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The Long-term Life Plan – What is Wu?

Abbot Venerable Guo Xing explained that our thoughts, what we hear, see, smell and touch are forms that are continuously arising and perishing. Then, what is that which is non-arising and non-perishing? In other words, what is wu? “Wu” is like a GPS, it allows us to find the non-arising and non-perishing mind.

From August 16th to 23rd, 2013, the Seven-day Huatou Retreat was held at the Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver Center.

The Venerable informed us that whether we have wandering thoughts or not, experience drowsiness or not, or feel leg pain or not, simply ask, “What is wu?” What is aware of these is the mind! Wandering thoughts, drowsiness and leg pain are merely the images manifested by the mind. These images are constantly arising and perishing. Therefore, simply pick up “wu” to uncover the non-arising and non-perishing mind that is aware of wandering thoughts, drowsiness and leg pain.

“What is wu?”…”wu”… Oops! Where is “wu”? Gradually the mind was taken up with reminiscences. The Venerable reminded us to pick up “wu” at all times to replace the habitual tendency to grasp wandering thoughts, drowsiness and the grabbing feeling of leg pain, which we have accumulated over life time upon life time; and, in turn to cut off the continuous circle of birth and death. Thus, “when we turn our attention inwardly, those objects shall cease to exist“. In other words, when the mind does not illuminate outwardly at the form, the sound, the smell, the taste, the touch and the dharma (thoughts), the unmoving true mind will manifest!

The Venerable further explained that embracing the feeling of peacefulness and comfort, and rejecting wandering thoughts, drowsiness and the feeling of pain is the mind of arising and perishing. The mind of arising and perishing is in duality (subject and object); that is, there is the mind that perceives and the objects that are being perceived. In this way, we will never find “wu”. Instead, we should practice in the way of non-duality (no subject and no object) to begin with in order for the manifestation of the true mind, which is non-dual (no subject and no object)!

The Venerable repeatedly reminded us to relax our body and at the same time to firmly grab onto “wu”. There is no need to pay attention to the postures while carrying out the Eight-Form Moving Meditation. But, you should firmly grab onto “wu” at all times, even when you walk or eat. When feeling drowsy, you know you are feeling drowsy, but firmly grab onto “wu”. “Faster, faster, faster…” when the Venerable gave out instructions during fast walking meditation in the Chan Hall and on the lawn, we firmly grabbed onto “wu” and our feet picked up the speed spontaneously.

In his DVD dharma talk, Shifu said that the unwavering impetus wanting to find out where we come from at birth and where we go after death (the mind of birth and death) is crucial for the arising of the doubt sensation (the state of being wrapped around by the question and an urgent need to find the answer to the question). And, he continued, only after the doubt sensation is shattered, can “wu” be realized. He added that we ought to have faith, perseverance and endurance in investigating Huatou.

The Venerable explained that when you have an unyielding aspiration to find out what the mind of birth and death is, wandering thoughts, drowsiness, and leg pain are no longer problems for you because in that situation you only have one thought in mind, that is “what is wu?” and you are eager to find “wu”.

The Venerable further encouraged us to make a long-term life plan by sharing his with us. He said, after he became ordained, he was determined to spend the next 30 years investigating Huatou in order to find “wu”. Also, he made up his mind that if he could not find “wu” within the first 30 years, he would spend the second 30 years and the third 30 years… lifetime upon lifetime until he found “wu”.

The Venerable reminded us to cultivate “wu” in everyday life. In every moment, you can disregard your body and mind and the environment, but you ought to grab onto “wu”, the Venerable continued. You ought to have a strong determination to grab onto “wu” at all times, even to a point where you would rather say a wrong word than let go of “wu”.

Our first 30 years has thus begun. “What is wu?”…


Jen-ni Kuo
September 28, 2013



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