The Great Ethereal Kingdom (1)
There has long been a tale telling a Buddhist who, once upon a time, summed up his experiences through long-time silent exercise, saying, "My form is a peepul trunk, my heart is as clean as like a looking-glass. I have been dusting my heart every now and then lest it should incur even one slight stain." Upon this, Liu Chu, a great saint, at once pointed to the depth of the truth, saying, "Originally, there existed no tree called peepul, nor a mirror. When there was nothing at all, how to incur dust?"
An analogy can be applicable to explaining the relation between heart and pre-heaven nature. The heart works as like earth, while our nature the emperor. Or in other words, our heart serves as like a vast territory while our nature the king holding reins over it.
pre-heaven nature takes residence in the heart, and depends upon the heart for existence. No heart no pre-heaven nature. Disciplining the heart means getting rid of all desires and passions, so as to make a clean sweep of the heart, and to restore the true heart---pure, virginal and free from any contamination by desires and passions. Heart, like a brand-new mirror stationed in one place, is gradually dimmed by dust as time passes away, no matter how polished it originally was.
At the beginning, the heart had its own nature of quietude and emptiness. When material desires aggressively intrude themselves upon the pure region, this nature begins to be smashed into smithereens, and later leaves almost nothing recognizable to mark its attribute. This circumstance is just like that of a stream: during its winding and struggling course wind begins to billow it, mud and sand tumble about to mingle with it, whatever how clear and pure its source is.
Water has its nature of stillness, but it begins to be involved in motion, for wind is blowing and sweeping constantly across its surface. Originally, water is as clear as a crystal, but it becomes muddy, since earth and sand keep tumbling into it. Discharging waves the water naturally will become still and motionless; depositing the earth and sand, the water is sure to resume its nature of lucidity. Lucidity is the nonmenon of water, while stillness its pre-heaven nature. So does the heart.
Many practitioners engaged in pursuit of Tao often mistake the acquired wisdom (with yin pre-heaven mind-will at its root) for nonmenon. As a result, the foundation will be laid biased and all efforts made in vain, even though later they follow the course of cultivating nature and disciplining heart resolutely. A minute mistake is capable of causing utter failure.
Never one idea arising in the Lower Elixir Field promises a good beginning for successful pursuit of Tao. You may think that the heart, once becoming so lifeless, will has nothing different in comparison with inanimate ashes and stone. But, in reality, in no circumstances does it go on in this way, owing to the fact that sudden inspiration as well as divinity---coming from nowhere and cannot be courted on purpose---will come on the scene when the heart gives up all acquired wisdom and knowledge. .
We must commit to our memory what consequences will come up from heart going blank with nothing to be its owner. Like ruffians and ramps stealing to lodge in ownerless house, the evil becomes the arbiter of the heart, then ideas and thoughts of all sorts will become more and more frantic. This is due to ignorance of what the true heart is and to going after the far-away at the expense of the near-at-hand. Thus, some practitioners deviate from the proper course and come into disorders. So we must perform discreetly lest there should be a thing taken place akin to that of a starving beggar sitting by a food basket and a man floating above the water dying of thirst. Assuming true heart in constancy is the proper way you should always take in pursuit of Tao.
Chuang Tzi once said, ¡®Once even the least attention is paid upon one thing, your heart will, all at once, be thoroughly bound up by itself. That nothing but the lifeless mind-will exists in the stillness and emptiness of the heart which seems so commodious that it has no boundary, and seems so minute that it has no interior, is always the proper state in which the true heart should be.
The emptiness of the valleys and the unlimited solitude prevailing among mountain ranges are conducive to the emergence of the true heart. When you catch sight of the clear spring tinkling upon chalk rocks, rugged precipices some dogged pine trees are attached upon, your heart will naturally begin to commune with nature, and with those forlorn and remote regions seldom haunted by humankind's mind.
How miraculously Tao has been constantly creating all things! Yet few men know it is pre-heaven mind-will that keeps playing an indispensable role in "livening up"them. Where it came from you could not know! Where it is going, you could not divine. Its actual speed is immeasurable, for it is beyond the range of the time and space which only exist in the region of existence. It comes in and goes out with no movement whatever, and you couldn't portray it with anything concrete. It is impossible to explore its origin as well as its ending, for pre-heaven mind-will is immortal. In concerning this some ancient books read, "All things are destined to perish once they have been given birth to. pre-heaven mind-will, however, has neither birth nor death. "
When birth and death Tao inflicts upon existence have been thoroughly gotten rid of, all things will at once possess one body in common with Tao. So more time spending on perusing the book The Origin of the pre-heaven mind-will, more chances you will stand to ensure you to know much of how Qi accumulates to produce pre-heaven mind-will, and how to restore the pre-heaven mind-will by the way of amassing yang Qi.
For hundreds of thousands of years has this most diversified world been lived, and this boundless sea of covetousness been surging and billowing all the time with no stopping. To think that to conquer greediness is much more difficult than to triumph over a practical enemy! Such as it is, who is disposed to dedicate to this cause? Moreover, some men are privately laughing at the foolishness when the author is shedding salt tears upon ruthless grim wind.
May the world profit from all the talents and wisdom the nature endowed! Doing other good means doing me good. All the time as the true heart goes it profits all people, yet all the time as worldly heart goes, it profits themselves. What a comparison! All difference between favoring all and favoring self lies in the minute point.
All people, and all things---too many to be counted---live within the range of Great Mercy of Tao, without any exception. Once parents sink into this boundless sea of greediness thousands times of births must be succeeded by thousands times of deaths, and no date can be certain to break this endless cycle. The most miserable thing is the unconsciousness of being submerged in the boundless sea of greediness. Therefore, to deal with this circumstance, Buddha, Lao Tzi, Confucius, and lots of other saints sympathized with all men and devoted all efforts to enlighten them.
All fortunes can be measured in the region of existence, yet blessings of heart could not.
Heart stirs first and desires arise later. Heart is affected by scenes and visions first. Afterwards, sensations of various kinds present themselves. Now that sensations have come on the scene and desires are raging and surging madly, the heart naturally will be obliged to give away to them, like a mansion with a group of rebels as its owner, thus contending minds ensuing and the world becoming turbulent. So the three great saints---Sakyamuni, Lao Tzi, and Confucius---compiled books and preached to all mortal beings with one object: to erect solid wall against riotous waves, to water the violent fire of greediness in order to prevent desires and passions from devouring all men's pre-heaven nature.
As soon as rash ideas and passions begin to arise violently, they begin to drive pre-heaven mind-will to rush faster and faster. So, like a king surrendering his throne to a ruffian, the heart will later on experience upheavals and violence. In this case, how could a Confucius to talk about generosity at ease? How could a Taoist to talk about settling Qi composedly? And how could a Buddhist to teach the way of ascending Heaven comfortably?
Some mortal beings are presumptuous in their transient lifetimes, because their heart is false. So there comes the idiom, saying, ¡®The most miserable thing is knowing nothing about the true heart even when he is dying.¡¯ The true heart is similar to the boundless emptiness, in which Te is filled to its full brim. It is of the nature of both being at the extreme existence, and at the extreme nonexistence. The true heart and Te remain united as the time lasts. Thereupon, Lao Tzi said, ¡®Sitting in forgetfulness with your eyes eyeing the Lower Elixir Field, you will be glad to meet your acquaintance---your true self---in absence for so long time.¡¯
To use, exercise the acquired mind-will in order to form opinions or to come to conclusions is called thinking. During which process, a lot of ideas and thoughts coming from you don't know where, are from time to time drifting across the void of mind, without actual track left to mark their traces. In the region of existence all consciousness comes from what is called yin pre-heaven mind-will (also called cognizant pre-heaven mind-will), and not at all the products from operations of your true heart, because the true heart is incapable of producing any ideas, thoughts, feelings and so forth which make up consciousness. So, the moment you worldly heart begins to be henceforward free from any consciousness and only the mind-will remains still and motionless in the lower elixir field, the very cause of transmigration will be uprooted.
Sitting solitarily, forgetful of all things, oblivious of your existence, just like a corpse, but with the mind-will still remaining motionless that differentiates a living man from a dead man, the true heart will become still and empty, and can accommodate nothing but your pre-heaven nature. Once the noumenon of the heart, of still and empty nature, has come on the scene, all yin pre-heaven mind-will will have nothing to depend upon for its existence. As a result, the true self will ethereally transcend all limitations (including birth and death) of existence.
One thing comes into being but never get bogged down in the existence, one thing passes away into nonexistence but never to be bound up in nonexistence. All is what it has ever been and all is where it has ever been. Nothing increases, nothing decreases, this is the true heart, always still and empty. "Man's mind-will is capable of leaving its footprints upon all things, of bringing upon the man something in need, but never will leave the least footprints upon the true heart. What a pity!"sighed Buddha.
Sometimes, a violent tiger, doesn't jump upon an infant. Why?Because it has no intellect developed for scheming, and nothing exists to arouse the sense of horror and surprise, because pre-heaven mind-will remains untroubled and motionless. So Meng Tzi termed a man still preserving the same heart as in his childhood as a great man. Certainly, with nothing to know, nothing for plotting, and possessing the same capacity as Heaven and Earth, and owning the same body in common with the infinite emptiness, how could it be not qualified to deserve this name? A man of noble character, among the multitude, will have to be titled a base being in comparison with the vast capacity of Heaven, due to his helplessness of having to leave trace trailing along and of his transformation with marks staying behind.
pre-heaven nature means Almighty Law, which, when applied to occurrences, will be termed as hows and whys, when to objects in existence, termed as physics. It presents its intangible existence in the interiors and exteriors of all things, in the fine constitutions of all things, in the emptiness and stillness of heart, and all and all. With a stage erected in a square, all people are allowed to argue against another for truth, the man with no proper justifications will of course be ashamed. Hence we get a conclusion that formless justifications can even bind up a tangible man.
All sages and saints could not be what they are if they have things to concentrate their attention upon. All that you must remember is there is no way out save that of pursuing the stillness and emptiness of heart.
That to cleanse of the heart and let mind-will remain sincere and innocent is a starting point of the long way of pursuit of Tao. Hence you must, at first, get rid of all aspirations, motives or fancies or other that are popular in the profane world. All people have the chance to become the almighty Buddha. But the only difference lies in that the former gets lost always while the latter is awake constantly.
The pre-heaven nature is the Almighty Law holding reins of Heaven and Earth. Stillness has a nature to harmonize and commune with all things while motion has a nature to response. Bear in mind that to cheat the true heart is equal to cheat Heaven!
Being faultless and with nothing ungrateful, you can peacefully and composedly face the true heart. To learn how to be a qualified practitioner engaged in pursuit of Tao you must know how to discipline the false heart.
Carefully and attentively I cultivate my true heart following the example of Earth. Whole-heartedly and devotedly I nurture my pre-heaven nature following the example of Heaven. I make unremitting efforts to make my pre-heaven nature commune with Tao---to be always in response to the motion of Heaven, while to be constantly in response to the stillness of Earth.
The false and presumptuous heart spreads it fiber roots at first , then spouts, and stretches tender leaves, then buds, then at last bears fruits, which makes up the endless process of transformations and changes.
When the pre-heaven nature is at war with covetousness, generally the latter wins the war. At this moment you must be on full alert, because, once covetousness has been satisfied, your false heart will become complacent. Therefore, when you reach this point you must have a firm resolution, otherwise sheer defeat will descend upon you. This is the marked boundary to separate the eternity from the worldliness---an idea, even of hair's breadth, has a destined force.
In the infinite emptiness, existence is complete and ready. When pre-heaven mind-will has come on the scene, all things, helplessly involved in transformations and changes, will be livened up. Because it has neither sound nor smell and remains still and empty, how could I have the genius to form it as well as to name it? Oh, it seems like a vision in my mind, transient and without signs. Yet on account of its existence, humankind's life force and pre-heaven nature took their roots. So pursuing it we will achieve the real knowledge; cultivating it you will arrive at the destination of Tao.
All images and scenes and visions are false, no matter they are real or false to man's imagination. All saints accomplished in Tao have nothing called desires and emotions, and nothing called acquired wisdom or leanings.
When pre-heaven fertilizing fluid (Jing) remains full the practitioners desire sex no more, when yang Qi is in its fully growth they eat and drink no more, and when pre-heaven mind-will has been fully recovered they will sleep no more.
The short lifetime of a man is much more like a mayfly ignorant of what its destiny is, what fortunes or calamities are waiting in ambush, and what transformations and changes are going to take place. Hence, there comes the man, sighing over the mankind's inability of changing the destiny, casts away all scheming and acquired wisdom, pursues the simplicity rather than ostentation, aiming at restore the heart in his childhood. Most mortal beings toil and labor during all their lifetimes, to profit themselves, while saints, in comparison, are the most selfish because they have achieved eternity.
Things getting thriving at one time will have to fall into decay at other time. Things obtained by all means---whatever they may be---are destined to get lost in the future time. So, if I do nothing at all, I will get nothing, and nothing will be lost, naturally there will be no failure and success for me.
Oh! How infinite is this cycle, the existence and the nonexistence, the birth and the death, the advance and the retreat, the waning and the waxing, the increase and the decrease, infinitely they take their destined steps to go, to advance, to transform, with no marks left to indicate their respective traces. Heaven and the Earth are destined to perish someday, let alone humankind, for the same reason that they have forms. In order not to perish, you must not be given birth to. Yet under the circumstance we have been born into this region of existence, the first thing we should do is to achieve no birth. There is no birth there is no death.
Passions and desires are some ruthless sharp knives constantly wounding the pre-heaven nature. So we must guard against their offensive as against a fierce tiger. Once countless devil stray thoughts rush to spring forth, we will be in so dangerous a situation as like a flock of wolves has been admitted into a mansion as honorable guests, which situation for your pre-heaven nature is like that it catched a fire. The prerequisite for a practitioner is to sever all passions and desires. Love is at the very root of sexual passions. Infatuation arises from love, greediness from infatuations, and presumptuousness, at last, comes from greediness. As soon as presumptuousness has come into being, reckless actions is very likely to be taken. As a result the causes of sins taking roots, and later the cycle of cause and effect starting revolving continuously.
The greediness works much like a moth flying upon a flame, or a swamp of ants desperately running to stink. So it is always the case of you externally being tied down by power and influence, and inwardly disturbed by distresses and misgivings. pre-heaven mind-will is taken captive by the false heart, and the false heart by greediness. How could we even have a break to return to stillness and quiescence, when considerations of possession and deprivation unremittingly occur to our mind?
When innumerable ideas constantly arise at one time and pass away at another, what is the use of chanting sermon text? How could sudden inspiration and divinity come on the scene when our heart are not clear?
Those who are greediest have much less chance of cleansing of their heart. The more obscured their heart becomes, the more in likelihood they are going to be greedy for more material.
The saints, aiming at cautioning and awakening people, wholeheartedly preach to them. Rendering grand meritorious service to bear all things but not to claim it, asserting great assistance in the great Creation but not showing off, how great is the accomplishment our ancient saints have achieved!
Giving way to the full play of acquired wisdom and knowledge, and yielding to the shadowing and screening by desires and passions to the true heart, you will become more and more helpless in releasing from the broad expanse of the region of existence, like a silkworm getting bound up in its cocoon. So the wise, knowing more about the origin of the evil and the good, and more about the fountainhead of possession and deprivation, rests his physical form and calms down his heart, clear away all disturbance from outside, deprives all ideas and passions of his heart inwardly. Therefore, the pre-heaven nature is always as immaculate as a pure ice. All that will have something to do with me must be kept away by my watchful eyes. As a result, my heart is pure ever since, though my footprints are mingled with others.
All things come from nothing but pre-heaven Qi, which then produces the life force for them all. Among the remote mountains there are nameless birds, and in the boundless surging sea there are curiously-shaped fish.
When there comes the saint accomplished in Tao, there arrives the true knowledge which is at the extremity of ignorance, for something known means something unknown, and nothing known means nothing unknown. The thing that gives no sounds at all plays the grandest music. The thing that has no taste at all gives the prettiest flavor. All musical scales floating in the air come from nonexistence. Existence owes its birth to nonexistence.