Followers of the Way from everywhere, why don’t you come out without depending on anything? I only want to discuss the Dharma with you. You see, for ten or fifteen years I have not found one single man. All are like hobgoblins clinging to herbage or leaves and wild fox sprites that stick to clods of dung and are lost in sucking it. Blind old rascals who unduly squander alms given them by the faithful, and who declare loudly: “I have left home!” That is how they see it.
‘Why don’t you come out without depending on anything?’ means ‘why don’t you express the true-Self without depending on illusions, words?’ In ‘I only want to discuss the Dharma with you’, the Dharma means the true-Self that cannot be discussed depending on any words because it is the state beyond words. ‘Hobgoblins clinging to herbage or leaves’ symbolise those who are deluded by illusions since they cannot see things as they are. ‘Wild fox sprites that stick to clods of dung and are lost in sucking it’ indicates the practitioners who, treasuring the Sutras, or masters’ words, cling to their superficial meaning without grasping what the words point to. For example, there are people who read the Diamond Sutra hundreds of times, or even memorise it. However, no matter how many times we may read a Sutra, and no matter how many Sutras we may read, it is far from enlightenment. Even memorising all the Sutras is not different from being deluded by illusions if we fail to grasp the core of the Buddha’s teaching. That’s why ancient masters would say that all the Sutras were Maras’ talks. ‘I have left home’ means ‘I am a monk’.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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