(All images are of artwork from the MING DYNASTY)
The Monk Hanshan (Deqing) was one of the most important Buddhist teachers in the Ming Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty in China stretched from the middle of the 14th Century to the middle of the 17th Century. The Monk Hanshan lived from 1564 to 1623.
He wrote a powerful instruction called ‘‘Looking at the Mind’‘ or ”Contemplating the Mind”…
Look at what your body is – it is not you
But an image in the mirror of awareness,
Just like the reflection of the moon on the water.
Look at what your mind is – it is not
The thoughts and feelings that appear within it
But the bright knowing space that holds them.
When not a single thought arises, your mind is
Open, perceptive, serene and luminous;
It is complete as great all-embracing space
And holds all kinds of wondrous aspects.
Your mind does not come or go away,
Has no particular shape, nor a special way of being.
But a great many beneficial qualities
Come all forth from this one knowing being.
It does not depend on material existence,
Material existence covers it up!
Do (therefore) not take vain hopes seriously,
Vain hopes lead to illusory phenomena.
Closely investigate this mind, which is
A knowing emptiness, not containing a thing.
When you are suddenly flooded with emotions
Your vision gets unclear, your experience confused.
Then at once bring back your presence of mind
And gather all your strengths to reflect.
The clouds will disperse and the sky will clear:
The sun of awareness spreads brightly its light.
If no feelings or thoughts arise within
No (worrying) circumstance is found without.
So where lies the original reality,
Of all that has characteristics?
If you can be aware of a thought as it arises
This awareness dissolves the thought at once.
Sweep away whatever state of mind may come,
Be present and aware – and you will be free.
Good and evil, internal or external,
Transform when you turn towards the heart of it.
Worldly and spiritual forms
Come into being through what you think.
Using a mantra and looking at your mind
Are means to polish the mirror of awareness;
Once the obscurations have been removed
They have no more use and can be dropped.
All great and deep spiritual abilities
Are already complete within your mind
And you can roam as you wish
To the Pure Land or Heavenly Palace.
There is no need to seek the Truth
As your mind is from the start already enlightened.
When ripe, all things are fresh and new
When fresh and new, they are inherently already ripe.
Day and night all things are wondrous
And you will have faith in whatever you meet.
The above is what you need to know
Regarding the mind.
Other teachings from the Monk Hanshan…
True Dharma seekers who live in the world use their daily activity as a polishing tool. Outwardly they may appear to be very busy, like flint striking steel, making sparks everywhere. But inwardly they silently grow. For although they may be working very hard, they are working for the sake of the work and not for the profits it will bring them. Unattached to the results of their labor, they transcend the frenetic to reach the Way’s essential tranquility. Doesn’t a rough and tumbling stream also sparkle like striking flints – while it polishes into smoothness every stone in its path?
Put a fish on land and he will remember the ocean until he dies. Put a bird in a cage, yet he will not forget the sky. Each remains homesick for his true home, the place where his nature has decreed that he should be. Man is born in the state of innocence. His original nature is love and grace and purity. Yet he emigrates so casually without even a thought of his old home. Is this not sadder than the fishes and the birds?
The unstoppable stream of the ego’s conscious thoughts cannot stay still long enough to comprehend the truth. Yet people are always trying to think up a barrier to the flow, to use thoughts to stop thinking. Thoughts are like wildcats. We would never use one wildcat to tame another. How then do we enter the state of non-thought? We understand the non-substantial nature of both the one who thinks and the thought itself. We understand that in reality there is not even a single tiny thought of a thought, or a thinker either. When we bear witness to this reality, our own testimony liberates us from bondage of thoughts of having no thoughts.
Further reading on the Monk Hanshan ~ http://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/HanshanDeqing.html#0