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Story of the Chinese Master Kao Feng

The Chinese Master Kao Feng entered the priesthood at the age of fifteen and was ordained at the age of twenty in the monastery of Chin Tzu.

Kao Feng comprehended that all human beings are miserable, sleeping automatons. Therefore, he proposed to “awaken his consciousness” as soon as possible by means of the science of meditation.

“First I worked under Master Tuan Chiao. He taught me to work on the Hua Tou, “Where was I before birth, and where will I be after death?” [I followed his instructions and practiced, but could not concentrate my mind because of the bifurcation in this very Hua Tou.]” —Garma C.C.Chang, The Practice of Zen (1959)

This Hua Tou divided his mind into many opinions and opposite concepts, and Kao Feng suffered unbelievably. He yearned with all of his heart and all of his soul to liberate himself from mental dualism.

It is impossible to experience reality as long as the Essence, the buddhata, the soul, continues bottled up within intellectual dualism.

Opposing opinions, the struggle between opposite concepts and antithetic ideas, correspond to the different illusory functions of the mind.

Thus, Kao Feng grievously wept tears of blood; he only aspired to free himself from the bottle of mental dualism, but he failed with the Hua Tou of Master Tuan Chiao.

The story goes on to tell of Kao Feng’s terrible anguish and desperation. He sought Master Hsueh Yen who, feeling compassion for his pain, taught him the powerful mantra Wu . Master Hsueh Yen demanded daily reports from him about his work.

The sound of the Mantra WU is chanted like the sound of the letter “W” like this, woo, woo... as if imitating a howling hurricane, amongst the boisterous waves of the furious sea.

During this exercise, the mind must be absolutely quiet and in a profound and frightful silence (both in the exterior as well as in the interior); not even the slightest desire, nor the most insignificant thought must agitate the profound lake of the mind.

“Because his explanations [Master Hsueh Yen] were so systematic and understandable, [I became so dependent on him that through negligence and laziness] I did not make any effort in my own work.” —Garma C.C.Chang, The Practice of Zen (1959)

However, Master Hsueh Yen, in spite of his accustomed sweetness, also knew how to be very severe when necessary.

“One day, when I had just entered his room, he said to me, ‘Who has dragged this corpse here for you?’ He had hardly finished this sentence when he chased me out of his room.

“Later I followed the example of Chin Shan and stayed in the meditation hall.” —Garma C.C.Chang, The Practice of Zen (1959)

The exercises of inner meditation gradually provoke the “awakening of the consciousness,” the awakening of the buddhata.

Before the internal supersensible representations, the neophyte begins to react in a very distinct, very different manner than usual. He begins saying, “I am dreaming. This is a dream.” Later, happily he exclaims, “I am out of my physical body; my physical body is asleep, but I am out of my physical body, totally cognizant and awake.”

“One day in a dream I suddenly remembered the koan, “All things are reducible to one, but to what is the one reducible?” At that moment a “doubt-sensation” abruptly arose within me so that I did not know east from west or north from south. During the sixth day in this state [unhappy mental state], while I was chanting prayers [in the Lumisial of meditation, with infinite devotion] with the assembly, I lifted my head and [clairvoyantly] saw the last two sentences of the stanza composed by the Fifth Patriarch, Fa Yan:

“‘Oh, it is you, the fellow
I have known all the time,
Who goes and returns
In the thirty thousand days of one hundred years!’

“Immediately I broke up the sentence: ‘Who has dragged this corpse here for you?’ (For it had stuck in my mind since the day Master Hsueh Yen had put it before me [it was impossible to forget].) I felt as if my spirit had been extinguished and my mind blown away and then revived again from death itself. It was like dropping the burden of a carrying pole weighing twenty pounds! I was then twenty-four years old, and so had achieved my original wish to realize Zen [the awakening of his consciousness] within three years.

“Afterwards I was asked, ‘Can you master yourself in the bright daytime?’ I answered, ‘Yes, I can.’ ‘Can you master yourself when dreaming?’ Again my answer was, ‘Yes, I can.’ ‘Where, in dreamless sleep, is the Master?’ To this question I had no answer or explanation [thus, new inner sufferings afflicted the depth of his soul]. The Master said to me, ‘From now on I do not want you to study Buddhism or learn the Dharma, nor to study anything, either old or new. I just want you to eat when you are hungry and to sleep when you are tired. As soon as you wake from sleep, alert your mind and ask yourself, ‘Who is the very Master of this awakening, and where does he rest his body and lead his life?’

“I then made up my mind [with total firmness] that I would understand this thing in one way or another even though it meant that I should appear to be an idiot for the rest of my life.” —Garma C.C.Chang, The Practice of Zen (1959)

Kao Feng was certainly a man of thelema (willpower).

Five years passed. One day, when I was questioning this matter while sleeping, my brother monk who slept beside me in the dormitory pushed his pillow so that it fell with a heavy thump to the floor. At that moment my doubts were suddenly broken up. I felt as if I had jumped out of a trap. All the pigling koans of the Masters and the Buddhas and all the different issues and events of both present and ancient times became transparently clear to me. Henceforth all things were settled; nothing under the sun remained but peace.” —Garma C.C.Chang, The Practice of Zen (1959)

At that moment, Kao Feng became enlightened.

There are two types of enlightenment: the first is usually called “dead water” because it has attachments. The second is praised as the “great life” because it is enlightenment without attachments: the Illuminating Void.

The first type of enlightenment is awakened consciousness, Self-cognizance.

The second type of enlightenment (even when in the Fourth Way) is called objective knowledge, objective consciousness; indeed, it transcends that which is called consciousness.

Therefore, the second type of enlightenment has nothing to do with the consciousness; it is the Being, and the reason for the Being to be is to be the same Being.

Kao Feng became, in fact, a Turiya, because by means of in-depth meditation he achieved absolute independence from his mind.

The world is crystallized mind; this is why it is Maya (illusion). Therefore, this world, an illusory form of the mind, will at end of the great cosmic day be reduced to cosmic dust.

Indeed, my person, your person, people, things, and creatures of all kinds do not exist. They are merely illusory mental forms that must be reduced to cosmic dust.

The only reality is Brahma, the spirit-infinite-space, within which the eternal feminine and the sacred monad are contained. All else is illusion.

In the end, we must become lost within something... millions of human beings become lost within the infernal worlds. But, the gnostics, we prefer to become lost within Brahma.

It is urgent to stop the mental contents (chitta) from acquiring diverse forms (vrittis) during profound inner meditation. When our mental waves have ceased and our intellectual lake has become calm, then the illusion produced by the waves of the opposites also ceases within us; thus, the experience of reality arrives.

When the spirit-infinite-space called Brahma assumes any shape in order to speak with his avatars, he is then Ishvara, the master of all masters; he is a very special purusha, without mind, exempt of suffering, actions, results, and desires.

Unfortunately, the only thing that the Luciferic intellect does is torment us with the incessant battle of the opposites. Kao Feng liberated himself from the mind and became a Turiya.