Book of Equanimity

Case 69 – translation by Gerry Sheshin Wick.

Attention! Nansen addressed the assembly, saying, “All Buddhas of the three times don’t know of it, but cats and cows know of it.”

One interpretation:  the Enlightened life is simple like that of cats and cows.  Don’t get lost in words, thoughts and concepts.



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Who am I?

People keep busy with trivial and mundane things so they don’t have to look deeply into this.

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Hsin Hsin Ming.

I think this paragraph from Dennis Waller’s introduction to the Hsin Hsin ming is very helpful.

The path to enlightenment is the realization that there is nothing to find, nowhere to go, nothing to achieve. There is no need to search for God for God has been within you always. God, itself is your true self, your true being. It is nothing more than waking up from the dream.

Waller, Dennis (2012-07-24). Hsin Hsin Ming . . Kindle Edition.

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The Diamond Sutra – A new translation.

I would like to share the link to a new translation of the Diamond Sutra by Alex Johnson and a copy of chapter 17

“At that time, the venerable Subhuti then asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, may I ask you a question again? If sons or daughters of a good family want to develop the highest, most fulfilled and awakened mind, if they wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom, what should they do to help quiet their drifting minds and master their thinking?”

The Buddha replied:

“Subhuti, a good son or daughter who wants to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind must create this resolved attitude of mind: ‘I must help to lead all beings to the shore of awakening, but, after these beings have become liberated, in truth I know that not even a single being has been liberated.’ Why is this so? If a disciple cherishes the idea of a self, a person, a living being or a universal self, then that person is not an authentic disciple. Why? Because in fact there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind.”

“What do you think, Subhuti? In ancient times, when the Buddha was living with Dipankara Buddha, did he attain anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind?”

“No, Most Honored One. According to what I understand from the teachings of the Buddha, there is no attaining of anything called the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind.”

The Buddha said:

“You are correct, Subhuti. In fact, there does not exist any so-called highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind that the Buddha attains. Because if there had been any such thing, Dipankara Buddha would not have predicted of me, ‘In the future, you will come to be a Buddha known as The Most Honored One’. This prediction was made because there is, in fact, nothing to be attained. Someone would be mistaken to say that the Buddha has attained the highest, most fulfilled, and awakened mind because there is no such thing as a highest, most fulfilled, or awakened mind to be attained.”

“Subhuti, a comparison can be made with the idea of a large human body. What would you understand me to mean if I spoke of a ‘large human body’?”

“I would understand that the lord Buddha was speaking of a ‘large human body’ not as an arbitrary conception of its being, but as a series of words only. I would understand that the words carried merely an imaginary meaning. When the Buddha speaks of a large human body, he uses the words only as words.”

“Subhuti, it is just the same when a disciple speaks of liberating numberless sentient beings. If they have in mind any arbitrary conception of sentient beings or of definite numbers, then they are unworthy of being called a disciple. Subhuti, my teachings reveal that even such a thing as is called a ‘disciple’ is non-existent. Furthermore, there is really nothing for a disciple to liberate.”

“A true disciple knows that there is no such thing as a self, a person, a living being, or a universal self. A true disciple knows that all things are devoid of selfhood, devoid of any separate individuality.”

To make this teaching even more emphatic, the lord Buddha continued,

“If a disciple were to speak as follows, ‘I have to create a serene and beautiful Buddha field’, that person is not yet truly a disciple. Why? What the Buddha calls a ‘serene and beautiful Buddha field’ is not in fact a serene and beautiful Buddha field. And that is why it is called a serene and beautiful Buddha field. Subhuti, only a disciple who is wholly devoid of any conception of separate selfhood is worthy of being called a disciple.”

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Heart Sutra – Thich Nhat Hanh

I wanted to share this latest translation of the Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh.

The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

while practicing deeply with
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,
suddenly discovered that
all of the five Skandhas are equally empty,
and with this realisation
he overcame all Ill-being.

“Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
and Consciousness.

“Listen Sariputra,
all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
their true nature is the nature of
no Birth no Death,
no Being no Non-being,
no Defilement no Purity,
no Increasing no Decreasing.

“That is why in Emptiness,
Body, Feelings, Perceptions,
Mental Formations and Consciousness
are not separate self entities.

The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena
which are the six Sense Organs,
the six Sense Objects,
and the six Consciousnesses
are also not separate self entities.

The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising
and their Extinction
are also not separate self entities.
Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,
the End of Ill-being, the Path,
insight and attainment,
are also not separate self entities.

Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.

Bodhisattvas who practice
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
see no more obstacles in their mind,
and because there
are no more obstacles in their mind,
they can overcome all fear,
destroy all wrong perceptions
and realize Perfect Nirvana.

“All Buddhas in the past, present and future
by practicing
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
are all capable of attaining
Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.

“Therefore Sariputra,
it should be known that
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
is a Great Mantra,
the most illuminating mantra,
the highest mantra,
a mantra beyond compare,
the True Wisdom that has the power
to put an end to all kinds of suffering.
Therefore let us proclaim
a mantra to praise
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”

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The Golden Age of Zen

I’ve been reading from ‘The Golden Age of Zen’ by John C. H. Wu

At first I was disappointed in this book as it seemed like an attempt to reconcile Christianity and Buddhism. But as I read on I found it to be a great source of information about Chinese Zen (Chan) during the Tang dynasty. I knew that Chan was greatly influenced by Taoism but I wasn’t aware that Chuang Tzu and Confucius taught some of the basic teachings of Chan before Buddhism came to China.  At least this is how legend tells it.

I think that this is a good time to point out that an important teaching in Zen is citta-matra (mind only).  some times Vijñapti-mātra is used interchangably with citta-matra though there are differences.  Anyway I want to point out that some people refer to the world of form as reality while others refer to it as non-real.  They claim reality is a world beyond form, perhaps a metaphysical realm or even a world beyond the metaphysical.   But perhaps the  world of our mind and the world of form are so intertwined that we cannot differentiate them.  Or at least it is not accurate to claim that they are not part of the same reality or non-reality.

The chinese phrase “tso-wang” is mentioned, translated by Legge as “I sit and forget everything.”  This is taught as silent illumination by some Zen masters.  Hongzhi’s book “Cultivating the Empty Field” teaches the method as does Master Sheng yen’s “The Method of No-Method”.

There is a very helpful part of the book that talks about becoming detached from the world, then becoming detached from things sensual and material and finally becoming detached from clinging to this life.

I am still reading and studying the book so I let it up to you to read it for yourself.

Loving Kindness to ALL bings.

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Desire – The cause of suffering.

I recently was reading about Christopher Columbus and all of the atrocities that he committed. The article ( mentions that the first thing that caught his eye was the gold jewelry of the natives when he landed in the Bahamas. The article goes on to compare him to another Spanish explorer, Bartolomé de las Casas who at first supported the enslavement of natives. He then renounced such ideas but still supported the slavery of African Blacks. Eventually he renounced this too and advocated the equality of all people. The article says that Bartolomé is considered to be one of the first advocates of universal human rights. This may be true in the Western World. But in China Mozi (ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), was advocating giving up attachment to family, village and local groups and practice universal love for all people.

This was doing the time of the Buddha, who we are told gave us the Four Noble Truths.  The second of which is Samudaya, translated as desire, thirst or craving.  This is the origin of Dukkha which is most commonly translated as suffering but has a much broader meaning.  Some use the term unsatisfactoryness.  Things are not quite perfect.  We are not at total peace with the way things are.

It really is desire that causes people to be less than loving and in extreme cases to commit hideous atrocities.  That’s why all of us should have a daily practice to see into our selfish desires and let go of them so that our lives our directed by compassion and loving kindness.  May we all have determination to follow the path to liberation and free all beings from suffering.

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