Mind Essence of Zen Practices and Actualizations

January 18, 2013

aka: Mind Essence of Entering the Hua-Yen Phenomena Realm


Imperturbable Mind Regarding Phenomena – All phenomena are conditioned and impermanent, coming and going freely with myriad forms, bright and clear like the cyclic alternations of the sun and moon in the void. Regardless of desire and aversion, form appears just as it should be, with nothing added or subtracted. The illusory conscious mind makes unnecessary discrimination that will not affect phenomena in the slightest, and in the process takes phenomena as the triggering conditions for acting out the habitual defilements of an agitated mind state. Therefore in regard to phenomena, one should practice keeping the mind as clear as a bright mirror, without desire or aversion to forms. The myriad phenomena of the world are like images in the mirror, born of the mind, manifesting from the mind, and naturally reflect the awakened nature of the mind without any fabricated effort. Contemplate, learn, and practice this accordingly, letting phenomena come and go, as they naturally will. Perceive all phenomena as images in the mirror, leaving or remaining on their own accord. Over time this practice will subdue all coarse habitual grasping tendencies regarding phenomena.

Seeing All Phenomena As Solely The Creation Of The Mind– The mind[1] is the phenomenon, the phenomenon is the mind; mind and phenomenon are not-two, undifferentiated. The mind is the source of all phenomena. Without the mind there is no phenomenon; as the phenomenon is, the mind is. There is no phenomenon outside the mind since all karmic fruits in this very moment are the manifestation of the mind—there is no other cause. Immediately take up this view of reality and relinquish the attachment to the idea of a cause outside the mind. In all perceptions of all phenomena, firmly establish oneself in the view that they are solely the creation of the mind. Repeatedly contemplate this principle and realize that the source of all forms is the mind. Break through the habitual tendencies due to ignorance and subdue the external seeking impulses. Diligently practice returning to the mind itself and abiding firmly in the present moment in order to cut off all false views and tendencies of regarding that which is not the cause as the cause and that which is not the result as the result.

Use The Situation To Illuminate The Mind – Since all phenomena are the manifestations of the mind, the defects in phenomena reflect the defects in the mind’s function. A mind free of flaws manifests reality without flaws. In regard to adverse situations, one must inwardly illuminate the mind in order to discover the illness in the mind and examine the attachment that has caused the defects in the external situation. The essence of the conscious mind is invisible therefore one must illuminates it by the situation it manifests. A deviant mind cannot see reality clearly. It is confused about cause and result and unable to discern what is true and false. Ignorance of the true principle leads to confusion of the manifested situations. Such state of mind is constantly disturbed by phenomena and restless. Therefore the forerunner of all spiritual practice is to establish the right understanding of reality, bringing clarity to each situation and seeing all phenomena as inseparable from the mind. One must contemplate in silence one’s own faults and refrain from speculating and judging people and situations. When encountering situation one must reflect and illuminate one’s own mind, seeing all faults and responsibilities as one’s own, refrain from seeking recognition or assigning blame. The phenomena realm is one indivisible totality, without distinction of inner and outer. All causes and results are intimately connected. One single thought is one cause and effect. The illness of others is actually the illness in oneself. If one can contemplate and act accordingly, with time all illness of the mind shall be discovered.

Rectify the Coarse Mind Regarding Phenomenon – Having deeply reflected on the illness of one’s own mind, one should further rectify all shortcomings through the ultimate principle taught by the Buddha. Administer the painful and piercing medicine, repent all past transgressions, and apologize for wrong doings. Relinquish the grasping of the externals; eliminate the error of seeking outside one’s self. Do not let any single fault go by uncorrected. Make sure one’s mind is pure and free of desires. Any laxity on rectifying the mind’s fault will nurture the seed of birth and death. In cultivation one should live in simplicity and purity. Do not indulge in physical and sensual comfort derived from external conditions, since such desire only feed the old flame of past habitual tendencies – like adding fuel to fire that burns away one’s right thought. Therefore in all daily conduct one should be simple and plain, live within one’s own means with pure mind. Severing one measure of attachment and desire will increase one measure of concentration and purity of the mind. In daily life illuminate the truth through the manifested reality, seeing the principle underlying all external forms and eliminate the delusion regarding situations. All illness must be cured from the mind. Having reflected and abided inwardly, relaxes the grip of form attachment, the desire for things of the external world gradually wane. Once the vexation is weakened and the mind is less disturbed by phenomenon, one gains strength in establishing one’s spiritual cultivation.

Subduing the mind’s subtle grasping of phenomenon – Only through the combined cultivation of severing external material greed in daily life, the inner withdrawal of quiet meditative calmness, and Zen inquiry can one be free of vexation while engaged in the world of turbulence. The severing of external greed enhances the strength of one’s precept, the inward withdraw deepens the meditative calm and inner illumination. Just as the dust is gradually scraped off and the inner light shines through polishing, one’s mind become concentrated and firmly established in the view of the mind-dharma. Thus one is able to focus exclusively on the Tao, letting go of all external grasping tendencies regarding physical sensations such as coldness, heat, pain, itch, beauty and ugliness of appearance, wholesome and unwholesome, sweetness and smoothness taste, and remain undisturbed by the eight winds of profit and loss, fame and shame, praise and criticism, and suffering and pleasure. Having eradicated external grasping and inner delusions until nothing remains, one’s mind capacity becomes vast like the void. Naturally one has the opportunity of turning away from the unreal to the real. This practice not only brings true benefit to one’s daily life, it also opens the door to enlightenment.

Realizing the nature of mind—One should know that the mind is the source of all existence. Without the realization of the nature of mind, there is no end to birth and death, no possibility of reaching true liberation. Therefore those with genuine aspiration for the wisdom of Buddhahood must with firm resolve find the root of all existence. With unshakable determination, one must vow to realize the innate mind. Only by shattering the lair of ignorance, seeing the true face prior to the birth of phenomenon, can one forever put to an end the cycle of birth and death and become the master of his own intrinsic awakened nature. It was stated in a sutra that, “The tathagata emerges from the primordial causal ground through the perfection of the luminous, pure, awakened nature and the cessation of all ignorance in order to attain Buddhahood.” Without the realization of the nature of mind, the causal ground for Buddhahood will remain obscured.

All serious practitioners should therefore commit all effort in this inquiry, vow to put an end to the great matter of birth and death, and forever free oneself from the grip of the King of Hell. As one diligently engages in the inquiry of the primordial nature without laxity, when the conditions are ripe, all attachments and delusions are shattered in an instant and the nature of mind shines through. This is when one begins to embark on the path of liberation.

Actualizing the nature of mind – Though enlightened to the nature of mind and eliminated the gross defilements, there is still a long journey ahead since one has not yet put to an end the cycle of birth and death. The path upward still requires much effort. Now one should abide firmly in the awakened nature, renew the vigor of inquiry, and break through layers after layers of delusion and attachment. Knowing that the foundation of Tao is the awakened nature, one must affirm one’s state of mind with the sutra and keep a simple life style in order to deepen one’s concentration and inquiry. One should refrain from grasping the external forms of daily living; subdue and eliminate the tendencies for grasping and desire. Abide firmly in the intrinsic awakened nature, thought is not to be feared unless there is a lack of awareness, because once straying from the intrinsic awakened nature, the door to the world of suffering will open again, making one a walking corpse that drifts in the six realms of re-incarnation, lost in the delusion of birth and death. One must therefore muster all one’s strength in order to break through the key questions of the koans; do not let any doubts regarding the teaching and the patriarchs’ koans go until they are completely resolved. At the end of the inquiry practice, return to abide in the mind’s intrinsic awaken nature. By alternating between these two practices, one maintains and matures the intrinsic awakened nature. Overtime, wrong views will be dissolved and the light of mind shall gradually shine through.

Transforming Consciousness into Wisdom – One must recognize all phenomena as solely the creation of the mind, manifesting according to the state of consciousness. Having realized the nature of the mind and its functions, one should illuminate inwardly the flaws in the mind under both desirable and undesirable conditions in order to heal all illnesses of the mind, release all attachment to sensory dust, and abide in the ever-present peace of the mind’s intrinsic awakened nature. Practice equanimity with regard to adversaries and allies, the various vehicles of Buddhism, other religious traditions, the history of humanity, the past, present and future, and all phenomenon realms in the Ten Directions. The differences perceived among the phenomenon realms, manifested by the mind alone, are the karmic consequences of all beings’ deluded discriminations. One engages in various skillful means only as an antidote to specific discrimination and attachment; at the end of such practice, one again abides in the pure awakened nature of the mind. The right thoughts and the awakened nature are none other than wisdom and liberation; grasping and discrimination is none other than the dualistic consciousness and the on-going cycle of birth and death. If one is able to transform phenomenon, not deluded by external situations, and able to abide and mature one’s awakened nature, then the force of the habitual tendencies shall gradually diminish, and the principle of the mind’s nature will steadily shine forth. Finally one’s practice will settle on firm ground.

Perfect Enlightenment of the Mind’s Nature – In daily life, let the right thoughts and illuminating awareness be ever-present—internally free of thoughts and discriminations, externally free of form so the mind dwells nowhere as it functions. Cultivate various Samadhis, such as the Samadhi of One Practice and the Samadhi of Equanimity Regarding Form, in order to completely subdue the evils of the Five Aggregates, vexations, death, and heaven. Through day and night, let the light of the mind illuminate without interruption so that all subtle habitual tendencies are eradicated. When ignorance arises regarding phenomenon, one must illuminate inwardly to break through such obscuration. When one’s view is flawed, the phenomenon realm will also be flawed. At this point, the elimination of one measure of ignorance will add one measure of fullness to the manifestation of the mind’s nature. When the mind’s nature shines without obscuration, the phenomenon realm reaches a state of perfect illumination; when the mind functions with complete equanimity, then all obstructions for entering and exiting the phenomenon realms are cleared away. Contemplate, learn, and practice this way so that at all times and under any conditions, the emptiness, awareness, and luminosity of the mind become ever-present and free of obstacles in motion and stillness. Finally the self-attachment is eliminated, and the merit and wisdom are cultivated without flaws, and the mind of awakening gradual shines through in dominance.

Liberate Beings and Transform Phenomenon – Free of the trappings of mundane and spiritual fame and profit, one is carried forth by the fundamental aspiration to liberate all beings, generate loving-kindness and compassion towards all, and eradicate all traces of the subtlest defilements. Let the mind be at ease and free, transcending all forms of existence on the mundane and spiritual levels. Having fully actualized the indivisibility of the phenomenon realm, the mind, and the self-nature, the mind is free in manifesting phenomenon and free in its perception of phenomenon. Liberation is achieved in both emptiness and form. The mind is inseparable from phenomenon; the mind is inseparable from Buddha; the essence is inseparable from its functions. The mind, free of obstacles and obscurations, encompasses all phenomena. Countless phenomena all mutually penetrate each others; endless is the dependent arising of phenomena. Having broken down the gates of the mind, the dusts are gradually cleared away as ignorance is destroyed. One actualizes the mind-only world of phenomenon, where the unfathomable Realms of Hua-Yen all mutually penetrate and overlay without any obstruction; all phenomena are connected in the majestic manifestations of the totality. The mind is Hua-Yen; the mind is the phenomenon. The mind is formless and inexhaustible; the phenomenon realms are formless and inexhaustible. This pure nature of Vairocana is the key to open countless doors for the liberation of beings and the transformation of phenomenon.

If a practitioner can cultivate in daily life the above ten practices with diligence, without laxity and abandonment, one is sure to reap its rewards in time. In addition, one must adopt supplemental practices such as scripture and philosophical studies, meditation, Zen inquiry, precept observances, contemplation of Buddha, repentance, mantra recitation, and taking up vows. Having cut off all grasping and attachment, broken down all defilements in manifestation and in principle, one keeps the mind pure and clear, without attachment to phenomenon and deluded thinking so that the essence of the mind remains like the great void in which all phenomena may coexist without obstruction in the majestic manifestation of the totality, where emptiness and existence are not-two, the emptiness of the essence is as is, and all forms are unobstructed. Through gradual cultivation and training of the mind in stages, in time one will surely and steadily enter the inexhaustible Hua-Yen Realm pervading the Ten Directions.