When four assemblies
jointly invited the great master of Chan Sham to expound the Heart
Sutra at the Buddhist Library of China, the great master made an
all-out effort, although his lecture-series was to last nine gruelling
days and even though he was already eighty-four years old; he enjoyed
teaching Buddhadharma, and those who came to listen were delighted.
During those nine days, there was standing room only every time
he lectured, a clear sign of greatness of that Dharma assembly in
this five-kasaya period of turbidity. The old master explained the
sutra directly, eluding conventional restrictions. Though he used
traditional divisions of the Buddha's teaching into classes, on
many occasions he dealt broadly with the general idea. Initially,
his aim was to explain the Heart Sutra, but he commented likewise
on the Lotus Sutra, and while discussing the doctrine, broached
the topic of the world situation as well. Why? Because all dharmas
are Buddhadharma, all sutras are one sutra.
is never separated from the world. All phenomena are BuddhaDharma
and whoever understands completely does not have a single mote of
dust settle on him/her. All his/her words and all his/her thoughts
are thereby freed from obstacles. Each of his/her statements, may
it be harsh or delicate, is always exactly to the point. Sentient
beings receptive to Dharma will have their wisdom eye open upon
hearing this teaching, but those with distorted vision are bound
to be bewildered and most likely will miss the whole point. Some
individuals excel in knowledge of every rule and every convention
and their words flow as in catharsis; they may have acquired mastery
over the divisions and classifications of the Buddha's teaching,
but not understanding its meaning they cannot avoid getting entangled.
Playing with words, turning them around they get bewitched, and
much as their speech is systematic and orderly, they fail to understand
the ultimate, and lose sight of the truth. According to one of the
early Buddhist sages, the entire universe is one sutra of a sramana;
the entire universe is the eye of a sramana. Although an enlightened
person might spend a lot of time reading a sutra, he/she will not
carry it around in his/her mind. One might say one is reading sutras
not with one's eyes, but with one's wisdom - though reading all
day long, there are no sutras to read.
My great old
teacher explained the Heart Sutra by highlighting its salient points
in a prologue: According to his explanation all is really Buddhadharma,
every single form and each tiny bit of color is the Middle Way.
Speaking naturally and freely, he received support from all sides,
precisely because all is Buddhadharma. The great old teacher expounded
the Heart Sutra every day for nine days, yet the Heart Sutra was
never mentioned. This is truly the way to expound the Heart Sutra.
The master lectured
in Mandarin and upasaka Wang Ka'i translated into Cantonese, making
the Cantonese people very happy. Because of these lectures many
of them now understand the Heart Sutra. Those who knew both dialects
praised him for the integrity of his translation. Having read his
notes he made while translating, I concluded in my turn that Upasaka
Wang Wai made every effort to retain the original meaning: Every
sentence, every word is exactly as it was used by the great old
master - only the dialect is different. The translator's descriptions
convey even the sounds and the nuances to such a degree that reading
them equals hearing them spoken.
stood outside the adamantine door and eventually made a breakthrough,
using his superior knowledge and skills the way one would use an
axe to break down any ordinary door. People entered and discovered
what the Heart Sutra holds. I believe he understands what his treasury
is, what are his virtues; wouldn't you agree?
The year of Wu Hsu, June.