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      Kuei Chen, Dhyana Master Te Shao was the Abbot of Pao Tz’u Temple. The Forty-First Patriarch, he served as the Fifth Generation Mind Seal Patriarch of the Wei Yang Sect. A room-entering disciple, he received the Dharma Pulse from Dhyana Master Ju Pao of Chih Fu Temple.

      The Master’s teaching and transforming was far different from that of other Patriarchs. All day he attended to the business of doing nothing, and practiced wordless teaching. Raising his hand or taking a step, there was nothing he did which did not exemplify heaven and sentence to make an opportunity of conditions. Truly this can be called, “Nothing spoken, nothing transmitted, one should contemplate thus.”

      The gatha says:

No writings, no sayings,
Duets not a one.
Bright and dark interlinked;
Spiritual Light standing in snow.
The Wei Yang, this solitary sect,
Long without heroes;
Look at the mark of the Master's crown.
He surely sustains the true teaching!


Dhyana Master Te Shao was different from other Patriarchs because he never did anything. He didn't talk. He did not tell his disciples, "You should cultivate this, and you should study that." Moreover he did not answer his disciples questions. What did he do? In reply to a question he would perhaps raise his arm, or merely take one step. In this way he imitated heaven and earth. What are heaven and earth like?  Under heaven, the ten thousand things are produced and extinguished.

What does heaven say?
Passing through four seasons,
A hundred creatures are born.
What does heaven say!

Throughout spring, summer, fall, and winter what does heaven say? All things are born in the spring and die in the fall. It is all very natural. What does heaven say!

When this Dhyana Master merely took a step he studied heaven and earth. Raising his arm was also studying heaven and earth. And for this reason there were no sayings to make an opportunity of conditions. Nor did he write articles to be compiled into books. There are none. He didn't speak one word, so no conditional opportunities existed in his teaching and transforming. Were there no living beings taught and transformed? No. He taught and transformed many living beings simply by not talking! There was no dharma spoken and nothing transmitted. "One should contemplate thus" means there was nothing at all.

The qatha says:

No writings, no sayings.
Duets not a one.

There was no communication with other people. He didn't say "You make a poem to give me and I'll make a poem to give you. You complete my couplet and I'll match yours." He was not like present day Bhiksus who announce they are not going to talk, but then write letters and send telegrams to other people day after day, telling of their activities in seclusion. They do their own advertising because they are afraid no one will know about them. Dhyana Master Te Shao did not behave like this.  His "not talking" was not talking!

Bright and dark interlinked;

Once a twelve-year-old child, who had never spoken, was brought by his father, an official, to bow to Dhyana Master Te Shao. The child approached the Master, but before he had time to bow the Master hit him on the head. Because he had been struck, the child began to cry and once he cried he was able to speak. Why do you suppose the child had been able to speak. Why do you suppose the child had been unable to speak? This child had a demon in his body and the demon prevented him from talking. Perhaps he thought to imitate Dhyana Master Te Shao! When the Master smacked the child on the head, the blow caused the demon to flee and then the child could speak. How strange that one who did not speak could cure one who did not speak! “Bright” refers to the child being struck into understanding.

      “Dark” refers to the times when the Master sat in meditation and went about teaching and transforming living beings. Perhaps in a dream, or in the midst of some difficulty, or on the brink of suicide, troubled people would suddenly see the Master and although he still did not speak, he saved many people. This is what is meant by “bright and dark interlinked.”

Spiritual Light standing in snow.

The Master's essential spirit is likened to that of the Second Patriarch Shen Kuang (whose name means "Spiritual Light") who at Bodhidharma's Bodhimanda stood in the snow in request of Dharma. This line can also mean that the Master's light was as bright as snow.

The Wei Yang, this solitary sect.

The Wei Yang Sect is very exclusive. It has a single transmission. Each time only one person inherits the Dharma.

Long without heroes.

There are few people of this caliber. So few one could say there are none. Ultimately there are extremely few capable of this Wei Yang transmission.

Look at the mark of the Master's crown.

Now look at this Dharma Master who did not speak.

He surely sustains the true teaching!

This Patriarch who does not speak can truly transmit the Buddha's mind seal.  He is truly a dragon and elephant Dharma—door.

Text and Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih