Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Zen Teaching of Huang Po : On the Transmission of Mind

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The Mind is neither large nor small; it is located neither within nor without. It should not be thought about by the mind nor be discussed by the mouth. Ordinarily, it is said that we use the Mind to transmit the Mind, or that we use the Mind to seal the Mind. Actually, however, in transmitting the Mind, there is really no Mind to receive or obtain; and in sealing the Mind, there is really no Mind to seal. 

If this is the case, then does the Mind exist or does it not exist? Actually, it cannot be said with certainty that the Mind either exists or does not exist, for it is Absolute Reality. This is expressed in the Ch'an Sect by the maxim: "If you open your mouth, you are wrong. If you give rise to a single thought, you are in error." So, if you can quiet your thinking totally, all that remains is voidness and stillness. 

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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