The Samadhi Treatise of the Treasure King

I remember seeing a different version of this in the Jogyesa magazine some years ago, but what follows is a fresh new translation by Chong Go Sunim which I first saw at one of our Saturday discussions in the Buddhist English Library of Seoul. Chong Go Sunim later gave me permission to publish his translation on my online journal, but this website is a much better place for it. 

The Samadhi Treatise of the Treasure King was originally written in China by Miaoxie in the 1390’s, but, though written in the Zen tradition as advice for those engaged in meditative practice, its wider application is fairly obvious. This is advice for everyone, monks and laypeople, Zen and Pure Land, Buddhists and beyond, it is good advice, surely, for all people everywhere.

Thank you again to Chong Go Sunim for kindly making this available to us.

The Samadhi Treatise of the Treasure King

1. Don’t desire perfect health. Perfect health can easily increase one’s greed and arrogance. Instead, let your suffering become medicine.

2. Don’t hope for a life free from hardships. Such a life would only increase your self-indulgence and contempt for others. Accept the worries and difficulties that come your way.

3. Don’t expect that your practice will be free of difficulties. Without difficulties, you could never learn anything. Obtain liberation in the midst of obstacles.

4. Don’t expect that you can practice hard and not experience temptations. A lack of temptations will only soften your resolve. See demons as friends who have come to help you along the Way.

5. Don’t hope for easy success. Easy accomplishment tends to make one careless. Instead, accomplish your goal by persisting and persisting.

6. Make friends, but don’t expect any benefit for yourself. Pursuing your own benefit damages trust. Maintain long-term friendship through integrity.

7. Don’t hope that others will agree with you or follow your leadership. This desire only increases your arrogance. Those who disagree with you are the ones who help build your character.

8. Don’t expect to be rewarded for your kindness. This leads to scheming. Throw out the expectation of rewards like you’d throw out an old shoe.

9. Don’t desire more than you’ve earned. Chasing after more than you’re entitled to gives rise to stupidity. Become rich through modest profits.

10. When you suffer unfairness and mistreatment, don’t dwell on it or try to expose it for everyone to see. This leads only to resentment and poisons the heart. Consider mistreatment the materials for making progress in your spiritual practice.

Progress in spiritual practice becomes possible when you are confronted by obstacles and hardships. Whereas no growth is possible where there are no obstacles. It was in the midst of hindrances that the Buddha realized supreme enlightenment.

Angulimalya committed terrible acts, and Devadatta and his followers rebelled against the Buddha, but nonetheless, the Buddha guaranteed that even they would one day be able to attain enlightenment. If even people like these are able to awaken, how can you claim that the things that offend and trouble you will prevent Liberation? Rather these will speed you on your way; through them you can make quicker progress. If you want to obtain the great treasure, you must face what confronts you and embrace it with wisdom.

8 thoughts on “The Samadhi Treatise of the Treasure King”

  1. I used to have this posted on my fridge so I could see it every day. At that time, the first five admonitions seemed most applicable. Nowadays, I wrestle more frequently with the last five. Thanks for posting this clear-eyed teaching!

    Barry

  2. I think ChongGo Sunim handed these out on my first visit to the group! I’ve been thinking about writing a post on them for a while, thank you Marcus!

    What I really appreciate about them is how against our usual way of thinking they are. But, once you see the reason in them, they are quite profound!

  3. Yes, I remember when I first saw this and that first line “Don’t desire perfect health” making absolutely no sense to me at all! It took me a long time to see the deep wisdom in it.

    Like you say Barry, there’s always something new to wrestle with in this. It must be, like Joseph says, the way that it challenges our normal ways of thinking so dramatically.

    Printing it off for the fridge door is a great idea. I think I’ll do just that. And writing a little about it is a fabulous idea. I’ll join you Joseph if I may and do the same too!

    And thank you again Chong Go Sunim for making this wonderful translation available to us. A real gift. Thank you.

  4. these words are nice but they are quite depressing. To many don’t… definetely not something to look at everyday.
    Spiritual practice is kind of a natural process. Always thinking about don’ts is gonna make you break those rules eventually, it is kind of prison. I am not saying that you just do the opposite of what is written there, I am saying that more positive and more productive way is much more useful, like relying on your foundation in everything, that would naturally lead you in the right direction.
    I know very nice words to put on a fridge door:

    Juingong, I would not forget that you are my origin
    Juingong, I would not forget that you are doing everything I do
    Juingong, I would not forget that everything in the universe is the manifestation of you.

    Very liberating

    I probably should stop bothering you on your website

  5. Hi Tanya,

    It’s no bother mate!

    But, you know, if you don’t like the ‘don’ts’, you can simply remove them! LOL! Look what you are left with:

    1. Let your suffering become medicine.
    2. Accept the worries and difficulties that come your way.
    3. Obtain liberation in the midst of obstacles.
    4. See demons as friends who have come to help you along the Way.
    5. Accomplish your goal by persisting and persisting.
    6. Maintain long-term friendship through integrity.
    7. Those who disagree with you are the ones who help build your character.
    8. Throw out the expectation of rewards like you’d throw out an old shoe.
    9. Become rich through modest profits.
    10. Consider mistreatment the materials for making progress in your spiritual practice.

    There’s no contradiction here Tanya with relying upon one’s fundamental nature. If anything, these are instructions in just that!

    Marcus

    _/\_

  6. Hi Tanya,
    I agree that things like these could get oppressive if you focused too much energy on them, but the reason I like teachings like this is because they point out mistaken ways of thinking. They address attitudes and thoughts that are often so close to us that we don’t even realize we have them, or that we haven’t really examined closely.

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