The Fundamental Principle

16. “On the first day of the ninth moon, the Master said to me: From the time when the Great Master Bodhidharma arrived in China, he spoke only of the One Mind and transmitted only the one Dharma. He used the Buddha to transmit the Buddha, never speaking of any other Buddha. He used the Dharma to transmit the Dharma, never speaking of any other Dharma. That Dharma was the wordless Dharma, and that Buddha was the intangible Buddha, since they were in fact that Pure Mind which is the source of all things. This is the only truth; all else is false. Prajna is wisdom; wisdom is the formless original Mind-Source. Ordinary people do not seek the Way, but merely indulge their six senses which lead them back into the six realms of existence. A student of the Way, by allowing himself a single samsaric thought, falls among devils. If he permits himself a single thought leading to differential perception, he falls into heresy. To hold that there is something born and to try to eliminate it, that is to fall among the Sravakas.1 To hold that things are not born but capable of destruction is to fall among the Pratyekas.2 Nothing is born, nothing is destroyed. Away with your dualism, your likes and dislikes. Every single thing is just the One Mind. When you have perceived this, you will have mounted the Chariot of the Buddhas.”

1 Huang Po, according to his usual custom, is using the word Sravaka to mean Hinayanist. Hinayanists are dualists in that they seek to overcome their samsaric life in order to enter Nirvana; while Zen perceives that Samsara is no other than Nirvana.

2 Huang Po customarily uses or misuses this word to mean the Madhyamikists or followers of the Middle Vehicle.

Reference is made yet again to the great Bodhidharma and his sole and resolute mission to teach the Buddhadharma—that great “wordless” transmission that reveals the Absolute Pure Mind of all Buddhas. Huang Po continues his own mission to proclaim that this Noble Mind Realization is the truth whereas all conceptualizations of the clouded-skandhic mind are false. Prajna itself unfolds the imagelessness of the Unborn Buddha Mind; and is hence a mystical-unspoken Dhyana that is all one needs when entering into deep samadhis in order to awaken (bodhi) within the sacred womb of Bhutatathata (Absolute Suchness). The puthujjanas are forever blinded by incessantly seeking Mind through the skandhic-riddled mind, that leads them into the perpetual regenesis of re-becoming in the darkened womb of the six samsaric realms of existence. The Master makes it emphatically and unequivocally known that any adept of the True-Mind-Path, through just one SINGLE SAMSARIC THOUGHT, FALLS AMONG DEVILS. He is not pulling any punches here; all obtuse-thoughts that emanate from the clouded-skandhic mind forever keeps one in the diurnal spin of differentiation—the hallmark of heresy in all Authentic Mind Schools of the unoriginated wordless, and image-less, Buddhadharma. Huang Po also makes a dire warning of becoming trapped between the two iron mountains of delusion—one that believes that something is born and hence can be destroyed; the other which states that no-thing is born, yet this no-thing-ness is still objectifiable and can be destroyed. Hence, there is no birth…there is no death…there is only THAT Deathless-Unborn. Once this is Self-Realized, one mounts the Chariot of all Buddhas and soars like Pegasus with Unborn wings over the abyss of time and space and dreams.

17. “Ordinary people all indulge in conceptual thought based on environmental phenomena, hence they feel desire and hatred. To eliminate environmental phenomena, just put an end to your conceptual thinking. When this ceases, environmental phenomena are void; and when these are void, thought ceases. But if you try to eliminate environment without first putting a stop to conceptual thought, you will not succeed, but merely increase its power to disturb you. Thus all things are naught but Mind–intangible Mind; so what can you hope to attain? Those who are students of Prajna1 hold that there is nothing tangible whatever, so they cease thinking of the Three Vehicles.2 There is only the one reality, neither to be realized nor attained. To say ‘I am able to realize something ‘ or ‘I am able to attain something” is to place yourself among the arrogant. The men who flapped their garments and left the meeting as mentioned in the Lotus Sutra were just such people.3 Therefore the Buddha said: ‘I truly obtained nothing from Enlightenment.’ There is just a mysterious tacit understanding and no more.”

1 Here used to mean Wisdom in the sense of Zen.

2 I.e. theThree Great Schools teaching gradual Enlightenment.

3 These people THOUGHT they had understood and were smugly self-satisfied.

Putting an end to conceptual-thinking allays the onslaught of all environmental-phenomena. The Master warns that if one tries to eliminate phenomenal outflows without first quelling the rabid dog of conceptualizations, one will only feed the beast all the more. Prajna teaches that there is truly no-thing attainable, there is only the One Mind that cannot be grasped by conceptualizations. Being unable to lay-down the untrustworthy and rusted sword of one’s own feeble mind realizations, one succumbs to arrogance and thus cuts one’s own throat. Once again, Huang Po makes use of the Buddha’s own admonition that NO THING is ever attainable, not even after Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi.

18. “If an ordinary man, when he is about to die, could only see the five elements of consciousness as void; the four physical elements as not constituting an ‘I’; the real Mind as formless and neither coming nor going; his nature as something neither commencing at his birth nor perishing at his death, but as whole and motionless in its very depths; his Mind and environmental objects as one–if he could really accomplish this, he would receive Enlightenment in a flash. He would no longer be entangled by the Triple World; he would be a World-Transcendor. He would be without even the faintest tendency towards rebirth. If he should behold the glorious sight of all the Buddhas coming to welcome him, surrounded by every kind of gorgeous manifestation, he would feel no desire to approach them. If he should behold all sorts of horrific forms surrounding him, he would experience no terror. He would just be himself, oblivious of conceptual thought and one with the Absolute. He would have attained the state of unconditioned being. This, then, is the fundamental principle.” 

1 This paragraph is, perhaps, one of the finest expositions of Zen teaching, for it encompasses in a few words almost the entire scope of that vast and penetrating wisdom.

I concur wholeheartedly with Blofeld’s footnote. This passage is the final summation of the Whole Noble-Teaching of the Tathagatas—one that hopefully prepares the weary samsaric sojourner for that great and FINAL BARDO MOMENT when death comes knocking at the door. Mind is totally Void of ANY phenomenal outflows—from every dark fear even to the apparent shape of Shining Buddha’s arrayed in the finest regalia. This passage bespeaks the great overcoming of BOTH the peaceful and wrathful imagery that confronts one in the final bardo stages before rebirth. If one simply remains quiescent in the Imageless Unborn Buddha Mind, then one can Un-conditionally embrace the Fundamental-Principle of the Dharmadhatu—fully awakening with the unclouded Bodhi-Mind to the Real looking at the Real, and thus returning to One’s True Nirvanic-Primordial Home.

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