Dragon Gate: Law of the Heart
TAKING REFUGE IN THE THREE TREASURES
The three treasures are the Way, the Scripture and the Teacher. The Way is the source of the void. It is formless and nameless. Without scriptures it is impossible to understand the Way, for the Way is described within the scriptures. A teacher has deep and perceptive insight, without which one cannot achieve the essence of the teaching. Without taking refuge in these three treasures, one can’t extract themselves from cycles of evil and will remain entrenched in confusion. When a regular person cultivates themselves with the study of the Way, they arrange their heart and determination in compliance with their life and destiny. One must endure difficulty for this wish to come to realization.
The first refuge is the incomparably treasure of the Way, which wills for all life to always serve the celestial ones, and forever escape the world of reincarnations. The second refuge is the incomparable treasure of the scripture, which wills for all life, life after life, world after world to achieve the upright law. The third refuge is the incomparable treasure of the teacher, who wills for every life to study the highest materials and never descend into evil.
These three refuges were used by the sages of the past to bring deliverance to people and as an entrance to the Way. They are the first step on the path to ascension, the first way into the doors of virtue. Of those who have become immortals and achieved the way of sages and those of great virtue, there is none who has not begun with these three refuges. How one must control one’s essence and character, life and death, overcome the great events of one’s fate and have insight into the most subtle of mysteries of life is difficult to look and listen for.
The highest teaching is the brilliant method of deliverance. When a student is without the loving compassion and instruction of a true teacher, who leads them to a sudden spiritual insight, how can they come to a point of calm and find the truth of this highest teaching and genuine ancestry? How can one come to a point where they gradually enter into the emptiness of the mysterious way and no longer fall into the demonic realms and enter the side doors?
If one can’t understand the Way than they should first take refuge in the Scripture. If they can’t understand the scripture they should take refuge in a teacher. If one takes refuge with a teacher, they can hear what they otherwise would not have understood of the scriptures. When one can hear the scriptures like this, they’ll see a Way they would have otherwise not seen. In the beginning one cannot see nor hear, but in a single moment everything dawns on them in perfect clarity. This power comes from taking refuge with a precious and genuine teacher. It is what lets one naturally awaken to the true world, achieve and understand the true law, escape from the cycle of living and dying and never fall back to the wheel of return.
This being said about taking refuge in the gateway of the three treasures, one must be sure to take refuge in the TRUE three treasures. These days, if the treasure of the three refuges is taken as ordinary than one ends up morning and evening facing the statues of deities and doing nothing more than blankly reciting scriptures. But this is certainly not the actual purpose for which these refuges arose. After all is said and done one is still entrenched in the ways of confusion and evil and unable to free themselves from samsara. How can one understand the great Way and achieve liberation from living and dying like this?
The true three treasures are called taking refuge with intention, an intention to be without “living and dying.” Following this precious course one can achieve understanding.
Taking refuge in the heart; which is to function without obstructions. By this one can achieve awakening through the treasure of the scripture.
The refuge of the Body is an eye without sight, an ear which cannot hear, a nose which doesn’t smell, a tongue that doesn’t taste, hands that don’t move, and feet which don’t walk. Not defiling these things with obscene pollutions, one undertakes bitter cultivation. Working their bones and tendons, starving their skin and muscles, destroying the limbs and the trunk, one abandons their body. This is the precious teacher which allows one to achieve realfeeling.
If one looks to have the compassionate feeling of the teacher, to teach the scripture and pass along the Way, they must take refuge in their own body, heart and intention; the three true refuges. One’s eyes and ears never forget what they have seen and heard. By being lost in appearances and sounds, those sounds and images take on value and the body becomes untrue. When a person is untrue how can they touched by a teacher? If one can keep their body in a pure state, support the root of spirit with their heart and unify their intention with the Eternal, their thoughts become empty. This is a profound and stable peace, which is called “taking refuge in the three treasures.” When the body isn’t evil or excessive, the blessing of the teacher is felt. The heart doesn’t conceal the spirit so the treasure of the scripture is awakened. The intention is never divided so the great way is understood.
The body is strong, the essence full and so there is health. The energy of the heart and spirit are clarified and thereby opened to wisdom. The intention is honest and the spirit solidifies so true nature appears. Fullness of essence and energy coalesce and transform into Spirit. The mysterious culminates. By taking refuge in the body, heart and intention (one’s own three treasures) the Way, the Scripture and the Teacher emerge.
What is it to take refuge in the body, heart and intention? This body is what has taken form from combining the essence of a father and the blood of a mother. One’s temperament and disposition are contained within the body, which grew forth from an embryo. The four elements combine and form the filthy leather bag we call a human body. The eyes see, the ears hear, the hands move and the feet walk. The mouth speaks and the tongue tastes. It is not an enduring or virtuous form.
By virtue one becomes immortal or attains sage hood. Without virtue one becomes a ghost or demon, a monster or an animal. Making their way upward one level a person may ascend to paradise, moving downward one level they may descends to hell. If a person sees some external value in this karmic system they receive only retribution. If one takes this as a real spiritual foundation and ignores everyone else, renounces the world and truly wishes to escape the cycle of living and dying, they must decide to take refuge in the body, orient themselves towards the proper way. Otherwise the six roots are used externally, the three poisons are created, ten thousand desires and a thousand calamities, nine demons, ten difficulties all arise from the body. In this state how can a person ever hope to cultivate the Way?
If a person is going to take refuge there is only one method; to control the body. Following precepts, and subduing the wildness of the body. Using the manner of the four elements whether walking, standing, sitting, or sleeping one remains conservative and dignified. A person’s ears do not to hear, their eyes not to see they remain in an appropriate state of compassion. They discover joy and develop respect. The limits imposed by precepts create this state and the uncontrolled body becomes the body of the law, so one can take refuge in the teacher.
Everyone! When one has demonstrated this first phase, one must seek the refuge of the Heart. When one’s body and heart aren’t aligned, danger develops and one is unable to find deliverance. Like the wind or sea, the deep waters of an ocean flood, the fury of a blowing gale, and the billowing tidal waves, it is a great struggle to escape this turmoil. If one wishes to find refuge in the heart, they must know the heart, and it is the most benevolent and long enduring thing.
Greed creates lust, which goes against the law and brings calamity. When the heart becomes like this a person becomes a starving animal or an evil demon. They become sick and disabled, experience the pain of war, the bitterness of plague and pestilence, landslides and earthquakes. They witness the eclipsing of the sun and the death of stars, endure tsunamis and floods and encounter monstrous demons, all because of this contamination at the beginning. If one wishes to cultivate but doesn’t take refuge in the heart, how can they pass through to the awakening of truth and achieve an understanding of the true law?
To control the heart, it is necessary to take precepts and sit in meditation. A heart without understanding emits a flame, which chars and burns. So this cannot be done without water. Stillness is called water, which controls the chaotic blaze. This could be likened to strong sea winds and billowing waves blowing a merchants boat and terrorizing those on board. Suddenly the wind dies, the waves rest and the sea is calm all the way to the shore. The fire of the heart is a blaze; calm water descends unseen, changing this burning fire to the winds of wisdom, changing ignorance into innate wisdom. It transforms bodily desires into emptiness, changes the calamitous to the auspicious. Disaster is changed to fortune, sins are separated from families, calamity is replaced by profound wisdom, evil becomes virtue, excess and extravagance become honesty and sincerity, anxiety becomes joy, illness is recovered, famines are replaced with heavy harvests, demons disappear, immortals and buddhas are nearby, misunderstanding is clarified, and what withers is grown anew. This is the power of stillness.
The heart is at peace and the energy is stable. Because energy is stable the heart is understood, so one can take refuge in the treasure of the scripture. Everyone, having taken action to stabilize and assimilate the power of the wild and uncontrolled heart, one understands the treasure of the scripture, so one must now seek refuge in the intention.
神通不测, 或往或来, 变化多端, 倏胜倏灭，如龙如虎, 不可擒拿，如影如风，不可把捉，无形无见，无声可闻，耳不能听，目不能视，口不能说，鼻不能嗅，舌不能尝，心不能知，奇幻诈伪，千谋万虑，善用者，可以成真入圣，治国安民，三纲五伦，皆从此出，三教九流，俱从此起，忠孝节义，皆从此生，性命轮回，皆从此定，祸福吉凶，灾祥劫运，皆从此以为果报。不善者，流浪欲河，沉伦苦海，永无出期。
Spirit is measureless, it may come or go, it is multiform and changing, it manifests and disappears spontaneously. Like a dragon or a tiger it cannot be caught, like a shadow or wind it is ungraspeable. It is formless and invisible. It’s sound is noiseless, ears cannot hear it and eyes cannot see it. The mouth cannot speak of it, the nose cannot smell it and the tongue cannot taste it. The heart knows no fantasies and falsehoods, nor does it scheme or ponder. Using it one may discover truth and become a sage, pacify the country and people. The three principles five relationships all comes from it. The three teachings and the nine schools all begin from it. Loyalty purity chastity and duty are all born from it, the cycle of life is stabilized in it. Fate and misfortune, auspiciousness and providence are considered it’s doing. Without virtue one roams about the river of desire and sinks into vice and the sea of bitterness, never to emerge.
Everyone! If one wishes to cultivate the great way and they haven’t taken refuge in their intention it is difficult for one to achieve a stable peace. If one has the desire to seek refuge in intention their wisdom will shine brightly and they will be awakened. Before intention is made the water must be still and pure. The sprout grows after that time is passed, the divine light will be revealed and one controls life and death. With this honest intention one holds the handle of cause and effect. With this sincere intention one leaves the bitterness of living and dying, and escapes samsara by taking refuge in the core of this precious intention.
With one pure intention, one can reach the heavens above and resist the evils below. Evil spirits lose their form, the sun and moon lose their light, creation loses its weight, yin and yang lose their polarity, demons hide and the world is truly empty. Within and beyond the three realms there is only an intention of reverence. Release what is full and embrace what is empty. Unrestrained in every way, nothing is without this wish.
At the highest level we face the Original Beginning. It is called the ancestor of energy. In the center we return to the spiritual treasure. It is called holy energy. Below we depend on the most high which we call true energy. Dispersing is called benevolent energy; coming together is called original energy. Compassion and benevolence is Yang energy, rage and punishment are Yin energy. Anger covetousness and violence are blood energy. Murder, thievery and excess are demonic energy. Attachment and covetousness are evil energy. Savagery and ignorance are monstrous energy. Injustice and calamity are grieving energy. Concerning all beings, if the Body doesn’t seek the refuge of the Teacher, self-indulgence and inauspiciousness are strong. If the Heart doesn’t take refuge in the Scripture one is comatose, docile and confused. If the Intention doesn’t take refuge in the Way, there is bias and prejudice. Not being upright one loses their center. Losing the center prevents the light of wisdom from growing; stability is undermined, precepts aren’t followed strictly, the spirit can’t coalesce, energy cannot assemble, essence cannot flow. Intention cannot be sincere, the heart cannot shine, the body cannot cultivate.
Everyone! Today I spoke of searching for the Great Way, and pointed straight to the human heart. If one is eager and quick to tame their, Body, Heart and Intention, they will transform into the real body of the three treasure. After which refuge is taken in the three refuges, the Way, the Scripture and the Teacher. To ask for liberation from this world one can’t tarry. When one commits to discipline and sits in the stillness of wisdom at the door of the law, they may walk in faith without uncertainty and it is known that this person is certain to achieve the Way. If one doesn’t commit to this cultivation, it is known that this person sins are deep and fortune thin and they cannot understand the Way, for the Spirits will not allow it. This person must hear the supreme truth, the Way of peace, stillness and deliverance. If a person is careful to never become angry, always create compassion and empathy, knows all the ways to help, and is drawn to enter the Way, then they can be called a disciple who has taken refuge in the three treasures.
REPENTANCE FOR SINS
Nowadays, people who cultivate darken their own conscience; they deceive themselves about their own original nature by looking only at the faults in others and not at their own errors. It is because they don’t know how to stop their misdeeds that their sins are deep and their karma is heavy. Masking the Heart and the obscuring the self, how can one achieve the Way? To repent, one must use true Heart to correct mistakes of the past, only after which can one progress.
Nowadays, I find it unsuitable to be frustrated and displeased with the people of this world. Their hearts are masked and their selves are obscured. Through giving distinct explanations, everyone is able to listen and therefore may come to find understanding themselves.
Meanwhile how should one go about the business of correcting the masked Heart? Acting impurely, but using pure words is to have a bright mouth but a dark heart. One may take vows, but not honor the method. The Yang is a precept and the Yin is an evil person; one who is vowing honesty but not being honest. The spoken word cannot be a replication of truth. Hearing about the Way isn’t good enough. When a person acts with self-interest, knows the method yet violates it, uses trickery to take advantage of the ignorant, takes the false for the real, the empty for the full, calls a deer a horse and sells a dog for the price of a sheep than this is a dark place; a polluted conscience. In one’s core they plot against others and go through all sorts of unvirtuous acts. If one doesn’t know this oneself, that not knowing makes than an idiot, a lost person and a fool. To know but to violate that reason, is that not to mask Heart and obscure the self? A person who does this is called a villain, an evil person, a demon and a vile person. Comparing this person to the idiot is to compare two different sins, is it not? An idiot has no wisdom. In their ignorance they make mistakes. They can harm only themselves, but cannot be considered virtuous. Even were they to hurt another person it would be on account of their behavior. Evil people are only those who are sinister and crafty, who have already lost their own worth, who have darkened themselves by masking their Hearts, who wish to conceal their wickedness from all of Heaven and Earth and conceal their evil from all spirits, who use all opportunities and strategies to hide themselves, flaunt their cleverness, cover their evils. They catch others in nets, and those people cannot see from where the net was established. They push others down wells, and those people do not know who opened the well. Only the people in this class of the world are unable to cultivate.
If one has not yet taken refuge in the three treasures, but they have this intention and rush to beg repentance, hurry to take precepts, though they have repeatedly broken laws and disobeyed orders, if they throw away their clothes and succumb to the Way, one may hastily find repentance. Within the darkness of their own heart and thoughts if they clean away all of their bad intentions, all the miniscule traces of their fantasies, by having complete remorse for their wrong doings, regretting all past mistakes, following precepts, and not allowing sins to be as a mountain, through peace one can free themselves. One seeks for the way, morning and night kneeling at the altar, pleading for forgiveness. The heart must feel shame, yet bring forth great determination to forge ahead bravely and vigorously, holding tightly to one’s oath with mind and body and always keep precepts and stability, to keep hope for the future.
BREAKING THROUGH OBSTRUCTIONS
People who cultivate but haven’t broken through their barriers are blocked and disoriented. If these obstacles aren’t surmounted they remain ignorant. The heart and the body are originally like the sky and the sun, while perceptions are like floating clouds. Clouds obstruct clear skies. On bright and calm days one can perceive openly, but if emotions obscure the openings of consciousness, the true point from which understanding is achieved, isn’t this be a serious “sickness” for a person who cultivates?
I am speaking about the root of this sickness, this obstruction, of which in Daoism there are two types; obstructions of principle and obstructions of occurrences. Without understanding occurrences it is difficult to distinguish between true and false. Without acquiring principles one cannot recognize good and evil. If one grasps principles and considers occurrences, everything is grasped, all barriers known.
I’ll explain these two words in detail, obstruction and barrier. Everyone, it is these things which so many thousands of scriptures and canons are meant to teach people about; that to practice virtue is to possess virtue, to act well is to be well, to cultivate truth is to understand truth. For all people to not practice virtue is to practice evil, to not act well is to act evil, to not cultivate truth is to be fraudulent, to not reach awakening is to lose the teaching. This is what happens when actions become a barrier to the original heart. There are also monks, who wish to practice virtue to possess it, act well to own goodness, cultivate truth to know about truth, and seek awakening as well, but they do all this not seeking spiritual liberation, but seeking the beneficial results they expect to gain by it. This is when principles become an obstruction to one’s original heart. If these two obstructions still exist, occurrences and principles, even when a person is top grade and developing, even if they are a person of first class cultivation, if their mind is not illuminated (beyond obstruction), the revelation of Heaven’s mysteries won’t be revealed, and everywhere these obstructions will grow. If one looks upon those who are truly advancing, those who teach scriptures and observe precepts, and sees their brilliance as praiseworthy, then darkness moves in, obstructions grow in the heart, and people move and act without clear understanding.
Everyone, when obstruction is not eliminated from the heart, one must escape from the sea of bitterness. There are boats, there are rafts, and there are sails and oars. Those with understanding are able to cross the ocean and others are not, from where does this difference comes? It comes from the boundless dark clouds which fill the heavens. In one’s heart when there is the danger of blowing winds and great waves, one does not dare to cross the ocean.
Everyone, daily exhaustion and hard work to achieve merit, acting virtuously and studying diligently, cultivation and enlightenment, are these not vital to escape the sea of bitterness? These scriptures, hard work, precepts and good actions, are they not a boat, a raft, a sail and an oar? Having this great vessel one should be able to cross this ocean. Having these why isn’t one able to cross? It is because they haven’t understood this point about the obstructions of the heart. When the skies are filled with dark clouds, wind and waves arise and the ocean cannot be crossed.
Everyone, the ocean of bitterness is unending, but by repenting the shore is at hand, obstructions are broken. The dark clouds disperse from the skies and there is deliverance from the ocean of bitterness. Everyone, have you not read the Scripture of the “Scripture of the Most High Jade Emperors Origin?” It clearly says: “Because all living things have serious obstructions, they are unable to achieve the compassionate elegance of the Gods.” Again it says “These many obstructions, of every grade and type, can all be broken.”
In the beginning of the Emperors Classics, it speaks specifically of obstruction, doubt, confusion, greed, anger, and all such manner of hindrances. If one doesn’t break through obstructions, peace and purity won’t manifest. Without peace and purity, where will the seventeen lights and the thirty virtues arise? Thousands of words speak of breaking through darkness and ignorance, overcoming obstruction and understanding the theory of the Door of the Law.
Everyone, in this world there are myriad obstructions, of all types and sizes. Suppose, when reading and reciting a scripture, within which is contained wonderful mysteries of great subtlety, one’s comprehension is limited, and so they are unable to awaken to the intent of that scripture. If one’s own mind isn’t clever enough, the light of their wisdom is weak, because they aren’t willing to settle their heart and energy, and they ask questions of a wise person, isn’t that obstruction? Having asked these questions they remain unconvinced and distrusting for fear that others aren’t answering in the truth and so therefore they seek to ask yet another person. If the answers they receive aren’t the same they become vexed, isn’t that an obstruction?
If there partners, reading scriptures together, and one becomes proficient while another is remains inexperienced, the heart may develop worry and this is also an obstruction. Also, if the proficient one is happy that, the other is worried, that too is obstruction. If one person is talented and another is clumsy, then it is possible for one person to take advantage of the other, which is an obstruction. If a person is seen doing good actions, perhaps giving money to the poor or doing some meritorious work, and I see them as being rich while I remain poor, than jealousy arises, if I see myself as rich and another poor, oppression arises, there are both obstruction. While reciting the scripture, a person suddenly understands a principle, grasps a truth, and later when telling this truth it to another person discovers that they already grasp it themselves. If that person refuses to accept that the other already understands that truth, then that also is obstruction. For example while practicing meditation, one has a profound experience. When the opportunity arises they try to boast about their accomplishment, this is obstruction. If one learns a spiritual truth and is attached to it in their heart, they will only know that one truth, and will not become flexible, this is obstruction. If two companions are together learning the way from one master, and one understands the lesson while another remains confused, if one doesn’t take responsibility for oneself, but rather becomes jealous or spiteful of their partner, this is obstruction. As is the accumulation of wealth, if when one is on their deathbed and are unwilling to part with their culture, their loved ones, their greatest friends, chess, books, paintings and their multitude of considerations and ideas. Symbols and arts used for spiritual development have profound use, when they are used possessively they become an inferior way. If my partner is happy and I am wicked and I am jealous of his goodness, this is a whole system of obstruction.
Everyone, you who have renounced the world must do the work of renouncing the world. Only then can you escape the world. These obstructions are all such sinful circumstances, how can you escape the world with that? I wish everyone takes these obstructions and eliminates all of them, so the heart is perceptive and not obscured, and wisdom develops. There is a long time of cleaning, after which the mind becomes empty; the nature of heaven is perceived clearly wherein a person finds their own spectacular place. Know that the mechanism which controls the coming and goings of life and death is determined the ability to break through obstructions. The body longs to escape the ocean of bitterness, but one must first completely eradicate all obstructions, so there is no longer the danger of the wind and the waves.
SEVERING KARMIC LOVE
Everyone, you already know the damage caused by obstructions. But you must also know that love and karma are yet more damaging. How does one recognize this; that karmic love is most ruthless?
Obstructions of the heart are only found within certain circumstances, when one surpasses the boundaries of those barriers they become meaningless. The damage they inflict comes and goes, it is temporary.
It is karmic love (hereafter Love) these two words, which are the primordial disaster. Until this very lifetime, it has been the greatest sin of the species. So the Sages and Immortals and Buddhas, advised all people to not hold onto one another, to not be bound to one another, to not covet each other. Laozi, Shakyamuni and Confucius each wanted all things under heaven to not live twisted up within this Love. This Love is the ancestor of all demons, the root of ten thousand evils.
The recurrence of calamity and confusion is all caused by Love. The degeneration of many living beings is caused entirely by Love. Failing to find the Way of Liberation is caused by Love. Not grasping the theory of true emptiness is caused by Love. When the body falls into pits of fire, when it descends to the underworld, this is the full work of Love. Ageing, sickness and death, the laws of Kings and punishments of judges are Love’s complete doing. Disasters of floods and fires, war, murder and thievery are the result of Love. The fall of ancestors and the rise of descendants are caused by Love. The nine ancestors endure disaster because of Love. When a person’s heart and nature are muddled, and their physical body is unhealthy, this is the effect of Love. The law of the Way is difficult to accomplish, the six thieves are savage because of Love. The six roots are unclean, all because of Love. Amidst Heaven and Earth and at the center of the five relationships, there are the ten thousand things, and their existence is the result of Love. If one wishes to leave this world, to pass beyond life and death, it is only through unrelenting elimination and severing of Love that freedom is attained, and only by this.
In today’s world I speak very little about this to fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and friends in loving relationships. I only tell renuciants about the confusion of Love; for what can they do if they know absolutely nothing about it? When human thoughts focus only on joy, this is known as Love.
When seeing all things both great and small, all family members, near and far, all affairs, internal and external, good and evil, right and wrong, all methods of sages and true immortals, all theories of scriptures and letters, all of the wonders of the creations of heaven and earth and yin and yang, all mysterious and unusual skills and arts, all pure and profound spiritual treasures of the Complete Reality teaching, all the famous mountains and cave dwellings, the sanctity of the Heavenly Temple, even the seven treasures and eight valuables, the great riches and great treasures, the body’s head, eyes, brain marrow, heart, liver, lungs and stomach, all the mountain caves and the great earth, the grass and trees, the birds and animals and the insects; If when seeing all these things, thoughts are covetous, desires appear, the heart craves, the spirit leaves, emotions become attached, nature is lustful, the mouth is gluttonous, the body is enraptured, dreams roam far; in every circumstance this the effect of Love. Like paying interest on a debt, one finds misfortune and vexation, and they cannot achieve the pure and peaceful liberation of the Way; in the end they become a student of bewilderment and bitter worry.
Everyone; confusion is born of Love and enlightenment arises from the extermination of Love. Everyone, you must always and constantly strive to awaken, at this very moment engage this undertaking! If there is one thread of Love in the heart, for people or things, it must be completely and immediately severed, for Love must not be compounded. If one enjoys sleeping than they ought to sit. If one enjoys sitting than they ought to walk. When one’s likes are exterminated, than the heart and spirit are naturally activated, Love disappears, the spirit and essence are naturally empty, worry cannot encroach one inch, and myriad karma doesn’t develop. The enlightened heart grows a bright light, which does not come from change, movement, or one’s affairs in the world. After a long time in this limitless and glorious place, the gate of mysteries is opened. If today it can’t be eliminated, tomorrow it can’t be broken, and later it can’t be finished, one will remain entangled.
Clothes, a begging bowl, a prayer mat, all become entrapments; grass shoes and a bamboo cane become ropes; famous mountains and sacred places become prisons; your brothers and sisters all become your enemies. Even the very mantras and incantations, all become arsenic, poisonous medicine; the Heart of the Dao, Original Nature, is transformed and a demonic Karma results. Can one not be wary of it, nor sever it so it expires?
In the past there were Daoists, who sat in meditation for such a long time that the spirit appeared. At the peak a light appeared; a five colored radiance, beautiful as a morning glow or fine brocade. Within this light are the mountains and rivers of the great earth, the ten thousand things are all visible within it. If a Daoist finds joy in his heart, it is from discovering the unobstructed light of God. All day and night one sits in meditation contemplating in front of this light, because it will not return. Daoists do not seek to open the imagination, through intention driven visualization, they forget their various studies, and consider only this light. By maintaining this focus as the days pass, and sitting unmoving like an imbecile, the body of any person, can achieve the Way. Daoists maintain six concentrations, by which the spirit concentrates and transforms, which is beyond any individuals perception.
If one day a person’s breathing becomes heavy and anxious (in meditation) their companion should be on guard for this, for the purpose of helping their partner achieve peace, so that they can discover the Way. If a person cultivates alone, they are misled. As midnight approaches, a person’s power is in fleeting form. Numerous forms come to pray and give offerings by the light of the candles and the smoke of the incense. As the person’s breathing stops, a moth will fly from their mouth, flutter into the candle, and die. People who cultivate seek to teach this by saying, “This bright light which exists and comes from the Way is also within the body. Love the light, and you will share the destiny of the moth; your form will change, and you will transform to a different order. Actions of Love are all predicated on this.”
Everyone; if in the heart there is any Love, there is also Karma. Karma begins with Love, which follows Karma’s development; Karma and Love are intertwined, forever without finish. Fathers change for their children, ancestors for their descendants, men for women, faces and shapes transform, names and natures change, and people are bewildered by believing that there is truth in this. They cry pitiably. Everyone ought to know this.
Those who cultivate have already parted with their possessions and discarded their attachments in order to transcend the world. If their love for desire is reborn, their imagination cannot be extinguished, and their hearts, as before, entangle and bind them. Again they are caught in the net. One must act before they receive omens and be guarded before calculations are made. Otherwise, the student’s achievements will be lost and in the future their demons will be difficult to escape. Consider that!
Everyone, in ancient times of the Great Sages there was none who didn’t use precepts to temper their hearts. The word “precept” means a weapon against demons; it can suppress evil influences and is a talisman which protects life. It extends and guards life; it is the ladder to heaven. It brings one to ceremoniously face the Three Purities, to transcend the mundane and achieve the sacred. It is the light which illuminates the path. It destroys the six desires and eradicates confusion. It is the precious boat of immortality which delivers living beings and lifts them from the sea of bitterness. It is what guides the ship of compassion, and it frees all life from the river of love. It is the safeguard of those who make passage and the outline to those who seek to enter the Way. Immortality has no door; all people enter by discipline. The path of Sages is their asceticism. Truth is the great road of Sages and the central gate of Immortals.
Everyone; in a world of transgression which lead to grave consequences, to receive the laws of discipline in this lifetime is one’s greatest rejoicing. If one doesn’t strictly adhere to discipline through perseverance, than this greatest rejoicing is transformed to greatest sin. Precepts are the prohibitions which guide one towards the profound, thus the most sacred Three Pure Ones established their divisions; the Clear Skies Woman is for management, the Order God’s soldiers are for protection and the Heavenly Order is for examination. Following these rules, one’s merits are added to the Alchemical book. To act against them is to compound mistakes in the book of darkness. When upholding vows the smallest part cannot be missing; one can’t be short a needle or a hair. Nowadays, initiates who have taken vows are among a generation of ignorance. How can this ignorance be rectified? By achieving understanding of this ideal, it is easy to persevere diligently without error. By violating this one remains in ignorance.
So I say to everyone, if someone already has taken precepts, it is necessary to take and consider the word “precept” in order to understand its details. How have they come to be called precepts? What is a precept? Why does one observe them? If one disciplines themselves by the laws set forth in precepts daily cultivation is easy. If one is not cultivating daily, why follow precepts? This ideology doesn’t come from the principles of monastic disciplines; it comes when people seek reputation and plan for a legacy. How does one go about seeing that?
Moreover; the monk who enters the order, enlists themselves in the three virtues, takes refuge in knowing Virtue and uses the precepts to seek enlightenment has very esteemed affairs. For us Daoists it was only after the Seven Perfected Ones passed on their knowledge that the teaching devolved. These precepts are magnificent, and for four hundred years they were kept from the world. Because the clergy never took responsibility the heavenly light was held and did not illuminate and dimness and difficulty was caused to people who cultivated. The cane which the hand holds to support the body was cast aside; ascendance was lost as the grip was lost on this handle. It is no secret that heresy and corruption move against the great works in the world, while peace, purity, deliverance, brilliant light and the straight Way move against solitude and ignorance. These days we can rejoice in the exciting movement of the Way which flourishes in this age. Above us is the Emperor King’s prosperous protection, the world under heaven is at peace, there is a ruling government with faith in virtue and within religion the laws are protected. Once again there are those who give to the monkhood; legacies are provided for, so much is readily available and this is a rare circumstance, something that is hard to find once in a thousand years.
Seeing you students who have been influenced by others who took vows, you ought to hold those vows yourselves and pursue them diligently. How does one uphold vows? Pity those who uphold precepts, they are separated between the wise and the foolish. If a fool initially takes vows they present with a good intention, but if when that vow is taken their original aspiration is reverted to darkness by ignorance, they will not be able to maintain their vow.
The intention to uphold take vows is blameless. When monk’s robes are lost, whether appropriated, sold or changed for common clothes, it offends the heavenly spirits, when one replaces their patchwork robes they lose and destroying their Daoist friends. When a begging bowl is used as an incense urn or for storing coins or rice and one breaks their vows and resumes drinking and eating meat without any limit, their wisdom will be extinguished and their immortal root severed. This is a real circumstance with numerable cases.
Such was one monk, who destroyed the conduct of his vows, sold his robes, polluted the scripture and abandoned his alms bowl. Following his death he encountered an army of demons which surrounded and enveloped him. Having arrived at last in the underworld, he beheld an imposing office with innumerable ghosts on both sides clutching on to as many humans. All these others were his comrades and friends who had also abandoned their vows.
The frightened monk asked “How did you get to this place?” The others replied “We don’t know how we got here; sooner or later everyone ends up here.” Above the door there was a placard reading “Investigative Corrections Department.” After reading these words he asked one of the demon soldiers “What is this Investigative Corrections Department?” The demon soldier replied “This is a new law office created by heaven. There are two parts which govern the affairs of monks and precepts. When there is a person in the living realm who decides to take vows, the Kitchen God writes his name down in the register.
He records on which day monks make their decisions, on which days vows are taken, the days of their meritorious achievements, the days on which transgressions are made and also who breaks their vows and on which days, who disobeys their teacher or the Way, who breaks laws and loses the teaching, who flaunts their robes, who flaunts their alms bowl, who speaks slanderously of their teachers, who plans on renouncing their vows, who are evil and covetous, and who are wanton and impure. All this is recorded in great detail and every month it is reported to a higher department. Everyone has to start from this department who wishes to reach Yamen. You all who have taken vows, and rid yourselves of immoral behavior for higher understanding, with a pure and profound heart, won’t end up in hell, but if you bunch don’t maintain your precepts, you’ll end up in this department, the inspection department where names are struck off the list. You’ve ended up here shortly after your body died. If you aren’t able to pass through this department, there is no Yamen that will sign for you.”
You all have a responsibility to take many precepts and studiously learn them in detail, until you arrive at a point where you no longer know anything. When great sins are made endlessly, and one seeks to cover it up, this is known as a deceitful heart. All those who take vows must use their own hearts to cultivate, use days for speaking and nights for reflection, continuing in what is virtuous and terminating that which is evil, not allowing oneself to become completely crooked, not allowing oneself any forgiveness, not allowing oneself any deception and not allowing oneself to hide. Doing merit one doesn’t seek to achieve anything and one repents the moment a transgression is made. Relying on the precepts one pours through the scriptures in great detail and inquires of illuminated teachers with rapt attention.
Respect teachers like parents, respect friends like siblings, appreciate the method like a spouse and love scriptures like treasure. Maintain precepts in the heart, just as you would hold onto an object with your hand. As an object in the hand is dropped, so is the scripture broken in the heart.. In this world the law of King’s is the rule; when broken there is punishment. In Heaven there is the law of the way, the rule of the Everlasting Female; when broken there is retribution. Without the way in Hell, one cannot see in the darkness. One lives and dies, all within one’s heart; without the Way the spirit of the precepts is distant and invisible, it comes and goes in accordance with one’s intention.
Consider the four words Ascetic, Action, Purity and Discipline. Following the way is known as being Ascetic. Patience and restraint are known as Action. Undivided attention is known as Purity. Never disobeying is one’s code, is known as Discipline. Remaining unchanged from the beginning to the end is called upholding the precepts, being destitute but resolute is known as keeping the precepts. There are those among you who’ve taken precepts and adopted the ten principles, but don’t remember even what the ten principles are about. You follow precepts in name only, but not in truth.
There is a convenient story which teaches everyone to persevere. The Rulers of Heaven prime intention is to bring about positive life though great compassion and deliverance of all living beings. Though precepts have been broken, if one changes and repents, develops a true heart, repeatedly keeps the precepts and is careful not to violate them a second time than naturally the heavens are compassionate and understanding. One is pardoned and they achieve their original state. I have a bit to tell everyone about the effects of disobeying or keeping precepts. Recently a monk, after declaring his vows, neglected to confront the challenges and broke his vegetarian diet, violating his precepts without any consideration. One night, he dreamt of the underworld, where he saw the “Investigation Department.” He saw within this hell many demons all placing lanterns above an altar. After some time he saw Yama emerge from the great door of the department, as impressive as the Emperor himself. He heard the announcement of the Judge, who arrived and quickly arranged the lanterns on the altar in their proper order, just as a feudal lord would arrange his subjects to be received.
In one place he saw an immortal official wearing a golden lotus crown, his body covered in a crane cloak, his hand holding a yellow rod, going to enter the building. Though the many spirits were unable to enter this Taoist did so easily. One of the ghosts berated him saying “What kind of wandering spirit are you, looking to walk straight into the great temple?” Another demon responded, “He’s dressed like a Taoist.” The first ghost responded “The day before yesterday, a command was ordered, that ordinary Taoists who uphold precepts on the day of their death, are permitted to possess that crown and those clothes and go through the door. Those who are illuminated enter though the straight door; those whose light is smaller enter through the door in the eastern corner; those without any light at all who have revolted against the names of their vows are bound in shackles and put outside the western gate to await judgement. You there, Taoist, you’ve got no light, just completely dark energy, the same as me, you’re just trying to pass as a Taoist. Get out of here!” With that he struck out at the dreaming disciple with a metal rod.
When the disciple awoke with a start he clearly remembered the dream. He rolled over and got off of the bed, washed his hands and face and lit the incense. Filled with great fear, he sorrowfully repented to correct all of his previous wrongdoings with untiring dedication. Suddenly a waking dream overtook the disciple and he was taken back to the world he had seen in his former dream. He saw the same demon soldier holding an iron lock and an iron rod respectfully asking “Excuse me Immortal Sir, where would you like to go?”
The disciple replied, saying “I somehow wandered here, I don’t want to disturb the Great King, and I ought to be heading back.” The demon replied, “The Great King has a rule; if a monk who has taken vows arrives here he’s asked to go to the tea house, have a seat and write his name down in the register so he may be evaluated.” The disciple replied “I really have no business here, please excuse me for not taking a seat.” He returned to his body and immediately ran outside to inform everybody of his story. In the first dream the demon had attacked and cursed him, in the second dream the demon had knelt and asked his name. According to the progress or transgression of his heart, he was given two types of reception, if it had not been for his repentance for his past mistakes he would have been in the same situation as before. The spirits of the Way don’t make errors!
Everyone, time passes easily; the nature of the heart requires illumination. Do not wait for death to arrive; the underworld is a dark place to walk. The Ox Head has no goodness and the Horse Face is merciless. When transgressions are made you must hurry to correct them, everything depends upon strict adherence to the precepts. Use the ten thousand laws and the thousand doors to cultivate the heart to rise. Boundless and without shores, it is difficult to escape the sea of bitterness. The desire to achieve the immortal state brings one closer to understanding the wisdom of stillness. If precepts are held firm than the light of wisdom is born. Carefully consider this and uphold precepts as the first priority.