The Sutra of Hui Neng said that,
“Since time immemorial, it has been the practice for one Buddha to pass on the original truth to his chosen successor, and from one patriarch to another to transmit the awareness of the original heart.”
This transmission was accomplished without words. It was the teaching that went directly from heart to heart. What was passed down from one generation to the next was the heart teaching, the direct link between human nature and divine essence. This teaching enabled the past saints and sages to see beyond forms and made it possible for them to perceive with perfect clarity, no confusion, contradiction or conflict. They were then able to practise the truth with righteousness and spread the knowledge of truth widely.
The heart teaching is simple but yet not easy to absorb or be enlightened unless one is very wise. It is a teaching of the essence of the truth and by putting it into practice in daily life; one will ensure complete deliverance and freedom from obstructions. The heart teaching is the transmission of Tao and Master Zi Si, who followed in the tradition of Confucius once said:
“Tao is treasured by those who know. It will not be passed on to anyone other than the right person.”
All the generations of the patriarchs, saints and buddhas upon receiving the Tao or the heart teaching, immediately turned the wheel of dharma to save the sentient beings. With their great wisdom they wrote down their understanding of truth and the heart teaching in texts which we now called scriptures. Originally these scriptures were intended as a guide, a way to dispel obscurity so that eventually cultivator would be able to realize the essence of their true nature.
However, after the passing away of these great saints, sages and patriarchs, few people were able to understand their profound writings or fully comprehend the characteristics of their true nature. This is because the hidden messages that underlie all the scriptures cannot be directly explained in words. The time, according to heavenly stages, was not right for the widespread propagation of the heart teaching and the essence of the scriptures remained generally undisclosed.
When this main understanding of the texts remains hidden, the effectiveness of the texts themselves is minimal even though they have been handed down from thousands of years to the present time. In short, the texts, though written by enlightened saints and sages, become doctrines and philosophical tracts. The intended offering of the ultimate liberation of our true nature is not fully grasped and realized, hence human keeps on searching for the truth.
The Doctrine of Mean states that,
“The methods of government of Emperor Wen and Emperor Wu are displayed on wooden or bamboo slats. While the emperors lived, their empires flourished but after their deaths, even though their written instructions on the tablets remained, their style of government was abandoned.”
This is the example of how written words may not be followed or failed when their essence is not comprehended.
The world is now very different in physical terms especially the highly efficient communication technology and travel. Spiritually the conditions too have changed. There are also many people who have turned away from the pursuit of material wealth to cultivate their lives. It is the time for the heart teaching to be spread to all people because the time has ripen for the Heavenly Tao to be brought to the world. Those with affinity will encounter the Heavenly Tao and this is the saying of my Heavenly Teacher JiGong:
“The Tao of Heaven is very precious. A year passes and a year comes. When the great Tao is in Nirvana (latency), no where can Tao be sought and studied. No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy the flowing back of time.
Flower that falls; cannot return atop the tree. Neither can the water that streams by, return to its spring. The beautiful scene of sunset disappears upon the advent of the night. Even works of righteous will be taken away by the ‘Messenger of Death.’ Now, the ‘Messenger of Death’ may seem to be in a place of afar with no intention to force near you, but unknowingly and unnoticeably, it comes!”
Time is very precious. It is the ripening of the Heavenly time that the heart teaching can be revealed to those with affinity. It is the transmission of the essence of Tao from heart to heart, there is no word and it is also called the ‘wordless sutra.’ We do not know what will happen tomorrow or the next minute, death can come anytime to anyone regardless of whether we are young or old. The coffin is for dead people and not old people, says Heaven. The heart teaching is to allow us to transcend the cycle of birth and death and end the cycle of reincarnation.
During the time of Sakyamuni Buddha 2,500 years ago, the heart teaching was transmitted using a golden flower. The Patriarch Arya Mahakasyapa received the essence of Tao when the Buddha holding the golden flower in front of his eyes looked at him and said, “I have the true dharma hidden in my eye.” The rest of the devotees did not get the message and transmission but Arya Mahakasyapa smiled at Buddha knowing the answer to the truth and his divine true nature.
Author: T.A Chew