Monthly Archives: November 2016

Day 5 Faith in Self, Faith in Method, Faith in Dharma (page 226-227)

The sun may turn cold and the moon may turn hot.

But the demons cannot destroy the true teaching.

When an elephant marches gloriously forward,

How can a praying mantis bar its way? 

We should have confidence in the Dharma, and we should be willing to do anything to protect it, even though there may be external forces trying to keep us from our practice. External forces may be powerful enough to cool the sun and heat the moon, but determined practitioners do not let them interfere with their practice. Here, on this retreat, we have only hot weather, sirens and firecrackers to distract us. They should not be problems. If you are ready to give up your life for the Dharma, if even the fearsome iron wheel cannot deter you, how can any external force disturb your practice?

The sudden enlightenment teaching is indestructible. Outer path practitioners and Buddhists of the gradual teaching may claim there is no such thing as sudden enlightenment, but criticism cannot destroy the Mahayana sudden enlightenment teaching. External forces that attempt to undermine sudden enlightenment teaching or fetter a determined practitioner are comparable to a praying mantis trying to bar the passage of a marching elephant.

There is a story behind this analogy, dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period of China, several centuries before Christ. A king, riding in a chariot, noticed a praying mantis standing on its hind legs trying to block the wheel of his vehicle. He said, “How can such a small creature stop my chariot? It has no idea how powerless it is.” Outer path and Hinayana practitioners may snipe at Ch’an teachings, but they are not even remotely capable of overthrowing Ch’an Dharma.

— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 226-227)

Day 5 Faith in Self, Faith in Method, Faith in Dharma (page 225-226)

Even if an iron wheel whirls on your head

Perfectly clear samadhi and wisdom are never lost. 

You cannot cling to the idea that the mani pearl, or wisdom, has concrete existence. However, if you accept and realize “mani pearl” Dharma, then you will never lose the gem. The iron wheel is an ancient weapon ─ a spinning, red-hot wheel with sharp blades that cuts and sears anything it touches. Once you attain the mani pearl, nothing can deter you in your practice, not even this frightening weapon whirling on your head. Again, the pearl symbolizes perfect samadhi and wisdom.

You can interpret these lines another way: Once you accept Buddhadharma and follow its teachings, you should view your practice as the most precious thing in the world, more precious than life itself. Even if the iron wheel hovers over your head, you should not leave the practice or abandon the Dharma.

— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 225-226)