THIRTY-NINTH PATRIARCH, THE TWELFTH IN CHINA,
Today we shall talk about the Third Patriarch of the Wei Yang lineage. Calculating from Bodhidharma, he is the twelfth. This patriarch lived in Hsi T'a Monastery and his name was Kuang Mu Kuang means light, and Mu means splendid and majestic; the name has quite a fine meaning. Seven days after this dhyana master was born, he was able to stand up and walk by himself.
After a month he was able to speak. He was not like Sakyamuni Buddha, however, who, as soon as he was born, stood up, pointed one finger at the heavens and one at the earth and said, "In the heavens and on earth only I am honored." Yet after a week Dhyana Master Kuang Mu was able to stand and after a month he was able to talk. What did he say? His first word, were, "Namo Amitabha Buddha". Do you think that this was curious or not? His first sentence was, "Namo Amitabha Buddha". His second sentence was, "Namo Original Teacher Sakyamuni Buddha". The third sentence which he recited was, "Namo the next future born Maitreya Buddha". When he first began to speak, he called the names of these three Buddhas.
Amitabha Buddha is a Buddha of the past, Sakyamuni Buddha, although he is of the past, is the present Buddha, because the dharma he spoke is still in the world and the next future-born, Maitreya Buddha is a future Buddha. So what he recited amounted to, “Namo eternally dwelling Buddhas of the past; namo eternally dwelling Buddhas of the present; namo eternally dwelling Buddhas of the future.” So you see, a month after this dharma master was born he was able to recite the Buddha’s names.
We learn to speak after about a year, and people have to teach us before we are able to recite Buddha. If nobody teaches, we are not able to recite. Since this child was able to recite Buddha after a month, his father and mother had an especially uncommon impression of him. They said, "How is this child able to recite Buddha? He certainly must be a ho shang.” Thereupon, they gave him the name Kuang, which means light, as in Buddha light. The meaning was that he would be able to expand the light of the Buddhadharma in the world. Kuang was the child's nickname. The name his teacher cleverly gave him when he left home also had to do with the name Kuang. This child was very splendid, not at all naughty or mischievous. Since he always acted like an adult, he gave him the name Kuang Mu which indicated his splendid and majestic manner.
After he left home, he studied. When he studied the Confucian Classics, he studied very slowly; when he studied Taoist Classics, he studied very slowly; but when studied Buddhist Sutras, he studied very quickly. The very first Buddhist work, which he studied, was the Amitabha Sutra. Once when he was reciting the sutra, he recited again and again and...entered samadhi, and saw the Land of Ultimate Bliss: "seven tiers of railings, seven layers of netting, and seven rows of trees,...and the ground is yellow gold. In the six periods of the day and night a heavenly rain of mandarava flowers falls ..." this was the kind of samadhi he experienced.
He had heard his father and mother say that the first sentence he had spoken was "Namo Amitabha Buddha", and in reciting the Amitabha Sutra he had obtained this subtle and wonderful state. He had personally seen all the adornment of the Land of Ultimate Bliss. So during his lifetime, he was especially respectful to, made offerings to, and bowed to Amitabha Buddha.
Later he received the Dharma of the Old Man of Mount Yang, Hui Chi. He was Dhyana Master Hui Chi's Dharma disciple.
He often explained sutras and spoke Dharma, and talked about genuine hearing saying, "’Thus have I heard' is genuine hearing and 'not thus have I heard' is not genuine hearing.” A person asked him, “What is called genuine hearing”? He replied, “Genuine hearing is not hearing with the ear”. All of you, think about this. If it is not hearing with the ear, with what does one hear? If you know from what place you hear, this is obtaining genuine hearing; just this is opening enlightenment.
Another person asked him, "What is the great meaning of the Patriarch come from the West?" What do you think he said? He said, "You don't have any Buddha-nature." This reply turns around the question.
Not hearing with the ear is hearing with what? It is hearing with the nature. It is what Kuan Shih Yin (Avalokitesvara) Bodhisattva said, "Turn back the hearing to hear the self nature and the nature becomes the supreme Way". This is genuine hearing.
What is the great meaning of the Patriarch come from the West? When he said, "You don't have any Buddha nature", he was just telling him the great meaning of the Patriarch come from the West: If you have the Buddha-nature, just that is the great meaning come from the West; if you do not have the Buddha nature, then you do not understand the great meaning come from the West.
There was also a person who asked him, "What is sudden enlightenment?" Answering like the Patriarch of Yang Mountain, he made a circle (the Master demonstrates by joining his arms above his head). What is the sudden teaching? It is just a circle. (Note: in Chinese the character yuan means both a circle and perfect.) It is perfect, perfect and sudden.
Somebody asked him, "What is the gradual teaching?" What did he do? He flicked his fingers in the air three times like this (demonstration) but did not speak. The Patriarchs of old sometimes stuck out their hands or bowed their heads, or perhaps they opened their eyes wide, or opened their mouths — it was all to cause men to open enlightenment. Perhaps they wrinkled their noses. (The Master demonstrates them all.) With a movement, they told disciples to rely on their movements. If you understood , you would open enlightenment. If you did not understand, then you would have to cultivate slowly. Some of the Patriarchs of old stretched out their hands, perhaps like this; perhaps they stuck out one finger, perhaps two, perhaps five fingers; there were all modes of expression. Dharma Master Kuang Mu only used these movements; he had not obtained, as some people like to say, the samadhi of joyful speech, so he did not speak, he just used gestures.
This patriarch was the third of the Wei Yang lineage, and the twelfth from Bodhidharma.
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