Concerning this great matter, the Tao, everyone has possessed it from the beginning. It is always with each of you. The difficulty is that from the very no-beginning-time the Wonderful Illumination has been covered over by seeds of passion, streams of thought, the flow of conceptualization, and deeply rooted habitual thinking.
Therefore, we have never been able to grasp the actual realization itself, but instead have wandered among the shadows of delusory thoughts about mind, body, and the world.
Previously, the Buddha and Patriarchs who incarnated in this world, through the use of thousands of words and various methods, preached the Doctrine, or Zen. All their teachings were nothing but instruments to crush the habitual “clingings” infecting human thought.
There is no Dharma in the sense of something real or concrete in that which they have handed down to us. The so-called practice or work is merely a method for purifying the shadows of our habitual thinking and flowing thoughts.
To concentrate all one’s efforts to this end is called “work.” If suddenly the surging thoughts stop, one clearly sees that his self-mind is originally pure, genuine, vast, illuminating, perfect, and devoid of objects. This is called “Wu.”
There is nothing outside of the mind, nothing which can be worked upon, and nothing to be enlightened…. However, the egotistic passions, long-accumulated and rooted within us, are difficult to wipe out.
The first step you should take in Zen work is to forget about all understanding and knowledge and concentrate on one thought: Firmly believe that your self-mind is originally pure and clear, without the slightest trace of any existence – bright, perfect, and ever-present throughout the entire universe. From the beginning there was no body, mind, or world, nor any erroneous thoughts or infective passions.
Search out the point where your thoughts arise and disappear. See where a thought arises and vanishes. Keep this point in mind and try to break right through it. Take up this awareness as if holding a sharp sword in your hand.
Abruptly, the violence of mind stops;
Inner body, outer world –
both are transparently clear
After the great overturn
The great Voidness is broken through.
Oh! How freely the myriad
Manifestations come and go!
Zen Master Han Shan ( 1545-1623 )
Taken from The Practice of Zen by Chang Chen-Chi 1959
Zen Master e’s comment
When a wave stops rolling it’s true self – the vast expansive ocean is revealed.
When the mind stops moving it’s true self – the vast expansive, still emptiness of mind is revealed.
Since beginningless time the karmic and habitual energies of mind have trapped you in ignorance.
When a being is lost in thought and caught by mind we call them a sentient being.
When a being is freed from thought and knows the empty unborn nature of mind we call them a sage.
You yourself are a sage wrapped in sentient beings clothing.
We have two expedient methods in our tradition.
One is to chew the koan.
This quells the rampant waves of mind.
When the mind is still – the calm, empty clarity of mind is seen.
This seeing is wisdom.
The second expedient is to put it all down and just rest in the empty vivid wakefulness of mind once seen.
Then one knows for oneself that whether sitting, walking, working – it doesn’t matter – for that empty awareness is always there.
The sage nurtures this awareness.
Becoming disenchanted with the appearances of mind.
Non-attached to the ten thousand things the sage easily flows through life in harmony with the way.
To meditate does not mean to sit. Meditation is merely a word that points to the inherent still clarity of mind which is always present. To nurture that awareness is meditation.
If thoughts arise, look into their source.
There you will find once again that empty, clear nature of awareness.
And thoughts will dissolve and vast emptiness remains
Thoughts themselves are that emptiness.
To be free of thoughts let go of your grasping, clinging and interest in the appearances of mind.
And become interested in the space from which those thoughts arise from.
Wisdom is before thinking.
Truth is free from thought.
Thoughts arise from the unarisen.
You yourself are the unborn Buddha Mind.