Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 31

Not Doing Evils
(Shoaku makusa)


Ancient buddhas say:

Not doing evils,
devoutly practicing every good,
purifying one's own mind:
this is the teachings of all buddhas.

This, the universal precept of the seven buddhas, our founding ancestors, is properly transmitted by earlier buddhas to later buddhas and is inherited by later buddhas from earlier buddhas. It is not just of the seven buddhas; it is the teaching of all buddhas. This truth must be investigated with concentrated effort. This so-called seven buddhas' dharma instruction must be as dharma-instructed by the seven buddhas. Intimately transmitting, intimately inheriting: yea, it is each one penetrating the situation. It is already the teaching of all buddhas: hundreds, thousands, ten thousand buddhas' teaching, practice, and realization.

* * * * *

In the above quotation the term "evils" refers to [what is called] morally evil among the categories of morally good, morally evil, and morally undefined. Its moral nature, however, is uncreated. The natures of morally good and morally undefined likewise are uncreated. They are untainted, they are the real aspects, which is to say that these three categories of moral nature encompass manifold varieties of dharmas. [The category of morally] evil encompasses: similarities and dissimilarities among evils of this world and evils of other worlds, similarities and dissimilarities among evils of former times and evils of latter times, as well as similarities and dissimilarities among evils of heavenly realms and evils of human realms. Even greater still is the divergence between the buddha path and the secular realm in terms of what is called evil, what is called good, and what is called morally undefined. Good and evil are temporal, but time is neither good nor evil. Good and evil are dharmas, but dharma-ness is neither good nor evil. Sameness of dharmas is sameness of evil. Sameness of dharmas is sameness of good.

This being so, learning of anuttara samyak sambodhi -- hearing teachings, cultivating practices, and realizing results -- consists of the profound, the remote, and the marvelous. Some hear of this unsurpassed bodhi from friends, and some hear of it from scriptures. What one hears first is: "Not doing evils." If one does not hear "not doing evils," one is not hearing the buddhas' true dharma but the talk of devils.

Know that hearing "not doing evils" is hearing the buddhas' true dharma. The [meaning of the] phrase "not doing evils" is not like what commoners first construe. Hearing this teaching as bodhi talk is hearing it like it is. Hearing it like it is means [hearing it] as expressing words of unsurpassed bodhi. Because it is already bodhi talk, it talks bodhi. As unsurpassed bodhi's speaking turns into its hearing, one moves from the aspiration for "not doing evils" toward the practice of "not doing evils." As evils become something one is unable to do, the power of one's practice suddenly appears fully. This full appearance fully appears in measure as [vast as] all the earth, all the universe, all of time, and all dharmas. Its measure is [the same] as the measure of "not doing."

At that very moment that very person, regardless of abiding in or traveling in places where evils are done or becoming involved in occasions for doing evils or becoming mixed up with friends who do evils, nonetheless will be unable to do evils. Because the power of "not doing" appears in full measure, evils themselves do not express evil, for evils lack fixed proportion. This is the truth of "one holding, one releasing": at that very moment one knows the truth that evil cannot transgress people and clarifies the truth that people cannot violate evil.1

Whenever you uplift your entire mind through practice and uplift your entire body through practice, before the first move, eight or nine [moves] are completed, and "not doing" lies behind your head.2 When you bring your own body and mind to practice or bring whoever's body and mind to practice, the power of practicing with the four great elements and five heaps instantly appears in full, and your own individual self consisting of the four great elements and five heaps is not defiled. Thus you will be able to practice with today's four great elements and five heaps. The power of each moment's practice by the four great elements and five heaps causes the aforementioned four great elements and five heaps to practice. When the mountains and rivers, stars and planets also are caused to practice, then the mountains and rivers, stars and planets in turn cause us to practice. This is not a momentary insight but living vision at all times. Because this insight of living vision spans all times, it causes the buddhas and ancestors to cultivate practices, to hear the teachings, and to realize the results. Because not a single one of the buddhas and patriarchs has ever defiled the teachings, practices, and realizations, the teachings, practices, and realizations have never obstructed the buddhas and ancestors. For this reason, when causing the buddhas and ancestors to practice, no buddhas or ancestors, whether in the past, present, or future, both before and after the first move, have ever avoided [practices]. In the synchronicity of humans doing buddhas doing ancestors, even though you do not obstruct [your own status as a] currently existing buddha and ancestor, you must carefully consider the truth of doing buddhas and doing ancestors throughout the twenty-four hour day as you walk, stand, sit, and sleep. In the practice of doing buddhas and ancestors, one's humanity is not violated, is not stolen, is not lost. This being so, sloughing off finally comes.

One must practice through good and evil, causes and effects. This is not, as commonly said, a case of altering causes and effects, nor a case of creating them. Causes and effects on occasion cause us to practice. This occurs because the original face of causes and effects is already clearly discerned: it is "not doing," it is uncreated, it is impermanent, it is not obscuring, it is not falling, it is sloughing off. By studying in this way, the fact that evils, in one strip, all have been "not doing" fully appears. The occurrence of this full appearance is facilitated by completely seeing through "not doing evils" and by eliminating them through sitting.

At that very moment, in the beginning, middle, and afterwards, as "not doing evils" fully appears, evils are not produced through casual conditions, for there is only "not doing." Evils are not extinguished through causal conditions, for there is only "not doing." If evils are undifferentiated, then all dharmas are undifferentiated. How pitiful are those people who merely know that evils are produced by causal conditions but who fail to see that those causal conditions in and of themselves are "not doing." [How can they fail to realize that] if "buddha seeds sprout in accordance with conditions," then "conditions sprout in accordance with buddha seeds."3

It is not that evils do not exist, but that there is only "not doing." It is not that evils do exist, but that there is only "not doing." Evils are not emptiness; it is "not doing." Evils are not form; it is "not doing." Evils are not "not doing," for there is only "not doing." For example, spring pines are neither non-existent nor existent; they just are not done. Autumn chrysanthemums are neither existent nor are they non-existent; they just are not done. The buddhas are neither existent nor non-existent; they are "not doing." Pillars, lamps, candles, whisks, staffs, and so forth, are neither existent nor non-existent; they are "not doing." One's own self is neither existent nor non-existent; it is "not doing."

This kind of study is the kôan that has appeared fully and is the full appearance of the kôan. [Study this kôan with] concentrated effort from the position of host and concentrated effort from the position of guest. Since things already are so, there is no escape from regrets of having done what cannot be done. This too is [a result of] the power of concentrated effort on not doing.

Because this is so, to act on the assumption that "if [evil already] is 'not doing,' then I can just do as I please" would be exactly as [mistaken as] walking north while expecting to arrive in Viet [i.e., in a southern region]. "Not doing evils" is not just [Caoshan Benji's] "wells looking at donkeys [or pulleys]" but also wells looking at wells, donkeys looking at donkeys, people looking at people, and mountains looking at mountains. Because there is [Caoshan Benji's] "explain this principle of responsiveness," there is "not doing evils," which is [the truth expressed in the following verse by Caoshan Benji]:

The buddha's true dharma body
resembles empty space;
responding to creatures it appears in physical form
like the moon reflected in water."

Because there is the "not doing" of "responding to creatures," there is the "not doing" of "appearing in physical form." "Resembles empty space" is "left beat, right beat." "Like the moon reflected in water" is "the water and moon being obstructed." These "not doings" are undeniably fully evident.

* * * * *

"Devoutly practicing every good": the term "every good" refers to [what is called] morally good among the three categories of moral nature [mentioned above]. Within the category of morally good there exists every good, but this does not mean that every good is fully apparent beforehand just waiting for a practitioner. At the very moment of doing good, every good comes [into existence]. The myriad variety of good may be invisible, but they accumulate where one does good faster than a magnet attracts iron. Their power exceeds that of a vairambhaka tornado. All the karmic power generated [throughout] the great earth, the mountains, and the rivers in all the lands of the universe could not obstruct this accumulation of good.

This being so, [even though there is] the principle that in accordance with each world system what is recognized as being good will not be the same, because the same process of recognition ascertains good, [this situation should be understood in the same way as the Lotus Sutra doctrine of] "like the manner in which all buddhas of the past, present, and future, preach the dharma." It is identical even though the dharma preached while they are in the world accords with individual occasions. Because the lifespan [of the buddhas] and measure of their bodies likewise accord with each occasion, they preach the "indivisible dharma."

Because this is so, therefore, the good [performed by] someone with the spiritual faculty for faith practice and the good [performed by] someone with the spiritual faculty for dharma practice will be vastly disparate even though the dharma is not different. It is just like how an auditor's observing the moral precepts would correspond to a bodhisattva's violating the moral precepts.

Every good is neither produced through casual conditions nor destroyed through casual conditions. Even though every good consists of all dharmas, all dharmas do not consist of every good. Causes and conditions, production and destruction, every good -- all are alike in that, the head being correct, the tail is correct. Even though every good is devoutly practicing, it is neither oneself nor knowable by oneself. It is neither other nor knowable by another. Because what is known or seen by self and other consists of knowing [in terms of] self and [in terms of] other and seeing [in terms of] self and [in terms of] other, each one's living awakened vision is found in suns and is found in moons.4 This is devoutly practicing. Even though at that very moment of devoutly practicing the fully apparent kôan exists, neither does the kôan newly appear nor does the kôan abide eternally. Can it even be called devoutly practicing?

Doing good is devoutly practicing, but it cannot be calculated. This devoutly practicing is living awakened vision, but it is not calculating. It does not fully appear for the purpose of calculating the dharma. Calculating with living awakened vision is not the same as calculating in other dharmas [i.e., other types of practice].

Every good is not existent, is not non-existent, is not form, is not emptiness, nor anything else; it only is devoutly practicing. Wherever it fully appears, whenever it fully appears, it must be devoutly practicing. In this devoutly practicing, every good will certainly fully appear. The full appearance of devoutly practicing is itself the kôan, but it is not production and destruction, it is not casual conditions.

The same is true regarding the entering, abiding, and departing of devoutly practicing. Devoutly practicing even one good among the every good causes the entirety of dharmas, the whole body, and reality itself to devoutly practice together.

The causality of this good likewise is the fully apparent kôan of devoutly practicing. It is not a case of prior causes and subsequent results, but one of causes being fully perfected and causes being fully perfected. Sameness of causes is sameness of dharmas; sameness of results is sameness of dharmas. Although causes engender results, it is not a case of before and after. [We know this] because of the truth of the sameness of before and after.

* * * * *

"Purifying one's own mind" is not doing's "purifying," not doing's "one's," not doing's "own," and not doing's "mind." It is devoutly practicing's "mind," devoutly practicing's "own," devoutly practicing's "one's," and devoutly practicing's "purifying." Because of these reasons we say that "this is the teachings of all buddhas."

"All buddhas" might refer to ones like the gods of freedom [Maheshvara]. While there are similarities and dissimilarities with the gods of freedom, every god of freedom is not all buddhas. Or, "all buddhas" might refer to ones like the wheel-rolling kings [chakravartin]. While this is so, every wheel-rolling king is not all buddhas. These kinds of truths must be investigated with concentrated effort. Unless you study what all buddhas must be, you not only will be suffering for nothing but you will be a suffering human who is not even practicing the buddha path. "Not doing" "devoutly practicing" is "the donkeys not having left, the horses already arrive."

* * * * *

Bai Juyi [Haku Kyoi; a.k.a. Bai Luoten; Haku Rakuten] (772-846) of the Tang dynasty was the lay disciple of Zen teacher Fokuang Ruman [Bukkø Nyoman]. He was the grandchild of Zen teacher Jiangxi Daji [a.k.a. Mazu Daoyi; Baso Døitsu] (709-788). While serving as governor of Hangzhou, he visited Zen teacher Bird Nest Daolin [Dørin] (741-824).

Thereupon Juyi asked: "What is the Buddha dharma's great meaning?"
Daolin replied: "Not doing evils, devoutly practicing every good."
Juyi said: "If that is so, then even a three-year-old child could say so."
Daolin replied: "A three-year-old child maybe could say it, but even an elder in his eighties cannot practice it."
That being said, Juyi bowed and departed.

Truly Juyi was, even [by the standards for judging] a descendant of General Bai [a.k.a. Bai Qi; Haku Ki], a poet wizard the likes of which rarely exists. People say that his is the literature of twenty-four lives, that he was a Manjushri or a Maitreya. There is no one who has not heard of his poetic style and sentiment. There is no [writing] untouched by [the influence of] his poetic ocean. While this is so, in the buddha path he was a beginner. He was a late starter. Regarding this "not doing evils, devoutly practicing every good" and its meaning, it was as if he could not see it even in his dreams.

Juyi thought that Taolin was aware only of an existing mind's notion of saying that one must not act evil and that one must devoutly practice good. As for the buddha path's ancient, primeval "not doing evils, devoutly practicing every good"-this truth which transcends past and present-Juyi did not know it and did not hear it. It was because he had not walked [i.e., practiced] the buddha dharma and because he lacked strength in the buddha dharma. Even an admonishment not to act evil and even a recommendation to act good are fully apparent "not doing."

The entire buddha dharma, from what one first hears from a friend to the ultimate attainment, is consistent. This is called "head correct, tail correct" or "marvelous causes, marvelous results," or "buddha causes, buddha results." Because causality in the buddha path lies not in theories of differing maturations, without buddha causes buddha, results cannot be engendered. Because Daolin expressed this truth, it is buddha dharma.

Even if evils completely filled however many worlds or completely swallowed however many dharmas, there is liberation in not doing. Because every good already is "beginning, middle, and afterwards good," the nature, the aspect, the embodiment, the power and so forth of devoutly practicing are "suchliked."5 Juyi, as a result of his never having followed these tracks, said that "even a three-year-old child could say so." Because he lacked the power to properly say a saying, he spoke like that.

Pitiful Juyi! You said what? Since you had not yet heard the buddha winds, could you really have known a three-year-old child? Could you really have known the truth with which a child is endowed at birth? If you knew a three-year-old child, then you must have known the buddhas of the three periods [past, present, and future]. If you did not yet know the buddhas of the three periods, then how could you have known a three-year-old child? Don't imagine that facing them is knowing them. Don't imagine that not facing them is not knowing them. Knowing a single speck of dust is knowing the entirety of realms. Penetrating a single dharma is penetrating the myriad dharmas. Not penetrating the myriad dharmas is not penetrating a single dharma. When you fully penetrate the study of penetration, because you see myriad dharmas and you see a single dharma, the study of a single speck of dust is the study of the entirety of realms without omission.

It is the utmost stupidity to think that a three-year-old child could not mention buddha dharma or that whatever a three-year-old child mentions must be easy. For this reason, to clarify birth, to clarify death, is the circumstances of the buddha family's single great affair.

An ancient worthy said: "When you first attained birth, [you possessed] a lion-roar allotment." A lion-roar allotment is the virtue of the tathâgatas turning dharma wheels. It is turning dharma wheels.

Another ancient worthy said: "Birth, death, going, coming: the true-reality human body."

Because this is so, clarifying the true-reality body, having the virtue of the lion roar certainly is the single great affair. It cannot be easy. Therefore, to clarify the circumstances and conduct of a three-year-old child is an even greater event, since it has similarities and dissimilarities with the conduct and circumstances of the buddhas of the three periods.

Juyi foolishly, because he had never listened to anything a three-year-old child could say, without even suspecting that there could be something to it, so spoke. He didn't hear Daolin's voice, which was as obvious as thunder. As if to say "[you] cannot say it," he said: "A three-year-old child could say so." This is not hearing the lion roar of a child; it is totally missing the Zen teacher's turning dharma wheel.

The Zen teacher, unable to restrain his pity, spoke again: "A three-year-old child maybe could say it, but even an elder in his eighties cannot practice it."

The meaning of this saying is that there are words that can be spoken by a three-year-old child, and you must carefully investigate them. There are sayings that an elder in his eighties cannot practice, and you must concentrate your efforts on them. What a child can say is entirely entrusted to you. While this is so, it is not entirely entrusted to the child. What an elder cannot practice is entirely entrusted to you. While this is so, it is not entirely entrusted to the elder.

The buddha dharma finds truth in discerning, explicating, and grasping the meaning in this way.

Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma
Book 31
Not Doing Evils

[Postscript (from Tôunji manuscript)]

En'ô era, senior metal year of the rat (1240), night of the harvest moon,
presented to the assembly at the Kannon Dôri Kôshô Hôrinji in Uji district, Yôshû province [a.k.a. Yamashiro].

Kangen first year, junior water year of the rabbit, seventh day of the final third [i.e., 27th day] of the third moon, copied in the attendant's quarters by Ejô (1198Ð1280).