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Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 36

The Arhat
(Arakan)

 

"[These monks] have already eliminated all the impurities and are further without the mental afflictions. They have gained benefits for themselves and have eliminated all fetters [tying them] to existence; their minds have been set free."<1>

These are the great arhats, the ultimate fruition of those who study [the way of] the buddhas. [Their state] is called "the fourth fruition." There are buddha arhats.<2>

"The impurities" [in this passage] refers to broken ladles missing their handles. Although they have been used for a long time, that they are "already eliminated" means that the whole body of the ladle leaps out. "They have gained benefits for themselves" means that they go in and out of the tops of their heads. "Eliminated all fetters [tying them] to existence" means that nothing has ever been concealed anywhere in the realms of the ten directions. The state in which "their minds have been set free," you should strive to understand as "in a high place, it is high and level; in a low place, it is low and level." For this reason, there are walls, tiles, and pebbles. "Free" means that their minds are manifestations of their full and unfettered capacity to function. "Are further without the mental afflictions" refers to mental afflictions that have not yet arisen; it means that mental afflictions are prevented by mental afflictions.<3>

The arhat's paranormal powers, wisdom, meditation, preaching of the dharma, guidance, emitting of light, and such, cannot be on the same level as those discussed by the non-Buddhists and Mara. Discussion of seeing a hundred buddha worlds, and the like, must never be equated with the views of the common person. This is the principle that "just when you think the foreigner's beard is red, there is a red-bearded foreigner. Entering nirvana is for the arhat the action of entering his or her own fist. For this reason, it is called "the wondrous mind of nirvana"; it is "not a place to which one escapes." The arhat who enters his or her own nostrils is considered a true arhat; there has never been an arhat who has not gone in and out of his or her own nostrils.<4>

Long ago it was said, "We today, being true arhats, cause all to hear the voice emanating from the Buddha."<5>

The real import of this "cause all to hear" is to cause each and every phenomenon [to be] the voice emanating from the Buddha. How could this be speaking only of buddhas and disciples? "To cause all" means to cause all those with discernment and knowledge, with skin and flesh, with bones and marrow to hear. "Those with discernment and knowledge" refers to the country and land, grass and trees, fences and walls, tiles, and pebbles. Shaking and falling, flourishing and declining, being born and passing away, going and coming are all "hearing." The reason behind this "cause all to hear the voice emanating from the Buddha" is not simply the practice and study of the whole world as the ear organ.

Shakyamuni Buddha said, "If my disciples call themselves arhats or pratyekabuddhas but have not heard and do not understand that all buddha-tathagatas teach and nurture only bodhisattvas, then they are not disciples of the Buddha, not arhats, not pratyekabuddhas.<6>

The words of the Buddha, "teach and nurture only bodhisattvas," mean "I and the buddhas of the ten directions comprehend this matter well"; they mean "only a buddha and a buddha can thoroughly understand the true characteristics of phenomena"; they mean anuttara samyak sambodhi. Therefore, the "calling themselves" of the bodhisattvas and buddhas must be the same as [Shakyamuni Buddha's disciples] "calling themselves arhats or pratyekabuddhas." How so? Their calling themselves is their hearing and understanding "that all buddha-tathagatas teach and nurture only bodhisattvas."<7>

Long ago it was said, "In a sutra for shravakas, the arhat [stage] is termed 'buddha stage.'"<8>

These words have been verified in the pronouncements of the Buddha; they are not simply a doctrine coming from the bosom of a scholiast; they have the universal norm in the pronouncements of the Buddha. You should practice and learn the truth that [the stage of] an arhat is called the stage of a buddha; you should practice and learn the truth that the stage of a buddha is called [the stage of] an arhat.Å@Apart from arhatship there is not even the slightest scintilla of an extra dharma. How much less will there be samyak sambodhi! Apart from anuttara samyak sambodhi, there is furthermore not even the slightest scintilla of an extra dharma. How much less will there be the four stages of progress and the four stages of fruition! At the very moment when the dharmas are borne by the arhat, these dharmas are not in fact eight ounces nor are they half a catty. "They are not the mind; they are not the buddha, they are not things"; even the eye of a buddha does not glimpse them. You should not argue about before or after 80,000 kalpas. You should think hard about and master the power to gouge out the eyes. If there is an extra dharma, the entirety of the dharmas is extra.<9>

Shakyamuni Buddha said, "All these bhikshus and bhikshunis claim that they have already attained arhatship, that this is their final body, that they are in supreme nirvana, and so they did not aspire to and seek anuttara samyak sambodhi. You should know that all in this cohort are arrogant people. Why is this so? It could not be the case that there are bhikshus who have truly attained arhatship but do not believe this teaching.<10>

This is to say that, when one believes in anuttara samyak sambodhi, it is proof that one is an arhat. Resolutely to believe in this teaching is to entrust this teaching; it is to transmit intact this teaching; it is to practice and verify this teaching. "To have truly attained arhatship" does not mean that "this is their final body, that they are in supreme nirvana," because they aspire to and seek anuttara samyak sambodhi. Seeking anuttara samyak sambodhi is "toying with the eyes"; it is "wall face" sitting; it is facing a wall and opening one's eyes. Although vast as the cosmos, it is "spirits appearing and demons disappearing"; although spanning all time, it is "mutual exchange and a meeting of minds." To be like this is called "aspiring to and seeking anuttara samyak sambodhi." For this reason, one aspires to and seeks arhatship; seeking arhatship is "having enough gruel and having enough rice."<11>

The Chan Master Jiashan Yuanwu (1063-1135) said, "The ancients, after attaining the essence, headed deep into the mountains to stay in bramble huts or caves. For ten or twenty years, they ate rice boiled in a tripod with broken legs; they totally forgot about worldly matters, having permanently taking leave of the realm of defilements. Nowadays, we dare not hope for such as this; instead, we conceal our names and obscure our traces, maintain our original lot, and become old monks with bones like toothpicks, thereby naturally matching what we have verified and experiencing in accordance with our own capacities. We eliminate past karma and melt our longstanding habits. And if we still have some remaining energy, we push ourselves to reach out to others and establish a prajna connection with them, while polishing our heels to maturity. This is just like plucking one or a half [flower] from wild weeds. Together, we understand existence; together, we escape from birth and death, increasingly benefiting the future, and thereby repaying the buddhas and ancestors for their profound kindness. If from frost and dew the fruit inevitably ripens, we push ourselves to go forth into the world and, according with our relationships, reveal and entrust [the buddha dharma] to humans and devas, in the end not harboring the desire to seek anything. How much less do we undertake deeds [leading to] ceaseless suffering because we have become dependent upon aristocrats, serve as fawning chaplains to prominent laymen, and in our activities cheat common people, deceive holy ones, covet profits, and scheme to achieve fame. Even if we do not have the opportunity [to find able disciples], if we only live our lives like this, without the effects of deeds, is this a true arhat who has escaped from defilements?<12>

Since this is so, a genuine monk of our time is a true arhat who has escaped from defilements. If you wish to know what arhats are like, you should know that they are like this. Do not be misled by the words of the Indian scholiasts and their ilk. The Chinese Chan Master Yuanwu is a buddha and ancestor who is a legitimate heir to the correct transmission.

Chan Master Dazhi of Mt. Baizhang in Hongzhou said, "Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind do not covet and are not defiled by any phenomena, existent or non-existent; this is what is called 'holding to the four-line verse'; it is also called 'the fourth stage of fruition.'"<13>

The eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind in the present transcend self and other; correct from head to tail, they are beyond our ability to comprehend thoroughly. For this reason, one's whole body, as it is, "does not covet and is not defiled." It does not covet and is not defiled by the whole of "any phenomena, existent or non-existent." The wholeness, just as it is, of "holding to the four-line verse," is called "does not covet and is not defiled"; it is also called "the fourth stage of fruition." The fourth stage of fruition is the arhat.

Since this is the case, the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind that now appear are none other than the arhat. From root to branch, he will surely, as a matter of course, be emancipated. "At last reaching the sturdy barrier" is "holding to the four-line verse"; it is "the fourth stage of fruition." The entire body, from the top of the head to the soles of the feet, is manifested, without a hair left out. In the end, what is to be said but the following?<14>

When the arhat is in the state of a commoner, all dharmas obstruct him. When the arhat is in the state of a noble, all dharmas set him free. You should know that the arhat and all phenomena are intermixed with each other. Once he has realized arhatship, he is obstructed by arhatship. Therefore, he is an "old fist" before the King of Emptiness.<15>

Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
The Arhat
Book 36
Presented to the assembly at the Kannon Dori Kosho Horinji in Uji District in Yoshu,
fifteenth day of the fifth month, summer of the mizunoe tora [year], third year of the Ninji [era] (June 14, 1242).

Copied by Ejo on the sixteenth day of the sixth month, first year of the Kenji [era] (July 15, 1275).