There is a large mass of literature to be called especially Zen because of its style and terminology. Until the time of Hui−neng (Yeno in Japanese) and his immediate disciples, there was not much, as far as literary expressions were concerned, to distinguish treatises specifically on Zen from the rest of Buddhist literature.


There are many ways to enter the Path, but briefly speaking they are of two sorts only. The one is “Entrance by Reason” and the other “Entrance by Conduct”.

By “Entrance by Reason” we mean the realization of the spirit of Buddhism by the aid of the scriptural teaching. We then come to have a deep faith in the True Nature which is the same in all sentient beings. The reason why it does not manifest itself is due to the overwrapping of external objects and false thoughts. When a man, abandoning the false and embracing the true, in singleness of thought practises the Pi−kuan he finds that there is neither self
nor other, that the masses and the worthies are of one essence, and he firmly holds on to this belief and never moves away there from. He will not then be a slave to words, for he is in silent communion with the Reason itself, free from conceptual discrimination; he is serene and not−acting. This is called “Entrance by Reason”.

By “Entrance by Conduct” is meant the four acts in which all other acts are included. What are the four?
1. To know how to requite hatred;
2. To be obedient to karma;
3. Not to crave anything; and
4. To be in accord with the Dharma.

What is meant by “How to requite hatred”? He who disciplines himself in the Path should think thus when he has to struggle with adverse conditions:
“During the innumerable past ages I have wandered through a multiplicity of existences, all the while giving myself to unimportant details of life at the expense of essentials, and thus creating infinite occasions for hate, ill−will, and wrongdoing. While no violations have been committed in this life, the fruits of evil deeds in the past are to be gathered now. Neither gods nor men can foretell what is coming upon me. I will submit myself willingly and patiently to all the ills that befall me, and I will never bemoan or complain. The Sutra teaches me not to worry over ills that may happen to me. Why? Because when things are surveyed by a higher intelligence, the foundation of causation is reached.” When this thought is awakened in a man, he will be in accord with the Reason because he makes the best use of hatred and turns it into the service in his advance towards the Path. This is called the “way to requite hatred”.

By “being obedient to karma” is meant this: There is no self ( atman) in whatever beings are produced by the interplay of karmaic conditions; the pleasure and pain I suffer are also the results of my previous action. If I am rewarded with fortune, honour, etc., this is the outcome of my past deeds which by reason of causation affect my present life. When the force of karma is exhausted, the result I am enjoying now will disappear; what is then the use of being joyful over it? Gain or loss, let me accept the karma as it brings to me the one or the other; the Mind itself knows neither increase nor decrease. The wind of pleasure [and pain] will not stir me, for I am silently in harmony with the Path. Therefore this is called “being obedient to karma”.

By “not craving (ch’iu) anything” is meant this: Men of the world, in eternal confusion, are attached everywhere to one thing or another, which is called craving. The wise however understand the truth and are not like the ignorant. Their minds abide serenely in the uncreated while the body moves about in accordance with the laws of causation. All things are empty and there is nothing desirable to seek after. Where there is the merit of brightness there surely lurks the demerit of darkness.

This triple world where we stay altogether too long is like a house on fire; all that has a body suffers, and nobody really knows what peace is. Because the wise are thoroughly acquainted with this truth, they are never attached to things that change; their thoughts are quieted, they never crave anything. Says the Sutra: “Wherever there is a craving, there is pain; cease from craving and you are blessed.” Thus we know that not to crave anything is indeed the way to the Truth. Therefore, it is taught not “to crave anything”.

By “being in accord with the Dharma” is meant that the Reason which we call the Dharma in its essence is pure, and that this Reason is the principle of emptiness (sunyata) in all that is manifested; it is above defilements and attachments, and there is no “self”, no “other” in it. Says the Sutra: “In the Dharma there are no sentient beings, because it is free from the stain of being; in the Dharma there is no ‘self’ because it is free from the stain of selfhood.” When the wise understand this truth and believe in it, their lives will be “in accordance with the Dharma”.

As there is in the essence of the Dharma no desire to possess, the wise are ever ready to practise charity with their body, life, and property, and they never begrudge, they never know what an ill grace means. As they have a perfect understanding of the threefold nature of emptiness, they are above partiality and attachment. Only because of their will to cleanse all beings of their stains, they come among them as of them, but they are not attached to form. This is the self−benefiting phase of their lives. They, however, know also how to benefit others, and again how to glorify the truth of enlightenment. As with the virtue of charity, so with the other five virtues [of the Prajnaparamita]. The wise practise the six virtues of perfection to get rid of confused thoughts, and yet there is no specific consciousness on their part that they are engaged in any meritorious deeds. This is called “being in accord with the Dharma”.


1. The Perfect Way knows no difficulties Except that it refuses to make preferences; Only when freed from hate and love, It reveals itself fully and without disguise;

A tenth of an inch’s difference, And heaven and earth are set apart; If you wish to see it before your own eyes, Have no fixed thoughts either for or against it.

2. To set up what you like against what you dislike−− This is the disease of the mind: When the deep meaning [of the Way] is not understood Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.

3. [The Way is] perfect like unto vast space, With nothing wanting, nothing superfluous: It is indeed due to making choice That its suchness is lost sight of.

4. Pursue not the outer entanglements, Dwell not in the inner void; Be serene in the oneness of things, And [dualism] vanishes by itself.

5. When you strive to gain quiescence by stopping motion, The quiescence thus gained is ever in motion; As long as you tarry in the dualism, How can you realize oneness?

6. And when oneness is not thoroughly understood, In two ways loss is sustained: The denying of reality is the asserting of it, And the asserting of emptiness is the denying of it.

This means:
When the absolute oneness of things is not properly understood, negation as well as affirmation tends to be a one−sided view of reality. When Buddhists deny the reality of an objective world, they do not mean that they believe in the unconditioned emptiness of things; they know that there is something real which cannot be done away with. When they uphold the doctrine of emptiness this does not mean that all is nothing but an empty hollow, which leads to a self−contradiction. The philosophy of Zen avoids the error of one−sidedness involved in realism as well as in nihilism.

1. Wordiness and intellection−− The more with them the further astray we go; Away therefore with wordiness and intellection, And there is no place where we cannot pass freely.
2. When we return to the root, we gain the meaning; When we pursue external objects, we lose the reason. The moment we are enlightened within, We go beyond the voidness of a world confronting us.
3. Transformations going on in an empty world which confronts us Appear real all because of Ignorance: Try not to seek after the true, Only cease to cherish opinions.
4. Abide not with dualism, Carefully avoid pursuing it; As soon as you have right and wrong, Confusion ensues, and Mind’ is lost.
5. The two exist because of the One, But hold not even to this One; When a mind is not disturbed, The ten thousand things offer no offence.
6. No offence offered, and no ten thousand things; No disturbance going, and no mind set up to work: The subject is quieted when the object ceases, The object ceases when the subject is quieted.
7. The object is an object for the subject, The subject is a subject for the object: Know that the relativity of the two Rests ultimately on one Emptiness.

8. In one Emptiness the two are not distinguished, And each contains in itself all the ten thousand things; When no discrimination is made between this and that. How can a one−sided and prejudiced view arise?

9. The Great Way is calm and large−hearted, For it nothing is easy, nothing is hard; Small views are irresolute, The more in haste the tardier they go.

10. Clinging is never kept within bounds, It is sure to go the wrong way; Quit it, and things follow their own courses, While the Essence neither departs nor abides.

11. Obey the nature of things, and you are in concord with the Way, Calm and easy and free from annoyance; But when your thoughts are tied, you turn away from the truth, They grow heavier and duller and are not at all sound.

12. When they are not sound, the spirit is troubled; What is the use of being partial and one−sided then? If you want to walk the course of the One Vehicle, Be not prejudiced against the six sense−objects.

13. When you are not prejudiced against the six sense−objects, You are then one with the Enlightenment; The wise are non−active, While the ignorant bind themselves up; While in the Dharma itself there is no individuation, They ignorantly attach themselves to particular objects. It is their own mind that creates illusions−− Is this not the greatest of all self−contradictions?

14. The ignorant cherish the idea of rest and unrest, The enlightened have no likes and dislikes: All forms of dualism Are contrived by the ignorant themselves. They are like unto visions and flowers in the air; Why should we trouble ourselves to take hold of them? Gain and loss, right and wrong−− Away with them once for all!

15. If an eye never falls asleep, All dreams will by themselves cease: If the Mind retains its absoluteness, The ten thousand things are of one Suchness.

16. When the deep mystery of one Suchness is fathomed, All of a sudden we forget the external entanglements; When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness, We return to the origin and remain where we ever have been.

17. Forget the wherefore of things, And we attain to a state beyond analogy; Movement stopped and there is no movement, Rest set in motion and there is no rest; When dualism does no more obtain, Oneness itself abides not.

17. The ultimate end of things where they cannot go any further Is not bound by rules and measures: In the Mind harmonious [with the Way] we have the principle of identity, In which we find all strivings quieted; Doubts and irresolutions are completely done away with, And the right faith is straightened; There is nothing left behind, There is nothing retained, All is void, lucid, and self−illuminating; There is no exertion, no waste of energy−− This is where thinking never attains, This is where the imagination fails to measure.

18. In the higher realm of true Suchness There is neither “self” nor “other”: When direct identification is sought, We can only say, “Not two”.

19. In being “not two” all is the same, All that is is comprehended in it; The wise in the ten quarters, They all enter into this Absolute Reason.

20. This Absolute Reason is beyond quickening [time] and extending [space], For it one instant is ten thousand years; Whether we see it or not, It is manifest everywhere in all the ten quarters.

21. Infinitely small things are as large as large things can be, For here no external conditions obtain; Infinitely large things are as small as small things can be, For objective limits are here of no consideration:

1. What is is the same as what is not, What is not is the same as what is: Where this state of things fails to obtain, Indeed, no tarrying there.
2. One in All, All in One−− If only this is realized, No more worry about your not being perfect!
3. Where Mind and each believing mind are not divided, And undivided are each believing mind and Mind, This is where words fail; For it is not of the past, present, and future.

The Dharmakaya of the Yogin is the same as the Buddha.
What is maha? Maha means “great”. The capacity of Mind is wide and great, it is like emptiness of space. To sit with a mind emptied makes one fall into emptiness of indifference. Space contains the sun, the moon, stars, constellations, great earth, mountains, and rivers. All grasses and plants, good men and bad men, bad things and good things, Heaven and hell−they are all in empty space. The emptiness of [Self−] nature as it is in all people is just like this.

21. [Self−] nature contains in it all objects; hence it is great. All objects without exception are of Self−nature. Seeing all human beings and non−human beings as they are, evil and good, evil things and good things, it abandons them not, nor is it contaminated with them; it is like the emptiness of space. So it is called great, that is, maha. The confused pronounce it with their mouths, the wise live it with their minds. Again, there are people confused [in mind]; they conceive this to be great when they have their minds emptied of thoughts−−which is not right. The capacity of Mind is great; when there is no life accompanying it it is small. Do not merely pronounce it with the mouth. Those who fail to discipline themselves to live this life, are not my disciples.

22. What is prajna? Prajna is chih−hui (wisdom). When every thought of yours is not benighted at all times, when you always live chih−hui (=prajna, wisdom), this is called the life of Prajna. When a single thought of yours is benighted, then Prajna ceases to work. When a single thought of yours is of chih, i.e. enlightened, then Prajna is born. Being always benighted in their minds, people yet declare themselves to be living Prajna. Prajna has no shape, no form, it is no other than the essence (hsing) of chih−hui (wisdom).

What is Paramita? This is a Sanskrit term of the Western country. In Yang it means “the other shore reached”. When the meaning ( artha in Sanskrit) is understood, one is detached from birth and death. When the objective world (visaya) is clung to, there is the rise of birth and death; it is like the waves rising from the water; this is called “this shore”. When you are detached from the objective world, there is no birth and death for you; it is like the water constantly running its course: this is “reaching the other shore”. Hence Paramita.

The confused pronounce [Prajna] with their mouths; the wise live it in their minds. When it is merely pronounced, there is at that very moment a falsehood; when there is a .falsehood, it is not a reality. When Prajna is lived in every thought of yours, this is known as reality. Those who understand this truth, understand the truth of Prajna and practise the life of Prajna. Those who do not practise it are ordinary people. When you practise and live it in one thought of yours, You are equal to the Buddha.

Good friends, the passions are no other than enlightenment (bodhi ). When your antecedent thought is confused yours is an ordinary mind; as soon as your succeeding thought is enlightened, you are a Buddha.

Good friends, Prajnaparamita is the most honoured, the highest, the foremost; it is nowhere abiding, nowhere departing, nowhere coming; all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future issue out of it. By means of Great Wisdom (ta−chih−hui=mahaprajna) that leads to . the other shore (paramita), the five skandhas, the passions, and the innumerable follies are destroyed. When thus disciplined, one is a Buddha, and the three passions [i.e. greed, anger, and folly] will turn into Morality (sila), Meditation (dhyana), and Wisdom ( prajna).

This Truth of the highest order is taught to people of great intelligence and superior endowments. If people of small intelligence and inferior endowments happen to hear it, no faith would ever be awakened in their minds. Why? It is like a great dragon pouring rains down in torrents over the Jambudipa: cities, towns, villages are all deluged and carried away in the flood, as if they were grass−leaves. But when the rain, however much, falls on the great ocean, there is in it neither an increase nor a decrease.

When people of the Great Vehicle listen to a discourse on the Vajracchedika their minds are opened and there is an intuitive understanding. They know thereby that their own Nature is originally endowed with Prajna−wisdom and that all things are to be viewed in the light of this wisdom (chih−hui) of theirs, and they need not depend upon letters. It is like rain−waters not being reserved in the sky; but the water is drawn up by the dragon−king out of the rivers and oceans, whereby all beings and all plants, sentient and non−sentient, universally share the wet. All the waters flowing together once more are poured into the great ocean, and the ocean accepting all the waters fuses them into one single body of water. It is the same with Prajna−wisdom

23. When people of inferior endowments hear this “abrupt” doctrine here discoursed on, they are like those plants naturally growing small on earth, which, being once soaked by a heavy rain, are all unable to raise themselves up and continue their growth. It is the same with people of inferior endowments. They are endowed with Prajna−wisdom as much as people of great intelligence; there is no distinction. Why is it then that they have no insight even when listening to the Truth? It is due to the heaviness of hindrance caused by false views and to the deep−rootedness of the passions. It is like an overcasting cloud screening the s un; unless it blows hard no rays of light are visible.

There is no greatness or smallness in Prajna−wisdom, but since all beings cherish in themselves confused thoughts, they seek the Buddha by means of external exercises, and are unable to see into their Self−nature. That is why they are known to be people of inferior endowments.

Those beings who, listening to the “Abrupt” doctrine, do not take themselves to external exercises, but reflecting within themselves raise this original Nature all the time to the proper viewing [of the Truth], remain [always Undefiled by] the passions and the innumerable follies; and at that moment they all have an insight [into the Truth]. It is like the great ocean taking in all the rivers, large and small, and merging them into one body of water −’this is seeing into one’s own Nature. [He who thus sees into his own Nature] does not abide anywhere inside or outside; he freely comes and departs; he knows how to get rid of attaching thoughts; his passage has no obstructions. When one is able to practise this life, he realizes that there is from the first no difference between [his Self−Nature] and Prajnaparamita.

24. All the sutras and writings, all the letters, the two vehicles Major and Minor, the twelve divisions [of Buddhist literature]−these are all set forth because of the people of the world. Because there is wisdom−nature (chih−hui−hsing), therefore there is the establishment of all these works. If there were no people of the world, no multitudinous objects would ever be in existence. Therefore, we know that all objects rise originally because of the people of the world. All the sutras and writings are said to have their existence because of the people of the world.

The distinction of stupidity and intelligence is only possible among the people of the world. Those who are stupid are inferior people and those who are intelligent are superior people. The confused ask the wise, and the wise discourse for them on the Truth in order to make the stupid enlightened and have an intuitive understanding of it. When the confused are enlightened and have their minds opened, they are not to be distinguished from the people of great intelligence.

Therefore, we know that Buddhas when not enlightened are no other than ordinary beings; when there is one thought of enlightenment, ordinary beings at once turn into Buddhas. Therefore, we know that all multitudinous objects are every
one of them in one’s own mind. Why not, from within one’s own mind, at once reveal the original essence of Suchness? Says the Bodhisattvasila Sutra: “My original Self−nature is primarily pure; when my Mind is known and my Nature is seen into I naturally attain the path of Buddhahood.” Says the Vimalakirti Sutra: “When you have an instant opening of view you return to your original Mind.”

25. The Great Master died on the third day of the eighth month of the second year of Hsien−t’ien (713 C.E.). On the eighth day of the seventh month of this year he had a farewell gathering of his followers as he felt that he was to leave them forever in the following month, and told them to have all the doubts they might have about his teaching once for all settled on this occasion. As he found them weeping in tears he said:
“You are
all weeping, but for whom are you so sorry? If you are sorry for my not knowing where I am departing to, you are mistaken; for I know where I am going. Indeed, if I did not, I would not part with you. The reason why you are in tears is probably that you do not yourselves know whither I am going. If you did, you would not be weeping so. The Essence of the Dharma knows no birth−and−death, no coming−and−going. Sit down, all of you, and let me give you a gatha with the title, “On the Absolute”

There is nothing true anywhere, The true is nowhere to be seen; If you say you see the true, This seeing is not the true one.

Where the true is left to itself, There is nothing false in it, which is Mind itself. When Mind in itself is not liberated from the false, There is nothing true, nowhere is the true to be found.

A conscious being alone understands what is meant by “moving”; To those not endowed with consciousness, the moving is unintelligible; If you exercise yourself in the practice of keeping your mind unmoved, [i.e. in a quietistic meditation], The immovable you gain is that of one who has no consciousness.

If you are desirous for the truly immovable, The immovable is in the moving itself, And this immovable is the [truly] immovable one; There is no seed of Buddhahood where there is no consciousness.

Mark well how varied are aspects [of the immovable one], And know that the first reality is immovable; Only when this insight is attained, The true working of Suchness is understood.

I advise you, O students of the Truth To exert yourselves in the proper direction; Do not in the teaching of the Mahayana Commit the fault of clinging to the relative knowledge of birth and death.

Where there is an all−sided concordance of views You may talk together regarding the Buddha’s teaching; Where there is really no such concordance, Keep your hands folded and your joy within yourself.

There is really nothing to argue about in this teaching; Any arguing is sure to go against the intent of it; Doctrines given up to confusion and argumentation lead by themselves to birth and death.

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