“People are scared to empty their minds
fearing that they will be engulfed by the void.
What they don’t realize is that
their own mind is the void.” – Huang-po
Huang-po (Huangbo Xiyun) was an influential Chinese Zen Master, and the teacher of Lin-chi (Rinzai) during the Tang Dynasty. Huángbò was a disciple of Baizhang Huaihai (720-840) There is not much information about the life of Huang Po. However he taught in the tradition of Zen Buddhism. Huang Po taught that enlightenment could be achieved by a silent mind and putting an end to conceptual thinking. This is a similar teaching to other Zen Masters such as Bodidharma and Dogen.
Excerpt from ‘On the Transmission of Mind’
Translated by John Blofeld
When a sudden flash of thought occurs in your mind and you recognize it for a dream or an illusion, then you can enter into the state reached by the Buddhas of the past- not that the Buddhas of the past really exist, or that the Buddhas of the future have not yet come into existence. Above all, have no longing to become a future Buddha; your sole concern should be, as thought succeeds thought, to avoid clinging to any of them. Nor may you entertain the least ambition to be a Buddha here and now.
Even if a Buddha arises, do not think of him as ‘Enlightened’ or ‘deluded’, ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Hasten to rid yourself of any desire to cling to him. Cut him off in the twinkling of an eye!
On no account seek to hold him fast, for a thousand locks could not stay him, nor a hundred thousand feet of rope bind him. This being so, valiantly strive to banish and annihilate him.
I will now make luminously clear how to set about being rid of that Buddha. Consider the sunlight. You may say it is near, yet if you follow it from world to world you will never catch it in your hands. Then you may describe it as far away and, lo, you will see it just before your eyes. Follow it and, behold, it escapes you; run from it and it follows you close.
You can neither possess it nor have done with it. From this example you can understand how it is with the true nature of all things and, henceforth, there will be no need to grieve or to worry about such things…
All the visible universe is the Buddha; so are all sounds; hold fast to one principle and all the others are Identical. On seeing one thing, you see all. On perceiving any individual’s mind, you are perceiving all Mind. Obtain a glimpse of one way and all ways are embraced in your vision, for there is nowhere at all which is devoid of the Way…
According to what has been said, we can encompass all the vast world systems, though numberless as grains of sand, with our One Mind.
Then, why talk of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’? Honey having the invariable characteristic of sweetness, it follows that all honey is sweet. To speak of this honey as bitter would be nonsensical! How could it be so? Hence we say that the Void has no inside and outside. There is only the spontaneously existing Bhutatathata (Absolute). And, for this same reason, we say it has no centre. There is only the spontaneously existing Bhutatathata.
Thus, sentient beings are the Buddha. The Buddha is one with them. Both consist entirely of the one ‘substance’.
Book to Hang out With
The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind
This complete translation of the original collection of sermons, dialogues, and anecdotes of Huang Po, the illustrious Chinese master of the Tang Dynasty, allows the Western reader to gain an understanding of Zen from the original source, one of the key works in its teachings; it also offers deep and often startling insights into the rich treasures of Eastern thought. Nowhere is the use of paradox in Zen illustrated better than in the teaching of Huang Po, who shows how the experience of intuitive knowledge that reveals to a man what he is cannot be communicated by words. With the help of these paradoxes, beautifully and simply presented in this collection, Huang Po could set his disciples on the right path. It is in this fashion that the Zen master leads his listener into truth, often by a single phrase designed to destroy his particular demon of ignorance.
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