This is a conversation between John Blofeld and his friend, Ta Hai. Ta Hai was a Chinese doctor and erudite Buddhist scholar with whom Blofeld was very friendly. Ta Hai’s English was very broken, but he still managed to convey the essence of his attitude. The conversation is recorded in Blofeld’s book ”Bodhisattwa of Compassion’‘. I found it very interesting.
John Blofeld ~ ”There are many passages in the sutras which state that one who calls upon her name (Kuan Yin), with great sincerity, or who recites her mantra from his heart, will surely be reborn in her sacred Potala (Pure Land where conditions for enlightenment are perfect). Does that not strike you as too easy to be true? Elsewhere the sutras stress again and again that the seed of enlightenment latent in every human being must be watered by self-cultivation, that no teacher can do the work on our behalf. How can you reconcile the need for self-power (tzu-li) with the Pure Land Sect’s reliance on other-power (t’a-li). It seems so very illogical.”
Ta Hai ~ ”I think, Ah Jon, you are still foreign-devil-man and cannot learn to think like Chinese. Why you care about logical, not logical? Truth have plenty faces. As you see things, so things are. As you expect things, so things come. Why? Because your mind make them so. You dream long time of jeweled paradise, you surely take rebirth there. You think wisdom help you reach formless world, you surely take rebirth there. You have learned Heart Sutra, yes? So you know very well ”Form is void and Void is form”. Then why do you worry about nonsense things? I and my friends tell you and tell you and tell you that appearances are all in mind. Why you not understand? Outside mind – nothing!”
John Blofeld ~ ”Yes, but…”
Ta Hai ~ ”Listen, Ah Jon. Pure Land teacher say fix mind on sacred name or speak sacred mantra many, many times, then your mind becomes still, yes? All obscurations disappear. That way, you know, plenty people get objectless awareness, which is first step to enlightenment. That is very good, no? So why you care how they get it? All of us Buddhists are looking for higher goal than man can see or imagine. You agree? Good. Suppose my picture of goal is dull, and your picture seems to you much clearer, you know quite well that both those pictures must be a long, long way – a million miles and more – from truth picture.
We go one million mile walk; you start one inch in front of me, Ah Jon, not help you very much. Your talk of Tzu-li and T’a-li sound very good, very wise, very clever to you? To me all nonsense!
Zen followers seek Enlightenment from mind. Pure Land followers seek it in Pure Land. What difference? Two thoughts; One Source. Two faint ideas, same shining truth.
You ought to welcome compassionate Buddha’s thousand ways of teaching thousand kinds of people.”