Secrets on Cultivating Mind

This is our Drinking Gourd Institute Ango of Fall 2012 Dharma Study Text

Sectets on Cultivating Mind - Art By Shaon

Secrets on Cultivating the Mind

(by Zen Master Chinul, from the book Tracing Back the Radiance)

1. If people aspire to the path of buddhahood while obstinately holding to their feeling that the Buddha is outside the mind or the Dharma is outside nature, then—even though they pass through kalpas as numerous as dust motes, burning their bodies, charring their arms, crushing their bones, and exposing their marrow; even though they write sutras in their own blood, never lying down to sleep, eating only one offering a day in the early morning; or even though they study the entire Tripitaka and cultivate all sorts of ascetic practices—this is like trying to make rice by boiling sand: it will only add to their tribulation. If you would understand your own mind, then without searching, approaches to the Dharma as numerous as the sands of Ganges would all be understood. As the World-Honored One said, “I see that all sentient beings everywhere are endowed with a tathagatha’s wisdom and virtue.” He also said, “All the illusory guises in which sentient beings appear take shape in the sublime mind of the Tathagatha’s complete enlightenment.” Consequently, you should know that outside this mind there is no buddhahood which can be attained.
All the buddhas of the past were merely persons who understood their minds. All the sages and saints of the present are likewise merely persons who have cultivated their minds. All future meditators should rely on this dharma as well. I hope you who cultivate the path will never search outside. The nature of the mind is unstained; it is originally whole and complete in itself. If you will only leave behind false conditioning, you will be “such”—like the Buddha.

 2. Consider sudden awakening: When people are deluded, they assume that the four great elements are the body, and the false thoughts are the mind. They do not know that their own nature is the true Dharma-body; they do not know that their own self-illuminating awareness is the true Buddha. They look for the Buddha outside  their mind. While they are thus wandering aimlessly, the entrance to the road might by chance be pointed out by a wise advisor. If, in one thought, they then follow back the light of their mind to its source, and see their own original nature, they will discover that the ground of this nature is innately free of defilement, and that they themselves are originally endowed with the non-outflow wisdom-nature which is not a hair’s-breadth different from that of all the buddhas. Hence it is called sudden awakening.
Consider gradual cultivation: Although people have awakened to the fact that their original nature is no different from that of all the buddhas, the beginningless habit-energies are extremely difficult to remove suddenly, and so they must continue cultivation while relying on this awakening. Through this gradual permeation, their endeavors reach completion. They constantly nurture the sacred embryo, and after a long time they becomes a saint. Hence it is called gradual cultivation.! This process can be compared to the maturation of a child. From the day of its birth, a baby is endowed with all the sense organs just like everyone else, but its strength is not fully developed. It is only after many months and years that it will finally become an adult. Hence sudden and gradual cultivation are like the two wheels of a cart: neither one can be missing.

 3. Some people do not realize that the nature of good and evil is void; they sit rigidly without moving and, like a rock crushing grass, repress both body and mind. To regard this as cultivation of the mind is a great delusion. For this reason it is said, “Hearers-of-the-teaching cut off delusion, thought after thought, but the thought that does the cutting is a brigand.” If they could see that thoughts of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and lying all arise from the nature of mind, then their arising would be the same as their non-arising. At their source, they are calm; why must they be cut off? As it is said, “Do not fear the arising of thoughts: only be concerned lest your awareness of them be tardy.” It is also said, “If we are aware of the thought at the moment it arises, then through that awareness, it will vanish.”