六祖法宝坛经（英文正规版）The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra
【三藏十二部 经 律 论 正法幢佛陀正法眼藏】
The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra
Translated into English by Buddhist Text Translation Society
Verse for Opening a Sutra
The unsurpassed, profound, and wonderful Dharma,
Is difficult to encounter in hundreds of millions of eons,
I now see and hear it, receive and uphold it,
And I vow to fathom the Tathagata’s true meaning.
1. ACTION AND INTENTION
At one time the Great Master arrived at Pao Lin. Magistrate Wei Ch’ü of Shao Chou and other local officials climbed the mountain and invited the Master to come into the city to the lecture hall of the Ta Fan Temple to speak the Dharma to the assembly.
When the Master had taken his seat, the Magistrate and over thirty other officials, more than thirty Confucian scholars, and more than one thousand Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Taoists, and laypeople, all made obeisance at the same time, wishing to hear the essentials of Dharma.
The Great Master said to the assembly, “Good Knowing Advisors, the self-nature of Bodhi is originally clear and pure. Simply use that mind, and you will straightaway accomplish Buddhahood. Good Knowing Advisors, listen while I tell you about the actions and intentions by which Hui Neng obtained the Dharma.”
“Hui Neng’s stern father was originally from Fan Yang. He was banished to Hsin Chou in Ling Nan, where he became a commoner. Unfortunately, his father soon died, and his aging mother was left alone. They moved to Nan Hai and, poor and in bitter straits, Hui Neng sold wood in the market place.”
Once a customer bought firewood and ordered it delivered to his shop. When the delivery had been made, and Hui Neng had received the money, he went outside the gate, where he noticed a customer reciting a Sutra. Upon once hearing the words of this Sutra: “One should produce that thought which is nowhere supported.” Hui Neng’s mind immediately opened to enlightenment.
Thereupon he asked the customer what Sutra he was reciting. The customer replied, “The Diamond Sutra.”
Then again he asked, “Where do you come from, and why do you recite this Sutra?”
The customer said, “I come from Tung Ch’an Monastery in Ch’i Chou, Huang Mei Province. There the Fifth Patriarch, the Great Master Hung Jen dwells, teaching over one thousand disciples. I went there to make obeisance and heard and received this Sutra.”
“The Great Master constantly exhorts the Sangha and laity only to uphold The Diamond Sutra. Then, they may see their own nature and straightaway achieve Buddhahood.”
Hui Neng heard this and desired to go and seek the Dharma, but he recalled that his mother had no support.
From past lives there were karmic conditions which led another man to give Hui Neng a pound of silver, so that he could provide clothing and food for his aging mother. The man instructed him further to go to Huang Mei to call upon and bow to the Fifth Patriarch.
After Hui Neng had made arrangements for his mother’s welfare, he took his leave. In less than thirty days he arrived at Huang Mei and made obeisance to the Fifth Patriarch, who asked him, “Where are you from and what do you seek?”
Hui Neng replied, “Your disciple is a commoner from Hsin Chou in Ling Nan and comes from afar to bow to the Master, seeking only to be a Buddha, and nothing else.”
The Patriarch said, “You are from Ling Nan and are therefore a barbarian, so how can you become a Buddha?”
Hui Neng said, “Although there are people from the north and people from the south, there is ultimately no north or south in the Buddha nature. The body of the barbarian and that of the High Master are not the same, but what distinction is there in the Buddha nature?”
The Fifth Patriarch wished to continue the conversation, but seeing his disciples gathering on all sides, he ordered his visitor to follow the group off to work. Hui Neng said, “Hui Neng informs the High Master that this disciple’s mind constantly produces wisdom and is not separate from the self nature. That, itself, is the field of blessing. It has not yet been decided what work the High Master will instruct me to do.”
The Fifth Patriarch said, “Barbarian, your faculties are too sharp. Do not speak further, but go to the back courtyard.” Hui Neng withdrew to the back courtyard where a cultivator ordered him to split firewood and thresh rice.
More than eight months had passed when the Patriarch one day suddenly saw Hui Neng and said, “I think these views of yours can be of use but fear that evil people may harm you. For that reason I have not spoken with you. Did you understand the situation?”
Hui Neng replied, “Your disciple knew the Master’s intention and has stayed out of the front hall, so that others might not notice him.”
One day the Patriarch summoned his disciples together and said, “I have something to say to you: for people in the world, the matter of birth and death is a great one.
“All day long you seek fields of blessings only; you do not try to get out of the bitter sea of birth and death. If you are confused about your self-nature, how can blessings save you?”
“Each of you go back and look into your own wisdom and use the Prajna-nature of your own original mind to compose a verse. Submit it to me so that I may look at it.
“If you understand the great meaning, the robe and Dharma will be passed on to you and you will become the sixth patriarch. Hurry off! Do not delay! Thinking and considering is of no use in this matter. When seeing your own nature it is necessary to see it at the very moment of speaking. One who does that perceives as does one who wields a sword in the height of battle.”
The assembly received this order and withdrew, saying to one another, “We of the assembly do not need to clear our minds and use our intellect to compose a verse to submit to the High Master. What use would there be in this?”
“Shen Hsiu is our senior instructor and teaching transmitter. Certainly he should be the one to obtain it. It would be not only improper for us to compose a verse, but a waste of effort as well.”
Hearing this, everyone put his mind to rest, and said, “Henceforth, we will rely on Master Shen Hsiu. Why vex ourselves writing verses?”
Shen Hsiu then thought, “The others are not submitting verses because I am their teaching transmitter. I must compose a verse and submit it to the High Master.
“If I do not submit a verse, how will the High Master know whether the views and understanding in my mind are deep or shallow?
“If my intention in submitting the verse is to seek the Dharma, that is good. But if it is to grasp the patriarchate, that is bad, for how would that be different from the mind of a common person coveting the holy position? But, if I do not submit a verse, in the end I will not obtain the Dharma. This is a terrible difficulty!”
In front of the Fifth Patriarch’s hall were three corridors. Their walls were to be frescoed by Court Artist Lu Chen with stories from the Lankavatara Sutra and with pictures portraying in detail the lives of the five patriarchs, so that the patriarchs might be venerated by future generations.
After composing his verse, Shen Hsiu made several attempts to submit it. But whenever he reached the front hall, his mind became agitated and distraught, and his entire body became covered with perspiration. He did not dare submit it, although in the course of four days he made thirteen attempts.
Then he thought, “This is not as good as writing it on the wall so that the High Master might see it suddenly. If he says it is good, I will come forward, bow, and say, ‘Hsiu did it.’ If it does not pass, then I have spent my years on this mountain in vain, receiving veneration from others. And as to further cultivation–what can I say?”
That night, in the third watch, holding a candle he secretly wrote the verse on the wall of the South corridor, to show what his mind had seen.
The body is a Bodhi tree,
The mind like a bright mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean,
And let no dust alight.
After writing this verse, Shen Hsiu returned to his room, and the others did not know what he had done.
Then he thought, “If the Fifth Patriarch sees the verse tomorrow and is pleased, it will mean that I have an affinity with the Dharma. If he says that it does not pass, it will mean that I am confused by heavy karmic obstacles from past lives, and that I am not fit to obtain the Dharma. It is difficult to fathom the sage’s intentions.”
In his room he thought it over and could not sit or sleep peacefully right through to the fifth watch.
The Patriarch already knew that Shen Hsiu had not yet entered the gate and seen his own nature. At daybreak, the Patriarch called Court Artist Lu Chen to fresco the wall of the south corridor. Suddenly he saw the verse and said to the court artist, “There is no need to paint. I am sorry that you have been wearied by coming so far, but The Diamond Sutra says, ‘Whatever has marks is empty and false.’ Instead leave this verse for people to recite and uphold. Those who cultivate in accordance with this verse will not fall into the evil destinies and will attain great merit.”
He then ordered the disciples to light incense and bow before it, and to recite it, thus enabling them to see their own nature. The disciples all recited it and exclaimed, “Excellent!”
At the third watch, the Patriarch called Shen Hsiu into the hall and asked him, “Did you write this verse?”
Shen Hsiu said, “Yes, in fact, Hsiu did it. He does not dare lay claim to the position of Patriarch, but hopes the High Master will be compassionate and see whether or not this disciple has a little bit of wisdom.”
The Patriarch said, “The verse which you wrote shows that you have not yet seen your original nature but are still outside the gate. With such views and understanding you may seek supreme Bodhi, but in the end will not obtain it. Supreme Bodhi must be obtained at the very moment of speaking. In recognizing the original mind, at all times, in every thought, you yourself will see that the ten thousand Dharmas are unblocked; in one truth is all truth and the ten thousand states are of themselves ‘thus,’ as they are. The ‘thusness’ of the mind, just that is true reality. If seen in this way, it is indeed the self nature of supreme Bodhi.”
“Go and think it over for a day or two. Compose another verse and bring it to me to see. If you have been able to enter the gate, I will transmit the robe and Dharma to you.”
Shen Hsiu made obeisance and left. Several days passed, but he was unable to compose a verse. His mind was agitated and confused and his thoughts and mood were uneasy. He was as if in a dream; whether walking or sitting down, he could not be happy.
Two days later, a young boy chanting that verse passed by the threshing room. Hearing it for the first time, Hui Neng knew that the writer had not yet seen his original nature. Although he had not yet received a transmission of the teaching, he already understood its profound meaning. He asked the boy, “What verse are you reciting?”
“Barbarian, you know nothing,” replied the boy. “The Great Master has said that birth and death are a profound concern for people in the world. Desiring to transmit the robe and Dharma, he ordered his disciples to compose verses and bring them to him to see. The person who has awakened to the profound meaning will inherit the robe and Dharma and become the Sixth Patriarch. Our senior, Shen Hsiu, wrote this ‘verse without marks’ on the wall of the south corridor. The Great Master ordered everyone to recite it, for to cultivate in accord with this verse is to avoid falling into the evil destinies and is of great merit.”
Hui Neng said, “I, too, would like to recite it to create an affinity. Superior One, I have been pounding rice here for over eight months and have not yet been to the front hall. I hope that the Superior One will lead me before the verse to pay homage.” The boy then led him to the verse to bow.
Hui Neng said, “Hui Neng cannot read. Please, Superior One, read it to me.” Then an official from Chiang Chou, named Chang Jih Yung, read it loudly. After hearing it, Hui Neng said, “I, too, have a verse. Will the official please write it for me?”
The official replied, “You, too, can write a verse? That is strange!”
Hui Neng said to the official, “If you wish to study the supreme Bodhi, do not slight the beginner. The lowest people may have the highest wisdom; the highest people may have the least wisdom. If you slight others, you create limitless, unbounded offenses.”
The official said, “Recite your verse and I will write it out for you. If you obtain the Dharma you must take me across first. Do not forget these words.”
Hui Neng’s verse reads:
Originally Bodhi has no tree,
The bright mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a single thing:
Where can dust alight?
When this verse had been written, the followers all were startled and without exception cried out to one another, “Strange indeed! One cannot judge a person by his appearance. How can it be that, after so little time, he has become a Bodhisattva in the flesh?”
The Fifth Patriarch saw the astonished assembly and feared that they might become dangerous. Accordingly, he erased the verse with his shoe saying, “This one, too, has not yet seen his nature.”
The assembly agreed.
The next day the Patriarch secretly came to the threshing floor where he saw Hui Neng pounding rice with a stone tied around his waist, and he said, “A seeker of the Way would forget his very life for the Dharma. Is this not the case?”
Then the Fifth Patriarch asked, “Is the rice ready?”
Hui Neng replied, “The rice has long been ready. It is now waiting only for the sieve.”
The Patriarch rapped the pestle three times with his staff and left. Hui Neng then knew the Patriarch’s intention, and at the third watch he went into the Patriarch’s room.
The Patriarch covered them with his precept sash so they could not be seen, and he explained The Diamond Sutra for him down to the line, “One should produce a thought that is nowhere supported.”
At the moment he heard those words, Hui Neng experienced the great enlightenment and he knew that all the ten thousand dharmas are not separate from the self-nature. He said to the Patriarch:
How unexpected! The self-nature is originally pure in itself.
How unexpected! The self-nature is originally neither produced nor destroyed.
How unexpected! The self-nature is originally complete in itself.
How unexpected! The self-nature is originally without movement.
How unexpected! The self-nature can produce the ten thousand dharmas.
The Fifth Patriarch knew of Hui Neng’s enlightenment to his original nature and said to him, “Studying the Dharma without recognizing the original mind is of no benefit. If one recognizes one’s own original mind and sees one’s original nature, then one is called a great hero, a teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha.”
He received the Dharma in the third watch and no one knew about it. The Fifth Patriarch also transmitted the Sudden Teaching and the robe and bowl saying, “You are the Sixth Patriarch. Protect yourself carefully. Take living beings across by every method and spread the teaching for the sake of those who will live in the future. Do not let it be cut off.”
Listen to my verse:
With feeling comes the planting of the seed.
Because of the ground, the fruit is born again.
Without feeling there is no seed at all.
Without that nature there is no birth either.
The Patriarch further said, “In the past, when the First Patriarch Great Master Bodhidharma first came to this land and people did not believe in him yet, he transmitted this robe as a symbol of faith to be handed down from generation to generation. The Dharma is transmitted from mind to mind, leading everyone to self-awakening and self-enlightenment.
“From ancient times, Buddha only transmits the original substance to Buddha; master secretly transmits the original mind to master. Since the robe is a source of contention, it should stop with you. Do not transmit it, for if you do, your life will hang by a thread.”
“You must go quickly for I fear that people might harm you.”
Hui Neng asked, “Where shall I go?”
The Patriarch replied, “Stop at Huai and hide at Hui.”
Hui Neng received the robe and bowl in the third watch. He said, “Hui Neng is a Southerner and does not know these mountain roads. How does one reach the mouth of the river?”
The Fifth Patriarch said, “You need not worry. I will accompany you.”
The Fifth Patriarch escorted him to the Chiu Chiang courier station and ordered him to board a boat. The Fifth Patriarch took up the oars and rowed. Hui Neng said, “Please, High Master, sit down. It is fitting that your disciple take the oars.”
The Patriarch replied, “It is fitting that I take you across.”
Hui Neng said, “When someone is deluded, his master takes him across, but when he is enlightened, he takes himself across. Although the term ‘taking across’ is the same in each case, the function is not the same.”
“Hui Neng was born in the frontier regions and his pronunciation is incorrect, yet he has received the Dharma transmission from the Master. Now that enlightenment has been attained, it is only fitting that he take his own nature across.”
The Patriarch replied, “So it is, so it is. Hereafter because of you, the Buddhadharma will be widely practiced. Three years after your departure I will leave this world. Start on your journey now and go south as fast as possible. Do not speak too soon, for the Buddhadharma arises from difficulty.”
After Hui Neng took leave of the Patriarch, he set out on foot for the South. In two months he reached the Ta Yü Mountains.
The Fifth Patriarch returned to the monastery but for several days he did not enter the hall. The assembly was concerned and went to ask: “Has the Master some slight illness or problem?”
“There is no illness,” came the reply, “but the robe and Dharma have already gone south.”
“Who received the transmission?” they asked.
“The Able One obtained it,” said the Patriarch.
The assembly then understood, and soon several hundred people took up pursuit, all hoping to steal the robe and bowl.
One Bhikshu, Hui Ming, a coarse-natured man whose lay name had been Ch’en, had formerly been a fourth class military official. He was intent in his search and ahead of the others. When he had almost caught up with Hui Neng the latter tossed the robe and bowl onto a rock, saying, “This robe and bowl are tokens of faith. How can they be taken by force?” Hui Neng then hid in a thicket.
When Hui Ming arrived, he tried to pick them up, but found he could not move them. He cried out, “Cultivator, Cultivator, I have come for the Dharma, not for the robe!”
Hui Neng then came out and sat cross-legged on a rock. Hui Ming made obeisance and said, “I hope that the Cultivator will teach the Dharma for my sake.”
Hui Neng said, “Since you have come for the Dharma, you may put aside all conditions. Do not give rise to a single thought and I will teach it to you clearly.” After a time, Hui Neng said, “With no thoughts of good and with no thoughts of evil, at just this moment, what is Superior One Hui Ming’s original face?” At these words, Hui Ming was greatly enlightened.
Hui Ming asked further, “Apart from the secret speech and secret meanings just spoken, is there yet another secret meaning?”
Hui Neng said, “What has been spoken to you is not secret. If you turn the illumination inward, the secret is with you.”
Hui Ming said, “Although Hui Ming was at Huang Mei he had not yet awakened to his original face. Now that he has been favored with this instruction he is like one who drinks water and knows for himself whether it is cold or warm. The cultivator is now Hui Ming’s master.”
“If you feel that way,” said Hui Neng, “then you and I have the same master, Huang Mei. Protect yourself well.”
Hui Ming asked further, “Where should I go now?”
Hui Neng said, “Stop at Yüan and dwell at Meng.”
Hui Ming bowed and left. Reaching the foot of the mountain, he said to the pursuers. “Up above there is only a rocky, trackless height. We must find another path.” The pursuers all agreed. Afterwards, Hui Ming changed his name to Tao Ming to avoid using Hui Neng’s first name.
Hui Neng arrived at Ts’ao Hsi where he was again pursued by men with evil intentions. To avoid difficulty, he went to Szu Hui and lived among hunters for fifteen years, at times teaching Dharma to them in an appropriate manner.
The hunters often told him to watch their nets, but whenever he saw beings who were still living he released them. At mealtime he cooked vegetables in the pot alongside the meat. When he was questioned about it, he would answer “I only eat vegetables alongside the meat.”
One day Hui Neng thought, “The time has come to spread the Dharma. I cannot stay in hiding forever.” Accordingly, he went to Fa Hsing Monastery in Kuang Chou where Dharma Master Yin Tsung was giving lectures on The Nirvana Sutra.
At that time there were two bhikshus who were discussing the topic of the wind and a flag. One said, “The wind is moving.” The other said, “The flag is moving.” They argued incessantly. Hui Neng stepped forward and said, “The wind is not moving, nor is the flag. Your minds, Kind Sirs, are moving.” Everyone was startled.
Dharma Master Yin Tsung invited him to take a seat of honor and sought to ask him about the hidden meaning. Seeing that Hui Neng’s exposition of the true principles was concise and to the point and not based on written words, Yin Tsung said, “The cultivator is certainly no ordinary man. I heard long ago that Huang Mei’s robe and bowl had come south. Cultivator, is it not you?”
Hui Neng said, “I dare not presume such a thing.”
Yin Tsung then made obeisance and requested that the transmitted robe and bowl be brought forth and shown to the assembly.
He further asked, “How was Huang Mei’s doctrine transmitted?”
“There was no transmission,” replied Hui Neng. “We merely discussed seeing the nature. There was no discussion of Dhyana samadhi or liberation.”
Yin Tsung asked, “Why was there no discussion of Dhyana samadhi or liberation?”
Hui Neng said, “These are dualistic dharmas. They are not the Buddhadharma. The Buddhadharma is a Dharma of non-dualism.”
Yin Tsung asked further, “What is this Buddhadharma which is the Dharma of non-dualism?”
Hui Neng said, “The Dharma Master has been lecturing The Nirvana Sutra which says that to understand the Buddha-nature is the Buddhadharma which is the Dharma of non-dualism. As Kao Kuei Te Wang Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, ‘Does violating the four serious prohibitions, committing the five rebellious acts, or being an icchantika and the like cut off the good roots and the Buddha-nature?’
“The Buddha replied, ‘There are two kinds of good roots: the first, permanent; the second impermanent. The Buddha-nature is neither permanent nor impermanent. Therefore it is not cut off.’
“That is what is meant by non-dualistic. The first is good and the second is not good. The Buddha-nature is neither good nor bad. That is what is meant by non-dualistic. Common people think of the heaps and realms as dualistic. The wise man comprehends that they are non-dualistic in nature. The non-dualistic nature is the Buddha-nature.”
Hearing this explanation, Yin Tsung was delighted. He joined his palms and said, “My explanation of Sutras is like broken tile, whereas your discussion of the meaning, Kind Sir, is like pure gold.”
He then shaved Hui Neng’s head and asked Hui Neng to be his master. Accordingly, under that Bodhi tree, Hui Neng explained the Tung Shan Dharma-door.
“Hui Neng obtained the Dharma at Tung Shan and has undergone much suffering, his life hanging as if by a thread.
“Today, in this gathering of the magistrate and officials, of Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Taoists, and laymen, there is not one of you who is not here because of accumulated ages of karmic conditions. Because in past lives you have made offerings to the Buddhas and planted good roots in common, you now have the opportunity to hear the Sudden Teaching, which is a cause of obtaining the Dharma.
“This teaching has been handed down by former sages; it is not Hui Neng’s own wisdom. You who wish to hear the teaching of the former sages should first purify your minds. After hearing it, cast aside your doubts, and that way you will be no different from the sages of the past.”
Hearing this Dharma, the entire assembly was delighted, made obeisance, and withdrew.
The following day, at the invitation of Magistrate Wei,the Master took his seat and said to the great assembly,“All of you purify your minds and think about Maha Prajna Paramita.”
He then said, “Good Knowing Advisors, the wisdom of Bodhi and Prajna is originally possessed by worldly people themselves. It is only because their minds are confused that they are unable to enlighten themselves and must rely on a great Good Knowing Advisor who can lead them to see their Buddha-nature. You should know that the Buddha-nature of stupid and wise people is basically not different. It is only because confusion and enlightenment are different that some are stupid and some are wise. I will now explain for you the Maha Prajna Paramita Dharma in order that each of you may become wise. Pay careful attention, and I will explain it to you.
“Good Knowing Advisors, worldly people recite‘Prajna’ with their mouths all day long and yet do not recognize the Prajna of their self-nature. Just as talking about food will not make you full, so, too, if you only speak of emptiness you will not see your own nature in ten thousand ages. In the end you will not have obtained any benefit.
“Good Knowing Advisors, Maha Prajna Paramita is a Sanskrit word which means ‘great wisdom which has arrived at the other shore.’ It must be practiced in the mind, and not just recited in words. When the mouth recites and the mind does not practice, it is like an illusion, a transformation, dew drops, or lightning. However, when the mouth recites and the mind practices, then mind and mouth are in mutual accord. One’s own original nature is Buddha; apart from the nature there is no other Buddha.”
“What is meant by Maha? Maha means ‘great.’ The capacity of the mind is vast and great like empty space, and has no boundaries. It is not square or round, great or small. Neither is it blue, yellow, red or white. It is not above or below, or long or short. It is without anger, without joy, without right, without wrong, without good, without evil, and it has no head or tail.
“All Buddha-lands are ultimately the same as empty space. The wonderful nature of worldly people is originally empty, and there is not a single dharma which can be obtained. The true emptiness of the self-nature is also like this.
“Good Knowing Advisors, do not listen to my explanation of emptiness and then become attached to emptiness. The most important thing is to avoid becoming attached to emptiness. If you sit still with an empty mind you will become attached to undifferentiated emptiness.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, the emptiness of the universe is able to contain the forms and shapes of the ten thousand things: the sun, moon, and stars; the mountains, rivers, and the great earth; the fountains, springs, streams, torrents, grasses, trees, thickets, and forests; good and bad people, good and bad dharmas, the heavens and the hells, all the great seas, Sumeru and all mountains–all are contained within emptiness. The emptiness of the nature of worldly men is also like this.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the ability of one’s own nature to contain the ten thousand dharmas is what is meant by ‘great.’ The myriad dharmas are within the nature of all people. If you regard all people, the bad as well as the good, without grasping or rejecting, without producing a defiling attachment, your mind will be like empty space. Therefore it is said to be ‘great,’ ‘Maha.’”
“Good Knowing Advisors, the mouth of the confused person speaks, but the mind of the wise person practices. There are deluded men who sit still with empty minds, vainly thinking of nothing and declaring that to be something great. One should not speak with these people because of their deviant views.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the capacity of the mind is vast and great, encompassing the Dharma realm. Its function is to understand clearly and distinctly. Its correct function is to know all. All is one; one is all. Coming and going freely, the mind’s substance is unobstructed. That is Prajna.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, all Prajna wisdom is produced from one’s own nature; it does not enter from the outside. Using the intellect correctly is called the natural function of one’s true nature. One truth is all truth. The mind has the capacity for great things, and is not meant for practicing petty ways. Do not talk about emptiness with your mouth all day and in your mind fail to cultivate the conduct that you talk of. That would be like a common person calling himself the king of a country, which cannot be. People like that are not my disciples.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by ‘Prajna?’ Prajna in our language means wisdom. Everywhere and at all times, in thought after thought, remain undeluded and practice wisdom constantly; that is Prajna conduct. Prajna is cut off by a single deluded thought. By one wise thought, Prajna is produced. Worldly men, deluded and confused, do not see Prajna. They speak of it with their mouths, but their minds are always deluded. They constantly say of themselves, ‘I cultivate Prajna!’ and though they continually speak of emptiness, they are unaware of true emptiness. Prajna, without form or mark, is just the wisdom mind. If thus explained, just this is Prajna wisdom.”
What is meant by Paramita? It is a Sanskrit word which in our language means ‘arrived at the other shore,’ and is explained as ‘apart from production and extinction.’ When one is attached to states of being, production and extinction arise like waves on water. That is what is meant by ‘this shore.’ To be apart from states of being, with no production or extinction, is to be like freely flowing water. That is what is meant by ‘the other shore.’ Therefore it is called ‘Paramita’.
“Good Knowing Advisors, deluded people recite with their mouths, but while they recite they live in falsehood and in error. When there is practice in every thought, that is the true nature. You should understand this dharma, which is the Prajna dharma; and cultivate this conduct, which is the Prajna conduct. Not to cultivate is to be a common person, but in a single thought of cultivation, you are equal to the Buddhas.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, common people are Buddhas and affliction is Bodhi. Past thoughts deluded are the thoughts of a common person. Future thoughts enlightened are the thoughts of a Buddha. Past thoughts attached to states of being are afflictions, and future thoughts separate from states of being are Bodhi.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, Maha Prajna Paramita is the most honored, the most supreme, the foremost. It does not stay; it does not come or go. All Buddhas of the three periods of time emerge from it. You should use great wisdom to destroy affliction, defilement, and the five skandhic heaps. With such cultivation as that you will certainly realize the Buddha Way, transforming the three poisons into morality, concentration, and wisdom.
“Good Knowing Advisors, my Dharma-door produces 84,000 wisdoms from the one Prajna. Why? Because worldly people have 84,000 kinds of defilement. In the absence of defilement, wisdom is always present, since it is not separate from the self-nature.
“Understand that this dharma is just no-thought, no-remembrance, non-attachment, and the non-production of falsehood and error. Use your own true-suchness nature, and, by means of wisdom, contemplate and illuminate all dharmas without grasping or rejecting them. That is to see one’s own nature and realize the Buddha Way.
“Good Knowing Advisors, if you wish to enter the extremely deep Dharma realm and the Prajna samadhi, you must cultivate the practice of Prajna. Hold and recite The Diamond Prajna Sutra and that way you will see your own nature.”
“You should know that the merit and virtue of this Sutra is immeasurable, unbounded, and indescribable, as the Sutra text itself clearly states.
“This Dharma-door is the Superior Vehicle, taught for people of great wisdom and superior faculties. When people of limited faculties and wisdom hear it, their minds give rise to doubt.
“Why is that? Take for example the rain which the heavenly dragons shower on Jambudvipa. Cities and villages drift about in the flood like thorns and leaves. But if the rain falls on the great sea, its waters neither increase nor decrease.
“If people of the Great Vehicle, the Most Superior Vehicle, hear The Diamond Sutra, their minds open up, awaken, and understand. They then know that their original nature itself possesses the wisdom of Prajna. Because they themselves use this wisdom constantly to contemplate and illuminate, they do not rely on written words.
“Take for example the rain water. It does not come from the sky. The truth is that the dragons cause it to fall in order that all living beings, all plants and trees, all those with feeling and those without feeling may receive its moisture. In a hundred streams it flows into the great sea and there unites in one substance. The wisdom of the Prajna of the original nature of living beings acts the same way.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, when people of limited faculties hear this Sudden Teaching, they are like the plants and trees with shallow roots which, washed away by the great rain, are unable to grow. But at the same time, the Prajna wisdom which people of limited faculties possess is fundamentally no different from the Prajna that men of great wisdom possess.
“Hearing this Dharma, why do they not become enlightened? It is because the obstacle of their deviant views is a formidable one and the root of their afflictions is deep. It is like when thick clouds cover the sun: if the wind does not blow, the sunlight will not be visible.
“Prajna wisdom is itself neither great nor small. Living beings differ because their own minds are either confused or enlightened. Those of confused mind look outwardly to cultivate in search of the Buddha. Not having awakened to their self-nature yet, they have small roots.
“When you become enlightened to the Sudden Teaching, you do not grasp onto the cultivation of external things. When your own mind constantly gives rise to right views, afflictions and defilement can never stain you. That is what is meant by seeing your own nature.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, the ability to cultivate the conduct of not dwelling inwardly or outwardly, of coming and going freely, of casting away the grasping mind, and of unobstructed penetration, is basically no different from The Prajna Sutra.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, all Sutras and writings of the Great and Small Vehicles, the twelve divisions of Sutras, have been devised because of people and established because of the nature of wisdom. If there were no people the ten thousand dharmas would not exist. Therefore you should know that all dharmas are originally postulated because of people, and all Sutras are spoken for their sakes.”
“Some people are deluded and some are wise; the deluded are small people and the wise are great people. The deluded question the wise and the wise teach Dharma to the deluded. When the deluded people suddenly awaken and understand, their minds open to enlightenment and they are no longer different from the wise.
“Good Knowing Advisors, unenlightened, the Buddha is a living being. At the time of a single enlightened thought, the living being is a Buddha. Therefore you should know that the ten thousand dharmas exist totally within your own mind. Why don’t you, from within your own mind, suddenly see the true-suchness of your original nature?
“The Bodhisattva-shila Sutra says, ‘Our fundamental self-nature is clear and pure.’ If we recognize our own mind and see the nature, we shall all perfect the Buddha Way. The Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra says, ‘Just then, suddenly regain your original mind.’”
“Good Knowing Advisors, when I was with the High Master Jen, I was enlightened as soon as I heard his words, and suddenly saw the true suchness of my own original nature. That is why I am spreading this method of teaching which leads students of the Way to become enlightened suddenly to Bodhi as each contemplates his own mind and sees his own original nature.”
“If you are unable to enlighten yourself, you must seek out a great Good Knowing Advisor, one who understands the Dharma of the Most Superior Vehicle and who will direct you to the right road.
“Such a Good Knowing Advisor possesses great karmic conditions, which is to say that he will transform you and guide you and lead you to see your nature. It is because of the Good Knowing Advisor that all wholesome Dharmas can arise. All the Buddhas of the three periods of time, and the twelve divisions of Sutra texts as well, exist within the nature of people, originally complete within them. If you are unable to enlighten yourself, you should seek out the instruction of a Good Knowing Advisor who will lead you to see your nature.”
“If you are one who enlightens himself, you need not seek a teacher outside. If you insist that it is necessary to seek a Good Knowing Advisor in the hope of obtaining liberation, you are mistaken. Why? Within your own mind there is self-enlightenment which is a Knowing Advisor.
“But if you give rise to deviant confusion, false thoughts, and perversions, although a Good Knowing Advisor external to you instructs you, he cannot save you.”
“If you give rise to genuine Prajna contemplation and illumination, in the space of an instant all false thoughts are extinguished. If you recognize your self-nature, in a single moment of enlightenment you will arrive at the stage of a Buddha.”
“Good Knowing Advisor, when you contemplate and illuminate with the wisdom which brightly penetrates within and without, you recognize your original mind.
“The recognition of your original mind is the original liberation. The attainment of liberation is the Prajna Samadhi, is no-thought.”
“What is meant by ‘no-thought?’ No-thought means to view all dharmas with a mind undefiled by attachment. The function pervades all places but is nowhere attached. Merely purify your original mind and cause the six consciousnesses to go out the six gates, to be undefiled and unmixed among the six objects, to come and go freely and to penetrate without obstruction. That is the Prajna Samadhi and freedom and liberation, and it is called the practice of no-thought.”
“Not thinking of the hundred things and constantly causing your thought to be cut off is called Dharma-bondage and is an extremist view.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, one who awakens to the no-thought dharma completely penetrates the ten thousand dharmas; one who awakens to the no-thought dharma sees all Buddha realms; one who awakens to the no-thought dharma arrives at the Buddha position.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, those of future generations who obtain my Dharma should take up this Sudden Teaching Dharma door and with those of like views and like practice they should vow to receive and uphold it as if serving the Buddhas. To the end of their lives they should not retreat, and they will certainly enter the holy position. In this way it should be transmitted from generation to generation. It is silently transmitted. Do not hide away the orthodox Dharma and do not transmit it to those of different views and different practice who believe in other teachings, since it will harm them and ultimately be of no benefit.”
“I fear that deluded people may misunderstand and slander this Dharma-door, and will cut off their nature which possesses the seed of Buddhahood for hundreds of ages and thousands of lifetimes.
“Good Knowing Advisors, I have a verse of no-mark which you should all recite. Those at home and those who have left home should cultivate according to it. If you do not cultivate it, memorizing it will be of no use. Listen to my verse:
With speech and mind both understood,
Like the sun whose place is in space,
Just spread the ‘seeing-the-nature way’
Appear in the world to destroy false doctrines.
Dharma is neither sudden nor gradual,
Delusion and awakening are slow and quick
But deluded people cannot comprehend
This Dharma-door of seeing-the-nature.
Although it is said in ten thousand ways,
United, the principles return to one;
In the dark dwelling of defilements,
Always produce the sunlight of wisdom.
The deviant comes and affliction arrives,
The right comes and affliction goes.
The false and true both cast aside,
In clear purity the state of no residue is attained.
Bodhi is the original self-nature;
Giving rise to a thought is wrong;
The pure mind is within the false:
Only the right is without the three obstructions.
If people in the world practice the Way,
They are not hindered by anything.
By constantly seeing their own transgressions,
They are in accord with the Way.
Each kind of form has its own way
Without hindering one another;
Leaving the Way to seek another way
To the end of life is not to see the Way.
A frantic passage through a life,
Will bring regret when it comes to its end.
Should you wish for a vision of the true Way,
Right practice is the Way.
If you don’t have a mind for the Way,
You walk in darkness blind to the Way;
If you truly walk the Way,
You are blind to the faults of the world.
If you attend to others’ faults,
Your fault-finding itself is wrong;
Others’ faults I do not treat as wrong;
My faults are my own transgressions.
Simply cast out the mind that finds fault,
Once cast away, troubles are gone;
When hate and love don’t block the mind,
Stretch out both legs and then lie down.
If you hope and intend to transform others,
You must perfect expedient means.
Don’t cause them to have doubts, and then
Their self-nature will appear.
The Buddhadharma is here in the world;
Enlightenment is not apart from the world.
To search for Bodhi apart from the world
Is like looking for a hare with horns.
Right views are transcendental;
Deviant views are all mundane.
Deviant and right completely destroyed:
The Bodhi nature appears spontaneously.
This verse is the Sudden Teaching,
Also called the great Dharma boat.
Hear in confusion, pass through ages,
In an instant’s space, enlightenment.”
The Master said further, “In the Ta Fan Temple I have just now spoken the Sudden Teaching, making the universal vow that all living beings of the Dharma-realm will see their nature and realize Buddhahood as they hear these words.”
Then among Magistrate Wei and the officials, Taoists and lay-people who heard what the Master said, there were none who did not awaken. Together they made obeisance and exclaimed with delight, “Good indeed! Who would have thought that in Ling Nan a Buddha would appear in the world?”
3. DOUBTS AND QUESTIONS
One day, Magistrate Wei arranged a great vegetarian feast on behalf of the Master.
After the meal, the Magistrate asked the Master to take his seat. Together with officials, scholars, and the assembly, he bowed reverently and asked, “Your disciple has heard the High Master explain the Dharma. It is truly inconceivable. I now have a few doubts and hope you will be compassionate and resolve them for me.”
The Master said, “If you have any doubts, please ask me and I will explain.”
The Honorable Wei said, “Is not what the Master speaks the same as the doctrine of Bodhidharma?”
The Master replied, “It is.”
The Magistrate asked, “Your disciple has heard that when Bodhidharma first instructed the Emperor Wu of Liang, the Emperor asked him, ‘All my life I have built temples, given sanction to the Sangha, practiced giving, and arranged vegetarian feasts. What merit and virtue have I gained?’
“Bodhidharma said, ‘There was actually no merit and virtue.’
“I, your disciple, have not yet understood this principle and hope that the High Master will explain it.”
The Master said, “There actually was no merit and virtue. Do not doubt the words of a sage. Emperor Wu of Liang’s mind was wrong; he did not know the right Dharma. Building temples and giving sanction to the Sangha, practicing giving and arranging vegetarian feasts is called ‘seeking blessings’. Do not mistake blessings for merit and virtue. Merit and virtue are in the Dharma body, not in the cultivation of blessings.”
The Master said further, “Seeing your own nature is merit, and equanimity is virtue. To be unobstructed in every thought, constantly seeing the true, real, wonderful function of your original nature is called merit and virtue.”
“Inner humility is merit and the outer practice of reverence is virtue. Your self-nature establishing the ten thousand dharmas is merit and the mind-substance separate from thought is virtue. Not being separate from the self-nature is merit, and the correct use of the undefiled (self-nature) is virtue. If you seek the merit and virtue of the Dharma body, simply act according to these principles, for this is true merit and virtue.”
“Those who cultivate merit and virtue in their thoughts do not slight others, but always respect them. Those who slight others and do not cut off the ‘me and mine’ are without merit. The vain and unreal self-nature is without virtue, because of the ‘me and mine,’ because of the greatness of the ‘self,’ and because of the constant slighting of others.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, continuity of thought is merit, and the mind practicing equality and directness is virtue. Self-cultivation of one’s nature is merit, and self-cultivation of the body is virtue.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, merit and virtue should be seen within one’s own nature, not sought through giving and making offerings. That is the difference between blessings and merit and virtue. Emperor Wu did not know the true principle. Our Patriarch was not in error.”
The Magistrate asked further, “Your disciple has often seen the Sangha and laity reciting ‘Amitabha Buddha,’ vowing to be reborn in the West. Will the High Master please tell me if they will obtain rebirth there, and so dispel my doubts?”
The Master said, “Magistrate, listen well. Hui Neng will explain it for you. When the World Honored One was in Shravasti City, he spoke of being led to rebirth in the West. The Sutra text clearly states, ‘It is not far from here.’ If we discuss its appearance, it is 108,000 miles away, but in immediate terms, it is just beyond the ten evils and the eight deviations within us. It is explained as far distant for those of inferior roots and as nearby for those of superior wisdom.”
“There are two kinds of people, not two kinds of Dharma. Enlightenment and confusion differ, and seeing can be quick or slow. The deluded person recites the Buddha’s name, seeking rebirth there, while the enlightened person purifies his own mind. Therefore the Buddha said, ‘As the mind is purified, the Buddhaland is purified.’”
“Magistrate, if the person of the East merely purifies his mind, he is without offense. Even though one may be of the West, if his mind is impure he is at fault. The person of the East commits offenses and recites the Buddha’s name, seeking rebirth in the West. When the person of the West commits offenses and recites the Buddha’s name, in what country does he seek rebirth?”
“Common, deluded people do not understand their self-nature and do not know that the Pure Land is within themselves. Therefore they make vows for the East and vows for the West. To enlightened people, all places are the same. As the Buddha said, ‘In whatever place one dwells, there is constant peace and happiness.’
“Magistrate, if the mind-ground is only without unwholesomeness, the West is not far from here. If one harbors unwholesome thoughts, one may recite the Buddha’s name, but it will be difficult to attain that rebirth.
“Good Knowing Advisors, I now exhort you all to get rid of the ten evils first and you will have walked one hundred thousand miles. Next get rid of the eight deviations and you will have gone eight thousand miles. If in every thought you see your own nature and always practice impartiality and straightforwardness, you will arrive in a finger-snap and see Amitabha.
“Magistrate, merely practice the ten wholesome acts; then what need will there be for you to vow to be reborn there? But if you do not rid the mind of the ten evils, what Buddha will come to welcome you?”
“If you become enlightened to the sudden dharma of the unproduced, you will see the West in an instant. Unenlightened, you may recite the Buddha’s name seeking rebirth, but since the road is so long, how can you traverse it?
“Hui Neng will move the West here in the space of an instant so that you may see it right before your eyes. Do you wish to see it?”
The entire assembly bowed and said, “If we could see it here, what need would there be to vow to be reborn there? Please, High Master, be compassionate and make the West appear so that we might see it.”
The Master said: “Great assembly, the worldly person’s own physical body is the city, and the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body are the gates. Outside there are five gates and inside there is the gate of the mind. The mind is the ‘ground’ and one’s nature is the ‘king’. The ‘king’ dwells on the mind ‘ground.’ When the nature is present, the king is present, but when the nature is absent, there is no king. When the nature is present, the body and mind remain, but when the nature is absent, the body and mind are destroyed. The Buddha is made within the self-nature. Do not seek outside the body. Confused, the self-nature is a living being: enlightened, it is a Buddha.”
“‘Kindness and compassion’ are Avalokiteshvara and ‘sympathetic joy and giving’ are Mahasthamaprapta. ‘Purification’ is Shakyamuni, and ‘equanimity and directness’ are Amitabha. ‘Others and self’ are Mount Sumeru and ‘deviant thoughts’ are ocean water. ‘Afflictions’ are the waves. ‘Cruelty’ is an evil dragon. ‘Empty falseness’ is ghosts and spirits. ‘Defilement’ is fish and turtles, ‘greed and hatred’ are hell, and ‘delusion’ is animals.
“Good Knowing Advisors, always practice the ten good practices and the heavens can easily be reached. Get rid of others and self, and Mount Sumeru topples. Do away with deviant thought, and the ocean waters dry up. Without defilements, the waves cease. End cruelty, and there are no fish or dragons.
“The Tathagata of the enlightened nature is on your own mind-ground, emitting a great bright light which outwardly illuminates and purifies the six gates and breaks through the six desire-heavens. Inwardly, it illuminates the self-nature and casts out the three poisons. The hells and all such offenses are destroyed at once. Inwardly and outwardly there is bright penetration. This is no different from the West. But if you do not cultivate, how can you go there?”
On hearing this speech, the members of the great assembly clearly saw their own natures. They bowed together and exclaimed, “This is indeed good! May all living beings of the Dharma Realm who have heard this awaken at once and understand!”
The Master said, “Good Knowing Advisors, if you wish to cultivate, you may do so at home. You need not be in a monastery. If you live at home and practice, you are like the person of the East whose mind is good. If you dwell in a monastery but do not cultivate, you are like the person of the West whose mind is evil. Merely purify your mind; that is the ‘West’ of your self-nature.”
The Honorable Wei asked further: “How should those at home cultivate? Please instruct us.”
The Master said, “I have composed a markless verse for the great assembly. Merely rely on it to cultivate and you will be as if always by my side. If you cut your hair and leave home, but do not cultivate, it will be of no benefit in pursuing the Way. The verse runs:
The mind made straight, why toil following rules?
The practice sure, of what use is Dhyana meditation?
Filial deeds support the father and mother.
Right conduct is in harmony with those above and below.
Deference: the honored and the lowly in accord with each other.
Patience: no rumors of the evils of the crowd.
If drilling wood can spin smoke into fire,
A red-petalled lotus can surely spring from mud.
Good medicine is bitter to the taste.
Words hard against the ear must be good advice.
Correcting failings gives birth to wisdom.
Guarded errors expose a petty mind.
Persist daily in just, benevolent deeds.
Charity is not the means to attain the Way.
Search out Bodhi only in the mind.
Why toil outside in search of the profound?
Just as you hear these words, so practice:
Heaven then appears, right before your eyes.
The Master continued, “Good Knowing Advisors, you in this assembly should cultivate according to this verse to see and make contact with your self-nature and to realize the Buddha Way directly. The Dharma does not wait. The assembly may now disperse. I shall now return to Ts’ao Hsi. If you have questions come quickly and ask.”
At that time, Magistrate Wei, the officials, and the good men and faithful women of the assembly all attained understanding, faithfully accepted, honored the teaching and practiced it.
4. CONCENTRATION AND WISDOM
The Master instructed the assembly: “Good Knowing Advisors, this Dharma-door of mine has concentration and wisdom as its foundation. Great assembly, do not be confused and say that concentration and wisdom are different. Concentration and wisdom are one substance, not two. Concentration is the substance of wisdom, and wisdom is the function of concentration. Where there is wisdom, concentration is in the wisdom. Where there is concentration, wisdom is in the concentration. If you understand this principle, you understand the balanced study of concentration and wisdom.
“Students of the Way, do not say that first there is concentration, which produces wisdom, or that first there is wisdom, which produces concentration: do not say that the two are different. To hold this view implies a duality of dharma. If your speech is good, but your mind is not, then concentration and wisdom are useless because they are not equal. If mind and speech are both good, the inner and outer are alike, and concentration and wisdom are equal.
“Self-enlightenment, cultivation, and practice are not a matter for debate. If you debate which comes first, then you are like a confused man who does not cut off ideas of victory and defeat, but magnifies the notion of self and dharmas, and does not disassociate himself from the four marks.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, what are concentration and wisdom like? They are like a lamp and its light. With the lamp, there is light. Without the lamp, there is darkness. The lamp is the substance of the light and the light is the function of the lamp. Although there are two names, there is one fundamental substance. The dharma of concentration and wisdom is also thus.”
The Master instructed the assembly: “Good Knowing Advisors, the Single Conduct Samadhi is the constant practice of maintaining a direct, straightforward mind in all places, whether one is walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. As the Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘The straight mind is the Bodhimandala; the straight mind is the Pure Land.’
“Do not speak of straightness with the mouth only, while the mind and practice are crooked, nor speak of the Single Conduct Samadhi without maintaining a straight mind. Simply practice keeping a straight mind and have no attachment to any dharma.
“The confused person is attached to the marks of dharmas, while holding to the Single Conduct Samadhi and saying, ‘I sit unmoving and falseness does not arise in my mind. That is the Single Conduct Samadhi.’ Such an interpretation serves to make him insensate and obstructs the causes and conditions for attaining the Way.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the Way must penetrate and flow. How can it be impeded? If the mind does not dwell in dharmas, the Way will penetrate and flow. The mind that dwells in dharmas is in self-bondage. To say that sitting unmoving is correct is to be like Shariputra who sat quietly in the forest but was scolded by Vimalakirti.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, there are those who teach people to sit looking at the mind and contemplating stillness, without moving or arising. They claim that it has merit. Confused men, not understanding, easily become attached and go insane. There are many such people. Therefore you should know that teaching of this kind is a great error.”
The Master instructed the assembly: “Good Knowing Advisors, the right teaching is basically without a division into ‘sudden’ and ‘gradual.’ People’s natures themselves are sharp or dull. When the confused person who gradually cultivates and the enlightened person who suddenly connects each recognize the original mind and see the original nature, they are no different.
“Therefore, the terms sudden and gradual are shown to be false names.
“Good Knowing Advisors, this Dharma-door of mine, from the past onwards, has been established from the first with no-thought as its doctrine, no-mark as its substance, and no-dwelling as its basis. No-mark means to be apart from marks while in the midst of marks. No-thought means to be without thought while in the midst of thought. No-dwelling is the basic nature of human beings.
“In the world of good and evil, attractiveness and ugliness, friendliness and hostility, when faced with language which is offensive, critical, or argumentative, you should treat it all as empty and have no thought of revenge. In every thought, do not think of former states. If past, present, and future thoughts succeed one another without interruption, it is bondage. Not to dwell in dharmas from thought to thought is to be free from bondage. That is to take no-dwelling as the basis.
“Good Knowing Advisors, to be separate from all outward marks is called ‘no-mark.’ The ability to be separate from marks is the purity of the Dharma’s substance. It is to take no-mark as the substance.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the non-defilement of the mind in all states is called ‘no-thought.’ In your thoughts you should always be separate from states; do not give rise to thought about them.”
“If you merely do not think of the hundred things, and so completely rid yourself of thought, then as the last thought ceases, you die and undergo rebirth in another place. That is a great mistake, of which students of the Way should take heed.
“To misinterpret the Dharma and make a mistake yourself might be acceptable, but to exhort others to do the same is unacceptable. In your own confusion you do not see, and, moreover you slander the Buddha’s Sutras. Therefore no-thought is established as the doctrine.
“Good Knowing Advisors, why is no-thought established as the doctrine? Because there are confused people who speak of seeing their own nature, and yet they produce thought with regard to states. Their thoughts cause deviant views to arise, and from that all defilement and false thinking are created. Originally, not one single dharma can be obtained in the self-nature. If there is something to attain, or false talk of misfortune and blessing, that is just defilement and deviant views. Therefore, this Dharma-door establishes no-thought as its doctrine.
“Good Knowing Advisors, ‘No’ means no what? ‘Thought’ means thought of what? ‘No’ means no two marks, no thought of defilement. ‘Thought’ means thought of the original nature of True Suchness. True Suchness is the substance of thought and thought is the function of True Suchness.
“The True Suchness self-nature gives rise to thought. It is not the eye, ear, nose, or tongue which can think. The True Suchness possesses a nature and therefore gives rise to thought. Without True Suchness, the eye, ear, forms, and sounds immediately go bad.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the True Suchness self-nature gives rise to thought, and the six faculties, although they see, hear, feel, and know, are not defiled by the ten thousand states. Your true nature is eternally independent. Therefore, the Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘If one is well able to discriminate all dharma marks, then, in the primary meaning, one does not move.’”
5. SITTING IN CH’AN
The Master instructed the assembly: “The door of sitting in Ch’an consists fundamentally of attaching oneself neither to the mind nor to purity; it is not non-movement. One might speak of becoming attached to the mind, and yet the mind is fundamentally false. You should know that the mind is like an illusion, and therefore there is nothing to which you can become attached.”
“One might say that to practice Ch’an is to attach oneself to purity, yet the nature of people is basically pure. It is because of false thinking that the True Suchness is obscured. Simply have no false thinking, and the nature will be pure of itself.
“If an attachment to purity arises in your mind, a deluded idea of purity will result. What is delusory does not exist, and the attachment is false. Purity has no form or mark and yet there are those who set up the mark of purity as an achievement. Those with this view obstruct their own original nature and become bound by purity.
“Good Knowing Advisors, one who cultivates non-movement does not notice whether other people are right or wrong, good or bad, or whether they have other faults. That is the non-movement of the self-nature.
“Good Knowing Advisors, although the body of the confused person may not move, as soon as he opens his mouth he speaks of what is right and wrong about others, of their good points and shortcomings, and so he turns his back on the Way. Attachment to the mind and attachment to purity are obstructions to the Way.”
The Master instructed the assembly, “Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by ‘sitting in Ch’an?’ In this unobstructed and unimpeded Dharma-door, the mind’s thoughts do not arise with respect to any good or evil external state. That is what ‘sitting’ is. To see the unmoving self-nature inwardly is Ch’an.
“Good Knowing Advisors, what is meant by ‘Ch’an concentration?’ Being separate from external marks is ‘Ch’an.’ Not being confused inwardly is ‘concentration.’
“If you become attached to external marks, your mind will be confused inwardly. If you are separate from external marks, inwardly your mind will be unconfused. The original nature is naturally pure, in a natural state of concentration. Confusion arises merely because states are seen and attended to. If the mind remains unconfused when any state is encountered, that is true concentration.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, being separate from all external marks is Ch’an and being inwardly unconfused is concentration. External Ch’an and inward concentration are Ch’an concentration. The Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘Just then, suddenly return and regain the original mind.’ The Bodhisattva-shila Sutra says, ‘Our basic nature is pure of itself.’ Good Knowing Advisors, in every thought, see your own clear and pure original nature. Cultivate, practice, realize the Buddha Way!”
6. REPENTANCE AND REFORM
Seeing the scholars and common people of Kuang Chou and Shao Kuan and the four directions assembled on the mountain to hear the Dharma, the Great Master took his seat and spoke to the assembly, saying:
“Come, each of you Good Knowing Advisors! This work must begin within your self-nature. At all times, in every thought, purify your own mind, cultivate your own conduct, see your own Dharma-body and the Buddha of your own mind. Take yourself across; discipline yourself. Only then will your coming here have not been in vain. You have come from afar to attend this gathering because we have karmic affinities in common. Now all of you kneel and I will first transmit to you the five-fold Dharma-body refuge of the self-nature, and then the markless repentance and reform.”
The assembly knelt and the Master said, “The first is the morality-refuge, which is simply your own mind when free from error, evil, jealousy, greed, hatred and hostility.
“The second is the concentration-refuge, which is just your own mind which does not become confused when seeing the marks of all good and evil conditions.
“The third is the wisdom-refuge, which is simply your own mind when it is unobstructed and when it constantly uses wisdom to contemplate and illuminate the self-nature, when it does no evil, does good without becoming attached, and is respectful of superiors, considerate of inferiors, and sympathetic towards orphans and widows.”
“The fourth is the liberation-refuge, which is simply your own mind independent of conditions, not thinking of good or evil, and free and unobstructed.
“The fifth is the refuge of knowledge and views, which is simply your own mind when it is independent of good and evil conditions and when it does not dwell in emptiness or cling to stillness. You should then study this in detail, listen a great deal, recognize your original mind, and penetrate the true principle of all the Buddhas. You should welcome and be in harmony with living creatures; and, without the idea of self or other, arrive directly at Bodhi, the unchanging true nature.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, the incense of these refuges perfumes each of you within. Do not seek outside. I will now transmit to you the markless repentance and reform to destroy the offensive actions done within the three periods of time and to purify the three karmas.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, repeat after me: ‘May this disciple be, in past, present, and future thought, in every thought, unstained by stupidity and confusion. May it be wiped away at once and never arise again.’”
“‘May this disciple be, in past, present, and future thought, in every thought, unstained by arrogance and deceit. Now I completely repent of and reform all bad actions done in the past out of arrogance and deceit and other such offenses. May their effects be wiped away at once and may they never be perpetrated again!’”
“‘May this disciple be in past, present, and future thought, in every thought unstained by jealousy. Now I completely repent of and reform all bad actions done in the past out of jealousy and other such offenses. May they be wiped away at once and never arise again.’”
“Good Knowing Advisors, the above has been the markless repentance and reform. What is repentance and what is reform? Repentance is to repent of past errors, to repent so completely of all bad actions done in the past out of stupidity, confusion, arrogance, deceit, jealousy, and other such offenses, that they never arise again. Reform is to refrain from such transgressions in the future. Awakening and cutting off such offenses completely and never committing them again is called repentance and reform.
“Common people, stupid and confused, know only how to repent of former errors and do not know how to reform and refrain from transgressions in the future. Because they do not reform, their former errors are not wiped away, and they will occur in the future. If former errors are not wiped away and transgressions are again committed, how can that be called repentance and reform?
“Good Knowing Advisors, as you have repented and reformed, I will now teach you to make the four all-encompassing vows.
I vow to take across the limitless living beings of my own mind.
I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions of my own mind.
I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma-doors of my own nature.
I vow to realize the supreme Buddha Way of my own nature.
“Good Knowing Advisors, did all of you not just say, ‘I vow to take across the limitless living beings’? What does it mean? You should remember that it is not Hui Neng who takes them across. Good Knowing Advisors, the ‘living beings’ within your mind are deviant and confused thoughts, deceitful and false thoughts, unwholesome thoughts, jealous thoughts, vicious thoughts: all these thoughts are ‘living beings.’ The self-nature of each one of them must take itself across. That is true crossing over.”
“What is meant by ‘the self nature taking itself across’? It is to take across by means of right views the living beings of deviant views, affliction, and delusion within your own mind. Once you have right views, use Prajna Wisdom to destroy the living beings of delusion, confusion, and falsehood. Each one takes itself across. Enlightenment takes confusion across, wisdom takes delusion across, goodness takes evil across. Such crossing over is a true crossing.
“Further, ‘I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions.’ That is to use the Prajna Wisdom of your own self-nature to cast out the vain and false thoughts in your mind.
“Further, ‘I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma-doors.’ You must see your own nature and always practice the right Dharma. That is true study.
“Further, ‘I vow to realize the supreme Buddha way,’ and with humble mind to always practice the true and the proper. Separate yourself from both confusion and enlightenment, and always give rise to Prajna. When you cast out the true and the false, you see your nature and realize the Buddha-way at the very moment it is spoken of. Always be mindful; cultivate the Dharma that possesses the power of this vow.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, now that you have made the four all-encompassing vows, I will transmit the precepts of the triple refuge that has no mark. Good Knowing Advisors, take refuge with the enlightened, the honored, the doubly complete. Take refuge with the right, the honored that is apart from desire. Take refuge with the pure, the honored among the multitudes.”
“‘From this day forward, we call enlightenment our master and will never again take refuge with deviant demons or outside religions. We constantly enlighten ourselves by means of the Triple Jewel of our own self-nature.’
“Good Knowing Advisors, I exhort you all to take refuge with the Triple Jewel of your own nature: the Buddha, which is enlightenment, the Dharma, which is right, and the Sangha, which is pure.
“When your mind takes refuge with enlightenment, deviant confusion does not arise. Desire decreases, so that you know contentment and are able to keep away from wealth and from the opposite sex. That is called the honored, the doubly complete.
“When your own mind takes refuge with what is right, there are no deviant views in any of your thoughts. Because there are no deviant views, there is no self, other, arrogance, greed, love, or attachment. That is called the honored that is apart from desire.
“When your own mind takes refuge with the pure, your self-nature is not stained by attachment to any state of defilement, desire or love. That is called the honored among the multitudes.”
“If you cultivate this practice, you take refuge with yourself.
“Common people do not understand that, and so, from morning to night, they take the triple-refuge precepts. They say they take refuge with the Buddha, but where is the Buddha? If they cannot see the Buddha, how can they return to him? Their talk is absurd.
“Good Knowing Advisors, each of you examine yourselves. Do not make wrong use of the mind. The Avatamsaka Sutra clearly states that you should take refuge with your own Buddha, not with some other Buddha. If you do not take refuge with the Buddha in yourself, there is no one you can rely on.
“Now that you are self-awakened, you should each take refuge with the Triple Jewel of your own mind.
“Within yourself, regulate your mind and nature; outside yourself, respect others. That is to take refuge with yourself.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, now that you have taken refuge with the Triple Jewel, you should listen carefully while I explain to you the three bodies of a single substance, the self-nature of the Buddha, so that you may see the three bodies and become completely enlightened to your own self-nature.
“Repeat after me,
I take refuge with the clear, pure Dharma-body
of the Buddha within my own body.
I take refuge with the hundred thousand myriad
Transformation-bodies of the Buddha
within my own body.
I take refuge with the complete and full Reward body
of the Buddha within my own body.
“Good Knowing Advisors, the form-body is an inn; it cannot be returned to. The three bodies of the Buddha exist within the self-nature of worldly people, but because they are confused, they do not see the nature within them and so seek the three bodies of the Tathagata outside themselves. They do not see that the three bodies of the Buddha are within their own bodies.
“Listen to what I say, for it can cause you to see the three bodies of your own self-nature within your own body. The three bodies of the Buddha arise from your own self-nature and are not obtained from outside.
“What is the clear, pure Dharma-body Buddha? The worldly person’s nature is basically clear and pure, and the ten thousand dharmas are produced from it. The thought of evil produces evil actions and the thought of good produces good actions. Thus all dharmas exist within the self-nature.
“This is like the sky which is always clear, and the sun and moon which are always bright, so that if they are obscured by floating clouds it is bright above the clouds and dark below them. But if the wind suddenly blows and scatters the clouds, there is brightness above and below, and the myriad forms appear. The worldly person’s nature constantly drifts like those clouds in the sky.
“Good Knowing Advisors, intelligence is like the sun and wisdom is like the moon. Intelligence and wisdom are constantly bright, but if you are attached to external states, the floating clouds of false thought cover the selfnature so that it cannot shine.
“If you meet a Good Knowing Advisor, if you listen to the true and right Dharma and cast out your own confusion and falseness, then inside and out there will be penetrating brightness, and within the self-nature all the ten thousand dharmas will appear. That is how it is with those who see their own nature. It is called the clear, pure Dharma-body of the Buddha.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, when your own mind takes refuge with your self-nature, it takes refuge with the true Buddha. To take refuge is to rid your self-nature of egotism and unwholesome thoughts as well as of jealousy, obsequiousness, deceitfulness, contempt, pride, conceit, and deviant views, and all other unwholesome tendencies whenever they arise.
“To take refuge is to be always aware of your own transgressions and never to speak of other people’s good or bad traits. Always to be humble and polite is to have penetrated to the self-nature without any obstacle. That is taking refuge.
“What is the perfect, full Reward-body of the Buddha? Just as one lamp can disperse the darkness of a thousand years, one thought of wisdom can destroy ten thousand years of delusion.
“Do not think of the past; it is gone and can never be recovered. Instead think always of the future and in every thought, perfect and clear, see your own original nature. Although good and evil differ, the original nature is non-dual. That non-dual nature is the real nature. Undefiled by either good or evil, it is the perfect, full Reward-body of the Buddha.
“One evil thought arising from the self-nature destroys ten thousand eons’ worth of good karma. One good thought arising from the self-nature ends evils as numerous as the sand-grains in the Ganges River. To reach the unsurpassed Bodhi directly, see it for yourself in every thought and do not lose the original thought. That is the Reward-body of the Buddha.”
“What are the hundred thousand myriad Transformation bodies of the Buddha? If you are free of any thought of the ten thousand dharmas, then your nature is basically like emptiness, but in one thought of calculation, transformation occurs. Evil thoughts are transformed into hell-beings and good thoughts into heavenly beings. Viciousness is transformed into dragons and snakes, and compassion into Bodhisattvas.
“Wisdom is transformed into the upper realms, and delusion into the lower realms. The transformations of the self-nature are extremely many, and yet the confused person, unawakened to that truth, continually gives rise to evil and walks evil paths. Turn a single thought back to goodness, and wisdom is produced. That is the Transformation-body of the Buddha within your self-nature.”
“Good Knowing Advisors, the Dharma body of the Buddha is basically complete. To see your own nature in every thought is the Reward body of the Buddha. When the Reward body thinks and calculates, it is the Transformation body of the Buddha. Awaken and cultivate by your own efforts the merit and virtue of your self-nature. That is truly taking refuge.
“The skin and flesh of the physical body are like an inn to which you cannot return. Simply awaken to the three bodies of your self-nature and you will understand the self-nature Buddha.”
“I have a verse without marks. If you can recite and memorize it, it will wipe away-accumulated eons of confusion and offenses as soon as the words are spoken. The verse runs:
A confused person will foster blessings,
but not cultivate the Way;
And say, “To practice for the blessings
is practice of the Way.”
While giving and making offerings
brings blessings without limit,
It is in the mind that the three evils
have their origin.
By seeking blessings you may wish
to obliterate offenses;
But in the future, though you are blessed,
offenses still remain.
You ought to simply strike the evil
conditions from your mind;
By true repentance and reform
within your own self-nature.
A sudden awakening: the true repentance and
reform of the Great Vehicle;
You must cast out the deviant, and practice
the right, to be without offense.
To study the Way, always look
within your own self-nature;
You are then the same in kind
and lineage as all Buddhas.
Our Patriarch passed along only
this Sudden Teaching;
Wishing that all might see the nature
and be of one substance.
In the future if you wish
to find the Dharma body;
Detach yourself from Dharma marks
and inwardly wash the mind.
Strive to see it for yourself
and do not waste your time,
For when the final thought has stopped
your life comes to an end.
Enlightened to the Great Vehicle
you can see your nature;
So reverently join your palms
and seek it with all your heart.
The Master said, “Good Knowing Advisors, all of you should take up this verse and cultivate according to it. If you see your nature at the moment these words are spoken, even if we are a thousand miles apart you will always be by my side. If you do not awaken at the moment of speaking, then, face to face we are a thousand miles apart, so why did you bother to come from so far? Take care of yourselves and go well.”
The united assembly heard this Dharma and there were none who did not awaken. They received it with delight and practiced in accord with it.
7. OPPORTUNITIES AND CONDITIONS
The Master obtained the Dharma at Huang Mei and returned to Ts’ao Hou Village in Shao Chou where no one knew him. But Liu Chih Liao, a scholar, received him with great courtesy. Chih Liao’s aunt, Bhikshuni Wu Chin Tsang, constantly recited the Mahaparinirvana Sutra. When the Master heard it, he instantly grasped its wonderful principle and explained it to her. The Bhikshuni then held out a scroll and asked about some characters.
The Master said, “I cannot read; please ask about the meaning.”
“If you cannot even read, how can you understand the meaning?” asked the Bhikshuni.
The Master replied, “The subtle meaning of all Buddhas is not based on language.”
The Bhikshuni was startled and she announced to all the elders and virtuous ones in the village: “Here is a gentleman who possesses the Way. We should ask him to stay and receive our offerings.” Ts’ao Shu Liang, great-grandson of the Marquis Wu of the Wei dynasty, came rushing to pay homage, along with the people of the village.
At that time the pure dwellings of the ancient Pao Lin Temple, which had been destroyed by war and fire at the end of the Sui dynasty, were rebuilt on their old foundation. The Master was invited to stay and soon the temple became a revered place. He dwelt there a little over nine months when he was once again pursued by evil men.
The Master hid in the mountain in the front of the temple, and when they set fire to the brush and trees, he escaped by crawling into a rock to hide. The rock still bears the imprints of the Master’s knees and of his robe where he sat in lotus posture. Because of this it is called “The Rock of Refuge.” Remembering the Fifth Patriarch’s instructions to stop at Huai and hide at Hui, he went to conceal himself in those two cities.
When Bhikshu Fa Hai of Chü Chiang city in Shao Chou first called on the Patriarch, he asked, “Will you please instruct me on the sentence, ‘Mind is Buddha’?”
The Master said, “When one’s preceding thoughts are not produced this is mind and when one’s subsequent thoughts are not extinguished this is Buddha. The setting up of marks is mind, and separation from them is Buddha. Were I to explain it fully, I would not finish before the end of the present age.
“Listen to my verse:
When the mind is called wisdom,
Then the Buddha is called concentration.
When concentration and wisdom are equal.
The intellect is pure.
Understand this Dharma teaching
By practicing within your own nature.
The function is basically unproduced;
It is right to cultivate both.”
At these words, Fa Hai was greatly enlightened and spoke a verse in praise
This mind is basically Buddha;
By not understanding I disgrace myself.
I know the cause of concentration and wisdom
Is to cultivate both and separate myself from all things.
Bhikshu Fa Ta of Hung Chou left home at age seven and constantly recited the Dharma Flower Sutra, but when he came to bow before the Patriarch, his head did not touch the ground. The Master scolded him, saying, “If you do not touch the ground, isn’t it better not to bow? There must be something on your mind. What do you practice?”
“I have recited the Dharma Flower Sutra over three thousand times,” he replied.
The Master said, “I don’t care if you have recited it ten thousand times. If you understood the Sutra’s meaning, you would not be so overbearing, and you could walk along with me. You have failed in your work and do not even recognize your error.
Listen to my verse:
As bowing is basically to cut off arrogance,
Why don’t you touch your head to the ground?
When you possess a self, offenses arise,
But forgetting merit brings supreme blessings.”
The Master asked further, “What is your name?”
“Fa Ta,” he replied.
The Master said, “Your name means ‘Dharma Penetration,’ but what Dharma have you penetrated?” He then spoke a verse:
Your name means Dharma Penetration,
And you earnestly recite without pause to rest.
Recitation is mere sound,
But one who understands his mind is called a Bodhisattva.
Now, because of your karmic conditions,
I will explain it to you:
Believe only that the Buddha is without words
And the lotus blossom will bloom from your mouth.
Hearing the verse, Fa Ta was remorseful and he said, “From now on I will respect everyone. Your disciple recites the Dharma Flower Sutra but has not yet understood its meaning. His mind often has doubts. High Master, your wisdom is vast and great. Will you please explain the general meaning of the Sutra for me?”
The Master said, “Dharma Penetration, the Dharma is extremely penetrating, but your mind does not penetrate it. There is basically nothing doubtful in the Sutra. The doubts are in your own mind. You recite this Sutra, but what do you think its teaching is?”
Fa Ta said, “This student’s faculties are dull and dim. Since I have only recited it by rote, how could I understand its doctrine?”
The Master said, “I cannot read, but if you take the Sutra and read it once, I will explain it to you.”
Fa Ta recited loudly until he came to the “Analogies Chapter.” The Master said, “Stop! This Sutra fundamentally is based on the principles underlying the causes and conditions of the Buddha’s appearance in the world. None of the analogies spoken go beyond that. What are the causes and conditions?
The Sutra says, ‘All Buddhas, the World-Honored Ones, appear in the world for the causes and conditions of the One Important Matter.’ The One Important Matter is the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. Worldly people, deluded by the external world, attach themselves to marks, and deluded by the inner world, they attach themselves to emptiness. If you can live among marks and yet be separate from it, then you will be confused by neither the internal nor the external. If you awaken to this Dharma, in one moment your mind will open to enlightenment. The knowledge and vision of the Buddha is simply that.
The Buddha is enlightenment. There are four divisions:
Opening to the enlightened knowledge and vision;
Demonstrating the enlightened knowledge and vision;
Awakening to the enlightened knowledge and vision; and
Entering the enlightened knowledge and vision.
If you listen to the opening and demonstrating (of the Dharma), you can easily awaken and enter. That is the enlightened knowledge and vision, the original true nature becoming manifest. Be careful not to misinterpret the Sutra by thinking that the opening, demonstrating, awakening, and entering of which it speaks is the Buddha’s knowledge and vision and that we have no share in it. To explain it that way would be to slander the Sutra and defame the Buddha.
Since he is already a Buddha, perfect in knowledge and vision, what is the use of his opening to it again? You should now believe that the Buddha’s knowledge and vision is simply your own mind, for there is no other Buddha.
“But, because living beings cover their brilliance with greed and with the love of states of defilement, external conditions and inner disturbance make slaves of them. That troubles the World-Honored One to rise from Samadhi, and with various reproaches and expedients, he exhorts living beings to stop and rest, not to seek outside themselves, and to make themselves the same as he is. That is called ‘opening the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.’ I, too, am always exhorting all people to open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha within their own minds.
“The minds of worldly people are deviant. Confused and deluded, they commit offenses. Their speech may be good, but their minds are evil. They are greedy, hateful, envious, given over to flattery, deceit, and arrogance. They oppress one another and harm living creatures, thus they open not the knowledge and vision of Buddhas but that of living beings. If you can with an upright mind constantly bring forth wisdom, contemplating and illumining your own mind, and if you can practice the good and refrain from evil, you, yourself will open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.
“In every thought you should open up to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha; do not open up to the knowledge and vision of living beings. To be open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha is transcendental; to be open to the knowledge and vision of living beings is mundane. If you exert yourself in recitation, clinging to it as a meritorious exercise, how does that make you different from a yak who loves his own tail?”
Fa Ta said, “If this is so, then I need only understand the meaning and need not exert myself in reciting the Sutra. Isn’t that correct?”
The Master replied, “What fault does the Sutra have that would stop you from reciting it? Confusion and enlightenment are in you. Loss or gain comes from yourself. If your mouth recites and your mind practices, you ‘turn’ the Sutra, but if your mouth recites and your mind does not practice, the Sutra ‘turns’ you. Listen to my verse:
When the mind is confused,
the Dharma Flower turns it.
The enlightened mind
will turn the Dharma Flower.
Reciting the Sutra so long
Has made you an enemy
of its meaning.
Without a thought
your recitation is right.
your recitation is wrong.
With no “with”
and no “without”
You may ride forever
in the White Ox Cart.
Fa Ta heard this verse and wept without knowing it. At the moment the words were spoken, he achieved a great enlightenment and said to the Master, “Until today I have never actually turned the Dharma Flower; instead it has turned me.”
Fa Ta asked further, “The Lotus Sutra says, ‘If everyone from Shravakas up to the Bodhisattvas were to exhaust all their thought in order to measure the Buddha’s wisdom, they still could not fathom it.’ Now, you cause common people merely to understand their own minds, and you call that the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. Because of this, I am afraid that those without superior faculties will not be able to avoid doubting and slandering the Sutra. The Sutra also speaks of three carts. How do the sheep, deer, and ox carts differ from the White Ox Cart? I pray the High Master will once again instruct me.”
The Master said, “The Sutra’s meaning is clear. You yourself are confused. Disciples of all three vehicles are unable to fathom the Buddha’s wisdom; the fault is in their thinking and measuring. The more they think, the further away they go. From the start the Buddha speaks for the sake of common people, not for the sake of other Buddhas. Those who chose not to believe were free to leave the assembly. Not knowing that they were sitting in the White Ox Cart, they sought three vehicles outside the gate. What is more, the Sutra text clearly tells you ‘There is only the One Buddha Vehicle, no other vehicle, whether two or three, and the same is true for countless expedients, for various causes and conditions, and for analogies and rhetoric. All these Dharmas are for the sake of the One Buddha Vehicle.’”
“Why don’t you wake up? The three carts are false, because they are preliminary. The one vehicle is real because it is the immediate present. You are merely taught to go from the false and return to the real. Once you have returned to reality, the real is also nameless. You should know that all the treasure and wealth is ultimately your own, for your own use. Do not think further of the father, nor of the son, nor of the use. That is called maintaining the Dharma Flower Sutra. Then from eon to eon your hands will never let go of the scrolls; from morning to night you will recite it unceasingly.”
Fa Ta received this instruction and, overwhelmed with joy, he spoke a verse:
Three thousand Sutra recitations:
At Ts’ao Hsi not one single word.
Before I knew why he appeared in the world,
How could I stop the madness of accumulated births?
Sheep, deer, and ox provisionally set up;
Beginning, middle, end, well set forth.
Who would have thought that within the burning house
Originally the king of Dharma dwelt?
The Master said, “From now on you may be called the monk mindful of the Sutra.” From then on, although he understood the profound meaning, Fa Ta continued to recite the Sutra unceasingly.
Bhikshu Chih T’ung, a native of An Feng in Shao Chou, had read the Lankavatara Sutra over a thousand times but still did not understand the three bodies and the four wisdoms. He made obeisance to the Master, seeking an explanation of the meaning.
The Master said, “The three bodies are: the clear, pure Dharma-body, which is your nature; the perfect, full Reward-body, which is your wisdom; and the hundred thousand myriad Transformation bodies, which are your conduct. To speak of the three bodies as separate from your original nature is to have the bodies but not the wisdoms. To remember that the three bodies have no self-nature is to understand the four wisdoms of Bodhi. Listen to my verse:
Three bodies complete in your own self-nature
When understood become four wisdoms.
While not apart from seeing and hearing
Transcend them and ascend to the Buddha realm.
I will now explain it for you.
If you are attentive and faithful, you will never be deluded.
Don’t run outside in search of them,
By saying ‘Bodhi’ to the end of your days.
Chih T’ung asked further, “May I hear about the meaning of the four wisdoms?”
The Master said, “Since you understand the three bodies, you should also understand the four wisdoms. Why do you ask again? To speak of the four wisdoms as separate from the three bodies is to have the wisdoms but not the bodies, in which case the wisdoms become non-wisdoms.” He then spoke this verse:
The wisdom of the great, perfect mirror
Is your clear, pure nature.
The wisdom of equal nature
Is the mind without disease.
Wonderfully observing wisdom
Is seeing without effort.
Perfecting wisdom is
The same as the perfect mirror.
Five, eight, six, seven–
Effect and cause both turn;
Merely useful names:
They are without real nature.
If, in the place of turning,
Emotion is not kept,
You always and forever dwell
In Naga concentration.
Note: The transformation of consciousness into wisdom has been described. The teaching says, “The first five consciousnesses turned become the perfecting wisdom; the sixth consciousness turned becomes the wonderfully observing wisdom; the seventh consciousness turned becomes the wisdom of equal nature, the eighth consciousness turned becomes the wisdom of the great perfect mirror.”
Although the sixth and seventh are turned in the cause and the first five and the eighth in the effect, it is merely the names which turn. Their substance does not turn.
Instantly enlightened to the nature of wisdom, Chih T’ung submitted the following verse:
Three bodies are my basic substance,
Four wisdoms my original bright mind.
Body and wisdom in unobstructed fusion:
In response to beings I accordingly take form.
Arising to cultivate them is false movement.
Holding to or pondering over them a waste of effort.
Through the Master I know the wonderful principle,
And in the end I lose the stain of names.
Bhikshu Chih Ch’ang, a native of Kuei Hsi in Hsin Chou, left home when he was a child and resolutely sought to see his own nature. One day he called on the Master, who asked him, “Where are you from and what do you want?”
Chih Ch’ang replied, “Your student has recently been to Pai Feng Mountain in Hung Chou to call on the High Master Ta T’ung and receive his instruction on the principle of seeing one’s nature and realizing Buddhahood. As I have not yet resolved my doubts, I have come from a great distance to bow reverently and request the Master’s compassionate instruction.”
The Master said, “What instruction did he give you? Try to repeat it to me.”
Chih Ch’ang said, “After arriving there, three months passed and still I had received no instruction. Being eager for the Dharma, one evening I went alone into the Abbot’s room and asked him, ‘What is my original mind and original substance?’”
“Ta T’ung then said to me, ‘Do you see empty space?’
“‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I see it.’
“Ta T’ung said, ‘Do you know what appearance it has?’
“I replied, ‘Empty space has no form. How could it have an appearance?’
“Ta T’ung said, ‘Your original mind is just like empty space. To understand that nothing can be seen is called right seeing; to know that nothing can be known is called true knowing. There is nothing blue or yellow, long or short. Simply seeing the clear, pure original source, the perfect, bright enlightened substance, this is what is called ‘seeing one’s nature and realizing Buddhahood.’ It is also called ‘the knowledge and vision of the Tathagata.’
“Although I heard his instruction, I still do not understand and beg you, O Master to instruct me.”
The Master said, “Your former master’s explanation still retains the concepts of knowing and seeing; and that is why you have not understood. Now, I will teach you with a verse:
Not to see a single dharma still retains no-seeing,
Greatly resembling floating clouds covering the sun.
Not to know a single dharma holds to empty knowing,
Even as a lightning flash comes out of empty space.
This knowing and seeing arise in an instant.
When seen wrongly, can expedients be understood?
If, in the space of a thought, you can know your own error,
Your own spiritual light will always be manifest.
Hearing the verse, Chih Ch’ang understood it with his heart and mind, and he composed this verse:
Without beginning, knowing and seeing arise.
When one is attached to marks bodhi is sought out.
Clinging to a thought of enlightenment,
Do I rise above my former confusion?
The inherently enlightened substance of my nature
Illuminates the turning twisting flow.
But had I not entered the Patriarch’s room,
I’d still be running, lost between the two extremes.
One day Chih Ch’ang asked the Master, “The Buddha taught the dharma of the three vehicles and also the Supreme Vehicle. Your disciple has not yet understood that and would like to be instructed.”
The Master said, “Contemplate only your own original mind and do not be attached to the marks of external dharmas. The Dharma doesn’t have four vehicles; it is people’s minds that differ. Seeing, hearing, and reciting is the small vehicle. Awakening to the Dharma and understanding the meaning is the middle vehicle. Cultivating in accord with Dharma is the great vehicle. To penetrate the ten thousand dharmas entirely and completely while remaining without defilement, and to sever attachment to the marks of all the dharmas with nothing whatsoever gained in return: that is the Supreme Vehicle. Vehicles are methods of practice, not subjects for debate. Cultivate on your own and do not ask me, for at all times your own self-nature is itself ‘thus.’”
Chih Ch’ang bowed and thanked the Master and served him to the end of the Master’s life.
Bhikshu Chih Tao, a native of Nan Hai in Kuang Chou, asked a favor: “Since leaving home, your student has studied the Nirvana Sutra for over ten years and has still not understood its great purport. I hope that the High Master will bestow his instruction.”
The Master said, “What point haven’t you understood?”
Chih Tao replied,
“All activities are impermanent,
Characterized by production and extinction;
When production and extinction are extinguished,
That still extinction is bliss.
My doubts are with respect to this passage.”
The Master said, “What are your doubts?”
“All living beings have two bodies,” Chih Tao replied, “the physical body and the Dharma-body. The physical body is impermanent and is produced and destroyed. The Dharma-body is permanent and is without knowing or awareness. The Sutra says that the extinction of production and extinction is bliss, but I do not know which body is in tranquil extinction and which receives the bliss.
“How could it be the physical body which receives the bliss? When this physical body is extinguished, the four elements scatter. That is total suffering and suffering cannot be called bliss. If the Dharma-body were extinguished it would become like grass, trees, tiles, or stones; then what would receive the bliss?
“Moreover, the Dharma-nature is the substance of production and extinction and the five heaps are the function of production and extinction. With one body having five functions, production and extinction are permanent; at the time of production, the functions arise from the substance, and at the time of extinction, the functions return to the substance. If there were rebirth then sentient beings would not cease to exist or be extinguished. If there were not rebirth, they would return to tranquil extinction and be just like insentient objects. Thus all dharmas would be suppressed by Nirvana and there would not even be production. How could there be bliss?”
The Master said, “You are a son of Shakya! How can you hold the deviant views of annihilationism and permanence which belongs to other religions and criticise the Supreme Vehicle Dharma! According to what you say, there is a Dharma-body that exists apart from physical form and a tranquil extinction to be sought apart from production and extinction. Moreover you propose that there is a body which enjoys the permanence and bliss of Nirvana. But that is to grasp tightly onto birth and death and indulge in worldly bliss.”
“You should now know that deluded people mistook the union of five heaps for their own bodies and discriminated dharmas as external to themselves. They loved life, dreaded death, and drifted from thought to thought, not knowing that this illusory dream is empty and false. They turned vainly around on the wheel of birth and death and mistook the permanence and bliss of Nirvana for a form of suffering. All day long they sought after something else.
“Taking pity on them, the Buddha made manifest in the space of an instant the true bliss of Nirvana, which has no mark of production or extinction; it has no production or extinction to be extinguished. That, then, is the manifestation of tranquil extinction. Its manifestation cannot be reckoned; it is permanent and blissful. The bliss has neither an enjoyer nor a non-enjoyer. How can you call it ‘one substance with five functions?’ Worse, how can you say that Nirvana suppresses all dharmas, causing them to be forever unproduced? That is to slander the Buddha and defame the Dharma.”
Listen to my verse:
Supreme, great Nirvana is bright
Perfect, permanent, still and shining.
Deluded common people call it death,
Other teachings hold it to be annihilation.
All those who seek two vehicles
Regard it as non-action.
Ultimately these notions arise from feeling,
And form the basis for sixty-two views,
Wrongly establishing unreal names.
What is the true, real principle?
Only one who has gone beyond measuring
Penetrates without grasping or rejecting,
And knows that the dharma of the five heaps
And the self within the heaps,
The outward appearances–a mass of images–
The mark of every sound,
Are equally like the illusion of dreams,
For him, views of common and holy do not arise
Nor are explanations of Nirvana made.
The two boundaries, the three limits are cut off.
All organs have their function,
But there never arises the thought of the function.
All dharmas are discriminated
Without a thought of discrimination arising.
When the fire at the eon’s end
burns the bottom of the sea
And the winds blow the mountains
against each other,
The true, permanent, still extinct bliss,
The mark of Nirvana is ‘thus.’
I have struggled to explain it,
To cause you to reject your false views.
Don’t understand it by words alone
And maybe you’ll understand a bit of this.
After hearing this verse, Chih Tao was greatly enlightened. Overwhelmed with joy, he made obeisance and withdrew.
Dhyana Master Hsing Szu was born into the Liu family, which lived in An Ch’eng district in Chi Chou. Hearing of the flourishing influence of the Ts’ao Hsi Dharma Assembly, Hsing Szu went directly there to pay homage and asked, “What is required to avoid falling into successive stages?”
The Master said, “What did you do before coming here?”
He replied, “I did not even practice the Holy Truths.”
The Master said, “Then into what successive states could you fall?”
He replied, “If one isn’t practicing the Four Holy Truths, what successive stages are there?”
The Master greatly admired his capacity and made him the leader of the assembly.
One day the Master said, “You should go elsewhere to teach. Do not allow the teaching to be cut off.”
Having obtained the Dharma, Hsing Szu returned to Ch’ing Yüan Mountain in Chi Chou, to propagate the Dharma and transform living beings. After his death he was given the posthumous title “Dhyana Master Hung Chi.”
Dhyana Master Huai Jang was the son of the Tu family in Chin Chou. He first visited National Master An of Sung Mountain, who told him to go to Ts’ao Hsi to pay homage. When he arrived, he bowed, and the Master asked him, “What has come?”
He replied, “Sung Shan.”
The Master said, “What thing is it and how does it come?”
He replied, “To say that it is like a thing is to miss the point.”
The Master said, “Then can there still be that which is cultivated and certified?”
He replied, “Cultivation and certification are not absent, but there can be no defilement.”
The Master said, “It is just the lack of defilement of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective. You are like that, and I am like that, too. In the West, Prajnatara predicted that a colt would run from under your feet, trampling and killing people under heaven. You should keep that in mind, but do not speak of it too soon.”
Huai Jang suddenly understood. Accordingly he waited upon the Master for fifteen years, daily penetrating more deeply into the profound and mysterious. He later went to Nan Yao where he spread the Dhyana School. The title “Dhyana Master Ta Hui” was bestowed upon him posthumously.
Dhyana Master Hsüan Chiao of Yung Chia was the son of a family called Tai in Wen Chou. When he was young he studied the Sutras and commentaries and was skilled in the T’ien T’ai Dharma-door of “Stop and Look.” Upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, he understood the mind-ground. One day he happened to meet the Master’s disciple Hsüan Ch’e and they had a pleasant talk. As Hsüan Chiao’s words were consonant with the words of all the Patriarchs, Hsüan Ch’e asked him, “Kind Sir, from whom did you obtain the Dharma?”
He replied, “I have heard the Vaipulya Sutras and Shastras, receiving each from a master. Later, upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, I awakened to the doctrine of the Buddha-mind, but as yet no one has certified me.”
Hsüan Ch’e said, “That was acceptable before the time of the Buddha called the Awesome-Voiced King. But since the coming of that Buddha, all those who ‘self-enlighten’ without a master belong to other religions which hold to the tenet of spontaneity.”
“Then will you please certify me, Kind Sir?” said Hsüan Chiao.
Hsüan Ch’e said, “My words are of little worth, but the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, is at Ts’ao Hsi, where people gather like clouds from the four directions. He is one who has received the Dharma. If you wish to go, I will accompany you.”
Thereupon Hsüan Chiao went with Hsüan Ch’e to call upon the Master. On arriving, he circumambulated the Master three times, shook his staff, and stood in front of him. The Master said, “Inasmuch as a Shramana has perfected the three thousand awesome deportments and the eighty thousand fine practices, where does this Virtuous One come from and what makes him so arrogant?”
Hsüan Chiao said, “The affair of birth and death is great and impermanence comes quickly.”
The Master said, “Why not embody non-production and understand that which is not quick?”
He replied, “The body itself is not produced and fundamentally there is no quickness.”
The Master said, “So it is; so it is.”
Hsüan Chiao then made obeisance with perfect awesome deportment. A short while later he announced that he was leaving and the Master said, “Aren’t you leaving too quickly?”
He replied, “Fundamentally I don’t move; how can I be quick?”
The Master said, “Who knows you don’t move?”
He replied, “Kind Sir, you yourself make this discrimination.”
The Master said, “You have truly got the idea of non-production.”
“But does non-production possess an ‘idea’?” asked Hsüan Chiao.
“If it is without ideas, then who discriminates it?” said the Master.
“What discriminates is not an idea either,” he replied.
The Master exclaimed, “Good indeed! Please stay for a night.”
During his time he was called “The One Enlightened Overnight” and later he wrote the “Song of Certifying to the Way,” which circulated widely in the world. His posthumous title is “Great Master Wu Hsiang,” and during his lifetime he was called “Chen Chiao.”
Dhyana cultivator Chih Huang had formerly studied under the Fifth Patriarch and said of himself that he had attained to the “right reception.” He lived in a hut, constantly sitting, for twenty years.
In his travels, the Master’s disciple Hsüan Ch’e reached Ho Shuo, where he heard of Chih Huang’s reputation. He paid a visit to his hut and asked him, “What are you doing here?”
“Entering concentration,” replied Chih Huang.
Hsüan Ch’e said, “You say you are entering concentration. Do you enter with thought or without thought? If you enter without thought, then all insentient things, such as grass, trees, tiles, and stones, should likewise attain concentration. If you enter with thought, then all sentient things which have consciousness should also attain concentration.”
Chih Huang said, “When I properly enter concentration I do not notice whether I have thought or not.”
Hsüan Ch’e said, “Not to notice whether or not you have thought is eternal concentration. How can you enter it or come out of it? If you come out of it or enter it, it is not the great concentration.”
Chih Huang was speechless. After a long while, he finally asked, “Who is your teacher?”
Hsüan Ch’e said, “My master is the Sixth Patriarch at Ts’ao Hsi.”
Chih Huang said, “What does your master take to be Dhyana Concentration?”
Hsüan Ch’e said, “My teacher speaks of the wonderful, clear, perfect stillness, the suchness of the substance and function, the fundamental emptiness of the five skandhas, and the non-existence of the six organs. There is neither emerging nor entering, neither concentration nor confusion. The nature of Dhyana is non-dwelling and is beyond the act of dwelling in Dhyana stillness. The nature of Dhyana is unproduced and beyond the production of the thought of Dhyana. The mind is like empty space and is without the measure of empty space.”
Hearing this explanation, Chih Huang went directly to visit the Master. The Master asked him, “Kind Sir, where are you from?” Chih Huang related the above incident in detail. The Master then said, “It is truly just as he said. Simply let your mind be like empty space without being attached to the idea of emptiness and the correct function of the self-nature will no longer be obstructed. Have no thought, whether in motion or stillness; forget any feeling of being common or holy, put an end to both subject and object. The nature and mark will be ‘thus, thus,’ and at no time will you be out of the state of concentration.”
Just then Chih Huang attained the great enlightenment. What he had gained in twenty years vanished from his mind without a trace. That night the people of Hopei heard a voice in space announcing, “Today, Dhyana Master Chih Huang has attained the Way.” Later, he made obeisance and left, returning to Hopei to teach and convert the four assemblies there.
One of the Sangha asked the Master, “Who got the principle of Huang Mei?”
The Master replied, “The one who understands the Buddhadharma.”
The Sangha member said, “High Master, have you obtained it?”
“I do not understand the Buddhadharma,” the Master replied.
One day the Master wanted to wash the robe which he had inherited, but there was no clear stream nearby. He walked about two miles behind the temple where he saw good energies revolving in a dense grove of trees. He shook his staff, stuck it in the ground, and a spring bubbled up and formed a pool.
As he knelt to wash his robe on a rock, suddenly a monk came up and bowed before him saying, “I am Fang Pien, a native of Hsi Shu. A while ago I was in India, where I visited the Great Master Bodhidharma. He told me to return to China immediately, saying, ‘The orthodox Dharma Eye Treasury and the samghati robe which I inherited from Mahakashyapa has been transmitted to the sixth generation at Ts’ao Hsi, Shao Chou. Go there and pay reverence.’ Fang Pien has come from afar, hoping to see the robe and bowl that his Master transmitted.”
The Master showed them to him and asked, “Superior One, what work do you do?”
“I am good at sculpting,” he replied.
Keeping a straight face, the Master said, “Then sculpt something for me to see.”
Fang Pien was bewildered, but after several days he completed a lifelike image of the Patriarch, seven inches high and wonderful in every detail. The Master laughed and said, “You only understand the nature of sculpture; you do not understand the nature of the Buddha.” Then the Master stretched out his hand and rubbed the crown of Fang Pien’s head, saying, “You will forever be a field of blessing for gods and humans.”
The Master rewarded him with a robe, which Fang Pien divided into three parts: one he used to wrap the sculpture, one he kept for himself, and the third he wrapped in palm leaves and buried in the ground, vowing, “In the future, when this robe is found again, I will appear in the world to be abbot here and restore these buildings.”
Note: During the Sung Dynasty in the eighth year of the Chia Yu reign period (1063 A.D.), while Bhikshu Wei Hsien was repairing the hall, he excavated the earth and found the robe which was like new. The image is at Kao Ch’üan Temple and those who pray before it obtain a quick response.
One Bhikshu was reciting Dhyana Master Wo Lun’s verse:
Wo Lun has the talent
To stop the hundred thoughts:
Facing situations his mind won’t move;
Bodhi grows day by day.
When the Master heard it he said, “This verse shows no understanding of the mind-ground, and to cultivate according to it will increase one’s bondage. Then he spoke this verse:
Hui Neng has no talent
To stop the hundred thoughts.
Facing situations his mind often moves;
How can Bodhi grow?
8. SUDDEN AND GRADUAL
While the Patriarch was staying at Pao Lin Temple in Ts’ao Hsi, the Great Master Shen Hsiu was at Yü Ch’üan Temple in Ching Nan. At that time the two schools flourished and everyone called them, “Southern Neng and Northern Hsiu.” So it was that the two schools, northern and southern, were divided into “sudden” and “gradual.”
As the students did not understand the doctrine, the Master said to them, “The Dharma is originally of one school. It is people who think of North and South. The Dharma is of one kind, but people understand it slowly or quickly. Dharma is not sudden or gradual. Rather it is people who are sharp or dull. Hence the terms sudden and gradual.”
Nonetheless, Shen Hsiu’s followers continually ridiculed the southern Patriarch, saying that he couldn’t read a single word and had nothing in his favor.
But Shen Hsiu said, “He has obtained wisdom without the aid of a teacher and understands the Supreme Vehicle deeply. I am inferior to him. Furthermore, my Master, the Fifth Patriarch, personally transmitted the robe and Dharma to him, and not without good reason. I regret that I am unable to make the long journey to visit him, as I unworthily receive state patronage here. But do not let me stop you. Go to Ts’ao Hsi and call on him.”
One day Shen Hsiu told his disciple Chih Ch’eng, “You are intelligent and very wise. You may go to Ts’ao Hsi on my behalf and listen to the Dharma. Remember it all and take careful notes to read to me when you return.”
As ordered, Chih Ch’eng proceeded to Ts’ao Hsi and joined the assembly without saying where he had come from. The Patriarch told the assembly, “Today there is a Dharma thief hidden in this assembly!”
Chih Ch’eng immediately stepped forward, bowed, and explained his mission. The Master said, “You are from Yü Ch’üan; you must be a spy.”
“No,” he replied, “I am not.”
The Master said, “What do you mean?”
He replied, “Before I confessed, I was; but now that I have confessed, I am not.”
The Master said, “How does your Master instruct his followers?”
Chih Ch’eng replied, “He always instructs us to dwell with the mind contemplating stillness and to sit up all the time without lying down.”
The Master said, “To dwell with the mind contemplating stillness is sickness, not Dhyana. Constant sitting restrains the body. How can it be beneficial? Listen to my verse:
When living, sit, don’t lie.
When dead, lie down, don’t sit.
How can a set of stinking bones
Be used for training?
Chih Ch’eng bowed again and said, “Your disciple studied the Way for nine years at the place of Great Master Hsiu but obtained no enlightenment. Now, hearing one speech from the High Master, I am united with my original mind. Your disciple’s birth and death is a serious matter. Will the High Master be compassionate enough to instruct me further?”
The Master said, “I have heard that your Master instructs his students in the dharmas of morality, concentration, and wisdom. Please tell me how he defines the terms.”
Chih Ch’eng said, “Great Master Shen Hsiu says that morality is abstaining from doing evil, wisdom is offering up all good conduct, and concentration is purifying one’s own mind. This is how he explains them, but I do not know, High Master, what dharma of instruction you use.”
The Master said, “If I said that I had a dharma to give to others, I would be lying to you. I merely use expedients to untie bonds and falsely call that samadhi. Your master’s explanation of morality, concentration, and wisdom is truly inconceivably good but my conception of morality, concentration, and wisdom is different from his.”
Chih Ch’eng said, “There can only be one kind of morality, concentration, and wisdom. How can there be a difference?”
The Master said, “Your master’s morality, concentration, and wisdom guide those of the Great Vehicle, whereas my morality, concentration, and wisdom guide those of the Supreme Vehicle. Enlightenment is not the same as understanding; seeing may take place slowly or quickly.
“Listen to my explanation. Is it the same as Shen Hsiu’s? The Dharma which I speak does not depart from the self-nature, for to depart from the self-nature in explaining the Dharma is to speak of marks and continually confuse the self-nature. You should know that the functions of the ten thousand dharmas all arise from the self-nature and that this is the true morality, concentration, and wisdom. Listen to my verse:
Mind-ground without wrong:
Mind-ground without delusion:
Mind-ground without confusion:
Neither increasing nor decreasing:
You are vajra.
Body comes, body goes:
The original samadhi.
Hearing this verse, Chih Ch’eng regretted his former mistakes, and he expressed his gratitude by saying this verse:
These five heaps are
A body of illusion.
And what is illusion,
If you tend toward
The Dharma is
Not yet pure.
The Master approved, and he said further to Chih Ch’eng, “Your Master’s morality, concentration, and wisdom exhort those of lesser faculties and lesser wisdom, while my morality, concentration, and wisdom exhort those of great faculties and great wisdom. If you are enlightened to your self-nature, you do not set up in your mind the notion of Bodhi or of Nirvana or of the liberation of knowledge and vision. When not a single dharma is established in the mind, then the ten thousand dharmas can be established there. To understand this principle is to achieve the Buddha’s body which is also called Bodhi, Nirvana, and the liberation of knowledge and vision as well. Those who see their own nature can establish dharmas in their minds or not establish them as they choose. They come and go freely, without impediments or obstacles. They function correctly and speak appropriately, seeing all transformation bodies as integral with the self-nature. That is precisely the way they obtain independence, spiritual powers, and the samadhi of playfulness. This is what is called seeing the nature.”
Chih Ch’eng asked the Master further, “What is meant by ‘not establishing?’”
The Master replied, “When your self-nature is free from error, obstruction, and confusion, when Prajna is present in every thought, contemplating and shedding illumination, and when you are constantly apart from the dharma marks and are free and independent, both horizontally and vertically, then what is there to be established?
“In the self-nature, in self-enlightenment, in sudden enlightenment, and in sudden cultivation there are no degrees. Therefore, not a single dharma is established. All dharmas are still and extinct. How can there be stages?”
Chih Ch’eng made obeisance and attended on the Master day and night without laziness. He was a native of T’ai Ho in Chi Chou.
Bhikshu Chih Ch’e, a native of Chiang Hsi, had the family name Chang and the personal name Hsing Ch’ang. As a youth he was an itinerant warrior. When the schools split into the Northern and Southern, although the two leaders had lost the notion of self and other, the disciples stirred up love and hate.
The disciples of the Northern School secretly set up Shen Hsiu as the Sixth Patriarch. Fearing that the country would hear of the transmission of the robe, they hired Hsing Ch’ang to assassinate the Master. But the Master had the power of knowing the thoughts of others. He knew of this matter in advance and set ten ounces of gold on his chair. That night Hsing Ch’ang entered his room intending to kill him. The Master just stretched out his neck. Hsing Ch’ang swung the blade three times but could not harm him.
The Master said,
A straight sword is not bent.
A bent sword is not straight.
I merely owe you gold.
I do not owe you life.
Hsing Ch’ang fell to the ground in fright. After a while he came to and begged for mercy, repenting of his error and vowing to leave home. The Master gave him the gold and said, “Go! I fear that my followers will come to take revenge. Change your appearance and return another day and I will accept you.”
Hsing Ch’ang received his orders and disappeared into the night. Later he left home under another Bhikshu, received the complete precepts and was vigorous in practice. One day, remembering the Master’s words, he made the long journey to have an audience. The Master said, “I have thought of you for a long time. What took you so long?”
He replied, “The High Master once favored me by pardoning my crime. Although I have left home and although I practice austerities, I shall never be able to repay his kindness. May I try to repay you by transmitting the Dharma and taking living beings across?
“Your disciple often studies the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, but he has not yet understood the principles of permanence and impermanence. I beg the High Master to be compassionate and explain them for me.
The Master said, “Impermanence is just the Buddha nature and permanence is just the mind discriminating good and evil dharmas.”
“High Master, your explanation contradicts the Sutra text!” Hsing Ch’ang replied.
The Master said, “I transmit the Buddha’s mind-seal. How could I dare to contradict the Buddhas’ Sutras?”
Hsing Ch’ang replied, “The Sutra says that the Buddha nature is permanent and the High Master has just said that it is impermanent; it says that good and evil dharmas, reaching even to the Bodhi Mind, are impermanent and the High Master has just said that they are permanent. This contradiction has merely intensified your student’s doubt and delusion.”
The Master said, “Formerly, I heard Bhikshuni Wu Chin Tsang recite the Nirvana Sutra. When I commented on it, there was not one word or principle which did not accord with the Sutra text. My explanation to you now is not different.”
Hsing Ch’ang replied, “Your student’s capacity for understanding is superficial. Will the High Master please explain further?”
The Master said, “Don’t you understand? If the Buddha nature were permanent, what use would there be in speaking of good and evil dharmas? To the end of an eon not one person would produce the Bodhi Mind. Therefore I explain it as impermanent. That is exactly what the Buddha explained as the meaning of true permanence.”
“Furthermore, if all dharmas were impermanent, all things would have a self-nature subject to birth and death, and the true permanent nature would not pervade all places. Therefore, I explain it as permanent. That is exactly what the Buddha explained as the meaning of true impermanence.”
“It was for the sake of common people and those who belong to other religions who cling to deviant views of permanence, and for all those who follow the two-vehicle way, mistaking permanence for impermanence formulating the eight perverted views, that the Buddha in the ultimate Nirvana teaching destroyed their prejudiced views. He explained true permanence, true bliss, true selfhood, and true purity.”
“You now contradict this meaning by relying on the words, taking annihilation to be impermanence and fixing on a lifeless permanence. In this way you misinterpret the last, subtle, complete and wonderful words of the Buddha. Even if you read it a thousand times, what benefit could you derive from it?”
Hsing Ch’ang suddenly achieved the great enlightenment and spoke this verse:
To those who hold impermanence in mind,
The Buddha speaks of the permanent nature;
Not knowing expedients is like
Picking up pebbles from a spring pond.
But now without an effort
The Buddha nature manifests;
The Master did not transmit it,
And I did not obtain a thing.
The Master said, “Now you understand! You should be called ‘Chih Ch’e’ (breadth of understanding).”
Chih Ch’e thanked the Master, bowed, and withdrew.
A young boy thirteen years old named Shen Hui, who was from a Kao family in Hsiang Yang, came from Yü Ch’üan to pay homage. The Master said, “The Knowing One’s journey must have been difficult. Did you bring the original with you? If you have the original, you should know the owner. Try to explain it to me.”
Shen Hui said, “I take non-dwelling as the original and seeing as the owner.”
The Master said, “This Shramanera imitates the talk of others.”
Shen Hui then asked, “When you sit in Ch’an, High Master, do you see or not?”
The Master hit him three times with his staff and said, “When I hit you, does it hurt or not?”
He replied, “It both hurts and does not hurt.”
The Master said, “I both see and do not see.”
Shen Hui asked, “How can you both see and not see?”
The Master said, “What I see is the transgression and error of my own mind. I do not see the right, wrong, good, or bad of other people. This is my seeing and not seeing. How can you say it both hurts and does not hurt? If it does not hurt you are like a piece of wood or a stone, but if it does hurt you are just like a common person and will give rise to hatred. Your ‘seeing and not seeing’ are two extremes and your ‘hurting and not hurting’ are production and extinction. You have not even seen your own nature and yet you dare to ridicule others.”
Shen Hui bowed, apologized, and thanked the Master. The Master continued, “If your mind is confused and you do not see, then ask a Good Knowing Advisor to help you find the Way. If your mind is enlightened, then see your own nature and cultivate according to the Dharma. You yourself are confused and do not see your own mind, and yet you come to ask me whether or not I see. If I see, I know it for myself, but is that of any help to you in your confusion? In the same way your seeing is of no use to me. Why don’t you know and see it for yourself, instead of asking me whether or not I see?”
Shen Hui bowed again over one hundred times, seeking forgiveness for his error. He served the Master with diligence, never leaving his side.
One day the Master addressed the assembly as follows: “I have a thing. It has no head or tail, no name or label, no back or front. Do you all know what it is?”
Shen Hui stepped forward and said, “It is the root source of all Buddhas, Shen Hui’s Buddha nature!”
The Master said, “I just told you that it had no name or label, and you immediately call it the root-source of all Buddhas. Go and build a thatched hut over your head! You’re nothing but a follower who pursues knowledge and interpretation.”
After the Master’s extinction, Shen Hui went to Ching Lo where he propagated the Ts’ao Hsi Sudden Teaching. He wrote the Hsien Tsung Chi which circulated widely throughout the land. He is known as Dhyana Master Ho Che.
The Master saw many disciples of other schools, all with evil intentions, gathered beneath his seat to ask him difficult questions. Pitying them, he said, “Students of the Way, all thoughts of good or evil should be completely cast away. What cannot be named by any name is called the self-nature. This non-dual nature is the real nature, and it is within the real nature that all teaching doors are established. At these words you should see it for yourselves.”
Hearing this, they all made obeisance and asked him to be their master.
On the fifteenth day of the first month, during the first year of the Shen Lung reign (A.D. 705) Empress Tse T’ien and Emperor Chung Tsung issued the following proclamation:
“We have invited Masters Hui An and Shen Hsiu to the palace to receive offerings so that we may investigate the One Vehicle in the leisure time remaining after our myriad duties. The two Masters have declined, saying that in the South there is Dhyana Master Hui Neng, who was secretly transmitted the robe and Dharma of the Great Master Hung Jen who now transmits the Buddhas’ mind-seal.
“We now send Chamberlain Hsieh Chien with this invitation, hoping that the Master will remember us with compassion and come to the capital.”
The Master sent back a petition pleading illness saying that he wished to spend his remaining years at the foot of the mountain.
Hsieh Chien said, “The Virtuous Dhyana Masters at the capital all say that to master the Way one must sit in Dhyana meditation and practice concentration, for without Dhyana concentration, liberation is impossible. I do not know how the Master explains this dharma.
The Master said, “The Way is awakened to from the mind. How could it be found in sitting? The Diamond Sutra states that to say that Tathagata either sits or lies down is to walk a deviant path. Why? The clear pure Dhyana of the Tathagata comes from nowhere and goes nowhere and is neither produced nor extinguished. The Tathagata’s clear pure ‘sitting’ is the state of all dharmas being empty and still. Ultimately there is no certification; even less is there any ‘sitting.’”
Hsieh Chien said, “When your disciple returns to the capital, their majesties will surely question him. Will the High Master please be compassionate and instruct me on the essentials of the mind so that I can transmit them to the two palaces and to students of the Way at the capital? It will be like one lamp setting a hundred thousand lamps burning, making all the darkness endlessly light.”
The Master said, “The Way is without light or darkness. Light and darkness belong to the principle of alternation. ‘Endless light’ has an end, too, because such terms are relative. Therefore the Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘The Dharma is incomparable because it is not relative.’”
Hsieh Chien said, “Light represents wisdom and darkness represents affliction. If cultivators of the Way do not use wisdom to expose and destroy affliction, how can they escape from the birth and death that have no beginning?”
The Master said, “Affliction is Bodhi; they are not two and not different. One who uses wisdom to expose and destroy affliction has the views and understanding of the two vehicles and the potential of the sheep and deer carts. Those of superior wisdom and great roots are completely different.”
Hsieh Chien said, “What are the views and understanding of the Great Vehicle?”
The Master said, “The common person sees light and darkness as two, but the wise person comprehends that their nature is non-dual. The non-dual nature is the real nature. The real nature does not decrease in common people nor increase in worthy sages. In afflictions it is not confused and in Dhyana concentration it is not still. It is neither cut off nor permanent. It does not come or go. It is not inside, outside, or in the middle. It is not produced or destroyed. The nature and mark is ‘thus, thus.’ It permanently dwells and does not change. It is called the ‘Way.’”
Hsieh Chien said, “How does your explanation of the self-nature as neither produced nor destroyed differ from that of other religions?”
The Master answered, “As non-production and nonextinction are explained by other religions, extinction ends production and production reveals extinction. Their extinction is not extinction and what they call production is not production. My explanation of non-production and non-extinction is this: originally there was no production and now there is no extinction. For this reason my explanation differs from that of other religions.
“If you wish to know the essentials of the mind, simply do not think of good or evil. You will then enter naturally the clear, pure substance of the mind, which is deep and permanently still, and whose wonderful abilities are as numerous as the sand grains in the Ganges River.”
Hsieh Chien received this instruction and was suddenly greatly enlightened. He bowed, took leave, and returned to the palace to report the Master’s speech. That year on the third of the ninth month a proclamation was issued in praise of the Master. It read:
“The Master has declined our invitation because of old age and illness. He cultivates the Way for us and is a field of blessings for the country. The Master is like Vimalakirti who pleaded illness in Vaishali. He spreads the great fruit widely, transmitting the Buddha-mind and discoursing on the non-dual Dharma.
“Hsieh Chien has conveyed the Master’s instruction, the knowledge and vision of the Tathagata. It must be due to accumulated good acts, abundant blessings, and good roots planted in former lives that we now have met with the Master when he appears in the world and have suddenly been enlightened to the Supreme Vehicle. We are extremely grateful for his kindness which we receive with bowed heads, and now offer in return a Mo Na robe and crystal bowl as gifts. We order the Magistrate of Shao Chou to rebuild the temple buildings and convert the Master’s former dwelling place into a temple to be called ‘Kuo En,’ (Country’s Kindness).”
10. FINAL INSTRUCTIONS
One day the Master summoned his disciples Fa Hai, Chih Ch’eng, Fa Ta, Shen Hui, Chih Ch’ang, Chih T’ung, Chih Ch’e, Chih Tao, Fa Chen and Fa Ju, and said to them, “You are not like other people. After my passage into extinction, you should each be a master in a different direction. I will now teach you how to explain the Dharma without deviating from the tradition of our school.
“First bring up the three classes of Dharma-doors, and then use the thirty-six pairs of opposites, so that, whether coming or going, you remain in the Bodhimandala. While explaining all the dharmas, do not become separated from your self-nature. Should someone suddenly ask you about a dharma, answer him with its opposite. If you always answer with the opposite, both will be eliminated and nothing will be left, since each depends on the other for existence.”
“The three classes of Dharma doors are the heaps, the realms, and the entrances. The five heaps are: form, feeling, perception, impulses, and consciousness. The twelve entrances are the six sense objects outside: forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, and objects of the mind, and the six sense organs within: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. The eighteen realms are the six sense objects, the six sense organs and the six consciousnesses.
“The self-nature is able to contain all dharmas; it is the ‘store-enveloping consciousness.’ If one gives rise to a thought, it turns into consciousness, and the six consciousnesses are produced which go out the six organs and perceive the six sense objects.
“Thus the eighteen realms arise as a function of the self-nature. If the self-nature is wrong, it gives rise to eighteen wrongs; if the self-nature is right it gives rise to eighteen rights. Evil functioning is that of a living being, while good functioning is that of a Buddha. What is the functioning based on? It is based on opposing dharmas within the self-nature.”
“External insentient things have five pairs of opposites: heaven and earth, sun and moon, light and darkness, yin and yang, and water and fire.
“In speaking of the marks of dharmas one should delineate twelve opposites: speech and dharmas, existence and non-existence, form and formlessness, the marked and the unmarked, the presence of outflows and the lack of outflows, form and emptiness, motion and stillness, clarity and turbidity, the common and the holy, membership in the Sangha and membership in the laity, old age and youth, and largeness and smallness.
“From the self-nature nineteen pairs of opposites arise: length and shortness, deviance and orthodoxy, foolishness and wisdom, stupidity and intelligence, confusion and concentration, kindness and cruelty, morality and immorality, straightness and crookedness, reality and unreality, danger and safety, affliction and Bodhi, permanence and impermanence, compassion and harm, joy and anger, generosity and stinginess, advance and retreat, production and extinction, the Dharma-body and the Form-body, the Transformation-body and the Reward-body.”
The Master said, “If you can understand and use these thirty-six pairs of opposites you can connect yourself with the dharmas of all the Sutras and avoid extremes, whether coming or going. When you act from your self-nature in speaking with others, you are separate from external marks while in the midst of them and separate from inward emptiness while in the midst of emptiness. If you are attached to marks, you will add to your wrong views and if you grasp at emptiness, you will increase your ignorance.”
“Those who grasp at emptiness slander the Sutras by maintaining that written words have no use. Since they maintain they have no need of written words, they should not speak either, because written words are merely the marks of spoken language. They also maintain that the direct way cannot be established by written words, and yet these two words, ‘not established’ are themselves written.
“When they hear others speaking, they slander them by saying that they are attached to written words. You should know that to be confused as they are may be permissible, but to slander the Buddha’s Sutras is not. Do not slander the Sutras for if you do, your offense will create countless obstacles for you.
“One who attaches himself to external marks and practices dharmas in search of truth, or who builds many Bodhimandalas and speaks of the error and evil of existence and non-existence will not see his nature for many eons.
“Listen to the Dharma and cultivate accordingly. Do not think of the hundred things, for that will obstruct the nature of the Way. Listening without cultivating will cause others to form deviant views. Simply cultivate according to the Dharma, and do not dwell in marks when bestowing it.”
“If you understand, then speak accordingly, function accordingly, practice accordingly, and act accordingly, and you will not stray from the basis of our school.
“If someone asks you about a meaning, and the question is about existence, answer with non-existence; if you are asked about non-existence, answer with existence; asked about the common life, answer with the holy life; asked about the holy life, answer with the common life. Since in each case the two principles are interdependent, the meaning of the Middle Way will arise between them. If you answer every question with an opposite, you will not stray from the basic principle.
“Suppose someone asks, ‘What is darkness?’ You should answer, ‘Brightness is the cause and darkness the condition. When there is no brightness, there is darkness. Brightness reveals darkness and darkness reveals brightness.’ Since opposites are interdependent, the principle of the Middle Way is established.
“Answer every question that way, and in the future, when you transmit the Dharma, transmit it in the way I am instructing you. Then you will not stray from the tradition of our school.”
In the seventh month of the year Jen Tsu, the first year of the T’ai Chi and Yen Ho reigns (ca 712 A.D.), the Master sent his disciples to Hsin Chou to build a pagoda at Kuo En Temple. He ordered them to hurry the work and it was completed by the end of the summer of the following year.
On the first day of the seventh month he gathered his disciples together and said, “In the eighth month I wish to leave this world. Those of you with doubts should ask about them soon so that I may resolve them for you and put an end to your confusion, because when I am gone there will be no one to teach you.”
Hearing this, Fa Hai and the others wept. Only Shen Hui was unmoved and did not cry. The Master said, “Little Master Shen Hui has attained to the equality of good and evil. He is not moved by blame or praise and does not feel sadness or joy. None of the rest of you have attained that. All these years on the mountain–how have you been cultivating?
“Now you cry. Who are you worrying about? Are you worrying that I don’t know where I’m going? I know where I’m going. If I didn’t know, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about it in advance. No doubt you are crying because you don’t know where I am going, but if you knew you wouldn’t need to cry. Originally the Dharma nature is not produced or extinguished; it does not come or go.”
“All of you sit down, and I will recite a verse called ‘The True-False Motion-Stillness Verse.’ If you take it up and recite it, you will be of the same mind as I am. If you rely on it to cultivate, you will not stray from the true principle of our school.”
The assembly bowed and begged the Master to recite the verse.
There is nothing true in anything,
So don’t view anything as true.
If you view anything as true,
Your view will be completely false.
You can know what is true by yourself.
Being apart from the false is the truth of the mind.
When your own mind is not apart from the false
And lacks the truth, then where is the truth?
Sentient beings understand motion.
Insentient beings do not move.
If you cultivate the work of non-movement,
Like insentient beings, you will not move.
If you seek the true non-movement,
In movement, there is non-movement.
Non-movement is non-movement, but
Things without sentience lack the Buddha-seed.
Fully able to discriminate among marks,
But unmoving in the primary meaning:
The very act of viewing in this way,
Itself is the function of true suchness.
I tell you, students of the Way,
Apply your minds with effort and take care,
At the gate of the Great Vehicle
Do not grasp the wisdom of birth and death.
If there is response at these words,
Then let us discuss the Buddha’s meaning together.
If there is no response,
Join your hands together and make others glad.
The basis of this school is non-contention.
Contention is not the meaning of the Way.
For in grasping at the Dharma doors of
contradiction and contention,
The self-nature enters birth and death.
When the followers heard this verse, they understood its meaning and bowed down before the Master. They made up their minds to practice in accord with the Dharma and not to argue, knowing that the Great Master would not remain long in the world.
The Senior Seated Fa Hai bowed again and asked, “After the High Master enters extinction, who will inherit the robe and Dharma?”
The Master said, “Since the time I lectured on the Dharma in the Ta Fan Temple, transcriptions of my lectures have been circulated. They are to be called The Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. Protect and transmit them in order to take humankind across. If you speak according to them, you will be speaking the Orthodox Dharma. I will explain the Dharma to you, but I will not transmit the robe, because your roots of faith are pure and ripe. You certainly have no doubts and are worthy of the great Work. According to the meaning of the transmission verse of the First Patriarch Bodhidharma, the robe should not be transmitted. His verse said,
Originally I came to this land,
Transmitting Dharma, saving living beings.
One flower opens; five petals and
The fruit comes to bear of itself.”
The Master added, “All of you Good Knowing Advisors should purify your minds and listen to my explanation of the Dharma. If you wish to realize all knowledge, you must understand the Samadhi of One Mark and the Samadhi of One Conduct.
“If you do not dwell in marks anywhere and do not give rise to hate or love, do not grasp or reject, and do not calculate advantage or disadvantage, production and destruction while in the midst of marks, but instead remain tranquil, calm, and yielding, then you will have achieved the Samadhi of One Mark.
“In all places, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, to maintain a straight and uniform mind, to attain the unmoving Bodhimanda and the true realization of the Pure Land. That is called the Samadhi of One Conduct.”
“One who perfects the two samadhis is like earth in which seeds are planted; buried in the ground, they are nourished and grow, ripening and bearing fruit. The One Mark and One Conduct are just like that.
“I now speak the Dharma which is like the falling of the timely rain, moistening the great earth. Your Buddha-nature is like the seeds which, receiving moisture, will sprout and grow. Those who receive my teaching will surely obtain Bodhi and those who practice my conduct will certainly certify to the wonderful fruit. Listen to my verse:
The mind-ground contains every seed;
Under the universal rain they all sprout
Flower and feeling–Sudden Enlightenment:
The Bodhi-fruit accomplishes itself.”
After speaking the verse the Master said, “Dharma is not dual nor is the mind, and the Way is pure and without marks. All of you take care not to contemplate stillness or empty the mind. The mind is basically pure and does not grasp or reject anything. Each of you work hard, and go well, in harmony with circumstances.”
At that time, his followers made obeisance and withdrew.
On the eighth day of the seventh month, the Master suddenly said to his disciples, “I wish to return to Hsin Chou. Quickly ready a boat and oars.”
The great assembly entreated him earnestly to stay, but the Master said, “All Buddhas appear in the world and then are seen to enter Nirvana. This body of mine must return somewhere.”
The assembly said, “Master, you are leaving, but sooner or later you will return.”
The Master said, “Falling leaves return to the root. There was no day on which I came.”
They further asked, “Who has received the transmission of the Right Dharma-eye Treasury?”
The Master said, “The one who has the Way obtains it; the one without a mind penetrates it.”
They further asked, “In the future, there won’t be any difficulties, will there?
The Master said, “Five or six years after my extinction, a man will come to take my head. Listen to my verse:
Offerings to the parents with bowed head.
There must be food in the mouth.
When the difficulty of ‘Man’ is met,
The officials will be Yang and Liu.
The Master also said, “Seventy years after my departure, two Bodhisattvas, one who has left home and one who is a layman will simultaneously come from the east to propagate and transform. They will establish my School, build and restore monasteries, and glorify the Dharma for its heirs.”
The assembly made obeisance again and asked, “Will you please let us know for how many generations the teaching has been transmitted since the first Buddhas and Patriarchs appeared in the world?”
The Master said, “The Buddhas of antiquity who have responded to appear in the world are numberless and uncountable.”
“But now I will begin with the last seven Buddhas. In the Past ‘Adorned Eon’ there were Vipashyin Buddha, Shikhin Buddha, and Vishvabhu Buddha. In the present ‘Worthy Eon’ there have been Krakucchanda Buddha, Kanakamuni Buddha, Kashyapa Buddha, and Shakyamuni Buddha.”
“From Shakyamuni Buddha, the transmission went to Arya Mahakashyapa, Arya Ananda, Arya Sanakavasa, Arya Upagupta, Arya Dhrtaka, Arya Miccaka, Arya Vasumitra, Arya Buddhanandi, Arya Buddhamitra, Arya Parshva…”
“…Arya Punyayashas, Mahasattva Ashvaghosha, Arya Kapimala, Mahasattva Nagarjuna, Arya Kanadeva, Arya Rahulata, Arya Sanghanandi, Arya Gayashata…”
“…Arya Kumarata, Arya Jayata, Arya Vasubandhu, Arya Manorhita, Arya Haklena, Arya Aryasimha, Arya Basiasita, Arya Punyamitra, Arya Prajnatara, Arya Bodhidharma, Great Master Hui K’o, Great Master Seng Ts’an, Great Master Tao Hsin, Great Master Hung Jen, and I, Hui Neng, am the Thirty-Third Patriarch. Thus the transmission has been handed down from patriarch to patriarch. In the future transmit it accordingly from generation to generation. Do not allow it to become extinct.”
The assembly heard and faithfully accepted what the Master had said, bowed, and withdrew.
On the third day of the eighth month of the year Kuei Ch’ou, the second year of the Hsien T’ien reign (A.A. 713), after a meal in Kuo En Temple, the Master said, “Each of you take your seat, for I am going to say goodbye.”
Fa Hai said, “What teaching dharma will the High Master leave behind so that confused people can be led to see the Buddha-nature?”
The Master said, “All of you please listen carefully. If those of future generations recognize living beings, they will have perceived the Buddha-nature. If they do not recognize living beings, they may seek the Buddha throughout many eons, but he will be difficult to meet.
“I will now teach you how to recognize the living beings within your mind and how to see the Buddha-nature there. If you wish to see the Buddha, simply recognize living beings, for it is living beings who are confused about the Buddha and not the Buddha who is confused about living beings.
“When enlightened to the self-nature, the living being is a Buddha. If confused about the self-nature, the Buddha is a living being. When the self-nature is impartial, the living being is the Buddha. When the selfnature is biased, the Buddha is a living being.
“If your thoughts are devious and malicious, the Buddha dwells within the living being, but by means of one impartial thought, the living being becomes a Buddha. Our minds have their own Buddha and that Buddha is the true Buddha. If the mind does not have its own Buddha, where can the true Buddha be sought? Your own minds are the Buddha; have no further doubts. Nothing can be established outside the mind, for the original mind produces the ten thousand dharmas. Therefore the Sutras say, ‘The mind produced, all dharmas are produced; the mind extinguished, all dharmas are extinguished.’”
“Now, to say goodbye, I will leave you a verse called the ‘Self-Nature’s True Buddha Verse.’ People of the future who understand its meaning will see their original mind and realize the Buddha Way. The verse runs:
The true-suchness self-nature
is the true Buddha.
Deviant views, the three poisons,
are the demon king.
At times of deviant confusion the demon king is in the house;
But when you have proper views the Buddha is in the hall.
Deviant views, the three poisons produced within the nature,
Are just the demon king come to dwell in the house.
Proper views casting out three poisons of the mind
Transform the demon into Buddha–-true, not false.
Dharma-body, Reward-body, and Transformation-body:
Fundamentally the three bodies are one body.
Seeing that for yourself within your own nature
Is the Bodhi-cause for realizing Buddhahood.
The pure nature is originally produced from the Transformation-body.
The pure nature is ever-present within the Transformation-body,
One’s nature leads the Transformation-body down the right road.
And in the future the full perfection is truly without end.
The root cause of purity
is the lust nature,
For once rid of lust,
the substance of the nature is pure.
Each of you, within your natures;
abandon the five desires.
In an instant, see your nature–it is true.
If in this life you encounter the door of the Sudden Teaching
You will be suddenly enlightened to your selfnature, and see the Honored of the World.
If you wish to cultivate and aspire to Buddhahood,
You won’t know where the truth is to be sought
Unless you can see the truth within your own mind,
This truth which is the cause of realizing Buddhahood.
Not to see your self-nature but to seek the Buddha outside:
If you think that way, you are deluded indeed.
I now leave behind the Dharma-door of the Sudden Teaching
To liberate worldly people who must cultivate themselves.
I announce to you and to future students of the Way:
If you do not hold these views you will only waste your time.
Having spoken the verse the Master continued, “All of you should take care. After my extinction, do not act with worldly emotion. If you weep in sorrow, receive condolences, or wear mourning clothes, you are not my disciples, for that is contrary to the proper Dharma. Simply recognize your own original mind and see your own original nature which is neither moving nor still, neither produced nor extinguished, neither coming nor going, neither right nor wrong, neither dwelling nor departing.”
“Because I am afraid that your confused minds will misunderstand my intention, I will instruct you again so that you may see your nature. After my extinction, continue to cultivate accordingly, as if I were still present. Should you disregard my teaching, then even if I were to remain in the world, you would obtain no benefit.”
He further spoke this verse:
Firm, firm: Do not cultivate the good.
High, high: Do not do evil.
Still, still: Cut off sight and sound.
Vast, vast: The mind unattached.
After speaking this verse, the Master sat upright until the third watch, when suddenly he said to his disciples, “I am going!” In an instant he changed, and a rare fragrance filled the room. A white rainbow linked with the earth, and the trees in the wood turned white. The birds and the beasts cried out in sorrow.
In the eleventh month, a dispute arose among the officials, disciples, Sangha, and laity of the three countries of Kuang Chou, Shao Chou, and Hsin Chou as to who should receive the true body.
As they could not agree, they lit incense and prayed saying, “The Master will be returned to the place indicated by the incense smoke.”
The smoke went directly to Ts’ao Hsi and so, on the thirteenth day of the eleventh month, the reliquary and the transmitted robe and bowl were returned there. In the following year, on the twenty-fifth day of the seventh month, the body was removed from the reliquary and Disciple Fang Pien anointed it with incense paste.
Remembering the prophecy that his head would be taken, the disciples wrapped sheets of iron and lacquered cloth around his neck for protection and then placed his body in the pagoda. Just then a white light appeared within the pagoda, shot up into the sky, and did not fade for three days. The Magistrate of Shao Chou reported this to the Emperor and received an imperial order to erect a stone tablet commemorating the Master’s conduct in the Way.
The Master’s springs and autumns were seventy-six. The robe was transmitted to him when he was twenty-four and when he was thirty-nine his hair was cut. For thirty-seven years he spoke Dharma to benefit living beings. Forty-three men inherited his Dharma, and an uncountable number awoke to the Way and overstepped the common lot.
The robe of belief transmitted from Bodhidharma, the Mo Na robe and precious bowl conferred by Emperor Chung Tsung, as well as the lifelike image sculpted by Fang Pien and other articles of the Way, were entrusted to the attendant in charge of the stupa and were permanently retained at the Pao Lin Bodhimandala for the Bodhimanda’s protection.
The Platfom Sutra has been transmitted to set forth the principles of our school, to glorify the Triple Jewel, and to benefit all living beings.
(End of The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra)
Buddha’s True Dharma Great Transference of Merit
Namo Burning Lamp Ancient Buddha, the master that bestowed a prediction of Buddhahood on Shakyamuni Buddha.
Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha.
Namo Quelling Disasters Lengthening Life Medicine Master Buddha Thus Come One of the Eastern Pure Lapis Lazuli Land.
Namo Guide Master Amitabha Buddha of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Namo Maitreya Honored Future Buddha.
Namo Manjusri Great Wisdom Bodhisattva.
Namo Universal Worthy Great Conduct Bodhisattva.
Namo Avalokiteshvara Great Kindness and Compassion Bodhisattva Mahasattva.
Namo Great Strength Bodhisattva Mahasattva.
Namo Earth Treasury King Great Vow Bodhisattva Mahasattva.
Namo Great Pure Sea-like Assembly of Bodhisattvas Mahasattva.
Bow with Utmost Sincerity to all those who see and hear of this, and wish those to share together the subtle Dharma; Be full with the joy of the Dharma and six periods of auspiciousness.
Mind Enlightened and understand the true meaning, go to the Liberation, and archive Buddhahood.
Namo throughout all the space and pervades the experiential realm, past, present, and future, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, All pre-eminent Dharma and all Nobel and Sagely Sangha, Mahasattvas.
Grateful to the Dharma guarding dragons and Devas protecting true Dharma.
Grateful to all Enlightened Ones, Mahasattvas.
Wishing past, future and present, all Unenlightened living beings, whether monks or the laity, men or women, any ethnic group, every kind of sentient being, and Six Destinies Beings are together all ashamed of the behaviors, speech, and thoughts from previous lifetimes because of greed, anger, and folly, and thus repent with utmost sincerity, and never repeat again.
Pray with utmost sincerity to all perfectly Enlightened Ones that are throughout all the space and pervade the experiential realm who bless with compassion and authority the countless suffering beings to purify Self-Nature, escape suffering, and attain happiness and complete Liberation.
I vow that this merit and virtue may extend to all living beings so that I and all beings may together realize the Buddha Way.
Buddha’s True Dharma Website