Sesshin Sutra Book
Translations/revisions by Robert Aitken Roshi
of the Diamond
Sangha Zen Buddhist Society,
Koko An, 2119 Kaloa Way, Honolulu, Hawaii,
Song on Realizing the
by Yung-chia Hsuan-ch'e (Yoka
doctrine of directness
Is not a matter for human emotion.
doubt this or feel uncertain,
Then you must discuss it with me.
is not the free rein of a mountain monk's ego.
I fear your training may
lead to wrong views
Of permanent soul or complete
no student to waste his time even for a second. If you have a koan, work
on it; if you have no koan, just count your breath. Do not acknowledge
doubt. Just keep on meditating. This is the only means of learning to walk
the Middle Way.
not being; non-being is not non-being;
Miss this rule by a hair,
you are off by a thousand miles.
Understanding it, the dragon-child
abruptly attains Buddhahood;
Misunderstanding it, the greatest scholar
falls into hell.
Saddharma-pundanka-sutra mentions an infant female dragon that attained
realization, and in the Mahaparinirvana-sutra is found the story of
Zensho, the learned disciple, who suffered the tortures of hell. But why
search the scriptures when we witness such examples every day of our
lives? Sex, age, and intellectuality have nothing to do with
youth I piled studies upon studies,
In sutras and sastras I searched
Classifying terms and forms, oblivious to fatigue.
entered the sea to count the sands in vain
And then the Tathagata
scolded me kindly
As I read "What profit in counting your neighbor's
My work had been scattered and entirely useless,
years I was dust blown by the wind.
student must spend more time in meditation than he does in reading. . .
even Zen books. Without your own experience you will be a stranger to Zen
and a philosophical tramp. Find your own treasure.
seed-nature is wrong, misunderstandings arise,
And the Buddha's
doctrine of immediacy cannot be attained.
Shravaka and Pratyeka
students may study earnestly
But they lack aspiration.
Others may be
But they lack prajna.
said, "By nature men are almost alike; by practice they are far apart."
Those who love all sentient beings will meditate to save them, thereby
developing their own character in Zen. The mind of Cravaka is ready to
listen to an enlightened man, but only to eliminate its own suffering.
Some study Zen to overcome weaknesses such as temper, cowardliness, and
excitability. These are selfish students. The mind of Pratyeka-Buddha is
also alert for study, but its motive is not altruistic. Non-Buddhistic
scholars have dualistic knowledge, which makes them intellectual, but they
lack Prajna and realize that their efforts will not bring mankind true
ones, childish ones,
They suppose there is something in an empty
They mistake the pointing finger for the moon.
They are idle
dreamers lost in form and sensation.
opens its closed fist to show that there is nothing within, spiritual
customers are lost. These people enjoy the intoxication of illusion, and
knowing nothing, they recite the scriptures and attend the services with
enthusiasm. They are idle dreamers, easily deluded, and their wrongly
developed characters find the abrupt system of emancipation difficult to
supposing something is the Tathagata.
This is truly called Kwan-Yin,
the Bodhisattva who sees freely.
When awakened we find karmic
hindrances fundamentally empty.
But when not awakened, we must repay
all our debts.
realize that nothing exists, everything being the manifestation of
Mind-Essence, which is also free of being and non-being, you are
Tathagata, the Enlightened One. The Enlightened One has to pay his karmic
debts just as anyone else does, but he does not worry about them nor does
he contract new debts.
hungry are served a king's repast,
And they cannot eat.
meet the king of doctors;
Why don't they recover?
The practice of
Zen in this greedy world
This is the power of wise vision.
lives in the midst of the fire;
It is never destroyed.
hunger satisfied when another eats? Is your thirst quenched when another
drinks? Are you rested when another sleeps? By whose efforts will you be
BookTable of Contents
Notes and comments
are lifted from the endnotes of the Empty Sky compilation of these Zen
Buddhist texts and The Syllabus section of Encouraging
Words - zen buddhist teachings for western students by Robert