Like an Echo

Live yourself a simple life.

Only the morality is your duty. If you want to say the good words, just insistingly tell others one saying: When you see there is no self and others, the dust stops blowing; Day and night, up and down, there is no form to settle; Like a reflection, like an echo, there is no trace to point out.

All things are playing in your mind. But when you look around and you can not see the mind. You can not say there is no mind, because the consciousness arises and vanishes. You can not say there is something called mind, because there is no trace of it. Thoughts come and go just like illusions.

Now try this: Keep silent for a day, or even one hour, and feel the environment around. You would feel that all the sounds you hear are not the normal sounds anymore; you feel that they are all echoes in your mind.

The Mind of Emptiness

Life is too short. If you attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness, you will be free from the world of coming and going.

You can feel the frailness of your body now, even when you are healthy and strong. Try this: breathe in and out, gently and naturally; feel the breathing in and out; feel your whole body breathing; feel your whole body becoming one with the breath. Then you will see that your breath is so fragile and your body is so vulnerable.

The more you experience the bliss from meditation, the more you feel sorrowful for the plight of humankind.
Recalling the Buddha’s words saying that we have born and died countless times, you will feel grateful to countless parents, and will see all people around as your dear parents in past lives. Then you will feel your whole body deeply resonate with the Zen vow to save all sentient beings. How can we save others if we are not free yet?

Zen master Vien Chieu said that learners must attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness. Indeed, you will see that the mind essence is empty and formless. So all things in the world appear and disappear in the mind just like the clouds formed and dissolved in the sky, just like the images emerged and vanished in a mirror.

So all the forms you see, all the sounds your hear, all the odors you smell, all the flavors you taste, all the senses you feel, all the thoughts you have are changing swiftly. So nothing has a self. So all things come and go, governed by the principle of dependent arising. Realizing the mind essence will free you from the world of coming and going.

The Present

The present is not the past; the past is not the present.

That means past thoughts vanished and the present thought is not the previous thought. That means every act in past lives and now has its own merit. That means the good deed now is not the bad act done before. That means the breath now is not the breath earlier, and the breath felt previously was not the breath sensed presently.

Live with the present. Every act has its own merit, so you should not worry about the past. Just sit with eyes half open, feel your breath now, feel your body breathing now, feel your thought now arising and vanishing. Can you see this interval: while the previous thought vanished and the next thought does not arise yet?

Try to gently stare that interval for all times in a day, or in two days, even when you are lying, sitting, standing and walking. Later, you can use this stare to cut off all wandering thoughts.

Emptiness

Just look at your body, your feelings, your thoughts; they were changing swiftly since the day you were born.

So you have had millions of bodies; millions of feelings, millions of thoughts – which one is your true body, true feeling, true thought? Your body, your feelings, your thoughts can manifest as millions of forms, because forms are indeed emptiness just like illusions appearing in the mirror. If you cling to anything as form or emptiness, you are chasing the illusions.

Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe. Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.

The Treasure

Living in the world, happy with the Way, you should let all things take their course. When hungry, just eat; when tired, just sleep. The treasure is in your house; do not search any more. Face the scenes, and have no thoughts; then you do not need to ask for Zen.

Live with the water, not with the waves rising and falling; live with the nature of mirror to reflect, not with the images appearing and disappearing; and live with the essence of the mind, not with the thoughts arising and vanishing. When you see the essence of the mind, then you catch a glimpse of Nirvana – the state of unborn, uncreated, unconditioned peace.

After that moment, you know how to live with the mind unmoved while walking, standing, lying, and sitting. How can you see the essence of the mind? Please, remember: You are never away from it, just like the water holds all the waves and is never away from the waves, just like the emptiness of the mirror hold all the images and is never away from the images.

The essence of the mind is non-self, so it manifest as a great magician: your mind has no form, so it takes all forms you see as its forms; your mind has no color, so it takes all colors you see as its colors…Now look out the window, when you see a bird, your mind now has the form of a bird; and when the bird flies, your mind flies too. Your mind is all things you see, all things you hear, all things you feel; the observer is all things observed.

The Ten Recitation Method

The Ten Recitation method is a sim­ple, convenient, and effective way of prac­ticing Buddha Recitation.  It is especially suitable for those who find little time in the day for cultivation.

Practicing the Ten Recitation method helps us to regain mindfulness of Amitabha Buddha and brings us peace and clarity to the present moment.

The practice begins first thing in the morning when we wake up.  We should sit up straight and clearly recite Amitabha’s name ten times with an undisturbed mind, whether out loud or silently to ourselves.  We repeat the process eight more times for the rest of the day:
1.  At Breakfast
2.  Before Work
3.  At Lunch Break
4.  At Lunch
5.  After Lunch Break
6.  Getting Off Work
7.  At Dinner
8.  At Bedtime

Altogether, the method is practiced nine times a day, everyday.  The key point in this cultivation is regularity; we must not practice one day and not the other.  If this practice can be maintained undis­turbed, the cultivator would soon feel his purity of mind increase, and wisdom grow.

Diligent practice of the Ten Recita­tion method together with deep faith and determined vows can ensure fulfillment of our wish to reach the Western Pure Land of Infinite Life and Infinite Light.  We hope everyone will practice accordingly.

The Silent Temple

In Silent Temple story mentioned that at last, outside conditions and outside situations constantly take your mind , many things happening around you all the time, so only the silence of mind is left.

Shoichi was a one-eyed teacher of Zen, sparkling with enlightenment. He taught his disciples in Tofuku temple.

Day and night the whole temple stood in silence. There was no sound at all.

Even the reciting of sutras was abolished by the teacher. His pupils had nothing to do but meditate.

When the master passed away, an old neighbor heard the ringing of bells and the recitation of sutras. Then she knew Shoichi had gone.

Tosui’s Vinegar

To live in non-attachment means that we recognize there was never anything to attach or cling to in the first place. And for those who can truly recognize this, it is indeed a position of joyfulness.

Tosui was the Zen master who left the formalism of temples to live under a bridge with beggars. When he was getting very old, a friend helped him to earn his living without begging. He showed Tosui how to collect rice and manufacture vinegar from it, and Tosui did this until he passed away.

While Tosui was making vinegar, one of the beggars gave him a picture of the Buddha. Tosui hung it on the wall of his hut and put a sign beside it. The sign read:

“Mr. Amida Buddha: This little room is quite narrow. I can let you remain as a transient. But don’t think I am asking you to help me to be reborn in your paradise.”

Non-Attachment

Attachments were always around us and within us. Thus, the problem was we can be accepted them or determined how to abandon.

Kitano Gempo, abbot of Eihei temple, was ninety-two years old when he passed away in the year 1933. He endeavored his whole life not to be attached to anything. As a wandering mendicant when he was twenty he happened to meet a traveler who smoked tobacco. As they walked together down a mountain road, they stopped under a tree to rest. The traveler offered Kitano a smoke, which he accepted, as he was very hungry at the time.

“How pleasant this smoking is,” he commented. The other gave him an extra pipe and tobacco and they parted.

Kitano felt: “Such pleasant things may disturb meditation. Before this goes too far, I will stop now.” So he threw the smoking outfit away.

When he was twenty-three years old he studied I-King, the profoundest doctrine of the universe. It was winter at the time and he needed some heavy clothes. He wrote his teacher, who lived a hundred miles away, telling him of his need, and gave the letter to a traveler to deliver. Almost the whole winter passed and neither answer nor clothes arrived. So Kitano resorted to the prescience of I-King, which also teaches the art of divination, to determine whether or not his letter had miscarried. He found that this had been the case. A letter afterwards from his teacher made no mention of clothes.

“If I perform such accurate determinative work with I-King, I may neglect my meditation,” felt Kitano. So he gave up this marvelous teaching, and never resorted to its powers again.

When he was twenty-eight he studied Chinese calligraphy and poetry. He grew so skillful in these arts that his teacher praised him. Kitano mused: “If I don’t stop now, I’ll be a poet, not a Zen teacher.” So he never wrote another poem.

A Letter to a Dying Man

Quoted from last paragraph:”Your end which is endless is as a snow-flake dissolving in the pure air”. The Buddha taught there is no birth, there is no death; there is no coming, there is no going; there is no same, there is no different; there is no permanent self, there is no annihilation. We only think there is. When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear.

Bassui wrote the following letter to one of his disciples who was about to die:

The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither color nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.

“I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself: What is the essence of this mind? Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end which is endless is as a snow-flake dissolving in the pure air.”