Instruction in the Critical Essentials of Conjoint
“Mindfulness-of-the-Buddha” and Dhyana Meditation
By the Great Ming Dynasty Dhyana Master, Shrama.na Han-shan De-ch’ing
(1546-1623)
From The Record of Dream Wanderings (Syu-dzang Jing, 1.2.32 / 163b-164b)
Translation by Dharmamitra

As for [the practice of] mindfulness-of-the-buddha and the investigation of the hwa-tou (lit. “speech-source”), one should simply bring up the single phrase “Amitabha” to function as the hwa-tou and then right at that point where one brings it up one should apply the sentiment of doubt. As for what is being investigated, it is “Who is it that is mindful of the Buddha?” One then brings it up yet again and then investigates it yet again. One investigates it and then investigates once again. As for what is to be perceived, it is “Ultimately who is it that is being mindful of the Buddha?”

If one relies on and stabilizes the hwa-tou in this manner, then all false thinking and mental discursiveness is immediately cut off in a single stroke, just as if one were chopping off tangled strands of silk. One does not allow them to come forth again. Even the place from which they arose melts away. There remains only the singular mindfulness which is clear and distinct, solitary and bright, like the white sun dominating the [entire] sky.

False thoughts do not arise. Dimness and confusion naturally retreat. One is quiescent and alert. Great Master Yung-jya stated, “When there is quiescence with alertness, this is right. When there is quiescence with no recall, this is wrong. When there is alertness with quiescence, this is right. When there is alertness with discursive thinking, this is wrong.” This means to say that in one’s quiescence one does not fall into a drowsiness and “sinking” wherein one does not recall anything, nor does one maintain an alertness wherein one falls into false thinking. Alertness and quiescence flow along together whereas “sinking” and “floating” are both relinquished.

When one has looked into [the hwa-tou] to the point where not even a single thought arises, then both the past and the future are cut off leaving that which lies in between to abide naturally and solitarily. Then one suddenly breaks open and demolishes the “lacquer barrel.” One immediately perceives one’s original countenance. Then the body, mind and world are all leveled in a single stroke just as when images in a hallucination fall away [and disappear]. [Everything in] the ten directions appears as perfect and bright and becomes one great treasury of brilliant light.

When the situation comes to this point then this becomes the season of going home. That which manifests before one in daily actions is radiantly clear and perfectly bright. There is nothing more which can be doubted and one begins then to believe that one’s own mind is originally like this. Between the station occupied by the buddhas and patriarchs and that which one puts to use oneself, there is no duality and no distinction.

When one has arrived at this realm of experience, one must not seize upon a view which clings to emptiness. If one seizes upon a view clinging to emptiness one then falls into the evil views of the non-buddhists. Nor may one formulate a view which clings to existence. Nor may one take up knowledge and views [which cling to] the abstruse and marvelous. It is simply the case that wheresoever one retains a view, one then falls into an erroneous view.

If within the sphere of one’s application of meditative skill all sorts of experiential states manifest, one absolutely must not afford them any recognition or become attached to them. With a single scolding they immediately fade away. Bad experiential states need not be feared and good experiential states need not provoke joyfulness. These are just demonic [states] arising from the habitual propensities [of earlier karma]. If one becomes either distressed or joyful, one then [risks] falling into the sphere of the demons.

One should contemplate them as being only manifestations of one’s own mind and as not coming from outside at all. One should realize that within the mind there is originally not one single thing at all. Originally, there is neither confusion nor awakening. [The mind] does not belong to either the saints or the common person. Furthermore, how could one [actually] succeed in “obtaining” any off the different sorts of experiential states?

Now, on account of being confused with regard to this original mind, one engages in the application of meditative skill for the purpose of melting away one’s ignorance and habitual propensities, that’s all. If one awakens to the original mind’s originally being devoid of anything whatsoever, if one awakens to its originally being bright, vast, pure and tranquil, and if one carries on in this manner with the passage of time, then what further meditative skill would there be that one could apply?

People now need only trust that this mind is originally devoid of anything whatsoever while endeavoring in the application of meditative skill in a way such as has now been described. It is just that on account of having not yet perceived one’s original countenance, one cannot hold back from applying a course of intensively purposeful effort in meditative skill. Then one will be able to experience the season of going home. If from this point on one directly carries forth one’s endeavors, then one will naturally have that time when one suddenly perceives one’s own original countenance and becomes eternally devoid of any doubts that one will be able to go forth from the realm of birth and death.

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