There is no-environment in the Unborn

14. “If you students of the Way desire knowledge of this great mystery, only avoid attachment to any single thing beyond Mind. To say that the real Dharmakaya of the Buddha1 resembles the Void is another way of saying that the Dharmakaya is the Void and that the Void is the Dharmakaya. People often claim that the Dharmakaya is in the Void and that the Void contains the Dharmakaya, not realizing that they are one and the same. But if you define the Void as something existing, then it is not the Dharmakaya; and if you define the Dharmakaya as something existing, then it is not the Void. Only refrain from any objective conception of the Void; then it is the Dharmakaya: and, if only you refrain from any objective conception of the Dharmakaya, why,then it is the Void. These two do not differ from each other, nor is there any difference between sentient beings and Buddhas, or between samsara and Nirvana,or between delusion and Bodhi. When all such forms are abandoned, there is the Buddha. Ordinary people look to their surroundings, while followers of the Way look to Mind, but the true Dharma is to forget them both. The former is easy enough, the latter very difficult. Men are afraid to forget their minds, fearing to fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall. They do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm of the real Dharma. This spiritually enlightening nature is without beginning, as ancient as the Void, subject neither to birth nor to destruction, neither existing nor not existing, neither impure nor pure, neither clamorous nor silent, neither old nor young, occupying no space, having neither inside nor outside, size nor form, colour nor sound. It cannot be looked for or sought, comprehended by wisdom or knowledge, explained in words, contacted materially or reached by meritorious achievement. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, together with all wriggling things possessed of life, share in this great Nirvanic nature. This nature is Mind; Mind is the Buddha, and the Buddha is the Dharma. Any thought apart from this truth is entirely a wrong thought. You cannot use Mind to seek Mind, the Buddha to seek the Buddha, or the Dharma to seek the Dharma. So you students of the Way should immediately refrain from conceptual thought. Let a tacit understanding be all! Any mental process must lead to error. There is just a transmission of Mind with Mind. This is the proper view to hold. Be careful not to look outwards to material surroundings. To mistake material surroundings for Mind is to mistake a thief for your son.” 

1 The highest of the three Bodies, synonymous with the Absolute

2 There is a story of a man who mistook a thief for his long-lost son and, giving him a warm welcome, enabled the latter to sneak away with most of his possessions. Those who place reliance on material things are in danger of losing that most valuable of all possessions-the key to the riddle of life which unlocks Nirvana’s gate.

Huang Po asserts that the Void is synonymous with the Dharmakaya. Oftentimes the Void can be mistaken as an Objective-stand-alone phenomenon that is absent of everything else but still subsisting in itself alone. The Master asserts that this is another conceptual conundrum that needs to be transcended and that the best way to do this is to focus on the realization that the Void is the Dharmakaya, just as all other attributions like sentient beings and Buddhas are also One in the Dharmakaya. Another way of saying this is that all IS the Dharmakaya manifesting as one variable of the Absolute or another; of course, one need be careful lest they fall into the pantheistic-trap of believing that the Dharmakaya IS and “equals” everything else. That is a false understanding. It needs to be “turned-round”, everything is IN the Dharmakaya, but the Dharmakaya IS NOT IN everything else. That’s why he says that one cannot even use Mind to seek Mind since Mind subtracted from the Absolute as a stand-alone entity is non-existent and is not greater than the Absolute Mind in It’s essential Voidness. Once again the Master utilizes the analogy of men being fearful of letting-go of their conceptual minds lest they fall into the Void not realizing that this Voidness is the real Dharma-realm of the Dharmakaya. The Dharmakaya is indeed Void-like since It is no-thing nominal in stature—devoid of being and non-being, size and form, color and sound, ect. Thus the Dharmakayic-Mind is Nirvanic in scope and no-thing in the phenomenal world can outweigh Its own intrinsic Absolute-Stature. Huang Po says to just allow this to be a “tacit understanding” and never to allow any kind of conceptual-framework to mess-up the inner-workings of the Unborn.  To do otherwise one falls into the claws of Materialism, which the Master says is like mistaking a thief for one’s son—which translates as mistaking the Skandhic-Materialistic mind for one’s own inner-bodhichild, or the Noble-Child of the Pure-Absolute Mind Itself.

15. “It is only in contradistinction to greed, anger and ignorance that abstinence, calm and wisdom exist. Without illusion, how could there be Enlightenment? Therefore Bodhidharma said: ‘The Buddha enunciated all Dharmas in order to eliminate every vestige of conceptual thinking. If I refrained entirely from conceptual thought, what would be the use of all the Dharmas?’ Attach yourselves to nothing beyond the pure Buddha-Nature which is the original source of all things. Suppose you were to adorn the Void with countless jewels, how could they remain in position? The Buddha-Nature is like the Void; though you were to adorn it with inestimable merit and wisdom, how could they remain there?1 They would only serve to conceal its original Nature and to render it invisible. That which is called the Doctrine of Mental Origins (followed by certain other sects) postulates that all things are built up in Mind and that they manifest themselves upon contact with external environment, ceasing to be manifest when that environment is not present. But it is wrong to conceive of an environment separate from the pure, unvarying nature of all things.That which is called the Mirror of Concentration and Wisdom (another reference to non-Zen Mahayana doctrine) requires the use of sight, hearing, feeling and cognition, which lead to successive states of calm and agitation. But these involve conceptions based on environmental objects; they are temporary expedients appertaining to one of the lower categories of ‘roots of goodness’.3 And this category of ‘roots of goodness’ merely enables people to understand what is said to them. If you wish to experience Enlightenment yourselves, you must not indulge in such conceptions. They are all environmental Dharmas concerning things which are and things which are not, based on existence and nonexistence. If only you will avoid concepts of existence and non-existence in regard to absolutely everything, you will then perceive THE DHARMA.”

1 Other Buddhist sects attach great importance to the acquisition of merit and wisdom, but this implies a dualistic conception of reality which Zen considers an insuperable obstacle to realization of the One Mind.

2 This constitutes a warning against another type of dualism.

3 Roots of goodness are believed by some Mahayanaists to be ‘Enlightenment-potentials’ of varying degrees of strength with which individuals are reborn in accordance with the varying merits gained in former lives.

All antithetical notions like ignorance and wisdom co-exist in relative contradistinction to each other, but have absolutely no bearing on one’s essential Buddha-nature “which is the Original source of all things” and having no-conflicting bifurcations in Itself. The Master makes classic use here of Bodhidharma’s assertion that the Buddha made use of Dharmas in order to eradicate all conceptual Dharmas from the Absolute Plane of Pure-Mind Realization. Attaching any-thing on the Absolute Face of the Unborn can be likened to trying to attach jewels on the face of the Void—indeed, where would they hang? Huang Po masterfully draws one’s attention to the “Doctrine of Mental Origins” that postulates that ALL that is manifested in the created order are originally just fancies “built-up in Mind” and appear to exist when hitting the atmosphere of a relative-environment; but when that environment dissolves, they cease to manifest. It would indeed be wrong to even begin to assert that this relative environment is somehow self-existent apart from the Absolute. The Master then hones-in on all “Environmental Dharmas”, such as utilizing mental fabrications of all sensate-cognitive associative materials, that can bring one a sense of momentary bliss, but ultimately are self-empty and only appeal to the lower bhumis wherein one equates accumulated-merits as being the end-all of everything since they are collectively understood as essentially and karmically beneficial in the noosphere; whereas in the Absolute-Milieu of the Unborn they are perceived as Adharma and quite antithetical to the non-dual Buddhadharma.

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