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Investigate ‘Who is mindful of the Buddha?’

Investigate ‘Who is mindful of the Buddha?’
May 13
11:28 2020

Master Hsuan Hua

The phrase “Who is mindful of the Buddha” is a regal, precious vajra sword. It is also the phrase “sweeping broom” recited by Kshudrapanthaka. Someone may say, “Why is it called both a regal, precious vajra sword and a sweeping broom? Since it is a regal, precious vajra sword, it can’t be a broom. Since it is a broom, it can’t be a regal, precious vajra sword.”

It depends which end you use. One end is a regal, precious vajra sword and the other end is a broom. One end, the regal, precious vajra sword, which can slice through gold and cut through jade, cuts through your emotions and severs your love. Being able to cut off ignorance and afflictions makes it a regal, precious vajra sword. The broom end is like your mindfulness of “Who is mindful of the Buddha?”

Just as each time you sweep the floor it gets a little cleaner, so too, sweeping with “who” sweeps away a lot of your lust. What the vajra sword cuts through is lust and what the broom sweeps away is also lust. It’s your thoughts of desire, your emotional love, and other such problems. You can use the vajra sword to cut through all these unsolvable problems.

As soon as you investigate “who?” the heavenly demons and externalists cannot do anything to you. There’s no crack for them to slip through. That’s because you are holding aloft the wisdom sword that subdues the ten great demonic armies. All the various demonic armies in this world will be conquered. None of the demons has any way to deal with your “who?” If you forget to be mindful of “who?” then there is a hole where the demons can wriggle their way in. That can happen because you put down your regal, precious vajra sword and give rise to ignorance.

When you investigate “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” things may get vague. You keep on investigating, but you can’t find out “who?” Unable to find the “who,” you give rise to a “feeling of doubt.” Once this feeling of doubt arises, great doubt will bring great enlightenment. Small doubt will bring small enlightenment. No doubt will bring no enlightenment. Continual doubt will bring continual enlightenment.

What is meant by a “feeling of doubt”? It’s being unable to find out “who?” Hmm. “Who?” Sustained investigation of this word “who” for hours nonstop can bring you to the point that your breath ceases, your pulse stops, your thoughts come to a standstill, and you attain a profoundly great samadhi.

Concentration is of vital importance in a Chan session. Your body, mind, and thoughts must be concentrated. Here, your body must walk when it’s time to walk, sit when it’s time to sit, and lie down when it’s time to lie down. Your mind must not give rise to false thinking; then the mind can be concentrated. Your thoughts should be devoid of greed, devoid of hatred, and devoid of stupidity. Single-mindedly investigate “Who is mindful of the Buddha?”

Investigating is like using a drill to drill a hole. You drill and drill until you drill through the piece of wood. Once the drill penetrates, you can see through to the other side. That’s what becoming enlightened is like.

Excerpted from ‘Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’.  Hsuan Hua (1918-1995) was a monk of Chan Buddhism and a contributing figure in bringing Chinese Buddhism to the United States. The 2587th birth anniversary of Gautam Buddha was celebrated on May 7

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