Eating is Chan.  Sleeping is Chan.  Walking, standing, sitting, chopping firewood and carrying water are all Chan.

Chan is vivacious.  Real Chan is not an object, but every object is Chan.

Neither the Dharma nor the mind of Chan is separated from daily life.

Having tasty food is Chan, and so is sleeping peacefully.

In the dark, you feel your way along, and your wisdom flashes.

It’s good to stop and sit and allow the usual impulses for motion an opportunity to move inwardly instead of outwardly.

The Dharma will become useless if it is separated from life.

Chan master is flexible enough either to stand up  straight or to bend over.

In the teaching of Chan, words are considered obstacles to realization.

To practice with great wisdom is true Chan, in which silence is better than chatter.

The Chan school does “not set up scriptures” but focuses on the true mind and on beholding the Buddha-nature that is with oneself.

Chan practitioner’s self-cultivation starts by comprehending the Truth, and is perfected by practicing the Truth.

Chan practitioner ought to be detached and also should be able to “forget.”

One attains a realization through personal experience.

Among all the treasures, the most precious one is the peerless treasure of the Dharma.

The studying of the teaching of the Buddha is like sowing seeds.

A  master’s expounding of the essence of the Dharma is like sprinkling sweet dew on those seeds.

Although there are paths everywhere, not everyone could find the right road.

The great Buddhist practitioners are still subject to the Law of Cause and Effect (Karma).  They cannot ignore it.

People talk a lot when they are right.  They talk even more when they are wrong.

Only when one surpasses one’s teacher will one be able to impart fully the teacher’s wisdom.

To vow is to go from what you know, from your highest aspiration to where it takes you, from what is possible to what is inconceivable.

Medicine and disease heal each other.  The whole universe is medicine.  What is the self?

Kindness and compassion are the heart of Buddhism.  The one thing that all forms of Buddhism hold as their highest ideal is compassion.

if one can be freed from ignorance and clinging, then one will engage in ture Chan practice.

The realization of Chan requires progression from knowledge based on discrimination to the wisdom of non-discrimination.

Just as no one can steal the moon, neither can anyone steal the Buddha-nature that is within each of us.

Everything appears in response to something else.

While Chan believes in the emptiness of all material matters, it does not negate them.

A grain of rice, no matter how hard it is, will be soften when cooked over a fire.

Ice, no matter how thick it is, will melt when the sun comes out.

When the wagon doesn’t move, one should whip the ox rather than the cart, for it is the ox that is responsible.

The mind is like a boundless sea.

Only when one dwells in harmony will life be serene and meaningful.

For Chan Buddhists, birth and death are like returning home.

A true Chan practitioner doesn’t concern himself with the pursuit of fame and fortune.

A Chan practitioner should never seek “instant” realization.

When a Chan master said that he had no expedient means and no compassion, he was actually expressed his expedient means and compassion.

When one is deluded, there is difference between “mind” and “nature.”  However, if one is enlightened, there is no difference.

When one is deluded, one’s self-nature will turn into the mind.

When one becomes enlightened, one’s mind will turn into self-nature.

Mindlessness is the Chan‘s mind.

Our minds are illusory, which wander sometimes to heaven and sometimes to hell.

If we can remain in a mindless state, one’s real mind that is free of all illusion will emerge.

When one has the Chan mind, anything one says would be profound.

If we shoulder our responsibilities and refrain from seeking things that are not originally ours, then this is the mind of Chan.

The true taste of Chan can only be experienced when one has given up one’s clinging to intellectual understanding.

Empty-handed we came into this world, and empty-handed we shall depart from it.

Chan masters are like floating clouds and wild cranes.  They live in accordance with their surroundings.

For Chan Buddhists, “having” and “not having” are simply two aspects of one thing.

If one can integrate these two aspects and find the middle path between them, one will obtain the wisdom of Chan.

A person who can tolerate slander, ridicule and treat them as sweet dew is a person of strength.

Only tolerance can touch the hearts of the stubborn.

“The beautiful sound of ‘one hand clapping'” can only be heard with the wisdom of Chan.

Within the self-nature of the Buddha all beings have already been liberated and freed.

Forget the words when you realize the meaning.

“Please tell me what was your obligation before you were born?”

Talking about food can’t make one full, nor can one relieve one’s hunger by drawing pictures of cakes.

Losing one’s true mind is just like losing oneself or failing to find one’s own home.

Knowledge and being awakened to the Truth are two different matters.

The realization of Chan cannot be attained simply by sitting in meditation.

There are no dharmas outside of the mind.

The Pure Land is within us and is not found outside of our minds.

Only the one who eats becomes full.

Life doesn’t begin at birth, life doesn’t end at death.

Time has no beginning, time has no ending.

Meditation and the attainment of enlightenment are personal matters.

Chan stresses the freedom from all bonds rather than being restrained by forms or concepts.

A real Chan master never strays from the Middle Path to either extreme, which is the true practice.

If we are talking about Buddhism, then eveything is already at hand.  To add horns to a horse is unnecessary.

The Buddha-nature cannot be seen.  It can only be realized through self-cultivation and personal experience.

When you understand that “the mind is the Buddha,” that is realization.

When you have achieved realization, you are the Buddha.

People say that the Buddha’s path is very long.  I just realized that the true form of the Dharma-body is originally present within us.

The Buddha manifests himself in all forms and in all places according to the needs of all beings, and yet he never leaves his seat of bodhi (or awakened).

Life and death are two sides of the same coin.

When we embrace all experiences and aspects of life, we will find tranquility.

When we practice according to the Middle Way, we don’t exclude even our dissatisfaction and suffering.

There is inherent strength, clarity, and awareness in our mind, and meditation is a way to bring that innate goodness out.

Meditation consists of mindfulness and awareness.  Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the breathing; awareness is knowing what’s happening.  With these two activities, we are able to focus.

Everyone possesses a Buddha nature.  It means you have within you the potential to change, to grow, to lead a more meaningful life, and the Buddha is your guide and model for that.

The cycle of life and death is part of the Law of Nature.

If we practice the Supreme bodhi (or Awakened) with our bodies, then we are observing the precepts.

If we express the Supreme bodhi with our mouths, then that is the Dharma.

If we practice the Supreme bodhi with our minds, then it is Chan.

“You are a Buddha!”  This wonderful reply can change quarrel into peace.

If we can understand and realize the Dharma through our personal experience, everything in this world will reveal the Buddha-truth to us.

“To have” means to be limited to existence.  “To not have” is limitless and boundless.  By understanding the relationship between “having” and “not having”, one can meet all apparent changes with steadiness.

The three gates of Buddhism are: the Gate of Faith, the Gate of Wisdom, and the Gate of Compassion.  Every Gate opens onto Buddhism.

Buddha‘s teaching is like a raft for crossing the river.  Once one has crossed the river, one ought to leave the raft behind and continue the journey.

When you are in the dark, you don’t know where you are going, but when you carefully feel your way along, where you find yourself will be okay.

“Master!  Does a dog have the Buddha-nature?”  asked a Chan student.  “Yes!”  answered the master.  “Master!  If it does, why did it come into this world in the dog’s skin bag?”  asked the student. “It chose to do so,” replied the master.   “Does a dog have the Buddha-nature?”  This nature cannot be described in terms of “having” or “not having” in the first place.

If one only has faith and lacks the wisdom of Chan, one cannot realize that “the fresh green bamboos are nothing but the manifestations of the Buddha‘s Body, while the blooming yellow flowers are the embodiment of wisdom.”

In the phrase, “to point a finger at the moon,” the finger represents the teacher who points out the enlightened experience (the moon) for a student.

“Master!  What should I do about my bad temper?”  A Chanstudent asked.  “Bad temper arises from anger.  I humbly beg you to give me your bad temper and anger.”  The master replied.

“What is the Buddha‘s teaching?”  A very arrogant scholar asked a Chan master.  The master pointed upward, then downward, and said, “The cloud in the blue sky and the water in the jar.”

“Master!  My mind is no longer in harmony with the Buddha‘s.  Please tell me where I can find what I’ve lost,”  asked a Chan student.  “Your true mind has left you because unenlightened thoughts have unlocked your false mind,”  replied the master.

“Master!  How can non-sentient beings expound the Dharma?”  asked a Chan student.  The master bent  the whisk in his hand.  It’s true that a whisk can expound the Dharma.  For example, bending the whisk symbolizes that everything should start from their basis.  In Chan, a whisk is an emblem of the master’s authority.  In mundane life, it’s  used as a duster to remove dust.

“Master!  What do you eat everyday?” asked a Chan student.  “I eat, and drink all day long, but I’ve never eaten a grain of rice, nor have I drunk a single dorp of water,” replied the master.  “Master!  you really eat rice and drink water everyday.”  If one is able to eat without eating and also is able to not eat while eating, then one has transformed oneself from form into no form.  It represents one’s gradual liberation from attachments.

“Master!  May I have something from you?”  asked a Chan student.  “Tell me, what do you want?”  inquired the master.  “Master!  I want your eyes, I mean your mind’s eye,” asked the student.  “Didn’t I give it to you a long time ago?”  replied the master.  Only the mental vision can behold the essence of all phenomena.

“Master!  How should I cultivate myself so that I may be reborn as a male in my next life?”  A nun asked. “What are you now?”  The master inquired.  “I am a female.  Can’t you see that?”  The nun answered.  “You’re a female, but who can see that?”  The master replied. The nun realized that she shouldn’t ask such a question.  Since the Buddha-nature with all beings is the same, there is no real differences between male and female.

“Master!  How can I always stay on the right path?”  asked a Chan student.  “To liberate yourself from the unenlightened mind, there is no other holy way — if one is unattached to deluding conditions, one will attain enlightenment,” replied the master.

“Master!  How can we be really free from all bonds?”  “But who has bound you?”  “How can we reach the Pure Land?”  “But who has contaminated you?”  “What exactly is Nirvana?”  “Who has given you life and death?” The conversation between a Chan student and his master implies that one would be responsible for one’s delusion.



(Spring Liao, 12/13/09)