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The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra


(Continued from issue #259)





The Master said, "If you understand the function of these thirty-six pairs of opposites, you can connect with all the dharmas of the Sutras; coming or going, you can stay away from both extremes."


If you can comprehend the functions of these thirty-six pairs of opposites, then you will be able to connect all the sutras and dharmas. All the sutras and dharmas arise from this principle. This way, you will not fall into either extremes. This means you have comprehended and arrived at the Middle Way.


When you act from your self-nature in speaking with others, be apart from appearances while in the midst of appearances and be apart from internal emptiness while in the midst of emptiness. If fully attached to appearances, deviant views will grow. If fully attached to emptiness, ignorance will grow. People who cling at emptiness slander the Sutras by maintaining that words should not be used. Since they insist on having no need of words, they should not speak as well, because written words are merely visual representation of a spoken language. They also claim that a straightforward mind is the Wayplace and don't establish words. Yet, 'don't establish' are two words right there. All of you should know that confusing yourself is your own business. Nevertheless, do not slander the Buddhist Sutras; or else, your offense karma will be boundless."


When function arises from your self-nature and you speak with others, be apart from appearances while in the midst of appearances, and from internal emptiness while in the midst of emptiness. If attached to appearances, both internally and externally, you will give rise to deviant knowledge and deviant views. If you are not attached to existence but grasp at emptiness, you will increase your ignorance. People who are attached to emptiness say, "Do not want anything. It is not necessary to study the Sutras. Since everything is empty, don't use words. Words are an attachment to appearances!" If that is the case, then the person who said 'do not use words' should not speak, because language is a verbal form of words. Words are simply the visible manifestation of spoken language. They also say, "A straightforward mind is the Bodhimanda. Don't establish words." Unless you quit speaking altogether, you still have language, and the phrase 'don't establish' is made up of two words. Whenever they see people using words, they slander them by saying that they are attached to words.

"All ten of you should remember this. Your own confusion is your own business." the Master added, "But if you slander the Buddhist Sutras, saying that they are devoid of merit and virtue, then the offense karma you have created knows no end!"


"One who clings to external appearances and practices dharmas in search of truth, or who builds many Bodhimandalas and speaks of the error and blunders of existence and non-existence will not see his nature for many eons. Listen to the Dharma and cultivate accordingly. Likewise, do not refrain from thinking, for that will obstruct the nature of the Way. Listening without cultivating will cause others to form deviant views. Simply cultivate according to the Dharma. Transmit dharma without dwelling on appearances. If you understand, then speak accordingly, function accordingly, practice accordingly, and act accordingly, and you will not stray from the principle of our school.


People who cling to external appearances and uses a false mind in search of truth, acting upon matters of attachment in pursuit of true principle, or building many Bodhimandalas, or speaking of the errors and blunders of existence and non-existence, such a person will not clearly see his/her self-nature for many eons. Just listen to the dharma I have spoken and cultivate the Way in accord with it. On the other hand, you should not refrain from thinking, for if you do, you fall into mulish emptiness, which creates obstacles within your self-nature along the path of cultivating the Way.

If you just listen to the dharma I taught but do not apply it in actual practice, you will cause others to form deviant views. You should cultivate according to the way I have instructed you and not become attached to appearances. If you understand the principles of my teaching and practice such principles when you speak the dharma, giving rise to transformational functions, truly cultivating the Way in accord with such principles, then you will not stray from our principle of Sudden Teaching.


If someone asks you to explain, and the question is about existence, answer with non-existence; if it is about non-existence, answer with existence; if it is about common people, answer with wise people; if it is about wise people, answer with common people. In each case the two principles are interdependent, creating the Middle Way. If you answer every question with an opposite, you will not stray from the basic principle. Suppose someone asks, 'What is darkness?' You should answer, 'Brightness is the cause and darkness the condition. When there is no brightness, there is darkness. Brightness reveals darkness and darkness reveals brightness.' Since opposites are interdependent, the principle of the Middle Way is established. Answer every question that way. In the future, when you transmit the Dharma, accord with the way I am instructing you. Then you will not stray from the tradition of our school."


When asked to explain a dharma, apply the pairs of opposites. When someone asks you the principle of 'existence', reply with the principle of 'non-existence'; of 'common people', with 'sagely people'; and vice-versa. Since in each case the two principles are interdependent, the principle of the Middle Way will arise.

By answering every question with an opposite, you will stay within the principle of Sudden Teaching. Suppose someone asks, 'What is darkness?' You should answer, 'Brightness is the cause, and darkness the condition of the effect. When there is no brightness, there is darkness. Brightness reveals darkness and darkness reveals brightness. Coming and going are interdependent. This establishes the principle of the Middle Way. Follow this principle in answering other questions as well. When you propagate the dharma in the future, follow this principle in turning the great dharma wheel. Teach and learn from each other. Do not stray from the authentic principle of our tradition.


In the seventh month of the year Zhengji, the first year of the Tai Chi and Yen He reign (ca 712 A.D.), the Master sent his disciples to Xin Zhou to build a pagoda at Gwo En Temple. He ordered them to hurry the work, which was completed by the end of summer the following year.



On the first day of the seventh month he gathered his disciples together and said, "In the eighth month I wish to leave this world. Those of you with questions and doubts should ask about them soon so that I may resolve them for you and put an end to your confusion, because when I am gone there will be no one to teach you."Hearing this, Fa Hai and the others wept. Only Shen Hui was unmoved and did not cry.


During the cyclical year Zhengji, the reign was renamed thrice. In the fifth month it was changed from Tai Chi to Yian He. In the seventh month the emperor abdicated in favor of his son and in the eighth month the reign was renamed Hsien Tien. Xin Zhou was the Master's hometown. Gwo En Temple was his former abode. The Master instructed his disciples to build a pagoda there in preparation to rest his body after his death. He ordered them to hurry up with this project. The construction was completed by the end of summer the following year.

On the first day of the seventh month, the Great Master rang the bell and beat the drum, summoning all his disciples to the dharma hall. "Pay attention!" he said. "In the eighth month of this year I am going to leave this world. If you have any questions or doubts, ask them soon so that I may resolve them for you and end your confusion. After I am gone, there will be no one to teach you. Are you aware of that? So, quickly bring forth your questions now."

Then, again it was Fa HaiíVnumber one! He only said, "Fa Hai and all others..."because everybody started crying after hearing the Master's words. Their eyes ran with tears and their noses ran with snot, just like children who have lost their mother and have no milk to drink. "Waaah! Waaah!" They wailed like babies. Some shed secret tears. Some cried openly. Some shed fake tears, thinking they would look bad if did not cry along with everyone else. There were both the genuine and the artificial, exactly like a play.
Only Shen Hui, the youngest one amongst them, did not cry. Was it because he was too young to understand or to care that he was about to lose a mother? Or, was he insensible? No, that's not it. Although young in years, Shen Hui's samadhi power was not small. He understood the principle of staying unmoved in every situation. Mencius was forty years old before he reached that level. With an unmoving mind, you --


Do not exult when praised, nor angered when criticized.
Do not rejoice when people say
you are vigorous in cultivation,
Nor annoyed when people say you are lazy.



However, when you are really lazy and someone scolds you, it is wrong if you say, "I have samadhi. Your scolding doesn't bother me at all." A genuine unmoving mind is like that of young Shen Hui. With a composed look, he neither rejoiced nor cried.



(To be continued ..)



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