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智悲 Wisdom and Compassion
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Wisdom and Compassion


To speak impressively does not make one an authentic spiritual practitioner. What really counts is to genuinely turn the mind toward the Dharma while casting away the mundane world.


The great Zen master Damei, after realizing the nature of the mind as pointed out by his teacher Mazu Daoyi, retreated to Mountain Siming in Zhejiang. Years later, Qi An, a salt trading officer and once his friend, learned of his whereabouts and sent emissaries to cordially invite him out. The Zen master declined the offer with these two verses:

To a ruined dead tree in chilly forest,
Many seasons of spring have brought no revival.
Even passing woodcutters heed it not,
Why do you, the man of Ying County, still pursue me so hard?

By describing himself as a useless dead tree, he declined the offer politely. And:

Clothing is plenty from the lotus leaves in the pond,
Food is abundant among pine berries and flowers.
My hideout will be moved deeper into the woods,
As the old one has just been exposed to visitors.


These verses clearly show that he has firmly denounced the secular world; let there be spring flowers or the autumn moon, his heart will not be enticed into blossoming or sprouting. All his seven earthly emotions and the six sensory pleasures have been thoroughly cleansed away. He is content with wearing lotus leaves and eating pine berries. This imposing manner of his—transcending the three realms, free from the five aggregates, and unshakable by mundane affairs—is truly the conduct of a great practitioner. I feel deeply humbled when reflecting upon it.


Khenpo Choja of Sertha Huoxi was exactly like this. Following his teacher’s footsteps, he went to Shiqu for Dharma teachings. Just like the great Kadampa masters, all his life he denounced fame, wealth, profit, and power; his dwelling in Huoxi for decades was a shabby room made from wood planks. Although his life was extremely difficult, he was worry-free and carefree; he practiced persistently until his final days. Once he said: “With wisdom, a genuine practitioner clings to nothing and his compassion for sentient beings arises effortlessly. Having wisdom and compassion, all the essence in the sutra and tantra is within reach. Missing them, he will easily revert to scheming for personal gain, even if a few days earlier he has just given big talks on altruism and doing a retreat.” Longchenpa the Omniscient also says: “Your training should bring a change in you as noticeable as if you had worn your clothes the wrong way.” Therefore, without wisdom and compassion, no amount of talk means anything. Bear this in mind!


Early morning, 12thof January, Year of RenWu
February 24, 2002

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