06 Aug Re-Establishing the East Mountain School of Zen Teaching
(Excerpt from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, expounded by Master Shen-Long, Chapter 1 Cultivation Cause, pg. 83)
Yin-Zong asked again: What is the one undivided truth of the teachings of the Buddha?
Hui-Neng said: “The Master explains the Nirvana Sutra, and clearly understands that Buddha-nature is the one and undivided teaching of Buddha. Just like in the scripture where the Grand Virtuous King Bodhisattva asks the Buddha: “What about people who violate the four prohibitions, or commit the five crimes or sins*, or are beings in the hell world, do they cut off their good roots and their Buddha nature?” The Buddha replied: “There are two kinds of good roots: permanent and impermanent. Buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent; therefore, it can never be cut off, it is addressed as one and undivided.” Good and not good are both discriminated by unenlightened people. Buddha-nature fundamentally does not exist as either good or not good, it is non-duality. The five skandhas (the components of an intelligent being) and 62 categories in the development of a Buddha are from the views of affliction, the views of affliction for the common people are seen as dualism. The enlightened one who has beheld one’s Buddha-nature, knows the fundamental essence are one, good or not good are all manifested from there. Our Buddha-nature never changes; the non-dualistic nature is Buddha-nature.”
After Yin-Zong heard this, he was very pleased and put his palms together in homage to Hui-Neng. He said: Someone explained this sutra in the way of broken tiles and rubble, however after hearing the explanation from you, a man of virtue, it is pure gold.
As a result, he shaved Hui-Neng’s hair ceremonially to make him a full monk, and delighted to have Hui-Neng as his teacher. Hui-Neng succeeded in starting the school of the East Mountain Teaching* under the Bodhi Tree.
Explained by Master Shen-Long:
Yin-Zong asked further: “How can the teachings of Buddha be one and undivided?” Hui-Neng said: “The master expounds the Nirvana Sutra and knows that Buddha-nature is the one and undivided teaching of Buddha.” Buddha-nature and the teachings of the Buddha are both the pure self-nature’s fundamental essence. Therefore, it is non-duality.
Just like in the scripture where the Grand Virtuous King Bodhisattva asks the Buddha in the Nirvana Sutra; the Sixth Patriarch is inconceivable because he is illiterate how does he know about this.
The one who behold’s Buddha-nature within oneself has omniscient ability. We have even recited the sutra for so many years and still have a hard time to remember; how come he knows? He can immediately refer to it, how come? Today, if you behold your Buddha-nature, then you are clear about all phenomena. Since you are in this wave motion and energy, all images of other people’s activated mind with arising thought will appear in the space of existence. So Hui-Neng does not need to read the Nirvana Sutra personally; he just sees the mind images of Master Yin-Zong reciting the Nirvana Sutra and he knows.
What about people who violate the four prohibitions, or commit the five crimes or sins*, or are beings from the hell world, if these are committed by a monk or nun, according to sutra, they are unable to become Buddha because their virtuous roots have already been cut.
The Buddha replied: “There are two kinds of good roots: permanent and impermanent. Buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent”; speaking about “permanence” which is “there is not a single thing originally, where can there be any dust.” Self-nature is fundamentally pure; so regardless of how you reincarnate or commit crimes, the good root is never cut. From the aspect of “impermanence”, it also means “without impermanence” which includes two meanings: One, that the virtuous root sometimes appears and sometimes extinguishes; Second, the virtuous root is eternally apart from the condition of permanence which indicates that it is not within the confinement of permanence or impermanence, so it exists eternally.
Previously, we mentioned the condition of “permanence”; according to the way of worldly customs it does exist. However, from the perspective of Buddha-nature, the virtuous root neither exists nor non-exists. Buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent which is separate from the relativity of opposites because permanence and impermanence are opposites, therefore, you should detach from them both. Therefore, it can never be cut off, once detaching from either good or no good, then the pure mind is naturally uninterrupted. The pure mind contains and stores all virtuous roots and blessings arise from good deeds, the natural affinity; this is called the one and undivided.”
The enlightened one who has beheld one’s Buddha-nature, knows the fundamental essence are one, the fundamental essence is non-duality just like Buddha-nature can either become a good condition or also an evil condition; so good or evil are all manifested from it. Does Buddha-nature itself change? No, Buddha-nature is eternally unchanging. The non-dualistic nature is Buddha-nature, Buddha-nature is indeed one and undivided.
*Five crimes or sins are: 1) intentionally murdering one’s father, 2) intentionally murdering one’s mother, 3) killing an Arhat (an enlightened person), 4) shedding the blood of a Buddha, and 5) creating a split within the community of monks and nuns who try to attain enlightenment.
*The East Mountain Teaching is the authentic Zen (chan) Buddhist teachings that started from the Fourth Patriarch Daoxin, to the Fifth Patriarch Hongren, to the Sixth and last Patriarch Hui-Neng.
宗又問：「如何是佛法不二之法？」惠能曰：「法師講涅槃經，明佛性是佛法不二之法。如高貴德王菩薩白佛言：「犯四重禁，作五逆罪，及一闡提等，當斷善根佛性否？」佛言：『善根有二：一者常，二者無常；佛性非常非無常，是故不斷，名為不二。』一者善，二者不善；佛性非善非不善，是名不二。蘊之與界，凡夫見二，智者了達其性無二；無二之性，即是佛性。」印宗聞說。 歡喜合掌。 言某甲講經。 猶如瓦礫。 仁者論義。 猶如真金。於是為惠能剃髮。 願事為師。惠能遂於菩提樹下開東山法門。
印宗間:佛法,怎麼樣才是不二呢?惠能答:法師講涅槃經,知道佛性是佛法不二之法, 是一不是二, 佛性、佛法都是清淨自性本體, 所以是不二。
「如高貴德王菩薩白佛言」, 六祖很妙, 他不識字, 他怎麼知道? 見性的人很奇怪, 無所不知, 無所不曉。我們今日念經, 念個半天都記不住,那他怎麼知道?他馬上舉例子。 為什麼?如果你今天見性,所有一切相都清清楚楚。你現在這波動中,在這能量中。你所起心動念的一切相都會顯現在虛空中。他不用看涅槃經,他只要看印宗誦涅槃經,他就知道了,他有這個相嘛。
「犯四重禁，作五逆罪，及一闡提等。」犯了五逆重罪,這是出家人犯的；及「一闡提」是地獄; 這些人在經中來講是無法成佛之人, 斷了善根之人。「當斷善根佛性否? 」 是不是斷了善根之人?