Firstly, take the fact of a person's birth; this brings about vain passions associated with having a body. Having a body one also has suffering; if one had no body where would suffering come from? Now as for escaping from suffering, there is nothing better than to embody the perfect Tao. Desiring to embody the perfect Tao, there is nothing better than the understanding of original mind. Thus the mind is the substance of the Tao and the Tao is the function of the mind. If people are able to carefully examine their minds and scrutinize their inner natures, then the substance of complete understanding will spontaneously be manifest. The functioning of natural action will be spontaneously completed; not relying on merit they suddenly leap to the other shore.
This being so if one lacks the luminescence of the mirror mind and the expansive brightness of the spiritual pearl, then how can one cause all external appearances to suddenly depart, fine dust not to contaminate, the source of the mind to be self existent, and the resolve to birth-less-ness to be decided upon? Thus, as for the enlightened gentleman who's mind embodies the Tao, if his body cannot bind his inner nature, and external circumstances cannot disorder his perfection, then how could weapons do him harm? How could the tiger and rhinoceros cause him injury? How could raging fires or great floods be enough to cause him worry?
The mind of an intelligent person is like a bright mirror; reflecting, it does not receive; in responding to stimulus it accords with things; harmonizing but not advocating. Therefore, he is able to manage things without injury. This is what is called the marvelous Tao of unsurpassed perfect truth. If one traces this Tao to its source it had no name, yet the sages were compelled to name it.
Fundamentally, the Tao is inexplicable yet the sages are compelled to explain it. Therefore, if names and explanations are silenced then people now a days will be without a means to recognize its substance and return to its reality. So the sages devise teachings and establish explanations by which the Tao is made manifest. Therefore, Tao relies upon explanations and afterwards becomes manifest. Explanations rely on the Tao and afterwards are forgotten. What alternative is there?
This Tao is most mysterious, and most subtle, while the nature and character of people in the world is deluded and stupid. Clinging to their having a body they hate death and take pleasure in life. Thus, in the end it is difficult for them to understand thoroughly. Huang and Lao (the Yellow Emperor and Laozi), pitying their attachment to desire, then made use of techniques for cultivating life, in accord with what they desired, and gradually instructed them by employing the essentials of cultivating life found in the golden elixir, the essentials of the golden elixir in the spirit water flower pool. Therefore the teachings of the Scripture on the Tao and Virtue and the Scripture of Obscure Correspondence can be obtained in order that they may prevail in the world for a time and benefit people, so that they enjoy their lives.
Even so, their words are hidden, their principles obscure. Although intoning the words, no one understands their meaning. If one does not meet a perfected person and receive oral instruction, in the end they will be unable to achieve merit or complete their task. Are not those who fail to learn as numerous as the hairs on a cow and those with intelligence as rare as a unicorn's horn?
Formerly in the year 1079 C.E., Bo-duan met a teacher in Chengdu who gave him the method of the elixir. That year his master passed away. Henceforth he repeatedly preached to people and time and time again met with calamity and misfortune. In all this went on for not more than twenty days. He then came to recall the advice of his teacher: "Some day when there are those with you who have untied the reigns and cast off the fetters, you ought to transmit your understanding to them, leaving out nothing."
Afterwards he wanted to give up his name and hometown but he worried that the people of the Tao did not know what to believe.
He then composed this Chapters on Awakening to the Real stating all things concerning the elixir medicine from beginning to end.
Having completed the work he searched for students who would come and gather together; those who would study with earnest intent and whose minds do not go to extremes. He then picked out individuals to whom he could transmit his teachings. None of them had either the great power or strength which would allow them to assist those in danger or to save the drowning; nor were any of them scholars with the magnanimity and exceptional intelligence which would enable them to speak with humanity and insight. From the beginning they repeatedly incurred suffering, their minds still not completely understanding.
Altogether, only three of them, by examining their past faults, understood that the method of the great elixir is very simple and very easy and that although stupid and dull, if the small man attains this method and puts it into practice he will immediately leap up to the level of the sages. By means of this one can see that the intentions of Heaven are abstruse and grudging and will not permit careless transmission to those who lack heaven's mandate .
Yet Bo-duan did not obey his teacher's words; he repeatedly revealed the celestial secrets because he had a body. Therefore he invariably received scolding and trouble. This was heaven's warning to him and in like fashion the spirits also urged: "Do not dare to abrogate your duty. Henceforth you ought to manacle your mouth and tie up your tongue. Although the cauldron remains right in front of you, as if with a sword to your neck, never again presume to offer such explanations."
What is sung about in the Chapters on Awakening to the True is the subtle meaning of the great elixir medicine and the fire phase; it does not lack any details. Those who appreciate it had the bones of an immortal in a past life. If they study it then they will have sufficient understanding for self-enlightenment and it will be possible to understand its meaning by investigating the text. Why would they need Bo-duan's detailed instructions to be given to them?
Thus what heaven bestows is not the hasty transmission of Bo-duan as if these chapters were merely songs. They explain the method of observing the inner nature. Accordingly, they present what is called the Tao of spontaneous, marvelous enlightenment; and, being so, it is the Tao of spontaneous action which equalizes things for the mind.
Although these chapters display the secret essentials, in the end there is no transgression or fault.
What remedy is there for the ordinary man? According to his destined karma he will be generous or stingy. According to the foundation of his inner nature he will be sharp witted or dull. Even though hearing only a single sound, he will in confusion form heterodox views.
Therefore Sakyamuni and Manjusri defined what is expounded as the Dharma jewel of only one vehicle. And yet, having heard this students then consider that they completely understand and naturally make the error of three vehicles.
Henceforth, if there is a scholar whose inner nature and character are courageous and intelligent and if he reads and listens to these chapters then he will understand that Bo-duan attained the marvelous meaning of the highest single vehicle of Bodhidharma and the six patriarchs.
And so it will be possible, following this single explanation, to awaken to the myriad dharmas.
But if one's habit is to add more to this then one returns to the views of the middle and the small. This moreover is certainly not the fault of Bo-duan!
/An Annotated Translation And Study Of Chapters On Awakening To The Real (Ca. 1061) Attributed To Zhang Boduan (Ca. 983-1081) by Paul B.M. Crowe , B.A., The University Of Calgary, 1988, M. A., The University Of Calgary, 1993 A Thesis For The Degree Of Master Of Arts In The Faculty Of Graduate Studies (Department Of Asian Studies) The University Of British Columbia December 1997 © Paul B.M. Crowe, 1997/