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Written by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Ch’ien


      The Master’s surname was Hsiao; his father, Yu T’ang, and his mother, Yen Shih, were descendants of the House of Hsaio Yen of the Liang Dynasty Emperor Wu. Their family had long dwelt at Hsiang-hsiang in the province of Hu-nan. His parents were both past forty years in age and still without progeny, so they sought for a son before the Great Scholar “Observer of Sounds” (the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara). A response was received and the Master was born.

When the Master was born, he was encased in a lump of flesh, which startled and worried his mother to such a degree that she passed away. An elderly herbalist who was passing by cut open the lump of flesh and removed the son from within.

Upon reaching maturity, the Master's nature was fond of the principles of the Buddhadharma. He wrote "The Ode to the Skin Bag", crossing over his relatives, who then resolved their hearts on enlightenment and departed from the home life.

After the Master had successfully cultivated many arduous, bitter practices, he achieved enlightenment, rejuvenated the five sects of the Dhyana School, which had begun to decline, and carried on the lives of each of the lineages. He inherited the mind-seal of Noble Tz'u of the Wei Yang Lineage and turned the great Wheel of Dharma.

An eulogy in praise of the Master says;

He carried on the tradition from the past and cleared the way for
          the future,

Continuing the pulse of the Buddha's life.

He was born within a lump of flesh,

And yet he, encompassed the Dharma Realm.

He was a transformation body of s Bodhisattva,
                    With the invincibleness of Pao Chang.

He entered Nirvana at one hundred and twenty;

Everyone exclaimed, "How strange!"

In the following gatha, the Venerable Master Hsu Yun sets forth the future order of transmissions in the Wei Yang lineage;

T'zu, Te, Hsuan, Yen, the Way bears fruit and thrives;

Fragrance from morality's censor perfumes five divisions.

Flames of wisdom ablaze consume uncountable realms,

A shining fragrant cloud guards the past and the present.

Infinite vows-of compassion kindly aid the world:

A light brighter than sun or moon, and crystal clear.

A smile, a twirl of a flower, spread the Supreme Wei;

The perfect lamp of the heart shines brightly without end.


1. When an Eighth Stage Bodhisattva enters the world he is said to be “wearing clothes,” thus he does not become defiled by the process of birth. Although this had happened on many occasions in the previous history of Buddhism, it had never before occurred in China and therefore few people understood its significance.

2. The Master had been married with two wives for two or three years before he left the home life, but there had been no sexual relations between them. More than likely his wives frequently attempted to seduce him. Because of this situation he wrote “The Ode to the Skin Bag” and instructed them to read it. As a result they decided to leave the home life and become Bhiksunis.

3. The Five Sects of the Dhyana School are the Lin Chi Sect, the Fa Yen Sect, the Ts’ao Tung Sect, and the Wei Yang Sect.

4. “Pao Chang” was an Indian Dharma Master who lived over a thousand years.

Spring Sessions

The Sino-American Buddhist Association, Gold Mountain Temple, and Vajra Bodhi Sea Publications together will sponsor two cultivation sessions this spring.  The first, beginning March 11, will be one full week of Dhyana Meditation ending on March 18th. Meditation will begin early in the morning and last until late at night. Instructional talks will be given daily by the Masters.

The second will be a Kuan Yin Seven, consisting of seven days of recollecting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) and will begin on March 25th and end April 1st. The following day, April 2nd, is the anniversary of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's Birthday which will be celebrated with recitation of sutras and mantras beginning at 9:00 A.M., and a vegetarian feast at 11:00 A.M.

For further information, call or write the Sino-American Buddhist Association, Gold Mountain Temple, 1731 15th Street, San Francisco, California, 94103. Tel: (415) 621-5202.