Recently a question was asked about understanding of forgiveness from a Ch’an perspective. An aspiring Ch’an adept would learn soon enough that this is a totally meaningless question. For instance, the Diamond Sutra would ask, “Forgiveness from what and for whom?” From this realization forgiveness is a useless platitude. Even within the Catholic Confessional the priest “absolves” one from sin, but the actual “forgiveness” needs to be done by oneself, to be able to forgive oneself; absolvement implies totally erasing it—as if it was never there to begin with. The forgiveness factor is a personal thing for the apparent person—in this sense it’s a release from guilt and nothing more. So in actuality it’s a “skandhic-thing”. Yet we know that when the skandhas are disbanded there was really no-person in the first place. Hence, what need forgiveness?
What it all boils down to is karma, karma, karma! No-amount of self-forgiveness will ever totally heal the damage-done by some cruel action. All karmic-actions need to work themselves out, in their own particular manner. The offense, the karmic action, will eventually burn-itself out, but in its own timeframe—the greater the offense, the greater the karmic time factor involved. In Buddhist literature there is the story of Angulimala—a mass murderer who later became one of the Buddha’s most loyal disciples. Some form of apology is implied in Angulimala’s action and some form of absolvement is implied in the Buddha’s response—yet that still did not automatically-erase Angulimala’s evil karma; indeed, that would still need to work itself out, most likely through many, many lifetimes.
A good rule of thumb for Ch’an adepts is what Ryusui once said:
Emptiness is a name for nothingness, a name for ungraspability, a name for mountains, rivers, the whole earth. It is also called the Real Form. In the green of the pines, the twist of the brambles, there is no going or coming. In the red of the flowers and the white of the snow, there is no birth or death.
Joy, anger, love, pleasure—these are beginningless and endless delusion. Enlightenment, practice, realization—these are inexhaustible and boundless. Thus, emptiness is the name for nothing else; all things are the real form. In all worlds, in all directions, there is no second, no third.
Therefore, in the fundamental vehicle there is no delusion or enlightenment, no practice or realization. Even to speak of practice and realization is a relative view.
In our school, from the first entry, this point should be practiced whether sitting, lying down, or walking around. When sleeping, just sleeping, there is no past or future. When you awaken, there is no sleep either. This is called the Absolute Host.
In terms of this all dualities are transcended. Hence, in the white of the snow, there is no forgiveness. In the fundamental vehicle there is no forgiveness. The Absolute Host neither comes nor goes, IT simply IS AS IT IS. In the Absolute Host of the Unborn, what need forgiveness?