At that time, the Buddhadharma seemed to exist in China, but it really did not. It was as if it were and yet weren't there. That is because the work being done was superficial. There were few who recited Sutras, investigated the Sutra texts, or explained the Sutras, and virtually no one bowed repentance ceremonies. Ordinary scholars regarded Buddhism as a field of study and engaged in debates and discussions about it. But the principles in the Sutras should be cultivated! However, nobody was cultivating. Why not?
People were afraid of suffering. No one truly meditated. Well, there was Venerable Patriarch Zhi, who practiced meditation and attained the Five Eyes. But most people feared suffering and didn't cultivate. No one seriously investigated Chan and sat in meditation, just like you people now who sit in meditation for a while until your legs begin to hurt. When their legs began to ache, they would wince and fidget and then gently unbend and rub them. People are just people and everyone avoids suffering as much as possible. That's the way it was then; that's the way it is now. That's called Buddhadharma seeming to be there but not really being there.