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04 May 2013

The art of True Seeing

THE ART OF TRUE SEEING, or How to ‘Abide in the Nothingness’

When a courageous warrior encounters brigands, he has no fear; wielding his sword, he proceeds straight ahead, whereupon the brigands all scatter. Once his achievement is established, his glory and his reward continue all his life. Now, if poverty and sickness afflict our bodies, then those are brigands. If we have a stilled mind, that is the courageous warrior; intelligent examination is wielding the sword, the dissolution of afflictions and troubles is victory in war, and peace and permanent happiness are the glory and the reward. 

Whenever misery oppresses our minds, if we fail to use this observation and instead become anxious and burdened, then that is like people who encounter brigands but do no worthy deeds, throwing off their armor, abandoning their troops, and running away. Doing the wrong thing, they abandon happiness for misery - how pitiful is that?

If you are suffering from illness, you should observe that this illness comes from having your own body. If you did not have your own body, where would the ailment be. The Tao Te Ching says, "If only I had no body, what affliction would I have?"

Next observe the mind as having no real master. Searing inwardly and outwardly, you find no perceiver; all suppositions come from the wandering mind.

Thus if you still the body and quiet the mind, then myriad illnesses will al vanish.

If you dread death, you should think of your body as the abode of the spirit; this physical deterioration in old age is like a house that is rotting away and no longer fit to inhabit. It will be necessary to abandon the house and find another place to rest.

This is how it is when the spirit goes as the body dies - if you cling to life and abhor death, crying to avoid change, then your spirit's consciousness will become confused and no longer operate correctly. Because of this, when you are energized at rebirth, you do not sense clear, fine energy but mostly find polluted, debased energy. All folly, greed and baseness actually derive from this.

If you can mange to be dispassionate about living and unfazed by death, that will put life and death in order and also take care of preparations for the afterlife. If you crave all sorts of things, every craving produces an illness. When even one limb is ailing, it makes the whole body uneasy; so if there are myriad ailments in one mind, how could you prolong your life even if you wanted to?

All craving or hatred is forgetfulness of life. When accumulated illusions are not cleared up, they interfere with perception of the Way. This is why we need to give up cravings and abide in nothingness, so that we have a basis for gradual clarification.

- Taoist Master Sima Chengzhen of the Tang Dynasty (618-907)