Verses from Hong-zhi’s “Practice Instructions” (tr. Taigen Dan Leighton)
The Practice of True Reality
The practice of true reality is simply to sit serenely in silent intro¬spection. When you have fathomed this you cannot be turned around by external causes and conditions. This empty, wide open mind is sub¬tly and correctly illuminating. Spacious and content, without confu¬sion from inner thoughts of grasping, effectively overcome habitual behaviour and realize the self that is not possessed by emotions. You must be broad-minded, whole without relying on others. Such upright independent spirit can begin not to pursue degrading situa¬tions. Here you can rest and become clean, pure, and lucid. Bright and penetrating, you can immediately return, accord, and respond to deal with events. Everything is unhindered, clouds gracefully floating up to the peaks, the moonlight glitteringly flowing down mountain streams. The entire place is brightly illumined and spiritually trans¬ formed, totally unobstructed and clearly manifesting responsive interaction like box and lid or arrowpoints [meeting). Continuing, cultivate and nourish yourself to enact maturity and achieve stability. If you accord everywhere with thorough clarity and cut off sharp cor¬ners without dependence on doctrines, like the white bull or wildcat [helping to arouse wonder], you can be called a complete person. So we hear that this is how one on the way of non-mind acts, but before realizing non-mind we still have great hardship.
With Total Trust Roam and Play in Samadhi
Empty and desireless, cold and thin, simple and genuine, this is how to strike down and fold up the remaining habits of many lives. When the stains from old habits are exhausted, the original light appears, blazing through your skull, not admitting any other matters. Vast and spacious, like sky and water merging during autumn, like snow and moon having the same colour, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, magnificently one entity without edge or seam. Further, when you turn within and drop off everything completely, realization occurs. Right at the time of entirely dropping off, deliberation and discussion are one thousand or ten thousand miles away. Still no prin¬ciple is discernible, so what could there be to point to or explain? People with the bottom of the bucket fallen out immediately find total trust.
So we are told simply to realize mutual response and explore mutual response, then turn around and enter the world. Roam and play in samadhi. Every detail clearly appears before you. Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces. The outside and myself do not dominate each other, only because no perceiving [of objects] comes between us. Only this non¬ perceiving encloses the empty space of the dharma realm’s majestic ten thousand forms. People with the original face should enact and fully investigate [the field] without neglecting a single fragment.
All Beings Are Your Ancestors
Fully appreciate the emptiness of all dharmas. Then all minds are free and all dusts evaporate in the original brilliance shining everywhere. Transforming according to circumstances, meet all beings as your ancestors. Subtly illuminate all conditions, magnanimous beyond all duality. Clear and desireless, the wind in the pines and the moon in the water are content in their elements. Without minds interacting, [wind and pines or moon and water] do not impede one another. Essentially you exist inside emptiness and have the capacity to respond outwardly without being annoyed, like spring blossoming, like a mirror reflecting forms. Amid all the noise spontaneously emerge transcendent.
The Conduct of the Moon and Clouds
The consistent conduct of people of the way is like the flowing clouds with no [grasping] mind, like the full moon reflecting universally, not confined anywhere, glistening within each of the ten thousand forms. Dignified and upright, emerge and make contact with the variety of phenomena, unstained and unconfused. Function the same towards all others since all have the same substance as you. Language cannot transmit [this conduct], speculation cannot reach it. Leaping beyond the infinite and cutting off the dependent, be obliging without look¬ing for merit. This marvel cannot be measured with consciousness or emotion. On the journey accept your function, in your house please sustain it. Comprehending birth and death, leaving causes and condi¬tions, genuinely realize that from the outset your spirit is not halted. So we have been told that the mind that embraces all the ten direc¬tions does not stop anywhere.
The Amazing Living Beings
Our house is a single field, clean, vast, and lustrous, clearly self-illu¬minated. When the spirit is vacant without conditions, when aware-ness is serene without cogitation, then buddhas and ancestors appear and disappear transforming the world. Amid living beings is the orig¬inal place of nirvana. How amazing it is that all people have this but cannot polish it into bright clarity. In darkness unawakened, they make foolishness cover their wisdom and overflow. One remembrance of illumination can break through and leap out of the dust of kalpas. Radiant and clear white, [the single field] cannot be diverted or altered in the three times; the four elements cannot modify it. Solitary glory is deeply preserved, enduring throughout ancient and present times, as the merging of sameness and difference becomes the entire creation’s mother. This realm manifests the energy of the many thou¬ sands of beings, all appearances merely this [field’s] shadows. Truly enact this reality.