The Void

3. “Mind is like the void in which there is no confusion or evil, as when the sun wheels through it shining upon the four corners of the world. For, when the sun rises and illuminates the whole earth, the void gains not in brilliance; and, when the sun sets, the void does not darken. The phenomena of light and dark alternate with each other, but the nature of the void remains unchanged. So it is with the Mind of the Buddha and of sentient beings. If you look upon the Buddha as presenting a pure, bright or Enlightened appearance, or upon sentient beings as presenting a foul, dark or mortal-seeming appearance, these conceptions resulting from attachment to form will keep you from supreme knowledge even after the passing of as many aeons as there are sands in the Ganges. There is only the One Mind and not a particle of anything else on which to lay hold, for this Mind is the Buddha. If you students of the Way do not awake to this Mind substance, you will overlay Mind with conceptual thought, you will seek the Buddha outside yourselves, and you will remain attached to forms, pious practices and so on, all of which are harmful and not at all the way to supreme knowledge.”

The Master makes numerous references to “the Void”. More often than not, the Void is imagined to be like some dark-hole of nothingness deep in the heart of space. The void is not nothingness, as if it is a blank absence of something. The void is devoid of all positive and negative phenomena. It is essentially empty of all attributes. In this sense it can be liken to Shūnyatā, or the emptiness of all that has no Self-Substance in itself but is always dependent upon some dichotomous other. Thus as the Master states, when the sun riseth the void does not set; nor does it rise with the moon in the evening. It is Absolute Changelessness that does not alter Its Essential Substance under any circumstances. Light and Darkness have no place in Its Unborn Stature; there was no “god” who once uttered, “Let there be the Void”, as It Is Forever in a stateless-state of Suchness bearing no-signs of the created order. It is the Imagelessness of the Dharmakaya; hence the Unborn Buddha Mind is the Imageless Mind of all Buddhas. The Master says that if anyone conceives of this Buddha Mind as exhibiting traits of brightness whilst at the same time conceiving of some “sentient” entity as having traits of foul darkness, then one has bifurcated their Unborn Buddha Mind into two opposing camps—neither of which is Self-Absolute. If one constantly seeks this Unborn Buddha Mind outside one’s own inner intuitive resourcefulness, then attachment to some kind of created-form or formlessness is inevitable; the Master says that it is the same for attachment to any devotional agencies, any form of which proves to be a hindrance that prevents one from intuiting Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi, thus far off the markless-mark of the Unborn.

4. “Making offerings to all the Buddhas of the universe is not equal to making offerings to one follower of the Way who has eliminated conceptual thought. Why? Because such a one forms no concepts whatever. The substance of the Absolute is inwardly like wood or stone, in that it is motionless, and outwardly like the void, in that it is without bounds or obstructions. It is neither subjective nor objective, has no specific location, is formless, and cannot vanish. Those who hasten towards it dare not enter, fearing to hurtle down through the void with nothing to cling to or to stay their fall. So they look to the brink and retreat. This refers to all those who seek such a goal through cognition. Thus, those who seek the goal through cognition are like the fur (many), while those who obtain intuitive knowledge of the Way are like the horns (few).”

The Master continues in relaying the utter futility of exclusively committing oneself to some form of devotional agency, any of which is inadequate to full Self-Realization of the Unborn Buddha Mind. He states that if anyone chooses to make incessant devotional offerings to “all the Buddhas of the universe”, such an action pales in comparison in making an offering to just “one follower of the Way” who has totally eliminated all of these conceptual constructs. Notice, though, that he’s not saying that to do so implies any offerings made to some kind of self-existent sentient follower of the way. As the Diamond Sutra would state, neither “the Buddhas of the universe”, nor “a follower of the Way” are truly really self-existent; indeed, both are constitutive of those conceptual constructs. One who adheres to the True Buddhadharma would “form no concept of either whatsoever.” The Absolute Substance of the Unborn Buddha Mind is inwardly “motionless” like a stone-statue; yet, since It is likened outwardly to the Void It is boundless in stature and can thus strike like, in one of Tozen’s phrases, a “Heaven-Blown-Lightning.” This Unborn Buddha Mind is neither objective nor subjective and It is location-less; indeed neither here nor there, but yet everywhere for those who can behold It with Imageless Eyes. The Master states that most are unwilling to even catch a glimpse of Its Void-like Stature. Why? Because there are no longer any conceptual frameworks one can grab hold of like a frightened child, cringing and clinging helplessly to its parent. As was stated in an earlier Blog Post (Our Lady of the Void), within this Great Deathless Void there is no-thing to see, no-thing to perceive, no-thing to grasp or cling to—just Total Unequivocal Relinquishment of all that is not the Unborn Absolute. Most just approach the brink of letting-go of their conceptual faculties, but pull back in fear lest they lose them all if they should plunge into that conception-less and thus Unknown Void. One needs to abandon all their skandhic-cognitive faculties—a true “letting-go” that empowers one to venture into the Great Unborn and Deathless Void. As Jesus the Christ once said, “narrow is the way; and how few there are who enter into it.” In other words, “wide” is the path of endless reliance on one’s own cognitive faculties and many are the mind-traps that will befall one; whereas few obstacles remain for those who eliminate conceptual thought all together and rely solely on one’ s inner-intuitive and Recollective Unborn Resourcefulness.

This entry was posted in The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, Zen and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*