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Now we’ll discuss the Four Right Efforts, which are:

  1. Not allowing evil which has not yet been produced to be produced.
  2. Eradicating evil which has already been produced.

Those two are talking about the two roads of doing good or doing evil. There is a Chinese expression which goes:

Good and evil are two separate roads;
One you cultivate, the other you commit.

That is simply talking about the Four Right Efforts. There are those two roads, and you can go along whichever one you want. That’s freedom of choice. Right now, with the Four Right Efforts, there is no freedom of choice – you only choose the good, and not the bad. You don’t go whichever way you please; you are told how to go. That’s the meaning of the Four Right Efforts. Probably none of you has ever heard this explanation of them. When I lecture it’s:

Suddenly in heaven,
Suddenly in hells

One minute it’s up in heaven the next minute back on earth. In speaking the Buddhadharma, one talks about worldly dharmas, because worldly dharmas are themselves Buddhadharma. The world is a huge Sutra: if you can recite it, you open enlightenment. If you can’t recite it, then you fall. Don’t you agree? All here, whether laypeople or left-home people, are reciting a Sutra, the True, Wordless Sutra.

Although it has no words, it is a true Sutra and is in the world. That’s why I say the Four Right Efforts are the two different roads of good and evil, the one cultivated, the other committed. If you want to cultivate, you go along the road to the three good destinies, the path of good merit and virtue. If you want to commit offenses, you take the road of the three evil destinies, that of offenses and violations. If you commit them, you are certainly headed for the hells, the hungry ghosts, and the animals. If you create good merit and virtue, without even intending to go to the halls of heaven, you will reach them. Without intending to the emperor, you’ll end up emperor.

You say, “You can’t talk like that in this day and age when there are no emperors!” Well, then you can be a president. There’s no problem; it’s just an example of a high position. You can be president since you can’t necessarily be an emperor. If you want to be an asura you can, too. All people who are bandits are asuras, and so are soldiers.

However, there are yin asuras and yang asuras. The bandits are yin asuras, while soldiers and officers are yang asuras. They all like to fight; they’re strong in fighting. “I have to win!” To come out victor in the end is the preoccupation of an asura. So, keep evil that hasn’t yet arisen from arising. What about evil that already exists? Get rid of it so it’s gone. Eliminate the road of evil. It’s telling you not to go along the path of evil, but of good.

The last two are:

  1. Causing good which has not yet been produced to be produced.
  2. Causing good which has already been produced to increase and grow.

If you haven’t yet given rise to good thoughts, you give rise to them fast. How? By doing good, doing merit, creating virtue, and by giving – that makes your good arise. For that to happen you have to perform good acts, do good deeds, help people, benefit yourself benefiting others, cross yourself over and cross others over, enlighten yourself and enlighten others. That’s all what is meant by causing it to be produced.

Then you make the good roots which have already come into being get larger. For example, you let the five roots – faith, vigor, mindfulness, Samadhi, and wisdom – grow up. “Keep on growing. Grow some more.” What don’t you do thought? You don’t want to “help them grow.” You have to tend your good roots, but wait for them to row up on their own; don’t help them.

I often tell you about the people of Sung who were so smart. They had a scientific outlook, and had probably studied a lot of philosophy and logic to the point of expertise. Yet there was an “average farmer” who got the idea,

“Those guys with educations have been investigating science, philosophy, and logic. We farmers ought to study them too.” He was a farmer and decided to invent something faster than a machine which would help his sprouts grow. He went out to his fields where the seedlings were about a foot tall, and he helped them grow by pulling each one up an inch or two. He pulled up every plant so it was that much taller. Afterwards, since it was really hard work, he thought to himself;

“My logic is certain to bring success.” He went home and told his son:

“Today I feel sick because I have helped the sprouts to grow.”

He said, “Today I’m too tired, too weary, since I don’t have machinery and I helped the sprouts grow, which was too hard. I’m so tired I feel sick.”

His son went out and took a look. His son thought, “Oh, my father has had accomplishment from his study of science, philosophy, and logic. How come he hasn’t told me what it was? I’ll go out for myself and see how it is done.” He ran out to the fields, but when he got there:

The sprouts had all dried up.

All the seedlings had died. That’s the obstacle of having a place of dwelling.

You should give rise to that thought which has no place of dwelling.

If you help them grow, that too is an attachment. Dwelling in forcefully “helping them grow” resulted in their death.

The Four Right Efforts are that way too. Don’t help them grow – you should perform them in a very natural way. Just as in planting crops, don’t help them grow. Water them and add fertilizer, and they’ll grow on their own – but don’t assist them. If they need more soil, you add it. If they fall down, you prop them up again. It’s that way with the Four Right Efforts, too. Good roots you’ve already produced you let increase and grow. Good roots you haven’t yet produced, you produce. Don’t help them grow, let them grow. Don’t force them to grow. Water them, add compost… then it will work.

We were talking about the Four Right Efforts, and now we should discuss the Four Applications of Mindfulness. When the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, the Venerable Ananda asked the Buddha four questions. He said, “When the Buddha was in the world, we took the Buddha for our Teacher.

After the Buddha enters Nirvana, who should be our Teacher?” “While the Buddha was in the world, we dwelt with the Buddha. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, with whom should we dwell?” “What should we say at the beginning of the Sutras spoken by the Buddha to introduce them?” “When the Buddha was in the world, the Buddha was able to subdue the evil-natured Bhikshus. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, how can the evil-natured Bhikshus be subdued?”

Of these four questions, we’ll just talk about the one, “While the Buddha was in the world, we dwelt with the Buddha. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, with whom should we dwell?” Ananda requested that the Buddha tell him, and the Buddha answered the Venerable Ananda, saying, “While the Buddha is in the world, all the people who cultivate the Way, whether left-home people or laypeople, dwell with the Buddha. After I enter Nirvana, you should dwell in the Four Applications of Mindfulness, which are mindfulness of:

    1. The Body.
    2. Feelings.
    3. Thoughts.
    4. Dharmas.

They are also:

    1. The station of mindfulness of the body.
    2. The station of mindfulness of the feelings.
    3. The station of mindfulness of the thoughts.
    4. The station of mindfulness of the dharmas.

Those Four Applications of Mindfulness are just telling us never to forget – always to have our mind on them. They are also called the Contemplations of the Four Applications of Mindfulness.

The reason you cultivators of the Way have false thinking from morning to night is because you aren’t using effort at your cultivation. If you were cultivating hard, how would you have time to strike up false thoughts? You basically wouldn’t have the time for false thinking.

The Contemplations of the Four Applications of Mindfulness.

    1. Contemplate the body as impure.
    2. Contemplate feelings as suffering.
    3. Contemplate thoughts as impermanent.
    4. Contemplate dharmas as without a self.

Contemplate the body as impure.

“Ah, my body really is incredibly dirty! The nine apertures are constantly flowing with impurities.” There are people who are saying, “I don’t believe that. My body is very clean. I take a bath very day, and often two or three times a day. Then I put on perfume, and it’s not only clean, it smells lovely.” It may smell nice on the surface, but doesn’t it smell lovely in your belly or not? If the stuff in your stomach smelled nice, then that would count. But if you put perfume on the outside and think that’s smelling good, you’re just cheating people. So you still have to contemplate the body as impure.

We talked before about the nine apertures that constantly flow with filth. If you want to say they are clean, then when you take matter out of your eyes, are you able to eat it, yes or no? You say, “I couldn’t eat that stuff. Just seeing it makes me want to vomit.” Where did it come from? It came from your eyes. Then do you still think your eyes are clean? If they are clean, then why can’t you eat the stuff that comes out of them? If you have an ear infection, all day long pus and wax run out of your ears stinking to high heaven. Would you say that stuff is clean or dirty? If you maintain it’s clean, then can you eat it? You can’t. And where did it come from? From your ears. So you have to admit they’re unclean. The nose has snot, and when snot packs together, you get something sort of like an oil cake. Although it may look like oil cake, you can’t bear to eat it. Why not? Because you see the stuff you feel it is very unclean and can’t eat it. Since you can’t stand to eat it, you have to admit that it’s unclean.

In the mouth there is saliva and phlegm that you cough up and spit out, which you are also unable to eat. Not to speak of adults, children won’t even eat them. If you spit out some phlegm and tell a child to eat it, the child won’t be able to. I remember how one time I offered one of my disciple’s small children some chewing gum which I was holding in my mouth, and the child didn’t want it. Such a little kid was able to understand and not want something that had been in someone else’s mouth; and adults would want it even less. So the stuff in the mouth is unclean too. Those are seven holes that is on your face you could wash over and over again, but it would still be unclean.

You have food deposits on your teeth, and if you don’t regularly brush them, they quickly form a layer a fraction of an inch thick. Could you eat that stuff? You may say, “I could eat all the stuff that comes out of the seen apertures because it’s not defiled or pure.” But that would just be forcing yourself to do so. In your mind, ultimately, would you know they were neither defiled nor pure? In eating those things, would you really feel they were clean, or that clean and dirty were the same thing? If you could do that, then you would be able not to be turned by states. Then that would truly be turning the states, and would be neither defiled nor pure. But, it’s not a matter of just saying it. You have to be actually certified to that fruit position of neither defiled nor pure, and then you can be like this:

The eyes contemplate forms outside,
but inside there is nothing.
The ears hear defiled matters,
but the mind does not know.

Then defilement and purity are one suchness, just the same, and there are no such discriminations in the mind as “This is pure” and “That is impure.”

Someone else says, “I could eat it too. I would close my eyes and not pay attention to what it was. Since I wouldn’t see it, I would eat it without knowing whether it was clean or not.” That’s one method, and a very clever one at that. However, I don’t believe you’d be able to do it. Why not? It’s because you would still have two eyes. If you were to get rid of your eyes, then you might be able to do it. You’d be cheated by others. They would say, “Come on and eat,” and they’d give you a bowl of urine, say, “This is soup.” They’d serve you some excrement and say, “This is rice.” Not having any eyes, you’d eat it – but it wouldn’t taste right. You’d say, “How can it taste like this?!” and you still wouldn’t be able to eat it. So if you claim you could eat unclean things, then we’ll dish you up some urine or human excrement and try you out. If you are not even afraid of that, then you have some skill.

In Hong Kong I didn’t go through that, but I did go through drinking foot-washing water, my own. You say, “Dharma Master, you’re so unsanitary!” But all these years have passes and I haven’t died, and I’m still the same.

If you are able to eat all the stuff that comes out of the first-listed seven apertures, you certainly won’t be able to eat what comes out of the last two holes. If you really could eat that, then for you there would truly be no defilement and no purity. Yet if you had really reached the point of “neither defiled nor pure,” you still would be unable to eat those things. Why not? Since you wouldn’t have such discriminations, you won’t eat those things because people would all fight to make offerings to you. So you would never be so hungry as to have to eat human excrement or so thirsty as to have to drink human urine.

Where does all that pours from the nine apertures, which are constantly oozing filth, come from? Your body. If you can see through it, then what are you doing helping out your body? If it gets a little hungry thirsty you say, “Oh I’m thirsty!!!” You help it out, but it does not return the favor. When the time comes, it says, “Good-bye,” and leaves. What meaning would you say there was to that? Right now you are incredibly attached to your body.

Someone says, “Oh, the Dharma Master is saying that, but I’m not attached to my body. I’m neither defiled nor pure, and I don’t pay any attention to it at all. I don’t bathe, I don’t brush my teeth, and I can eat anything. That’s cultivation!” But you’re wrong there too. If you don’t pay any attention to anything, then you become stupid. You should still pay attention yet not pay attention. It’s right at that point. You should be at so filthy. And you should not pay attention by not deliberately keeping so terribly clean. Do you see?

You say, “Well, Dharma Master, when you speak Dharma, ultimately what then is right?” Any way is right. Whatever you want is right. You say, “All this talk and I haven’t heard anything that makes sense to me.” If you want to listen to me, then you should be neither defiled nor pure. The neither defiled nor pure I’m talking about isn’t the one you mean. In yours, you know you aren’t clean, and you’re deliberately that dirty.

And then you say, “This is how I am, do you see? I’ve seen that the old cultivators in the past were like this, with long hair and beards. All the old ascetics had this style.” Why do you only look at their style, without imitating their minds? Their minds were like this: they didn’t drink wine, and they didn’t take dope. Why are you like them on the outside but not on the inside? The difference is right there. You should imitate their style on the inside, and not have their style on the outside.

Ah, when you speak the Dharma, there’s just too much to say – better not to say anything.

Contemplate Feelings are Suffering.

When you want something and you get it, then for a while you feel happy. But after a while, feelings change. So one contemplates feelings as suffering. There are three kinds of feelings:

  • Painful feelings.
  • Pleasant feelings.
  • Feelings that are neither painful nor pleasant.

The reception of painful feelings entails the Three Sufferings:

  • The Suffering of Suffering.
  • The Suffering of Decay.
  • The Suffering of Process.

The suffering that results from pleasant feelings is reckoned by the amount of energy you waste and the amount of trouble that comes from them. Feelings that are neither painful nor pleasant refer to your ordinary state of being. You should contemplate all these feelings are suffering because none is happiness. The fruit reaped from them is very bitter.

Contemplate Thoughts as Impermanent.

Our thoughts go through the process of infancy, growing up, becoming old, and dying. They form a flowing current which goes forward ceaselessly changing.

Contemplate Dharma as Without a Self. “Dharmas” refers to variations on the five skandhas:

  • Form.
  • Feelings.
  • Thinking.
  • Activities.
  • Consciousness

None of the dharmas of the five skandhas has a self. This is just as the Heart Sutra says:

He illuminated and viewed the five skandhas as empty.

When the Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin was practicing the profound Prajna Paramita, he was able to illumine and view the five skandhas all as empty – which is the contemplation of dharmas as having no self.

That is a very simple explanation of the Four Applications of Mindfulness.

The Four “As-You-Will” Accomplishments

  1. Wishing.
  2. Vigor.
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Consideration.


Ordinary people hope to strike it rich, want to hold public office, hope to eat well, want to live in a fine house, wish to wear good clothes. Men want to have good wives and women want to have good husbands. Those are all wishes. Here, “wishing” does not refer to wanting those kind of things, but rather to wishing to accomplish skill in cultivation. It is wishing for the perfection of one’s cultivation of the Bodhisattva Way and rapid accomplishment of one’s certification to the position of Buddhahood. “Wishing” means always keeping one’s mind on these goals until eventually the power of the wishing is accomplished – “as-you-will.”


If you only wish to become a Buddha, but don’t go ahead and cultivate vigorously, then you never will accomplish it. In that case the “wishing” is just a vain hope. It is through vigor that the wish is fulfilled.


Mindfulness must be constant and so consideration is needed so mindfulness is not forgotten. As long as you are considering it, you won’t forget to be vigorous, you won’t lose your mindfulness, and you won’t lose track of what you wish for. This is but a simple definition of the “As-you-will” Accomplishments.

The Seven Bodhi Shares or Limbs of Enlightenment

  1. Selecting a Dharma.
  2. Vigor.
  3. Joy.
  4. Casting out.
  5. Renunciation.
  6. Samadhi.
  7. Mindfulness.

The Seven Bodhi Shares are something that people who cultivate the Way should recognize. Otherwise, you won’t be able to cultivate the Eight Proper Paths, nor will you be able to perfect the Four Applications of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, and the Four “As-you-Will” Accomplishments.

Selecting a Dharma.

Pick out a dharma most suitable for you to cultivate. When you go to the dining room, the grains and vegetables are all set out and you yourself pick what you are going to eat. In the same way, you need to select what Dharma you want to cultivate. That’s called having the Dharma Selecting Eye, you won’t clearly recognize what are dharmas and what are non-dharmas, which are good dharmas and which are bad dharmas. You also won’t be able to recognize Good Knowing Advisors, nor will you be able to tell whether you have spoken Dharma correctly or not.

Therefore, you need to have the Dharma Selecting Eye. In selecting a dharma, you choose one to use to become enlightened by. You are able to select and determine the quality of dharmas. For example if someone tells you to go kill people, you think, “Oh, killing people isn’t right. I can’t do that.” Then you have selected. “I want to rescue people. I know that so-and-so plans to kill such-and-such a person, so now I’ll think of some way to rescue that person.” That’s selecting. “I see that a lot of people do improper things, they have deviant knowledge and deviant views. Right now I want to select proper knowledge and proper views.” That too is selecting.

Don’t be like those ascetics who observe the morality of cattle and dogs, or who practice the asceticism of sleeping on beds of nails. Think it over: Can you become enlightened by sleeping on nails? What advantage will on have from cultivating that kind of suffering? Don’t choose to cultivate unbeneficial bitter practices. That kind of asceticism has no advantages to it. You need wisdom to make your selection and wisdom is just enlightenment – Bodhi. So you need the Bodhi Share of selecting a dharma. Without the wisdom to select dharmas, you will cultivate blindly and won’t recognize Good Knowing Advisors. You will allow yourself to be led by the blind.


If you select your dharma but don’t cultivate it, that is useless. Therefore, you need vigor.


If you are vigorous to the point of having some attainment, you feel joy.

Casting Out.

If you feel joy, then you have an attachment to dharmas, so you should cast out that feeling of joy. You should put it down. If you say, “I take the flavor of Ch’an as food and am filled with Dharma joy. I don’t have to eat and I’m not hungry. This is really wonderful!” That is producing an attachment to dharmas. If you have an attachment to dharmas, you will have an attachment to self. An example is saying, “Do you know, now I have some skill. I’ve gone to the Heaven of the Thirty-three, looked all around and even saw Lord Shakra. The heavenly lotuses are truly exquisite: green colored of green light, yellow colored of yellow light, red colored of red light, and white colored of white light. There’s no place like that among people!” If you produce that kind of attachment to dharmas, you must in turn cast in out and renounce it.


After you have cast out and renounced attachments to self and dharmas, then you can gain,


With samdhi power you will have wisdom. Once you have wisdom, you should constantly nurture it until it is perfected. Don’t forget about your samadhi power and your wisdom and that is the last limb:


The Eight Sagely Way Shares, also called the Eight Proper Ways, are: 1) Proper Views, 2) Proper Thought, 3) Proper Speech, 4) Proper Actions, 5) Proper Livelihood, 6) Proper Vigor, 7) Proper Mindfulness, and 8) Proper Samdhi.

The UnobstructedUnderstandings refers to the Four Unobstructed Eloquences: 1) of Phrasing, 2) of Dharmas, 3) of Meanings, and 4) of Delight in Speech. Unobstructed Eloquence of Phrasing means that in speaking, one uses phrases that contain profound meaning and are beautifully expressed – not the coarse phrases some people use when they talk. What one says is not only very beautiful, but also inconceivably wonderful, and makes anyone who hears want to hear more. Even if they don’t want to listen, they can’t help themselves. They may want to stop but can’t when Sutras are lectured in this way; the Dharma is spoken so wonderfully that you never had any idea it could be like that. This is what is called inconceivable.

Unobstructed Eloquence of Dharmas refers to explaining the 84,000 Dharma doors of the Buddhadharma. Actually there are dustmotes in kshetras. With this kind of eloquence, you discuss the dharmas in their most distant profundity, and you can speak of them in their nearest superficiality so they are very clear and understandable, making both the shallow and the deep aspects understood.

As it is said: One enters the depths and emerges from the shallows. The principle may be very profound, but you can use shallow principles to describe it, without falling into coarseness. It’s not mundane, yet it is similar to the mundane. It reaches through the mundane without itself being mundane. That is wonderful, the unobstructed eloquence of dharmas. When one speaks Dharma: Whatever road one takes is the Way; to left and right one meets the source. You are unhindered in your speech and so: Coarse words and subtle speech both return to truth in the primary sense.

Unobstructed Eloquence of Meanings enables you to expound as many principles as there are dharmas. The meanings you discuss are multi-leveled and infinite, unending and many-layered. When you have finished discussing one level of meaning there is yet another level, inexhaustibly and endlessly. The meanings and principles are like waves. When the wave in front has gone by, the wave behind it surges up.

It is like row after row of breakers on the ocean. In lecturing Sutras and speaking Dharma, the sound of your voice and your inflection should include: 1) lowering, 2) raising, 3) sudden pauses, and 4) reiteration. Your expression of the meaning should have: 1) an introduction, 2) a fitting together, 3) elaboration, and 4) a conclusion. Depending on what you are saying, your voice should sometimes be loud and sometimes soft. For example, when you lecture a hidden and secret dharma, you should talk in almost a whisper so people can barely hear. Yet you shouldn’t speak so low they can’t hear you at all, or they won’t know what you are talking about. That’s what’s meant by “lowering.”

You can also send the sound right into their ears, so that they have to listen. When you’ve been talking in such a low voice, people may be lulled to the point of entering the sleeping samadhi. Right then you adopt a loud volume and say, “Thus I have heard!” and they think, “Oh! It’s telling me to hear! I’d better listen fast.” By raising your voice you startle them awake so they can’t fall asleep. You can also use sudden pauses. When you’re coming to the most important point and everyone is listening intently thinking, “What’s he going to say next? I’ve pot to hear it,” suddenly you stop talking. You pause right there. That makes them really anxious and they think, “How come he isn’t talking?” and they wait. Then once your point is made, you can reiterate it, going back and forth over the same material, to stay it this way and that.

The sound you use in speaking should be such that, without even hearing the Dharma you speak, just from the sound of your voice the listener can get enlightened. In that case it is the sounds themselves that speak the Dharma. If you have the first three kinds of unobstructed eloquence, you still have to want to speak Dharma. You can’t say, “I already know this Dharma myself, and I don’t care if others understand it or not. I’ll be a self-ending Arhat and not have any problems. I’m not bringing forth the resolve of a Bodhisattva. I want to benefit myself.” That’s useless.

You absolutely must have Unobstructed Eloquence of Delight in Speech. That doesn’t mean to say you have the attitude, “I’m going to talk whether people respect the Dharma or not.” That’s not the way to be. There have to be listeners who can give rise to faith and be reverent and respectful. When people request the Dharma then you may speak it. Let if flow like a waterfall – but don’t smash people to death. Don’t kill people with your words. You want to speak living Dharma.

Non-strife and so forth. “Non-strife” refers to the Samadhi of Non-Contention. “Strife” means arguing with people, arguing your principle even when you basically have no principle.

In the Sixth Patriarch’s Sutra it is said that arguing entails thoughts of victory and defeat. When you think in terms of winning and losing, you have ideas like this: “I have to be better than you. I have to outdo you. I have to conquer you. As long as I am in this world, I have to be number one!” For some beings this competitive drive reaches such extremes that even when they have fallen into the evil destinies they must claim: “I am foremost in the hells,” or “I’m the number one hungry ghost,” or “I’m the best animal.” You tell me, ultimately, what use is there in being number one, anyway? None, really. It’s an attachment in the minds of people that makes them fight and strive to be number one in every situation. That’s why it is said:

Contention – thoughts of victory and defeat –
Stand in opposition to the Way.

That’s not the way people who cultivate the Way are, right? Those who cultivate the Way take what others reject. Their attitude is, “I’ll eat what other people won’t eat. I’ll endure what others won’t endure. I’ll bear what others can’t bear. I’ll yield what others don’t yield. I’ll do what others don’t do.” They keep a low profile. If you stand on top of Mount Sumera and look for the Way, you will never see it. But if you remain at the foot of Mount Sumeru, then you can have the Way.

Some people misconstrue the meaning and say, “Things other people haven’t eaten yet, I will eat before they get a chance. That’s eating what others can’t eat.” That’s a mistaken view. That idea is, “I’ll eat the things other people aren’t willing to eat. I’ll do the work other people don’t want to do.” It’s not to say, “I’ll do the easy work and let others do the hard work, not letting them do the easy work I’m doing.” That’s not the Way. The Way is the other way around. It’s yielding what you really feel you can’t yield. If you yield at that point, then you’ve done what you thought was impossible. Or if you feel you can’t endure something but you somehow endure it, then you’ve shown it can be borne. If you don’t go ahead and stand it, then of course you can’t stand it.

You say, “But others treat me badly. They try to make trouble for me.” Well, why do you want people to be good to you anyway? If you want people to treat you well, then that’s still a selfish attitude, right? Your attitude should be, “If people are rotten to me, they are my Good Knowing Advisors.” Who was it who brought the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch to accomplishment? Do you know? It was Shen Hsiu who helped him accomplish his work in the Way.

When Shen Hsiu’s followers set out to murder the Sixth Patriarch, they actually spurred him on in his cultivation. “If you don’t cultivate the Way, you’re going to get killed” was the idea. He had no choice but to cultivate. If it hadn’t been for the threat of Shen Hsiu’s followers, why would he ever have stayed among the hunters for sixteen years? He’d have come out long before that and announced, “I want to propagate the Buddhadharma. I am the disciple to whom the Great Master, the Fifth Patriarch, transmitted his Mind Seal.” If he had come out too early, he would never have brought his skill to accomplishment. Instead, he investigated Ch’an for sixteen years.

Contention – thoughts of victory and defeat –
Stand in opposition to the Way.
If you give rise to the four-mark mind,
How can samadhi be attained?

The “four-mark mind” refers to:

    1. The Mark of Self,
    2. The Mark of Others,
    3. The Mark of Living Beings, and
    4. The Mark of Lifespan.

With the arisal of the mark of self, you have a selfish attitude. When you give rise to the mark of others, you have an attitude of wanting to harm others. As soon as you have a mark of living beings, you start wanting everyone to benefit you. With the arisal of the mark of lifespans, you want to find a way to protect your own life. When you give rise to that four-mark mind, how can samadhi be attained? Specifically, the Samadhi of No Contention is being referred to here. If you can’t accomplish samadhi, you can’t achieve the Way. If you can’t achieve the Way, you can’t come to the end of the Way, you can’t achieve the fruit of the Way. So you should be without strife, have no fighting or contention.

‘The meanings’ are speaking according to secret meanings, and so forth. “Meanings” is the same as in the Unobstructed Eloquence of Meanings, but here the meanings are being able to give rise to the Way and cutting off doubts and delusions. “Speaking according to secret meanings, and so forth” means that one should accord with what living beings require and speak that kind wonderful Dharma to them. That is:

Contemplating the potential and dispensing the teaching,
One speaks the Dharma in accordance with the person,
Prescribing the medicine according to the illness.

This is something like learning to be a doctor. You give person the medicine specific for the kind of illness he or she has in order to cure their ailment. But even this analogy falls short of the power of the Dharma, because as I said to be a young medical student today, “No matter how good you get at curing people’s sicknesses, when the time comes for you to die, you won’t be able to cure your own fatal illness.” Someone may say, “Death is an experience every person must go through,” Well, after you go through it, then what?


The Yoga, Twenty-Five, and the Setting Forth, Twenty, are largely similar to this discussion. The remaining meanings will be explained upon reaching the Twelve Divisions.


This is still talking about the Sutra Store, and two Shastras are being cited as certification. In those Shastras “Text” is also discussed under the name “Sutra.” The two Shastras are the Yoga, the Yogacarabhumi Shastra, in chapter Twenty-Five, and the setting forth the Sagely Teaching Shastra, part Twenty. They are largely similar to this discussion. In general the say the same thing as this – they use “Sutra.” The remaining meanings, the rest of the principles, will be explained upon reaching the Twelve Divisions. When we come to the Twelve Divisions of Sutra Texts, they will be made clear. In other words, this section of Prologue says that the Yogacarabhumi Shastra and the Setting Forth the Sagely Teaching Shastra, also use the transliteration “Sutra.”

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