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How to Liberate Yourself from Life and Death

(Translated by Transn and Edited by Kaer)


The subtlety of liberating oneself from life and death in “The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye” is that Buddha Sakyamuni had held a flower in his hand as he smiled in the Lingshan Mountain Assembly. Only his first disciple, Mahakasyapa understood why and gave a faint smile. Buddha said, “I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvellous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, and the subtle dharma gate that does not rest on words or letters, but is a special understanding outside of the scriptures”.

Mahakasyapa later explained his understanding directly to Ananda, who gave it to Shanavasa, and all the way to Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth Patriarch of Buddhism.



Bodhidharma took Zen Buddhism to China and was regarded as the first Chinese Zen Buddhist Patriarch. He eventually passed them to Huike, the second Patriarch, who passed them to Sengcan, the third Patriarch, then to Daoxin, the fourth Patriarch, and to Hongren, the fifth Patriarch.


When Master Hongren told about them, he was met with some trouble because he found that the real successor should be the unknown handyman Huineng in the monastery instead of the highly reputed and admirable professor Master Shenxiu.


It would be very unconvincing to all if everything passed directly to Huineng. In a desperate way, he said “The lives and deaths of mortals are matters of huge importance, but you only pursue the land of promise without seeking to be away from the bitter sea of life and death. If you lose your nature, then how can blessings bring you salvation? Both of you, write me a stanza. He who understands what the Essence of Mind is will be given the robe (the insignia of the Patriarchate) and the Dharma (the ultimate teaching of the Zen school), and I shall make him the Sixth Patriarch”. With a small trick, he finally gave his treasures to Master Huineng.


Master Huineng was the sixth and final Patriarch of Zen. The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye and the robe and begging bowl were lost after him.

I used to joke that I am the seventh Patriarch of Zen, and that I have written “On Zen by the seventh Patriarch of Zen one, two, three, four, and five”, which are the most heavily weighted five articles of all my writings.


Now the question, as instructed in Buddha’s “Treasury of the True Dharma Eye”, this “Subtle Dharma Gate”, “does not rest on words or letters but is a special message outside of the scriptures” becomes how to “transfer from mind to mind”. If I were to tell it with words, then I would be rebelling against the teachings of Buddha. So, if not “expressing with words”, how can we know how to liberate ourselves from the samsara of life and death?


To make the best of both worlds, I can only “slide over the water”. Whether you can be liberated from life and death all depends on your level of praising Tao, your destiny, and your root of wisdom.


There is no life or death in LIFE. The life and death seen by the world is an illusion. It is the evolved deduction of the carrier of LIFE. LIFE has nothing to do with time, so LIFE has no limitations of time and is beyond all ages. The nature of LIFE is nonmaterial structure; the form rendered by LIFE is decided by its nonmaterial structure; its nonmaterial structure decides the form rendered by it. Consciousness originates from structure, and in turn controls structure. Human consciousnesses make people, animal consciousnesses make animals, and if you develop your consciousness to that of a Celestial Beings or a Buddha, then you will become a Celestial Being or a Buddha.


LIFE is a cycle of reincarnations; the death we commonly see is not the death of LIFE itself, but the phenomenon of LIFE transformation. LIFE travels from one dimension into another, from one world into another, through “The Gate of Life and Death”. When a LIFE crosses that gate, from this field, we see it as as “death”, but from the other field, it is “life”.


“All dharmas are marked with emptiness; they neither begin nor end, are neither immaculate nor defiled, and neither complete nor deficient. Therefore, in emptiness there are neither forms, feelings, perceptions, impulses, nor consciousness; neither eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, or minds; neither sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, or any sensations, and so on until we have form. There are no mind-consciousness elements, no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so on, until we have form. There is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death; no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path; no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment. Therefore, it is because of their non-attainmentness, that Bodhisattvas, through having relied on the “Perfection of Wisdom”, dwell without thought-coverings. In the absence of thought-coverings, they have “Not been made to tremble, have overcome what can upset, and in the end, have attained Nirvana”; “to be free from life and death”. When you are liberated from life and death, you can attain Nirvana.


If you understand the truth above, then you can be liberated from the samsara of life and death. The problem is that as mortals, we have fleshy eyes and mortal stocks; as we cannot see higher dimensional space and worlds, we are not fully convinced of the above truths. Then what?


It is easy! Follow the guide and verify, step by step.


What are those things that hinder us from liberating from the samsara of life and death?


 The answers are greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, and suspicion.

  • Greed is the want to always possess more out of self-interest.
  • Anger is to detest, blame, and envy.
  • Ignorance is the belief that you are always right and never wrong.
  • Arrogance is self-importance, pretentiousness, disdain, defiance, and the lack of a gracious, cherishing heart.
  • Suspicion is being full of doubts and not facing the facts; it is hypocritical, false, and self-deceiving.

Overcoming greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, and suspicion will enable you to understand this truth and will liberate you from the samsara of life and death. The reason is very simple and easy to do, but putting it into real practice is difficult.

After being liberated from life and death, one also needs to understand where to go after “death”. If you are heading to the lower world, then you will be miserable.

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