Daoxin’s Teaching to Farong

I translated this snippet from the Records of the Transmission of the Lamp:

Farong was from Yanling in Jiangsu Province, and his family name was Wei. At nineteen, he was already conversant in the Confucian Classics and Histories. He studied the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra and grokked True Emptiness.

One day, sighing, he suddenly exclaimed, “The Confucian way only speaks of worldly rules, it doesn’t get to the bottom of the truth. Prajna is the proper way to navigate the ocean birth and death.”

So, he hid away on Mount Mao, cut his hair, and studied with a teacher. Then he went to Oxhead Mountain, where he lived north of Yuqi Temple in a cave set in the rock face.

The Fourth Ancestor, Daoxin, was traveling on the mountain and asked a monk, “Is there a person of the Way here?”

The monk replied, “We’re all home-leavers, so we are all people of the Way.”

“In that case,” Daoxin said, “What is a person of the Way?”

The monk didn’t know what to say.

Another monk said, “If you go up the mountain about three miles, you’ll find here’s Lazy Rong there. If he sees someone, he doesn’t rise or bow to greet them. But, he can’t be the person of the Way you’re looking for, can he?”

The Ancestor then made his way up into the mountain, and saw the teacher sitting upright, composed and at ease, not paying attention to anything around him. The Ancestor spoke and asked, “What are you practicing?”

The teacher replied, “Observing the mind (Guanxin).”

”Who is this one observing? What sort of thing is, ‘mind?’”

The teacher didn’t have a suitable answer. He rose from the practice and bowed. The teacher said, ”Where is the venerable staying?”

“Without picking a place, I might go East, I might go West.”

The teacher asked “Do you know Chanshi Daoxin?

”Why do you ask about him?”

“I’ve respected his virtue for a long time, and hope for one visit with him.”

”I am Chanshi Doaxin.”

The teacher asked, “Why have you come down here?”

The Ancestor replied, “I have my reasons. Is there somewhere we can rest?”

The teacher pointed behind and said, “There’s a small hut out back.” Then he brought the Ancestor to the tiny hut. Around the hut, there were only tigers, wolves, and such to meet. The Ancestor held up his hands and pretended to be terrified by the situation. The teacher asked, “You’re still like this?”

The Ancestor replied, “What did you just see?” The teacher couldn’t answer. A little while later, the Ancestor walked over to the teacher’s stone meditation seat and wrote the character for, “Buddha,” on it. When the teacher saw it, he was horrified. The Ancestor asked, “You’re still like this?” The teacher didn’t understand, so he bowed to the ground and asked the Ancestor to speak about what is genuine.

The Ancestor said, “The hundred thousand gates to enlightenment, all return together to the mind. The wonderful virtues, as many as the grains of sand in the Yellow River, are all gathered together in their source, the mind. All the Gates—the Gate of Discipline, the Gate of Meditation, the Gate of Wisdom, and the Gate of Powerful Transformation—are in all cases self-sufficient tools that never depart your mind.

”All worries, and all hindrances that stand in the way of enlightenment, are originally empty and still. All causes and effects are like dreams and illusions. There are no three worlds to transcend, there is no Awakening that you can seek. Human and not human natures are mutually equal.

“The Great Way is emptiness, by no means can it be reached by extensive thought or consideration. Since this is the Dharma you have now already obtained, lacking nothing, how does it differ from the Buddha? There are no other truths, so you can let your mind be free and at ease.

“Do not practice observation. Do not try to purify, clear, or settle the mind. Do not give rise to attachment or aversion, and don’t harbor worry or anxiety. Flutter unimpeded, going where you will without hindrance, cultivating neither good nor evil. Then, whatever happens, whether you’re walking, sitting, standing, or lying down, whatever you meet that catches your eye, it will all be the wonderful activity of Buddha—useful, happy and without anxiety. This is called Buddha.”

The teacher said, “Since the mind is already able and sufficient, then what is Buddha? What is mind?”

The Ancestor said, “If there was no mind, then you couldn’t ask about the Buddha. Asking about Buddha, can only be done with the mind.”

The teacher said, “Since I can’t practice observation, how should the mind treat and manage circumstances when they arise?”

The Ancestor said, “Circumstances are neither good nor bad; good and bad arise from mind. If the mind doesn’t stubbornly name things, from where could confused emotions arise? When confused emotions are unarisen, then you can trust the genuine mind to be aware everywhere.

“Only if you listen to this free and easy mind, will you not return to battling opposites. This is called the Permanently Dwelling Dharma Body, which never changes. I have received this teaching gate from Dashi Sengcan, today, I hand it over to you. Please, examine the words I’ve given you today, and just stay on this mountain. Others will come to learn from you.”

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