Theoretical Realization and Actual Practice
- From TBN, issue 404 and 476
- By Living Buddha Lian Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated and Edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation
I came across a story
while reading a sutra:
There was a Zen monk who had read many Zen stories and was very
wise and very good in debate. His ability to debate the Dharma was
second to none. The Zen monk gave himself the Dharma name, Mohda,
which was the reverse of the name of the Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma.
Mohda became the disciple of Venerable Aryasimha, who was aware
that Mohda had become well versed with the sutras and sastras and
had gained theoretical realization. In the presence of everyone
at the main hall, Aryasimha especially praised Mohda's wisdom and
said that his ability in debate to take sophisticated concepts in
the sutras and flowingly express them in easily understood terms
When Venerable Aryasimha passed on the dharma lineage [however],
he did not transmit it to Mohda.
Surprisingly, he passed it instead to the less articulate Basiasita.
Mohda was furious. He thought to himself: My teacher Aryasimha knew
very well that I have long mastered the canon of sutras and that
I understand the supreme meaning within the heart of the Tathagata.
My ability to debate is unmatched and I can explain the Dharma with
much depth and display and with a majestic eloquence. The Master
knows me very deeply, so why did he not pass the dharma lineage
to me? I really do not understand!
Then, one day Mohda and his Master were crossing a river. They saw
a young lady washing clothes beside the river and her arms were
Mohda thought to himself, "Her arms are so fair and soft, the
rest of her body must be the same."
Venerable Aryasimha suddenly said, "With your state of mind
today, do you think you are worthy of the lineage throne?"
When I read this story, my heart was deeply touched. I realize that
in this world there are very accomplished people who study Buddhism,
who are intimately familiar with and well versed in the Tripitaka
and the Twelve Classes of Sutra [the Buddhist Canons]. They are
skilled at expounding the sutras and doctrines, at cross-referencing
the scriptures, and at debating the supreme teaching with polished
articulation, their tongues like blossoming lotus flowers. Such
people would believe themselves to be the best, that everyone else
who studies Buddhism would have it all wrong, that they alone have
attained the true realization.
Have they really attained the true realization?
A theoretical or conceptual realization and a complete comprehension
of the sutras does not mean that you have attained the true heart,
the “no beginning and no extinguishing” heart.
It is essential that upon achieving theoretical realization, you
add to it the actual practice. Actual practice of the True Buddha
Tantric Dharma gives proof to the theory, and you will see your
own original, true heart. This is the true heart of realization.
When you realize the true heart, you will see your original nature.
It should be like this.