Simply to maintain the practice day by day: only this is the right way to repay our gratitude. The principle here is to maintain the practice so that the life of every day is not neglected, and not wasted on private pursuits. For what reason? [Because] this life of ours is a blessing left over from past maintenance of the practice; it is a great favor bestowed by maintenance of the practice, which we should hasten to repay. How lamentable, how shameful, it would be, to turn skeletons whose life has been realized through a share of the virtue of the Buddhist patriarchs’ maintenance of the practice into the idle playthings of wives and children, to abandon them to the trifling of wives and children, without regret for breaking [precepts] and debasing [pure conduct]. It is out of wrongness and madness that [people] give over their body and life to the demons of fame and profit. Fame and profit are the one great enemy. If we are to assign weight to fame and profit, we should really appreciate fame and profit. Really to appreciate fame and profit means never to entrust to fame and profit, and thereby cause to be destroyed, the body and life that might become a Buddhist patriarch. Appreciation of wives, children, and relatives also should be like this. Do not study fame and profit as phantoms in a dream or flowers in space: study them as they are to living beings. Do not accumulate wrongs and retribution because you have failed to appreciate fame and profit. When the right eyes of learning in practice widely survey all directions, they should be like this.
Even a worldly person who has any human feeling, on receiving charity through gold, silver, or precious goods, will return the kindness. The friendliness of gentle words and a gentle voice spurs, in all who have a heart, the goodwill to return the kindness. What kind of human being could ever forget the great blessing of seeing and hearing the Tathāgata’s supreme right Dharma? Never to forget this [blessing] is itself a lifelong treasure. A skeleton or a skull that has never regressed or strayed in this maintenance of the practice has—at the time of life and at the time of death equally—such virtue that it deserves to be kept in a stupa of the seven treasures, and to be served offerings by all human beings and gods. Having recognized that we hold such a great debt of gratitude, we should without fail, without letting our life of dew-on-grass fall in vain, wholeheartedly repay the mountainlike virtue [of the Second Patriarch]. This is maintaining the practice. The merit of this maintaining the practice is already present in us who are maintaining the practice as patriarch or buddha. In conclusion, the First Patriarch and the Second Patriarch never founded a temple; they were free from the complicated business of mowing undergrowth, and the Third Patriarch and the Fourth Patriarch were also like that. The Fifth Patriarch and the Sixth Patriarch did not establish their own tem- ples, and Seigen and Nangaku were also like that.