THE ESSENCE OF MAHAYANA PRACTICE (with Annotation)

BY MASTER BODHIDHARMA

Translated from Chinese by the Chung Tai Translation Committee


COMPLETE TITLE: "GREAT MASTER BODHIDHARMAS ESSENTIAL DISCOURSE ON

ENTERING THE MAHAYANA PATH BY PRINCIPLE AND BY PRACTICE"


Page 3

Second is the practice of adapting to conditions. Sentient beings are without a self, being steered by karmic conditions. Suffering and joy are experienced together as a result of causes and conditions. Any reward, blessing or honor is a consequence of past causes, and is gone when the necessary conditions are exhausted. So what is there to be joyful about? Knowing that success and failure depend on conditions, the Mind neither gains nor loses, remaining unmoved by the winds of joy. This is to be in harmony with the Way. Therefore it is called the practice of adapting to conditions.

 

 

二隨緣行者。眾生無我,並緣業所轉,苦樂齊受,皆從緣生。若得勝報榮譽等事,是我過去宿因所感,今方得之。緣盡還無,何喜之有。得失從緣,心無增減,喜風不動,冥順於道。是故說言隨緣行。

[Annotation]

Adapting to conditions: All things arise from appropriate sets of causes and conditions, and will cease to exist when the conditions fall apart. This is the teaching of conditional arising, also called dependent origination. The enlightened and the wise understand and adapt to conditions, whereas the ignorant and foolish try to get results without the appropriate conditions, or are unaware of the changing conditions, thereby bringing misery and disappointment.

Without a self: The “self” refers to an intrinsic, independent identity which we perceive in beings and things. In a person, it is the false self or ego or “inner identity” that one takes for granted; in objects, it is the intrinsic value or character we associate with it. This “self” is a delusion because it is dependent on changing conditions.

Suffering and joy: Suffering is a result of harmful actions (karma), and joy is a result of beneficial actions. Most people experience a mixture of suffering and joy in their lives because they have created both good and bad karma in the past (the causes and conditions).

Reward/blessing/honor: Result of good karma. Even though they are favored over suffering, they are also impermanent. To not realize this can lead to suffering.

Neither gains nor loses: In practice, the mind is in equanimity, neither elated nor depressed. In principle, nothing is gained and nothing is lost.


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