Great Faith And Humble Openness, Not Modern Doubt Point The Way Ahead

At a Chan retreat, Chan master Sheng Yen says,

But then again, some people may soon enough have doubts. The first day, they may listen and think, “Yes, I agree,” and tomorrow, they will say, “Prove it to me. Why does Dharma say this? Doesn’t Buddhadharma say this and that?” This habit is also a manifestation of karmic consciousness. So, you must let go of these doubts too. Generally speaking, you must let go of the mind-set of wanting to get rid of something and wanting to get something; you must put aside both wanting to be rid of suffering and wanting to get enlightened. Without rejecting or seeking, just hold on dearly to your huatou [a technique akin to the koan]; glue yourself to it and continue to ask. (Shattering the Great Doubt 120)

Since the resurgence of ancient skepticism in the sixteenth century and especially since the modern skeptical approach taken by Descartes in the seventeenth century, leading with doubt has come to many to seem second nature. Prove it! Show me! I must know now! What do you mean…?

Skepticism, however, is the deluded starting point of a deluded mind holding, in Buddhist terms, an “upside-down view” of reality. But then we all begin with deluded mind! So, we’re clueless! Enthralled with doubt and not catching a glimpse of one’s delusions, one is instantly stuck and ever in quicksand. Thus, one can get nowhere–absolutely nowhere–from here.

Only humble openness can point the way ahead, and humble openness blossoms only where there is faith. Faith and openness are twinned, entwined, mutually entangled.

Led by great faith or trust, one can start to put down the desire to get rid of something as well as the desire to get something. Both, resulting from dis-ease, are aversive and greedy, respectively (aversion and greed being the first two poisons in Buddhism). Rejecting mind is seeking mind. Putting aside both, one can finally settle into the practice. One asks nothing from it.

The point, in fact, is to have great faith in the method–here the huatou. In this connection, my teacher said, “Just remain steadfast [in the practice] to the end.”

I trust you see that great faith makes ample room for love. Love reveals its essence in the full-blooded, wholehearted, heart-open welcoming of this–whatever this is. Not aversive. Not greedy. Not needy. Not asking for anything.

What is This? What is This for you?