FORTY-FIFTH PATRIARCH FROM SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA
The Ninth Patriarch of the Wei Yang Lineage is Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua of Gold Mountain. His name means "Proclaim and Transform," a fitting appellation for one destined to transmit the proper Dharma to new soil. Dedicated to saving the Dharma from its impending death in Asia, and to firmly establishing it in the West, the Master transcends the highest standards of cultivation.
A native of Shuang Ch'eng County in Manchuria, the Master, who is also known as An T'zu and Tu Lun, was born into the Pai family. The night before his birth his mother saw Amitabha Buddha brilliantly lighting up the world, and when she awoke her room was filled with rare and delicate fragrances. Shortly thereafter the Master was born. He was to become widely known for his devoted respect and care of his parents.
When his mother died, the Master left the home life at Three Conditions Temple, which is just south of Harbin in Northeast China. He was nineteen. As soon as he had taken the ten precepts of the Sramanera he returned to live beside his mother’s grave and observe a mourning period of three years. Here he lived through the four seasons in an A-frame hut made of sorghum stalks and cultivated Dhyana concentration and recollection of the Buddha, always sitting and never lying down. He ate one meal a day and occasionally entered Dhyana samadhi for weeks at a time, never rising from his seat.
Word of the Master’s cultivation spread far and wide and the miraculous events that took place are too numerous to relate. He freed many people from the burdens of disease and other afflictions, and his followers numbered in the tens of thousands.
One night the residents of the nearby village saw that the Master's hut was on fire. A brilliant light shot up ten yards in the air, and the area around the hut was as bright as broad daylight. Many rushed to the graveyard crying, "The filial son's hut is on fire!" and soon there were hundreds of people there to lend assistance with buckets of water. When they arrived, however, they found the hut as peaceful as before; the Master was sitting absorbed in meditation.
On one occasion, the Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng of the T'ang Dynasty, came to his hut and told him that in the future he would go to the West and meet those with whom he had conditions and thereby establish the proper Dharma in the West. The Sixth Patriarch further predicted that the Dharma would flourish from the Master's teaching and spread throughout the new land.
After the Second World War the Master traveled the three thousand miles to Nan Hua Monastery in Kuang-tung to pay his respects to the Venerable Abbot Hsu Yun, who was then one hundred and nine years of age. During his travels he resided at P'u T'o Mountain to receive the complete precepts of the bhiksu in 1947. When he arrived at Nan Hua the two masters greeted one another and chatted and the Venerable Master recognized Master Hsuan Hua to be a worthy vessel for the propagation of Dharma, and sealed and certified his spiritual skill and insight and transmitted to him the wonderful mind seal. He then asked the Master Hsuan Hua to serve as the head of the Nan Hua Institute for the study of the Vinaya. The Master Hsuan Hua wrote a gatha describing their meeting.
When the Noble Yun saw me he said, “Thus it is.”
In 1950 he resigned his post at Nan Hua and went to Hong Kong where he lived in Kuan Yin Cave on a mountainside. He only left his retreat when it was necessary to help provide refuge for thousands of sangha members who had fled from the mainland. While in Hong Kong he built many temples, and the proper Dharma flourished. Again, the miraculous events surrounding his life there are innumerable.
He left Hong Kong after a decade to carry the proper Dharma to the West. After he arrived in America he waited another ten years until those with whom he had conditions came to him to be taught and transformed. Once a disciple asked the Master, "How have you lived all these years?"
The Master replied, "With me it's always 'Everything Okay.' I don't beg for food if I'm starving; I don't scheme if I'm freezing; and I'm not obsequious if I'm poverty stricken."
The Master has established the proper Dharma firmly in the West so that it can become self-propagating and flourish. He has built a large monastery in San Francisco where the many people who have come have learned to turn away from evil and practice good for the benefit of their country and the whole world in the tradition of orthodox Buddhism. In every instance, after establishing the Dharma, he has entrusted it to his disciples, and has turned over all the affairs of the Sangha to them, keeping nothing for himself, so that the Dharma will have a true foundation in America.
As a part of his selfless work to teach and transform living beings in all the realms according to the needs of their karma, he has spent hours every day for years explaining the major Sutras and has trained his disciples to translate these Sutras and their commentaries, and to explain them as well. He has held assemblies on the Surangama Sutra, the Heart and Diamond
In the universe would be Thus too.
Sutras, The Sixth Patriarch Sutra, the Amitabha Sutra, the Sutra of the Past Vows of Ground Store Bodhisattva, the Lotus Sutra, and the Great Compassion Heart Dharani Sutra.
Although his gifted commentaries are directed to the needs of the American listeners, they thoroughly elucidate these Sutras so that their wonderful meaning is preserved within the tradition of Buddhism as it has been transmitted from Sakyamuni Buddha through Bodhidharma to the present.
Less than a handful of men every three or four centuries are capable of explaining the King of all Sutras and the ultimate expression of the Dharma Realm, the Avatamsaka Sutra. The Master Hsuan Hua is now revealing this Sutra in all its splendor and thereby insuring that the complete teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha will come to the new world.
Recently Published Books
The Opening of the Wisdom Eye, by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatsho, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet; A Quest Book, The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Ill., U.S.A.; hardbound, 178 pages; $6.95.
In this concise work, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sets forth the essentials of the scholastic portion of the dharma as taught in Tibet, in a manner, which emphasizes that its principles must be applied and put into practice. After a discussion of the history of Buddhism in Tibet, which attempts to correct many of the misconceptions held in the West regarding Tibetan Buddhism, he elucidates basic doctrines such as dharma, karma, and rebirth. He then passes through various lists such as the Two Truths, the Skandhas, and the Tripitaka, discussing the basis, practice, and result of cultivation with regard to the Three Vehicles. The discussions are extremely lucid, with a great deal of cross-reference to the Theravidin tradition, and include all the technical terms in both Sanskrit and English. Bhikku Khantipalo, English translator of this work, has added many valuable references from the Pali Canon in the form of footnotes, which provide examples of similar passages in the Pali Tripitaka.
While revealing the basic root of the teaching in a traditional and orthodox manner, the author avoids a heavy style. Thus The Opening of the Wisdom Eye is of great use to the serious scholar and the cultivator of the way, as well as the neophyte.
-by Bhiksu Heng Shoou