“Within the teachings it is said that it is easy for one to believe if the karmic relationship with the teacher is right, and it is easy to enter if the karmic connection to the Way is right. Then no matter how hard I practice the kensho road to realization, I could not be expected to reach satori if my past karma were not right. Should I first try to practice a way that would set my karma right?”
Bassui: “It is evident that some people have a karmic inclination for the Way and others do not. Even if one were to preach the way of heretics, the way of evil spirits or of the lesser vehicle, those who have a karmic affinity with a teacher, even in a previous birth, will believe him and call him a great teacher. On the other hand, even if one were a Buddha or a patriarch, those who do not have a karmic affinity with him would neither believe what he says nor want to be near him. They would try to go far from where he dwells and slander him. During the time of the Buddha, there were some who slandered him and became disciples of heretics and demons. To follow either the right path or the path of heretics depends on your karmic inclination. Those whose karmic inclination led them to heretics learned the way of heretics and, along with their teachers, transmigrated through countless births, eventually ending up in timeless Avici Hell. Those whose karmic inclination led them on the right path ended up realizing their true nature and becoming enlightened. Thus people searching for a master should first clearly discern the orthodoxy of his way and the truth or fallacy of his attainment. If he is a man who has definitely understood the great Way, spare neither life nor fortune—go to him and receive his personal teaching. A truly good teacher, when speaking of the dharma of karmic change does not destroy people’s sight. He points directly to their minds, showing them their true nature and inducing the attainment of Buddhahood.”
Karmic affinities are twofold: relational and in direct innate-union with Source. The first of these is addressed above. There are karmic affinities in life. Someone may have karmic propensities even towards those whose preaching is heretical, even downright destructive. The Jim Jones case and Heaven’s Gate are an example. It never ceases to amaze me how even bright and articulate intellectual-types can fall prey to such nonsensical affiliations. Bassui provides great insight in that some way, shape or fashion, they are karmically-linked. Perhaps they have been so for many consecutive incarnations. On the other hand, even if someone with the stature of Gautama Buddha would appear and preach the Buddhadharma, there are those who have no-such karmic linkage. I know of many people who have no inclination to learn about Buddhism, let alone embrace it as a spiritual path. It simply just doesn’t connect with them. For myself, I’ve always sensed that if it ‘resonates’, then there must be something to it. There are many who are so calcified within their own belief systems that they in turn become ‘demons’ who would destroy all those who “do not resonate” with their own heretical notions. A contemporary example is ISIS; yea, the leaders and followers of this wretched stain on humanity most likely have played out their hate-filled scenarios for eons upon eons, always ‘finding each other’ time and time again to play-out their demonic designs to wreck havoc and terror. Bassui insists that to follow either the right path or the path of heretics depends on one’s karmic inclinations. When it comes to discerning an authentic-teacher in (Zen) Buddhism, it is indeed prudent to first test his/her sense of Orthodoxy in the Buddhadharma. Bassui then drives the point home that if this teacher does indeed resonate with the Buddhaic-Truths, then DARE to risk all and open yourself wholeheartedly to the teachings; especially if the teacher has the added charism of pointing directly to the One-Mind vehicle.
“When your karmic inclination for the dharma has manifested itself, it is easy to enter the Way. The teaching of heretics, the way of the lesser vehicle and of expedient means, are all established as temporary dharmas. Hence there will be those with karmic inclination toward these dharmas and those without such inclination. With the true dharma, however, there is not a single person who hasn’t the karmic inclination toward it. So whether he is a beginner or an older practitioner, layman or monk, it goes without saying that all who believe wholeheartedly will attain Buddhahood. When talking about it, therefore, we call it the right dharma, the original face of all Buddhas and ordinary people, the master of seeing, hearing, and perceiving. The eighty-four thousand skin pores, the three hundred and eighty joints, virtually the whole body is the dharma body. What ordinary person does not have karmic inclination for the Way? There is no ice or snow apart from water. The Buddhahood of ordinary people can be likened to snow and ice melting and becoming water. From the beginning nothing has ever been lost. If one says he has no karmic inclination toward the right dharma and first wants to practice a method to make this karmic connection, it is like a wave in the ocean searching for the ocean, saying it has no karmic inclination toward it and hence must seek out a means of making this connection. Isn’t it just like Yajñadatta searching for his head on top of his head, thinking he has lost it? So it is with Buddhas and ordinary people. They are like the water and its waves. Though they are not separated by as much as the width of a hair, because of the one mistaken thought—’I am ordinary’—they think that enlightenment is difficult to realize. While this thought becomes deeply set in their minds, a teacher whose level of understanding is no higher than their own comes along and because of his own ignorance says to laypersons that even a teacher like himself finds it difficult to practice Zen—so how on earth can they, lay people, ever be suited to this practice? He then preaches a fallacious way and creates karma that leads to hell. Therefore, people who preach to others without clearly seeing into their own nature are like the blind leading the blind.”
Bassui explicitly states that it matters not what karmic affiliations one has when it comes to Recollecting one’s own innate Buddha-nature. Although dormant, Buddha-nature is indeed inherent in all of us. There are no karmic ties associated with it as its innate nature is Uncomposed and Undying. We all share the same Original-Face. The Face that launched a thousand ships is an Unborn One. He also adds a salient caveat to all this: those who attempt to preach to others without first Recollecting their own innate Buddha-Self are indeed like the blind leading the blind. Ergo, there are many paths, yet truly blessed is the one whose search has ended in Self-Awakening.