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It is sudden revelation of this principle, and so is called the Sudden Teaching. The reason it is not established by T'ien T'ai is that within all four of their teachings there is the single cutting off of words. The present disclosure and sudden revelation of cutting off of words is for the sake of a single kind that frees itself from workings of thought, which is simply following the Ch’an School.


It is sudden revelation of this principle of ineffability, and so it is called the Sudden Teaching in which not a single thought is produced.

When a single thought is not produced, the entire substance manifests.
When the six organs suddenly move, there is covering by clouds.
People’s self-nature is basically pure, and the way it becomes impure is through ignorance – lack of clarity.
With a single unenlightened thought, there arise three subtle marks.

Once the three subtle marks arise there is attachment to the six sense faculties, and as soon as they move it’s as if the sky were obstructed by clouds. There’s no greed in our self-nature, but it arises as soon as the six organs move. The same is true of hatred. It doesn’t exist in the self-nature, but is produced along with movement of the six organs. In the self-nature there is no stupidity and Prajna is constantly bright. It turns into stupidity once there is movement of the six sense faculties, for the light of Prajna no longer shines. Therefore the Sudden Teaching is apart from the mark of language, apart from the mark of the mind’s thinking, and free from any mark. As it is said:

The mouth wants to speak but words are lost.
The mind wants to climb but thought is gone.

The mouth might want to talk but nothing can be said. There might be a wish to climb on conditions, if not externally, then internally in one’s mind; but thought and reflection are gone and there’s no way to think of anything. That’s the principle of the Sudden Teaching.

The reason it is not established by the T'ien T'ai School in their original formulation of Stores, Connective, Separate and Perfect Teaching – their Sudden, Gradual, Secret and Fixed Teachings being a later addition -- is that within all four of their original teachings when each of those Teachings is spoken to the ultimate point there is the single cutting off of words and nothing can be said.

The path of language is cut off.

So they didn’t set up a Sudden Teaching. The present disclosure and sudden revelation on the part of Hsien Shou of cutting off of words, the principle that nothing can be said, is for the sake of a single kind of living being that is able not to produce a single thought. Didn’t it talk before about how if only a single thought is not produced, that is called the Buddha? This Sudden Teaching was established especially for the type that frees itself from workings of thought, which is simply following the principle of the Ch’an School. It’s the Dharma door of Perfect, Sudden Enlightenment.

The Ch’an School Dharma is apart from words and speech, and so it is said not to establish language – yet it is not really free from words. Even the name “Ch’an School” involves language. We who cultivate the Way should be cultivating non-attachment, whether to good and evil, fine or ugly, right or wrong, slight or important, great or small – we should be attached to none of those. And we should cultivate and practice all 84,000 Dharma doors, for each is foremost.

There aren’t 84,000 second-rate ones, or for that matter 84,000 important ones or unimportant ones. So when you cultivate the Way, if you cultivate even the most seemingly insignificant Dharma door to accomplishment then it counts; and it’s again your cultivation of it that counts if the Dharma door is as big as Mount Sumeru. It’s not the case that the slight one is not important while the one huge as Mount Sumeru is. Rather:

From the small comes the great,
The near becomes the far,
Shallow leads to entry into the deep.

That’s how one has success in cultivation. It’s not to say, for example, “I’m not going to eat things I don’t like the tasted of, and I’ll eat more of foods that appeal to me more.” People who cultivate the Way have to be heroically vigorous in cultivating whatever Dharma they are involved in as they cultivate. It can be the most insignificant Dharma door, but if you are able to cultivate it you can accomplish your Way karma.

And it may be the most important Dharma, but if you can’t cultivate it your Way karma won’t be accomplished. If you fail to recognize an important Dharma, it becomes unimportant; and an unimportant Dharma, if recognized, becomes important. It all depends on whether you recognize it or not. For example, when you eat, do you know what the things you eat taste like? If you do, then you’ll have feelings about whether they taste good or bad. But id you aren’t aware of what they taste like, you won’t know if they taste good or bad or what. As it is said:

In the door of Buddha’s work,
Not one dharma is rejected.
In the substance of True Suchness,
Not one speck of dust is set.

You can take nay Dharma and cultivate it to accomplish Buddhahood. But in the self-nature of True Suchness, not even a dustmote can remain, which is why its light is all-pervasive.

The reason that one sits to cultivate the Dharma of investigating Ch’an is so one won’t have any thoughts. It specified before that if only a single thought is not produced that is called the Buddha. But can you go without producing a single thought? As you sit there you think of all sorts of things you don’t ordinarily think of, and remember a lot of long-forgotten circumstances that suddenly pop up again: historical events from 700 and 800 years back now return to mind.

Is that having not a single thought arise? Of course not. How can you get there then? I’ll tell you straight today: there isn’t any way. There isn’t any way to keep a single thought from arising – but you can get so that a single thought is not destroyed. But if you prevent its destruction you’ll keep it from arising. How can you do it though? Well, take for example the one thought, “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” you can keep that “Who?” going non-stop. “Who?” it’s searching, not reciting. As long as you keep searching it isn’t destroyed – and so it won’t be produced. And its not being produced is the Buddha.

That’s what the doctrine of the Ch’an School is all about. If you can be such that not one thought is produced or destroyed, then the light of your wisdom will appear. It’s not that you sit there and grit your teeth, square your eyes, and press all thoughts down with your fists so they can’t get up. The more you try to do that, the more trouble you will have. Tell them not to arise and they’ll insist on arising.

You’ll be holding mother thought down, but father thought will arise. Or father thought wills top, but older brother thought will come along, with younger brother holding up the rear. Pretty soon the whole family of six types of relations will be grabbing attachment you – seventh and eighth – the whole kit and caboodle. “Seventh” is the seventh consciousness which will pull attachment you, and the eighth consciousness will drag you from the other side, a tug-of-war with you in the middle.

The six types of close relatives are consciousnesses one through six,. You’ll be sitting there trying to investigate dhyana, and this one will want to chat with you, another to investigate a certain question. The eyes have visual questions, the ears auditory questions, the nose its nose questions and the tongue its tongue questions, the body, body questions and the mind mental ones.

They eyes will say to you, “Have you forgotten that beautiful form we saw today? So pretty! Did you like it or not?” the ears will say, “The music we heard today sounded so good, let’s go listen to it again tomorrow.” The nose will pose the question, “‘Evening in Paris’ smells so good, wouldn’t you like to smell it again?” The tongue will propose, “There’s not much point in just smelling the aroma of the best-tasting food. It’s only if it gets tasted and eaten that its advantages are obtained.” The body will say, “I get the advantage, not you.” The mind says, “The feeling is entirely with me. None of the rest of you count.”

Those six types of relations hold a debate, and the seventh and eighth work attachment their tug-of-war. That really messes people up when they try to investigate Ch’an.


Five, the Perfect Teaching, clarifies that one position is each and every position, and that each and every position is one position. Therefore when the minds of the ten faiths are fulfilled, that gathers in the five positions and is the equivalent of accomplishing proper enlightenment. It relies on the Dharma Realm of Universal Worthy, the multiple reflections of Indra’s net, and the totality of host and attendants, and so is called the Perfect Teaching, as spoken in such sutras as this one.


So far we have given a general outline of the first four of the Five Hsien Shou Teachings, and now reach discussion of Teaching number Five which is the Perfect Teaching of unobstructed interpenetration. In it,

The one is each and every one,
And each and every one is the one.
At the time of first bring forth the resolve,
One right then accomplishes Proper enlightenment.

And so it says that Teaching clarifies that one position is each and every position, and that each and every position is one position. It’s a doctrine of inconceivable perfection and completeness, with no deficiencies and nothing in excess. Try to say it’s less in some way, and it won’t be; and you won’t find it more in any respect. There’s no remainder. It’s a perfect fit. You can take any one of the positions – for example, the Ten Faiths, the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Transferences or the Ten Grounds, and although there are ten to each position, any position will be complete with all positions.

For instance, the First Faith will perfectly fuse and interpenetrate not only with the First dwelling, but with every one of the Ten Dwellings, the Ten Practices, the Ten Transferences, and the Ten Grounds – and with Equal Enlightenment and Proper Enlightenment as well. Every level of practice is replete with the meritorious qualities of cultivation and certification to all stages and levels of practice, and yet remains the one position. Therefore when the minds of the ten faiths are fulfilled and one obtains any one of those positions, then that gathers in the other five positions which have ten to each, and is the equivalent of accomplishing Equal Enlightenment and proper enlightenment.

It, the doctrine of one position being all positions and vice versa, relies on the contemplation of the Dharma Realm of Universal Worthy, and its discussion of the multiple reflections of Indra’s net. It’s the same state as that of the infinite inter-reflections of the lights from the pearls in every interstice in Lord Shakra’s cylindrical network banner.

All kinds of lights come from every pearl, and every pearl reflects the lights form all the other pearls, at the same time as every interstice in the net interpenetrates with every other. That’s why one position is said to be them all and all of them the one. It’s a multi-layered infinity of endless repetitions and further described as the totality of host and attendants. The repetitions are endlessly multiplied to infinity, yet host and attendants never are confused, whether it’s the Dharma-speaking Host, or the host of cultivation.

There is always a host and attendants – guests. For example, when Shakyamuni Buddha is the Host, the Buddhas of the ten direction are the guests; and when the Buddhas of the ten directions are the guests, Shakyamuni Buddha is the Host. Host and attendants mutually form a totality, and so it is called the Perfect Teaching.

Because its doctrine is one of no deficiency and no excess, but multi-layered infinity of endless replications as in Indra’s Net, the name given to it is the Perfect Teaching, as spoken in such sutras as this one, The Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra, which is considered both Perfect and Sudden Teaching. Therefore the Perfect Sudden Teaching is inexhaustible, endless.

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