The Essential Shortcut to the Way in Zen


Q: Roshi, would you comment on this passage I found recently by Master Ying-An?
You should let go and make yourself empty and quiet, clear and calm, to the point where former intellectual interpretation, rationalization, misknowledge, and misperception, cannot get into your mind or act on it at all. This is the essential shortcut to the Way. Do this, and one day you will clearly understand what’s going on where you are. 
A: Learn how to relax your mind while sharpening your awareness of what is directly around and in front of your body, and also what is happening inside and throughout your body, not to opinions or ideas or events happening in the imaginary future or vanished past. Every time a thought related to the past or future comes up into your awareness, let it go so that you can bring your mind back to "this here now." Become aware of how your mind is springing up with changing images, but do not follow them. As they appear, let them dissolve. Let your awareness merge with sights, sounds, colors, tastes, smells and sensations so completely that there is no "I" there or "you" anywhere in, outside, or in-between.* This practice will make you empty and quiet and save you energy. But for most people it is still only going halfway. Those people must still raise Great Doubt and investigate thoroughly and with the most intense resolve in order to experience Sudden Enlightenment!
*For this one can most easily use the "gazing" method, or the "hearing" method. In the first case, one gazes at an object or into the sky or at a cloud or a flame and lets go of all thinking in order to just see it completely as it is, aware of how it is changing, and finally becoming suddenly aware of just the seeing itself. Ah! In the second case, one listens keenly to sounds without thinking about them, just hearing them as they appear and disappear, until one realizes with wonder the nature of hearing itself. Both of these methods can lead to Sudden Enlightenment. See the Shurangama Sutra. It is a matter of exhausting ideas and cutting off thinking, then "turning the light around" in a resolute way so as to illuminate the Mind-Ground.

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