Summary [of] ‘Practices [With] Ten Great Obstacles’ [from] ‘Direct Pointers [For] Mindfulness [Of] Buddha [For The] Treasure King [Of] Samādhis’ [by] Chán Master Miàoyè
[1A] First, [being] mindful [of the] body, not seeking [to be] without sickness. [1B] [If the] body [is] without sickness, thus [will] greedy desires then arise. [1C] [If] greedy desires arise, definitely [will they lead to] breaking [of] precepts [and] retrogression [on the] path. [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. [1E] With suffering [of] sickness, [regard it] as good medicine.
[2A] Second, conducting [oneself in] society, not seeking [to be] without difficulties. [2B] [If] life [is] without difficulties, thus [will] arrogance [and] extravagance definitely arise. [2C] [If] arrogance [and] extravagance arise, [one will] definitely push around all [others]. [2D] Clearly understanding difficult situations, [observing and] experiencing difficulties [to] fundamentally [be] illusory, how [are these] difficulties also [able to] harm? [2E] With misfortune [and] difficulties, [regard them] as liberation.
[3A] Third, examining [the] mind, not seeking [to be] without obstacles. [3B] [If the] mind [is] without obstacles, thus [will] that learnt skip necessary steps. [3C] [If that] learnt skipped necessary steps, definitely [will that] yet attained [be] said [as] attained. [3D] Understanding obstacles [to be] without roots, immediately [will] obstacles self-extinguish, [with] obstacles not [experienced] as obstacles. [3E] With obstacles, [regard them] as freedom without fetters.
[4A] Fourth, establishing practices, not seeking [to be] without [the] demonic. [4B] [If] practice [is] without demonic [difficulties], thus [will] vows not [be] resolute. [4C] [If] vows [are] not resolute, definitely [will that] yet realised [be] said [as] realised. [4D] Realising demons [are] illusory, examining demons [to be] without roots, how [are] demons able [to] disturb? [4E] With demonic hordes, [regard them] as Dharma companions.
[5A] Fifth, planning matters, not seeking [them to be] easily accomplished. [5B] [If] matters [are] easily accomplished, thus [will] aspiration become slighting [of others]. [5C] [If with] aspiration [that] slights [others], definitely [will there be] praise [of] oneself [to] possess capabilities. [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]. [5E] With matters’ difficulties, [regard them] as peace [and] bliss.
[6A] Sixth, [in] friendly relationships, not seeking [to] benefit oneself. [6B] [If] relationships benefit me, thus [will there be] loss [of] righteousness [and] justice. [6C] [If] losing righteousness [and] justice, definitely [will there be] seeing [of] others’ wrongs. [6D] Examining relationships [to] have causes, of relationships, [they are] difficult [to] forcibly [seek, as] relationships still rely [upon] conditions. [6E] With disadvantageous relationships, [regard them] as provisions.
[7A] Seventh, of people, not seeking [the] agreeable. [7B] [If] people [are] agreeable, thus [will the] mind within [have] self-boasting. [7C] [If] self-boasting, definitely [will there] be attachment [to] one’s ‘rightness’. [7D] Realise [that of] people conducting [themselves in] society, contemplate people [to be with] illusory [good and bad] behaviour, [that] people [are] only [for] repayment [of their (past and present) kindness]. [7E] With opposing people, [regard them] as gardens [for planting seeds of meritorious virtues, by practising patience, understanding, forgiveness and such].
[8A] Eighth, [practising the] virtue [of] generosity, not seeking [or] hoping [for] repayment. [8B] [If with] virtues, hoping [for] repayment, thus [will the] mind have that schemed [after]. [8C] [If the] mind has scheming, definitely [will there be one’s] ‘illustrious’ name desired [to be] praised. [8D] Clearly knowing [that] virtues [are] without [self-]nature, reflect [that as] virtues [are] not permanent, virtues [are] also not real. [8E] With [the] marketplace’s ‘virtues’ [for worldly benefits, regard them] as thrown away shoes.
[9A] Ninth, seeing benefits, not seeking receiving [of them in] part. [9B] [If with] benefits received [in] part, thus [will the] deluded mind definitely [be] moved. [9C] [If the] deluded mind moves, definitely [will greed for] evil benefits destroy oneself. [9D] [Knowing] worldly benefits [are] fundamentally empty, [with] desires [for worldly] benefits giving rise [to] afflictions, [of these] benefits, do not inappropriately seek [them]. [9E] With distancing [from] benefits, [regard this] as wealth [and] honour.
[10A] Tenth, being hindered, not seeking [to] declare [so]. [10B] [If] hindered [and] declaring [so], thus [are] others [and] self yet [to be] forgotten. [10C] [If] harbouring [the] mind [of] others [and] self, definitely [will] grudges [and] hatred breed. [10D] Receiving hindrances [and] able [to] endure [them, with] enduring [of] hindrances as humility, how [can these] hindrances harm me? [10E] With receiving [of] hindrances, [regard them] as doors [of] practice.
Pure Land Tradition’s 9th Patriarch Great Master Ǒuyì’s ‘Afterword [On] “Practices [With] Ten Great Obstacles” [from] ‘Treatise [Of The] Spirit Peak Tradition’
[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] hating [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 [there] be [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, then ‘driving’ mindfulness [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)]!
Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an