The Sutra of Hui-neng
Translated from the Chinese by
Thomas Cleary
Shambala 1998

Page 14
Hui-neng said: There is no demonstration or transmission; it is only a matter of seeing nature, not a matter of meditation or liberation.
Yin-tsung asked: Why is it not a matter of meditation and liberation?
Hui-neng said: Because these two things are not Buddhism; Buddhism is a non-dualistic teaching.
Yin-tsung asked: What is the non-dualistic teaching of Buddhism?
Hui-neng said: Your lecture on the Nirvama-Sutra, which explains buddha-nature. This is the non-dualistic teaching of Buddhism. Buddha said, roots of goodness are twofold, one permanent, one impermanent.
Essential buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent, so it is not cut off; that is called non-duality. Oneness is good, dualism is not good. The essential buddha-nature is neither good nor not good; this is called non-duality.
Ordinary people see the body and the world as two; the wise realise their essential nature is not two. The non-dual nature is the buddha-nature.


Good friends, people of the world originally have the knowledge of bodhi and prajna within them, but they cannot realise it themselves because of the wandering of the conditioned mind; that is why they need a teacher to point it out and guide them to perception of essential nature.

You should know that the Buddha-nature is fundamentally no different in ignorant people and wise people. It is just because of difference in confusion and enlightenment that there is ignorance and wisdom.

I will now explain to you the principle of universal transcendent insight, so each of you may attain knowledge and wisdom.

Good friends, people of the world who chant "Prajna" all day long without knowing the Prajna of their own essential nature are as if talking about food without being filled. If they only talk about emptiness, they won't attain perception of essential nature even in the myriad aeons - ultimately it is of no benefit.

Good friends, maha-prajnaparamita is a Sanskrit word, rendered here as „great insight having arrived at the other shore“. This must be applied mentally; it is not in verbal repetition. Verbal repetition without mental application is illusory. When it is both spoken of and mentally applied, then mind and speech correspond.

The original essential nature is Buddha. There is no buddha apart from essential nature.

Good friends, our inherent nature contains all things - this is greatness. All things are in your essential nature. If you see everyone‘s bad and good but do not grasp or reject any of it, and do not become affected by it, your mind is like space - this is called greatness.

Good friends, deluded people expound verbally, wise people practise mentally. There are also deluded people who sit quietly with empty minds, not thinking of anything whatsoever, and claim this is greatness. This sort of person is not worth talking to, because theirs is a wrong view.

Good friends, the extent of mind is so vast that pervades the cosmos. When it is used so that it functions adaptively with comprehensive clarity, it knows everything. Everything is one, the one is everything. Going and coming freely, the substance of mind without blockage - this is Prajna.

Good friends, all Prajna insight comes from our own essential nature, it does not enter from outside. Don't misuse your thought and call that the inherent function of intrinsic essential nature.

When one is real, all is real. The extent of mind is too vast to travel a narrow path. Don't just talk about emptiness all day without cultivating its application in the mind.

Good friends, what is Prajna? Prajna is translated into Chinese as
insight or wisdom. When you are not foolish moment to moment, wherever you may be,
at any time, always acting insightfully and wisely, this is the application of Prajna. A moment of folly, and Prajna is cut off; a moment of wisdom and Prajna arises.

Prajna has no form; the heart of wisdom is it. If you understand it in this way, this is called the knowledge of Prajna.

Good friends, ordinary mortals are themselves Buddhas, affliction is itself enlightenment. Deluded the moment before, you were an ordinary mortal; enlightened the moment after, you are a Buddha. Fixation on objects the moment before was affliction; detachment from objects the moment after is enlightenment.

Good friends, maha-prajnaparamita is most honourable, supreme, foremost. It has no dwelling, no going, and no coming. The buddhas of past, present and future emerge from within it. You should use great wisdom to break through the afflictions and mundane toils of the five clusters. If you cultivate practice in this way, you will surely attain the way of buddhas, transmuting the three poisons into discipline, concentration, and insight.

Those who realise this teaching are free of thought, recollection, and clinging; they do not create deceptive falsehoods. Employing their own essential nature of being as is, seeing with insight,
they neither grasp nor reject anything at all. This is the way to see essential nature and realize Buddhahood.

The wisdom of Prajna is neither great nor small: these differences are due to the differences in the delusion and enlightenment of the minds of all living beings. Those with deluded minds and externalist views cultivate practices to seek Buddhahood without having realised their own essential nature; they are the ones with small faculties.

If you open to understanding of the teaching of immediacy, you do not cultivate practice grasping externals; you simply activate accurate perception at all times in your own mind, so afflictions and passions can never influence you. This is perception of essential nature.

Good friends, when you do not dwell on the inward or the outward, coming and going freely, you are able to eliminate the clinging mentality and penetrate without obstruction.

Good friends, all sutras and other writings were all set down because of people. They could only be set up based on the nature of intelligence. If there were no people in the world, myriad teachings would not originally exist of themselves. So we know that myriad teachings originate from people; all scriptures and books exist because of what people have said.

Each of you, observe your mind yourself; see your original nature yourself. If you do not realise it on your own, you must seek a teacher...those who realise on their own do not need to seek outside. If you insist absolutely that the teacher is necessary in order to attain liberation, that is not right. Why? Because there is a teacher within one's own mind that understand spontaneously.

If you activate the insight of genuine prajna, in an instant erroneous thoughts all vanish. If you know your own nature, with one realisation you immediately reach Buddhahood.

Good friends, insight sees through inside and out, clearly penetrating, discerning your own original mind. If you know your original mind, you are fundamentally liberated. If you attain liberation, this is prajna-samadhi, which is freedom from thought.

What is freedom from thought? If you see all things without the mind being affected or attached, this is freedom from thought. Its function pervades everywhere, without being attached anywhere. Just purify the basic mind, having the six consciousnesses go out the six senses into the six fields of data without any defilement or mixing up, coming and going freely, comprehensively functioning without stagnation: this is prajna samadhi, freedom and liberation. This is called the practice of freedom from thought. If you do not think at all, you will cause thoughts to be stopped entirely. This is dogmatic bondage; this is called a biased view.

Good friends, I have a hymn on the formless. Listen to my hymn:

Communication by speech and communication by mind
are like the sun in the sky,
only transmitting the teaching of seeing essential nature,
emerging in the world to destroy false doctrines.

The truth has neither immediacy in gradualness,
but delusion and enlightenment have slowness and speediness.
This method of seeing essential nature
ignorant people cannot comprehend.

Explanation may be of myriad kinds;
if they accord with truth, they are ultimately one.
In the dark abode of affliction,
we always should produce the sun of wisdom.

When falsehood comes, there are afflictions;
when truth comes, afflictions are eliminated.
when neither falsehood nor truth are employed,
purity reaches remainderlessness.

Enlightenment is our original inherant nature:
Excite the mind, and there is confusion.
Be pure of mind in the midst of illusion;
just be true, and there are no barriers.

If people of the world practice this Way,
nothing will present an obstacle.
Always see your own mistakes by yourself
and you will be fit for the Way.

All kinds have their own paths,
which do not interfere with each other:
if you leave your path to seek another way,
to the end of your days you will never see the Way.
Passing a whole lifetime in ups and downs,
wherever you are you will still be tormented in yourself.

If you want to actually see the true Way,
acting rightly is the way,
if your eyes have no mindfulness of the Way,
you go in the dark, not seeing the way.

People who really practice the Way
do not see the faults of the world;
if you see the errors of others,
your own error abets them.
if others err but you do not,
your own error is still faulty.

Just get rid of your own wrong mindedness,
eliminate the affliction:
With hatred and love not affecting the mind,
stretch your legs and sleep.

Buddhism is in the world;
it is not realised apart from the world.
seeking enlightenment apart from the world
is like looking for horns on a hare.

True seeing is called transcendence;
false seeing is worldliness:
Set aside both right and wrong,
and the nature of enlightenment is clear.

This hymn is of the doctrine of immediacy,
also called the ship of the great teaching.
If you listen confused, it takes eons on end;
when you are enlightened, it takes about an instant.

Platform Sutra 1
Platform Sutra 2

Reading Diary - June2008, July2008

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