Shaolin Anchoret

- Master Shi YanYong, May 21st, 2011, at LA
...... Because I was conscious of my own existence, I felt lonesome.
One day I was on the snow ground on a mountain peak, surrounded by nothing but white snow. It was a complete silence - no birds chirping, no people around and trees withered - a miserable sight.
I was deeply emotional when sitting there alone. I could not unburden to my friends, to my confidants, or to my fellows all the thoughts that flooded into my mind. I was trying to share my feelings, my sensibilities, and insights with the world but not a single creature was there to listen.
Helplessly, I calmly brought back my sight that extended afar, and slowly collected my thoughts that scattered out in the sky - initially aiming at the area just around myself, about the size of this futon, and retrieve; then focusing my view on my nose tip and my thoughts in my mind, and retrieve; subsequently concentrating my view at an invisible place and settling my mind where there were no thoughts.
After an extended period of time in stillness until a sudden 'ch-ah!', in no time did I find my body and my mind became completely void and tranquil. I had no idea where in this great chiliocosm (the worlds that constitute the domain of the Buddha) I was, neither did I know of mundane, heaven, sage, worldling ('regular person' as opposed to a sage), nor what happiness and what afflictions are. Only did I realize vaguely at that very moment that 'Zen' (short for Chan-na, a meditative state) was not too far from me. When I kept on escalating the state of stillness to the extent of reaching the realm of emptiness, despite the languish environment around me and the nature in the distance, I suddenly found that it was such a magnificent sight; although no bird was chirping, what I could hear was much broader and more distant.

...... , you can still maintain a good mood, and socialize with equanimity while living your carefree life. To those who attained the state of Zen, everywhere in this whole world is mandala (place of practice; site of enlightenment) - any given entertaining environment is no different from the Pure Land; similarly, a bustling city does not differ from a mountain. Without such attainment, despite remaining in mountain retreats, you would be disturbed internally by all the afflictions and delusions of the worldly life. Your own mind is the source of all the sufferings generated within.
Zen is attained through cultivation. Zen cultivation focuses primarily on one's mind. Mind is the arising source of the great chiliocosm. Giving rise to your mind is giving rise to all forms in the universe. When mind arises, forms arise. When mind ceases, forms cease. The ceasing of both mind and dharma (the basic principles of cosmic and individual existence) is the serenity of the great void. Purifying your own mind would facilitate inner tranquility for your own self. If all sentient beings would purify themselves, world peace could be stimulated. Universal mental purification can perfect global governance and promote global prosperity since political instability is initiated by people's undisciplined and deluded mind. Thus, mental culture is of primary importance, be it to a nation, to its people, to a family, to an individual, or to education.
I therefore wish that every one of you who had the cause and condition being present here would have the opportunity to enter into Buddha's solemn-most Hall and bow to the pure Own Nature, that is, the real Buddha.
On behalf of the Song Mountain Shaolin Temple, renowned as the origin of Zen Buddhism, I hope that all the conditioned individuals in here could enter into the ancient temple of Song Mountain Shaolin on a leisure day and participate in Zen practices. The Zen practices consist of mindfulness development, reciting sacred texts, and thorough penetration with meditative insight to achieve enlightenment under the guidance of the skillful Zen Master(s). Otherwise included are cast-off (attachment), sovereignty, enjoyment, and lots of joy. You will involve in interactivities in a relaxing atmosphere, as well as training in Higher Meditation in a tranquil atmosphere, to experience and realize the Perfect Wisdom of the Enlightened Great Buddha.
Aomituofo ! Thank you !

...... A real Zen practitioner is not searching externally for something, nor seeking externally for Buddhism. Buddhism lies neither internally nor externally. Mental culture or the state of Zen is not above, below, nor around us, but rather the immediacy of the present moment. The past has passed, the future is unpredictable, and the present is evanescent and irreclaimable.
In fact, the reason that you are not feeling happy right now is that though you are sitting here, your thoughts are still lingering in things that happened in the past. This is real suffering. Just because you have always been harbouring delusions from the past, it constitutes a dream state. As a wanderer in dreams, you have never been really living your life. Why so? Because of the fact that you keep pursuing the past, your body and your soul are never overlapping. Hence, you are not in the state of Unity of Human and Heaven (the fundamental worldview of ancient Chinese) - your body being the heaven and your soul being a boundless form but not overlapping each other...." Here is an example: When you raise a finger and focus on it, you would ignore everything, including that around you. When the music is on, you listen only to the music but you have missed a lot of wonderful things in life.
When you keep on talking, you can only hear your own speech but not the speechless wisdom of the wise and of the void.
We are all confined to the consciousness of our sense organs such as our eyes, ears, nose, mouth (tongue), feelings (body) and thoughts (mind). All these seem to be our best friends but simultaneously our worst enemies that obstruct our inner peace. These are all causes for our reincarnation.
We all experience the vicissitudes of life such as joy and sorrow; parting and reunion; right and wrong; and success and failure. Through the discriminating function of the mind, you see things as beautiful or ugly; you see the difference between sage and worldling, wealth and poverty; and thus the fear of life and death. Here are the sayings in the Buddhist Heart Sutra: "...detached of distortion and delusion ..." and "...form does not differ from the void and the void does not differ from form...". It is impossible for you to physically cut off from the hustle and bustle of the worldly life, or from the form of the manifest world. No matter how happy you feel having cut off, it is neither Buddha's teaching nor Zen doctrine. Zen is to enable you to acquire, and retain, in your normal daily living, the unshakable spirit, a state of attained wisdom and meditative concentration.
May I ask you where your mind is right now? Are you able to locate it? Being seated here right now, you may be able to locate it but for those who cannot, may I ask who you are? Have you been living? For whom are you living?
Since you were born, you were living for your parents - going to school: entering elementary, entering university, possessing doctor's degree; being celebrities, or national political leaders etc. For all you possess in life, have you ever been living for your own self? No! You have not! No matter how luxurious and splendid you lead your life, you are nobody but a puppet controlled by others' ideas.
What is a real Zen cultivator like? A spontaneously carefree person, mentally liberated at all times - be it male or female, rich or poor, young or old - what s/he sees is not the hustle and bustle of the mundane world, but his/her own mind.
Beauty is so called because you have in mind something non-beauty. This is due to the sense of relativity arising within you and thus the differentiation of ugly, sage and wisdom.
Wisdom likewise comes into being as an effect of relativity from the concept of ignorance inside of you. The true Wisdom is - let it be the blooming beauty of the peach blossoms, as do the luminosity from the luminous moon, and white clouds floating high in the sky; let our world be filled with its own happiness; let the vicissitudes of life function on their own and develop their own destiny without interference; let the disabled enjoy their spiritual pleasure, and the healthy create their tomorrows. Just cultivate and not ask for harvest; just make a full bloom of your life and not expect rewards.
It is most pitying for someone to have others do favours for him/her. Zen practitioners forget about themselves and share a common goal of serving all sentient beings.
Aomituofo !

As a closure to my speech, I would like to deliver to you all a few sentences from a poem written by a contemporary Chinese poet.

To you the strangers,
I wish that you all have a bright future.
I also wish you lovers become a happy married couple.
I further wish you possession of perfect happiness in this mundane world.

Aomituofo !