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MAN-AN - An Elementary Talk on Zen

Translated by Thomas Cleary in Minding Mind.

lthough the Way of Buddhahood is long and far, ultimately there is not an in h of ground on earth. Although it is ulti!ated, reali"ed, and mastered o!er a #eriod of three in al ulable aeons, the true mind is not remote. Although there may be fi!e hundred miles of dangers and diffi ult road, the treasure is nearby. $f #eo#le %ho study Zen to learn the Way mistake a single ste# or stir a single thought, they are ten trillion lands and a billion aeons a%ay. &ou should, sim#ly see your essential nature to attain Buddhahood. The s ri#tural tea hings e'#ounded by the Buddha o!er the ourse of his areer are instru tions for seeing essential nature, %hen it omes to seeing essential nature itself and a%akening to the Way, that is ommuni ated se#arately outside of do trine and does not stand on %ritten symbols. $n this there are no distin tions bet%een the shar# and the dull, the ri h and the #oor, mendi ants and lay #eo#le, Easterners or Westerners, an ients or moderns. $t only de#ends u#on %hether or not the %ill for enlightenment is there and %hether instru tion and guidan e are mistaken or a urate. E!en if you get dire tions from a thousand Buddhas and myriad Zen masters, if you yourself do not ontinue right mindfulness %ith #urity and singleness of faith, you an ne!er see essential nature and a%aken to the Way. This %ay you reali"e your o%n essential nature by means of your o%n mind and understand your o%n life by means of your o%n insight. $f right mindfulness is not ontinuous and on entration is not #ure and single minded, your efforts %ill be in !ain. This right mindfulness means not ha!ing any thought, on entration means not on ei!ing any mental images. Zen master (ogen said, )Thinking of %hat does not think is the essential art of sitting meditation.) $f you on entrate intensely t%enty-four hours a day, the same ina ti!ity as in *uiet, #rin i#le and fa t as one, then in%ard and out%ard bede!ilments lose their %ays of getting at you and you get beyond all obstru tion. +ood and bad, right and %rong, #ain and #leasure, ad!antage and ad!ersity, are shed all at on e, the root om#ulsion by beginningless ignoran e is se!ered, and you see the original state as it %as before s#a e and time.

MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut

Pa e !

)Before s#a e and time, does not mean something remote in s#a e and time, don-t think of it as something an ient. $t is the immediate e'#erien e of seeing essential nature right no%. it is the time %hen you let go of your self and gi!e u# om#ulsion. $t should be understood, further more, that in!o ation of Buddha names and re itation of s ri#tures are also shar# s%ords for se!ering the root of om#ulsion. (on-t think that by a umulating effort and building u# merit you %ill be reborn after death to see Buddha. don-t seek resulting re%ards of blessings and gra es. &ou should be unatta hed to the mar!elous. As the #ast, #resent, and future mind an not be gras#ed, right mindfulness a##ears s#ontaneously. Whate!er you are doing, on entrate %holeheartedly on *uestioning the inner master that #er ei!es, ogni"es, and emotes. $f your effort is %eak, real %ondering %ill not o ur and false imagining %ill be hard to e'#el. $f you %ant to a hie!e early fulfillment, brandish the #re ious s%ord gi!en by the mind king and mar h right ahead /if you meet Buddhas, kill the Buddhas, if you meet Zen masters, kill Zen masters, if you meet your #arents, kill your #arents. if you meet the masses of li!ing beings, kill the masses of li!ing beings. Totally massa re e!ery thing animate and inanimate, all forms and a##earan es, mountains, ri!ers, and earth, all times and all #la es, good and bad, right and %rong, #lus anything else that a##ears and disa##ears, oming and going through the doors of the si' senses and the alleys of the se!en ons iousnesses. 0a!ing killed it all om#letely, %hen you turn a fli# and a##ear in the realm of osmi s#a e, you an be alled a real hero. When you get to this #oint, you %ill not doubt that Buddhas and sentient beings, enlightenment and affli tion, samsara and nir!ana, hea!en and hell, are all illusions. $n Zen study, you should not sla k off for an instant. Alerting your !ital s#irit as you breathe out and in, %at hing your ste# as you %alk forth and ba k, be as if you %ere gallo#ing on a single horse into an o##osing army of a million troo#s, armed %ith a single s%ord. As long as our on entration is not #urely singleminded in both a ti!ity and stillness, it %ill be hard to attain e!en a little a ord. Con entration of right mindfulness should be ulti!ated most es#e ially in the midst of a ti!ity. &ou need not ne essarily #refer stillness. There is a tenden y to think that Zen #ra ti e %ill be *ui ker under onditions of stillness and *uiet and that a ti!ity is distra ting, but the #o%er attained by ulti!ation in stillness is un ertain %hen you deal %ith a ti!e situations, it has a o%ardly and %eakly fun tion. $n that ase, %hat do you all em#o%erment 1 Con entration of right mindfulness is a state of absor#tion that is in oneself t%enty-four hours a day, but one does not e!en kno% it ons iously. E!en though you %ork all day, you do not get tired out, and e!en if you sit alone or stand silently for a long time, you do not get bored. To sear h out enlightenment %ith #rin i#le and fa t unified is alled genuine study. $f you %ant to *ui kly attain mastery of all truths and be in de#endent in all e!ents, there is nothing better than on entration ina ti!ity. That is %hy it is said that students of mysti ism %orking on the Way should sit in the midst of the material %orld. The Third 2atriar h of Zen said, )$f you %ant to head for the Way of 3nity, do not be a!erse to the ob4e ts of the si' senses. ) This does not mean that you should indulge in the ob4e ts of the si' senses, it
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e "

means that you should kee# right mindfulness ontinuous, neither gras#ing nor re4e ting the ob4e ts of the si' senses in the ourse of e!ery day life, like a du k going into the %ater %ithout its feathers getting %et. $f, in ontrast, you des#ise the ob4e ts of the si' senses and try to a!oid the m, you fall into es a#ist tenden ies and n e!er fulfill the Way of Buddhahood. $f you learly see the essen e, then the ob4e ts of the si' senses are themsel!es meditation, sensual desires are them sel!es the Way of 3nity, and all things are manifestations of 5eality. Entering into the great Zen stability undi!ided by mo!ement and stillness, body and mind are both freed and eased. As for #eo#le %hose tout to ulti!ate s#iritual #ra ti e is %ith a!ersion to the ob4e ts and desires of the senses, e!en if their minds and thought s are em#ty and still and their ontem#lati!e !isuali"ation is #erfe tly lear, still %hen they lea!e *uietude and get into a ti!e situations, they are like fish out of %ater, like monkeys out of the trees. E!en #eo#le %ho go dee# into mountain forests. ut off relations %ith the %orld for e!er, and eat from the fruits of the trees as as eti s an not easily attain #ure singleness of, on entration. Needless to say, it is e!en more diffi ult for those %ho are mendi ants in name only, or shallo% householders, %ho are so busy making a li!ing. $n truth, unless you ha!e definite ertitude of o!er%helming faith, or are filled %ith o!er%helming doubt or %onder, or are ins#ired %ith o!er%helming ommitment, or are o!ertaken by o!er%helming death, it is hard to attain on entration that is #ure and undi!ided in #rin i#le and fa t, ina tion and stillness. $f you are %holeheartedly areful of ho% you s#end your time, a% are of the e!anes en e of life, on entrating singlemindedly on Zen %ork e!en in the midst of ob4e ts of desire, if you #ro eed right straight ahead, the iron %alls %ill o#en u#. &ou %ill e'#erien e the immense 4oy of %alking o!er the 2olar Mountain and be ome the Master %ith in the ob4e ts of sense. you %ill be like a lotus blooming in fire, be oming all the more olorful and more fragrant in onta t %ith the energy of fire. (o not say that it is harder for lay#eo#le li!ing in the %orld of senses and desires to sit and meditate, or that it is hard, to on entrate %ith so many %orldly duties, or that one %ith an offi ial or #rofessional areer an not #ra ti e Zen, or that the #oor and the si kly do not ha!e the #o%er to %ork on the Way. These e' uses are all due to im#oten e of faith and su#erfi iality of the thought of enlightenment. $f you obser!e that the matter of life and death is serious, and that the %orld is really im#ermanent, the %ill for enlightenment %ill gro%, the thie!ing heart of egoism, selfishness, #ride, and o!etousness %ill gradually die out, and you %ill ome to %ork on the Way by sitting meditation in %hi h #rin i#le and fa t are one. 6u##ose you %ere to lose your only hild in a ro%d or dro# an in!aluable gem/do you think you %ould let the hild or the, 4e%el go at that, 4ust be ause of the bustle and the mob1Would you not look for them e!en if you had a lot of %ork to door %ere #oor or si kly1 E!en if you had to #lunge into an immense ro%d of #eo#le and had to ontinue sear hing into the night, you %ould not be easy in mind until you had found and retrie!ed your hild or your 4e%el. To ha!e been born human and heard true tea hing is a !ery rare o##ortunity, so to negle t
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e #

meditation be ause of your areer is to treat the life of %isdom of the body of truths of the Buddhas less seriously than %orldly hattels. But if you sear h for %isdom singlemindedly like someone %ho has lost a hild or dro##ed a gem, one day you %ill undoubtedly en ounter it, %hereu#on you %ill light u# %ith 4oy. 2eo#le in all %alks of life ha!e all sorts of things to attend to, ho% ould they ha!e the leisure to sit silently all day in *uiet ontem#lation1 0ere there are Zen tea hers %ho ha!e not managed to ulti!ate this sitting meditation on entration , they tea h deliberate se lusion and *uietude, a!oiding #o#ulation enters, stating that intensi!e meditation on entration an not be attained in the midst of #rofessional %ork, business, and labor, thus ausing students to a##ly their minds mistakenly. 2eo#le %ho listen to this kind of talk onse*uently think of Zen as something that is hard to do and hard to #ra ti e, so they gi!e u# the ins#iration to ulti!ate Zen, abandon the sour e and try to es a#e, time and again be oming like lo%ly migrant %orkers. This is truly lamentable. e!en if they ha!e a dee# as#iration due to some ause in the #ast, they get to %here they negle t their 4obs and lose their so ial !irtues for the sake of the Way. As an an ient said, if #eo#le today %ere as eager for enlightenment as they are to embra e their lo!ers, then no matter ho% busy their #rofessional li!es might be and no matter ho% lu'urious their d%ellings maybe, they %ould not fail to attain ontinuous on entration leading to a##earan e of the great Wonder. Many #eo#le of both an ient and modern times ha!e a%akened to the Way and seen essential nature in the midst of a ti!ity. All beings in all times and #la es are manifestations of one mind /%hen the mind is aroused, all sorts of things arise, %hen the mind is *uiet, all things are *uiet. )When the one mind is unborn, all things are blameless.) 7or this reason, e!en if you stay in *uiet and serene #la es dee# in the mountains and sit silently in *uiet ontem#lation, as long as the road of the mind monkey-s horse of on e#tuali"ation is not ut of f, you %ill only be %asting time. The Third 2atriar h of Zen said, )$f you try to sto# mo!ement and resort to stillness, that sto##ing %ill ause e!en more mo!ement.) $f you try to seek true su hness by erasing random thoughts, you %ill belabor your !ital s#irit, diminish your mental energy, and get si k. Not only that, you %ill be ome obli!ious or distra ted and fall into a #it of be%ilderment. &ou should use the t%o methods of essation and obser!ation to #erfe t dis i#line, on entration, and insight. Cessation is Zen on entration , obser!ation is insight. $n essation the mind, intelle t, and ons iousness are ina ti!e, #re!enting all mis ondu t, utting off the root of un ons ious om#ulsion, there is no transgression of #re e#ts, ma4or or minor. $n obser!ation there is no atta hment to a##earan es of ondu t, all ideas of self and things are em#tied, obstru tions aused by beginningless habitual a tions are annihilated, and the s#iritual light of the essential self shines through e!ery %here, inside and outside. There is no essation %ithout obser!ation and no obser!ation %ithout essation. Combining the t%o truths of em#tiness and onditional e'isten e, the ultimate truth of the Middle Way is established. Models for #ra ti e of sitting meditation and %ays of a##lying the mind in on entration ha!e omedo%n through tradition from the Buddha s and Zen masters. you should kno% too that there are also ty#es of sitting meditation ty#i ally #ra ti ed by seekers of indi!idual liberation, seekers of hea!enly states, humanitarians, and assorted ultists. Those %ho as#ire to unsur#assed enlightenment
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e $

should #ra ti e the sitting meditation of Buddhas and Zen masters. Buddhas and Zen masters on ei!e great om#assion from the outset, n e!er for getting the great mass of li!ing beings. 6itting in the lotus #osture, kee#ing the body u#right, maintaining orre t mindfulness, essation and obser!ation, and tuning the breathing are essential arts of sitting meditation. $n a lean and un luttered room or under a tree or ato# a ro k, s#read a thi k sitting mat. then loosen your belt and sit. 7irst bend the right leg and #ut the right foot on the left thigh. Then #la e the left foot on the right thigh. No% #ut the right hand on the left leg, #alm u#, #la e the left hand #alm u# on to# of the right #alm, and let the t%o thumbs bra e ea h other. 6it straight, neither leaning ba k%ard nor for%ard, aligning the ears %ith the shoulders and the nose %ith the na!el. %ith the eyes o#en as normal, kee# %at h o!er the ti# of your nose. (o not lose your eyes, for that %ill be kon obli!ion and dro%siness. 5est your mind in the #alm of your left hand, and ha!e your energy fill your lo%er abdomen, %aist and #el!i region, and legs. E'#anding the o ean of energy in the umbili al s#here, take one dee# breath and e'#el it om#letely through the mouth. Then lose the li#s and let fresh air enter through the nose in ontinuous subtle res#iration. neither hurried nor sluggish. Being a%are of the e'it and entry of the breath, think of %hat is not thinking. $f you on entrate intently, basi energy %ill naturally fill you and solidify you. &our lo%er abdomen %ill be ome like a gourd or a ball. The rule for #a ing meditation is to %alk slo%ly, almly, and are fully, half a ste# %ith ea h breath, follo%ing a straight ourse around a s*uare #erimeter. When you %ant to get u# from stillness to #a e around, massage and mo!e your body, rising almly and arefully. Walk slo%ly, along a straight #ath. Mo!e the right foot first, then the left. Ea h time you take a ste#, let it be half the length of your foot, and mo!e ea h foot in the inter!al of one breath. Wat h the ground about se!en feet in front of you, and stand u# straight as you %alk. When you %ant to turn, turn to the right. Walking for %ard, %alking ba k, if you r on entration is #ure and single, truth %ill be ome manifest and the re %ill be no sub4e ti!ity in your stand #oint. As for the method of tuning the breathing, after ha!ing settled in your seat, nurture your mental energy in the o ean of energy and field of eli'ir, not letting it #ush u#%ard from the umbili al s#here. Breathe through the nose, neither too ra#idly nor too slo%ly, neither #anting nor #uffing. When you breathe out, kno% you are breathing out, %hen you breathe in, kno% you are breathing in, 7o us your ons iousness on your breathing, not letting ons iousness go u# or do%n or out or in, not thinking dis ursi!ely, not making intelle tual or emotional inter#retations, not trying to figure anything out, sim#ly being a%are of outgoing and in oming breathing, not missing a single breath. When this on entration be omes ontinuous, the #hysi al elements of the body be ome %ell tuned, the internal organs are #urified, the u##er #arts are lear and ool, %hile the lo%er #arts are %arm. Body and mind %ill s#ontaneously #rodu e great 4oyfulness. When you maintain an o#en, silent, radiant a%areness %hether you are a ti!e, stationary,
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e %

sitting, or re lining, !ehemently arouse the intensest determination. At this time, if you ha!e the slightest ons ious dis rimination, any thought of #ea e, bliss, or seeing essen e, you %ill n e!er be able to get out of birth and death, e!en in a hundred aeons and a thousand life times. $f you ha!e faith #rofoundly settled and gal!ani"e the on entration to bring on the great death, suddenly, you %ill find )the bottom fall out of the bu ket) and )ki k o!er the al hemi al furna e, ) #assing beyond myriad aeons in a single instant, rushing the uni!erse underfoot %ith a ste#. What is there to doubt or %onder about the saying of the $ndian Zen Master 2ra4natara, )Breathing out, $ do not get in!ol!ed in ob4e ts 8 breathing in, $ do not d%ell on mental or material elements)1 As a beginning, %hen ine'#erien ed, if your breathing be omes ongested, onstri ted, and irregular, then ro k your body for%ard and ba k%ard and left and right to refresh your mind. E'#el the turbid energy from belo% the na!el, in one to three breaths, %ith the breath #assing through the nose, making it go from rough to fine, then ha!ing it go out and in !ery subtly. $f you be ome dro%sy or distra ted, then ount your breaths from one to ten, sto##ing at ten, and re#eating again from one to ten. $n this manner, ounting u# to ten o!er and o!er again, you should mentally %at h your e'halations %ith a urate mindfulness. Te hni*ues su h as !isuali"ation of the dissolution of the material elements, !isuali"ation of bones and flesh returning to their origins, and other su h traditional e'er ises are also effe ti!e. The se ret of inner ga"ing and nurturing life and the $mmortalists- %ondrous art of refining eli'ir are also based on the methods of tuning the breathing taught in Buddhism. When you a##ly your mind to it %holeheartedly, sitting meditation is really a %ay to #resent and future #ea e and bliss. $n a te'tbook of $mmortalism it says, ) %hat is most essential to nurturing life is refining the body. The subtle as#e t of refining the body is in ongealing the s#irit. When the s#irit ongeals, energy a umulates, %hen energy a umulates, the eli'ir de!elo#s. When the eli'ir de!elo#s, the body is stabili"ed, %hen the body is stable, the s#irit is %hole. 9b!iously the Eli'ir of $mmortality is not a material thing after all. The s#ot one and a half in hes belo% the na!el is alled the o ean of energy, this is the #la e %here the basi energy is stored and nurtured. Belo% that is alled the field of eli'ir, this is the site %here !itality and s#irit are melded. When s#iritual energy al%ays fills here, you remain free from si kness, robustly healthy, and li!e for a long time %ithout aging. 7or this reason, reali"ed human beings do not belabor their !itality and do not ram# their s#irit. The art of nurturing life is like maintaining a nation. 6#irit is like the ruler, !itality is like the administration, energy is like the #eo#le. To are for the #eo#le is the %ay to kee# the nation at #ea e, to be s#aring of your energy is the %ay to kee# your body sound. When energy is used u#, the body dies. %hen the #eo#le are dis#la ed, a ountry #erishes. An enlightened leader fo uses on ern on those belo%, an ignorant ruler a ts %himsi ally to%ard those belo%. When rulers a t %himsi ally, then abinet members flaunt their authority, ounting on the ruler-s fa!or and indulgen e, #aying no attention to the des#erate straits of the #eo#le belo%. +reedy ministers #lunder ra#a iously, allous offi ials steal by de eit, the faithful and moral go into hiding, and the ommon #eo#le are embittered. When on ern is fo used on those belo%, then ta'es and le!ies are modest and honest, re%ards and #unishments are not arbitrary, la%s and measures are 4ust, #lenty and #arsimony orres#ond to the season, the soil is fertile, the ountry is strong, #rodu tion is abundant, and ro#s are fruitful.
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e &

There is no %aste land, and no star!ation among the #eo#le. the human body is the same %ay. When !itality and energy al%ays fill the eli'ir field, then internal troubles do not a t u# and e'ternal e!ils an not in!ade. the si' bandits flee, the four demons hide. the sine%s and bones are firm, there is good ir ulation of the blood, the heart is #ea eful, and the s#irit is robust. $f you lose on entration of a urate mindfulness, ha!ing it snat hed a%ay by a distra ting ob4e t or lured a%ay by random asso iations, then bede!ilments arise in #rofusion and onse*uen es of #ast a tions olle t on your mind and bother you. $mmorality, indulgen e, false, o#inions, and on eit in rease, e!en to the #oint of destroying the seed of Buddha hood. $t is #itiful ho% human beings are all imbued %ith %isdom and !irtue, and fully endo%ed %ith the %ish-fulfilling 4e%el, yet they degrade them sel!es and im#o!erish themsel!es. Many of them say they ha!e minimal #otential, or they are si kly, or they are obstru ted by their #ast history, or they are entangled by ir umstan es, or there are no tea hers, or the tea hing is degenerate, or they ha!e #rofessional 4obs, or they are householders. 2eo#le also say by %ay of e' use that they ha!e #arents and hildren, they ha!e de#endents, they ha!e family business, they ha!e so ial res#onsibilities, they are im#ure, they ha!e troubles, there is tomorro%, there is ne't year, there is the ne't life. Creating their o%n la"iness and boredom, la' and #assi!e, they do not arouse the determination to #ra ti e Zen, they do not *uestion and on entrate, they do not in!estigate Zen and study the Way. 5egarding the three #oisons and fi!e desires to be inherent nature, seeking re#ute and #rofit by flattery and de!iousness as a daily o urren e, not only do they %aste this irre#la eable life, they also add onto e!il habits from beginningless #ast and suffer all sorts of #roblems and #ains into the endless future. This is most #itiful, most frightful. 0a!ing ha##ened to be born human and had the for tune to en ounter the tea hing of enlightenment, they do not understand the flu tuations of their minds and do not kno% %here their bodies %ill end u#. Abandoning their innate %ealth and nobility, burying their inherent light, they do not e!en kno% that Buddha nature e'ists. $t is a #ity that the true tea hing has deteriorated and #eo#le-s kno%ledge is inferior. 2eo#le %ho attain the Way are fe%, and genuine tea hers are rare. The ins#irations of students to day are in orre t from the start8in the ourse of their studies, many go on false #aths. E!en #eo#le %ho are su##osed to ha!e su#erior fa ulties and great determination, to say not hing of those %ith medio re or lesser #otential, not infre*uently take fame and #rofit for their ins#iration and make #ride their %ill #o%er. Without distinguishing %hether tea hers and olleagues are right or %rong, they insist on seeking enlightenment and mar!els. Without letting go of fi'ations on their o%n bodies and minds, they seek only #rominen e and fame. E!en though some su h #eo#le may o asionally seem to be e'erting intense energy, %hen they deal %ith on rete e!ents they ba kslide and sla k off. 7a ing ob4e ti!e ir umstan es, they interru#t their on entration , so it does not ontinue and the great Wonder does not a##ear. What a %aste: they %ind u# dying in a ghost a!e in a mountain of bla kness, de!elo#ing nihilisti !ie%s, or else they remain fi'ated in the radiant light of s#iritual a%areness, on ei!ing !ie%s of Buddha, (harma, and eternity. 6ome re ogni"e s#iritual radian e, alert yet silent, and om# are it to
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e '

su hness, the essen e of things. E!en if #eo#le like this meet tea hers %ith lear eyes, they do not relin*uish their o%n o#inions to learn the Way. E!en if they study the koans of the an estral tea hers of Zen, they do not bring them to mind %ith fo used on entration . Coming to im#enetrable and ins rutable Zen de!i es, they inter#ret arbitrarily by rationali"ation and intelle tual dis rimination, alling that #enetration through to freedom. E!en those %ho are su##osedly Zen tea hers ha!e not ut off their mental routines and ha!e not arri!ed at the intent and e'#ression of Zen. Making their li!ing on hallu inations and altered states, they !iolate the rules of ondu t %ithout fear of the onse*uen es. Negle ting the unified %ork on the Way that in ludes reading s ri#tures, #erforming #rostrations before Buddhas, and sim#ly sitting, they re4e t the refinement and de!elo#ment #ro ess that in ludes s%ee#ing, dra%ing %ater, gathering fire%ood, and #re#aring meals. The Zen monasteries are like general stores at the rossroads, dealing in #oetry and song, #rose and !erse, alligra#hy and #ainting, al ulating, stam#s, tea, in enses, medi ine, di!ination, and all sorts of other arts. They engage in trade and ommer e %hen e!er the o##ortunity or demand arises. Can you all this means of dealing %ith the masses for the sake of the #eo#le1 $t an hardly be alled the %ill for Zen study. E!en if you are intelligent, #sy hi , elo*uent, and learned, ha!e e'amined all #rin i#les, mastered all do trines, and larified all tea hings, e!en if you an radiate s#iritual light and trans form the atmos#here, an tame ghosts and %ild animals, and an die %hile sitting or standing, e!en if you are !irtuous enough to be the tea her of kings and lords, and are e!en alled an in arnate Buddha, unless you disregard %ealth, sensuality, re#utation, and #rofit, you an hardly be alled someone %ith ontinuity of true mindfulness. The sad fa t is that both the lergy and the laity are su#erfi ial in their attention to the Way. Those %ho abandon name and #rofit are really rare. Therefore the tea hing enters make talks on Zen and le tures on lassi s their style, onsider large ro%ds and #lenty of donations to be a flourishing ondition, think learning and talent are %isdom, and all fame and #o%er !irtues. 9n the borderline of life and death, on the !ery last day, of %hat use %ill any of t his be19ne day %hen you suffer illness, false thought s %ill in rease all the more, the fire in your heart %ill ba ku#, and you %ill agoni"e in #ain. After your breath sto#s, as the great king of the nether %orld glare sat you %ith angry eyes and *uestions you %ith an iron rod in hand, it %ill surely be a terrible s ene. When %e obser!e the %orld losely, %e find that more #eo#le are killed by false thoughts than by #hysi al diseases. 7alse thought s are more to be feared e!en than #oisonous !i#ers. When you deta h from false thoughts, illness is a tually a tea her. sin e an ient times a great number of #eo#le ha!e attained #o%er and seen essential nature %hile struggling %ith the agonies of serious illness. $f you be ome !ery si k, do not fear death or look ba k on life. (on the armor of #atien e, bundle the bo% and arro%s of faithfulness and 4usti e, mount the horse of !aliant #o%er, gras# the %hi# of diligen e, setu# the standard of the Way of 3nity, make selflessness and ha!ing fe% desires your troo#s, make ontinuous on entration of true mindfulness your general, fortify the astle of the mind king in the o ean of energy and field of eli'ir, store the #ro!ender of the eli'ir of fi!e energies, set in motion the strategy of freedom from thought and imagining.
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e (

(o all this, and e!en if four hundred and four battle lines of si kness arise all at on e, ba ked-u# by eighty-four thousand troo#s of be%ilderment, and atta k through e!ery fa et of ons iousness and e!ery feeling and emotion, still you %ill not be dismayed. When they ultimately surrender to the kindness and om#assion of the mind king, submit to the #o%er of the general, are o%ed by the bra!ery of the troo#s, #ut do%n their %ea#ons and gi!e u#, then you %ill ha!e no o##onents in the ten dire tions, no misery in your %hole body. With right and %rong one su hness, all %ithin the four seas %ill sing of great #ea e, and you %ill attain omfort and ha##iness in this %orld and the ne't. A Chinese Zen master of the #ast on e suffered from dysentery. When he %as on the brink of death, he fought %ith the #ain and misery to sit in meditation. After a %hile his abdomen gro%led loudly and on!ulsed, %hereu#on the dysentery remitted and he attained a great a%akening. A ertain monk of my a *uaintan e on e suffered from influen"a so se!ere, that he ouldn-t eat for eight days, running a fe!er so high that his tongue turned bla k. 0e suffered ontinuously day and night. At this #oint he %as s olded by his tea her. 5egretting that he %as still unenlightened, reali"ing he had been in error, he suddenly made a solemn !o%. %ith do or die determination, he rolled u# his slee#ing mat and bra!ely sat on it to on entrate in Zen meditation. When he did this, the misery and the fe!er of the si kness suddenly dis#ersed. Clear and ool inside and out, body and mind in a state of sublime 4oy, he reali"ed fundamental ungras#ability. $ also had a similar e'#erien e. When $ %as t%enty-eight years old there %as some trouble stemming from an argument, and $ %as #oisoned. My %hole body burned %ith #ain, and for a %hile my arms and legs and torso turned #ur#lish bla k. $t %ould be hard to e'#ress the intensity of my #ain and suffering. At that #oint $ on ei!ed #rofound re#entan e. 0ere $ had first been ins#ired at the age of se!enteen, had looked for true tea hers and entered Zen ommunities, studied Zen and %orked on the Way, e!en standing in %ater and sitting in the sno%, not lying do%n to rest, ne!er for getting the *uest day or night, for o!er ten years. The %inter retreat at a ertain monastery, %here $ re ei!ed the guidan e of a tea her and thought $ had #assed through life and death and shed my self. No% that $ %as being tortured by this #oison, $ reali"ed ho% my mind %as not free. 6o $ #ut for than enormous effort to sit u#, fighting the intense #ain. At this #oint, the first %at h of the night had not yet been sounded. Tuning my breathing %ith true mindfulness, $ %ent into the !ision of the #hysi al elements disintegrating. All of a sudden my breathing disa##eared and real !ision a##eared. essen e and forms both forgotten, true mindfulness ontinued. Then there ame the sound of a bell, e hoing in s#a e. As $ obser!ed my o%n body and the a##earan es of others, it %as all like an unbroken e'#anse of em#ty s#a e. then $ intimately understood the #rea hing of the original body. When $ stirred my body and stret hed my limbs, they felt most e'traordinarily su##le and #urified. the #ains $ had been suffering hitherto %ere like last night-s dream, and my olor also returned to normal. 2hysi ally and mentally e'hilarated, $ almly rose from my seat and %ent outside. ;ooking to the east, $ sa% that it %as already da%n. After a little %hile, !omiting and diarrhea o urred all at on e. $t %as as if my guts had been
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e )

used u#, and $ %as only flesh and bones. Meeting death %hile ali!e, finding life in death, it %as as if the #oison had hanged into a medi inal eli'ir. 7or the first time, $ deta hed from the dualisti !ie%s of hatred and lo!e and attained reali"ation of the e*uality of enemy and friend. There %ere also similar ases in an ient times, su h as so the Bodhisatt!a named Courageous +i!ing, %ho !iolated #re e#t, made a great !o% in the midst of his onse*uent torment, and suddenly reali"ed a e#tan e of beginninglessness. There ha!e been those %ho %ere atta ked by thousands of mos*uitoes and attained enlightenment %hile battling %ith the si kening it h. there %ere also those %ho attained a%akening %hile battling %ith the agony of being dismembered or ha!ing their skin and flesh burned and #ier ed. +reat Master &unmen attained a ma4or a%akening on ha!ing his leg broken. Ninaga%a 6hinuemon reali"ed a%akening during an argument. The 6hogun Takau4i attained #ea e of mind on the battlefront. $n this onte't, to)fight)means not to fear and not to get in!ol!ed but 4ust to establish on entration of true mindfulness. $f you #lunge right ahead, both the #ain and errant thoughts %ill turn into a mass of s#irit and be ome unified %ork on the Way. $f you lose on entration of right mindfulness, not only %ill you be #hysi ally and mentally tormented by false thought s and #er!erse moods in this life, you %ill also ontinue eternal birth and death, suffering great #ain. This has ha##ened to ountless #eo#le #ast and #resent, both lergy and lay folk. No% then, if rulers la k on entration of true mindfulness, they an not bring #ea e and se urity to the #o#ula e. $f administrators la k on entration of true mindfulness, they annot fulfill loyalty and 4usti e. $f ordinary #eo#le la k on entration of true mindfulness, they annot fulfill their so ial obligations. 7or this reason $ kee# re#eating that you should make your attitude of faith ertain and stable, turn e!ery thing you do into a single koan, and ontinue on entration of right mindfulness %ithout interru#tion. $ntensi!e Zen re*uires strength of s#irit and intensity of on entration. (o not degrade yourself, do not let yourself be %eakly, and do not debase yourself. the Buddha s and the Zen Masters %ere thus, and %e are also thus. Who %ere the an ient kings, and %ho are %e1 6ages ha!e hori"ontal eyes and !erti al noses, %e too ha!e hori"ontal eyes and !erti al noses. Breathing out and in, %e do not borro% the nostrils of anyone else, ste##ing for%ard, ste##ing ba k, %e do not use another-s legs. Al%ays kee#ing u# this determination to trans end the Buddhas and Masters, sear hing into the root ore of one-s o%n mind, is alled a robust %ill. 0ere it is not a *uestion of %hether you are a mendi ants or a lay #erson. $t does not matter %hether you are a man or a %oman. $t makes no differen e %hether you are keen or dull, more or less intelligent. $t does not matter %hether you ha!e a lot of %ork to do or are at leisure. Those %ho make the great #romise and undertake the great ommitment, %ho are full of great faith and arouse the great Wonder, do not fail to #er ei!e essential nature, a%aken to the Way, and attain the skin and flesh of the Buddhas and Zen Masters. There ha!e been many %omen %ith %ill#o%er sur#assing that of great men, %omen %ho ulti!ated Zen #ra ti e and #assed through the barriers of #otential setu# by the Buddhas and Zen
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e !*

Masters. 0undreds, e!en thousands, of enlightened rulers, %ise ministers, laymen, and lay %omen in $ndia, China, and <a#an ha!e seen essential nature and reali"ed truth. $f you do not liberate yourself in this life time, %hat life time %ill you %ait for 1 9n e this day has #assed, that mu h of your life is gone too. With ea h #assing thought, obser!e the im#ermanen e of the a##earan es of the %orld and gi!e u# thinking there %ill be a tomorro%. With ea h ste# tread the great Way of the mind sour e, and do not turn to another road. &ou should let go your hand and foot holds, as if #lunging off a #re i#itous liff. When body and mind ha!e died a%ay at on e, it is like standing right in the middle of osmi s#a e, like sitting in the enter of a rystal !ase. All of a sudden there %ill emerge the great state that is not ordinary, not holy, not Buddha, not mind, not a thing, you %ill attain, #enetrating reali"ation that mind, Buddha, and li!ing beings are one. This is the reality body of all Buddhas, the inherent essen e of all #eo#le. By reali"ing this, one be omes a Buddha or a Zen master, by missing this, one be omes an ordinary mortal. Although #eo#le-s fa ulties may be keen or dull, and #ra ti e and reali"ation may be gradual or sudden, the se ret $ ha!e been re!ealing here is the tea hing of attaining Buddhahood by sudden enlightenment. $t is a standard rule in %hi h higher, middling, and lesser fa ulties are one %hole. $t is far from the gradual #ra ti e and learning of the t%o !ehi les of indi!idual liberation. To think Buddha-nature is the state %here mind is em#ty and ob4e ts are silent, %here there is radiant a%areness %ithout arousing a single thought, is to onsider the ons ious s#irit to be the original human being. $t is like taking a thief to be your son, like taking a bri k for a mirror, like taking brass for real gold. This is the fundamental ignoran e underlying birth and death. $t is like being a or#se that is still breathing. &ou an not release your o%n radiant light, illumine the self %ithin and shine through the mountains, ri!ers, and earth. E!en if great a%akening is reali"ed and the body of reality is learly om#rehended, if you are #olluted by #ra ti e and attainment, the Buddha %ay does not be ome manifest. &ou should kno% that there is that %hi h is beyond e!en the beyond. As for the Zen of the li!ing e'em#lars, e!en if a lear mirror is #la ed on a stand, they break through it right a%ay. E!en if a #re ious #earl is in their #alm, they smash it at on e. A mortar flies through s#a e, the eastern mountains %alk on the %ater. 0a!ing the fortune to kno% that all li!ing beings ha!e Buddha-nature and that there is already a matter of utmost im#ortan e right %here you stand, in!estigate ontinuously, t%enty-four hours a day, in #rin i#le and in fa t/ %hat is it that is %alking, %hat is it that is sitting, %hat is it that a ts, %hat is the mind 1 $f you forge bra!ely and #o%er fully ahead, %holeheartedly *uestioning and %ondering for three to fi!e years %ithout flagging, the great Wonder %ill ine!itably o ur and you %ill not fail to a%aken. &et e!en though you may attain a thoroughgoing great a%akening, kno% that the !ast o ean of Buddhism gro%s dee#er the further you enter. $f you think there is no enlightenment to attain and no ommunity of li!ing beings to be liberated, if you think the s ri#tures of the anon are toilet #a#er and the se!enteen hundred koans are %orthless, after all you are not really free and at ease, your #er e#tion is not liberated, you ha!e not yet #assed through the Zen barrier, and the thie!ing mind has not died. $n this ondition, if you do not thro% a%ay #ride and on eit and *ui kly reali"e your error, you %ill fall into the dee# #it of the t%o !ehi les and ut off the life of %isdom of the Buddhas and Zen founders.
MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut Pa e !!

Nurturing the embryo of sagehood, ulti!ating #ra ti e in the aftermath of a%akening, is really not easy. An an ient said, )$f your #otential does not lea!e a fi'ed #osition, it falls into an o ean of #oison. ) $t is im#erati!e to kno% that there is ulti!ation on to# of reali"ation and to #reser!e the Way of li!ing Zen %ith hidden #ra ti e and se ret a##li ation. (o not make the mistake of maintaining the idea of ha!ing gained something, lest you be ome a hungry ghost fore!er kee#ing %at h o!er a treasure, or a star!eling %ith a hoard of %ealth. E!en if you see a Buddha and manifest and #er ei!e the realm of Buddha, you see only on e, not t%i e. $ ho#e you %ill on entrate and let go as you breathe out and in, remo!e all leakage from the stream of mindfulness, #er#etuate the bones and marro% of the Buddhas and Zen founders, dis#ense the #ure tea hing, like s%eet eli'ir, for the benefit and sal!ation of all li!ing beings, gratefully re*uiting the dee# and far-rea hing blessings you ha!e re ei!ed.

About the author : Man-an (1591-1654)

an-An Eishu was a prominent Soto Masters of the early Edo period. He was a good friend of Suzuki Shosan, and tried to raise the Soto Zen of that period to a higher level. He was su essful in re!uilding the "emple of #osho-$i in %$i. "ogether with other apa!le individuals of this period, he was onvin ed that a general reform of Zen was ne essary, !ut he la ked the influen e to arry it out. His work refle ts a modern trend toward emphasis on Meditation in a tion.

MAN-AN Thomas Cleary - An Elementary Talk on Zen - prepared by Frederic Lecut

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