Increase Yet Diminish, True Yet Empty 益而损,实而空




Increase Yet Diminish, True Yet Empty

For learning, day by day increase, for [the] path, day by day diminish. Teachers virtuous [have] hearts true, Teachers noble [have] hearts empty.

(Calligraphy By The Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng)

[Note 1: The first sentence is from Lǎozi’s (老子) Dàodéjīng’s《道德经》Chapter 48 (第四十八章). In it, he wrote that, ‘For learning, day by day increase (knowledge), for the path, day by day diminish (doing). Diminishing and again diminishing, with this arriving at non-doing, with non-doing yet without that not done. Obtain heaven below (i.e. the world) constantly with non-matters, and if there are matters, this is not enough to obtain heaven below.’ (为学日益,为道日损。损之又损,以至于无为,无为而无不为。取天下常以无事,及其有事,不足以取天下。)

In other words, when learning, such as the Dharma, at first, there is increasing of knowledge, but with subsequent contemplation and practice of what learnt, practice becomes more and more natural, with less and less deliberate doing, till all that should be done is effortlessly done with great ease. This is how everything can be taken care of with non-doing, that paradoxically does everything necessary.]

[Note 2: The second sentence reminds us that out of great compassion, virtuous teachers offer the Dharma for all sentient beings, with true words and true deeds from their truly sincere hearts to lead them to enlightenment. While doing so, out of great wisdom, teachers who are enlightened (i.e. noble) do not however, cling to any single sentient being, as all beings are of emptiness, without unchanging selves in their bodies and minds.

Connecting to the first sentence, beyond students, even teachers have to increase learning and ‘diminish’ practise day by day, to become more virtuous and true, until they are noble, by realising that forms are emptiness (色即是空), emptiness is form (空即是色), and the Middle Path (中道) in between.]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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