Don't Stray and Diligence Will Be Boundless

Don't Stray and Diligence Will Be Boundless

Another dharma nugget for you today, again from Dahui's Shobogenzo. I'll soon be moving on from this focus, although will probably return to it from time to time. The review that I've been preparing for months is almost cooked and I'll post it this coming week.

This selection features one of the real old-timers, Baotang Wuzhu (704-774), a successor of the fifth ancestor, Hongren. Although there are other examples in the Zen literature of masters who were not successors of the Huineng, the sixth ancestor, they are quite uncommon. This one is also quirky in that it quotes The Dhammapada as support. I don't remember another such citation in Zen literature in China or Japan.

[602] Master Baotang was asked by the minister Du, “I’ve heard that Master Jin preaches a three-phrase teaching—‘no recollection, no thought, don’t stray.’ Is this so?”

He said, “Yes.”

The minister said, “Are these three phrases one or three?”

He said, “‘No recollection’ is called discipline; ‘no thought’ is called concentration; ‘don’t stray’ is called wisdom. When the whole mind is not aroused, this embodies discipline, concentration, and wisdom—they are not one and not three.”

The minister said, “Shouldn’t the word ‘stray’ in the last phrase be ‘forget’?”

He said, “‘Stray’ is correct.”

The minister said, “Is there any proof?”

He said, “The Dhammapada says, ‘If you arouse the idea of diligence, this is straying, not diligence; if you are able to keep your mind from straying, diligence is boundless.’”

When the minister heard this, his sense of doubt was washed away.