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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
first thoughts What chan is like Ven. Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order, gives four ways to under- stand the world of Chan and the mind of its prac- titioner. 1. The world of Chan is a moment and is also everlasting. in the world of Chan, a moment is not short and a kalpa is not long. This is what is meant by “a thought embracing 3,000 realms.” A moment can last endless kalpas and be ever- lasting, because within the world of Chan there is no longer the duality of big or small, have or have-not, long or short, far or near, self or other. Within the world of the Chan practitio- ner, one is everything, and everything within the dharma realms is completely harmonized. Therefore, a moment is also everlasting. 2. The world of Chan is small and also great. it is “a world within a flower, a Tathagata within a leaf.” in the world of Chan, a flower, a leaf, a grain of sand, or a rock encompasses the limit- less dharma realm. Therefore, “Mt. Sumeru embraces a mustard seed; a mustard seed con- tains Mt. Sumeru.” Because a tiny mustard seed can contain Mt. Sumeru, the world of Chan is both small and great. 3. The world of Chan is affliction and bodhi. Most people think afflictions are afflictions, and bodhi is bodhi. The reality is that “affliction is bodhi,” for without afflictions, no bodhi can be attained. it is like the pineapples and persimmons that are very sour and bitter before they ripen. However, after weathering the elements of wind, sunshine, rain, and dew, they become very sweet when ripe. Where does the sweetness come from? From the sourness and bitterness. Therefore, affliction is bodhi because the latter cannot be sought anywhere else. When we transform our afflictions into bodhi, it is like changing sourness and bitterness into sweetness. 4. The world of Chan is the cycle of birth and death as well as nirvana. Birth and death are the realities of life, but most people avoid talking about death. in reality, death is not to be feared because true life does not die; it is the physical body that dies. Our true nature, dharma-body, and life of wisdom are not subject to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, in the world of a Chan practitioner, life is everlasting and does not die. it always abides in nirvana, and remains unmoved. That is true life. Chan transcends all duality and sees all as equal. in the perception of a Chan practitioner, there is no long or short, big or small, pure or defiled, arising or ceasing. froM Keys To livinG Well, By MasTer hsinG yun (Buddha’s liGhT PuBlishinG, 2005). in times of War, sit uP straight Whether we take life or refuse to kill, there is karmic consequence, says Rev. Master Eko Little, abbot of Shasta Abbey. in times of war, a lay Buddhist must search his or her conscience with great and meticulous care before entering the armed forces or supporting a conflict of this kind. Whatever the circumstances – whether it’s right or wrong, justified or unjustified, we’re trying to help them out, they shot first, they invaded our country – killing is killing, and one cannot escape the karmic consequences. if, as a result of the hor- ror of what is happening, one feels one must, in conscience, enter a conflict, one must be willing to take the karmic consequence of having entered into conflict and the karmic consequences of kill- ing, knowing that one has broken the precept of not killing others. Wars kill people. if one cannot reconcile one’s conscience with killing, even in such horrendous circumstances, one must be willing to take the karmic consequences of not killing, whatever they may be. This may involve allowing killing to take place. So it’s not an easy situation. if we choose Brush drawings by R. Pyx Sutherland