A WORLDLY LIFE WITH JOY IN THE WAY


Tuệ Sỹ


A WORLDLY LIFE WITH JOY IN THE WAY

myanmar

A WORLDLY LIFE WITH JOY IN THE WAY

 

1

Though settling in the city,

The way of life I follow is of forest and mountain,

The ten thousand actions calmed and my being at ease.

Already for half a day I have let go of mind and body.

The sources of thirst and desire cease,

No reflection on lovely pearls or precious jades.

Both praises and blames are silenced, too;

Even though sounding,

They would be like the cries of orioles and swallows.

Roaming the blue waters or hiding in the green mountains,

That is the pleasure of many a person.

Peaches are pink and willows green;

Yet few in the world can ever contemplate them;

The bright moon in the blue sky

Is shining all in the vast Zen river.

Willows are soft and flowers in full blossom;

All beings are fully exposed under the sun of Wisdom.

Though interested in transforming bones

And ascending to Heaven in broad daylight, [1]

The elixir of life has only just been taken.

Though yearning for immortality in the upper realm,

Rabbit-medicine[2] is not perfectly prepared.

The Book of Changes [3] I read for fun,

Loving Illuminating Nature rather than jewels.

The Sūtra on Deliverance I study earnestly;

More precious than gold is the mind awakened.

 

2

Thus I know!

Mind is once awakened,

It is not necessary to seek any other way.

Sustaining illuminating nature conduces to peace of mind;

Right view comes when illusions are left behind.

Attachment to I-ness and Other-ness cut down,

There appears the true character of “diamond.”[4]

Greed and hatred abandoned,

Then comes the marvelous nature of perfect enlightenment.

The PureLand [5] is essentially the pure mind,

No more preoccupied with the Western Paradise.[6]

And Amitābha is the very illumination,

Not busy seeking the way to the Realm of Bliss.[7]

Observing body and mind, cultivating mindfulness,

Not for the purpose of reaping apparent fruits;

Preserving morality, fighting with flux,

Not owing to aspiration for fame and merit.

Eating vegetables and fruits,

No worry about taste—bitter or hot.

Covered with paper or coarse cloth,

No concern about the body—white or black.

If just pleased with morality,

A hermitage deserves much more than a celestial palace.

If constantly inspired by humaneness and uprightness,

Only three tiles are more valuable than a pavilion.

 

3

If one is awakened,

No fault is committed;

The Buddha’s teaching then is comprehended.

As illumination is maintained, it is hard to fall on the wrong track;

And all that is studied must be of perfect teaching.

As Buddha is our very nature, follow Ma-tsu’s mentality;[8]

To forsake wealth and beauty, seek P’ang-kung’s way of conduct.[9]

With illuminating nature constantly aroused in face of desire,

There is no need to cultivate the Way on the Cánh Diều peak of Mount Yên Tử;

Without being stirred by sound and sight,

Meditation can be practiced not merely at the Sạn temple on MountĐông.

Achieved in the midst of the world, that merit is increasingly admired;

Unsuccessfully made just in the mountains, that effort is but a vain attempt.

With vows of being under a competent master,

The fruit of enlightenment would ripen overnight.

If fortunate to come in contact with a dharma-friend,

The udumbara[10] flower could blossom for lives.

 

4

Awaken your faith!

Mindfulness is once attained,

All doubts vanish instantaneously.

First transform the Three Poisons,[11] then realize the Three Bodies.[12]

To abandon the six senses enables the elimination of the Six Enemies.[13]

To seek transformation of one’s bones,

Learn how to prepare a pill of immortality;

To grasp the meaning of True Emptiness,

Let not be disturbed by sound and form.

If able to understand Tathatā,[14] to penetrate Prajñā,[15]

There is no more search for Buddha in the east or west.

If able to realize True Nature, to comprehend the Unconditioned,

There is no more study of Zen doctrine in the north or south.

Reading the Tripiṭaka,[16]

It is to observe pure rules of Zen garden.

Burning the five-portioned incense,[17]

It is not to use candana[18] or campaka[19] any more.

To cultivate humaneness and uprightness, to accumulate merits and virtues,

It is surely Śākyamuni’s conducts;

To observe precepts, to uproot greed,

It is undoubtedly Maitreya’s actions.

 

5

Thus it is learnt

That Buddha is within,

Not being sought afar.

My true nature being veiled, I have sought Buddha;

Now it is clear that Buddha is my nature.

With five phrases from Zen teaching, I can lie leisurely in Ho-yu;

With three recitations of sūtra, I can sit at ease in Hsin-lo.

To comprehend the Buddhist teaching, to penetrate its essentials,

One has to go through patriarchal gates and dharma-halls.

To rid oneself of praise and blame, to detach oneself from sound and form,

One has to cease seeking pleasures in recreation of all kinds.

The compassionate Buddha,

May I be with Him in many lives!

Out of the King’s favor,

May people be exempted from hard labor!

Whether robes and blankets are patched or tattered,

They help me survive the cold of winter.

Whether rice and gruel are plain or somewhat rotten,

They help me overcome everyday hunger.

To prevent the eight consciousnesses[20] and eight winds[21] from arising;

The more they are suppressed, the more they increase.

To manifest the three marvelous, to expound the three essential,

It is necessary to elucidate them all.

The lute has no strings;

Yet the song of Non-Arising is played on.

The flute has no holes;

From it the tune of Great Harmony still comes.

To leave the root for branches,

It is rather sorry for the Venerable Chü-chih;

Avoiding realities and hunting for deluded images,

Yajñadatta[22] deserves to be laughed at.

Without fortitude, it is hard to pass through the Ring of Diamond,

Without vigor, it is not possible to swallow a thorny fruit.

 

6

How true it is!

Being no-mind

Is spontaneously to be in accord with the Way.

The Three Actions calmed, then body and mind are pacified;

Single-mindedness realized, thus the Patriarchs’ teaching is clarified.

With knowledge based on words literally,

The Zen student loses his way;

On grasping the principle, penetrating into its workings,

The humble monk starts his skillful paces.

What about āsrava[23] and anāsrava?

Just like a thin filter and a hollow ladle.

What about Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna?

No other than a thread of coins and a bucket rope.

If an insight into original mind is gained,

There is no worry about transitory conditions.

If illuminating nature may be manifested,

There is no trouble made by objects and perceptions.

When gold is not yet made pure,

It takes nine times for dissolving and nine times for purifying.

If benefit is not longed for,

Whether a plain meal of rice or gruel is fine.

Keeping mind-precepts pure, making form-precepts perfect,

That is how a Bodhisattva adorns himself internally and externally.

Righteously serving one’s lord, respectfully obeying one’s father,

That is truly a noble man of loyalty and filial piety.

To practice meditation, it may cost one’s life

To repay a dharma-brother’s gratitude;

To experience the Way,

Hardship exerted on one’s head bone as such

Is not yet worth a master’s instructions.

 

7

Thus it is obvious

That how marvelous buddha-dharma is,

Which may be realized through personal experience only.

Ignorance being uprooted, bodhi[24] is made bright;

Defilements being purged, morality is greatly admired.

The Heart Sūtra recited,

The Buddha’s teachings would be easily penetrated;

The Patriarchs’ manner followed,

The Way of Zen would be somewhat traced.

To transform the root-ability, to get rid of earthly defilement,

Let no shadow of them appear in front.

To destroy hindrances, to deepen understanding,

Leave nothing harmful in hand.

With the fire of enlightenment,

Burn down the forest of abiding false views;

With the sword of wisdom,

Cut down all that is beclouding original mind.

To remember the saint’s grace, to love parents,

Respect Masters, study the Teaching;

To esteem the Gautama, to refrain from the ‘sweet,’[25]

Observe precepts, become vegetarians.

Deeply moved by the compassionate Buddha,

May I be with Him for many lives!

Highly grateful for His salvation,

May I be capable of enduring so terrible hardship,

Even though my body would suffer in numerous rebirths!

If constantly concerned with uprightness and absorbed in the Way,

Flowers and incense alone suffice to demonstrate one’s devotion.

If faith is aroused not in mind but in words only,

Faults are hard to abandon

Even though offerings would be of jade and gold.

 

8

Accordingly, be diligent in practice

And consistent in study.

Shake consciousness, cut off all fetters;

Suppress delusions, let them die out.

Those absorbed in merit and fame

Are all inexperienced fellows;

Those fraught with vigor and wisdom

May attain to true understanding.

Making bridges and ferries, building temples and stūpas,

That is cultivation of the teaching on external ornamentation.

Aspiring after sympathy-equanimity, versed in pity-compassion,

That is mastering the sūtra on internal tranquility.

To attain Buddhahood, it would take much effort to discipline mind;

To seek for gold, it would take much time to filter sand.

Practice exactly all that is learned from sūtras and records;

Out of respect for the Buddha, leave not a trace of fault in discipline.

Comprehension of the Buddha’s words may eliminate all anxieties;

Penetration into the Patriarchs’ instructions may sustain mindfulness.

 

9

It is thus widely known

That the Patriarchs’ instructions,

Though varied, are in reality rather identical.

Mentioned here are some patriarchs subsequent to Ma-tsu,

Not those at the time of the Emperor Chiao.[26]

Merit not gained, faults would increase due to attachment;

Knowledge not acquired, ignorance would remain as before.

Born in India and dead in Shao-lin,[27]

He[28] was temporarily buried at the foot of Mount Hsiung-er.

“Body is bodhi-tree; mind is bright mirror,”

There remains the stanza on the wall of the corridor.

Killing the cat,

Old Wang[29] drove away all doubts of the head monk.

Setting free the dog,

Master Hu[30] indicated the easy understanding of reality.

So expensive was rice at Lu-lêng Market that no bargain was possible;

So slippery was rock at Shih-t’ou[31] that few could arrive there.

Raising the dharma flag, P’o-tsao conquered the god of kitchen;

Moving the forefinger, Ku-chi followed the forefathers’ conduct.

With Lin-chi’s sword,[32] Pi-ma’s crutch,

Monastic devotees were taught the way to enlightenment;

With Master Tuan’s lion, Master Yu’s[33] water-buffalo,

Lay followers were instructed not to be arrogant.

By raising the fan, the bamboo-box,

It was so easy to test Zen students’ capacity.

By throwing the ball, handling the wooden ladle,

It was how to display skillfulness to the brotherhood.

Gaining the oar, Ch’uan-tzu was not purified in the clear water;

Twirling the tablet, Tao-wu showed nothing but magic things.

Hearing Old Yen’s[34] dragon could swallow Heaven and Earth,

Everybody would be frightened.

Learning I-ts’un’s[35] snake could creep across the world,

Everybody would have to run away.

The pine being mind, it was necessary to travel eastward.

The south belonging to fire, it was wrong to head for the north.

In spite of Old Chao’s[36] tea, Shao-ying’s cake,

A large number of Zen students were thirsty and hungry.

Though Ts’ao-ch’i rich in rice-fields, Shao-shih in gardens,

They were left uncultivated by poor monks.

Putting down the bundle of firewood, keeping the wick burning,

Life is sustained by diligence.

Peaches in bud and blossom, the sound of bamboo heard,

Nobility may be found in tranquility only.

 

10

Śūnyatā is once realized,

Life then is in accord with original nature;

Otherwise, not because of the Patriarchs’ instructions

But because of our clinging mind.

For those adherents of the Smaller Vehicle, [37]

Who fail to realize the ultimate truth,

The Buddha invented a magic city in place of the Precious Abode. [38]

For those of great ability in experiencing the truth,

Enlightenment may be realized whether in the city or mountains.

Deserted mountains and secluded forests

Are where hermits lead their lives of non-attachment;

Quiet temples and serene pagodas

Are where ascetics spend their days of non-affair.

However high our positions in society are,

It is hard for us to escape from Yama’s control. [39]

Dwelling in a gold palace or a jade pavilion

Could not prevent us from being reborn in a painful realm.

Blinded by merit and fame, confused by ideas of I-ness and Other-ness

Are truly all ordinary people.

Aspiring for morality, transforming mind and body

Are certainly men of transcendent wisdom.

Though different in human appearance,

All are of equal Buddha-nature.

Yet, a vulgar mind when compared with a noble insight

Is thousands of miles far from the latter.

 

The gātha reads,

How joyful it is,

A worldly life in accord with the Way!

Sleeping when tired, eating when hungry;

Stop seeking for treasure originally inherent.

As no mind arises in the presence of things,

Not any question on Zen is required then.

(The original text, see in the subdivision Nghien Cuu).


[1] According to religious tradition of Taoism called “Outer Elixir,” liberation from worldly life may be gained by transforming human body and thus ascending to Heaven in broad daylight. The art of transformation consists of an alchemical process, during which the most important ingredients, cinnabar and gold, are prepared to produce a pill of immortality.

[2] By “rabbit” or “jade rabbit,” it refers to the moon where, according to religious Taoism, the elixir of life is believed to be frequently prepared by an immortal named T’ai-shang lao-chün.

[3] I Ching, a Chinese book of wisdom and oracles, dating from the transition period between the Yin and Chou dynasties.

[4] Skt. vajra, a symbol of the indestructible. Here it stands for true reality, śūnyatā or emptiness, the essence of everything existing. This emptiness is indestructible like diamond, that is, imperishable and unborn or uncreated.

[5] Skt., sukhavatī, the realm where followers of the PureLand school are reborn to continue with their cultivation of Perfect Enlightenment under Buddha Amitābha.

[6] Another designation of the PureLand.

[7] Another designation of the PureLand.

[8] Ma-tsu Tao-i, 709-788, one of the most important Chinese Ch’an masters; a student and the only dharma successor of Nan-yueh Huai-jang, and the master of many great Ch’an masters, among whom the best-known are Pai-chang Huai-hai, Nan-ch’uan P’u-yüan, and Ta-mei Fa-ch’ang.

[9] P’ang-Yün, also P’ang-chu-shih or “Layman P’ang”, 740-808/11, China’s most famous Ch’an layman; a student and dharma successor of Shih-t’ou Hsi-ch’ien and Ma-tsu Tao-i and close friend of the Ch’an master Tan-hsia T’ien-jan.

[10] Skt.; a tree that is said to blossom only once every three thousand years. Therefore, it is often used as an illustration of how hard it is to come in contact with Buddhist teachings as well as to be born in the time of a Buddha. 

[11] Greed, hatred, illusion. They are all regarded in Buddhism as “poisons” that constantly destroy a human being’s life.

[12] Skt., trikāya, referring to the three bodies of a Buddha, who is believed in Mahāyāna Buddhism to be one with the absolute and to manifest in the relative world in order to work for the welfare of all beings. They are (1) dharmakāya, the true nature of the Buddha, i.e., transcendental reality or essence of the universe, and the teaching expounded by the Buddha; (2) sambhogakāya, the body of buddhas who in a “buddha-realm” enjoy the truth that they embody; (3) nirmānakāya, the earthly body in which Buddhas appear to men in order to fulfill their resolve to guide all beings to liberation.

[13] The six corresponding objects of eye-sense, ear-sense, nose-sense, tongue-sense, body-sense and mind.

[14] Skt.; lit. “suchness,” a central notion of Mahāyāna Buddhism denoting the absolute, the true nature of all things.

[15] Skt.; perfect wisdom.

[16] Skt.; lit. “the three baskets (of Buddhist literature),” consisting of the Buddha’s teachings, disciplinary rules, and commentaries.

[17] Incense symbolic of precept, meditation, wisdom, liberation, and complete view of liberation.

[18] Skt.; incense-powder from sandal-wood.

[19] Skt.; incense-powder from a tree with yellow fragrant flowers, Michelia Campaka.

[20] Eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness, mana-consciousness, alaya-consciousness. The first six consciousnesses are generally conceived by most of the Hīnayāna schools; the whole eight consciousnesses by the Yogācāra school.

[21] Standing for prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, happiness.

[22] Skt.; lit. “obtained from sacrifice,” a crazy man who, seeing his eyebrows and eyes in a mirror but not seeing them in his own head, thought himself bedeviled; the eyes and head are a symbol of reality, those in the mirror are of unreality.

[23] Skt.; lit. “outflow, secretion,” also “defilement” or “canker.” Three cankers constitute the root of all suffering and the cause that beings are caught in the cycle of rebirth: the canker of desires (kāmāsrava), of becoming (bhavāsrava), and of ignorance (avidyāsrava). The extinction of these three cankers, that is, anāsrava , lit. “non-outflow,” means the attainment of arhatship.

[24] Skt.; enlightenment.

[25] referring to sensational pleasures.

[26] The Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty

[27] Shao-lin-ssu, a Buddhist monastery on Mount Sung where Bodhidharma settled, sitting in front of a wall for nine years on end, after his encounter with the Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty in Nanking in the first half of the 6th century.

[28] Bodhidharma, ca. 470-543 (?); the twenty-eighth patriarch after Śākyamuni Buddha in the Indian lineage and the first Chinese patriarch of Zen. Bodhidharma was the student and dharma successor of the twenty-seventh patriarch Prajñādhara and the teacher of Hui-k’o, whom he installed as the second patriarch of Zen in China.

[29] Nan-ch’üan P’u-yüan, 748-835, one of the great Chinese Ch’an masters of the T’ang period; a student and dharma successor of Ma-tsu Tao-i.

[30] Tzu-hu Li-tsung , roughly 800-880; Chinese Ch’an master, a student and dharma successor of Nan-ch’uan P’u-yüan 

[31] Shih-t’ou His-ch’ien, 700-790; early Chinese Ch’an master; the student and dharma successor of Ch’ing-yüan Hsing-ssu and master of Yueh-shan Wei-yen, T’ien-huang Tao-wu, and Tan-hsia T’ien-jan.

[32] Lin-chi I-hsüan, d. 866/67; Chinese Ch’an master; a student and dharma successor of the great master Huang-po his-yun and the master of Hsing-hua Ts’ung-chiang and Pao-chou Yen-chao.

[33] Kuei-shan Ling-yu, 771-853; great chinese Ch’an master; a student and dharma successor of Pau-chang Huai-hai and the master of Yang-shan Hui-chi and Hsiang-yen Chih-hsien.

[34] Yün-men Wen-yen, 864-949; Chinese Ch’an master; a student and dharma successor of hüeh-feng I-ts’un and the master of Hsiang-lin Ch’eng-yüan, Tung-shan Shou-chu, and Pa-ling Hao-chen.

[35] Hsüeh-feng I-ts’un, 822-908; one of the most important Chinese Ch’an masters of ancient China; a student and dharma successor of Te-shan Hsüan-chien

[36] Chao-chu Ts’ung-shen, 778-897, one of the most important Ch’an masters of China; a student and dharma successor of Nan-chüan P’u-yüan.

[37] The Hīnayāna Teaching.

[38] According to the Lotus Sūtra, along the pilgrimage of a Buddhist to the final destination, i.e., perfect enlightenment, illustrated in the text as the Precious Abode, there is an en-route stop viewed as a magic city because of its relative character.

[39] The king of hell.




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