“Oh, followers of the Dao! It's really hard to be really true to yourself! The Buddha Dharma is deep, dark and inscrutable, but when she is seen, how simple is she! I spend my whole day telling people what the Dharma is, but it seems as if the listeners pay no attention to my words at all. How many thousands of times they tred her with their feet! And yet she is completely dark for them.
The Dharma has no form and yet, how clearly she manifests herself in her solitude! Because they lack confidence, they try to understand her through names and words. Half a century of their lives is simply wasted dragging a soulless body from one door to another. They trot wildly throughout the country, carrying a bag filled with hollow words from half-wise masters all the time on their backs. The Lord of the Underworld will surely ask them how many sandals they have worn!
Oh, venerable followers, when I tell you there is no Dharma as long as you seek her outside of yourself, you don't understand me. You then turn in and look for its meaning. You sit with crossed legs staring at a wall in an immovable position, with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth. You think this is the Buddhist tradition, as it has been handed down by our Predecessors. A big mistake is being committed here! If you see a state of motionless purity for what is required of you, this is the darkness of ignorance for awakening. An old master (roshi) says: 'The dark abyss of calmness – truly, you have to shudder for that!' If, on the other hand, you think mobility is the right thing: the entire plant kingdom knows what mobility is. This cannot be called the Dao. Moveableness is the nature of the wind, while immobility is the nature of the earth. Neither of them have a 'self-nature'.
If you try to catch it yourself while it moves, it is motionless; if you try to catch it while it is motionless, it will move again. It's like with the fish swimming freely through the waves of the sea. Oh, followers, moving and not moving are two aspects of the self when it is seen objectively, when in reality it is nothing but the Dao-man himself, who is not dependent on anything. This is the one that freely uses the two aspects of reality, sometimes moving, sometimes not moving. If there is a person who has an insight that goes beyond ordinary thought patterns and if he comes to me, then I will act with my whole being.
Oh, honourable followers, this is the point where the listeners must surrender with all their hearts, here is no room for manoeuvre, not even for a breath. It is like the flash of lightning or like a spark of a flint being struck against the steel. An instant and everything is gone. If the spectator's eyes stare into nothingness, everything is lost. As soon as you focus your mind on it, it slips away from you; as soon as a thought is raised about it, it turns its back on you. Who sees, knows it's right in front of him.
Oh, honourable followers, with your backpack and your body full of crab, you go from door to door expecting to find the Buddha and the Dharma somewhere. But the One who now goes around like this and is looking for something – do you know who this One is? He is the most dynamic and has no roots or strain at all. You can try to catch him, but he refuses to get entangled. You can try to push him away, but he won't let himself be removed. The harder you try to approach him, the further away he is from you. When you don't chase him anymore, you see, he's right in front of you! His transcendental voice fills your ears. Those who have no trust, aimlessly waste their precious existence.
As for the way in which I, a mountain monk, approach myself, in a positive or negative sense, she is in accordance with the true view. Good-fed and exalted above the sentences, I am free in all states and behave as if I am not involved. What changes in my environment may take place, they don't bother me. If someone comes to me with the intention of obtaining something from me, I will meet him. He doesn't recognise me. I then put on different types of clothes and the listeners begin to give their explanations and are thoughtlessly caught by my words. They lack discernment. They are interested in the clothes I wear and distinguish the different colours: blue, yellow, red, white. When I take them off and stand completely naked, they are shocked, they know nothing to do and walk around confused, they shout that I have no clothes on. I turn to them and say, 'Do you recognise the person who walks around in all kinds of clothes?' Now they finally turn their heads and recognise me in the form!
Oh, honourable followers, be wary of keeping clothes for reality. Clothes do not have the capacity for self-determination; it is man who takes on different clothes. Clothes of purity, clothes of non-birth, clothes of awakening, clothes of nirvana, clothes of Predecessors, clothes of Buddhahood. Honourable followers, what we have here are just sounds, words and they are nothing better than the clothes we change. The movements begin in the lower body and the breath that passes the teeth produces different sounds. When they are pronounced, they have mere linguistic meaning. That's why we realise they are not realistic.
Oh, venerable followers, outwardly through sounds and words and inwardly through changing forms of consciousness we think and feel, and these are the many clothes in which we dress. Don't make the mistake of seeing the clothes people wear for reality. If you continue like this, even after the passing of countless kalpas, you will remain a connoisseur of clothes and no more. You will have to roam the triple world and let the wheel of birth and death roll. Nothing can be compared to a life of indeedness (wuwei), as an old master (roshi) says: 'I meet him and yet I don't know him, I talk to him and yet I don't know his name.'
The reason why in these days the listeners are not able to examine reality is that their understanding does not go beyond names and words. What they do is write down the words of some semi-wise, senile masters in their precious books and after folding these triple, no fivefold, they carefully store them in their pockets. This is to prevent others from doing their curious research. Thinking that these words of the masters express the deep theme of the Dharma, they honour it extremely reverently. They commit such a serious misdeed! Oh, those old, short-sighted followers! What juice do they expect from old, dried bones? There are those who do not know what is right and what is not right. They study the different writings and after much consultation and calculations, they keep some phrases about them that are used for their own purposes. It's like a man who, after swallowing a piece of dirt, spits it out and gives it to others. Those who spread a rumour like a chat, will wear out their lives uselessly. Sometimes they say, 'We are humble monks and nuns' and when others ask them about Buddhist teachings, they shut up and say nothing. Their eyes stare in the dark and their closed mouth is like a crooked shoulder stick. Even when Maitreya appears in the world, such people are destined for another world; they go to hell to suffer.
Oh, venerable followers, what are you looking for with going from one place to another so diligently? It will only flatten your soles! There are no Buddhas that can be found by you. There is no Dao that can be reached. There is no Dharma that can be berealised. As long as you look outside of yourself for a Buddha with form, you will never realise that he has no resemblance to you. If you want to see what your original spirit (xin) is, I will tell you that it is not in the state of becoming and not in the state of dissolution. Oh, honourable followers, the true Buddha has no form, the true Dao has no content, the true Dharma has no form. All three are united in the One.”