Here are some sayings by great Zen masters on what to do after this momentous event.
Greed, hate, and ignorance arise endlessly; I vow to abandon them.
Buddha’s way is unsurpassed; I vow to embody it fully.
~The Four Great Vows (Taken by all Mahayana Practitioners)
Students of the Way, even if you attain enlightenment, do not think that this is now the ultimate and thus abandon your practice of the Way. The Way is endless. Even if you are enlightened, you should still practice the Way. Consider the ancient story of the lecturer Liang Sui calling upon Ma Yu.
Dogen, Record of Things Heard, Thomas Cleary
“What is ‘hidden practice and scrupulous application’?” someone asked.
It certainly doesn’t mean sneaking off to some mountain and sitting like a block of wood on a rock or under a tree “silently illuminating” yourself. It means immersing yourself totally in your practice at all times and in all your activities—walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Hence, it is said that practice concentrated in activity is a hundred, a thousand, even a million times superior to practice done in a state of inactivity.
Upon attaining satori, if you continue to devote yourself to your practice single-mindedly, extracting the poison fangs and talons or the Dharma cave, tearing the vicious, life-robbing talismans into shreds, combing through texts of all kinds, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike, accumulating a great store of Dharma wealth, whipping forward the wheel of the Four Universal Vows, pledging yourself to benefit and save all sentient beings while striving every minute of your life to practice the great Dharma giving, and having nothing—nothing—to do with fame or profit in any shape or form—you will then be a true and legitimate descendent of the Buddha patriarchs. It’s a greater reward than gaining rebirth as a human or a god.
Hakuin, Wild Ivy, Norman Waddell
There are four kinds of people who study. The highest are those with practice, with understanding, and with realization. Next are those with understanding, and with realization but without practice. Next are those with practice and understanding but without realization. Lowest are those with practice, but without understanding or realization.
Zen Dawn, J.C. Cleary
I have observed that people of the present time who are cultivating their minds do not depend on the guidance of the written teachings, but straightaway assume that the successive transmission of the esoteric idea [of Son] is the path. They then sit around dozing with their presence of mind in agitation and confusion during their practice of meditation. For these reasons, I feel you should follow words and teachings which were expounded in accordance with reality in order to determine the proper procedure in regard to awakening and cultivation. Once you mirror your own minds, you may contemplate with insight at all times, without wasting any of your efforts.
Chinul, Tracing Back the Radiance, Robert Buswell
I left home to become a Buddhist monk when I was fourteen. I became discouraged before even a year was out. My head had been shaved smooth, I wore a black robe, but I hadn’t seen any sign of the Dharma’s marvelous working. I happened to hear that The Lotus Sutra was the king of all the scriptures the Buddha had preached. It was supposed to contain the essential meaning of all the buddhas. I hot hold of a copy and read it through. But when I had finished, I closed it with a heavy sigh. “This,” I told myself, “is nothing but a collection of simple tales about cause and effect. True, mention is made of there being ‘only one absolute vehicle,’ and of ‘the changeless, unconditioned tranquillity of all dharmas.’ But on the whole it is what Lin-chi dismissed as ‘mere verbal prescriptions for relieving the world’s ills.’ I’m not going to find what I’m looking for here.”
I was deeply disillusioned. I didn’t get over it for quite some time. Meanwhile, I lived as the priest of a small temple. I reached forty, the age when one is not supposed to be bothered any longer by doubts. One night, I decided to take another look at The Lotus Sutra. I got out my only lamp, turned up the wick, and began to read it once again. I read as far as the third chapter, the one on parables. Then, just like that, all the lingering doubts and uncertainties vanished from my mind. They suddenly ceased to exist. The reason for the Lotus’s reputation as the “king of sutras” was now revealed to me with blinding clarity. Teardrops began cascading down my face like two strings of beads—they came like beans pouring from a ruptured sack. A loud involuntary cry burst from the depths of my being and I began sobbing uncontrollably. And as I did, I knew without any doubt that what I had realized in all those satoris I had experienced, what I had grasped in my understanding of those koans I had passed—had all been totally mistaken. I was finally able to penetrate the source of the free, enlightened activity that permeated Shoju’s daily life. I also knew beyond doubt that the tongue in the World-honored One’s mouth moved with complete and unrestricted freedom. I realized I richly deserved a good thirty hard blows of the staff, just like Lin-chi!
Hakuin, The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin, Norman Waddell
Q: What are the ‘three methods of training (to be performed) at the same level’ and what is meant by performing them on the same level?
A: They are discipline (vinaya), concentration (dhyana) and wisdom (prajna).”
Q: Please explain them one by one.
A: Discipline involves stainless purity. Concentration involves the stilling of your minds so that you remain wholly unmoved by surrounding phenomena. Wisdom means that your stillness of mind is not disturbed by your giving any thought to that stillness, that your purity is unmarred by your entertaining any thought of purity and that, in the midst of all such pairs of opposites as good and evil, you are able to distinguish between them without being stained by them and, in this way, to reach the state of being perfectly at ease and free of all dependence. Furthermore, if you realize that discipline, concentration and wisdom are all alike in that their substance is intangible and that, hence, they are undivided and therefore one – that is what is meant by three methods of training performed at the same level.
Hui Hai, The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening, John Blofeld