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The Attainment Paean

10/04/201913:30(Xem: 104)
The Attainment Paean

phat hoang tran nhan tong

TRUC LAM FOUNDER

The Two Stages of Life

~*~

Written by Zen Master Thich Thanh Tu

Translated by Tu Tam Hoang

 

The Attainment Paean

 

Birth creates the body

It’s a misfortune

Who understand this

Are thorough the Way

Just think about it

I complement myself

Fill with contentment

I laugh out loud

Fame is meaningless

So as wealth

Those monarchs from Han and Chin dynasties

Were despicable

Accept the impoverishment

Seek for shelter

At deserted mountains

Or in the forests

Enjoy with monkeys

Keep each other company

Because of the serenity

The body and mind are carefree

Relaxed and unoccupied

Sweep the floor of the Buddha shrine

Worship Buddha

Fruit offerings at all times

Recite sutras and Buddha names

Pray to the divines

Four Gratitudes from Three Realms

Vow to repay their kindness

The mind is tamed

The true nature turns bright

No differentiation

Nor rivalry

Let go all attachments

Mindless of what’s right or wrong

Practice the mind

All days and nights

Sitting in this mundane world

But careless of the world events

In the quiet mountain and forest

Live in pleasantness

Follow the Buddha’s footsteps

To attain Complete Enlightenment

Sing the unborn song

Pleased with the Zen atmosphere

Everyone should know

This life is like a dream

Wake up from it

Tears fall like rain

Know that this body is unreal

Like clouds

Everything becomes nothing

Like bubbles in the ocean

Seclude myself

In the quiet mountain

 Exertively practice

Clothes made by papers or coarse cloths

Mindless about good people

And even bad ones

Close the mouth and over the ears

No misfortune

Content with this life setting

When right time comes, attain realization

Offer this body to all beings

Even birds and fishes

Don’t mind about this body

Hungry or full

Earth, water, fire, and air

Even if they’re changing

The dharma body always exists

Everywhere in the universe

Clearly in front of our eyes

It’s completely bright

The Zen principle said

The Way is in front of us, not elsewhere

From deep cave, echo the sound

Responds with no differentiation

The number of Buddhist learners

Is incalculable

Bamboosa becomes dragon

Is a rare event

Because of doubt

Mistaken the north with south

Only a Zen finger

Can instantly clear everything

 

Said that:

Live in serenity, the mind is tamed

Hear cool wind stir the pine trees

Underneath the tree, a Zen bed with a Buddhist sutra

Pleasantness, a word worth more than millions of dollars

Commentary

After his renunciation, the First patriarch practiced seclusively in the mountain and forest. This paean was written right after his attainment of realization.

Before learning this paean, there are two things we need to understand.

1) The verse “Enjoy the Way in Life” was written with an intention of encouraging laymen in their practice. From the “Attainment Paean” we understand better the responsibility and attainment of monastics. He taught us, the monks and nuns, how to practice to attain enlightenment.

2) In China, Pan Yun and his family were laymen, but could attain realization. Unfortunately, they couldn’t expound dharmas. In Vietnam, we had Tue Trung Thuong Si, a layman who attained realization and was able to apply dharmas in his life. Even king Tran Nhan Tong could do it. He interested in Buddhism at young age. After bequeathing his thrown, he worked half day, and the rest of the day was for Buddhist study. Fully understood Zen, he wrote the verse “Enjoy the Way in Life” Realizing that a layman wouldn’t bring much benefit to the propagation of Buddhism, he decided to become a monk.

As we get deeper into the study of Buddhism, we can see that sometimes we discern the truth, know the truth, but not yet with the truth. Why? Because we’re occupied with many things that don’t allow us any free time to live with the truth. The king realized this issue. Therefore, he determined to seclusively live with the truth in the mountain and forest. When he was able to live with it, he was delighted to write the “Attainment Paean” Thus, we could see that his propagation of Buddhism started in a small parameter himself and his family. After this attainment of realization, he propagated Buddhism everywhere. This is the idea of the true liberation.

There’s another special point that we need to know. In Vietnam, only enlightened monastics with all qualifications could take the transmission and the tasks of propagating Buddhism. To continue the transmission of the lamp and guide the people to the true emancipation, the First patriarch had to renounce. And later, all of his successors were monastics, whose mind was also determined to reach emancipation. This helped to maintain the purity and mortality of Buddhist dharmas. After the Meiji Era, all monks in Japan had to revert to laymen after 30 years of age. So, the first segment of their practicing life, they were liberated. But in the last segment, they were constrained. Obviously, the Way of emancipation had been immortalized. How unfortunate it was!

Knowing this, we could realize how truthful and wonderful Vietnamese Buddhism is. Our masters always preserved the purity of their image. This is the special mark of Vietnamese Buddhism We all need to learn all good things about our masters and Vietnamese culture. Meanwhile, we need to fulfill our duties of attaining realization and leading people to emancipation. This is the goal that Buddha and the First patriarch had fulfilled. All Vietnamese patriarchs had followed the essence of Buddhism. As monastics, we need to understand clearly this profound intention.

Let’s start talking about the paean.

Birth creates the body

It’s a misfortune

Who understand this

Are thorough the Way

Having a body is a misfortune, whether it’s a body of an emperor or a typical person. How come? It’s because from this body arise ailment, aging, and death. This is a misfortune. But humans keep forgetting it as they tend to value it more, especially when they hold an important position in life. To the First patriarch, the body is a misfortune. Who understand this surely understand the Way. So, in these four lines, he meant to say that the existence of the body causes aging, ailment, and death. It’s misfortune not a happiness.

Knowing that the body is a suffering, what should we do? Suicide?No, no. Since the body has created , we have to practice to end the suffering in the future. This is a wise thought. It’s a mistake to terminate suffering by ending our life.

The body is a suffering because we ignorantly had earned numerous bad seeds from many life times. To end the future suffering, we have to transform those seeds from ignorance to enlightenment. On the other hand, more suffering is accumulated if people suicide. It’s because in the next life, they continue to carry bad seeds. Those wo understand the Way would never reject the body or run away from it. They manipulate the body and suffering to end the future suffering. This is being bright and clever.

To end suffering, the First patriarch reminded us to attain liberation. The suffering would never end if birth and death still exist. Who understand this concept would understand the Way.

Just think about it.

I complement myself

Fill with contentment

I laugh out loud

As he thought about his accomplishments during his time of practice in the forest, he complement himself. In joy, he laugh. He could let go his power, luxury, and immortal happiness to practice in seclusion. Isn’t great for a king who could leave behind everything for religious practice?What about us? We already live in the mountains and forests. But we still miss the city. Whose city that we miss? Not so many people could do what the First patriarch had done!

Fame is meaningless

So as wealth

Those monarchs from Han and Chine dynasties

Were despicable

He was mindless about fame and wealth because he had learned the lesson form the emperors of the Chin and Han dynasties. All of them governed the people, but lived a despicable life. At the end, their death was meaningless.

Accept the impoverishment

Seek for shelter

At deserted mountains

Or in the forests

Understand this matter, the First patriarch accepted the hermitage life. He practiced in deserted mountain and forest.

Enjoy with monkeys

Keep each other company

Because of the serenity

The body and mind are carefree

There, he play with monkeys. His body and mind were pleasant and carefree because the serene nature.

How admirable it is for a king who could give up luxuries to enjoy his life with monkeys and to be able to attain the true contentment. Nowadays, how do practitioners practice? Although living in the mountains and forests, they sometimes miss the city and many other things. They have to return home. What a shame!

Relaxed and unoccupied

Sweep the floor of the Buddha shrine

Wordship Buddha

Fruit offerings at all times

Why did he live in the mountain? To be relaxed and unoccupied. What did he do? Sweep the floor of the Buddha shrine and worshipped Buddha. Notice that the patriarch had no helpers. He determined to abide the precepts by practicing alone. No need to have many servants. This is his uniqueness.

Recite sutras and Buddha names

Pray to the divine

Four gratitude from three realms

Vow to repay their kindness

The Three Realms are the Realm of desires, Realm of forms, and Realm of formlessness. The Four Gratitude are the Gratitude to parents, Gratitude to teachers and patriarch, Gratitude to benefactors, and Gratitudes to the country. Every day, he vowed to repay those gratitude by reciting sutras and Buddha names. It’s his goal, not an intention to gain blessing for the next lives.

The true nature turns bright

No differentiation

Nor Rivalry

All arising thoughts have been subsided. Thus, the bright mind shines. Why our mind is called the “nature” and outer forms are not? It’s because the bright mind is already existed in us and it’s permanent (unchangeable). The outer forms are formed by different elements; Therefore, they don’t have a true nature.

Do we have the true nature? Does it always or partially exists? We should review this carefully. It always exists. We occasionally realize it because we have forgotten it. The knowing of drinking tea, knowing of breathing, knowing of speaking, knowing of walking, etc…When don’t we know? The knowing is there, but we don’t acknowledge it. We tend to pay more attention to outer objects. That’s why all day, we only live with differentiation and false thoughts without realizing the bright nature.

Should we accept ignorance? Our mind keeps everything from childhood memory. But if we toss away those false thoughts, we attain the bright mind. Obviously, it’s not difficult to become Buddha. It’s just that we don’t want to do it. Thus, Buddha had said that it’s easy to, so, don’t waste time to find him. Don’t ride the ox to find the ox. Instead, realize the Buddha that is already inside of us. The first two lines are good for daily practice.

Next, he reminds us to end differentiation and rivalry. These four lines show his state of mind during his practice in the mountain. His mind was pure and bright. No more taint, differentiation, and arrogance. The true nature shined bright.

Let go of attachments

Mindless of what’s right or wrong

Practice the mind

All days and nights

When we practice, we should end what’s right and wrong. Is it easy for you to do? Have all false thoughts  been terminated? May be just half of them. That’s why we’re still a bit occupied. Actually, the practice is simple. But we don’t like simplicity. We like afflictions. The last two lines remind us to practice the mind at all times.

Sitting in this mundane world

But careless of the world events

In the quiet mountain and forest

Live in pleasantness

His mind was free while living in the mountain and forest. No concern about the evolution of the surrounding environment

Follow the Buddha’s footsteps

To attain Complete Enlightenment

Sing the unborn song

Pleased with the Zen atmosphere

Whose teaching that he studied? He studied the Buddha’s teaching and practiced to attain the Buddha fruition. At the stage of attainment, he sang the unborn song. Living in a tamed environment, he was relaxed and tamed.

Everyone should know

This life is like a dream

Wake up from it

Tears fall like rain

Everyone should know that our life is like a dream. Everything is unreal. He used a story of a man who was in a deep sleep under a tree. He dreamed of passing an examination and became a King’s son-in-law. But when he woke up, he realized that he was still under the tree and was bitten by ants. His tears fell. The First patriarch reminds us to realize that this life is like a dream. Nothing is important. We shouldn’t suffer with things that we have lost.

Know that this body is unreal

Like clouds

Everything becomes nothing

Like bubbles in the ocean

Know that this body is unreal like clouds. Which are formed in one moment, then separated. Nothing prolongs. Everything then becomes nothing. It’s like bubbles in the ocean that disappear by the strong waves.

Seclude myself

In the quiet mountain

Exertively practice

Clothes made by papers or coarse cloths

He lived in seclusion and determined to practice. Sometimes, he used papers or coarse threads to make clothes

Mindless about good people

And even bad ones

Close the mouth and cover the ears

No misfortune

These four lines are excellent that we should learn by heart. He said to be mindless about other people’s gain or loss, and goodness or badness. He reminded us this matter because he knew we tend to mind other people’s business. Either we criticize or praise. Affection and hatred arise from there. Ironically, we don’t find our mistakes or weaknesses in order to improve them. We tend to be stubborn, especially, females. When being criticized, they don’t accept it, but try to find who said it. The source is from one person, but ends up with three or four. Then, a big argument arises. They cause the mess and suffering to themselves. Then they moan “how come it’s difficult to practice?” They want to practice in peace but they, who stir things up. So how could they be pleasant? Obviously, we want one thing, but do it differently. This is ignorant. Thus, the First patriarch taught us to be mindless about other people’s affairs. Be quiet and cover our ears. That’s how to stay away from trouble. But what we do usually do? We open our mouth to talk and our ears to hear. That’s why troubles keep coming.

Content with this life setting

When right time comes, attain realization

Offer this body to all beings

Even birds and fishes

When practitioners could find the right place to practice, they’re contented with life. Keep practicing and when the right time comes, enlightenment is attained. At that time, they can give away their body to everyone, even to birds and fishes. Once they’re determined to practice in seclusion, their body is meaningless.

Don’t mind about this body

Hungry or full

Earth, water, fire, and air

Even if they’re changing

We should learn these lines by heart. He said to be mindless about the body’s condition: Healthy or unhealthy, hungry or full. Just focus on the practice. Remember that the body is comprised of four elements: earth, water, fire, and air. Therefore, let it evolves. Whether it exists or disintegrated, it’s okay. No need to worry about it.Area we able to do it? A small change in four elements could cause grief. With a light headache, we run to see the doctor. Practitioners who live in mountains and forests don’t have a convenience to see doctors. They treated their ailment by meditation.

The dharma body always exists

Everywhere in the universe

Clearly in front of our eyes

It’s completely bright

The body is not important. The importance is to discern the dharma body. This body exists everywhere in the universe and it’s in front of us. It’s shines bright in all places.

In Zen, we learn to know our actions such as when we walk, eat, sit, etc…Why do we do this? It’s because the truth always appears in front of our eyes. But because we keep revisiting the past, we aren’t aware of its existence. Now let follow his teaching by knowing the eating, walking, talking, etc…without an interference from any thought. Such clear knowing is always existed, complete, and thoughtless. The thinking agitates in the mind. When we practice Zen, we apply Zen in all actions, walk in Zen, talk in Zen, eat in Zen, stand in Zen, etc…We concentrate on that particular task. When someone talks to us, do we know that he/she is talking? If we don’t know then how do we know that we are listening, talking, or walking? How simple it is to practice Zen.

The Zen principle said

The Way is in front of us, not elsewhere

From deep cave, echoes the sound

Responds with no differentiation

Talk about Zen, he said that the Way in front of our eyes. What is the Way? It’s the mind. What is the mind? It’s the knowing. The knowing with no interference from thoughts or un-tameness

When we sing or shout in a deep cave, we hear the echo our voice. Does the echo have thinking? Does it initiate our voice? No. Our mind should be the same as it responds to all matters like the echo. In other words, respond to a hearing without thinking or differentiation. In this moment, the true nature exits. We see things and hear things without interference of other objects. For instance, when we see a vase of flowers, we know its existence. We don’t need to know its owner, its designer, its artistic condition, etc….We don’t carry a series of a false thoughts. Nowadays, people live in chaos because they don’t apply the idea of “the echo from the cave”

The number of Buddhist learners

Is incalculable

Bamboosa becomes dragon

Is a rare event

The number of Buddhist practitioners is incalculable, but only a a few could attain the Way. It’s like bamboosa becomes dragon…It’s hard to happen, isn’t it? These lines let us see that not everyone could attain enlightenment. Only a few could do.

Because of doubt

Mistaken the north with south

Only a Zen finger

Can instantly clear everything

Because of doubts and misunderstanding (the 2nd line), we make no success in practice. Only a Zen finger could instantly clear the doubt. What is Zen finger? This is a story of master Ju Shi. When a person asked “What is Buddha?” he raised a finger up. He did the same when one asked “What is the Way?” What does the finger mean? It means no clear all doubts to discern the meaning of Zen. What master Ju Shi did was not a joke.

Overall, the First patriarch wanted to say that the number of successful practitioners is small, but those in struggling we many. It’s because we haven’t fully understood the Way. Once we realize the meaning of the Zen finger, our doubts are instantly cleared. Why so? It’s because duality causes affliction and agitation. When we have only one mind (the mind without taint and differentiation,) no more suffering exits. It’s simple and easy. But because we tend to complicate things, it becomes harder for us to practice and succeed.

He ended his paean with the following verse.

Live in serenity, the mind is tamed

Hear cool wind stir the pine trees

Underneath the trees, a Zen bed with a Buddhist sutra

Pleasantness, a word worth more than millions of dollars

When we live in tameness, we could hear the wind stirring the pine trees. An nothing worth more than the pleasantness. We could see that the First patriarch’s principle was a conjunction of practice and learning (illustrated in the third line). He practiced Zen, but still read sutras. Such peaceful life sure worth more than jewels.

Talking about the First patriarch “Dieu Ngu Giac Hoang” the Enlightened king,) we can’t ignore his two paeans “Enjoy the Way in Life” and “Attainment Paean” One was written during the stage of of being a layman. And the other was written when he was a monk and after his attainment of enlightenment. In the “Attainment Paean” he taught us (the monks and nuns) how to practice and fulfill our duties). These two writing are precious and we have to understand them well so we could practice correctly and succeed.

His biography and writing should make us proud. We should respect and honor him because he was able to give up everything to practice in seclusion. If you can visit Yen Tu mountain and Truc Lam at Dong Cuu mountain, you will see a deep forest. He was determined to leave behind his royal life to live an ascetic life.

In seclusion, he focused on practicing the Way. That’s why he could attain realization in a short period of time. This worth for us to follow. We should be tough in order to attain the Way. After his attainment, he traveled to teach people dharmas and guided monks and nuns to practice the virtue of Bodhisattvas. I have just talked about his noble life.

Another thing to be proud is that in the past, prince Sidhartha ordained and later attained enlightenment. In Vietnam, we had a king, who also ordained, attained realization, and propagated Buddhism. Thus, the prince and the king had no difference in practice. Both were able to give up the royalty to attain realization.

The Way that prince Siddhartha had searched for was excellent and sublime. After his enlightenment, he propagated it. Many people respected him for his renunciation.

It’s the same for the king of Tran dynasty as he could gave up luxuries to search for the Way. His success is a pride for our race as a whole and for all Buddhists, exclusively. Unfortunately, we have been absent-minded about it. Therefore, my goal is to renovate Vietnamese Buddhism, especially, the Tran dynasty. The reason is Buddhism of Tran dynasty has illustrated the sublime idea of Buddhism, which goes beyond the norms of this mundane world. If Buddhism is just a typical religion, the First patriarch wouldn’t renounce. People dream to be a king because a king is in the upmost position. If he gave up his thrown to search for the Way, then it must be more valuable.

In the earlier stages, king Tran Thai Tong was an ordained monk. King Tran Thanh Tong at the palace practiced Zen. Then, king Tran Nhan Tong became an ordained monk and was enlightened. Obviously, Buddhism of Tran dynasty had depicted the sublimity of Buddhism. It’s so ordinal for people to think that becoming a monk is a way to run away from life.

The king of Tran dynasty ordained to search for an extraordinal thing, not a typical thing. We renovate Buddhism of Tran dynasty to let people know that Buddhism is sublime and extraordinary. It’s not typical like people tend to visualize: practitioners are losers who look for a shelter from Buddha. I truly hope that all monks and nuns should have a noble mind and learn what’s valuable from our ancestors.

 

The end of chapter “The Attainment Paean”

~*~

 

Auxiliary

Publications

Other books written by the Zen master that have been translated by Tu Tam Hoang

  • The Carefree Leaves
  • The Source of Buddhist Dharma
  • My Whole Life
  • If You Know (Poetry)
  • The Practicing Method of Vietnamese Zen
  • Buddhism and The Youths

 

Visit our English website at

www.TruclamVietZen.net

 

Contributions

The followings are the individuals who have made the publication of “Truc Lam Founder” possible:

-          Thien Nhan

-          Tu Tam Ngu

-          Tue Minh Hanh

-          Tue Minh Thai

-          Lucas Nguyen

-          Tu Tam Hoang

-          Chanh Minh Nha

 

~~~~~~~*******~~~~~~~

Dedication

I pray these merits

Be beneficial to all sentient beings

As they and I

Will attain the Buddha Way

Nam Mo Sakyamuni Buddha

 

~~~~~~~~*******~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Book Request Form:

Name:______________Date__________

Mailing address (Please print clearly)

________________________________

Book Request:

Qty      Title

_          The Carefree Leaves(Revised Edition)

_          The Source of Buddhist Dharma

_          My Whole Life

_          If You Know (Poetry collection)

_          The Practicing Method of Vietnamese Zen

_          Buddhism and The Youth

_          Truc Lam Founder – Two Stages of Life

 

Questionnaire:

1. How did you hear from us?

 

2. Were you introduced to the Master’s teaching?    

 

3. What is your interest in Buddhism?

 

4. How did you feel about his translated books (circle one)

Easy to read                Hard to follow                        Need further clarification

 

5. Are you actively practicing Zen? If yes, which school.

6. Would you interested in his teachings or getting more information about the Master and his teaching?

 

7. How had his books been beneficial to your studying or practicing?

 

8. What is your primary language?

 

*************

If you would like to order a free copy of the translated books, please provide the information as much as you can and return this request form to:

Thanh Thuy

14591 Bowling Green St.

Westminter, CA 92683

USA

Or visit our website at www.TruclamVietZen.net

 

~*~

 

The end of book “Truc Lam Founder Two Stages of Life”

By Zen Master Thich Thanh Tu.

***

Nam Mo Sakyamuni Buddha.

~*~

Type date & sent – April 9-2019

Dieu Van

(Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A)

 

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