5. “Manjusri represents fundamental law and Samantabhadra, activity. By the former is meant the law of the real and unbounded void, and by the latter the inexhaustible activities beyond the sphere of form. Avalokitesvara represents boundless compassion; Mahasthama, great wisdom, and Vimalakirti, spotless name.1 Spotless refers to the real nature of things, while name means form; yet form is really one with real nature, hence the combined term ‘spotless name’.2 All the qualities typified by the great Bodhi-sattvas are inherent in men and are not to be separated from the One Mind. Awake to it, and it is there. You students of the Way who do not awake to this in your own minds, and who are attached to appearances or who seek for something objective outside your own minds, have all turned your backs on the Way. The sands of the Ganges! The Buddha said of these sands: ‘If all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with Indra and all the gods walk across them, the sands do not rejoice; and, if oxen, sheep, reptiles and insects tread upon them, the sands are not angered. For jewels and perfumes they have no longing, and for the stinking filth of manure and urine they have no loathing.’”
1 This abstract notion of the Bodhisattvas, regarded by some sects as individual spiritual entities, is shared by some Buddhists outside the Zen Sect.
2 Zen teaches that, though the phenomenal world based on sensory experience has only relative existence, it is wrong to regard it as something separate from the One Mind. It is the One Mind wrongly apprehended. As the Hridaya Sutra says: ‘Form is not different from void, void from form; form is void and void is form.’
On several occasions The Master brings to mind the Great Bodhisattva Mañjushrī. Tradition has it that Mañjushrī supernally emanated from a Yellow-Ray of the Tathagata that eventually coalesced into a Blue Lotus Blossom from which he sprang, holding in his right hand the Sword of Wisdom and in his left hand that self-same Blue Lotus Blossom that housed the Revered Book of Wisdom. His Mystical Bodhi-Sword is able to pierce right through the densest levels of avidya whilst simultaneously wiping-clear the darkness of all evils with Luminous Unborn Light. Mañjushrī’s Book of Wisdom represents the full teachings and treasury of the Prajna-Paramita, although this is only the exoteric significance of that Great Book; esoterically, it holds far-greater significance and can only be utilized by Maha-Bodisattvas who, through profound Buddha-gnosis in deepest dhyana, intone the Book’s Sacred Mantras (dharanis) hidden within and that enhance their Buddha-gnosis a thousand-fold, as their learning curve is linked with the Transcendent and Illuminating Wisdom of the Tathagatas. This is why Mañjushrī protects that Sacrosanct Book with such eternal vigilance; the Book’s import is comparable to the Ark of the Covenant and anyone who attempts to misuse and abuse its hidden Noble Unborn Word is doomed to suffer dire consequences…not just anyone can break open its inviolate seals and benefit from the Buddha-gnosis therein. Those who invoke Mañjushrī are blessed with a greater spirit of determined diligence and mental acumen in the Ways of the Buddhadharma. This is why The Master says that Mañjushrī represents the Fundamental Law of that Self-Same Buddhadharma.
The inclusion here of Samantabhadra is also significant. Samantabhadra was covered extensively during our excursions into the Lankavatarian Book of the Dead and thus represents the Supreme Primordial Wisdom Buddha, whose “inexhaustible-activities beyond the realm of form and formlessness” is well noted by The Master. His inclusion of also Avalokitesvara and Vimalakirti as well bespeaks his immense reverence for the Maha-Bodhisattvas, whose boundless bodhipower initiates those spotless (imageless) qualities that are innately latent in one’s spirit. The Master says that anyone who turns their backs on the intuitive resourcefulness of these arcane inner qualities and chooses instead to bet their lives away, rolling the exoteric dice of discriminatory associations, are contumacious indeed; what Jesus the Christ referred to as a “stiff-necked” people. Love the Master’s imagery of the “Sands of the Ganges”; true, if one’s spirit becomes fully immersed in the Ways of the Buddhadharma, then like those sands they will become impervious to any external or internal vexations.
6. “This Mind is no mind of conceptual thought and it is completely detached from form. So Buddhas and sentient beings do not differ at all. lf you can only rid yourselves of conceptual thought, you will have accomplished everything. But if you students of the Way do not rid yourselves of conceptual thought in a flash, even though you strive for aeon after aeon, you will never accomplish it. Enmeshed in the meritorious practices of the Three Vehicles, you will be unable to attain Enlightenment. Nevertheless, the realization of the One Mind may come after a shorter or a longer period. There are those who, upon hearing this teaching, rid themselves of conceptual thought in a flash. There are others who do this after following through the Ten Beliefs, the Ten Stages, the Ten Activities and the Ten Bestowals of Merit. Yet others accomplish it after passing through the Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva’s Progress.1
1 These various categories of ten are all part of the doctrine as taught by certain other sects. Huang Po wishes to make it clear that, though these may be useful in preparing the ground, the mind must in any case take a sudden leap, and that having passed through these stages in nowise constitutes partial Enlightenment.
But whether they transcend conceptual thought by a longer or a shorter way, the result is a state of BEING: there is no pious practicing and no action of realizing. That there is nothing which can be attained is not idle talk; it is the truth. Moreover, whether you accomplish your aim in a single flash of thought or after going through the Ten Stages of a Bodhisattva’s Progress, the achievement will be the same; for this state of being admits of no degrees, so the latter method merely entails aeons of unnecessary suffering and toil.*”
* Merit, however excellent in itself, has nothing to do with Enlightenment..
Once again the Master hammers into the heads of his disciples the crucial factor of eliminating all cognitive constructs. In the spirit of the Diamond Sutra he emphasizes the futility of accumulating meritorious deeds, for those will get them nowhere in the Ways of Awakening to the Unborn Buddha Mind of the Tathagatas; even wearing the external badges of any of the Three Vehicles (Hinayana, Mahayana and Tantrayana) will not guarantee any iota of Enlightenment. The Master indicates that the actual “coming to-realization” may be sudden or gradual; in this light he does not advocate leanings or allegiance to any particular schools of sudden or gradual enlightenment. His inclusion of all the sundry “stages” of the various schools is a testament to that; this is why I beg to differ with Blofeld’s footnote here that seems to indicate that Huang Po advocated Unequivocal-Sudden Realization; although, spiritually, the initial impact of Awakening is Sudden in effect. Afterwards the “cultivation” of this Awakening needs to be continually and diligently undertaken. The Master does stress, however, that any of these proceedings should not be undertaken with the thought that eventually something will be attained;in this light he says that undertaking any methodology will certainly produce endless suffering anxiety and needless toil. Awakening is never attained, it is Self-Actualized.