The Essential Scriptures of the Buddha and Patriarchs
Secrets on Cultivating the Mind
It is so tragic. People have been deluded for so long. They do not recognize that their own minds are the true buddhas. They do not recognize that their own natures are the true dharma. Wanting to search for the dharma, they still look in the distance for all the sages. Wanting to search for the buddha, they will not observe their own minds. If they aspire to the path of buddhahood while obstinately holding to their sense that the buddha is outside the mind or the dharma is outside the nature, then—even though they pass through kalpas as numerous as dust motes, burning their bodies, charring their arms, crushing their bones and exposing their marrow, or else writing sūtras with their own blood, never lying down to sleep, eating only once at the early-morning offering, or even reading through the doctrines of the entire canon and cultivating all sorts of ascetic practices—it is like trying to make rice by boiling sand: it will only add to their tribulation. If they would only understand their own minds, then approaches to dharma as numerous as the sands of the Ganges and uncountable sublime meanings would all be gained without seeking them. As the World Honored One said, “I see that all sentient beings everywhere are endowed with a tathāgata’s wisdom and marks of virtue.” He also said, “Sentient beings’ illusory guises all take shape in the sublime mind of the tathāgata’s consummate enlightenment.” Consequently, you should know that outside this mind there is no buddhahood that can be attained.