THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

The Professor Requests a Lecture
from the Monk in the Grave

Lecture given by the Monk in the Grave [Ven. Master Hsuan Hua]
to Professor Lewis Lancaster's "Introduction to Buddhism" class at
the University of California, Berkeley, Summer, 1969.


Translated by Upasaka Kuo Jung [Ron Epstein]
(Originally published in Vajra Bodhi Sea, July, 1970, pp. 8-12)

I greatly enjoy meeting with all of you today, because I see you are all especially capable and intelligent young people. In the future you certainly can help America to be even better; you can cause its glory to be even greater. Today I would like to thank Professor Lancaster very much for inviting me here to meet with all of you. I fully see this professor's methods, by which he is able to cause your knowledge to increase daily. So, day by day you have new things to learn. One can say that among present-day professors, his professorial methodology represents a very special kind of genius. I hope that you will all be able to receive this professor's continually fine inducement. Since your professor teaches you in this way, none of you should be ungrateful for the hopes which he has for you.

Now I shall speak Professor Lancaster's heart for him. He hopes that each and every one of you will become a great professor, a world-famous professor. This is one hope. In addition, he hopes that in the future you will all be the supports of this country. At the very least, he hopes that each of you men will become a male president, and each of the women a female president; I don't want to say definitely be president, perhaps be the president's wife--or straight out, be a woman president. I believe that he has this hope. Even if he does not have this hope, I now am making this hope for him and telling all of you.

You should not look at yourself as very small, but you should not look at yourself as too big either. If you look at yourself as too big, then you are not able to be small; if you look at yourself as too small, then you are not able to be big. Both not big and not small, I can do anything at all. I have spoken Professor Lancaster's heart for him. I believe that Professor Lancaster certainly cannot reject my hope and not give me face.

Now I will announce my own hope for you. What do I hope that you do? My hope...If you all are intelligent young people, then it certainly will not be necessary for me to come right out and say it; you will understand...What is my hope? Not only do I hope that you will become President, but that you will also be able to realize Buddhahood; every person will be able to realize Buddhahood. About this hope, you say, "I don't want to realize Buddhahood." If you don't want to realize Buddhahood, it's not required. But if you want
do, then you certainly can.

Today I have an eight line gatha to discuss with each of you. This eight line gatha is...You should not look at it as very high, very deep. If you look at it as too high, too deep, then it will be apart from you. And you also should not look at it as too superficial; if you look at it as too superficial, it will also be apart from you because most of you are not high, not deep and also not superficial. What does this eight line gatha say? Now I will tell you.

The first line is:

EACH OF YOU NOW MEETS A MONK IN THE GRAVE.

EACH OF YOU is each of you capable young people, young people with wisdom. Now you are meeting a monk who is in the grave. "How did you get there?" I don't know either. You should not ask me this question. It is not important. This monk in the grave--how he got in and how he got out does not pose a problem. It is not necessary for you to talk about it. However, I will tell you what the grave is like.

ABOVE NO SUN AND MOON, BELOW NO LAMP.

What is this? Just this is ignorance (lit. without brightness) without any name. (In Chinese "ignorance" and "no name" have the same sound.) No name? An ignorance with no name?

Yet you should know that although it has no name, it is necessary to destroy it; it is necessary to destroy ignorance. Not only do I have this ignorance, you also have this ignorance. You say "I have not gone off to the grave. How can I have ignorance too?" You haven't gone off to the grave, but in the future you will certainly get there. Therefore, you also have ignorance now. "Oh, that will be terrific (lit. not attaining understanding)". You should not be afraid. Where there is no brightness, there can be a brightness. Among the division of equal enlightenment Bodhisattvas, there is still a share of the ignorance of produced appearances that has not been destroyed. Therefore, from Bodhisattvas to us common people in the nine dharma realms, all living beings have ignorance.

The Buddha said, "What is ignorance? Ignorance is affliction." It is affliction. What is affliction? Affliction is bodhi. But affliction-bodhi, you must use kung-fu (i.e., spiritual skill) to turn it around.

Therefore, the third line is:

AFFLICTION AND BODHI, ICE IS WATER.

Affliction is bodhi. Therefore, both you and I have bodhi; everybody has bodhi because everybody has affliction. Everyone can use the affliction, but everyone has forgotten the bodhi. Forgotten, so they cannot use it.

What is this like? It is like ice, which originally is water; but water, because it has undergone cold, has frozen into ice. If you apply warm energy, the ice can still change back into water. What does this mean? Just this is the analogy for affliction and bodhi. When you are not able to use it [it is whichever you point at], you have a kind of' cold energy; then it changes into affliction. If you have yang light [this term also translates as sunlight]... What is cold energy? Greed', anger and stupidity, these are cold energy. What is yang light? Precepts, samadhi and wisdom, just these are yang light. If you diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi and wisdom, and destroy greed, Anger and stupidity, just this is affliction turning into bodhi. And this ice then changes into water.

This analogy is just an analogy. You should not, in addition, be attached to ice being bodhi. Affliction is bodhi. You say, "Oh well, I'll just save this affliction and that will be fine. It is just bodhi; this ice is just water. I'll just save this ice, and take it to be water." You cannot do that either. You certainly must transform it. This is just to say that each and every person can realize Buddhahood, but you must cultivate. If you do not cultivate, then you cannot realize Buddhahood.

Cultivate? How do you cultivate? You cultivate according to the Buddhadharma. There are 84,000 dharma doors which the Buddha left in the world to teach us so that we might be able to very, very, reliably cultivate according to these methods. Whichever method we like we can cultivate in accordance with...perhaps find a "bright-eyed" good knowledgeable one to teach us a method to cultivate. You can also do this.

The fourth line is:

BIRTH, DEATH AND NIRVANA; DHARMAS EMPTY.

Everyone is afraid of birth and death. You should not be afraid. If there is no birth and death, then there is no nirvana. So, it is just in birth and death that you should seek nirvana. If you have found nirvana, then it is not necessary to seek more. You should not put a head on top of your head---ride a donkey to look for a donkey. There once was a person who had lost his donkey. He supposed that he had lost it, but he was actually riding on his donkey, going everywhere looking for his donkey. He said, "Where did my donkey run off to?" The doctrine is just this. Therefore now, not having attained nirvana, Because you have birth and-death, you still want to seek nirvana. If you don't have any birth and death, then nirvana is your own. It is not necessary to rook for it any more. Therefore, it says, DHARMAS EMPTY. Nirvana and dharmas are just emptiness. This is the fourth line.

The fifth line is:

LET GO OF SELF SEEKING AND LEAVE ALL FALSE.

If you wish to give proof to the attainment of the people empty, dharma empty state…people are empty and dharma is also empty; birth and death, and nirvana are also empty...What must you do first? You must let go. You must see through all matters, let go of them. You do not want continually to hold on to so many things. This is what is called leaving all false. If you do hold on, if you do not leave all false, this is called your self-seeking heart (lit. the heart which climbs on connections or conditions). All the obstructions are carried around with you. If you let go of them, let go of self-seeking and leave all false, then there are no obstructions. You are neither attached to your body nor attached to your heart; there is no attachment. You are not attached anywhere. Just this is letting go.

MAD HEART STOPS, ENLIGHTENMENT ALL PERVADES.

You cause your mad heart [or ‘mind’], your wild heart to stop. "How stop?" you ask. You stop. Just stop! Is there still a how? Just stop! Tell this mad heart to rest. Tell it to go to sleep. When enlightenment pervades everywhere, you are enlightened to the perfect fusion, without obstruction, of all the Buddhadharma. You understand everything. If you do not stop the mad heart, then you cannot be enlightened. Therefore, in the SHURANGAMA SUTRA it says, ''If the mad heart ceases, just this ceasing is bodhi." If you are able to stop the mad heart, cause it to rest, tell it to go to sleep, just this is bodhi. It is just what the Buddha said, "All living beings have the wisdom and virtuous appearance of the Thus Come One. Only because of false thinking and attachment are they unable to give proof to the attainment.

The seventh [and eighth] lines:

ENLIGHTENED ATTAIN SELF-NATURE’S BRIGHT STORE.

Have you seen it or not? The self-nature is the light bright store[house]. If you are enlightened to the attainment of the self-nature’s light bright store, the

ORIGINAL REWARD AND DHARMA BODY,

then you are clear about the great light bright store of the self-nature. Just this is the Tathagata store nature. Then you know that it is just this original reward body, this body called the karma retribution body that undergoes retribution (retribution and reward are the same word in Chinese). So whatever offense karma was created in former lives--if we created good, then we receive a good fruit retribution, and if we created evil then we receive an evil fruit retribution--we now undergo as fruit retribution. But it is just this undergoing fruit retribution, this body, which is the dharma body. But you must be enlightened to the attainment of the original-face, be enlightened to the attainment of the light bright store of the self-nature. At that time, what is it like? Students are professors; professors are students. Everyone is the same, Buddhas are living beings; living beings are Buddhas, without any difference. If you understand this doctrine, then it is genuine understanding. If you have not understood, then you still have ignorance.

EACH OF YOU NOW MEETS A MONK IN THE GRAVE.
ABOVE NO SUN AND MOON, BELOW NO LAMP.
AFFLICTION AND BODHI, ICE IS WATER.
BIRTH, DEATH, AND NIRVANA; DHARMAS EMPTY.
LET GO OF SELF-SEEKING AND LEAVE ALL FALSE.
MAD HEART STOPS, ENLIGHTENMENT ALL PERVADES.
ENLIGHTENED, ATTAIN SELF-NATURE'S BRIGHT STORE,
ORIGINAL REWARD AND DHARMA BODY.

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