Part Two: Dharma Discourses

Chapter Six: Exposition of Scriptures


66. The Master went on to comment on external and internal absorption and quiescence: “‘External absorption and quiescence’ is the practice of externally keeping one’s own resolution immovable. First, it involves generating a great aspiration. Because one’s mind is totally focused on fulfilling one’s vow, one looks yet sees nothing and one’s mind remains completely unaffected even if myriads of worldly affinities are laid out in front of one—just as Śākyamuni Buddha, the World-Honored One, once he generated the aspiration for the great Way, did not retain in his mind the slightest joy for his palace life or concern for his austerities in the Himalayas. Second, it involves generating great faith. Because one’s faith is of utmost strength, one no longer has a mind that analyzes or chooses anew despite all the variations among the myriads of dharmas in the world—just as Huike (487-593 CE), once he had generated faith and made a firm resolution, sought the dharma from Bodhidharma without any concern for his own body. Third, it involves generating a mind of great zeal. Because one’s zeal is exceedingly great, one feels no fear or desire to flee even when surrounded by myriads of obstacles—just as the twelve apostles persevered in the Way while facing danger, and would not back away even at the penalty of death. If one engages in these three practices, one’s intent will be naturally steady and unwavering, like Mount Tai.
“‘Internal absorption and quiescence’ is the practice of internally keeping the mind free from disturbances. First, it involves keeping unsettling thoughts from arising while one is reciting the Buddha’s name, doing seated meditation, or at all other times/any other time without a particular agenda, so as to nurture one-mind. Second, it involves remaining true to the right goal while walking, standing, or working, so that delusive thoughts do not arise for even an instant (kṣaṇa). Third, it involves emptying the four signs of personhood and purifying the six mental spheres, so that one will forget sensory conditions even when in touch with them and will not become either attached to or influenced by them. If one follows these three practices, then naturally the sea of one’s mind will become calm, and one’s afflictions will vanish forever.”