Hui-neng’s “Seeing the Nature”

Good and Wise Friends, I have a free-form verse which you should all recite and take to heart. Whether you are a monastic or a layperson, just cultivate in accord with it. It will be of no benefit at all, however, if you yourself do not cultivate but only memorize my words. Here’s the verse for you:

Seeing the Nature

Thoroughly understanding in both speech and mind,
Like the sun shining in the cloudless sky,
Just spread this teaching, “Seeing the Nature.”
Manifest it in this world, destroy false teachings.

The Dharma is neither sudden nor gradual;
Only ignorance and awakening are quick or slow.

Deluded ones cannot grasp
This “Seeing the Nature” teaching.
Although explained in myriad ways,
If it accords with truth, they are ultimately one.

In the dark house of the passions (fan-nao)
Keep the sun of wisdom ever shining brightly.

When the false comes, the passions come;
When the true comes, the passions depart.
False and true both put to rest
Is purity supreme, purity without remainder.1

Bodhi is our original, inherent nature;
Stir up the mind and all goes wrong.

The pure mind is right within the false;
Abiding in the true, the three hindrances vanish.2

If people of the world cultivate the Way
Nothing can hinder them.

Always recognize your own faults
And you will be in accord with the Way.
Each form has its own path;
They do not hinder or trouble one another.

If you abandon the Way to seek a by-way,
To the end of your days you’ll never see the Way.
A frantic passage through life
Will end in bitter regret.

If you wish to discover the true Way,
Right practice is the Way.

If you do not have a mind for the Way,
You are stumbling in the dark, blind to the Way.

If you truly walk the Way,
You are blind to the faults of the world.
If you find fault in others,
Your fault-finding itself is a fault.

Others’ faults I do not judge;
For my faults I judge only myself.
Simply cast out the fault-finding mind;
Once cast out, troubles are gone.

When hate and love no longer block the mind,
Stretch out your legs and lie down.

If you hope to teach and transform others,
You yourself must have the skillful means.
Do not raise doubts in others;
Their essential nature will reveal itself on its own.

The Buddha-Dharma is right here in the world;
There is no awakening apart from this world.
To search for bodhi somewhere beyond this world
Is like looking for a rabbit with horns.

Seeing truly is world-transcending,
Seeing falsely is the worldly.
False and true both set aside,
Bodhi-nature naturally appears.

This verse is the Direct Teaching (dun jiao)
It is also called the “Great Vehicle of the Dharma.”
Deluded you listen for ages;
Enlightened, you grasp it in an instant.

1. Without remainder: enlightenment without any trace of the ego-self.
2. Three hindrances: attachment, aversion, ignorance (three poisonous roots)

Buddhist Text Translation Society (BTTS) (2001). The Sixth Patriarch’s Diamond Jewel Platform Sutra. Burlingame, California. (Platform Sutra BTTS)

Verhoeven, Martin J. The Sixth Patriarch’s Diamond Jewel Platform Sutra (3rd Edition) (2014). Buddhist Text Translation Society: Burlingame, California (p. 109).

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