To enter the Great Way there are many paths, but essentially there are only two: by Principle and by Practice.
Entering the Way by Principle
Entering the Way by Principle means to awaken to the Truth through the doctrine (of zen), with a deep faith that all sentient beings have the same true nature.
[This Nature is] isn’t apparent because it’s shrouded by the fleeting dust of sensations and delusions.
If you can turn from delusions and not be seduced by sensations, abide in reality, fix the mind in “wall meditation”, understand that there’s neither self nor others, that mortals and saints are equal and one, not clinging to the scriptures — living this way without wavering, then one is truly in harmony with the Principle.
Without any real effort…
They enter by Principle.
Entering by Practice
Entering by Practice means following four practices that encompass all other practices.
They are: accepting adversity, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and acting in accordance with the Dharma.
What is the practice of accepting adversity? When you feel like you’re suffering and you’ve encountered adversity and hardship a practitioner of the Way should reflect:
“For innumerable lifetimes, I have pursued the trivial instead of the essential, drifted through all spheres of existence, created so much animosity and hatred, hurt and harmed others endlessly.
Even though now I have done no wrong that I can see, I am reaping the karmic consequences of past transgressions. I am being punished by my past.
This is something that neither gods nor men can foresee or impose upon me.
Therefore I will accept it willingly, open-heartedly, without any resentment or objection.”
The sutras says, “When you meet with hardships and adversities don’t get upset.”
How can you do that?
With this insight.
With this understanding in mind, you’re in harmony with the Principle, advancing on the path through the experience of adversity. Using the experience of your life.
This is called the practice of accepting adversity.
Adapting to Conditions
Second is the practice of adapting to conditions.
Sentient beings are without a self, being steered by karmic conditions. Suffering and joy are experienced together as a result of causes and conditions.
If you’ve been blessed by some great reward, like fame or fortune know this is because of a seed planted in the past. Any reward, blessing or honor is a consequence of past causes and conditions. When those conditions change then these blessings will end.
So what is there to be joyful about?
Savour the experience but don’t cling.
Knowing that success and failure depend on a myriad of conditions, the Mind neither gains nor loses, remaining unmoved by the winds of joy.
This is to be in harmony with the Way.
Therefore it is called the practice of adapting to conditions.
Third, to seek nothing. Ordinary people, in their perpetual ignorance, crave and form attachments to everything, everywhere. Always seeking.
The wise are awakened to the Truth, and choose reason over convention; their minds are at peace and they flow with the way.
All forms change with karma, all phenomena are empty, hence there is nothing to be desired.
Pleasure and Pain always follow each other.
This long journey in the Triple Realm is like living in a burning house.
To have a body is to experience dukkha.
How can anyone attain peace?
Those who understand this practice detachment from all mundane things and stop imagining or seeking anything.
The sutras say, “To seek is to suffer, to seek nothing is bliss.”
When you seek nothing you truly follow the Way.
This is the practice of seeking nothing.
Acting In Accordance With The Dharma
Fourth, to act in accordance with the Dharma.
The principle of intrinsic purity is the Dharma.
By this principle, all forms and characteristics are empty, without defilement and attachment, without self or others.
The sutra says, “In the Dharma there are no sentient beings, because it is free of the impurities of sentient beings. In the Dharma there is no self, because it is free of the impurities of self.”
When the wise believe in and understand this Principle, they are bound to act in accordance with the Dharma.
There is no stinginess in the Dharma, so the wise practice the giving of body, life, and possessions, with a mind free of hesitation, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment.
And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own practice they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment.
And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues.
But while practicing the six perfections to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all.
This is what’s meant by practicing the Dharma.