18 – Baizhang’s awareness

A zen teaching (yulu) from master Baizhang (8th century).

When facing the end, all are beautiful scenes appearing – according to what the mind likes, the most impressive are experienced first. If you do not do bad things right now, then at this time, facing death, there will be no unpleasant scenes. Even if there are any unpleasant scenes, they too will change into pleasant scenes.

If you fear that at the moment of death you will go mad with terror and fail to attain freedom, then you should first be free right now – then you’ll be all right. Right now is the cause; the moment of facing death is the result. Since there has been enlightenment in the past, there must also be enlightenment in the present.

If you can attain now and forever the single moment of present awareness, and this one moment of awareness is not governed by anything at all, whether existent, nonexistent, or whatever, then from past and present Buddha is just human, humans are just Buddhas.

Also this is meditational concentration – don’t use concentration to enter concentration, don’t use meditation to conceive of meditation, don’t use Buddha to search for Buddhahood. As it is said, “Reality does not seek reality, reality does not see reality, but finds its way naturally.” It is not attained by attainment; that is why bodhisattvas should thus be properly mindful, subsisting alone in the midst of things, composed, yet without knowledge of the fact of subsisting alone.

The nature of wisdom is such as it is of itself; it is not disposed by causes. It is also called the knot of substance, also the cluster of substance. It is not known by knowledge, not discerned by consciousness – it is entirely beyond mental calculation.

(Cleary, Thomas: Sayings and Doings of Pai-chang;
Ch’an Master of Great Wisdom. Los Angeles 1978, p. 44)