A novice asked Ch'an Master Hui-chung, "The ancients said that : the bamboos are the true nature of the Buddha, and the blooming yellow flowers do not differ from prajna. Those who do not believe this will be regarded as heretics. Those who believe in this will think that it is inconceivable. So, who is right?"

Master Hui-chung answered, "This is the state of mind of Manjusri and Samantabhadra. An average mind cannot really comprehend this. The Avatamsaka Sutra states: 'The Buddha's body fills the whole universe, and he presents himself equally to all beings. He manifests himself in all forms and in all places according to the needs of all beings, and yet he never leaves his seat of bodhi!' The green bamboos do not exist outside of this universe. Thus, they have to be a part of the true nature of the Buddha. It also says in the Prajna Sutra that forms are limitless, thus prajna is also limitless. Since yellow flowers are forms, they do not differ from prajna. Therefore, nothing is absolute."

After listening to this explanation, the novice still did not understand, and he further inquired, "In regards to this, is the believer correct or is the non-believer correct?"

Master Hui-chung, attempting to point to a higher state of mind, answered, "The believers belong to the level of conventional truth, whereas the skeptics belong to the level of the Ultimate Truth."

The novice was surprised by these remarks and said, "But the skeptics criticize this as heresy. How can the Master say that they belong to the level of the Ultimate Truth?"

The Master stated, "Skeptics will not believe, and the Ultimate Truth will always remain ultimate. Because it is the Ultimate Truth, average people will criticize it as heresy. How can one talk about the Ultimate Truth with a heretic?"

Finally, the novice realized that it was not easy to believe in the Ultimate Truth.


Who is in the Well?IndexThe Wondrous Use of Ch'an