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
Pradhanashura broke the gravest precepts;
But he went on to
realize the unborn.
The Buddhahood he attained in that moment
with us now in our time.
The incomparable lion roar of the
How sad that people are stubbornly ignorant;
that crime blocks enlightenment,
Not seeing the secret of the Tathagata
Two monks were guilty of murder and carnality.
leader, Upali, had the light of a glow-worm;
He just added to their
Vimalakirti cleared their doubts at once
As sunshine melts
the frost and snow.
student must pass through the world of desires. In India a story is told
of a lotus flower that bloomed in the midst of fire. Like the lotus or
like the phoenix, a Zen student will rise from the ashes of his worldly
desires and vain regrets, never turning from his course toward
enlightenment. He will pay his karmic debts without question. The frost of
his doubt is melted by the warm sunshine of realization that illumines all
remarkable power of emancipation
Works wonders innumerable as the sands
of the Ganges.
To this we offer clothing, food, bedding,
Ten thousand pieces of gold are not sufficient;
break your body
And your bones become powder,
This is not enough for
One vivid word surpasses millions of years of
takes away unnecessary burdens and gives you nothing in return. If you
think you have attained anything in this Zendo, drop it at the gate and go
home with empty hands. There you will find yourself in an atmosphere of
peace. . . this is your power of emancipationt.
of the Dharma deserves our highest respect.
Tathagatas, innumerable as
sands of the Ganges,
All prove this fact by their attainment.
know what the Mani-jewel is:
Those who believe this will gain it
there is nothing to be termed great or small in Prajna, all people cherish
comparative thoughts until they are enlightened; therefore, Yokadaishi
says that the innumerable Tathagatas prove that Zen provides the most
direct route to wisdom for those who are strong enough to undertake this
path. Even though most people will avoid this steep, rocky course, those
who follow it make the choice themselves . . . they are not chosen by a
god, they are not accidentally a member of a favored race, nation, or
creed. Such superficialities have nothing to do with Zen. Each one of you
may become a Bodhisattva.
see truly, there is nothing at all.
There is no person; there is no
Innumerable things of the universe
Are just bubbles on the
Wise sages are all like flashes of lightning.
Christians find it difficult to erase the idea of a god separate from man;
although Buddhists know that Gautama Buddha was once a person like
themselves, most of them cherish the idea of becoming a Buddha only in
some future life. All are caught in the web of dualism, wisdom and
ignorance. Whatever you see, hear, smell, taste, or think, are the
phenomena of your subjectivity and objectivity. No matter how subtle or
refined these phenomena may be, Zen insists that you cannot attain
enlightenment as long as you are the slave of your dualistic
the burning iron ring revolves around my head,
With bright completeness
of dhyana and prajna I never lose my equanimity.
If the sun becomes
cold, and the moon hot,
Evil cannot shatter the truth.
carriage of the elephant moves like a mountain,
How can the mantis
block the road?.
king of China once killed a Buddhist monk who refused to marry the royal
princess. At the last moment the monk said: "These groups of four elements
have not belonged to me from the beginning. The five skandhas deceived
you, giving you the illusion of a body. Your sword may as well cut off my
head as this spring breeze blows the blossoms from the tree."
no miracle to save your life at the last moment, but it can give you
equanimity at all times. Just train yourselves in meditation to shut off
both your subjectivity and your objectivity. Then you can shut off your
subjectivity and melt into your objectivity, or shut off your objectivity
and live in your subjectivity. When you can open both your subjectivity
and your objectivity; carrying your day's work smoothly and happily, you
will be living in Zen. The teaching of Buddha is too simple, so people
hesitate to practice it.
"great-wheels" are Buddha-Dhamma, and the elephant is enlightenment. In
China, the mantis has always symbolized a person who overestimates his
power. Like a teacher who juggles the ancient names derived from religion
and philosophy, seeking to block the road to independent thought, the
mantis stretches his legs, but the elephant-drawn carriage rolls
great elephant does not loiter on the rabbit's path.
enlightenment is not concerned with details.
Don't belittle the sky by
looking through a pipe.
If you still don't understand, I will settle it
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