Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind

The Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Twofold Entrance and Four Practices (Ta-mo lun) contains seven texts purporting to contain the teachings of the first Ch’an patriarch. The Long Scroll was compiled by T’an-lin, an eminent scholar and translator who was likely a pupil of the second patriarch, Hui-k’o. The first and second texts are well known: they are a brief biography of Bodhidharma and the Twofold Entrance. The third and fourth texts are letters, the first one possibly written by Hui-k’o or T’an-lin, and the second one addressed to Hui-k’o by a forest hermit named Layman Hsian. Jorgensen (1979) thought that the letters may have been written by T’an-lin himself as an introduction to the rest of the Long Scroll (See footnote, p. 366, also at the foot of this post). Texts five, six and seven, which Broughton calls Record I, Record II and Record III, contain the substance of Bodhidharma’s teachings. Those familiar only with the Twofold Entrance will be grateful to find that such an extensive and elegant record of Bodhidharma’s teaching exists, and the translations by Broughton and Jorgensen are excellent.

Text number 5 consists of sections five through forty-nine of the Long Scroll.

Text no. 5 of the Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Twofold Entrance and Four Practices

(Broughton p. 14; Jorgensen p. 256)

5. Buddhas speak of the emptiness of dharmas in order to destroy views, but if you are in turn attached to emptiness, you are one whom the buddhas cannot convert. When there is arising, emptiness alone arises; when there is cessation, emptiness alone ceases. In reality not a single dharma arises, not a single dharma ceases. All dharmas arise due to craving. Craving is neither within nor without, nor does it lie in-between. Craving is an empty dharma, but ordinary people are consumed by its flame. The false and the true (heterodox and orthodox views) are neither within nor without, nor in any of the ten directions. Discrimination is an empty dharma, but ordinary people are consumed by its flame. All dharmas are likewise.

8. Tripitaka Dharma Master says: Lacking understanding, a person follows dharmas; when there is understanding, dharmas follow the person. When one understands, the senses draw in forms; when one is deluded, forms draw in the senses. When the senses cease to arise due to forms it is called not seeing forms.

Whether there is not-seeking in your seeking or seeking in your not-seeking, you are still seeking. Whether there is not-grasping in your grasping or grasping in your not-grasping, you are still grasping. When the mind craves anything it is called the desire realm (kamadhatu). When the mind is not mind of itself but arises because of forms it is called the form realm (rupadhatu). When forms are not forms of themselves but are produced by the mind, since mind and forms are formless it is called the formless realm (arupadhatu).

9. Question: What is that which is called the mind of enlightenment (bodhi)?
Answer: The mind without marks of differentiation is called Tathata (suchness). The mind that is changeless is called the Dharma-nature. The mind without attachments is called liberation. The mind-nature’s liberation from limitations is called enlightenment. The mind-nature’s quiescence is called Nirvana.

10. Question: What is that which is called a Tathagata (one who goes in Suchness)?
Answer: One who knows Tathata and yet responds to beings: this called a Tathagata.
Question: What is that which is called a Buddha?
Answer: One who is awakened to the Dharma, awakened to the fact that there is nothing to awaken to: this one is called a Buddha.
Question: What is that which is called the Dharma? (Principle)
Answer: Mind in accord with the Dharma does not arise, and mind in accord with the Dharma is not extinguished: this is called the Dharma.
Question: What is that which is called the Sangha (community)?
Answer: Coming together according to the Dharma: this is called the Sangha.

(The Three Treasures are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. – Ed)

11. Question: What is that which is called the samadhi of emptiness?
Answer: Gazing at dharmas (phenomena) yet abiding in emptiness: this is called the samadhi of emptiness. (Jorgensen: “To observe that phenomena rest on emptiness is called the meditation on emptiness.”)

Question: What is that which is called abiding in the Dharma?
Answer: Neither abiding in abiding (the world) nor abiding in non-abiding (emptiness), but abiding in the Dharma—this is called abiding in the Dharma.

莫逐有縁     Neither follow existence
勿住空忍     Nor dwell in emptiness
一種平懷     Carry the One serenely in your breast
泯然自盡     And dualism will vanish by itself
– The Hsin-Hsin Ming

12. Question: What about the phrase: Is male but not male, is female but not female?
Answer: When we analyze on the basis of the Dharma, the characteristics of maleness and femaleness cannot be apprehended. Should you ask how that can be known, it is because forms are not characterized by maleness or femaleness. If forms were characterized by maleness, all the grasses and trees would be male, or they would all be female. Deluded people do not understand, and through false thought see maleness or femaleness; but this is an illusory maleness and an illusory femaleness, ultimately without reality. The Sutra of the Inactivity of All Dharma* says: “When one comes to know that all dharmas are like an illusion, one quickly becomes the foremost of persons.”

[*Sarvadharmapravrttinirdesasutra. “If a man seeks bodhi he will not have bodhi, and he is as far away from bodhi as heaven is from earth. When he knows that phenomena are like illusions, he will become the foremost of men.” (Jorgensen, p. 267)]

13. Question: When one realizes Nirvana while retaining the body (“with remainder”) and obtains the fruit of the Arhat, is it awakening or not?
Answer: It is a dream realization.
Question: When one practices the six perfections, fulfills the ten stages and the ten thousand practices, awakens to the non-arising and non-extinguishing of all dharmas, remains neither awakened nor knowing, has neither mind nor understanding, is it awakening or not?
Answer: That is also a dream.
Question: The ten powers and the four fearlessnesses, the eighteen exclusive dharmas (powers exclusive to a buddha), the path culminating in perfect awakening under the bodhi tree, the ability to go beyond sentient beings even to the point of entrance into Nirvana—how could these not be awakening?
Answer: They are also a dream.
Question: All the buddhas of the past, present and future in sameness teaching sentient beings, those who obtain the path being as numberless as the grains of sand of the Ganges—can this not be awakening?
Answer: That is also a dream. It is simply that whatever involves discrimination by the mind, intellection and the manifestations out of one’s own mind is a dream. When awakened, there is no dreaming; when dreaming, there is no awakening. These are false conceptualizations of thought, mind, and the senses (vijnanas). They are no more than insights in a dream. There is neither one who is awakened nor anything to awaken to. Awakened to the Dharma, the true awakening, there is no self-awakening at all, for there is no such thing as awakening. The perfect awakening of all the buddhas of the past, present and future is but a conceptual discrimination of sentient beings. This is why I call it a dream. If the senses and thought are tranquilized, without a single thought being stirred, this is called perfect awakening. Similarly, whatever remaining thought and senses that have not been tranquilized are a dream.

14. Question: In cultivating the Way and cutting off delusion, what wisdom is employed?
Answer: Use the wisdom of skillful means (upaya).
Question: What is the wisdom of skillful means?
Answer: Investigating delusion and realizing that from the outset there is no place from which delusion arises: by this device one is able to cut off doubt and delusion, thus it is called skillful means.

Question: What delusion does the mind that is in accord with the Dharma cut off?”
Answer: “The delusion that there are ordinary people, heretics, arhats, hermit-buddhas, bodhisattvas, etc.

15. Question: What are the two truths?
Answer: It is like a mirage. Deluded people see the shimmering of hot air and think it is water. But it is not really water—it is a mirage. The meaning of the two truths is also like this. Ordinary people see the reality of the highest meaning as the reality of the world, while sages see in worldly reality the reality of the highest meaning. [“The ignorant and the simple-minded, not knowing that the world is what is seen of Mind itself, cling to the multitudinousness of external objects . . .” – Lankavatara Sutra]. Therefore, the sutra says: “When the buddhas preach the Dharma, they always rely upon the two truths.” The truth of the highest meaning is the worldly truth, and the worldly truth is the truth of the highest meaning. The truth of the highest meaning is emptiness. If you see characteristics of existence, clean house!

Question: How does one clean house?
Answer: If you rely upon the Dharma to gaze, then you will lose your way of looking at things and not see a single thing. Therefore, the Tao Te Ching says: “Established virtue (te) is like indolence.” [Verse 41: “Vigorous virtue seems like indolence.”]

16. Question: What kind of mind is called craving?
Answer: The mind of the ordinary person.  . . .
Question: What kind of mind is that which engenders neither understanding nor delusion?
Answer: The mind of the bodhisattva.
Question: What kind of a mind is that which is not awakened and does not know?

There was no answer. The reason that there was no answer is because the Dharma cannot answer. This is because the Dharma is no-mind, and an answer is having a mind. The Dharma is wordless, and an answer is having words. The Dharma is without understanding, and an answer is having understanding. The Dharma is without knowledge, and an answer is having knowledge. The Dharma is without this and that, but an answer is this and that. Such minds and words are all hindrances. Because mind is not a form it is not attached to forms, yet mind is not formless and is not attached to formlessness. The mind’s non-attachment to anything is liberation.

When one transgresses the precepts, one is uneasy; however, knowing that this anxious mind is unattainabled (cannot be grasped), liberation can yet be attained. One will also know that rebirth in a heaven is unattainable. Even though he knows emptiness, emptiness is unattainable. Even though he knows that nothing is attainable, non-attainability cannot be attained.

17. If your mind values one thing, it will surely despise another. If your mind affirms anything, it must negate something. If your mind takes one thing to be good, then other things are bad. If your mind has more affection for one person, it despises others. The mind does not abide in forms, nor does it abide in formlessness. It does not abide in abiding, nor does it abide in non-abiding. If your mind abides anywhere, it cannot avoid being bound. If your mind functions anywhere, that is bondage. If your mind values dharmas, dharmas will bind you. If your mind values one dharma, other dharmas are inferior. When you try to grasp the meaning of the sutras and treatises you should not value understanding. If there are parts that you understand, then your mind is attached to something. If the mind is attached to anything, that is bondage. The sutra says: “It is not through inferior, average or superior dharmas that one attains Nirvana.” Even though the mind has entered delusion, do not push delusion away. Instead, when something arises from the mind, rely on the Dharma to gaze at the place from which it arises. If the mind discriminates, rely on the Dharma to gaze at the place of the discrimination. Whether greed, anger or ignorance arise, rely on the Dharma to gaze at the place from which they arise. To see that there is no place from which these can arise is to cultivate the Way. If there is anything arising from the mind, then investigate it, and relying on the Dharma, clean house!

18. Question: In cultivating and attaining the Way, are some slow and some quick?
Answer: They are separated by millions of eons. In the case of those who know that their mind is the Way, it is quick. For those who raise the mind of enlightenment and practice, it is slow. People of keen abilities know that their mind is the Way. People of dull abilities seek everywhere for the Way but cannot find it. Moreover, they do not know that their mind is from the outset unexcelled, complete enlightenment.

Question: How does one quickly attain the Way?
Answer: The mind being the substance of the Way, one quickly attains the Way. When the practitioner himself realizes that delusion has arisen, then, relying on the Dharma, he gazes at it and causes it to vanish.

Question:  How is the mind the substance of the Way?
Answer:  The mind is like a piece of wood or stone [on which one paints a picture]. It is as if someone painted dragons and tigers with his own hand, and yet upon looking at them became frightened. Deluded people are like this. The brush of the mind and senses paints Razor Mountains and Sword Forests, and yet the mind and the senses fear them. If you are fearless in mind, then false imaginings will be swept away.

The brush of the mind and senses discriminates and paints that which is seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched, and upon perceiving them there arise greed, anger and ignorance. Attracted or repelled the mind and senses go on discriminating, creating all kinds of karma. If you realize that mind and the senses have been empty and quiescent from the beginning, if you do not recognize any basis for them [individual self], you are cultivating the Way.

By the discriminations of their own mind some paint tigers, wolves, lions, poisonous dragons, evil spirits, the generals of the five paths of existence, Yama (god of death and judge of the dead), the ox-headed guardians of hell, and the Hell of the Sound of Cold (fourth of the eight icy-cold hells). These things are discriminated (produced) by their own mind, yet they are bound by them and undergo sufferings. Realize that all that the mind discriminates are merely forms. If you awaken to the fact that your mind from the beginning has been empty and quiescent and know that your mind is not matter, then your mind is detached from it. Matter is immaterial; it is a creation of your own mind. Only realize that it is not real and you will attain liberation.

19. Now when you rely on the Dharma’s three treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to practice the Way, do not have such views as good and bad, desirable and undesirable, cause and effect, right and wrong, keeping the precepts and breaking the precepts. If you make such calculations they are all bewildering delusions manifested by your own mind, and you will not know that the realm of sense-objects arises from your own mind. If you hold the view that all things are nonexistent, it is likewise. The manifestations of your own mind are all the deluded mind creating right and wrong. If you say that the wisdom of the buddhas surpasses all, it is likewise. One’s own mind creates existence and nonexistence and is in turn deluded by it.

A sutra says: “If you rely on Dharmakaya Buddha to cultivate the Way [Pure Land practice*], do not create phantom beings or real beings.” Therefore, the Dharma-Realm (One Dharma-Realm 一法界) is sameness, without gain or loss. If you rely on Dharmakaya Buddha to cultivate the Way, do not seek Nirvana. Why? Because Dharmakaya Buddha is Nirvana. How could you use Nirvana to seek Nirvana? Also, do not seek the Dharma-Realm, because your mind is the Dharma-Realm. How can you use the Dharma-Realm to seek the Dharma-Realm? If you wish to rectify your mind, neither fear dharmas nor seek dharmas. If you rely on Dharmakaya Buddha to cultivate the Way, your mind will be like stone–dark, unaware, unknowing, undiscerning, impassive about everything, like one who is stupid. Why? Because the Dharma lacks awareness and knowing. [*The Records were passed down by the Pure Land School, so this may be a later addition. – Editor]

Because the Dharma can give fearlessness, it is a source of great peace. It is like someone who commits a capital crime and is to be beheaded, but then his king grants him a pardon and he no longer fears dying. It is the same way with beings. They commit the ten evils and the five deadly sins and must fall into a hell, but the Dharma-king issues a pardon of great quiescence, and so they are freed of all of their sins. If someone is a good friend of a king, and he ventures off to another country and there kills youths, and he is seized by locals who want to punish the crime, that man is trembling for fear because he has no one to help him. Suddenly he sees his great king and is instantly freed. If someone breaks the precepts, commits murder, sexual transgressions and theft and fears he will fall into a hell, when he sees his own Dharma-king he will obtain freedom.

20. In the Dharma of cultivating the Way, the vital energy of those who obtain understanding from the written word is weak. If one obtains his understanding from events, his vital energy will be robust. Those who see the Dharma in the midst of events never lose mindfulness anywhere. . . . Having a deep understanding that events are the Dharma, ordinary people will not be able to fathom him. Even if the cultivator of the Way has his belongings stolen by thieves time and again, he will not have a mind of attachment and will not even be vexed. If he is cursed and slandered by others time and again, he will not be vexed. If one is like this, one’s mind of the Way will gradually strengthen. It will accumulate over years without end, until he spontaneously has no-mind toward any disagreeable and agreeable thing. Therefore, he who is not bound by events can be called a bodhisattva of great power. If one wishes to make the mind of cultivating the Way robust, one should transcend the limits of the norms.

21. Question: What is transcending the limits of the norms?
Answer: The spontaneously quiescent mind does not realize the understanding of the Mahayana or the Hinayana, does not raise the mind of enlightenment, even to the point of not wishing for the omniscience of a buddha, does not honor the person who is accomplished in samadhi, does not disdain the person who is attached and craving, even to the point of not wishing for enlightenment. If one does not grasp for understanding and does not seek wisdom, he will avoid the delusions and confusions of the Dharma masters and meditation masters. If one can preserve mind and erect will, entertain no wish to be a worthy or a sage, not seek liberation, fear neither the cycle of birth and death nor the hells, and with no-mind directly perform his duties, then for the first time he will bring to perfection a dull mind of norms. If one is to witness all the transformations of the worthies and sages due to their supernormal powers through hundreds of thousands of eons without the arising of envy, then one should avoid the deceptions and delusions of others.

Another question: How does one produce the mind that transcends the limits of the norms?
Answer: The Confucian virtues of humaneness, righteousness, ritual, wisdom, and faith are called the mind within the limits of the norms. If you wish to transcend the limits of the norms, even to casting aside ordinary person and sage, you must not know by having a method, you must not know by not having a method, you must not know by both having a method and not having a method. That which ordinary knowledge understands is also said to be within the limits of the norms. When you do not have the mind of the ordinary man, arhat or bodhisattva, and do not even have a buddha-mind or any mind at all, then for the first time you can be said to have transcended the limits of the norms. If you desire that no mind at all should arise, that no understanding or delusion should arise, then for the first time you can be said to have transcended everything.

22. Question:  What is the mind of simplicity? What is the mind of cognition?
Answer: Spoken and written words are called cognition. Things and concepts (dharmas and adharmas) are the same. Walking, standing, sitting or lying—maintain the mind of simplicity in all that you do. Even when it encounters unhappy or joyful events, the mind remains unmoved; only then can it be called the mind of simplicity.

23. Question:  What is called true (orthodox) and what is called false (heterodox)?
Answer: To have no mental discrimination is called orthodox; to have a mind that discriminates is called heterodox. Only when one is unaware of true and false can one be called orthodox. A sutra says: “He who abides in the true Way does not discriminate between true and false.”

24. Question: What are sharp abilities and what are dull abilities?
Answer: He who, without relying on the teaching of a master, sees the Dharma in the midst of [worldly] events is called one of sharp abilities. He who understands from the spoken teachings of a master is called one of dull abilities. In hearing the Dharma through the teachings of a master, there are also degrees of sharpness and dullness. Upon hearing the master’s words, if one is not attached to existence and yet does not seize upon nonexistence, if one is not attached to characteristics (lakshana or laksana) and yet does not seize upon [the concept of] no-characteristics, if one is not attached to arising and yet is not attached to non-arising, he is a person of sharp abilities. To desire understanding and seek knowledge, views such as right and wrong are the understanding and knowledge of a person of dull abilities. When the person of sharp abilities hears of the Way, he does not produce the mind of the ordinary person. He does not even produce the mind of the worthy or sage: ordinary and enlightened are both cast aside. This is how the person of sharp abilities hears of the Way. He does not desire material and sensual things, and he does not even desire enlightenment. If one desires enlightenment, he will reject activity and cling to quietude, reject ignorance and cling to wisdom, reject the conditioned* and cling to the unconditioned. [But] one who is unable to cut off duality and be unlimited is the person of dull abilities.

(*All things arise from prior thoughts. Prior thoughts are the necessary conditions upon which things depend for their existence; this is why things are called conditioned.)

Getting rid of such is to transcend the realms of the senses of the ordinary person and the saint. He who hears of the Way without producing a covetous mind, without even producing right mindfulness or right determination, who upon hearing of the Way does not produce the mind of the arhat nor even the mind of the bodhisattva, is called a person of sharp abilities. The bodhisattva takes the Dharma-Realm as his home and the four immeasurables* as the place of the precepts. All actions, in the end, do not go outside of the Dharma-Realm mind. Why? Because the body is the Dharma-Realm. Even if you say and do all sorts of things, leap or a prance like a horse, none of these things leaves the Dharma-Realm, nor does it enter the Dharma-Realm. One who attempts to grasp the Dharma-Realm in order to enter the Dharma-Realm is a fool. Because the bodhisattva clearly sees the Dharma-Realm, it is said that his Dharma-eye is clear. Because he does not see dharmas rising, subsisting and ceasing, it is said that his Dharma-eye is clear. A sutra says: “Not doing away with ignorance or defilements (klesa), he gives rise to liberation.” Since defilements never arose in the first place, there is nothing to do away with. One [blinded by] ignorance seeks defilements within, without and in-between, but he can neither see nor apprehend them. Even if he seeks them in the ten directions there is not the slightest trace to take hold of. Hence, it is unnecessary to do away with them in order to seek liberation.

(*love, compassion, bliss and equanimity)

25. Question: Worldly people apply themselves to various sorts of learning. Why do they fail to obtain the Way?
Answer: Because they see a self, they do not obtain the Way. If they were able to not see a self, then they would obtain the Way. Self means ego. A sage encounters hardship without being despondent and pleasure without being joyful because he does not see a self. Therefore, one who is neither troubled nor pleased is so because he has let go of the self. Attaining emptiness, even though only the self is let go of, what more is there to let go of? In the world, those who have let go of the self are few.

If you can let go of the self, everything will be nonexistent from the outset. The self perversely produces a mind, and then one is affected by birth, old age, sickness, death, grief, sorrow, suffering, frustration, cold, heat, wind, rain, and everything that is not in accord with one’s desires. These are all manifestations of the imagination. Like illusions, their coming and going are not under the control of the self. Why? Perversely it opposes the coming and going and will not accept it. The defilements exist because of grasping by the self, and from this arises coming and going. Those who know that coming and going are not under the control of the self know that that which the ego takes as real are illusory phenomena that cannot be grasped. If one stops resisting the illusion, one becomes unlimited. If one stops resisting changes, then one regrets nothing that happens.

26. Question: Since all dharmas are empty [including sentient beings], who is it that cultivates the Way?
Answer:  If there is someone, then it is necessary to cultivate the Way. If there is no one, then it is unnecessary to cultivate the Way. The someone is ego. If there were no ego, then upon contact with something, affirmation and negation would not arise. Affirmation is the ego’s affirming something; things do not affirm themselves. Negation is the ego’s negating something; things do not negate themselves. This can be understood through such examples as wind, rain, blue, yellow, red, white, and so forth. When the ego is pleased by something, the things are not doing the pleasing. Why? This can be understood through such examples as the relation of the eye, ear, nose and tongue to color and sound, and so forth.

27. Question: The sutra says: “Walking on the non-path, one comprehends the path of the buddhas.”
Answer:  Walking on the non-path is to reject neither names nor appearances. For the one who has understood, names are nameless and appearances are non-appearances. It further says: “One who walks on the non-path rejects neither covetousness nor defilements.” For the one who has understood, covetousness is  non-covetousness and defilement is non-defilement. When walking on the non-path, suffering is non-suffering and pleasure is non-pleasure: this is called understanding. To reject neither birth nor death is called understanding. When walking on the non-path, birth is birthless, and yet one does not cling to birthlessness. Ego is egoless, and yet one does not cling to egolessness. This is called understanding the way of the buddhas. If negation is non-negation, and yet you do not cling to non-negation, then this is called understanding the way of the buddhas. In summary, when mind is no-mind, this is called understanding the mind-way.

28. Question: The sutra says: “Heretics take delight in the various views; the bodhisattva is unmoved by the various views. The Evil One takes joy in birth and death; the bodhisattva, while in the midst of birth and death, does not run away from it.”
Answer: Because false views are the same as true views, the bodhisattva is unmoved. The views that heretics delight in are called seeing existence and seeing nonexistence. Understanding that existence is nonexistent, and that nonexistence is not nonexistent, is called being unmoved. To be unmoved is to neither reject the true nor reject the false. At the moment of true understanding, there is no false and true, so there is no need to reject the false in order to seek the true. Since existence is nonexistent, he is unmoved when he sees existence. Since nonexistence is not nonexistent, he is unmoved when he sees nonexistence. Because he relies on the Dharma to investigate the lack of difference between the false and the true, he is said to be unmoved. Further, because it is unnecessary to him to reject the false in order to enter the true, he is said to be unmoved by the various views. A sutra says: “By false appearances enter the true Dharma.” It also says: “Enter the eight forms of liberation without rejecting the eight heterodox practices.”

30. Question: Is the Great Way near or far?
Answer: It is like a mirage in the heat, neither near nor far. An image of a face in a mirror is also neither near nor far. Flowers, needles, etc., in the air that [ingesting] henbane produces are also neither near nor far. If you say that they are near, how is it that, when one seeks for them in the ten directions, one cannot grasp them? If you say they are far, they pass clearly and distinctly before the eyes. The treatise says: “Near and yet you cannot see them: this is the nature of the ten thousand things.” If you see the nature of things it is called attaining the Way. To see Mind in things is [to see that] the nature of things is not characterized by thing-ness, that things are thing-less. This is called seeing the nature of things. As has been said, all that has the nature of form are things. To see the nature of things truly, without error, is called seeing the highest truth; it is also called seeing the Dharma. “Near and yet you cannot see them” refers to the nature of things.

The sage has patience with things and is impatient with himself,* and with him there is no grasping and rejecting, disliking or liking. The stupid one has patience with himself and is impatient with things, and with him there is grasping and rejecting, disliking and liking. If you can empty your mind, be unhurried and free and completely forget the world, this is having patience with things and going along with events, which is easy.** Opposing, resisting and changing things is difficult. If something wills to come, let it come and do not resist it; if it wills to depart, let it go and do not chase after it. Whatever you have done is past and not to be regretted. That which has not yet happened, let go of it and do not think of it. This is to be a practitioner of the Way. Having patience, one leaves the world to its own devices, and gain and loss do not arise from the self. If you have patience and do not oppose, if you let go and do not resist, where and when will you not roam in the beyond? (Jorgensen 299, Broughton 31)

[* “To tolerate or leave it up to things is to mindlessly conform with things. . . . In Kuo Hsiang’s Chuang-tzu Chu (Free and Easy Wandering) he says: ‘Indeed he who tolerates himself is opposed to things, and he who is in accord with things is not opposed to things’; and ‘Because I am not, I conform with things, since I conform with things the Principle is reached. When the Principle is reached, all traces of opposition are erased.’ (Jorgensen, p. 301)]

[**”Therefore a sutra says, ‘The saint’s mind knows nothing and yet there is nothing that it does not know.’ I believe it! Therefore a saint empties his mind and fills his illumination. He knows all his days and yet has never known. Therefore he can dull his brilliance and sheathe his light and yet his empty mind mirrors profundity. He shuts out his wisdom and blocks off his intellect, and yet he alone is aware of the inscrutable.” (The Pan-jo wu-chih lun, quoted in Jorgensen, p. 301)]

31. Question: It said that the Great Way is very easy to find and easy to follow, yet no one in the world is capable of finding it and following it.
Answer: These words are true. Being above the world, unmoved, letting go, indifferent to it, not doing a single thing, is called following the Way. Not seeing a single thing is called seeing the Way. Not knowing a single thing is called cultivating the Way. Not practising a single thing is called practising the Way. Thus it is said to be easy to enter and easy to follow.

32. Question: The Tao Te Ching says: “The same diligence at the end as at the beginning; no failed endeavors.”
Answer: Once a person embraces faith in the Dharma and produces the thought of enlightenment he never regresses. There is past and there is present. The initial thought of enlightenment is the present. Looking back on the past from the present, and from the past looking to the beginning, is the present. One who focuses the mind on the Way from beginning to end is called one who has faith in the Buddhadharma (doctrine). That past and present are unchanging is called fruit; that the unreal deceives is called flower.

33. Question: What is the bodhisattva practice?
Answer: It is not the practice of the worthies and sages, nor is it the practice of the ordinary man: it is the practice of the bodhisattva. One who is training to be a bodhisattva neither grasps worldly things nor rejects worldly things. If you can enter the Way with thought and consciousness (the senses), there will be no one, unenlightened or arhat, capable of taking your measure. It is said that wherever there are events, wherever there are forms, wherever there is sin, the bodhisattva uses them all and there does the work of the Buddha. They are all turned into Nirvana; they are all the Great Way. Thus every place is no place, which is the Dharma-Realm and which is the Realm of the Way. The bodhisattva regards the fact that every place is the place of the Dharma. The bodhisattva does not reject any place, does not cling to any place, does not choose any place, for everywhere is done the work of the Buddha. Thus in birth and death is done the work of the Buddha, and in delusion is done the work of the Buddha.

Question: “Dharmas are non-dharmas. How is the Buddha’s work done?
Answer: The place where the work is done is a non-place where work is done, and there are no dharmas working; therefore, in good places and bad, the Buddha is seen.

“Lord of Lanka, beings are appearances; they are like figures painted on a wall that is unmoved by them. Lord of Lanka, all that is in the world is devoid of work and action because all things have no reality. The teaching is thus: there is nothing heard, no one hearing.” (Suzuki, The Lankavatara Sutra, p. 20)

41. Question: Why does the ordinary person fall into the evil paths?
Answer: Because there is an ego, there is stupidity. Therefore one says, ‘I drink wine.’ The sage says to him, ‘When you have no wine, why don’t you drink the no-wine?’ Even if that person were to say, ‘I am drinking the no-wine,’ the sage would say, ‘Where is your I?’

The stupid also say, ‘I have committed a sin.’ The sage says, ‘What sort of a thing is your sin?’ All of this is conditionally arisen and has no nature of its own. If you know when it has arisen that there is no ego, who does it and who undergoes punishment? A sutra says, ‘Ordinary people insist on discriminating: I have craving, I feel anger. Such simpletons fall into the three evil paths.’ A sutra says, ‘The nature of a sin is neither within nor without, nor is it between these two’ (Vimalakirti). This shows that sin is unlocalized, and the unlocalized is the place of quiescence. When beings fall into hell, they create an ego from the mind. They remember and discriminate, thinking, ‘I have committed evils and I am punished; I have done good and likewise am rewarded.’ This is evil karma. From the very beginning no such things have existed, yet perversely they remember and discriminate, thinking that they exist. This is evil karma. (Jorgensen, pp. 310-311; Broughton p. 34)

42. Question: What can lead one beyond the self to Nirvana?
Answer: Dharmas can lead one beyond the self. How to understand this? It is because one grasps at appearances that one falls into hell; but by investigating dharmas one is freed. If one sees appearances and remembers and discriminates them, one will suffer the boiling cauldrons, blazing furnaces, ox-headed demons, the Hell of the Sound of Cold and so forth, seeing manifested the appearances of birth and death. But if one sees that the realm of dharmas and nirvana have the same nature, and [one is] free of memory and discrimination, then that is the substance of the One Dharma-Realm.

43. Question: What is the substance of the One Dharma-Realm?
Answer: The substance of the mind is the substance of the One Dharma-Realm. This Dharma-Realm is devoid of self. It has no boundaries, is as expansive as space, and is invisible. This is what is said to be the substance of the Dharma-Realm. (Jorgensen, p. 312, Broughton p. 34)

44. Question: What is it like to know the Dharma?
Answer: The Dharma is said to be no-awakening and no-knowing. One whose mind is without awakening and without knowing is a person who knows the Dharma. The Dharma is called not knowing and not seeing. If the mind does not know and does not see, this is called seeing the Dharma. Not knowing any dharma is called knowing the Dharma. Not apprehending any dharma is called apprehending the Dharma. Not seeing any dharma is called seeing the Dharma. Not discriminating any dharma is called discriminating the Dharma. (Broughton)

45. Question: The Dharma is said to be not-seeing. What is unlimited knowing and seeing?
Answer: Not-knowing is unlimited knowing; not-seeing is unlimited seeing.

Question: The Dharma is said to be not-awakening. Buddha means awakened one. Why is this?
Answer: The Dharma is said to be not-awakening, and Buddha means awakened one. Not-awakening is awakening, and awakening in a state of identity with the Dharma is the Buddha-awakening. If you are diligent in the practice of gazing at the characteristics of the mind, you will see dharma characteristics. If you are diligent in the practice of gazing at the locus of the mind, it is the locus of quiescence, it is the locus of nonarising, the locus of liberation, the locus of emptiness, the locus of enlightenment. The mind-locus is unlocalized. It is the locus of the Dharma-Realm, the locus of the seat of enlightenment, the locus of the Dharma-Gate, the locus of wisdom, the locus of dhyana unlimited. When a person has this sort of realization he is as one who has fallen into a pit or slid into a ditch. (Broughton)


* * *

Footnote (Jorgensen p. 366): Note that Ta-mo lun has usually been interpreted to mean II (Twofold Entrance). However the LCSTC (Leng-chia shih-tzu chi, compiled by Ching-chueh, b. 683-750) says, “These four practices are what Meditation Teacher Dharma personally preached; the rest is then a record by pupil T’an-lin of the master’s deeds and sayings, collected in one chuan (scroll) and called the Ta-mo lun.” This implies that the text as a whole was called the Ta-mo lun, perhaps following Tao-hsuan.

Broughton, Jeffrey L. (1999). The Bodhidharma Anthology. University of California Press.

Jorgensen, John A. (1979). The Earliest Text of Ch’an Buddhism: The Long Scroll. The Australian National University. (

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