Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs

  --Written by the Venerable Master Hua

                --Translated by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Ching


Feng Kan was travelling to Chih Ch'eng when he heard a child crying by the side of the road. He picked him up, and from this the child took his name.

When the child grew up, he became the verger, taking care of the incense and lamps at Kuo Ch'ing Monastery. He often sat in the Dharma seat facing the Buddha to eat and used to say that the holy sages were people of small roots and useless seeds. Many people disliked him for this, and as a consequence the Abbot had him sent to the kitchen to wash dishes.

One day while he was sweeping, the Manager noticed that the floor was spotlessly clean and asked, "What is your name and where do you dwell?" Shih Te set: down his broom and stood with his hands planted firmly on his hips.  The Abbot did not understand and frightened, scurried off. Han Shan then beat his chest and cried out, "0 Heaven! 0 Heaven!"

Shih Te asked, "What are you doing?"

Han Shan replied, "Haven't you noticed that when a man dies in the western quarter, those in the east join in the mourning?" Both men then began to dance about, laugh, and weep, laughing at the Abbot's flustered ignorance and crying because they pitied him.

When they left the kitchen, a number of crows came and ate some of the rice. Learning of this Shih Te beat on the statue of the Sangharama spirit with a club and bellowed a few words directed at the spirit, "If you can't even protect a bit of food, how can you take care of the monastery!" That night all the monks dreamt of a spirit, who said, "Shih Te's beating up on me." Shih Te later disappeared into a cliff with Han Shan and was not seen again.

His eulogy says,

Nameless and without a dwelling, nevertheless he was just right.

He tested people when he met them, but often gave himself away.

He and Cold Mountain played duets, laughing and weeping unendingly;

They went back into the face of the cliff. The moon shines on the autumn grass.