Huangbo's No-Mind Seal

Zen Master Huangbo outlined a clear Ch'an (Zen) practice. He said in all instants of life to keep the mind of discriminating thought from arising.

When the mind of discriminating thought does not arise, the whole mass of "thoughts" is cut off all at once -- just as, when you cut off a samurai's topknot, you cut off all the hairs tied into it. Then various wrong notions can no longer afflict you and you can act naturally.

The teaching can be summed up in this way: Do not hold onto any notions; put a stop to the rising of all concepts and in a single instant see your self-nature clearly.

Give rise to the non-abiding mind, which in Japanese Zen is called Mushin.

Huangbo speaks of a "determination not to stamp anything" which is a special kind of stamp -- the stamp of space itself, which is really "no-stamp." Zen is not adding anything, but cutting off all grasping at "is" or "is not." Wonderful!

"The Bodhisattvas are determined not to accept or reject anything in the three worlds as well as in the state of Bodhi. They do not accept anything and are free from the influences of the seven elements; so they cannot be found in these seven elements. They do not reject anything and are not caught by external demons. If you hold onto something, a seal is formed to imprint the six worlds of existence and four types of birth. If you cling to the void, the imprint of emptiness appears. You should know that when one is determined not to stamp anything this seal is space which is nether unity nor diversity, for space, though void, is fundamentally not empty and because the seal is basically non-existent."

"This is called sweeping up dung so that you will not set your mind on anything, and if your mind stops arising you will realize great wisdom which will decisively prevent you from differentiating . . . Only when differentiating ceases can you be initiated into our Ch'an sect."

(Note that Huangbo's master P'ai Chang taught three stages of Ch'an. This teaching seems to be the background of Huangbo's somewhat mysterious remarks on the "no-seal." "Your actual introspection into your inner self-Buddha is the first excellent stage; your non-holding onto this introspection (realization) is the intermediate excellent stage; and your freedom from even this idea of non-holding onto it is the ultimate excellent stage." P'ai Chang said that to teach only one of these stages would plunge living beings into hell.)

1 comment:

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