Zen Wisdom 248

Sometimes Ch'an teachings seem schizophrenic. Ch'an is very practical. It says you shouldn't rely on anything, but in the next breath it talks about ghosts and deities, heavens and hells. These are not familiar sights. Bodhisattvas are the hardest of all to believe in. Supposedly they are beings who can incarnate in innumerable forms in innumerable places in the same instant. It takes a stretch of the imagination to accept this. And then after all of this, Ch'an says everything is illusion.


Everything you say is true. And you don't have to "die" and come back to life to experience the supernatural. Even when one meditates one can experience things that are beyond the ordinary. For example, suppose you are meditating deeply and in your mind you see a beautiful picture; then you enter the picture and play around in the new world. This is also a function of the sixth consciousness.

Experiences can be objectively real, but they have to filter through the sixth consciousness. Therefore they are subjective and not entirely reliable. Indeed, the sixth consciousness itself is unreliable. Buddhism does not deny the existence of ghosts, deities, heavens, hells and bodhisattvas. However, as long as you perceive and interpret the world through the sixth consciousness, everything you experience will be illusory. This right now is illusory. If you want to experience the world clearly, directly, practice Ch'an.