17 Climbing the Crystal Mountain If the mind does not discriminate, All dharmas are of one
Climbing the Crystal Mountain
If the mind does not discriminate,
All dharmas are of one suchness.
The essence of one suchness is profound;
Unmoving, conditioned things are forgotten.
When you do not discriminate, you see everything as one. There is no
difference between mind and body, inside and outside. Your mind is
unified. You have left behind the sense of small self and have entered
the state of great self. You are imbued with tremendous confidence. If
you want to call this oneness "enlightenment," there is nothing wrong
with that, but it is not Ch'an enlightenment. To experience Ch'an, you
must probe the mysterious essence of suchness.
I have emphasized that when there is a sense of one, there are actually
two. To go a step further, when you sense that even one does not exist,
this is the experience of wu, or emptiness. But because you have a
concept of emptiness, your mind is still subtly present. Ultimately,
even wu does not exist. Emptiness is still within the three realms of
existence, but this is already more advanced than just
Ch'an is a lively practice which does not neglect the world. The Sixth
Patriarch said, "Samadhi is not Ch'an." Practitioners of Ch'an lead
normal lives. They do not speak of oneness or emptiness. The only
difference is that there is no obstruction or attachment in their
Contemplate all dharmas as equal,
And you return to things as they are.
In fact, these two lines refer to different things. "Contemplate all
dharmas as equal" refers to non-discrimination, or one mind. "Things as
they are" refers to returning to the ordinary life. In the state of one
mind, the small self has died, but the great self is still present.
There has to be a great death before we can experience a great rebirth.
With this great rebirth will come a great love. When the great self
dies, we enter no self, or Ch'an.
Once a student misunderstood this talk about small death and great
death. He asked me to let him die here on retreat. In this way, he
would accumulate merit in the company of his fellow practitioners. I
told him, "If you die here you would only go to hell. It's a very hot
time of year, and if we keep your corpse lying around, the smell will
interfere with others' practice." The death I am talking about is not a
physical death. It is the death of your self-centered mind. This cannot
come about merely by wishing to die. If you killed yourself a thousand
times it would not do you any good. You would still be in samsara.
When the subject disappears,
There can be no measuring or comparing.
If you let go of every thought object, there will be nothing to
distinguish yourself from, and you will disappear. Today someone
remarked, "I still have a self left. I have to get rid of this self." I
said, "Self is not something you can get rid of. Self is not inside; it
is not identical to your body or your mind. Rather, self is precisely
the object of all of your thoughts and actions. Other than this, there
is no self. Can your mind have no object? Usually we think of the
method as something we can rely on, as a bridge to get us across the
river. But Ch'an is really the method of no-method. There is no bridge
provided, because there is no river. If you let go of your attaching
mind, at that very moment you are enlightened.
Practice is a foolish endeavor, like climbing a crystal mountain
covered with oil. As you try to climb, you constantly slip back down.
Nevertheless, you have no choice. You must continue climbing. You climb
until you are completely exhausted, and suddenly you find yourself on
the top of the mountain. But you realize you are still at the original
spot. If you have not covered any distance at all, why was it necessary
to climb the mountain? The answer is that before you started climbing
you did not realize that you were already on the top of the mountain.
Only a fool would try to climb a slippery crystal mountain. If you are
intelligent, you should go home right now. However, if you are willing
to recognize being a fool, then take the time to climb the mountain.
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank