The Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs
Ch'an Master Fa Yung
from Nyo T'ou Mountain
Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
by Bhikshuni Heng Ch'ih
THE MASTER WAS FROM JEN CHOU. HIS FAMILY NAME WAS WEI. WHEN HE WAS NINETEEN HE WENT TO MAO SHAN AND LEFT THE HOME LIFE. This Dharma Master is called by the name of the place he was from, rather than by his ordained name, out of respect. He entered the Way as a virgin youth--that's the very best way to do it. ON THE NORTHERN FACE OF NYU T'OU MOUNTAIN HE FOUND A CAVE AND SAT IN MEDITATION THERE, CONTEMPLATING HIS MIND.
EVENTUALLY THE FOURTH PATRIARCH HAPPENED BY AND ASKED THE MASTER, "WHO IS CONTEMPLATING ? WHAT IS THE MIND?" Master Fa Yung didn't know he was being addressed by the Fourth Patriarch. He just knew that he didn't have an answer for the questions, so THE MASTER DIDN'T REPLY. He didn't know what to say. THE PATRIARCH ACCOMPANIED HIM BACK TO HIS CAVE. THE PATRIARCH SAW THE TIGERS AND WOLVES SURROUNDING THE PLACE. Ordinarily the wild beasts would gather while the master sat in meditation and accompany him in his cultivation. THE PATRIARCH PRETENDED TO BE FRIGHTENED OF THEM.
Still not aware of whom he was talking to, THE MASTER SAID, "DO YOU STILL HAVE THAT LEFT?" meaning, fear. THE PATRIARCH DIDN'T REPLY BUT SIMPLY WROTE THE CHARACTER "BUDDHA" ON THE MASTER'S MEDITATION SEAT. THIS UNNERVED THE MASTER, WHO DARED NOT SIT UPON THE WORD. THE PATRIARCH SAID, "DO YOU STILL HAVE THAT LEFT?" He threw the question right back at the Master. "It's just a word. What are you afraid of?" THE MASTER BOWED AND ASKED HIS BENEFACTOR TO SPEAK THE ESSENTIALS OF DHARMA FOR HIM.
The Patriarch then told him about the essence of the Middle Way. He also said, "I HAVE RECEIVED THE DHARMA DOOR OF THE SUDDEN TEACHING FROM GREAT MASTER TS'AN, the Third Patriarch. I NOW PASS IT ON TO YOU. IN THE FUTURE THERE WILL BE A VERY BROADMINDED AND SINCERE PERSON WHO WILL SUCCEED YOU IN THE TEACHING. You are an intelligent person, You should continue to follow the Dharma and in the future you will have a lot of disciples. THE DHARMA FLOURISHED WIDELY IN HIS TIME. LATER HE MET THE SENIOR SEATED CHIH YEN AND BEQUEATHED THE DHARMA SEAL TO HIM. THE YEAR AFTER THAT ON THE THIRTEENTH OR THE FIRST MONTH, HE PASSED AWAY WITHOUT ILLNESS.
A VERSE IN HIS PRAISE SAYS:
HE SAT IN STILLNESS ON AN ISOLATED MOUNTAIN.
ANOTHER VERSE IN PRAISE SAYS:
AT NYU T'OU
HE SAT STILL CONTINUALLY CONTEMPLATING HIS MIND.
The Master found a quiet place to meditate and the Fourth Patriarch observed the causes and conditions and came to teach and transform him when he was ready. The animals were drawn to the Master. It was like in the Pure Land where "there are always rare and wonderful vari-colored birds; white cranes, peacocks, parrots, and egrets, kalavinkas, and two-headed birds." Although he was detached and felt no fear when these birds and beasts drew near, he still got scared at the idea of sitting on the word "Buddha."
"The word for Buddha is empty," was the Patriarch's point, "It's just something we say. Since it's empty, you can sit on it." But you have to realize where the Patriarch was coming from. He wasn't like people of "side doors and outside ways" who go around advocating "Everybody is Buddha." I ask them, if that's the case, then why is it your greed, hatred, stupidity, pride and doubt are still so much in evidence? No, what they say is just slander of the Buddha. When the word Buddha really is empty it will happen naturally as a result of achieving non-attachment.
Before having been certified to that state, one who advocates that "Everybody is Buddha, so we can all just do as we please," is simply denying cause and effect and as a result, will certainly fall into the hells.
Ch'an Master Fa Jung
had tremendous conditions with people
them to take refuge with the Triple
But he didn't get lazy
in the process. He remained vigorous throughout his life.
Since he cultivated
when it came time to go he did so in comfort. He went to the Pure
having a pleasant conversation--he was just that free and independent. His was
He had no obstacles,
no greed, and was not the least
May my body be without sickness or suffering,