The great Way communicated one-to-one by the buddha-ancestors is imparting of the message. Those who lack the learning in practice of the buddha-ancestors have never seen it even in a dream. With respect to its timing, the message is imparted even to those who have yet to rouse the bodhi-mind. The message is imparted to those without the buddha-nature and to those who possess the buddha-nature. The message is imparted to those with bodies and to those without bodies. The message is imparted to buddhas. The buddhas maintain, and leave be, the message imparted by the buddhas. Do not learn that buddha becomes buddha after getting the message, and do not learn that buddha gets the message after becoming buddha. During the very imparting of the message it is possible to become buddha. During the very imparting of the message it is possible to practise. On this basis, imparting of the message happens in those who are buddhas, and imparting of the message happens in that which is buddha going on up. The message is imparted through the self, through the body-mind. When we are well versed and greatly skilled in imparting the message, we are well versed and greatly skilled in the Buddha-Way. Imparting of the message happens before we have come back to our back, and it happens after we have come back to our back. There is imparting of messages that the self knows about, and there is imparting of messages that the self knows nothing about. There is imparting of messages about which others are made aware, and there is imparting of messages about which others are left in the dark. Remember, it is imparting of messages that has realized the self, and imparting of messages is the self that has been realized. Thus, what the buddhas and the ancestors have got from each other, direct successor from direct successor, is nothing but imparting of messages. Not a single thing in Sitting exists that is not imparting the message. How much less could mountains and rivers, the Earth, Sumeru, or the vast oceans, exist? No third son of Chang or fourth son of Lee exists at all -- not a single one, nor even half of one. Imparting of the message, investigated like this, is being able to speak one phrase that expresses the Buddha's enlightenment and is being able to listen to that one phrase. It is not understanding that one phrase and is grasping what that one phrase really means. It is going in the groove. It is laying it on the line. It directs the backward step and it directs forward steps. Our being able to sit now wearing the robe could never have happened without traditional getting of the message. It is because we join hands and receive it on our head that what is realized is imparting of the message. The Buddha said, There are many kinds of situation in which the message is imparted, but in brief there are eight kinds, namely:
1) the subject knows, others do not know;
2) everybody else knows, the subject does not know;
3) both the subject and everybody else knows;
4) neither the subject nor everybody else knows;
5) those who are close to it wake up to it, those who are far do not;
6) those who keep a distance from it wake up to it; those who are close do not;
7) both groups wake up to it;
8) neither group wakes up.
Another sutra says, "Sometimes the near know, sometimes the far know, sometimes both far and near know, sometimes neither near nor far know."
Imparting of the message happens like this. So do not jump to the conclusion that, just because it is beyond the recognition of our present soul in a stinking bag of skin, we cannot impart the message. And do not say that the message cannot easily be imparted to an individual who is not yet enlightened. What has usually been studied, in accordance with common sense, is that a prophecy may be imparted at a time when the merit of practice is fulfilled and becoming buddha is assured. But the Buddha-Way is not that. To have heard one phrase, whether from a good mate or from a scroll of the sutras, is just to have got the message.