The Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs

The Fifth Patriarch of the
Tien Tai School
Venerable Great Master Chih Che

Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua

Fa Hua, "Dharma Flower," is the name of the place where the venerable one lived, and Chin Wei was his name. Venerable one means others venerated him.

IN HIS PREVIOUS LIFE. In his previous life he was PRIME MINISTER CH'EN. His surname was Ch'en and he held the position of Prime Minister. Prime Minister is an official title. IN HSU AT LING HE HEARD CHIH CHE LECTURE SUTRAS. Hsu at Ling may refer to Nanking, or it may refer to Hsuchow and Nanking. He heard the Great Master Chih Che lecture the Dharma Flower Sutra. HE MADE FIVE VOWS. He made five vows. AFTER HIS DEATH HE WAS REBORN IN CHIN YUN WITH THE SURNAME OF CHU. When he was reborn, he was born into the family with the Chu surname.

WHEN HE WAS EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD, when he had reached his eighteenth year, WHEN HE WAS ABOUT TO BE MARRIED, just when he was about to get married, when he was about to get a wife, HE MET A BRAHMAN SANGIN. This Brahman Sanghin could refer to a monk from India or to a monk who cultivates pure practices, because Brahman means pure practices. This monk of pure practice REVEALED HIS FIVE VOWS TO THE MASTER THEN TO KUO CH'ING. The Venerable Chih Wei went to Kuo Ch'ing Monastery, Kuo Ch'ing Monastery of T'ien T'ai. HE RESIDED WITH CHANG AN AND LEFT THE HOME-LIFE. The Venerable Chang An is A person, and the Master left the home-life with the Venerable Chang An. HE RECEIVED THE ESSENTIALS OF THE MIND. He was transmitted the Mind Dharma. HIS SAMADHI AND WISDOM WERE PERFECTED. At this time he had samadhi power, and his wisdom power was perfected. HE CERTIFIED TO THE DHARMA FLOWER SAMADHI. He certified to the Dharma Flower Samadhi.

HE WISHED TO FIND A PLACE TO SPEAK DHARMA. He wanted to find a place to lecture Sutras and teach the Dharma. HE THREW HIS STAFF INTO THE AIR. He threw his walking staff into the air. IT FLEW TO LIEN CHAN MOUNTAIN IN HSUAN YUAN. His staff flew by itself to Lien Chan Mountain in Hsuan Yuan. THEN THE MASTER DWELT THERE. This Venerable one dwelt in that place. HE CALLED THAT PLACE FA HUA, "Dharma Flower." He named the area Fa Hua Mountain. BY DAY HE LECTURED AND BY NIGHT HE MEDITATED. He lectured the Dharma Flower Sutra during the day, and at night he practiced meditation. HIS STUDENTS NUMBERED IN THE HUNDREDS. There were hundreds of students who studied with him.

THE MASTER'S BODY WAS SEVEN (Chinese) FEET TALL. This venerable one was seven feet tall. HIS BUILD WAS VERY ELEGANT. He was built very well, very elegant. EVERY TIME HE ASCENDED TO THE SEAT. Whenever he sat down to lecture the Dharma, A PURPLE CLOUD FORMED ABOVE HIS HEAD. A purple cloud of incense hung in the air above him. IT APPEARED LIKE A JEWELED CANOPY. This purple cloud was like a jeweled canopy. DAILY IT WENT TO HIS DIVINE ABODE. It was always with him. HE TRAVELLED EIGHTEEN LI FOR HIS FOOD. He had to travel more than eighteen li for his food, to go on his begging rounds. EVERYONE SAID HE HAD PSYCHIC POWERS. People said he had the penetration of psychic powers.

IN THE FIRST YEAR OF YUNG LU() in the first year of the period Yung Lu during the T'ang Dynasty, HE SAT DOWN IN FULL LOT AND TRANSFORMED. He sat in full lotus position and went to rebirth.

DURING THE TIME OF T'AI TSUNG, during the time of Emperor T'ai Tsung of the T'ang Dynasty, HE WAS INSTALLED AS ONE OF THE FOUR GREAT MASTERS. He was installed as one of the four great masters. He was one who was installed by the emperor. DURING SUNG HE WAS GIVEN POSTHUMOUS TITLE OF THE VENERABLE HSUAN TA. During the Sung Dynasty he was installed with the title of Hsuan Ta.

A VERSE IN HIS PRAISE SAYS, HE LEFT THE HOME OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND ENTERED THE FAMILY OF THE DHARMA KING. He left the home of the Prime Minister and entered the family of the Dharma. Before he was a Prime Minister and then he entered the family of the Dharma King. HIS SAMADHI AND WISDOM BOTH FLOURISHED. He had perfected both his samadhi and wisdom

AND CERTIFIED TO THE DHARMA FLOWER. He had certified to the Dharma Flower Samadhi. HIS STAFF FLEW AND WHERE IT STOPPED...He flew his staff to where he was to live. THE DHARMA DRUM BEAT FOR A LONG TIME. HIS VOWS WERE SMALL, BUT HIS ATTAINMENTS WERE GREAT. In the beginning his vow-power was small, but he obtained the Great Vehicle. WAS THIS NOT ONE OF GREAT POWER WHO HAD COME TO APPEAR? He was probably one of great power who had manifested to come here and do great Buddha works.

ANOTHER VERSE IN PRAISE SAYS, ONE WITH GREAT POWER MANIFESTED IN THE BODY OF A PRIME MINISTER. Sometimes those who are high officials are manifestations of Bodhisattvas. But a high-ranking official should not be greedy for being a high-ranking official. If one is greedy, then this is a manifestation of a demon. Mao Tsai-tung was a Chairman, a high-ranking official, but he was demonic, so there were problems. CHIH CHE EXPLAINED THE DHARMA FLOWER SUTRA. Prime Minister Ch'en heard Master Chih Che lecture the Dharma Flower Sutra and thus HE SOON CERTIFIED TO SAMADHI. He quickly certified to the Dharma Flower Samadhi. AND QUICKLY ACCOMPLISHED SINGLE-MINDED PRACTICE. This also means he very quickly accomplished the single mind. This means he did nothing else but cultivate. He cultivated with one mind. A PURPLE CLOUD SHIELDED AND PROTECTED HIS VIRTUOUS TRANSFORMATIONS. There was this purple cloud in the air above him, which appeared because he had virtuous practices and virtuous transformations. A RED MIST WOUND THROUGH THE ASSEMBLY OF TEN THOUSAND. There were many people, who came to his Dharma Assembly for lecturing the Sutras, so the line says "the Assembly of Ten Thousand." And there was a red light, which illumined them all. I feel it was like this. But ultimately there is no real evidence to prove it.

      THE FIFTH PATRIARCH OF THE T'IEN T'AI WAS IMPOSING AND ELEGANT. The cultivation of the Fifth Patriarch of the T'ien T'ai School was very supreme, very good. MAY BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BE RENEWED EACH DAY. I hope he will come and teach America and cause American Buddhism to flourish more each day and become more accomplished with each day.

The Dharma Realm of People

The way of people is harmony,

With merit and error interspersed.

On virtuous deeds you rise, offenses make you fall,

It has nothing to do with anyone else at all.

                        Venerable Master Hua