The Scripture of the Fo...


The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Three: Practice


The Founding Master said, “Most people only recognize those who have read widely in the scriptures to be persons who embody the Way. Often people will listen with trusting ears to one who quotes from the ancient scriptures, but will pay little attention to one who elucidates those fundamental truths directly in simple language, even though both may expound the same truth. How frustrating! ‘Scriptures’ contain the truths elucidated by the past sages and philosophers of this world in order to enlighten people’s manners and minds. Through the ages, expatiations and annotations have been added to them, forming the Confucian ‘five carts of books’ and the Buddhist ‘eighty-thousand pages of sūtras.’ It would be difficult to read through them all even if you devoted your entire life to it. What free time would you have to acquire real competence in Cultivation, Inquiry, and Choice, and to achieve character that transcends that of common sentient beings? In the past, the Buddha predicted the vicissitudes of the dharma by distinguishing the periods of the right dharma, the semblance dharma, and the final dharma. The main reason for these change is that over thime the scriptures become so complicated that sentient beings of the final age lose their self-sufficiency; and as their self-power declines, they act foolishly and the right dharma naturally is weakened. However, when the period of the right dharma returns, however, all people will again be trained realistically with simple doctrines and convenient methods, and each and every person will be guided under the right dharma that is transmitted by speech and received by the mind, so that they will experience and awaken to the great Way. What, then, would be the point of studying all the ‘five carts of books’ and reading the entire ‘eighty-thousand pages of sūtras’? I urge you not to let yourself be distracted by so many complicated old scriptures, but instead diligently practice by making use of simple doctrines and convenient methods; and, after you have gained extraordinary capability, just glance over ancient scriptures and all kinds of doctrines for reference. If you do so, one morning’s quick consultation will be better than ten years of reading.”