The Three Methods

11. Q: You stated that Right Gnosis is the function of the Gateless Gate of Spontaneous Illumination—what do you mean by Gnosis?
A: The Gnosis that empowers one to break free from the chains of all duality. Its function is the very nature of voidness which is representative of the all-encompassing Substance; IT is free (void) from all that IT is not, whilst also celebrating the Fullness of Its own creative actuosity; thus the substance that undividedly generates non-dual Gnosis itself.
Q: How does one penetrate the gateless gate of this non-dual realization?
A: By way of the perfection of beneficence (dana-paramita).
Q: But how can this be? The Blessed One emphasized six paramitas that must be won on the Bodhisattva-path, yet you mention just this one; how, then, does this one empower us to enter through that gateless gate?
A: The deluded ones do not recognize that the other five emanate from just this particular one; thus, by its practice the others will be fulfilled.
Q: Please explain why it’s called the dana-paramita.
A: By being beneficent one is able to drop all former dualistic proclivities that prevent proper union with the Unborn.
Q: Please expound further…
A: It entails dropping all dualistic assertions, like being and non-being, existence and non-existence, love and hate, pure and impure; through beneficence one drops all these attachments and simply returns to the good of the One, or the Mind that is void of all that is not Itself. Our True Nature does not dwell on anything else whatsoever; hence, THAT which contains no foreign-thing is the nature of Absolute Reality—one which is revealed in the Tathagatakaya, or the perfect embodied mindfulness of the Tathagatas. As the Diamond Sutra states, those who have abandoned all formal realms and its myriad objects are Buddhas.
Q: Once again, however, the Blessed One did emphasize six paramitas—why do you seem to reject the other five for this exclusive one?
A: The Sutra of the Questions of Brahma states that Bodhisattvas who have dropped all former attachments fulfill the dana-paramita; thus, if there are no dharmas left, one is centered in quiescence. The worldlings become bogged-down with a myriad of attachments which keep them on the perpetual-wheel of samsara. I therefore exhort you adepts of the Unborn Way to stay centered in quiescence which brings to perfection the other five paramitas.

 Huangbo somehow goes beyond and completes this exhortation of his beloved master:

“As to performing the six paramitas and vast numbers of similar practices, or gaining merits as countless as the sands of the Ganges, since you are fundamentally complete in every respect, you should not try to supplement that perfection by such meaningless practices. When there is occasion for them, perform them; and, when the occasion is passed, remain quiescent. If you are not absolutely convinced that the Mind is the Buddha, and if you are attached to forms, practices and meritorious performances, your way of thinking is false and quite incompatible with the Way. The Mind is the Buddha, nor are there any other Buddhas or any other mind. It is bright and spotless as the void, having no form or appearance whatever. To make use of your minds to think conceptually is to leave the substance and attach yourselves to form. The Ever-Existent Buddha is not a Buddha of form or attachment. To practice the six paramitas and a myriad similar practices with the intention of becoming a Buddha thereby is to advance by stages, but the Ever-Existent Buddha is not a Buddha of stages. Only awake to the One Mind, and there is nothing whatsoever to be attained. This is the REAL Buddha. The Buddha and all sentient beings are the One Mind and nothing else.”

Huangbo says to completely transcend cultural and religious regulations. Practice the six paramitas, yes, but then afterwards simply remain quiescent (which is Huihai’s main thrust) in the Recollection of the Unborn Mind, which is all that is really necessary; in such fashion all the Paramitas will effortlessly unfold of their own accord. Awakening to the undivided Bodhimind is not one of satisfying any regulatory path, but only by Being-Undividedly-Aware (Bodhi); thus, it is not something to be attained but Self-Recollected. It’s a Recollection to the True Buddha Reality of one Undivided and Absolute Mindfulness.

12. Q: What are the three-methods of proper mind-formation?
A: They are the discipline of proper sutra-study, disciplined dhyana, and the proper fostering of Buddha-gnosis (holy prajña).
Q: Would you please further expound on each one?
A: Discipline of proper sutra-study will assure purity of mind and spirit. Disciplined Dhyana is a method that assures a one-pointedness of mind and spirit, empowering one to remain centered and undisturbed from the ravages of passing phenomena. The proper fostering of Buddha-gnosis reinforces that well-tempered mind and spirit, especially through its functional discipline of discernment—empowering one to rise above all defiled dharmata. Right-Gnosis is reached when one’s mind is clear yet has no oppressive-thought concerning this clearness. In this three-fold manner holy prajña makes one aware that they are indistinguishable within the Undivided Nature of the One Mind and Absolute.
13. Q: Once the mind settles into this state of purity, will it then become attached to this purity?
A: Once Mind’s Purity shines through refrain from clinging to any sense of purity, then you will be free from attachment to a lesser vintage than Mind’s own Shining.
Q: I have a similar question concerning mind’s abiding in voidness; will it not eventually become attached to this voidness?
A: If you have some shallow conception of “being in the Void”, then you will become attached to such a conception.
Q: When mind is no longer dwelling upon anything, will it eventually become attached to this non-dwelling?
A: As long as your mind is perpetually centered precisely on non-dwelling, then you are empowered not to become attached to anything. If you want to clearly discern this non-dwellingness, then while in deep samadhis refrain from all discriminatory thought and rest exclusively in Mind’s quiescence. Never sit in judgment upon past occurrences, what is past is past and should no longer be a frame of reference for you. Don’t be mindful over what the future will hold, the future has not yet arrived so why long for something yet to come; in this way any vexatious thinking about the future will cease to disturb you. Finally, whatever you are experiencing in the present, just continue to be non-attached to any ideas about the “here and now”; the present is always fleeting and never being mindful of any flashing thoughts and impressions will just disappear along the wayside. Hence, when there is no longer any clinging to the three-times, it will be like they no longer exist; why cling to passing phantasms? Should your mind begin to move in any direction, never follow along and eventually it will stop its meandering course. If you find your mind dwelling, being fixated upon anything or place whatsoever, cease to obey it and the obsessive mind-dwelling will soon dissipate of its own accord. Thus, when you clearly discern that your mind is resting on no-thing whatsoever, it’s then that you are fully awake and aware of your Original Mind of the Buddha. This is the Bodhimind, THAT which is unborn, uncomposed, undying and uncreated. If you have not yet Self-realized IT, then continue to persevere and practice diligently in the three methods. When your efforts reach Spiritual Fruition, then you will come face to face with your own Unborn and Undivided Self. Know, then, that when your mind is fully self-empty of all duality, freedom and the Nirvanic Mind is won.

This is my favorite passage from Huihai. I remember creating a separate webpage for these verses within my early website created for my Spiritual Direction Service, Discernment Pro Arte, in the late 90’s. Once mind is completely void of everything BUT the One Original Unborn Absolute, then one’s own spiritual path becomes complete. Sans past, sans future, sans even the present moment—only Mind’s Quiescent Suchness.

14. Q: Is the best way to nurture this meditative effort done only through sitting (zazen)?
A: In discussing the method of dhyana, I was not implying that it was meant to be exclusively deployed through just sitting. Rather, this stilling of the mind is meant to be employed also while walking, running, swimming, eating, and even lying down. To be actively aware that you ARE the Bodhimind in all your affairs.

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