Buddha had expounded the three Prajnas: Prajna of listening, Prajna
of contemplation, and Prajna of meditation. Prajna of listening is what we hear or
learn from our masters or scholars. From learning, we are able to understand the excellent
things that the Buddha had taught us and they still are inscribed in the Buddhist
scriptures. But it's not enough for us to fully discern our true nature by only understanding
the Buddha's teachings through the masters' lectures. We need to contemplate the Buddha's
teachings in order to understand them thoroughly. After fully understanding the concepts,
we should apply them in our daily life. This is called the Prajna of meditation. It's
the same that an ill person needs to be examined by a doctor first, then he/she has
to evaluate the doctor's diagnosis. When he/she knows for sure that he/she needs to
buy certain medication for his/her treatment, he/she buys it and takes it. If he/she
follows the instructions correctly, he/she should be cured. Thus, even though the
doctor gives the right diagnosis and you agree with it, you still can't terminate
the illness if you don't buy the medication. It's the same for listening, contemplation,
and practice. If we listen and contemplate, but we don't practice, we won't be able
to terminate suffering. The intention of this book of "The Rules of Purification"
is to assist the monks and nuns succeed in the practice after they complete the first
two steps: listening and contemplation.
Our practice could be done in various forms such as thinking, speaking, and acting.
A practical example is the Six Harmonies. Besides, we have to let go all bad karmas
of the past and present. We have to observe the Ten precepts as our basic practice.
In order to adapt ourselves to the lifestyle at monasteries and to get along with
practitioners, we must exercise the additional precepts of Internal Rules. To progress
in our practice, we must sincerely practice the Rite of Repentance each night so that
our transgressions from previous lifetimes and this life could be terminated.
Our focus at monasteries is practicing zen (meditation). All students at these places
should consider meditation as their life. Therefore, in four postures of meditation,
they are always in awareness. Though, to fully fulfill it, they need those times of
sitting meditation. The zen practicing method that has been excercised by the students
at monasteries is the practicing method that was combined by the practicing methods
of Patriarch Hui Ko, Hui Neng, and The Great Teacher of Bamboo Grove (Truc Lam Dau
Da). Thus, this book of "The Rules of Purification" should be used and enforced at
March 25, 1999
Zen Master Thich Thanh Tu
Rector of Truc Lam Monastery