Monday, January 9, 2012

Calm Down


This article is a great introduction to some formal types of meditation practices available to everyone. They All work very well IF you will be consistent with your daily Practice and give them the necessary time to change the neural makeup of your brain. This is called "Neural Plasticity" - something amazing that Science just recently discovered and is rapidly expanding it's research in worldwide. There are several links at the bottom to more information about each of them. Doing this Practice in one of these or any other proven system is the most important thing you will ever do, Period! Enjoy!



Calm down

Can Sacramento meditation practices help us learn to quiet the noise and cultivate appreciation for our world?


On one of the most exquisite days of Sacramento’s summer, three dozen people elected to spend the day indoors, sitting straight-backed in a darkened room, paying careful attention to the inner workings of their minds and the wisdom of an unassuming Zen master.
What could motivate these ordinary people to sit silently 
for many hours, settling into a formless meditation called 
shikantaza, paying no mind to thoughts as they arise, simply 
bringing the attention back home over and over again each
time it wandered?

The promise of enlightenment, perhaps?

Lin Jensen, who led the retreat sponsored by the Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group that’s met weekly to study all Buddhist traditions for the past 20 years, believes there’s an overemphasis on enlightenment in popular discourse on Buddhism and meditation.

“Soto Zen says you’re already enlightened, you just haven’t noticed it,” said Jensen, senior Buddhist chaplain to High Desert State Prison in Susanville and founder of the Chico Zen Sangha, noting that he found being asked to hold still when he first began meditation a revolutionary idea.

The stillness of meditation is all about the noticing.

Most religions incorporate some form of meditation into their traditions, and in recent years the contemplative practice has been swelling in popularity, with millions of Americans now reporting that they meditate.

That upswing can be evidenced beyond a doubt in the Sacramento region.
Why do they meditate? They do it for stress relief, to control pain and to achieve emotional balance. They practice it to become familiar with a new way of perceiving themselves and the world. And they endure it to cultivate loving kindness or compassion.

Enlightenment? Maybe. Maybe not.

Meditation has been around since at least the time of the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago, and there are many methods espoused for finding peace and liberation through the practice. Dozens are represented in the Sacramento region, and SN&R visited a handful to give you the scoop on where they are and what to expect when you visit.

Nearly all are run completely by volunteers and operate through donations. Some recognize the existence of an external deity, though most speak only of the divinity within. All welcome newcomers and don’t require that you become a Buddhist, a yogi or even a Christian to engage in meditation. What SN&R found is that at their cores, they’re all aiming for the same result through contemplative practice: the equanimity to engage life with generosity and kindness.

Engage the world
Theravada Buddhism: Sacramento Insight Meditation

Twice a month on Thursday evenings, several dozen Sacramentans gather in the Friends meeting house (Quakers) near Sacramento State to work at cultivating their minds through a practice called vipassana, or insight meditation, which is the simple and direct practice of moment-to-moment mindfulness.

Some sit on cushions, but most sit in chairs aligned inside the arc of the circular meeting hall. They come together as members of the Sacramento Insight Meditation group to practice the four foundations of mindfulness: contemplation of the body, feelings, mind and dharma (the teachings of Buddhism, or simply “the way things are”).

Like many meditative techniques, vipassana begins by paying attention to the breath to help calm and focus the mind. But what distinguishes insight meditation from many other practices is that in it nothing is pushed away, said Diane Wilde, a teaching mentor at SIM. “We engage with whatever comes to the forefront during meditation—a really strong feeling … the sounds of birds chirping—we investigate it.”

From this mindful awareness comes a deep understanding about the reality of the world and ultimately freedom from the often painful results of reacting in a conditioned, or not mindful, way.

“Are we aware of what we’re putting out in the world for ourselves and for others?” Wilde said in explaining the goal of mindfulness meditation. “It’s not a retreat from the world—it’s engaging the world with compassion and understanding.

“God, yes, it’s hard!” she said. “However, for the people who stick with it—what a difference. I work with men at Folsom prison who are no longer suffering.
“It’s possible,” Wilde said. “But the question is, do you want to make [a] commitment or not? It means less TV, less Internet, more mindfulness.”

Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg are among the most well-known American teachers in this tradition. Kornfield teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin, and many local teachers have studied with him and teach there themselves. SIM’s supervising senior teacher, John Travis, is a member of Spirit Rock’s Senior Teachers Council and is the founding teacher of Mountain Stream Meditation Center in Auburn.

A reputation for discipline
Soto Zen Buddhism: Valley Streams Zen Sangha

On a recent Monday night, 25 Zen students sat in a makeshift zendo in East Sacramento, contemplating a belief posted by the Dalai Lama on Facebook that a surefire cure for anxiety is to focus attention away from one’s self and toward others.

“Yes,” said Myo Denis Lahey, guiding teacher of the Valley Streams Zen Sangha, before posing the question: “But if there is no inherent existence, how then can compassion for fellow beings arise?”

Discussion meandered around the question for a half-hour, with both the flashes of clarity and cloudy ambiguity Zen is famous for when exploring the burning questions of existence that the tradition holds cannot be answered by dualist Cartesian reasoning. The discussion led by Lahey, teacher in residence at San Francisco’s Hartford Street Zen Center in the lineage established in the 1960s by Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, capped off the evening that began with 30 minutes of meditation.

Earlier that evening, sangha members had turned The Yoga Solution’s largest studio into a meditation hall. Students dress modestly in black or dull colors and sit on cushions or chairs facing the wall in silence.

While meditation—called zazen in this tradition—is about training the mind, it’s not as some mistakenly believe about eliminating all thought or transcending ordinary experience. Jim Hare, who has served as ino, or head of the meditation hall, since 2002, describes the practice this way: “We wouldn’t stand by a stream and say that with the power of our concentration, we make the stream flow. Similarly, we don’t say about zazen that with the power of our concentration we awaken to true mind. True mind is fully awake. Meditation is the noticing of this never-beginning, never-ending wakefulness of mind.”

Expect incense, bells, bowing, chanting and walking meditation at Valley Streams Zen Sangha. Beginning meditation instruction, which is offered before the practice period on Monday evenings and through a Tuesday-night course beginning in October, focuses on teaching newcomers the forms of practice.
Zen’s reputation for strict discipline can be off-putting, and some may react to what they see as the conformity of the sitting postures, mudras for holding hands, severity of dress and seeming isolation involved in facing a blank wall. Hare notes that practicing with others supports individual resolve, and he likens the discipline of Zen to his experience of learning to play the violin.

“Anyone who’s ever played the violin knows you can’t just put your fingers down anywhere and make music,” Hare explained. “Through many people’s study of the violin, there’s developed a narrow way to play it. The more I became adept at the technique, the better I played.”

Riding the breath
Tibetan Buddhism: Davis Shambhala Meditation Center

Buddhism explodes into color in the Tibetan tradition. In a second-floor suite of a strip-mall-type building on D Street, practitioners enter the Davis Shambhala Meditation Center’s meditation hall through a shiny red door. There’s more color inside, with rectangular red and gold meditation blocks positioned atop neat rows of red mats facing an altar adorned with bright-colored tapestries, flowers, candles, bowls and gold-colored statues.

In a separate room on a Monday evening, senior student Richard Darsie instructed a handful of beginners in the basics of shamatha meditation, which is also known as peaceful, or calm, abiding. Again, the basic instruction is to focus awareness on the breath, either by feeling the sense of breath in the chest, the abdomen or the base of the nostrils, following the breath until the awareness is “riding the breath” as it moves in and out of the body.

As thoughts inevitably arise, they’re acknowledged, labeled
“thinking,” and they fade from awareness. Each time a flash of awareness occurs that awareness has wandered from the breath, the instruction is to bring the focus back gently to the motion of breath. With practice, the frequency and duration of these wanderings diminishes.

Darsie was drawn to this tradition primarily because of its focus on working with emotions through meditation. Working intelligently with emotions can help us make less trouble for ourselves in our everyday lives, he explained.

“Our minds are addicted to complexity and drama,” Darsie said. “The repetition of meditation wears away our habitual ways of thinking, and helps us cultivate gentleness toward ourselves and appreciation for our world.”

Meditation is an opportunity to rest the mind by paying attention to what’s before it. Like other traditions, Shambhala aims to move mindfulness into all aspects of daily life. Darsie explained: “There’s no activity in your life that would not benefit from paying more attention to it.”

Darsie also spoke of the difficulty of meditation and cautioned newcomers against thinking it’s some sort of quick fix to the ordinary suffering of life that everyone experiences.

“You have to turn toward the parts of yourself you don’t like. It’s like sitting in a bath of manure,” he said. “But you surround yourself with space and nonjudgmental kindness as you come face to face with all your stuff.”

Shambhala was founded in 1973 by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, artist, author and poet. His son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, leads the tradition today. The Northern California Shambhala senior dharma teacher is Pema Chödrön, a best-selling author and well-known teacher who has opened some previously advanced meditative practices like tonglen to followers in the West.

Walk this way
Walking meditation: the labyrinth, Episcopal Church of St. Martin

Most Buddhist and other religious traditions incorporate some form of walking meditation into their practices. But moving meditation is not what most people typically associate with Christian faiths—that is, unless they’ve tapped into the recent resurgence of interest in walking the labyrinth.

The region’s most stunning labyrinth can be found at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin in Davis. It’s modeled after the world-famous labyrinth built at the Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220. Like that one, it’s about 42 feet in diameter and leads the walker one-quarter mile along a single path over 11 different circuits.

A labyrinth isn’t a maze. There are no tricks to it, no decisions to be made and no dead ends. Some say that walking one is like holding up a mirror to reveal your life. You’re never sure where the path will lead you, but ultimately you find yourself at the center of the circle. Then you set out to return to where you began.

St. Martin members laid down the labyrinth created by famed designer Robert Ferre in just 10 days, completing it in November 2009. The church installed it to enhance parishioners’ spiritual experience, as well for outreach to the community.
Walking it takes about 15 minutes, more or less, depending on your own pace and labyrinth etiquette, which demands that walkers follow the path and try to stay out the way of other walkers along the path.

“But if no one’s walking the labyrinth, there’s no problem walking across it,” said Janet Lane, senior warden and president of the church’s board. “It’s kind of sacred space, but for a recent celebration we set up a bubble machine in the center and let the kids play.”

The benefits of walking include meditation, relaxation, balance, enjoyment and contemplation or prayer, Lane said, adding that “the energy of people walking produces good vibes.”

Lane, who shepherded the labyrinth into existence, has seen students sitting in its center studying, a group of turbaned Sikhs walking it and people from the medical center across the street finding their centers along its meandering concrete and resin path.

“We’re just really glad it’s being used,” Lane said.
The revival of interest has spawned other labyrinths across the region, including a monthly walk at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Midtown Sacramento, one at the Methodist church in Davis, a couple cut into the grass at the Davis Cemetery and others.

The space between the eyebrows
Raja yoga: Self-Realization Fellowship

The Self-Realization Fellowship was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, who is often credited with introducing Westerners to meditation and yoga. Many arrive at the SRF’s doors after reading his 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi.

That’s how Michael Mair, who coordinates the Self-Realization Fellowship group in Carmichael, came to practice the raja yoga—or meditation practices—advanced by Yogananda. Devoted practice of the highest level of meditation, called kriya yoga, is said to lead to “realization of God and liberation of the soul from all forms of bondage.” In his autobiography, Yogananda explained that “Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.”

Adherents don’t get to practice the advanced techniques of kriya yoga until they’ve spent at least a year in study and preparatory exercises and have decided to enter into “the sacred guru-disciple relationship.” And no one can learn the techniques from anyone other than the original source. The reason for that, Mair said, is to prevent the kind of errors of transmission that result from passing along messages as happens in the children’s game of Chinese Whispers, or as we Americans more commonly call it, Telephone. Yogananda died in 1952, but the tradition continues on from headquarters in Los Angeles.

The local Self-Realization Fellowship center, situated in a quiet residential neighborhood, feels more like a church than any yoga studio you’ve ever visited. Rows of pews fill the main hall. In place of a cross on the altar hang the pictures of Yogananda, various Indian saints and Jesus Christ, who’s counted as a guru in the tradition’s lineage.

On a Wednesday night, a series of “energization exercises” practiced in the courtyard preceded meditation. Designed to draw “cosmic energy into the body through the medulla oblongata by the power of will,” the exercises felt more like basic calisthenics as the leader suggested they might at first glance. The resulting relaxation provided a foundation for a two-hour session of prayer, chants to the accompaniment of a squeeze-box harmonium and meditation to come.
“Heavenly father, divine mother … help me convert from limited human consciousness to cosmic consciousness,” the half-dozen members of the group prayed to begin the session.

The basic meditation instruction given is to focus attention on the spiritual eye, or the space between the eyebrows. Meditators sat in straight-backed chairs in a darkened room separate from the main church facing a mini-altar showing the same guru’s images. A peculiar-looking wooden instrument—a board 3 inches wide and about 3 feet long—attached in the center to an adjustable length of pole sat on the floor next to each person’s chair. Some time into the first meditation period, each person positioned the pole on the chair between their legs, rested their arms on the flat of the board and raised their hands to their heads with splayed fingers straddling their temples.

Written lessons that promise to explain the mystery are available from SRF headquarters for a small fee to cover duplication and shipping.

Concentrate, observe, detach
Sivananda yoga: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm

Fifteen miles west of Grass Valley, the hot, dry countryside on one early fall day opened into a green oasis, where hammocks were strung between majestic shade trees, lounge chairs sat beside a seductive pond, and visitors strolled talking softly in couples or trios past an outdoor yoga platform, meditation temples, cottages, tents and corrals housing pet lamas and goats.

Some came just for the day, others were staying longer for retreats and workshops of varying lengths, and still others live at the yoga farm, which is one of the two Sivananda monastic communities in the United States. The tradition boasts that it’s a synthesis by Swami Sivananda of all the myriad traditional yoga paths. It was brought from India to the West by Swami Vishnu-devananda. Devotees dress modestly in yellow shirts—symbolic of learning—and white pants—symbolic of teaching. Peaceful relaxation is the unmistakable vibe at the 80-acre ashram, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in April.
Meditation is practiced in the tradition, but it’s the end of the five points of Sivananda yoga rather than the beginning: proper exercise (asanas), proper breathing (pranayama), proper relaxation (savasana), proper diet (vegetarian) and meditation (dhyana).

Silent and guided meditation to condition the mind to be “here and now” is performed each morning and evening. The daily routine also includes two hours of yoga asanas, a half-hour of chanting and two vegetarian meals.
Everything is geared to minimize distraction, said Swami Sitaramananda, who has directed the ashram for the past 15 years. Of all the traditions of yoga, this one has a reputation for completely transforming one’s life. “We lead a balanced life to bring about a balanced mind.”

Yoga exercises, or asanas, circulate energy in preparation for meditation. Specialized breathing techniques and mantras chanted in Sanskrit moderate the emotions, calming and focusing the mind. The idea is that when body and energy are under control, meditation comes naturally. Sitaramananda called meditation a “spiritual science of controlling the mind” that yogis use to inquire into their own true nature and into the nature of reality.

The meditation methods involve concentration, observing and detaching from thoughts and aims, and a complete transcendence of the mind and merging with the absolute reality. Sitaramananda said, “The goal is self-realization.”

Find your own path

Nearly everyone SN&R talked to mentioned having found the “right path,” and they expect to follow it throughout their lifetimes. Having found vipassana 10 years ago after trying Zen, Hindu and martial arts, Sacramento Insight Meditation’s Wilde concluded: “This is the way I want to live my life.”
Most have experimented with other forms of meditation practices. Many, including the guide at the yoga farm’s open house, Mair from the Self-Realization Fellowship and Darsie, now with the Davis Shambhala Meditation Center, started out practicing Zen.

“A lot of people try it—it fits for only a minority,” said the Valley Streams Zen Sangha’s Hare, quoting a saying common among Christian ministers: “‘They comes, and they goes. But mostly they goes.’

“Only a handful finds the practice moves them so that they’re willing to endure the difficulties, especially when they don’t see immediate breathtaking results,” Hare said.

“It’s very much about your own personal experience,” Mair said. “Choose what resonates with you and then follow up.”

Whether individuals meditate in a completely secular and nonideological way—with methods such as those thrust into the mainstream by teachers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the best seller Wherever You Go, There You Are—or choose to follow one of the timeless contemplative paths, diligent practice promises liberation from suffering and peace of heart and mind.

What if you don’t find it? Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, had some advice about that during a visit to Sacramento several years ago: “If meditation has not transformed your life, then you better ask yourself what you’ve been doing.”

Meditate local
Davis Shambhala Meditation Center
Meditation instruction at 9 a.m. Sundays, 7 p.m. Thursdays
133 D Street, Suite H in Davis

The Episcopal Church of St. Martin
Labyrinth open during daylight hours
640 Hawthorne Lane in Davis

Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group
Meets Sundays at 7 p.m.
Social hall, Congregation B’nai Israel
3600 Riverside Boulevard

Sacramento Insight Meditation
Second and fourth Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Sacramento Friends meeting house • 890 57th Street

Self-Realization Fellowship
Meets Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
4513 North Avenue in Carmichael

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm
Next open house: November 21
14651 Ballantree Lane in Grass Valley

Valley Streams Zen Sangha
Meets Mondays at 7 p.m.
The Yoga Solution • 887 57th Street, Suite B

Thursday, January 5, 2012



Here is Part III of Section IV. From the Chinese Masters from the Manual on Zen Buddhism written by the late, great brilliant scholar and Zen Master D. T. Suzuki. This teaching is so important! In essence, it explains the absolute necessity for living in the Present without the dualistic nature of thought or words and actually Being the Truth within the words. You must let go of All dogma and actually Live the Oneness of our True Nature which can not be described. Just live the meaning of the word "BE"!
Everything happens for a reason and my writing this now and sharing these great words of Wisdom from an ancient Chan, or Zen, Master, are directly related to a conversation I had earlier tonight about this very aspect of Wisdom. All I can say is, "WOW"! This IS the True Nature of Reality and is realized in everyday life by those who understand the One Truth. I am constantly in Awe of the workings of this One Truth as it reveals IT's Presence and settles the waves of our illusory duality back to Reality's natural Stillness to reveal the explicit grandeur of the Calm and Peaceful Oneness within us All! With great honor and sincere humbleness, I offer you this impeccable Teaching. Enjoy!





24. Mahaprajnaparamita is a Sanskrit term of the Western country; in T'ang it means "great-wisdom (chih-hui), other-shore reached". This Truth (dharma=fa) is to be lived, it is not to be [merely] pronounced with the mouth. When it is not lived, it is like a phantom, like an apparition. The Dharmakaya of the Yogin is the same as the Buddha.

What is maha? Maha means "great". The capacity of Mind is wide and great, it is like emptiness of space. To sit with a mind emptied makes one fall into emptiness of indifference. Space contains the sun, the moon, stars, constellations, great earth, mountains, and rivers. All grasses and plants, good men and bad men, bad things and good things, Heaven and hell-they are all in empty space. The emptiness of [Self-] nature as it is in all people is just like this.

25. [Self-] nature contains in it all objects; hence it is great. All objects without exception are of Self-nature. Seeing all human beings and non-human beings as they are, evil and good, evil things and good things, it abandons them not, nor is it contaminated with them; it is like the emptiness of space. So it is called great, that is, maha. The confused pronounce it with their mouths, the wise live it with their minds. Again, there are people confused [in mind]; they conceive this to be great when they have their minds emptied of thoughts--which is not right. The capacity of Mind is great; when there is no life accompanying it, it is small. Do not merely pronounce it with the mouth. Those who fail to discipline themselves to live this life, are not my disciples.

26. What is prajna? Prajna is chih-hui (wisdom). When every thought of yours is not benighted at all times, when you always live chih-hui (=prajna, wisdom), this is called the life of Prajna. When a single thought of yours is benighted, then Prajna ceases to work. When a single thought of yours is of chih, i.e. enlightened, then Prajna is born. Being always benighted in their minds, people yet declare themselves to be living Prajna. Prajna has no shape, no form, it is no other than the essence (hsing) of chih-hui (wisdom).

What is Paramita? This is a Sanskrit term of the Western country. In Yang it means "the other shore reached". When the meaning (artha in Sanskrit) is understood, one is detached from birth and death. When the objective world (visaya) is clung to, there is the rise of birth and death; it is like the waves rising from the water; this is called "this shore". When you are detached from the objective world, there is no birth and death for you; it is like the water constantly running its course: this is "reaching the other shore". Hence Paramita.

The confused pronounce [Prajna] with their mouths; the wise live it in their minds. When it is merely pronounced, there is at that very moment a falsehood; when there is a .falsehood, it is not a reality. When Prajna is lived in every thought of yours, this is known as reality. Those who understand this truth, understand the truth of Prajna and practise the life of Prajna. Those who do not practise it are ordinary people. When you practise and live it in one thought of yours, You are equal to the Buddha.

Good friends, the passions are no other than enlightenment (bodhi). When your antecedent thought is confused yours is an ordinary mind; as soon as your succeeding thought is enlightened, you are a Buddha.

Good friends, Prajnaparamita is the most honoured, the highest, the foremost; it is nowhere abiding, nowhere departing, nowhere coming; all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future issue out of it. By means of Great Wisdom (ta-chih-hui=mahaprajna) that leads to . the other shore (paramita), the five skandhas, the passions, and the innumerable follies are destroyed. When thus disciplined, one is a Buddha, and the three passions [i.e. greed, anger, and folly] will turn into Morality (sila), Meditation (dhyana), and Wisdom (prajna)

27. Good friends, according to my way of understanding this truth, 84,000 wisdoms (chih-hui) are produced from one Prajna. Why? Because there are 84,000 follies. If there were no such innumerable follies, Prajna is eternally abiding, not severed from Self-nature. He who has an insight into this truth is free from thoughts, from recollections, from attachments; in him there is no deceit and falsehood. This is where the essence of Suchness is by itself. When all things are viewed in the light of wisdom (chih-hui=prajna), there is neither attachment nor detachment. This is seeing into one's Nature and attaining the truth of Buddhahood.

28. Good friends, if you wish to enter into the deepest realm of Truth (dharmadhatu), and attain the Prajnasamadhi, you should at once begin to exercise yourselves in the life of Prajnaparamita; you just devote yourselves to the one volume of the Vajracchedika-prajnaparamita Sutra, and you will, seeing into the nature of your being, enter upon the Prajnasamadhi. It should be known that the merit of such a person is immeasurable, as is distinctly praised in the sutras, of which I need not speak in detail.

This Truth of the highest order is taught to people of great intelligence and superior endowments. If people of small intelligence and inferior endowments happen to hear it, no faith would ever be awakened in their minds. Why? It is like a great dragon pouring rains down in torrents over the Jambudipa: cities, towns, villages are all deluged and carried away in the flood, as if they were grass-leaves. But when the rain, however much, falls on the great ocean, there is in it neither an increase nor a decrease.

When people of the Great Vehicle listen to a discourse on the Vajracchedika their minds are opened and there is an intuitive understanding. They know thereby that their own Nature is originally endowed with Prajna-wisdom and that all things are to be viewed in the light of this wisdom (chih-hui) of theirs, and they need not depend upon letters. It is like rain-waters not being reserved in the sky; but the water is drawn up by the dragon-king out of the rivers and oceans, whereby all beings and all plants, sentient and non-sentient, universally share the wet. All the waters flowing together once more are poured into the great ocean, and the ocean accepting all the waters fuses them into one single body of water. It is the same with Prajna-wisdom which is the original Nature of all beings.


29. When people of inferior endowments hear this "abrupt" doctrine here discoursed on, they are like those plants naturally growing small on earth, which, being once soaked by a heavy rain, are all unable to raise themselves up and continue their growth. It is the same with people of inferior endowments. They are endowed with Prajna-wisdom as much as people of great intelligence; there is no distinction. Why is it then that they have no insight even when listening to the Truth? It is due to the heaviness of hindrance caused by false views and to the deep-rootedness of the passions. It is like an overcasting cloud screening the sun; unless it blows hard no rays of light are visible.

There is no greatness or smallness in Prajna-wisdom, but since all beings cherish in themselves confused thoughts, they seek the Buddha by means of external exercises, and are unable to see into their Self-nature. That is why they are known to be people of inferior endowments.

Those beings who, listening to the "Abrupt" doctrine, do not take themselves to external exercises, but reflecting within themselves raise this original Nature all the time to the proper viewing [of the Truth], remain [always Undefiled by] the passions and the innumerable follies; and at that moment they all have an insight [into the Truth]. It is like the great ocean taking in all the rivers, large and small, and merging them into one body of water -'this is seeing into one's own Nature. [He who thus sees into his own Nature] does not abide anywhere inside or outside; he freely comes and departs; he knows how to get rid of attaching thoughts; his passage has no obstructions. When one is able to practise this life, he realizes that there is from the first no difference between [his Self-Nature] and Prajnaparamita.[2]


30. All the sutras and writings, all the letters, the two vehicles Major and Minor, the twelve divisions [of Buddhist literature]-these are all set forth because of the people of the world. Because there is wisdom-nature (chih-hui-hsing), therefore there is the establishment of all these works. If there were no people of the world, no multitudinous objects would ever be in existence. Therefore, we know that all objects rise originally because of the people of the world. All the sutras and writings are said to have their existence because of the people of the world.

The distinction of stupidity and intelligence is only possible among the people of the world. Those who are stupid are inferior people and those who are intelligent are superior people. The confused ask the wise, and the wise discourse for them on the Truth in order to make the stupid enlightened and have an intuitive understanding of it. When the confused are enlightened and have their minds opened, they are not to be distinguished from the people of great intelligence.

Therefore, we know that Buddhas when not enlightened are no other than ordinary beings; when there is one thought of enlightenment, ordinary beings at once turn into Buddhas. Therefore, we know that all multitudinous objects are every one of them in one's own mind.[3] Why not, from within one's own mind, at once reveal the original essence of Suchness? Says the Bodhisattvasila Sutra: "My original Self-nature is primarily pure; when my Mind is known and my Nature is seen into I naturally attain the path of Buddhahood." Says the Vimalakirti Sutra: "When you have an instant opening of view you return to your original Mind."


48. The Great Master died on the third day of the eighth month of the second year of Hsien-t'ien (713 C.E.). On the eighth day of the seventh month of this year he had a farewell gathering of his followers as he felt that he was to leave them forever in the following month, and told them to have all the doubts they might have about his teaching once for all settled on this occasion. As he found them weeping in tears he said: "You are all weeping, but for whom are you so sorry? If you are sorry for my not knowing where I am departing to, you are mistaken; for I know where I am going. Indeed, if I did not, I would not part with you. The reason why you are in tears is probably that you do not yourselves know whither I am going. If you did, you would not be weeping so. The Essence of the Dharma knows no birth-and-death, no coming-and-going. Sit down, all of you, and let me give you a gatha with the title, "On the Absolute"[4]

There is nothing true anywhere,
The true is nowhere to be seen;
If you say you see the true,
This seeing is not the true one.[5]

Where the true is left to itself,
There is nothing false in it, which is Mind itself.
When Mind in itself is not liberated from the false,
There is nothing true, nowhere is the true to be found.
A conscious being alone understands what is meant by "moving";
To those not endowed with consciousness, the moving is unintelligible;
If you exercise yourself in the practice of keeping your mind unmoved, [i.e. in a quietistic meditation] [6] 

The immovable you gain is that of one who has no consciousness.
If you are desirous for the truly immovable,
The immovable is in the moving itself,
And this immovable is the [truly] immovable one;
There is no seed of Buddhahood where there is no consciousness.
Mark well how varied are aspects [of the immovable one],
And know that the first reality is immovable;
Only when this insight is attained,
The true working of Suchness is understood.
I advise you, O students of the Truth
To exert yourselves in the proper direction;
Do not in the teaching of the Mahayana
Commit the fault of clinging to the relative knowledge of birth and death. [7]

Where there is an all-sided concordance of views
You may talk together regarding the Buddha's teaching;
Where there is really no such concordance,
Keep your hands folded and your joy within yourself.
There is really nothing to argue about in this teaching;
Any arguing is sure to go against the intent of it;

Doctrines given up to confusion and argumentation
Lead by themselves to birth and death.


1. The Dunhuang copy, edited by D. T. Suzuki, 1934. Hui-neng = Daikan Enō; 637-712 A.D.

2. The text has "the
Prajnaparamita Sutra" here. But I take it to mean Prajna itself instead of the sutra.

3. The text has the "body", while the Koshoji edition and the current one have "mind".

4. The title literally reads: "the true-false moving-quiet". "True" stands against "false" and "moving" against "quiet" and as long as there is an opposition of any kind, no true spiritual insight is possible. And this insight does not grow from a quietistic exercise of meditation.

5. That is, the Absolute refuses to divide itself into two: that which sees and that which is seen.

6. "Moving" means "dividing" or "limiting". When the absolute moves, a dualistic interpretation of it takes place, which is consciousness.

7. Chih,
jnana in Sanskrit, is used in contradistinction to Prajna which is the highest form of knowledge, directly seeing into the Immovable or the Absolute.