The Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs

The Thirteenth Tien T'ai Patriarch
The Venerable Ch'ing 5ung
of Kuo Ch'ing Monastery

by Venerable Master Hua
Translated by Bhikshuni Heng Hsien
Reviewed by Bhikshuni Heng Wen

      The Venerable Ch'ing Sung of Kuo Ch'ing Monastery was a native of T'ien T'ai Province.  He vigorously practiced Stopping and Contemplating under Dharma Master Hsiu. He cultivated the samadhi of shamatha and vipashyana with the Twelfth T'ien T'ai Patriarch, Venerable Master Yuan Hsiu. From morning to night he was not lax, unlike us. He carried on as Abbot of Kuo Ch'ing, being selected afterwards to succeed Venerable Master Hsiu as Abbot of Kuo Ch'ing Monastery. In both speech and practice, he reached the highest point. He was able both to lecture and to practice, to embody what he taught and be a model for everyone. He had balanced excellence in talking and acting. Some people can talk but can't practice, while others can practice but can't talk; but he was able to do both ultimately well.

      At that time, King Ch'ien--this was probably after the T'ang Dynasty--set up a country in the Wu Yueh area. He set up a country in the territory of the rival feudal states,
Kiangsu and Chekiang. The one region of T'ien T'ai was included within it. T'ien T'ai District fell within that country. The Master led the multitudes to dwell securely there, to dwell in peace together. He disciplined their resolve, saying, by way of encouragement to the assembly, "The King and the Ministers are our outer protectors. The king of the country and the great officials are all acting as Dharma protectors for us, sparing us the worry of wars and revolutions. We don't have to worry about their being wars, and we don't have to be refugees and escape to another country.

Every day we dwell secure, so how can we not be vigorous in the Way and repay the country's kindness? When we are so secure and at peace like this, how could we not cultivate the Way and repay the country's kindness to us? We have to do that, so all of you should cultivate." Each day he would take the seat. He would sit upon the Dharma seat every day and lecture, and his lofty discourse would not end. Once he took the Dharma seat, he would forget to come down from it, and would talk as if he were never going to stop. The assembly would not dare give signs of weariness. He was, however, very fierce, and no one would dare fall asleep during 1ectures, unlike a disciple of mine here who wants to sleep from morning to night. A verse in praise says:

The turn of T'ang was overthrown.
Troops of valiants were striving for the rule.
At peace in such an inner ground,
Only due to the real help of the king.

"Diligently cultivate to benefit and encourage,
And repay the country's civilizing influence."
The clouds of his lofty discourse flourished.
He upheld the torch in the deep of night.

The T'ang Dynasty had run full-circuit and come to an end. At that time, there were many who aspired to the throne of the empire or to be great kings, but T'ien T'ai Province was nonetheless quite peaceful due to the power of King Ch'ien. So the Venerable One exhorted the Assembly to work hard at their cultivation to recompense the country for its civilizing effect. His lectures were like clouds on high, and in that very dark period, he lectured Sutras and spoke the Dharma, maintaining the torch in the middle of the night.

      Another verse in praise says:

      The T'ien T'ai Dharma craftsman had
                      lofty hands and eyes.
            He received the Patriarch's position
                      and upheld the golden sword.
            He urged to cultivation to repay the
                      country's virtue,
            To concentrate on vigor in the Way
                      so as to thank the gods.
            Every day he took the seat and gave 
           the Lion's roar.
            In troubled times he still was able
           to spread the proper teachings.
            He contributed to Buddhism and was
                      kindly to his brothers.

The Venerable One was a master craftsman of the T'ien T'ai Dharma-doors, and his lofty hands and eyes which penetrated the heavens. He became the Thirteenth Patriarch of T'ien T'ai and wielded the jewelled demon-quelling pestle and the demon-subduing jeweled sword. He encouraged everyone to cultivate and repay the kindness of the country, and to concentrate their minds in vigorous cultivation of the Way in order to thank the gods, dragons, and good Dharma protecting spirits. He would always take the Dharma seat and give the great lion's roar. He would lecture until very late at night, but no one dared fall asleep. The world was in turmoil at the time, yet he was able to propagate the Proper Dharma and the Sagely Teachings. He made a great contribution to Buddhism, and his kindness to all of us was very great. Therefore, all of us who also live in a very troubled world should also work hard and cultivate well.