Chan and Modern Life

Affirming, Developing, and Dissolving the Self

 Dissolve the Self and Transcend Human Character

At Dharma Drum Mountain meditation camp, I emphasize affirming and developing the self, but after we do that, we should dissolve the self and transcend our human character to perfect pure mind. We do not measure success or failure in terms of visible or invisible fame, fortune, power, or status. Who do you think will become a Buddha first? Will it be someone here in the audience, or will it be me? You might think it won't be one of my disciples, but me. In fact, that's not necessarily so. In a marathon, people who are ahead early may fall behind, and people who are behind at first may move ahead. People are continuously changing positions. Therefore, in practice, do not pay attention to whether others are running faster or practicing better than you, and don't be concerned about who's ahead and who's behind. The most important thing is to give your best all the time.


No Comparison of High and Low

From this perspective, it is incorrect to compare long and short, high and low, success and failure. Because other people's successes have their causes and conditions, we should not compare our own causes and conditions with theirs. Rather, we should try to make the most of our own causes and conditions for success. In order to devote more of ourselves, we need to make more improvements, and this is affirming and developing ourselves. I do not compare myself with others regards to high and low, big and small. When I walk behind others, I do not feel ashamed, and when I walk in front of others, I do not consider that as a success. When other people outpace me, there is no need for me to feel embarrassed. Heaven and earth are so vast, and there are so many domains that require us to devote our wisdom and compassionate vows. There is no need to fight to the death with others on a narrow path.

With No Comparison, We Can Truly Dissolve Self
However, not comparing does not mean you need not make progress; rather, you make your own new path. If others can tread the same path as you, then there is nothing extraordinary about that path. If no one else flows in your path, then that is real success. With this kind of attitude of not making comparisons, you can truly dissolve the self. In life, what causes us suffering and make happy depends on the conditions in our minds. If we have good potential within and good conditions outside yet do not use them well, we may be wasting our lives and forsaking favorable causes and conditions. Ultimately, our human birth indicates that we have great responsibility; the troubles modern people encounter are a lot more complex than people endured in ancient times. Therefore, the corresponding responsibility we have to this world is even greater.

DDM's Vision for Improving Humanity

World population is increasing but the land area is not; the problems are more complicated, yet people today aren't wiser than people in the past. On the contrary, the devastation we cause to this world is a lot more rapid and more severe than in the past. Therefore, we should aspire to cultivate the great compassion of selflessness to improve ourselves, and devote ourselves to benefit others so the world will have a brighter future. If the human mind cannot be transformed from the self-centered, selfish, and ever-greedy mind into a compassionate mind that aspires to alleviate suffering, then this world faces a very pessimistic future. I am not exaggerating in order to frighten you, but we should not only step up our vigilance and raise the alarm, but also transform our minds and collectively devote ourselves to the betterment of the world. This is Dharma Drum's vision for improving the character of humanity and building a pure land on Earth


Mind in Buddhism and Chan, Liberated in Stillness and Motion, pp 108-110
Given at Meditation Camp, April 16, 1994

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