Monkey's Secret Teaching

To spare and tend the vital powers (of energy, breath, and mind),
this and nothing else is sum total of all magic, secret and profane.

Guard closely, screen thoroughly; let there be no leakage;
and store them within thy frame.
That is all that can be learnt, all that can be taught.

Mark well the tortoise and snake locked in tight embrace;
even in the midst of fierce flames the Golden Lotus may be planted.

The Five Elements compounded, transposed, and put to a new use;
when that is done be which you please, Buddha or Immortal.

Received from the Patriarch Subhuti
deep within the innermost recesses of
the Cave of the Slanting Moon and Three Stars
as found upon the Sacred Terrace Mountain

(The poem is adapted from the classic translation of Monkey by Sir Arthur Waley.)

As an unorganized organization we too are like the great uncarved block of Chuang Tsu. No matter how much is carved, its potential lies in that which is uncarved. Carved / shaped / formed: uncarved, shapeless, unformed, these are the attributes of the Tao. And these are found in direct proximity with the carved, shaped, formed. One who carves too much is hiding the Tao; one who does not carve at all is hiding from the Tao. Emptiness and form are not two. This is extremely dynamic, and every moment that arises is it.

Is what? Buddha potental. The potential for infinite spring, infinite summer, infinite autumn, infinite winter, all within the dewdrop of a moment's breath. Entrance too can be found into that one moment of eternal time endless space. Having found this, Bodhisattvas delight to work tirelessly for the sake of all beings.

The term Five Elements has been more recently translated as the Five Stages of Change or the Five Transformation Phases.* It refers to the various modes of mind/energy moving and unmoving. This in turn is intimately connected to the issuance and absorption of breath, which determines and empowers the energy cycles that stir gods, demons, and men.

* The latter term is used by Manfred Porkert, M.D., in his books Chinese Medicine, and the Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine.

People today do not really talk about such things, considering it to be superstition. The Tao, the Dharma, superstition. Become a Buddha or Immortal is superstition.

That rejuvenating cooless of the Tao, sweet dew of the Dharma, is not possessed by the world. Science & Technology cannot cure the ills it propagates. Logic driven by attachment, hatred, and delusion cannot remove the bad consequences that it engenders.

Not only just for ourself, but also for the sake of all sentient beings, we need these secret teachings. They are found in the stillness of cool wooded groves on sacred terraces, and fully revealed deep in the cave of the slanting moon and three stars.

Green Tara -- SavioressThere we obtain the amrita [delicious ambrosia of deathlessness] of Green Tara the Savioress. She, the blossom of the eye (born from the teardrop) of Avalokitesvara, is the essence of compassion who transports one from the raging inferno to the coolness of her wooded grove.

Green Tara, Central Tibet, latter part of 13th cent., approx. 32x28 inches.
The Cleveland Museum of Art. Purchase from J. H. Wade Fund.

-- Norman Guberman

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