Doing It Just Right is the Middle Way

The Venerable Master Hua’s Talks on Dharma

In the Dharma-door of investigating Chan, you must fix your attention on
what you are doing. At all times, you should return the light and reflect within. Don’t be too tense, and don’t be too
slack. It’s said,

    Too tight, and it’ll break. Too slack, and it’ll
be loose. Neither tight nor slack, and it will turn out right.

But neither tense nor slack is the Middle Way. Walking, standing, sitting
and lying down, don’t be apart from this. Once you
leave this, you have missed it. What is this? It’s the ultimate meaning
of the Middle Way.

In investigating Chan, you must be impartial, not leaning to one side.
Don’t go too far, and don’t fail to go far enough. If you
go too far, or not far enough, it’s not the Middle Way. If you don’t
fall into the two extremes of emptiness and existence, then
that’s the Middle Way. It’s said, `The Middle Way is neither emptiness
nor existence.’ It is True Emptiness and Wonderful
Existence. Do not be attached to true emptiness, and do not be obstructed
by wonderful existence, for true emptiness and
wonderful existence cannot be grasped or renounced. You cannot take
hold of them or let go of them. That’s the true
emptiness and wonderful existence.

When you are applying effort, you should finish what you start; only
then will you accomplish anything. As it’s said, "Carry it
through from beginning to end." You shouldn’t "put it in the sun for
one day and freeze it for ten," retreat in the face of
difficulty, or give up halfway – that’s the behavior of people without
backbone. The ancients said,

    In cultivation, don’t be afraid to go slowly. Just
be afraid of standing still.

In your daily investigation of Chan, be mindful of your own meditation
topic, and slash through all your idle thoughts with
your Vajra-jewelled sword of wisdom. When idle thinking is severed,
wisdom will arise. With the light of wisdom, you can
smash through the gloom of ignorance. Once ignorance is smashed, you
can transcend the Three Realms, escape birth and
death, and crash your way out of the wheel of life (i.e. the twelve
links of conditioned co- production).

Those who apply effort in cultivating the Way must have patience. No
matter how hard it is, you must patiently bear it. With
patience you can reach the other shore. So in joining this Chan Session,
you all should not be afraid of hardship. It’s said,
"When bitterness ends, sweetness comes." If you don’t start at the
very bottom, you can’t reach the top. Remember that a ten
thousand foot skyscraper is built from the ground up. It isn’t built
in mid-air. Therefore, Chan cultivators must start with the
basics, which are to get rid of idle thinking. If you can stop your
idle thoughts, then at that point,

    The moon appears in the waters of a pure heart; There
are no clouds in the sky of a calm mind.

When the heart is at peace, all problems go away. When the mind is still,
the myriad things are in harmony. As it is said:

    True wealth is stopping the mind and cutting off
thought: True fields of blessings are devoid of all selfish desires.
One investigates Chan just to get rid of the false and keep the true.
It is also to pan for gold, to look for gold dust in the sand,
which is a difficult task. But if you want to find gold, you have to
look in the sand, and be patient. Do you want to understand
your inherent Buddha-nature? Do you want to understand your mind and
see your nature? Then you must patiently cultivate, study and investigate, and when enough time has passed, you will suddenly
penetrate and enlighten to the fact that it is
originally this way!


2 Responses to “Doing It Just Right is the Middle Way”

  1. 1 Tom
    August 2, 2008 at 19:32

    Thank you.  Really enjoyed that blog.  I particularly liked the line, "When the mind is still, the myriad things are in harmony."  Doing without concern to be the doer. 

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