THE BODHI SEAL OF THE PATRIARCHS
FIRST PATRIARCH OF
THE T'IEN T'AI SCHOOL
Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hua
T'IEN T'AI is the name of a mountain in a province by the same name. It literally means "Exalting Heaven" to indicate the loftiness of the mountain it's peak seemed to reach to heaven. The Great Master Chin Che dwelled there propagating the Buddhadharma and so the school that was founded took the name T'ien T'ai, after the location. The principles of this school are those to which all of Buddhism returns.
The FIRST PATRIARCH of this school was VENERABLE HUI WEN OF THE NORTHERN CH'I DYNASTY. THE VENERABLE ONE’S LAYNAME WAS KAO. HE WAS ENDOWED WITH THE COMPLETE VEHICLE FROM AN EARLY AGE. He had the root nature of the Great Vehicle. HE ENLIGHTENED BY HIMSELF WHILE STILL A PURE YOUTH. His state was one of innocence and purity; and he became enlightened all by himself. HE READ THE DA CHIH DU LUN (Shastra of the Perfection of Great Wisdom) WHICH TELLS OF THE THREE WISDOMS OF THE ONE MIND. This method of cultivation is as follows:
1. Cultivate the Contemplation of Emptiness and destroy Delusions of Views and Thought. Thereby obtain All Wisdom and certify to the Truth of the True.
2. Cultivate the Contemplation of Falseness and destroy Delusions like Dust and Sand. Thereby obtain the Wisdom of the Means to the Way and know the Truth of the False.
3. Cultivate the Contemplation of the Middle and destroy the Delusion of Ignorance. Thereby obtain the Wisdom of All Modes and certify to the Dharma Body of the Middle Way. Because the Three Contemplations are practiced at once in one mind, the Three Wisdoms are simultaneously obtained.
HE USED THIS AS CULTIVATION OF CONTEMPLATION OF THE MIND. THE FRUIT IS OBTAINED FROM THE ONE MIND. He said the Fruition comes from the Three Wisdoms of the One Mind. HOW CAN THE CAUSES BE OBTAINED FROM WHAT COMES BEFORE OR AFTER? Causes don't really come before or after; they can't be gotten at that way. WHEN THIS CONTEMPLATION IS SUCCESSFUL ONE CERTIFIES TO THE THREE WISDOMS OF THE ONE MIND. The T'ien T'ai School cultivates "Contemplating and Stopping." Once this is successful one realizes the Three Wisdoms of the One Mind. But that realization certainly isn't before or after. BOTH ARE GONE AND BOTH ARE REVEALED. Originally they are not there at all and yet Wonderful Existence illumines them. THIS IS ENTRY INTO THE FIRST DWELLING, THE POSITION OF PATIENCE WITH NON-PRODUCTION. If you can reach this state where "both are gone and both revealed" then although you say it's gone, it still exists; and although you say it exists, it's gone. True Emptiness appears in Wonderful Existence and Wonderful Existence appears in True Emptiness. True Emptiness is not empty and so there's Wonderful Existence. Wonderful Existence doesn't really exist, and so it's True Emptiness.
HE ALSO INVESTIGATED THE CHUNG LUN (Shastra of the Middle) written by Dragon Tree (Nagarjuna) Bodhisattva which says,
Dharmas that arise from causes and conditions,
I say these are all empty.
They are also known as falseness
As well as the Ultimate leaning of the Middle Way.
This refers to the Three Contemplation of Empty, False, and Middle. The final meaning of the Middle Way does not fall into the two extremes of emptiness or existence. THIS ONE PHRASE DHARMA THAT ARISE FROM CAUSES AND CONDITIONS. BROUGHT HIM SUDDEN ENLIGHTENMENT. HE IMMEDIATELY UNDERSTOOD ALL DHARMAS. He knew how all the myriad things in the universe were produced, dwelled, change and became extinct. He understood the basic substance of all dharmas AND KNEW THERE WERE NONE THAT DID NOT ARISE FROM CAUSES AND CONDITIONS. AND YET THESE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS you should not attach to them. They ARE EXISTENT BUT DON'T NECESSARILY EXIST; THEY ARE EMPTY BUT NOT NECESSARILY EMPTY. True Emptiness has Wonderful Existence; Wonderful Existence has True Emptiness. EMPTINESS AND EXISTENCE ARE NON-DUAL. THIS IS CALLED THE MIDDLE WAY.
True Emptiness has no others or self.
The Great Way has no shape or form.
So it is said:
Of the Great Way, there's not a word anyone can speak.
It doesn't leave its mark;
Even less can it be discussed.
That's the Middle Way. THE MASTER ALSO RELIED ON THE SHIM LUN (The Shastra of Explanation) AND SO IT CAN BE KNOWN THAT HE WAS A DESCENDENT OF NAGARJUNA'S DHARMA LINE. Venerable Hui Wen received the Dharma Pulse from Dragon Tree bodhisattva. THE DHARMA DOOR HE ENTERED CANNOT BE KNOWN BY THOSE OF THE WORLD. It was not something that ordinary people could understand, or something that those endowed with a little Literary Prajna could comprehend.
STUDENTS ALL REVERED HIM; THEY WORSHIPPED THE GROUND HE WALKED ON. They looked upon him as Heaven and Earth. THEY KNEW NOT HIS HEIGHTS OR HIS DEPTHS. HE TRANSMITTED THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE MIND, the Three contemplations of empty, false, and middle, TO MASTER NAN YAO. BECAUSE OF THAT HE IS KNOWN AS THE FOUNDING PATRIARCH OF THE T’IEN T’AI SCHOOL.
A VERSE IN HIS PRAISE SAYS:
THE DHARMA OF CH’AN CAME FROM THE WEST.
MOST CULTIVATED GRADUAL CAUSES.
THE MASTER ALONE WENT WILLFULLY BEYOND
AND AS A PURE YOUTH AWAKENED HIMSELF.
ENDOWED WITH THE DHARMA OF DRAGON TREE,
HE CONTEMPLATED THE WISDOMS OF THE ONE MIND
THE PERFECT AND SUDDEN WONDERFUL DOOR
WHICH IS LIKE THE NEWLY RISEN SUN.