The Collected Lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Boa on
The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra
--Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society.
"Good Knowing Advisors, the Dharma body is the basis. See your own nature in every thought. This is the Reward body Buddha. When the Reward body thinks and calculates, it is the Transformation body Buddha. Self-awaken, self—cultivate the self-nature's merit and virtue. This is true taking refuge.”
yourself must wake up and cultivate on your own. Do not babble
"head-mouth" zen all day, "Yak, yak yak!" talking
but never practicing. Talking
a "yard" is not as good as practicing an "inch" for
if you merely talk you are cheating people. So pay no attention to
whether my lectures are good or bad. Look to see if I have ever cheated
you. Have I cheated you in these past few years?
"Skin and flesh are the physical body which is like an inn, to which you cannot return. Simply awaken to the three bodies of your self—nature and you will understand the Buddha of your own self-nature.
—Continued on page four—
"I have a_markless verse. If you can recite and uphold it, it will at once wipe away accumulated kalpas of confusion and offenses, as the words fall. "
say, "Then taking refuge with myself is to take refuge with my
body." No, if you take refuge with your body you are just adding a
head on top of a head, like Yajnadatta who ran everywhere looking for
his head.63 Your physical body is an inn where your
self-nature temporarily dwells. Therefore
you cannot say, "My body is me." Your body is not you. Then is
it he? No. Your body is yours; it is not mine nor his! It is yours,
but it is not you. Don't I always say that if you live in a house, you
can say the house is yours but you certainly cannot say the houses is
you. If you say it is you, everyone will say, "He doesn't even know
who he is! He thinks he's his house but his house is just a thing!"
Your body is like a house; don't mistake it for being you. Understand?
take refuge with the physical body, take refuge with your self—nature.
Awaken to the clear, pure Dharma body Buddha, the perfect, full Reward
body Buddha, and the hundred thousand myriad Transformation body Buddhas
within your own nature. By understanding the Buddha of your
self—nature, you may perfect the three bodies.
be nervous," continued the Great Master, "I have some good
news, a markless gatha. Do you want to hear it? If you do, I'll recite;
if not, I'll just put it away."
"Yes!" everyone exclaimed, "yes, we do want to hear ill Please be compassionate and recite, it!"
you can learn to say this gatha by heart," the Master said,
"it will cause the confusions and crimes accumulated from
beginningless time, passing through limitless kalpas, life after life,
to be at once eradicated. Where will they go? Do you mean you still want
to look for them? What a waste of effort!"
Confused, a man will foster blessings, but if you tell him to cultivate with vigor, he won't do it. Although there aren't many students here, those present are extremely sincere. They do not fear leg-pain, backpain, any pain whatsoever. "I will endure this pain and cultivate the Way, even if it means giving up my life!" they say. Such rare determination makes me happy, but I don't show my happiness by joking with you all day, "Hal Ha! Ha!" It's not shat kind or happiness; it's true happiness.
deluded men say, “Practice for blessings is practice of the Way."
This is like the Emperor Wu of Liang who said, “I have taken
Bhiksus "across" and I have built many temples. I have made
offerings and practiced charity and arranged vegetarian banquets. What
great merit I must have! It is probably even greater than Sakyamuni
Giving and making offerings brings limitless blessing, but the origin of the three evils is within the mind. What are the three evils? Speak up! Don't you have them? They are:
Greed: "I think I'll &at a few more peanuts and then I won't be hungry today.."
"Hey! What rat ate all the peanuts?"
"That rat ate the peanuts, so I refuse to meditate this
blessings while neglecting wisdom has made you so stupid that you can't
quit over-eating and even have the gall to speak of it as a bitter
cannot get rid of offenses by cultivating blessings, because although
you obtain the blessings, the offenses still remain. What you should do
is rid the mind of all evil conditions: i.e. thoughts of greed, hate,
delusion, jealousy, obstruction, conceit, flattery, viciousness,
crookedness, and evil.
they are my old friends!" you say, "we've been together for
millions of years. How can I part with them?" Fine. If you can't
part with them, then there's nothing to do but follow them down to hell.
True repentance and reform is understanding the Great' Vehicle and immediately getting rid of all evil thought. It is very clear; no analogies are needed. You truly repent when you get rid of the deviant and practice the right. Then you may walk down the upright, great bright road and be without offense.
study the Way, always look within your own self-nature.
Ask yourself, “What am I doing? Am I acting like a man or a ghost, an
animal, a horse, or a cow?” You are what you do. If you
act like a man, you’re a man; if you act like a Buddha, you’re a
Buddha. The Buddha practices friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy
and giving. His compassion is genuine, not false and greedy. He never
thinks, “If I am a little compassionate to you, you will be greatly
compassionate to me.”
are no ulterior motives in the compassion I have for you. I would not
give you a brick and expect a piece of jade in return.
turn the light around, reverse its illumination and ask yourself,
"Am I thinking like a demon or a Buddha? Am I selfish or generous,
self-seeking or charitable?" If you are charitable you are the same
in kind as all the Buddhas. If you act like a Buddha', you are a
Buddha, but if you act like a ghost, how can you be a Buddha?
Patriarch Bodhidharma transmitted only the Sudden Teaching
Dharma door because he wanted everyone to see the Buddha nature and
together realize the Buddha Way.
you wish to seek the Dharma body, then you must separate from all
marks, and not be attached, jealous, obstructive, ignorant, afflicted,
or snobbish. You cannot think, "In the heavens and below, I alone
am honored." "He who has left behind all marks is called a
Buddha." Apart from marks and unattached to self and dharmas, the
mind—ground is cleansed.
Strive to see it for yourself and go forward with heroic vigor. You'll never succeed if you're lazy and waste your time, saying, "Wait, wait, I'll cultivate tomorrow. Wait', wait, I'll translate tomorrow." Even at lunchtime you say, "Wait, I'll eat later." Wait, wait, until it's time to die and King Yama won't listen to you when you say, "I'll die later!" If you are truly free, you come and go in birth and death, and yet are not subject to birth and death. King Yama has no control over you. This is like the Third Patriarch Great Master Seng Ts'an who said, "You all sit to die and think it special. Watch this!" He jumped up, grabbed a tree branch with one hand, and went to Nirvana, just hanging there. Wasn't he free?
you wait until your dying breath to cultivate it will be too late, for
when the final thought has stopped, your life comes to an end",
Earlier in the Sutra, in Chapter IV, didn’t it say that you should not
cut off your thought because when the last thought is cut off you die
and then undergo rebirth in some other place? At death there is
nothing—no fame, no riches. Both
your hands will be empty and you'll be forced to put down what you can't
put down. No matter how dear your loved ones are, you'll have to give
to the Great Vehicle you can see
See the nature and humbly seek the unsurpassed path.
The Master said, "Good Knowing Advisors, all of you should take up this verse and cultivate according to it. If you see your nature at the moment these words are spoken, you will always be at my side. If you do not awaken at that moment of speaking, then even though face to face, we are a thousand miles apart—why did you bother to come from so far? Take care of yourselves and go well.”
The one assembly heard this Dharma and there were none who did not awaken. They received it with delight and practiced in accord with it.
think the Sixth Patriarch liked to talk and so he delivered this Platform
Sutra. If he hadn't liked to speak he wouldn't have taught any Sutra
I'll teach it for all of you:
"You are quit" intelligent," the Master said, "and you have good roots. We have an affinity which goes back for many lifetimes and many kalpas and therefore we have met here today.." Of course there were no foreigners in the Master's Dharma assembly, they were all Chinese. That I have met with so many Americans must be a case of an even greater affinity.
"If you understand the gatha I have recited," said the Master, "you will get rid of the deviant, practice the right and be without offense, and although we are a thousand miles apart, you will be right before me."
If you five who are going to Taiwan to take precepts understand and remember the Sutras I have explained, you will be right beside me. But if instead you depend on conditions, get jealous and angry, saying things like, "My fellow preceptees are no good! America is O.K. but this place is totally unsanitary!" you will have studied the Way in vain. If you don't understand this gatha, then even though face to face we are a thousand miles apart.
If you believe in me, although we are a thousand miles apart, we are face to face; if you don't believe in me, face to face, we are a thousand miles apart. "Are you trying to make people believe in you?" you ask. No! Why should I want you to believe in me? You're better off believing in yourself because if you cultivate you do it for yourself. You don't eat to make me full. All I do is teach you the methods. If you have come all this way just to be a thousand miles from me, why did you bother to come at all?
Take care of yourselves. Don't slight yourselves and say, "I’m not going to cultivate. I'm nothing but a dog anyway." See yourself as a man, not a dog, and go to a good place, not a bad place.
The one assembly heard this Dharma...How many people make up one assembly? One? A multitude? The Chinese characters say "one" and "multitude" (chung). Grammar! It was neither one nor a multitude; it was just a lot of people, and when they heard the Dharma they all became enlightened, everyone except me that is, and so I am here with you now. They were happy, happier even than you were when you laughed just now. They were happy in their hearts, they didn't laugh out loud, "Hal Ha! Ha!"
AND CONDITIONS: CHAPTER VII
The Master obtained the Dharma at Huang Mei and returned to Ts'ao Hou Village in Shao Chou where no one knew him, but scholar Liu Chi h Liao received him with great courtesy. Chih Liao's aunt, Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang, constantly recited the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, and when the Master heard it he instantly perceived the wonderful principle of it and explained it to her. The Bhiksuni then held out a scroll and asked about some words.
The Master said, “I cannot read the words; please ask about the meaning.”
“If you cannot even read the words, how can you understand the meaning?” asked the Bhiksuni.
The Master replied, “The subtle meaning of all Buddhas is not based on language.”
The Bhiksuni was startled and announced to all the virtuous elders in the village, “This gentleman possesses the Way. We should ask him to stay and receive our offerings.” A great-grandson of the Marquis Wu of the Wei dynasty named Ts’ao Shu Liang, with the people of the village, came rushing to pay homage.
receiving the "mind-seal" Dharma from the Fifth Patriarch Hung
Jen, the Sixth Patriarch, a Cantonese, returned to Canton, to Shao Chou,
the present day Shao Kuan in Ch'u Chiang District. When he arrived at
Ts'ao Hou Village near Man Hua Temple, no one knew that he was holding
the robe and bowl.
Chih Liao was a wealthy retired official who enjoyed studying the
Buddhadharma. He welcomed the Master reverently and made offerings to
him. Chih Liao and his
aunt, Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang, "Limitless Treasury,' were the Sixth
Patriarch's great Dharma protectors. Wu Chin Tsang liked to recite the Mahaparinirvana
Sutra. This Sutra, in ten volumes, was given by the Buddha just
before he went to Nirvana. Hearing the recitation, the Sixth Patriarch
understood the subtle principle and explained it to the Bhiksuni. Perhaps she didn't read well, because she asked the Master,
"What is this word?"
you mean you can't read it?" said the Master.
I can't," she said.
I can't either!" said the Master, "but if you ask about the
meaning I can explain it for you."
"If you can't even read it, how can you know what it means?" she asked.
The Master said, "The Buddha's heart, the mind Dharma, the wonderful principle of Sudden Enlightenment has nothing to do with words! This is because it points directly to man's mind so that he can see his own nature and become a Buddha. It is not based on language and so it doesn't matter whether or not you can read."
Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang thought this was strange, very strange indeed. She told everyone in the village, "This gentleman has the Way; He is a virtuous Dharma Master. He may not be able to read, but he's enlightened, so we should make offerings to him."
Although she couldn't recognize many characters, Wu Chin Tsang was nevertheless an inconceivable Bhiksuni. She ate one meal a day and never lay down because she knew that the Fourth Patriarch recommended these practices. Although her family was wealthy, she kept the precept of not handling money. She studied and recited Sutras industriously and when the time came, she died sitting up in meditation. Many days, many years have passed and her body still has not decayed. Because she worked hard at cultivation and had no sexual desire, her flesh transformed into indestructible vajra. I saw the body in a temple in Ch'u Chiang. It is truly awesome.
Among the villagers who paid homage to the Great Master was the great—grandson of Marquis Wu. Marquis Wu, was a genius, but he had a tendency to be jealous.
Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang promoted the Sixth Patriarch; "Do you know who he is?" she would say, "he's the rightful successor to the Fifth Patriarch! He holds the robe and bowl!"
One flower may be beautiful, but it looks much better surrounded
by greenery. If no one had protected him, the Sixth Patriarch would
surely have been murdered by Shen Hsiu's gang, or by men of other
religions. His Dharma assembly flourished solely through the efforts of
Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang and her nephew, Scholar Liu Chih Liao. Vinaya
Master T'ung Ying also brought several hundred of his students to study
with the Master and each student told his friends to come. So every day
for lunch there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people, seven or eight
hundred of whom were members of the Sangha.
At that time the ancient Pao
Lin Temple, which had been destroyed by war and fire at the end of the
Sui dynasty, was rebuilt on
its old foundation. The Master
was invited to stay and it soon became a revered place. He dwelt
there a little over nine months when he was once again pursued by evil
men. He hid in the mountains in front of the temple and they set fire to
the brush and trees, but the Master escaped by crawling into a rock to
hide. The rock still bears the imprints of the Master's knees and traces
of his robe where he sat in lotus posture. Because, of this it is called
"The Rock of Refuge". Remembering the Fifth Patriarchy's
instructions to stop at Huai and hide at Hui, he went to conceal himself
in those two cities.
brought forth from their hearts to rebuild Nan Hua Temple.
Some gave ten thousand ounces of silver, some gave a million.
They asked the Master to live there and before long it was a great
Bodhimandala, big enough for several thousand people.
little over nine months later, several hundred of Shen Hsiu's men left
Huang Mei, passing through the Ta Yu mountain range on their way to Nan
Hua Temple. They traveled for over two months. If they hadn't been
intent on killing the Master and stealing the robe and bowl, they would
have given up after a couple of days. Think it over: sixteen or
seventeen years had passed since the transmission, and the Master had
only been staying at Nan Hua for nine months, when the evil men
returned. It's not easy to be a Patriarch, unless you are a phony. Real
Patriarchs live in great danger.
The Sixth Patriarch had spiritual powers and he knew that not just one or two, but several hundred men were after him. He hid in the "Rock of Refuge" which is just big enough to hold one person sitting in meditation. The evil men hid themselves in the large crowd and secretly set fire to the mountain. They burned off the entire area, but never found the Master. While hiding, the Master probably meditated with great intensity because the texture of his robe and the marks of his knees can still be seen imprinted in the rock. When I was at Nan Hua Temple I sat in the rock for a time, but I wasn't seeking refuge, I was just trying it out. When you sit inside it, no one can see you.
BHIKSU FA HAI
Bhiksu Fa Hai of Ch'u Chiang city in Shao Chou first called on the
Patriarch he asked, "Will you please instruct me on_the
sentence. 'Mind is Buddha'?"
Master said, "The former thought not being produced is mind and the
latter thought not being extinguished is Buddha. The setting up of marks
mind and separation from them is Buddha. Were I to explain it fully,
even to the end of the kalpa I would not finish."
Fa Hai, also called Wen Yun, compiled and edited the Platform Sutra.
Although I dare not say that he liked to be first, when he wrote this
chapter he certainly thought, "I am the Master's number one great
consequently wrote about himself first.
Master," said Fa Hai, "I don't understand the sentence
"This mind is Buddha.' Please explain it."
not produce the former thought," said the Master, "and just
that is mind. Do not extinguish the latter thought and just that is
Buddha. With neither production nor extinction, the mind itself is
Buddha. All marks are set up by the mind and if you can set up all marks
and separate from all marks just that is Buddha."
mind called wisdom.
Buddha is then concentration.
and wisdom equal
The intellect is pure.
Understand this Dharma
Through practice in your own nature.
The function basically unproduced,
Cultivation of both is correct.”
The mind is called wisdom and the Buddha is called concentration.
When concentration and wisdom are equal the mind is Buddha and Buddha is
the mind. They are one substance. When thought is pure then wisdom and
concentration, mind and Buddha, are equal. If you understand the Sudden
Teaching, you know that the Buddha is not separate from the mind and the
mind is not separate from the Buddha; concentration is not separate from
wisdom and wisdom is not separate from concentration.
You don't understand because you have accumulated bad habits for many kalpas. The wonderful function is basically unproduced and undestroyed and when you cultivate the mind, you cultivate the Buddha; when you cultivate the Buddha, you cultivate the mind. The same applies to concentration and wisdom. You should cultivate them equally.
At these words, Fa Hai was greatly enlightened and spoke a_gatha in praise:
mind basically is Buddha;
understanding I disgrace myself.
the cause of concentration and wisdom
Is to cultivate both and be separate from all things.”
BHIKSU FA TA
Bhiksu Fa Ta of Hung Chou left home at age seven and
constantly recited the Dharma Flower Sutra, but when he came to bow
before the Patriarch, his head did not touch the ground. The Master
scolded him saying, “If you do not touch the ground, isn’t it better
not to bow? There must be something on your mind. What do you practice?”
“I have recited the Dharma Flower Sutra over three thousand
times,” he replied.
The Master said, “I don’t care if you have recited it ten thousand times, if you understood the Sutra’s meaning you would not be so overbearing and could walk along with me. You have failed in your work and do not even recognize your error. Listen to my gatha:
bowing basically cuts off arrogance.
don't you touch your head to the ground?
a self, of tenses arise
forgetting merit brings blessings supreme."
Masters Fa Hai (Dharma Sea) and Fa Ta (Dharma Penetration) both received
the Sixth Patriarch's Dharma. Fa Ta left home at age seven and
constantly recited the Lotus Sutra, but when he met the
Patriarch he didn't bow properly, he just pretended. The Master saw his
Lotus Sutra is seven rolls long, and reciting quickly, you
could read through it once in a day, or three hundred and sixty—five
times a year. Therefore, Fa
Ta had been reciting for over ten years.
"I don't care if you've recited it ten thousand times!" said the Master, "if you really understood it you wouldn't gloat over your own merit and could study with me. Not everyone can study with a Patriarch, you know. If you have obstructions and afflictions, he may not want you."
if you come to study here but break the rules, you are not welcome. In
order to cultivate with me, you must offer up your conduct in accord
with the teaching.
many recitations," said the Master, "and you still don't know
how conceited you are! No doubt you think your merit is even greater
than mine. Such pride is an
offense. But if you could forget your merit and consider your three
thousand recitations as no recitations, then your merit would be
limitless and boundless."
Master further asked, "What is your name."
“Fa Ta,” he replied.
The Master said, “Your name means ‘Dharma Penetration’,
but what Dharma have you penetrated?” He then spoke a gatha:
name means Dharma Penetration,
earnestly recite without pause to rest.
is mere sound,
one who understands his mind is called a Bodhisattva.
because of your karmic conditions,
will explain it to you:
only that the Buddha is without words
the lotus blossom will bloom from your mouth.”
up, Dharma Penetration!" said the Master. "What Dharma have
Ta was speechless.
bad," the Master continued. "You work hard. However, your
recitation is of no benefit because you don't understand what the Sutra
means. If you could only understand the mind end
see the nature, you would be a Bodhisattva. You have come all the way
from Hung Chou because we have karmic affinity. Now just believe that
the Buddha is without words, and the lotus blossom will bloom from your
mouth. Believe! The Buddha never said a thing and if you recite
without understanding the principle, you are wasting your time.”
Diamond Sutra says,
who sees me by form
Buddha taught for forty-nine years in over three hundred Dharma
assemblies, but when he was about to enter nirvana and his disciples
asked him about the Sutras he said, "I never said a word." Was
The Sixth Patriarch also taught that the Buddha said nothing, and if you believe this, the Lotus will bloom from your mouth. But how does one obtain such rare faith?
Sutra's principles exist in the minds of men; they can be spoken by you;
they can be spoken by me. Everyone has this wisdom and everyone can
speak the Sutras. The Buddha spoke the Sutras for living beings and the
Sutras flow from the minds of living beings. Therefore the Buddha spoke
without speaking. This means that you should not be attached to Dharma
or to emptiness. But you cannot say, "I don't know any Dharma.
To understand that the Buddha spoke and yet did not speak is the most difficult and yet the easiest thing one can do. Can you do it? If you can, the Buddha has not spoken. If you cannot, then the Buddha said too much.
Hearing the gatha, Fa Ta felt remorse
and said, “From now on I will respect everyone. Your disciple recites
the Dharma Flower Sutra, but has not yet understood its meaning. My
thoughts always have doubts. High Master, your wisdom is vast and great.
Will you please explain the general meaning of the Sutra for me?”
The Master said, “’Dharma
Penetration’, the Dharma is extremely penetrating but your mind does
not penetrate it. The Sutra basically has no doubts. Your mind has
doubts. You recite this Sutra, but what do you think its teaching is?”
Fa Ta said, “The nature of
this student’s faculties is obscure and dull. As I have only recited
it by rote, how could I understand its teaching?”
The Master said, “I cannot read, but if you take the Sutra
and read it once I will explain it to you.”
Fa Ta recited loudly until he came to the “Analogies Chapter”. The Master said, “Stop! This Sutra fundamentally takes the causes and conditions (of the Buddha’s) appearance in the world as its doctrine and none of the analogies go beyond this. What are these causes and conditions? The Sutra says, ‘All Buddhas, World Honored Ones, appear in the world for the causes and conditions of the One Great Affair.’ The One Great Affair is the knowledge and vision of the Buddha. Men of the world deluded with regard to externals attach themselves to marks; deluded with regard to the internal, they attach themselves to emptiness. If you can, with regard to marks, be separate from marks, and in emptiness, be separate from emptiness, then there will be no confusion toward the internal and external. If you awaken to this Dharma, in one moment your mind will be open to enlightenment. Just this is the enlightened knowledge and vision. And so it is that one’s own true nature becomes manifest.”
To be unconfused, be unattached. Do not attach to emptiness or
fall into existence. If you suddenly awaken to this dharma your heart
will open to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha.
The Buddha is
enlightenment. There are four divisions:
up to the enlightened knowledge and vision;
the enlightened knowledge and vision;
to the enlightened knowledge and vision;
the enlightened knowledge and vision.
you hear of opening and demonstrating, you can easily awaken and enter.
Just this is the enlightened knowledge and vision, the original true
nature become manifest. Take care not to misinterpret the Sutra by
thinking that the opening, demonstrating, awakening, and entering which
is spoken of is the Buddha’s knowledge and vision, and that we have no
share in it. To explain it is this way is to slander the Sutra and_
defame the Buddha. As he is already a_Buddha perfect in knowledge and
vision, what is the use of his opening up to it again? You should now
believe that the Buddha's knowledge and vision is simply your own mind,
(for there is) no other Buddha."
you listen to instruction on the principles of the Sutras, you can
easily wake up and understand the enlightened knowledge and vision. The
Buddha's knowledge and vision is simply that of your own mind, because
your mind fundamentally is the Buddha.
because living beings cover their brilliance with greed and love for
defiled states, outer conditions and inner disturbance make them slaves
thereof, and this troubles the World Honored One to rise from samadhi,
with various reproaches and expedients, he exhorts them to stop and
rest, not_to seek out-side, and to be non-dual with the Buddha. This is
called 'opening up to the knowledge and vision of the Buddha'. I, too,
exhort all men always to open, up to the knowledge and vision of the
Buddha within their own minds."
darkens your light'?
of greed, create
now you should have
make trouble within.
There are many varieties of external conditions: eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, and minds; forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables, and mind objects; as well as the six consciousnesses. When you seek outwardly, your mind is not at peace, you are upset and anxious, and your mind, originally the master, becomes the body's slave. The Buddhas trouble themselves to arise from samadhi just to tell you not to seek outside. When you quit seeking outside, you are non-dual with the Buddhas, you open up to their knowledge and vision and become just like them.
The mad man of Sravasti who thought he was insane because he
(picture) li i
ch'ieh chu hsiang chi ming chu
fo. From the Diamond
65 Saddarmapundarika Sutra T. 262. (Lotus Sutra).
66 T. 235, p. 752a:17.
67 Lotus Sutra, T. 262, p. 10b.
68 Lotus Sutra, T. 262, p. 7a:22
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