to changing your faults and stop your bad habits.
On what should we first focus our attention? First, take a look at the questions of food, clothing, and shelter. When we wear clothes are we greedy for pretty ones? Do we like to look nice, and wear beautiful things? If so, it means we still have that habit. When we eat are we always hoping for nourishing things? Do we always like to eat things that taste good? In other words, are we greedy for flavors? If so, that means we still haven’t gotten rid of that habit either.
Our aim is to not enter into forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and dharmas. As to the place where we live and sleep, some people can’t stand it if they have to go a day without sleep. But people who cultivate the Way learn to get along whether they sleep or not. They aren’t attached to sleep. If you don’t place a lot of importance on it, you will be able to change that habit as well. Someone who can really change their habits regarding food, clothing, and shelter, is truly a “person of the Way with no mind” People in the Ch’an hall are all supposed to be “people of the Way with no minds,” so if you keep on using your mind all the time, then you’re making a mistake.