THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

The Wonderful Function of the Zero

Instruction by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua during the 1976
transmission of complete precepts at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

From the May 1976 issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea

There are no fixed dharmas. What is there to be said, except that the unfixed Dharma is the Orthodox Dharma, the unspoken teaching is the real teaching. What does the real teaching say? It says nothing at all. If there is something, which is said, one falls into the second and the third place. The absence of speech, that is the Primary Principle. The unspoken dharma is that which all Buddhas have transmitted, just as the non-cultivated cultivation is that which all the Bodhisattvas have cultivated. It is just the "unspoken" that is the "true speaking." The mountains, the rivers, and the earth, the vegetation, all things at all times speak the unspoken dharma. Sentient and insentient things alike at all times transmit the unspoken dharma. It is unspoken dharma, alone which is the Mind Seal of the wonderful Dharma of all the Buddhas. And the Mind Seal, the wonderful Dharma of all Buddhas that is the Primary Principle.

It is said,

When heaven obtains the One, it is clear.
When earth attains the One, it is serene.
When people obtain the One, they are sages.
When all things gain the One, they come into being.

It is this One alone which is the secret dharma transmitted by the Buddhas. It is this One alone which is the path tread by the Bodhisattvas. The arising of the Bodhi heart comes through the One. It is the beginning of all numbers, as well as the root of all afflictions. If you wish to get rid of afflictions, you must not keep even the One. When even the One is gone, what happens? It turns into that which you possess, that which I possess, and that which all possess: the basic substance of all the Buddhas, also called the basic nature. It is just that which we all know about but fail to understand: the Zero.

If you understand the Zero, you know it to be the True Emptiness, which contains Wonderful Existence, and the Wonderful Existence, which contains True Emptiness. True Emptiness does not obstruct Wonderful Existence and Wonderful Existence does not obstruct True Emptiness. True Emptiness is not empty and so it is called Wonderful Existence; Wonderful Existence is non-existent and is therefore called True Emptiness--empty and non-empty, existing and not existing.

If you wish to understand the Orthodox Buddhadharma, you must first work on the concept of the Zero. All the Buddhas gained the fruition of Buddhahood by returning to the root, going back to the source, and obtaining the wonderful function of the Zero. The Zero is so great there is nothing beyond it and so small there is nothing inside it. It extends to the ends of space and the Dharma realm. There's no way you can run outside of the Zero and no way you can run inside it either!

Do you understand?

      WHEN YOU OBTAIN THE ONE, ALL THINGS ARE DONE.

Zero: The Great Bright Store of Your Own Nature

return to top