Thursday, 26 December 2013

Words of Old Tcheng

The Words of Old Tcheng first appeared in the French journal, Etre, in 1974. 

Where this text first originated and at what time are unknown. It was given by a Buddhist monk in the form of a written document to a Frenchman who was visiting Indochina.
Indications of style suggest that it may belong to the school of Zen founded by Hui Neng, the 6th Zen patriarch.

The Text contains very direct teachings on 'Non Duality,' and because they are eternally relevant, whether they appeared several centuries ago or just yesterday, they are imbued with that special timeless power that propels 'truth' towards opening the minds and hearts of sincere seekers, whoever they may be, where ever they may live, whatever they may do.

For this reason, I decided to include a selection of passages from this text in a post that would be easily available to all who are sincerely interested. The passages below contain points that encompass pith instructions and which, if taken into the heart and meditated upon without thought or contrivance, can lead directly to the recognition of one's own true nature.


Old Tcheng said:

"To see the primordial spirit is to see it whether there are thoughts or not, 
whether one is immobile or active, 
whether one is speaking like I am before you, 
or whether one is silent, 
whether one is an emperor, a monk, 
or someone with neither hearth nor home. 
What does it really matter?

What difference is there between the Buddha and the illiterate rustic
monk who only knows how to split wood but who sees the primordial

There is not one particular primordial spirit for Bodhidharma
and another for old Tcheng or for each of you. 

The primordial spirit is the primordial spirit
Nothing else can be said about it. Even
this much is already too much. 

What others have said about the primordial spirit and what I am saying can only be of use to encourage you to search directly yourselves, without having recourse to any authority and without any tricks. Everything else will only blur your sight
and divert you from the one and only enquiry that should possess you
entirely, wherever you are and whatever you do: meditating, sweeping
the court or answering the call of nature. 
But when I see what you do to the words of the patriarchs and my own, it would have been better that the patriarchs and I had been drowned at birth!

"...the world and you are nothing but thoughts of the individual mind since they both disappear along with all other thoughts when you fall asleep.

This also applies to the stale thought of your petty mind about the Buddha, the Path and the primordial spirit.

So understand once and for all how useless all your efforts are to penetrate the impenetrable through thought and action.

You may as well desire to catch the wind. But if you are unencumbered and totally receptive to the primordial spirit, you will instead be caught by it directly."

" Since you have heard of the void as being the supreme achievement, you try
to attain it. Thus you lapse into torpor and an in-sensitiveness which you
take for the emptiness of the primordial spirit.

Having heard about the absolute as being the ultimate state, you imagine
that all things are equal and nothing is worthy of respect. Thus you lapse
into casualness and anarchy which you take for the unity of the primordial

As you have heard about purity being total bliss, you strive to attain it.
Thus you lapse into intransigence and rigidity which you take for the
transparency of the primordial spirit.

Having heard about detachment being the one and only freedom, you try to
separate your selves from the world and yourselves. Thus you lapse into
indifference which you take for the independence of the primordial spirit.

"... It is the primordial spirit that is said to be emptiness,
unity, transparency and independence. The component of the wheel of existence is that you are can never any of these faculties. 

But if you would see the primordial spirit, you would know that it is your real nature, that it cannot be qualified in any way and that in reality no name can be given to it. 

You would then also know that the terms; void, absolute, purity,
detachment and even primordial spirit itself, are nothing but words that
only exist for you on account of your blindness and ignorance.

"Everyone is illuminated by the primordial spirit. Some see it, others do not know it.  That is the only difference between them.

"You do not need anyone else to see the light of the sun.  All that others may say about this is useless to you.  You are in the light. It warms your body and yet you cannot grab it in such a way that you may put it in a box. All efforts to possess it are doomed to fail from the start. You can neither catch it nor get rid of it.
This was already said by some old blabbermouth and others before him.

The same applies to the primordial spirit.  It is always present and just as luminous as the light of the sun. You can neither claim it nor get rid of it."

" He who has seen one grain of sand has seen all grains of sand from all shores and from the bottom of all the seas of the world.  If you see the primordial spirit, you see the entire primordial spirit and you are a Buddha.

I am before you like a piece of wood that resounds.  There is no merit nor importance to that because beings such as old Tcheng, who let the same sound be heard, have never been lacking and never will be until the end of mankind.  But unfortunately for you, since you are always preoccupied only with appearances, you only consider the piece of wood that is resounding.  Consequently, the primordial spirit does not find the echo in you that would make you suddenly realise that you are not and have never been other than the primordial spirit."

"If there are any among you who, while listening to me, who are struck by
something greater and more profound than my words, which is not the sort of
complacent torpor which so many revel in, imagining that they are
established in the primordial spirit, but a simple and active lucidity,
well, only to those can I indicate the right direction and show the way.
Their own crust will finally crack; suddenly drop and they will see the gem
of the primordial spirit sparkle.

I do not intervene in this matter as a person. I am only a channel for
the primordial spirit that some people sense through me, old Tcheng, who is
otherwise, also like the crust covering a precious gem.

As long as I asked questions about the primordial spirit I can only be
silent or answer 'no.'

As for he who sees the primordial spirit, he does not need old Tcheng.

If you were true, your thoughts and actions would be right and at all
times appropriate to their purpose. But since you are unable to see your
Buddha nature you make up for your ignorance by appropriating the thoughts,
conduct and actions of those you have placed above your heads. Your concern
to ape what others think and do - that is crust that prevents you from
seeing the primordial spirit...

" ...Your innate nature is in no way different from the Buddha nature.
What you are lacking is that you do not know it unambiguously.
 That is all.
That is what you are lacking and that is what drives you to try to become
what you have never ceased to be. 
To have evidence of the primordial spirit,
that is what your existence is all about. 
When you stray from it the
slightest bit you immediately relapse into the endless confusion and turmoil
of cause and effect. 
This is the unique teaching of old Tcheng."

"The true nature of beings and things is not superior in him who sees it nor inferior in him who does not know it. It remains unaffected whether it is known or not, nor is it affected by anything that you attach to it."

"Now, listen to me with the utmost attention.  I will reveal to you the great secret of the primordial spirit. It is the most important thing that has ever been said about it.

Here it is:



Whereupon, Old Tscheng executed a pirouette and disappeared. No one has ever seen or heard about him since.

Sources: Text was transmitted by J Garillot.
It was translated from French into English by E. Van Den Muyzenberg

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