“Develop a skilful and progressive mind” Lecture, Master Hsu Yun ,Shanghai 1953


“Develop a skilful and progressive mind”

Master Hsu Yun 1840 - 1959

Lecture

Master Hsu Yun Shanghai 1953

If all of us develop a skilful and progressive mind in quest of the truth, we will all be awakened to it. The ancients said:

“It is easy for a worldly man to win Buddhahood,
(But) hard indeed is it to bring wrong thinking to an end.”

It is only because of our insatiable desires since the time without beginning that we now drift about in the sea of mortality, within which there are 84,000 passions and all sorts of habits which we cannot wipe out. (In consequence), we are unable to attain the truth and to be like Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are permanently enlightened and are free from delusion. For this reason, (Master) Lien Ch’ih said:

It is easy to be caught up in the causes of pollution,[73]
(But) to earn truth producing karma is most hard.[74]
If you cannot see behind what can be seen,
Differentiated are (concurrent) causes,
(Around you) are but objects which, like gusts of wind,
Destroy the crop of merits (you have sown).[75]
The passions of the mind e’er burst in flames,
Destroying seeds of Bodhi (in the heart).
If recollection[76] of the truth be as (intense as) passion,
Buddhahood will quickly be attained.
If you treat others as you treat the self;
All will be settled (to your satisfaction).
If self is not right and others are not wrong,
Lords and their servants will respect each other.
If the Buddha-dharma’s constantly before one,
From all passions this is liberation.

How clear and how to the point are these lines! The (word) pollution means (the act of) making unclean. The realm of worldly men is tainted with desires of wealth, sensuality, fame and gain as well as anger and dispute. To them, the two words “religion” and “virtue” are only obstacles. Every day, they give way to pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy and long for wealth, honor, glory and prosperity. Because they cannot eliminate worldly passions, they are unable to give rise to a single thought of the truth. In consequence, the grove of merits is ruined and all seeds of Bodhi are destroyed. If they are indifferent to all worldly passions; if they give equal treatment to friends and foes; if they refrain from killing, stealing, committing adultery, lying and drinking intoxicating liquors; if they are impartial to all living beings; if they regard other people’s hunger as their own; if they regard other people’s drowning as if they get drowned themselves; and if they develop the Bodhi mind, they will be in agreement with the truth and will also be able to attain Buddhahood at a stroke. For this reason, it is said: “If recollection of the truth be (as intense) as passions, Buddhahood will quickly be attained.” All Buddhas and saints appear in the world to serve the living, by rescuing them from suffering, by bestowing happiness upon them and by aiding them out of pity.

We can practice self-denial as well as compassion for others, thus foregoing all sorts of enjoyment. (if we can do so), no one will have to endure suffering and there will remain nothing that cannot be accomplished. It will follow that we will be able to obtain the full fruit of our reward, in the same manner as a boat rises automatically with the tide. When dealing with others, if you have a compassionate and respectful mind, and are without self-importance, arrogance and deception, they will certainly receive you with respect and courtesy. On the other hand, if you rely on your abilities and are unreasonable, or if you are double-faced aiming only at (your own enjoyment of) sound, form, fame and wealth, the respect with which they may receive you, will not be real. For this reason, Confucius said: “If you respect others, they will always respect you. If you have sympathy for others, they will always have sympathy for you.

The Sixth Patriarch said:

Although their faults are theirs and are not ours, should we discriminate, we too are wrong. “[77]

Therefore, we should not develop a mind which discriminates between right and wrong and between self and others. If we serve other people in the same manner as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did, we will be able to sow Bodhi seeds everywhere and will reap the most excellent fruits. Thus, passions will never be able to hold us in bondage.

The twelve divisions of the Mahayana’s Tripitaka were expounded by the World Honored One because of our three poisons, concupiscence, anger and stupidity. Therefore, the aims of the twelve divisions of this Tripitaka are: discipline (s’ila) imperturbability (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna). Their purpose is to enable us to wipe out our desires, to embrace (the four infinite Buddha states of mind): kindness (maitri), pity (karuna), joy (mudita)[78] and indifference (upeksa)[79] and all modes of salvation,[80] to eliminate the delusion of ignorance and the depravity of stupidity, to achieve the virtue of complete wisdom and to embellish the meritorious Dharmakarya. If we can take such a line of conduct, the Lotus treasury[81] will appear everywhere.

[73] Nidina or cause of pollution, which connects illusion with the karmic miseries of reincarnation.

[74] Good karma which leads to enlightenment.

[75] Accumulation of merits leading to realization of the truth.

[76] Smrti in Sanskrit.

[77] Quotation from a hymn chanted by the Sixth Patriarch-(Cf. Altar Sutra, Chapter II).

[78] Joy on seeing others rescued from suffering.

[79] Rising above these emotions, or giving up all things, e.g. distinctions of friend and foe, love and hatred, etc.

[80] The Six Paramitas are: dana (charity), sila (discipline), ksanti (patience or endurance), virya (zeal and progress), dhyana (meditation) and prajna (wisdom).

[81] Lotus treasury: Lotus store, or Lotus world, thePureLandof all Buddhas in their Sambhogakaya, or Reward bodies.

Passage taken from:

Daily Lectures at Two Ch’an Weeks – I
given at the Jade Buddha Monastery, Shanghai, in 1953
(From the Hsu Yun Ho Shang Nien P’u)
Tr. Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk)

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