The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra

(Continued from issue #265)

On the third day of the eighth month of the year Gui Chou, the second year of the Xian Tian reign (A.A. 713), after a meal in Guo En Temple, the Master said, "Each of you take your seat in proper order, for I am going to say goodbye."
Fa Hai said, "What teaching dharma will the High Master leave behind so that confused people can be led to see the Buddha-nature?"

The Great Master (Sixth Patriarch) instructed his disciples to take their seats. In Buddhism, everything has a proper order. Those who first take the precepts stand or sit in front of those who take them later. The rank in seniority follows the time you took the precepts.

Fa Hai was an elder amongst the Six Patriarch's disciples and highest in hierarchy. Hearing that the Sixth Patriarch was about to depart, he acted as spokesperson, as usual. "What Dharma will you leave us, High Master, so that the deluded ones of future generations can clearly understand the mind and see the nature?"

The Master said, "All of you listen carefully. If the deluded ones of future generations recognize living beings, they will have perceived the Buddha-nature. If they do not recognize living beings, they may seek the Buddha for many eons, yet find it difficult to encounter the Buddha. I will now teach you how to recognize the living beings within your mind and how to see the Buddha-nature there. If you wish to see the Buddha, simply recognize living beings, for it is living beings who are confused about the Buddha and not the Buddha who is confused about living beings. When enlightened to the self-nature, the living being is a Buddha. If confused about the self-nature, the Buddha is a living being. When the self-nature is impartial, the living being is the Buddha. When the self-nature is iniquitous, the Buddha is a living being. With thoughts that are devious and malicious, the Buddha is a living being. With one straightforward thought, the living being becomes a Buddha. There is a Buddha in our self-nature, that self-nature Buddha is the true Buddha. If the mind does not have its own Buddha, where can you seek the true Buddha? Your own minds are the Buddha; have no further doubts. Nothing can be established outside the mind, for the original mind produces the ten thousand dharmas. Hence, the Sutras say, 'With the arising of the mind, all dharmas are produced; with the cessation of the mind, all dharmas are extinguished.' Now, in parting, I will leave you a verse called 'Verse of the Self-Nature's True Buddha'. People of the future who understand its meaning will see their original mind and realize the Buddha Way.

The Master said, "All of you should listen attentively. In the future, people who recognize living beings recognize the Buddha-nature. People who do not recognize living beings do not recognize the Buddha-nature. If you do not recognize living beings and set out in search of the Buddha, you will not find the Buddha even if you spend a hundred thousand great kalpas in your search. If you want to find the Buddha, you must look among living beings. Bodhisattva Never-Slighting bowed before everyone he met because he deemed everyone is a Buddha; thereby, he attained Buddhahood himself. If he regards everyone as a demon, he himself would become a demon.

I now teach you to recognize the living beings within your own mind and to see the Buddha-nature of your inherent mind. Do not seek outside. If you wish to see the Buddha, you must first respect living beings and recognize them as the Buddha; then you have understood the mind and seen your self-nature. Confused living beings do not recognize the Buddha, but the Buddha recognizes living beings. If your inherent mind is enlightened, you are a Buddha. If you are stupid and do not understand or awaken, you are a living being even if you are originally a Buddha. Your inherent Buddha-nature is impartial. When you regard living beings with true impartiality, living beings are Buddhas. If you are iniquitous and only focus on other people's faults, even if you are a Buddha, you turn into a living being. Living beings and the Buddha are apart by a single thought. If you are not straight-minded but crooked, then the Buddha is a living being. If you have a straight mind, living beings become Buddhas. Within everyone's mind dwells a true Buddha. Your self-nature Buddha is the True Buddha. If you have no Buddha in your mind, then where can you find the true Buddha? True Buddha must come from the true Buddha in your mind. The Buddha is the mind; the mind is the Buddha. With proper thoughts, you are a Buddha; with deviant thoughts, you are a demon. Giving rise to clean and pure thoughts, you are a Buddha; having defiled thoughts, you are a demon. It all depends on the thoughts that arise in your mind. If you can purify your mind, that is the real Buddha. If your mind is impure and filthy, and does not have proper mindfulness or a Buddha-mind, then where can you find the True Buddha? You'll never find him. Hence, it is said: The Buddha sits in your mind.

Your inherent mind is the Buddha; do not seek the Buddha outside. Moreover, do not have any doubts. If you seek outside, there is nothing upon which to establish your success. The myriad dharmas all arise from your mind. Therefore, the Sutras say, 'With the arising of the mind, all dharmas are produced; with the cessation of the mind, all dharmas are extinguished.' As stated:

The Buddha spoke all dharmas
To deliver us from all kinds of minds.
Without the multitude of minds,
What use would the dharmas be?

Nothing is apart from the self-nature. Nothing is apart from your own mind. In parting, I now leave you a verse ¡V Verse of Self-Nature's True Buddha. All of you should pay attention to this verse. This verse is the most important part of the Platform Sutra. This verse is superb!

The Sixth Patriarch imparted this verse not just for people of his day, but also for us, the present generation of people who cultivates of the Way. He had foreseen you would all be here listening. Therefore, we all have a share and we should cultivate according to this verse. Since we are all 'people of future generations', not animals of future generations, we have a share of the verse. The animals of future generations will have to be reborn as people before they can have a share. The Sixth Patriarch spoke this verse for people, not for animals. Animals who wish to become Buddhas must first be reborn as human beings. Now, we should not forego this opportunity to become Buddhas.

The verse runs:

True Suchness self-nature is the true Buddha.
Deviant views and the three poisons are the demon king.
In times of deviant confusion, the demon king is in the house.
When you have proper views, the Buddha is in the hall.
With deviant views in one's nature, the three poisons arise,
It is the demon king dwelling in the house.
Proper views cast out the three poisons of the mind,
The demon turns into a Buddha¡Vtrue, not false.
Dharma-body, Reward-body and Transformation-body,
three bodies yet fundamentally one.
Seeing that for yourself within your own nature
It is the Bodhi-cause for realizing Buddhahood.
Pure nature originally arises from
the Transformation-body.
Pure nature is constantly within
the Transformation-body.
Pure nature makes the Transformation-body
walk the Proper Path.
In the future, absolute perfection is truly without end.

What is called True Buddha? Every person has a True Suchness self-nature, also called the real mark, the Tathagata Treasury, the Buddha-nature. True Suchness is your self-nature; your self-nature is your True Suchness. Your self-nature's True Suchness is the true Buddha. Having recognized the True Buddha, you should know what the demon king is. Your deviant views and your three poisons are your demon king. The three poisons are your deviant views; your deviant views are the three poisons. The three poisons are present when there are deviant views. That's the demon king. The three poisons are greed, hate, and delusion. Greed for riches, greed for sex, greed for anything is nothing but poison. If people who have left the home-life climb on conditions and covet for more followers, that belongs to the three poisons. You see, we have been here for a long time and those who took refuge did it out of their own volition. If they don't want to take refuge, no one coerced them. If I told you to take refuge with me, you might ask, "Are you qualified to be my master and Good Knowing Advisor?" Then, I have nothing to say. I don't know whether or not I am a Good Knowing Advisor, and so I do not go about calling people to take refuge with me.

In moments of deviant confusion, ignorance is produced. With ignorance comes love and desire. With love and desire, the demon king is dwelling in your house. If you have proper views and free from greed, hate, delusion, deviant knowledge and deviant views, and you have thoroughly swept clean your mind, then the Buddha is in the hall.

The Buddha and the demon are both manifested from your self-nature. When you hold deviant views, the three poisons arise, and the demon comes to dwell in your house. What is your house? Your body. When you uphold proper views, the three poisons are expelled. Without the three poisons, the demon becomes a Buddha. This principle is most genuine, not bogus. Upholding only proper views, that is the Buddha. Harboring deviant views, that is the demon.

Although spoken of as three, the clear, pure Dharma-body, the perfect, full Reward-body, and the hundred thousand myriads of Transformation-body are fundamentally one. These three bodies are transformed from your one body. Hence, "Three in one, one in three." Three bodies are fundamentally one; one body encompasses all three. If you see the true Buddha within your self-nature, that is the Bodhi-seed which will attain Buddhahood in the future. If you have the Bodhi-seed, you will certainly attain Bodhi-fruition, meaning to say, you will become a Buddha.

Your original self-nature originates from your transformation-body giving rise to a clean and pure self-nature. Your clean and pure self-nature, your clean and pure Dharma-body, is within your Transformation-body. Your own self-nature can make your Transformation-body walk the Proper Path and perfect your Bodhi self-nature in the future. This measure is indeed inexhaustible.

(To be continued ..)