The essential thing in studying the Way is to make the roots deep and the stem strong. Be aware of where you really are twenty-four hours a day. You must be most attentive. When nothing at all gets on your mind, it all merges harmoniously, without boundaries — the whole thing is empty and still, and there is no more doubt or hesitation in anything you do. This is called the fundamental matter appearing ready-made.
As soon as you give rise to the slightest bit of dualistic perception or arbitrary understanding and you want to take charge of this fundamental matter and act the master, then you immediately fall into the realm of the clusters of form, sensation, conception, value synthesis, and consciousness. You are entrapped by seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, by gain and loss and right and wrong. You are half drunk and half sober and unable to clean all this up.
Frankly speaking, you simply must manage to keep concentrating even in the midst of clamor and tumult, acting as though there were not a single thing happening, penetrating all the way through from the heights to the depths. You must become perfectly complete, without any shapes or forms at all, without wasting effort, yet not inhibited from acting. Whether you speak or stay silent, whether you get up or lie down, it is never anyone else.
If you become aware of getting at all stuck or blocked, this is all false thought at work. Make yourself completely untrammeled, like empty space, like a clear mirror on its stand, like the rising sun lighting up the sky. Moving or still, going or coming, it doesn’t come from the outside. Let go and make yourself independent and free, not being bound by things and not seeking to escape from things. From beginning to end, fuse everything into one whole. Where has there ever been any separate worldly phenomenon apart from the buddhadharma, or any separate buddhadharma apart from worldly phenomena?
This is why the founder of Zen pointed directly to the human mind. This is why The Diamond Sutra taught the importance of human beings detaching from forms. When a strong man moves his arm, he does not depend on someone else’s strength — that’s what it’s like to be detached from forms.
To develop this essential insight, it is best to spend a long time going back into yourself and investigating with your whole being, so that you can arrive at the stage of the genuine experience of enlightenment. This is what it means to study with boundless, infinite enlightened teachers everywhere in every moment.
Strive sincerely for true faith, and apply yourself diligently to your meditation work. This is the best course for you.