In another thread Huifeng said
Huifeng wrote:If one wishes to understand the Mahayana, without Bodhicitta, even if one reads enough sutras and sastras to fill the ancient library of Alexandria, understanding will always remain out of reach.
This upset a cartload of my preconceptions.
Now, I'm not looking for a Dharma lesson here, but I would like to know a little more about how Ven. Huifeng views bodhicitta.
For instance I think I need a general idea of which bodies of sutras he draws on.
I would also like to know how prominently bodhicitta figures in his studies.
An excellent example of what is meant by bodhicitta is to be found in the Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra (aka: the Diamond Sutra). Conze's translation has:
The Lord said: Here, Subhuti, someone who has set out in the vehicle of a Bodhisattva should produce a thought in this manner: 'As many beings as there are in the universe of beings, comprehended under the term "beings" egg-born, born from a womb, moisture-born, or miraculously born; with or without form; with perception, without perception, and with neither perception nor non-perception, as far as any conceivable form of beings is conceived: all these I must lead to Nirvana, into that Realm of Nirvana which leaves nothing behind. And yet, although innumerable beings have thus been led to Nirvana, no being at all has been led to Nirvana.' And why? If in a Bodhisattva the notion of a 'being' should take place, he could not be called a 'Bodhi-being'. 'And why? He is not to be called a Bodhi-being, in whom the notion of a self or of a being should take place, or the notion of a living soul or of a person.'
It involves the compassion to lead beings to nirvana, and also the wisdom of emptiness that sees that ultimately there is no "living being".
You see, I fear I have entirely the wrong idea of what Cha'an [sp?] practice IS! I thought it was severely austere and would view bodhicitta as a form of attachment or ambition.
If one has merely the aspiration to liberate beings, and believes that there truly are living beings to be liberated, then that would be attachment, attachment to the view of a self or living being.
If one knows that ultimately there are no living beings, whilst still liberating these illusory beings, then there is no attachment.
Maybe I'm getting mixed up with Zen again?
Although texts like the Platform sutra state that mental defilements are "living beings" (well, actually, this only works with a Chinese breakdown of the term 眾生, that which arises 生 from many 眾 conditions, but doesn't work in Indic languages), some take this to mean that for Chan / Zen it only our own "mental defilements" that should be "liberated". They thus ignore other beings, and fall into the paths of the two vehicles. One may also read these passages as indicating that those living beings (which are not ultimately living beings) are thus only "living beings" in the sense constructed by our own minds. Hence, where some would say "liberate living beings", the Chan practitioner would say "liberate what the mind constructs as living beings". Such illusory created living beings are thus liberated, and the Mahayana path fulfilled.
Do please cast a little light for me.
In the long night of samsara, one searches for a light from others,
With the lamp of wisdom, one illuminates one's own path.