by Great Master Yong Jia of the Tang Dynasty
Do you not see the enlightened ones? They are transcended beings eternally at ease, abiding in the Way, beyond learning and doing, neither struggling against illusion, nor seeking for the truth.
Ignorance is intrinsically the Buddha-nature, while the emptiness of our illusory body is the Dharma.
When the Dharma body awakens completely, there is nothing at all. The source of our essential nature is the primordial Buddha.
The five aggregates – physical forms, sensations, perceptions, concepts/thoughts, consciousness – they come and go like clouds in the sky. The three poisons – greed, hatred, ignorance – they appear and disappear like bubbles on water.
Realizing Suchness, neither self nor things exist; instantly the path to hell vanishes, cause and effect are liberated.
If this is a lie to deceive sentient beings, may my tongue be removed forever.
In a single moment of direct awakening, the six perfections (meditation, wisdom, patience, energy, generosity, morality) and the ten thousand skillful means are complete.
The six realms of existence (gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, hells) are a dream, in waking they are nowhere to be found.
No wrong, no right, no loss, no gain. Never look for such things in eternal serenity.
Having given up the idea of dust, the mirror’s brilliance is finally seen.
Who has no thought? What is unborn? One is neither born nor unborn – the unborn is realized within the born.
Can a wooden puppet attain Buddhahood by its practice of not-thinking?
Release your grasp at the four elements (earth, water, fire, wind); you may drink and eat with ease in serenity.
Conditioned phenomena are transient and empty – this is the great enlightenment of the Tathagata.
Impermanence, emptiness and enlightenment — these are the ultimate truths of Buddhism. Keeping and teaching them is true Sangha devotion. If you don’t agree, let’s discuss it.
Cut out ten-thousand entanglements, go directly to the root of it all — this is the very point of the Buddha-seal. I don’t respond to any concern about branches and leaves.
The wish-fulfilling pearl (Mani-jewel) is not recognized by beings. But here it is intimately within the Tathagatagarbha – the eternal and immutable matrix of all reality.
Our six senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, being aware) are empty, yet not empty. The rays shining from Mani-jewel are neither formed nor formless.
Clarify the five kinds of vision brings about the five powers – it is not intellectual work – you just realize; you just know.
To see images in a mirror is not difficult, but who can take hold of the moon in the water?
Always traveling alone, always walking alone, the enlightened ones enjoy the freeway of Nirvana.
Their discipline is ancient, their heart light, spirit pure, and manner elevated. Their faces worn, yet their bones are hardened and strong, passing unnoticed they walk free in the world.
Children of the Buddha may be poor materially, yet they are rich in the Tao.
Dressing in patched robes, they are content with the priceless pearl in the mind.
Beyond all limit, this invaluable jewel can never be used up. The enlightened ones spend it freely to help all beings they chance upon, accordingly to people’s individual faculties.
The three bodies (Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, Nirmanakaya) and the four wisdoms (The Mirroring Wisdom, the Observing Wisdom, the Discerning Wisdom, the Perfecting Wisdom) are all contained within the pearl. The eight liberations and the six universal powers are all realized within.
The best student goes directly to the ultimate. For the middling and the lowly, even as they learn more and more, they just remain unconvinced and proud of their external struggling.
You have to remove the dirty garments from your own mind. How can right diligence be taught?
If folks criticize and slander you, let them. They are playing with fire, trying to burn the sky, in the end only exhausting themselves.
For me, hearing the slander is like drinking sweet dew – everything melts and I enter the incredible place beyond thoughts and words.
Abusive words are disguised blessings and my abusers good teachers.
If we do not become angry at gossip, we have no need for endurance and patience.
To be mature in Zen is to be mature in expression, where the full-moon brilliance of Dhyana (profound meditation) and Prajna (direct insight) is not imprisoned by emptiness.
I am not alone in this attainment; all Buddhas, as numberless as grains of river sand, they have become awakened in exactly the same way.
Roar like a lion, speak fearlessly – it shatters the skulls of all beasts.
Even the king of elephants scrambles, losing its majesty. The heavenly dragon quietly listens and rejoices.
In the past I’ve crossed mountains and rivers, searching for masters and teachings in Zen.
Ever since learning the working of hidden channels in the body, I realize that birth and death have nothing to do with me.
Never lose Zen whether walking or sitting; be at ease in speech or silence, moving or resting.
Even facing the sword of death, the mind is unmoved; even drinking poison, the mind is relaxed.
Our Teacher Sakyamuni met his Teacher Dipankara, only after practicing patience through countless eons.
Countless births, countless deaths – I am serene in the cycle ever repeating.
Ever since abruptly I realized the Unborn, I am free from delight about gain or sorrow over loss.
Retreating into deep mountains, dwelling underneath old pines, I live a carefree life without complexity.
Peacefully I practice Zazen, taking refuge in joyful solitude.
Once truly awakened, you have no need to apply effort. In the multiplicity of the relative world, you cannot find such freedom.
Self-centered charity given within conditions for heavenly reward, is like shooting arrows into the sky.
When the force is spent, the arrow falls to earth again, bringing unhappy cycles.
This cannot compare to the unconditioned absolute, which leads direct to the Tathagata realm.
Go to the root, never mind the branches. It is like the bright moon reflected in crystal.
Once you understand this Mani-jewel, the jewel of liberation, you can benefit yourself and others endlessly.
The moon shines on the river, the wind blows through the pines – the night is everlasting, pure and clear, what am I to do?
Buddha nature and the jewel of precepts seal and secure my mind. Fog, cloud, dew, and mist are my clothes.
A monk’s bowl can subdue dragons, and the staff can separate fighting tigers, with the rings on the staff jingling musically.
These expressions are not empty symbols from some old fable; the Tathagata’s precious staff has left a trail for us to follow.
Do not seek the truth, do not avoid delusion. Truth and delusion are both empty and formless.
Neither form nor formless, neither emptiness nor non-emptiness – this is the wisdom of the Tathagata.
If the mind-mirror is clear, there are no obstacles. It illuminates worlds as numberless as grains of sand.
All phenomena of the cosmos are reflected in the mind, and the full luminosity and clarity – an orb of light, round and bright, has no distinction of internal or external.
Don’t grasp at nothingness, don’t ignore cause and effect – such ignorance leads only to suffering.
Don’t give up existence, don’t renounce the world of things – it’s like jumping into a fire to avoid drowning.
Don’t reject delusion, don’t seek truth – such dualities are skillful lies.
If you practice zazen with such fancy falsehood, it’s as if mistaking a thief as your own child.
It is all due to dualistic mindset that you miss the treasure of Dharma and lose the accumulated merit.
Chan/Zen practice enables complete realization of the original mind and direct penetration to the unborn state with powerful insight.
Be strong and use the sword of wisdom – its Prajna edge is as sharp as the vajra flame, cutting off delusions and subduing demons.
The thunder of Dharma roars, striking the Dharma drum, spreading auspicious clouds of compassion, and pouring nectar of loving-kindness.
Great Masters arise to benefit countless beings. The three vehicles (Sravaka, Pratyeka, Bodhisattva) and the five natures (1. Those born to be voice-hearers; 2. Those born to be cause-awakened ones; 3. Those born to be bodhisattvas; 4. Those born to be indeterminate; 5. Those born without the nature of enlightenment) all are enlightened and liberated.
The milk from the Himalayan mountains is pure and rich, and the ghee produced by it I always enjoy.
When one nature is understood, all nature is understood. One Dharma contains all others.
One moon is reflected in all waters; all reflections are one moon.
The Dharmakaya of all Buddhas enters my nature; my nature is one with the Tathagata.
One stage of practice contains all stages. There is no form, no mind, no action.
In a snap of finger, eighty-thousand teachings are realized; in a split second, the karmas of numerous eons are purified.
All Dharma words are not Dharma words, what do they have to do with my inner knowing?
Beyond praise and beyond blame, like space itself it has no bounds.
It is wherever you are, forever clear and free of struggle; if you search elsewhere, it cannot be found; give up the search, it is right here.
You cannot grasp it; you cannot reject it; it is acquired by not acquiring.
In silence it speaks, in speech you hear its silence. The gate to the Way is open and unobstructed.
If you ask me what teaching I realize, it’s the great power of Ultimate Wisdom, I’ll say.
Perhaps it is right, perhaps it is wrong – people don’t know for sure. To go opposite or to follow suit – even heaven has nothing to say.
I have practiced my zazen for many kalpas, I do not speak glibly to confuse you.
Raise the Dharma-banner, establish the Teachings – the Buddha has clearly pointed out where the subtle channels are, which I discovered through my teacher Master Hui Neng.
Mahakashyapa was the first to receive the teachings from the Buddha and pass them on through twenty-eight generations of patriarchs in India.
Then the Dharma flowed east to our land, and Bodhidharma became the first patriarch of Chan/Zen in China.
His robe passed through six generations, as we all know, and countless more will benefit from it and attain the Way.
The truth is not fixed, and delusion is intrinsically empty. Being or nonbeing, gain or loss – let go of these ideas; all is empty.
Do not be attached to the twenty teachings about emptiness; all are the display of the Tathagata-body.
The mind is the root, phenomena are dust; both subject and object are dust on the mind-mirror, clouds in the sky.
Wipe the mirror clean and the light begins to shine. When the mind and phenomena are both forgotten, the innermost nature is known.
In this Age of Ending and this sad, materialistic world, people are suffering – they are faithless, in lack of self-discipline.
In the centuries after Shakyamuni Buddha, wrong views have run deep, demons become strong, the Dharma is weakened, fear and hatred spread.
Hearing the Buddha’s teaching of Direct Way, some pitiful people want to smash it to pieces like a roof tile.
Your mind is the cause, your body is the victim. Do not complain or blame others.
If you don’t want to live in perpetual suffering, never slander the Tathagata’s true Dharma teachings.
In the forest lions inhabit, there are no trees other than sandalwood.
They wander alone in the quiet woods, from which all other beasts and birds have fled.
Lion cubs are in tow, roaring loudly even though just 3 years old.
Even if a jackal with hundred-year demonic arts opens its jaws to chase off the Dharma king, it can only try in vain.
The Buddha’s Direct Teaching is beyond human sentiment; there is no room for doubt or hesitation.
I am not a mountain monk who distinguishes others and myself, but fear that practitioners may fall into the holes of eternalism or nihilism.
Wrong is not wrong, right is not right; a hairbreadth of deviation may lead to a thousand miles off.
Realizing it, the dragon child attains Buddhahood suddenly. Misunderstanding it, even the most learned falls into hell.
In my youth I piled studies upon studies, in sutras and sastras I searched and researched.
I fell into the ditch of classifying names and forms, like trying to count sands on the ocean floor.
The Buddha was speaking about me when he said, “What gain is there in counting other people’s treasure?”
For many years I had wasted my time, going astray and wandering lost.
Nature misused leads to wrong views, failing in attaining the Tathagata’s Direct Perfection.
Shravaka and Pratyeka students may be diligent but neglect Tao; the heterodox may be clever but lack wisdom.
Stupid ones, childish ones, they take the empty fist and pointing finger to be real.
They mistake the pointing finger for the moon. They are idle dreamers lost in senses and forms.
When nothing is seen, this is the Realm of Tathagata. Only then can one be called “Seeing at ease and contemplating in peace”.
When awakened we find all karmic hindrances fundamentally empty. But when not awakened, all karmic debts must be paid.
It is like a starving man turning down a royal feast, or someone ill refusing medicine prescribed by a great doctor.
Chan practice is most effective in this world of desires, for a lotus blossoming in fire is indestructible.
Even Pradhanashura, who broke the gravest precepts, later woke up to the Unborn and attained Buddhahood, has remained so ever since.
The lion roars, fearlessly he speaks, deeply pitying the ignorant, stupid, and stubborn.
They only know to commit wrongdoing that obstructs enlightenment; they do not see the door opened by the Tathagata’s teachings.
Once, after breaking the precepts against carnality and killing, two monks confessed to Upali, whose limited knowledge was as flickering as the light of a firefly, and he just increased their confusion.
But the great teacher Vimalakirti were able to clear their doubts at once, like a blazing sun dissolving both frost and snow.
Such inconceivable power to liberate beings, the wonders it works are as uncountable as the sands of the Ganges.
We may offer four necessities (food, medicine, clothing, bedding) for such power, but even ten thousand pieces of gold would not be enough.
Understand one sentence and it surpasses ten billion kalpas of practice, but even if one’s bones became powder, it would not repay the kindness.
The King of the Dharma, most supreme, deserves our highest respect. Tathagatas as innumerable as river sands all have confirmed this through their attainment.
Understanding what this precious Mani-jewel of mind is, I now transmit it to anyone who will receive it.
Seeing clearly, there is no thing, no man, no Buddha.
The worlds of the universe are just froth on the sea, wise sages are like flashes of lightning coming and going.
However the burning iron wheel revolving on my head, my perfect meditation would not be stirred, and profound wisdom never lost.
Even if demons can cool the sun or heat the moon, they cannot shatter the truth of these words.
When an elephant steadily pulls a cart down the prosperous road, how can a praying mantis obstruct its way?
Elephant does not loiter on a rabbit’s path; great enlightenment is not concerned with trivia.
Don’t belittle the sky by looking through a pipe. If you are not yet clear, this Song gives you the key.