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Buddhadharma : Summer 2006
summer 2006| 40 |buddhadharma ror that can reflect everything around it, in 360 degrees. The meaning of the third line, “Always diligently polish the mir- ror,” is that we should be diligent in using dharma methods to dissipate or eliminate vexations and wandering thoughts. The fourth line, “And do not let dust collect,” means that one should work hard to train the mind so that it does not permit vexa- tions to stain our clear, mirrorlike mind. So, please, everyone take a guess. Does this poem express a realization of formlessness? Does it demonstrate a true understanding of the dharma of mind? Yes or no? [The participants reply, “No.”] But does this poem express something good? Yes, of course it does. Practitio- ners need to behave like this. In any case, according to the Platform Sutra, by then Huineng had already realized the dharma of mind after hearing someone quote from the Diamond Sutra. Because he was illiterate, Huineng asked one of the monks to read him Shenxiu’s verse on the wall. That night, after hearing Shenxiu’s verse, Huineng had someone help him to write the following lines on the wall, next to Shenxiu’s verse. Huineng’s poem went like this: Bodhi is originally without a tree, The mirror is also without a stand. Originally there is not a single thing. Where is there a place for dust to collect? “Originally there is not a single thing” means that there are no real substantial forms called bodhi, buddhanature, or emptiness. Huineng is saying that bodhi is not a substantial thing. People often think that enlightenment is an experience whereby we can feel a certain thing, or discover exactly what this “thing,” enlightenment, is. This is an incorrect view, because enlightenment, or “seeing the nature,” is an experience of emptiness. It is the experience of phenom- ena as being empty and insubstantial. Most Eastern and Western philoso- phies and religions believe in a highest, or Patriarch, Huineng (Eno in Japanese). When Huineng was still at Huangmei, the monastery of the Fifth Patriarch, Hongren, he worked in the kitchen milling rice. One day, the abbot Hongren, in an effort to find his dharma heir, asked the monks to write a verse expressing their own understand- ing of dharma. None of the monks were willing to do this except the head monk, Shenxiu, who, when the other monks were asleep, wrote a verse on the wall in the Chan hall. It went like this: The body is a bodhi tree, The mind is a bright mirror. Always diligently polish the mirror, And do not let dust collect. “The body is a bodhi tree” means that we use the body as the foundation through which we cultivate enlightenment. The second line, “The mind is a bright mir- ror,” means that the mind is like a mirror that reflects what is in front of it without adding any self-centered view. If you can imagine it, the mind is like a circular mir- Nehalem Bay, OR, the bay, March 17, 2005 I (2)