Quiescence within Activity

[Section 4: Quiescence within Activity]

When you have clearly seen emptiness at all times, whether walking, standing, sitting, lying down, and even when eating, [4.26] you must then reflect as follows: “The Dharma is without duality, but if I am now using the mind to see emptiness, this would constitute a duality [between mind and its object]; who, then, [4.27] is able to see emptiness?” In this way turn your gaze back onto the emptiness-[perceiving] mind itself, which is [in truth] entirely devoid of any conceptualization of “emptiness.” Diligently gazing without cease, the mind [4.28] will become still of itself and concerning this stillness you will not even form the idea “stillness.”

When all mind-discriminations cease,
The Unborn shines with no-thing arising nor cessating.
Subjective allusions vanish as objective patterns subside,
Thus the two dissolve-away in deep quiescence. (Hsin Hsin Ming series)

Within your [still] mind you may see a buddha, or two [5.1] buddhas, or anywhere up to buddhas as numerous as motes of dust, or palace, towers, and various such things from the Pure Land [5.2] filling the universe. You may see all kinds of miraculous things such as flowering trees and flag strewn stupas. [5.3] You may even hear the buddhas preach the Dharma, with the buddhas asking you questions and you questioning the buddhas, and as a result [5.4] you may gain still further realizations. Or you may see your own body multiply, or see that before each [buddha] there is one [5.5] copy of yourself, each making offerings to [its respective] buddhas, the light from your bodies entering the bodies of these buddhas and the light [5.6] of these buddhas entering your bodies. Or else, you may see yourself to be without a body, or having the body of a bodhisattva [5.7] or an eminent monk.

Having seen such things, contemplate them as empty. As you attend to them [as empty] they will become [5.8] empty. When they have become empty, you will again become quiescent. If within this quiescence you still see such kinds of miraculous things, again [5.9] straightway contemplate them as empty. When they have become empty, you will again become quiescent. Make emptiness and quiescence merge with each other until your mind gains total mastery [5.10], “Quiescence” refers to the mind being without thoughts. The quiescence of the saint is like fire; that of the ordinary being is like [mere] warm air. For this reason a scripture says: “Seek always to be without thoughts; [5.11] this is the wisdom that knows the true nature of things.” And this scripture also says: “When you remain always practicing empty quiescence, without purposive activity, then [5.12] in a single moment of thought you awaken to the Dharma taught by buddhas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges.

The aim here is to escape from the movement of phenomenal life into a state of absolute Quiescence, a condition in which all emotion and all concrete thought is forever stilled. The means of attaining this Quiescence is profound meditation (Biguan), or a perfect still-point in one-pointedness of Mind.  In this fashion Quiescence realized to its fullest extent will directly result in enlightenment. The Sutra of Primordial Enlightenment perfectly fleshes out the Bodhisattva-stages in coming to this full quiescent realization.

This “mind of quiescence” is, furthermore, exactly what is referred to by the passage in the Vimalakirti Sutra that says “constantly [5.13] being in samadhi” [and which says] that if one enters samadhi one will “see all Buddha lands ‘buddha’ here means all the buddhas; ‘lands’ means to see [5.14] all their pure lands as without duality.” This means that one should contemplate all the buddhas and their lands as entirely empty.

[On the other hand,] you might see the buddhas, [5.15] their lands, your own body, and all living beings on the six paths of rebirth each as having no marks of difference [from one another]. That is, you do not characterize them as superior, inferior, lofty, or low. Then you need not [5.16] contemplate them as empty. This is why [elsewhere] the [Vimalakirti] Sutra says: “Make offerings to the innumerable [5.17] tathagatas of the ten directions; these buddhas and you yourself are without distinction.”

The Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra states, “Liberation is what I call ‘quiescence.’ True quiescence is ultimate liberation, and ultimate liberation is precisely what the Tathāgata is.” This is the hallmark of what the reference to the above passage from the the Vimalakirti Sutra that says “constantly [5.13] being in samadhi”. Wŏnhyo indicates that this is the returning to that “single taste”, or Original Quiescence.

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