The Essential Scriptures of the Buddha and Patriarchs
Secrets on Cultivating the Mind
As it is said in the sūtras, “The principle is awakened to suddenly, and is forged in accordance with this awakening. Phenomena cannot be removed suddenly; they are brought to an end sequentially.” For this reason, Guifeng [Zongmi], in a profound explanation of the meaning of initial awakening followed by subsequent cultivation, said, “We may know that a frozen pond is entirely water, but the sun’s heat is necessary to melt it. We may awaken to the fact that an ordinary person is a buddha, but the power of dharma is necessary for it to permeate our cultivation. When that [pond’s] ice has melted, the water flows freely and we can then use its efficacy for irrigation and cleaning. When delusion is extinguished, the mind will become numinous and dynamic and, in response, will make manifest its function of penetrating illumination.” These [quotations should] make it clear that [the ability to manifest] superpowers and transformations of form in the phenomenal sphere cannot be perfected in a day: these are made manifest through gradual permeation. Moreover, in the case of accomplished persons, superpowers in the phenomenal sphere are like eerie apparitions; they are only ancillary by-products of sanctity. Although sages might display them, they do not place any importance on them. Nowadays, deluded and ignorant people wrongly assume that one moment of awakening manifests in turn incalculable sublime functions, as well as magic and miracles. This is the sort of understanding to which I was referring when I said that you do not know the proper sequence [of practice] and do not distinguish the root from the branches. To seek the Way to buddhahood while not knowing the proper sequence [of practice or distinguishing] the root and the branches is like trying to insert a square peg into a round hole. How is this not a grave mistake?