Altar Sutra: On Prajna: Part 4

Those who understand the mind without thought will have experience of Awakening.

In the future, if an initiate in my school makes a vow to devote his whole life to practice the teachings of this ‘Sudden’ School, he will reach the path of Awakening. He should transmit the instructions handed down by the Patriarchs and should not hide the teachings.

I have a formless poem for you to recite. All should put this into practice, whether monk, bodhisattva, or laity. Listen to this poem:

A master of Buddhist texts as well as the teachings of the Dhyana School is like bright sunshine.

Zen/Ch’an/Dhyana are all the same word. This leads to confusion sometimes when people are unaware of this. Dhyana means deep meditation, so Hui-neng is referring to his sect as the Deep Meditation School.

Such a Master would teach nothing but the Dharma for realizing the true nature of things. Such a Master’s sole purpose is to eradicate delusion and suffering.

Some will attain Enlightenment more swiftly than others and that is simply the way of things.

To shine a light on our being, to illuminate ourselves, we should constantly set up the Light of Wisdom.

Deluded views keep us in delusion. Right views will clear away our delusion. But, when we are in a position to discard both right and deluded views, then we are pure.

The fundamental truths we are looking for are beyond duality. Our greatest delusion is duality, thinking we are separate from the world around us instead of part of an interconnected whole.

Enlightenment is always present as our true nature. An attempt to look for it outside of ourselves is unnecessary.

Within our impure mind resides the pure one.

And once our minds are dwelling in our true nature, we are free of the three positions.

The Three Poisons are Greed, Hatred, and Delusion. These are said to be the three weaknesses that commonly prevent us from recognizing our true nature.

If we are dwelling on the Path to Enlightenment, then we don’t need to worry about straying from the path.
As long as we can continue to recognize our own faults, we will make progress.

If you wish to find the true path to Enlightenment, right action will lead to it. But if you do not strive with diligence, you will never find it.

One who treads the Path doesn’t worry about the mistakes of others. If we judge others, we are also wrong.
When other people are wrong, ignore it. Judging others does not help.

We cut off a source of delusion when we stop judging others.

Those who intend to teach others should be skilled in various means of practicing the Dharma.
The Pure Land of the Buddha is in this world, the world in which seekers are searching for the way to Enlightenment.

To search for Enlightenment by being separate from the world is like looking for a rabbit’s horn.
Right views are called transcendental. Deluded views are called worldly.

When we can see without views, whether right or deluded, then we can manifest the essence of Enlightenment.

Before concluding, the Patriarch added., “No I have given the teachings of the Sudden School. May all beings of the Dharma realm instantly understand the truth and attain Enlightenment.”

After hearing what the Patriarch said, all of those present, monks, layman, taoists, and others, were all instantly Enlightened.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher living in Kansas City. He gives online teachings through the Open Heart Project. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal.

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