Practices [With] Ten Great Obstacles
Comprehensively [speaking, all] ordinary beings [are with the] one [same] mind, equally [with the] essential [Buddha-]nature, without [any] deficiencies.
Sentient beings, although entangled within [deluded] karmic consciousnesses, none [do] not have [the] aspiration [to] depart [from the] dust [of defilements].
Just when desiring [to] carefully study [and practise the] path, [with] demonic situations first manifesting, [and just] one matter [leading to a] guilty conscience, [the] ten thousand goodnesses [are] entirely lost.
[Thus with] successes little, [and] failures extensive, [while] those [with] attainments [are] even [more] rare.
What more, [for] material desires, [with] one another competing [and clashing, in the cycle of] death [and] birth [with many] changes, [they] take turns, [to] replace [and] mimic one another. Even if changing [their] positions, [they are with behavior that is] all [the same, as] so.
If our Tathāgata, within three great asaṃkhyeya kalpas, willingly gave up innumerable heads, eyes, brains, countries, cities, wives, children, bodies, flesh, hands [and] legs,
[to practise the Six Perfections of Generosity], Precepts, Patience, Diligence, [Concentration and Wisdom, to] undertake practice [and seek] [good-]knowing [friends], not hesitating [to sacrifice] body [and] life, [to] cultivate practice [of the] path factors, [of] all attained Dharma doors, because [of our] obstacles now, [having] retrogression [of] that [Bodhi] mind [for Buddhahood] thus, once with us then extinguished, how [is this] not sorrowful [and] painful?
We now, since as Śākya[muni Buddha’s] disciples, [if] not doing all we can, [and instead just] sit [by and] let [the] Dharma realm’s sentient beings forever lose [their] wisdom eyes, [this is] more [painful] than [to] cut off [our] bodies’ flesh.
Therefore, I now rely [upon the] sūtras, [to] establish ten kinds [of] practices [within] great obstacles, [also] named [the] ‘Ten Practices [Of] Non-Seeking’.
People although [do] not intentionally wish [to be] within obstacles, but within this [time and] place, [we] perhaps have no choice, [but to encounter them].
When all obstacles appear before [us, we should] enable our bodies [and] minds [to] first dwell within [these] obstacles. [By being prepared for them], all situations of many demons [and] evil obstacles [are] then not able [to] invade us, not able [to] obstruct us.
For example, like gold [and] fire [in the] same furnace, [the] fire although taking advantage [of the] gold, [the] gold [will] definitely become exquisite.
These ten kinds [of] practices [with] great obstacles now should [be] spoken [of].
[1A] First, [being] mindful [of the] body, not seeking [to be] without sickness.
[2A] Second, conducting [oneself in] society, not seeking [to be] without difficulties.
[3A] Third, examining [the] mind, not seeking [to be] without obstacles.
[4A] Fourth, establishing practices, not seeking [to be] without [the] demonic.
[5A] Fifth, planning matters, not seeking [them to be] easily accomplished.
[6A] Sixth, [in] friendly relationships, not seeking [to] benefit oneself.
[7A] Seventh, of people, not seeking [the] agreeable.
[8A] Eighth, [practising the] virtue [of] generosity, not seeking [or] hoping [for] repayment.
[9A] Ninth, seeing benefits, not seeking receiving [of them in] part.
[10A] Tenth, being hindered, not seeking [to] declare [so].
These practices [with] ten kinds [of] great obstacles [are able to] gather [and transform] all obstacles.
Only those [with] higher wisdom [are] able [to] rely [upon them for practice]. Those [of] medium [and] lower [wisdom do] not dare to [even] hope [for these obstacles].
If having attained hearing [of] these ten lines’ meanings, within all obstacles, [with] one by one, all able [to] perceive clearly [with] awareness, reflecting [upon] ourselves [to] realise [the] path, upholding [and] not losing it, thus [will we be] able [to] enter all demonic realms, [and] not by demonic hordes’ [influences, have] retrogression [of] that [Bodhi] mind.
[When] ‘following’ all forms [and] sounds, not by forms [and] sounds confusing [and] scattering that aspiration, even if [with] situations of hatred [and] love, benefits [and] fame, circumstances of others [and] self, gain [and] loss.
[With] our minds [already] first dwelling within obstacles, [by being prepared for them, of] those obstacles, how [are they] able [to be experienced] as obstacles?
[With] obstacles [as] if without obstacles, thus of [the] path [of] practice, [we] still can straightforwardly advance.
What more, [if] attained [to] naturally [be] without situations of obstacles, how can it be that [practice of the] path [will] not [be] able [to] advance [then]?
For example, trees [on a] high cliff, although [there for a] long [time in] drought, as if burnt, [this] still [does] not change their beautiful scenery.
What more, [they will] again [be] fertile, [with] rushing water moistened, [to] yet again, [with] addition [of the] season of three spring [months]. How can it not blossom [with] lush flowers [and] fruits [then]?
Also, like those lacking [in sense] roots, [when] using [them], although difficult, yet of plans [to] seek food, [they] have skills [that are] unequalled.
If with plans of seeking gains, changed [to be] seeking [of the] path, how can it be that [when] with obstacles, [we are] not able [to] practise [the] path?
[It] should [be] known [that] these obstacles are the same as all sentient beings’ great good-knowing friends.
[They are] also all sentient beings’ good blessings [and] fields [of] blessings, able [to], with [them, be] liberated [from the cycle of] death [and] birth, [and] able [to], with [them], transcend [the] ordinary, [to] enter [the realm of the] noble.
Within all of [the] world’s delicacies, superior clothing, vajra, gems, jade [and] all [of] many treasures, all [are] not able [to] reach [them to be equal].
Therefore, if not with obstacles as [the] path, [we are] thus within non-obstacles, [which] instead become obstacles, [due to spiritual complacency and stagnation]. Why [is this] so?
[1B] [If the] body [is] without sickness, thus [will] greedy desires then arise.
[2B] [If] life [is] without difficulties, thus [will] arrogance [and] extravagance definitely arise.
[3B] [If the] mind [is] without obstacles, thus [will] that learnt skip necessary steps.
[4B] [If] practice [is] without demonic [difficulties], thus [will] vows not [be] resolute.
[5B] [If] matters [are] easily accomplished, thus [will] aspiration become slighting [of others].
[6B] [If] relationships benefit me, thus [will there be] loss [of] righteousness [and] justice.
[7B] [If] people [are] agreeable, thus [will the] mind within [have] self-boasting.
[8B] [If with] virtues, hoping [for] repayment, thus [will the] mind have that schemed [after].
[9B] [If with] benefits received [in] part, thus [will the] deluded mind definitely [be] moved.
[10B] [If] hindered [and] declaring [so], thus [are] others [and] self yet [to be] forgotten.
With these meanings, thus know [that] paths without [the] ten obstacles [are] able [to] give rise [to] these faults, and become all such inauspicious matters, as causes [and] conditions [that] obstruct [the spiritual] path. Why [is this] so?
[1C] [If] greedy desires arise, definitely [will they lead to] breaking [of] precepts [and] retrogression [on the] path.
[2C] [If] arrogance [and] extravagance arise, [one will] definitely push around all [others].
[3C] [If that] learnt skipped necessary steps, definitely [will that] yet attained [be] said [as] attained.
[4C] [If] vows [are] not resolute, definitely [will that] yet realised [be] said [as] realised.
[5C] [If with] aspiration [that] slights [others], definitely [will there be] praise [of] oneself [to] possess capabilities.
[6C] [If] losing righteousness [and] justice, definitely [will there be] seeing [of] others’ wrongs.
[7C] [If] self-boasting, definitely [will there] be attachment [to] one’s ‘rightness’.
[8C] [If the] mind has scheming, definitely [will there be one’s] ‘illustrious’ name desired [to be] praised.
[9C] [If the] deluded mind moves, definitely [will greed for] evil benefits destroy oneself.
[10C] [If] harbouring [the] mind [of] others [and] self, definitely [will] grudges [and] hatred breed.
These ten kinds [of] faults, from ordinary [beings’] false [and stray thoughts] arising, [are] all named [as] evil views, [which] continuously transform, giving rise [to] immeasurable evil dharmas [i.e. phenomena [of mind and matter]. Pervading [the] realm [of] empty space, [they will] definitely enable sentient beings [to] fall within [the] hells.
How can it be, that [we are] within these [faults, yet] not giving rise [to] reverence [and] caution [to the law of karma]? If able [to observe and] experience these situations [with] obstacles,
[1D] Recognising sicknesses’ causes [and] conditions, knowing [that] sicknesses [are of the] nature [of] emptiness, sicknesses [will] not [be] able [to give rise to] afflictions.
[2D] Clearly understanding difficult situations, [observing and] experiencing difficulties [to] fundamentally [be] illusory, how [are these] difficulties also [able to] harm?
[3D] Understanding obstacles [to be] without roots, immediately [will] obstacles self-extinguish, [with] obstacles not [experienced] as obstacles.
[4D] Realising demons [are] illusory, examining demons [to be] without roots, how [are] demons able [to] disturb?
[5D] Considering matters [that] follow [one’s] wishes, [as] accomplishing [of these] matters accord [with] karma, [these] matters [are] not due [to one’s] capabilities [alone].
[6D] Examining relationships [to] have causes, of relationships, [they are] difficult [to] forcibly [seek, as] relationships still rely [upon] conditions.
[7D] Realise [that of] people conducting [themselves in] society, contemplate [these] people [to be with] illusory [good and bad] behaviour, [that] people [are] only [for] repayment [of their (past and present) kindness].
[8D] Clearly knowing [that] virtues [are] without [self-]nature, reflect [that as] virtues [are] not permanent, virtues [are] also not real.
[9D] [Knowing] worldly benefits [are] fundamentally empty, [with] desires [for worldly] benefits giving rise [to] afflictions, [of these] benefits, do not inappropriately seek [them].
[10D] Receiving hindrances [and] able [to] endure [them, with] enduring [of] hindrances as humility, how [can these] hindrances harm me?
Therefore, great noble [ones who] transform people, [are]
[1E] With suffering [of] sickness, [regard it] as good medicine,
[2E] With misfortune [and] difficulties, [regard them] as liberation,
[3E] With obstacles, [regard them] as freedom without fetters,
[4E] With demonic hordes, [regard them] as Dharma companions,
[5E] With matters’ difficulties, [regard them] as peace [and] bliss,
[6E] With disadvantageous relationships, [regard them] as provisions,
[7E] With opposing people, [regard them] as gardens [for planting seeds of meritorious virtues, by practising patience, understanding, forgiveness and such],
[8E] With [the] marketplace’s ‘virtues’ [for worldly benefits, regard them] as thrown away shoes,
[9E] With distancing [from] benefits, [regard this] as wealth [and] honour, [and]
[10E] With receiving [of] hindrances, [regard them] as doors [of] practice.
[As] such thus dwelling, [to be prepared for them], obstacles instead [are] passed through. Seeking [to] pass through [them] instead obstructs. Within these obstacles, all [of them] become wonderful situations [for advancement on the path].
Thus, of [true] gains and losses, one [is] not able [to simply] know [them]. How [then, can] people within forcibly give rise [to the mind of what to] accept [or] reject? Therefore, [the] Tathāgata within obstacles attained [the] Bodhi path.
Going so far as to, when [as a Brahmin], for [seeking] half [of a Dharma] verse, [he] encountered [a] rākṣasa [and was willing to sacrifice his life for it, when] being [in the] life [as a] sage [perfecting patience, he] met [King] Kalinga, [who cut off his limbs, and when as Constantly Not Slighting Bodhisattva (常不轻菩萨), he was with] tiles [and] rocks struck [by] bhikṣus [with] increased conceit.
[When as the Buddha, with a] wooden bowl, behaving as ‘pregnant’, [he received] great slander [by Ciñcā-mānavikā (旃遮) the] female prostitute, extending [to] kinds of persons [like] Angulimālā [who tried to kill him, and] disciples [like] Devadatta [who tried to replace him], all [of them] came [to] create opposition.
Yet, [the] Buddha for them conferred prediction of enlightenment, transforming [to] enable [them to be] accomplished [as] Buddhas.
How can [we] not [with] those opposing, then [regarded] as [those] for favouring us, with those slandering, then [regarded] as [those] for accomplishing us?
What more, when times [are] unkind [and the] world [is] evil, [with] human affairs abnormal [and unexpected], for those [who] learn [and practise the] path, how can it be that [they are] without obstacles?
Now, if not first dwelling within [these] obstacles, [by being prepared for them], thus when obstacles reach [us, we might] not [be] able [to] eliminate [or divert them]. Causing [the] Dharma King’s great treasure, because [of] this, [to] then [be] lost, how is this not [a] pity?
[With] all [of us being] foolish [ones], thus [should we] rely [upon the] sūtras. Depending on [the] stated [for] what [to] know, may [we] never turn our backs [on these teachings].
If by hearing these meanings thus, [with] obstacles appearing before [us, and] instead [be] able [to] courageously advance on [the] path, [we] can [be] said [to have] attained this purpose, [to learn and practise as taught].
Direct Pointers [For] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [For The] Treasure King [Of] Samādhis
Chán Master Miàoyè
Afterword [On] ‘Practices [With] Ten Great Obstacles’
[Of] Buddhas, Patriarchs, noble [and] virtuous [ones, there are] yet [to be] with those [who did] not [practise] with opposing situations as great furnaces [and] hearths.
[In the] Buddha’s [teachings on the] Four Noble Truths, [the] truth [of] suffering [is] positioned first. Also called [are the] Eight Sufferings [of birth (生), ageing (老), sickness (病), death (死), separation from the beloved (爱别离), meeting the hated (怨憎会), not attaining the sought (求不得) and blazing of the Five Aggregates (of forms, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness) (五蕴炽盛)] as [our] eight teachers.
If slightly [with] sentiments of retaining liking [of the] favourable, [and with] hatred [of the] opposing, [this] in the end, [is] with summer grass [in winter] together rotting only. How [then are we] able [to be] like pine [and] cypress [trees], towering [and graceful] within frost [and] snow?
Beautiful [fine] jade [that is] not polished [does] not become exquisite, hard gold [that is] not forged [by fire does] not [become] refined, bells [that are] not struck [do] not toll, [and] knives [that are] not sharpened [do] not [become] sharp.
How can it be that there is [a] naturally born Maitreya [Bodhisattva, or a] naturally [arising] Śākya[muni Buddha]?
Desiring [to be] as noble [and] virtuous [ones], Buddhas [and] Patriarchs, [we] must receive harsh scoldings, [to be] as if drinking ambrosia, [when] encountering unexpected, [harsh and unreasonable] opposition, [to be] as if obtaining [the] most valuable treasures.
Then [is this] named [to, ‘as] usual, [when with] misfortune [and] difficulties, [still] do [what should be done] within misfortune [and] difficulties,’ [as stated in the ‘Doctrine Of The Mean’ (中庸)], then can [we] within [this] defiled land plant Pure Land’s causes [to be born there with the Three Provisions of Faith, Aspiration and Practice], then [are we] like lotus [flowers] arising [from the] mud, [to] transcend [this defiled land, to] ascend [Pure Land to be] non-retrogressible [in progress to Buddhahood].
If without [major opposing] matters, thus passing [the] message [of ourselves being] mindful [of] Buddha [to] seek birth [in his] Pure Land, once [there is] encounter [of what does] not accord [with our] wishes, always [with] regret [and] indignation sighing then, we fear [that] Samādhi [will] not [be] accomplished, [with] birth [in the] West[ern Pure Land] yet [to be] guaranteed.
[We] need [to], within these ten great obstacles practise, one by one [using them for] self-examination.
If, when within sickness, [and] when [with] difficulties, and even when being hindered, only increase [the sincere] mind [with] mindfulness [of] Buddha, understanding suffering [with] contemplation [of its] emptiness, not blaming [and] not resenting [anyone], so that [our] lotus buds [can by the] day [be nourished to] grow, [into what is] called [the] Treasure King [Of] Samādhis [which is the Concentration From Mindfulness Of Amitā(bha) Buddha (i.e. Āmítuófó)].
Treatise [Of The] Spirit Peak Tradition
Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì
Related Treatise Texts:
Essence Of ‘Practices With Ten Great Obstacles’
Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an