Hui-neng: Practicing at home

The Master said, “Good and Wise Ones, if you wish to practice, you may do so at home—you need not be in a monastery. If you live at home and practice, you are
like the person of the East (the Earth) whose mind is pure. If you dwell in a monastery but do not practice, you are like the person of the West (Paradise) whose mind is impure. Merely purify your mind: that is the ‘West’ of your self-nature.”

The Honorable Wei asked further: “How should those at home practice? Please instruct us.”

The Master said, “I have composed a free-form verse for the great assembly. Simply rely on it to practice and you will be as if always by my side. Shaving your head and leaving home will not benefit you in pursuing the Way if you do not practice.”

The verse goes:

The mind made straight, why toil following rules?
The practice sure, of what use is ch’an meditation?

Filial duty is supporting father and mother
Right conduct is being in harmony with those above and below oneself

Deference means the honored and the humble are in harmony with one another
Acceptance means no gossip of the evils of others

If drilling wood can spin smoke into fire
A red-petaled lotus can surely spring from mud

Good medicine is bitter to the taste
Words harsh to the ear must be sincere advice

Correcting one’s own faults gives birth to wisdom
Defending one’s errors reveals a petty mind

Persist daily in just, benevolent deeds
Simply giving alms is not the means to attain the Way

Search out bodhi only in the mind
Why strive away from home in search of the truth?

Just as you hear these words, so practice
Heaven then appears before your very eyes

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