The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra


Lecture 34


Bhiksu Chih Tao, a native of Nan Hai in Canton, asked a favor. "Since leaving home, your student has studied the Nirvana Sutra for over ten years and has still not understood its great intent. I hope that the High Master will bestow his instruction on me."

The Master said, "What point haven't you understood?"

Chih Tao replied,

"'All activity impermanent

Is the dharma of production and extinction.

Production and extinction extinguished.

Tranquil extinction is bliss.'

My doubts are with respect to this."



Once in the past, when Sakyamuni Buddha was on the causal ground, he was a Brahman. Deep in the mountains he cultivated many Dharma doors so heroically that the god 8akra was moved and said, "He works so hard! I wonder if I can break him?" and he transformed himself into a raksa ghost to test the Brahman, saying, "The Buddha known as 'the one who is apart from fear' said, 'All activity that is impermanent is the dharma of production and extinction."'

"Who said that?" said the Brahman.

The raksa ghost, who was hideously ugly, appeared and said, "I was just quoting a gatha spoken by the Buddha known as 'the one who is apart from fear.'"

"But you didn't recite the entire gatha, only the first half. Please complete it," said the Brahman.

"I don't have the energy because I haven't eaten for several days.  Find me something to eat and I will recite it for you," the raksa said.

"What would you like?" asked the Brahman.

"I don't eat anything but fresh, warm meat," said the raksa.

"In that case," replied the Brahman, "you may speak the gatha and then I will give you my body to eat."

The raksa stared at him. "Can you really do such an awesome deed? Can you really give up your body for half a gatha?"

"I speak the truth; I do not lie," said the Brahman, "and if you don't believe me I can ask the Buddhas of the ten directions to bear testimony to the fact. Now, recite the gatha and then I will feed you."

The raksa quickly recited, "All activity impermanent is the dharma of production and extinction. Production and extinction extinguished, tranquil extinction is bliss.' Now, give me your body!"

"Wait a minute," said the Brahman. "Once you have eaten me there will be nothing left of the gatha unless I write it down. Let me carve it on this tree so that future generations may cultivate according to it." Then he stripped the bark from a tree and carved the gatha on its trunk.

The raksa said, "Can I eat you now?"

"Just a minute..." said the Brahman.

"So you're backing out are you?" the ghost said. "No, I'm not," said the Brahman, "but what I have written on the tree will eventually be worn away by the wind and rain. I want to carve the gatha on stone so that it will last forever. I'll gladly give you my body, but I must also leave the Buddhadharma for those of the future."

"Not a bad idea," said the raksa.

The Brahman carved the words in stone and said, "All right. I've done what I had to do. I give my body to you as an offering. You may eat me now," and he shut his eyes and waited for the ghost to devour him. But just then the ghost flew up into empty space, transformed into Sakra and said, "Very good! Very good! You are a true cultivator, one who gives up his own body for the sake of the Buddha Way. In the future you are sure to become a Buddha!"

This is an event in the former lives of Sakyamuni Buddha, when, as a Brahman, he gave up his life for half a gatha.



The Master said, "What are your doubts?"

"All living beings have two bodies," he replied, "the form body and the Dharma body. The form body, being impermanent is produced and destroyed. The Dharma body is permanent and is without knowing or awareness. The Sutra says that the extinction of production and extinction is bliss but I do not know which body is in tranquil extinction and which receives the bliss."



Is it the form body which is extinct and the Dharma body which receives the bliss, or is it the Dharma body which is extinct and the form body which receives the bliss?"



"If it is the form body which receives the bliss, when this form body is extinguished, the four great elements scatter and that is total suffering.  Suffering cannot be called bliss."



The body is composed of the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. At death, the elements scatter and that is a state of unspeakable suffering.  You can't call this suffering happiness.



"If it is the Dharma body which is extinguished, it would be like grass, trees, tiles, or stones, and who would receive the bliss?

      Moreover, the Dharma nature is the substance of production and extinction and the five heaps are the function of production and extinction. With one body having five functions, production and extinction are permanent; at the time of production, the functions arise from the substance and at the time of extinction the functions return to the substance. If there is rebirth, then sentient beings would not cease or be extinguished. If there is not rebirth, they would return to tranquil extinction and be just like insentient objects. Thus all dharmas would be suppressed by Nirvana and there would not even be production, how could there be bliss?”



      What would be blissful? Who would be happy?



The Master said. "You are a son of Sakya! How can you practice the deviant views of annihilation and permanence, which belong to other religions and criticize the Supreme Vehicle Dharma? According to what you say, there is a Dharma body that is apart from the extinction of form and tranquil extinction to be sought apart from production and extinction. Moreover you propose that there is a body which enjoys the permanence and bliss of Nirvana. But, this is to grasp tightly at birth and death and indulge in worldly bliss."



"Hey!" said the Great Master, "you are a disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha.  You have left home and are a member of the Sangha. How can you practice the deviant views and deviant knowledge of non—Buddhist religions? You say that there is a Dharma body apart from the extinction of the form body and that there is a tranquil extinction apart from production and extinction. Isn't this what you're saying? You also say that there is a body, which enjoys the four virtues of Nirvana: permanence, bliss, (true) self, and purity. Your theories are nothing but stingy attachments to birth and death and worldly pleasure. Stuck in the mundane world, you cannot possibly know transcendental bliss.



"You should now know that it was for this sake of deluded men who mistook the union of five heaps as their own bodies and thought the dharmas to be external, who loved life, hated death, and drifted from thought to thought not knowing the dream illusion was empty and false. These same deluded men vainly turned on the wheel (of samskara—birth and death) and mistook the permanence and bliss of Nirvana for a form of suffering.  Therefore they sought after something else all day long, until the Buddha took pity on them and consequently made manifest true bliss of Nirvana, which, in a ksana, has no mark of production or extinction, and no production and extinction which can be extinguished. This then is the manifestation of tranquil extinction, which, at the time it is manifested is beyond measure and is called permanence and bliss. This bliss has no enjoyer and no non-enjoyer. How can you call it 'one substance with five functions' or even less how can you say that Nirvana suppresses all dharmas causing them to be forever unproduced? This is to slander the Buddha and defame the Dharma."



The Buddha spoke for those who thought that the union of the five heaps was actually their bodies and who thought the dharmas to be external. They were attached to life and death because they didn't know that everything is like a dream, a bubble, a lightning flash, or a dewdrop—illusory. They undergo birth and death over and over again, uselessly and pitifully spinning on the wheel in the six paths of rebirth.

Such people think that the wonderful virtues of Nirvana are a kind of suffering, but the Buddha mercifully revealed to them the true happiness of Nirvana which in a ksana has no mark of production or extinction...A ksana is a very short space of time and in this very short space of time there is no mark of production and no mark of extinction.

...and no production or extinction which can be extinguished. There is absolutely no extinction of production and extinction because right within production and extinction (itself) there appears the state of non-production and non-extinction. This then is the manifestation of tranquil extinction...

...which at the time it manifests, is without measure and is called permanence and bliss. You can't say that this manifestation of tranquil extinction is so long or so short so high or so wide. It is a kind of permanent happiness, which is without an enjoyer or a non-enjoyer. If you would like to have this kind of bliss, you should know that there is no one who enjoys or does not enjoy it. Why? It is the manifestation of the original self—nature. How can you call it 'one substance with five functions' or even less say that nirvana suppresses all dharmas causing them to be forever unproduced. You should not have such a view, for with this kind of understanding you slander the Buddha and defame the Dharma.             



"Listen to my gatha:

Supreme, great Nirvana is bright,

Perfect, permanent, tranquil and shining.

Stupid common people call it death,

Other teachings hold it to be annihilation,

All those who seek two vehicles

Regard it as non—action.

Ultimately these notions rise out of feeling,

And form the basis of sixty-two views

Wrongly establishing unreal names.

What is the true, real principle?

Only the man who has gone beyond measuring,

Penetrates without, grasping or rejecting.

And knows that the dharmas of the five heaps,

And the self within the heaps,

The outward appearances, mass of images,

The mark of every sound

Are equally like the illusions of dreams.

For him views of common and holy do not arise,

Nor are explanations of Nirvana made.

The two boundaries, the three limits are cut, off.

      All organs have their function,

But there never arises the thought of the function.

All dharmas are discriminated

Without a thought of discrimination arising.

When the kalpa fire burns the bottom of the sea,

And the wind blows the mountains against each other

The true, permanent, tranquil extinct bliss,

The mark of Nirvana is ‘thus’.

I have struggled to explain it,

To cause you to reject false views.

Don’t understand it by words alone,

And you may understand a bit of this.


The Sixth Patriarch said, "Listen. Great Nirvana is full, complete, and bright. It's permanent, unchanging, and constantly illuminating. Ordinary people say that it is death and those of non-Buddhist religions say that it is annihilation. The Sravakas and Pratyeka Buddhas think that it is non-action that it is uncreated and arises spontaneously. But these are all discriminations, which arise from emotion, and they form the basis of sixty-two wrong views. What are the sixty-two wrong views?

1. The heap (skandha) is big and I am in the heap:

2. I am big and the heap is in me;

3. The heap is me;

4. Separate from the heap is me.

When each of the four above are applied to the five heaps—form, feeling, perception, impulse, and consciousness—they make twenty. These twenty multiplied by the three periods of time—past, present, and future--make sixty combinations. Adding the two extremes of permanence and annihilation makes sixty-two.  None of them are real; they are all empty and false.

Then what is the true, real principle? Only the man who has gone beyond measuring penetrates without grasping or rejecting. Such a man penetrates the marks of dharmas without grasping or rejecting. He therefore truly knows that the dharma of the five heaps and the self within those heaps, the marks of form and sound, all are like dreams, illusions, bubbles and shadows.

      For him views of common and holy do not arise. He doesn’t have the views of common men, he doesn’t have the understanding of the sage, and he doesn’t try to explain the bliss of Nirvana. The two boundaries, the three limits are cut off. He attaches neither to the boundary of emptiness, nor to the boundary of existence. Therefore the three limits of the past, present, and future are cut off and he is not attached to them.

      All organs have their function, but there never arises the thought of the function. The true suchness self-nature has the ability to accord with conditions and yet not change, not change and yet accord with conditions. It’s responsive use is inexhaustible and yet there is no thought of “Ah! I am functioning!” All Dharmas are discriminated without a thought of discrimination arising. You don’t think, “I am not discriminating!” If you think, “I am not discriminating” then you have the mark of discrimination. To be without discrimination is to be without the mark of non-discrimination as well.

      When the kalpa fire burns the bottom of the sea and the wind blows the mountains against each other...At the end of a kalpa there are three disasters: flood, fire, and wind. The true, permanent, tranquil extinct bliss, the mark of Nirvana is ‘thus’. If you have attained true permanence and tranquil extinct bliss, then the mark of Nirvana is just like that explained above and the three disasters cannot affect you.

      I have struggled to explain it, to cause you to reject a bit of this. When you need to rely on the text in order to explain the Sutras, I will admit that you understand just a little bit of this.


      After hearing this gatha, Chih Tao was greatly enlightened. Over whelmed with joy, he made obeisance and withdrew.



      Dhyana Master Hsing Szu was born into the Liu family which lived in An Ch’eng district in Chi Chou. Hearing of the flourishing influence of the Ts’ao Hsi Dharma Assembly. Hsing Szu went directly to pay homage and asked, "What is required to avoid falling into successive stages?"

The Master said, "What did you do before coming here?"

He replied. "I did not even practice the Holy Truths."

The Master said, "Then into what successive stages could you fall?"

He replied, "Not practicing the Four Holy Truths, what successive stages are there?"

The Master greatly admired his capacity and made him the leader of the assembly.



Dhyana Master Using Szu at once walked and thought about things. What did he think about? Do you know? I know. He walked and thought, "Who is mindful of the Buddha? Who is mindful of the Buddha?" and so he was called Using Szu, "walking thinker".

At that time the reputation of the Dharma Assembly at Ts'ao Hsi spread all over China, Everyone knew that the person to whom the Fifth Patriarch had transmitted the robe and bowl was spreading the Dharma there. People "drift from the empty and gather with the flourishing". If there are only a few people in your place, it will soon be empty. For instance, here there are thirty people, but if there were only three or four people, soon they would all run away. The more people there are, the more who come from the outside.  "There are a lot of people at the Buddhist Lecture Hall!" they say.   "Hippies who go there cut their hair and shave their beards. It's inconceivable. There must be something happening there. Let's go and see!"

The Dharma assembly at Ts'ao Hsi flourished. "Gather with the flourishing" can also be explained as "gather with the sages" because in Chinese the words for flourishing (sheng) and sage (sheng) sound alike. Many sages and common people came to support the Patriarch.

Hsing Szu went to pay homage and asked, "What is required "to avoid falling into successive stages?" He must have heard someone say, "The Sixth Patriarch is truly inconceivable! He has the five eyes and the six spiritual powers. I went there and didn't say a thing, and he knew what I was thinking and asked me about it!"

Hsing Szu asked the Patriarch which Dharma door he should cultivate in order to avoid the successive stages of gradual teaching. The sudden teaching does not have successive stages. Therefore he actually asked, "How do I cultivate the sudden Dharma?"

      The Master said, “What did you do before coming here? What have you come for?”

      He replied, “I did not even practice the Four Holy Truths of suffering, origination, stopping and the Way.”

      The replied, “Not practicing the Four Holy Truths, what successive stages are there?”

      The Master regarded him highly. “This man makes sense,” he thought, “he surely must have good roots.” He appointed Hsing Szu to be head of the assembly and, thereafter during the ceremonies, Hsing Szu always walked in front, leading the others.



      One day the Master said, “You should go teach somewhere. Do not allow the teaching to be cut off.”



The Sixth Patriarch saw Hsing Szu as a vessel of the Dharma, a Dharma door "elephant" and "dragon". This means that he had the capability of a patriarch, not a self-made patriarch, but one who had received the certification and permission of the Sixth Patriarch. "Go and teach in one direction," the Master told him. "You should not live here with me but should go off in one direction and be a teaching host. Do not let the Dharma

become extinct!"



      Having obtained the Dharma, Hsing Szu returned to Ch’ing Yuan Mountain in Chi Chou, to propagate the Dharma and convert living beings there.



He received the robe and bowl and carried the transmission of the lamp of the wonderful Dharma.



After his death he was given the posthumous title "Dhyana Master Hung Chi".



The posthumous title is conferred by the Emperor. Hsing Szu was given the name Hung Chi, "vast crossing", just as the Sixth Patriarch received the name Ta Chien, "great mirror" or "great insight".



      Dhyana Master Huai Jang was the son of the Tu family in Chin Chou. He first visited National Master An of Sung Mountain, who told him to go to Ts'ao Hsi to pay homage.



Huai means, "to cherish". What did he cherish? Jang, "which means, "to yield". He was never arrogant toward anyone but kept his mind humble and modest, respecting all above and below.  He constantly cherished humility.  What this Dhyana Master had, he appeared to be without; what was real appeared false. Although he had the Way, it seemed as if he did not.  Basically he was highly educated, but if anyone brought up the fact he politely insisted that he was really just a beginner.

He first went to study the Buddhadharma with National Master An, who in turn sent him to study at Ts'ao Hsi because at that time everyone knew that Ts'ao His was the place of the true, Orthodox Buddhadharma. If you really wanted to study and believe in the Buddhadharma, you went to Ts'ao Hsi. Now, in America, if you really want to study the Buddhadharma you should come to study the Sutras here. Don't fear difficulty! Don't fear suffering! Don't be lazy! Study the Buddhadharma. At that time at Nan Hua Temple, the site of the platform of the Sixth Patriarch, cultivators were engaged in Dhyana meditation and work on the mountain slopes. Everyday in the morning everyone got up at three-thirty; at four o'clock they went to morning recitation, which was very vigorous, lasting until sun-rise, and then ate rice gruel. After they had eaten there was an hour of meditation. At eight o'clock they went out on the mountain slopes for two hours until ten o'clock. Because there were about two thousand people, in two hours they were able to do a lot of work. It was not like one or two people doing the work and not being able to finish it.

At ten they returned from the slopes and rested until eleven, at which time they ate. From twelve to two they sat in meditation and at two o'clock they went back out on the mountain slopes to work until four o'clock. Then they returned and sat in meditation until ten o'clock. Some did their own work, bowing in homage to the Sutras or doing repentance ceremonies until midnight. Every day it was this way.

The "wind of the Way" blew strongly at Nan Hua Temple; everyone had to follow the rules. There were several thousand people, and you never heard a person speak. No one ever spoke because they feared that they might strike up false thinking, and then their work would not succeed. If you single-mindedly apply effort, you never think north, east, south or west, and your work is accomplished. The common work established by the Sixth Patriarch was very vigorous.



When he arrived he bowed and the Master asked him, "What comes?"

He replied, "Sung Shan."

The Master said, "What thing is it and how does it come?"

He replied, "To say that it is like a thing is to miss the point."

The Master said, "Then can there still be that which is cultivated and certified?”

He replied, “Cultivation and certification are not absent, but there can be no defilement.”

The Master said, “It is just this lack of defilement of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective. You are like this and I am like this too.”


When Dhyana Master Huai Jang arrived at Nan Hua Temple he bowed, and the Master said, "What comes?" This is Ch'an. In the Ch'an School, one never speaks of the principle outright. He merely said, "What comes?" At least he didn't ask if it were a ghost.

Huai Jang replied, "Sung Shan." He meant, "I am from Sung Shan Mountain."

      The Master said, “What thing is it and how does it come? This is talk of the Ch’an School—repartee.

      He replied, “To say it is like a thing is to miss the point.”

      The Master said, “Then can there still be that which is cultivated and certified?”

      He replied, “Cultivation and certification are not absent, but there can be no defilement.” Cultivation has that which is certified. Therefore cultivation and certification are not non-existent. So cultivation and certification can be, but defilement cannot be. This means that you cannot be stained. The self-nature must be bright and light.

When he said this, the Master said, "It is just this lack of defilement of which all Buddhas are mindful and protective. It is that wonderful Dharma. ”You are like this and I am like this too. There is no defilement, no filth in the self-nature. The defilements are self-seeking, jealousy, greed, hate, and stupidity. Without these defilements, you are 'thus' just as I am. We two are the same--equal."

This series is from the Collected. Lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua on The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. The lectures have been translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society of the Sino-American Buddhist Association.





The Record of Water and Mirror Turning Back Heaven—

More Dharma Talks from Jones Gulch—


"In the West, Prajnatara predicted that a colt would run from under your feet, trampling and killing men under heaven. You should keep this in mind, but do not speak of it too soon."

Huai Jang suddenly understood. Accordingly he waited upon the Master for fifteen years, daily penetrating the profound and mysterious. Later he went to Nan Yao where he spread the Dhyana School. He received the posthumous title "Dhyana Master Ta Hui".



The twenty—seventh Indian Patriarch, Prajnatara, had said that a colt would run from under Huai Jang's feet. Who was the colt? He was Huai Jang's Dharma successor. Great Master Ma Tsu Tao I.

Under your feet means that the colt would be Huai Jang's disciple, because a disciple behaves as if he were under his teacher's foot. "In the future," Prajnatara had said, "a colt will run out of your gate, trampling men all over the world. No other Dharma Master will match his superb eloquence. None will defeat him. Under heaven, he will be supreme."

Master Hui Jang became the Sixth Patriarch's personal attendant. Later he went to Heng Mountain in Nan Yao, which is in Hu Nan (south central China), to propagate the Dhyana School. After Huai Jang died, the Emperor gave him the title "Great Master Ta Hui", "great wisdom".



Lecture 35


Dhyana Master Hsuan Chiao of Yung Chia was the son of a Tai family in Wen Chou. When young, he studied the Sutras and commentaries and was skilled in the T’ien T’ai “Stop and Look” Dharma door. Upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, he understood the mind ground. One day he happened to meet the Master’s disciple Hsuan Ch’e and they had a pleasant chat. As Hsuan Chiao’s words were in agreement with those of all the Patriarchs, Hsuan Ch’e asked him, “Kind Sir, from whom did you obtain the Dharma?”



Yung Chia is the name of the place. Because everyone greatly respected this Dharma Master, they called him after the name of his birthplace, according to Chinese custom. When he was young, Yung Chia investigated the Buddhist Sutras and the commentaries written by the Patriarchs. When he read the Vimalakirti Sutra, he understood the Dharma door of his own mind-ground.  One day he had a chat with the Sixth Patriarch's disciple Hsuan Ch'e, and Hsuan Ch'e found that their views were in accord with each other and that they both agreed with the principles of the Patriarchs. Supposing him to be a member of his own school Hsuan Ch'e asked, "Who transmitted our Dharma to you, Hsuan Chiao Great Master? Who certified you?"



He replied, "I have heard the Vaipulya Sutras and Sastras, receiving each from a master. Later, upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, I awakened to the doctrine of the Buddha mind but as yet no one has certified me."

(Hsuan) Ch'e said, "Before the time of the (Buddha called) Awesome-Voice—King this was acceptable. But since the coming of that Buddha, all those who 'self-enlighten' without a Master belong to other religions of the naturalistic (school)."

"Then will you please certify me, Kind Sir?" said Hsuan Chiao.



"Oh?" said Hsuan Ch'e, "so you read the Vimalakirti Sutra and got enlightened all by yourself? Before the time or the Buddha called Awesome-Voice-King that would have been all right. He was the first Buddha, and after his advent anyone who claims to be enlightened without a master's certification is simply not a Buddhist."

"Not a Buddhist? Oh," said Hsuan Ch'e, "then please certify me!"

I don't know what those Americans who certify themselves do when they lecture the Sixth Patriarch's Sutra and come to this passage of text. How do they explain it?

Awesome-Voice-King Buddha's name means that his sound penetrates to the most remote places, to the "wind and light of the native ground".



(Hsuan) Ch'e said, "My words are of little worth, but the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, is at Ts'ao His, where people gather like clouds from the four directions. He is one who has received the Dharma. If you wish to go, I will accompany you."

Thereupon, Hsuan Chiao went with Hsuan Ch'e to call upon the Master.  (On arriving) he circumambulated the Master three times, shook his staff, and stood in front of him. The Master said, "In as much as a Sramena has perfected the three thousand awesome comportments and the eighty thousand fine Practices, where does the Virtuous One come from and what makes him so


"I can't certify you," said Hsuan Ch’e, "because I don't have the status. Besides, it's not certain that I myself am enlightened. However the Sixth Patriarch is at Han Hua Temple. The Fifth Patriarch has transmitted both the Dharma and Bodhidharma's robe and bowl to him."

When the two arrived at Ts'ao Hsi, Hsuan Chiao marched around the Sixth Patriarch three times, pounded his tin staff into the ground, and stood there as if angry.

The Sixth Patriarch politely asked, "How did you get here and why are you so obnoxious? One who has left home has perfected the three thousand awesome comportments and the eighty-thousand fine practices, and yet you didn't even bow to me."

There are two hundred and fifty comportments for each of the four body postures: standing, sitting, walking, and lying down. The thousand comportments multiplied by the past, present, and future make three thousand.  There are actually eighty-four thousand fine practices, although the text here gives the number as eighty thousand.



(Hsuan) Chiao said, "The affair of birth and death is great and is impermanence comes quickly."

The Master said, "Why not embody non-production and understand what is without quickness?"

He replied, "Just the embodiment is non-production, and understanding is basically without quickness."

      The Master said, “So it is; so it is.”



Hsuan Chiao said, "I act this way because birth and death are serious problems, and one never knows when the Ghost of Impermanence will pay his inevitable call. It all happens in an instant." What Hsuan Chiao actually meant was, "I am trying to end birth and death, and I have no time for good manners. Besides, I've put that sort of thing down."

"Then why don't you think of a way to embody and comprehend that which is not produced and to understand what is not quick?" said the Master. "You should be clear about the principles of non-production and quickness."

"The embodiment itself is non-production," said Hsuan Chiao, "and the understanding is basically without quickness. That is, if I clearly understand birth and death, then there is no birth and death and if I maintain this clear understanding, then there is basically no quickness. Why then should I fear the Ghost of Impermanence?"

Seeing that he understood, the Sixth Patriarch certified him, saying, "Right! Good work! It's just as you say."



Hsuan Chiao then made obeisance with perfect awesome comportment. A short while later he announced that he was leaving and the Master said, "Aren't you leaving too quickly?”

     You will find some strange and wonderful stories about men who have had miraculous responses from cultivation of the Dharma Blossom Sutra on page 16 of this issue.

      He replied, “Fundamentally I don’t move; how can I be quick?”

The Master said, "Who knows you don't move?"

He replied "Kind Sir, you yourself make this discrimination."

The Master said, "You have truly got_the idea of non-production."

"But does non-production possess an 'idea'?" asked (Hsuan) Chiao.

"If it is without ideas, then who discriminates it?" said the Master.

"That which discriminates is also not an idea," he replied.

The Master exclaimed, "Good indeed! Please stay for a night.”



The Master and Hsuan Chiao carried on some repartee: "Your eloquence indicates that you have truly understood the idea of non-production," said the Master.

"How can non-production have an idea?" Hsuan Chiao replied.

"Without ideas, who could discriminate it?" said the Master.

Hsuan Chiao said, "Although there is discrimination, it is not done on the basis of the mind's ideas; it is not the intellect engaging in intellection which discriminates. Rather it is the Buddha's wonderful observing wisdom. Therefore, that which discriminates is also not an idea."

"You’re absolutely right," said the Master.



      At that time, he became known as “The Overnight Enlightened One”. Later he wrote the “Song of Certifying to the Way”, which circulated widely in the world. His posthumous title is “Great Master Wu Hsiang”, and during his lifetime he was called “Chen Chiao.”



      He stayed one night and became enlightened, so everyone called him “The Overnight Enlightened One". Later, he wrote the "Song of Certifying to the Way" which I am sure you all know. It begins:

"Have you not seen the man of the Way

Who has cut off learning and in leisure does nothing,

Who does not reject false thinking or seek reality

For him the real nature of ignorance is the Buddha nature,

And the empty body of illusion is the Dharma body..."

After he died, the Emperor gave him the title "Wu Hsiang” which means "without marks", and his contemporaries called him "Chen Chiao" or "true enlightenment".




Dhyana cultivator Chih Huang had formerly studied under the Fifth Patriarch and said of himself that he had attained to the “right reception”. He lived in a hut, constantly sitting, for twenty years.

In his travels, the Master’s disciple Hsuan Ch’e reached Ho Shuo, where he heard of Chih Huang’s reputation. He paid a visit to his hut and asked him, “What are you doing here?”



      Chih Huang practiced Dhyana meditation and his first teacher was the Fifth Patriarch, Hung Jen. Formerly, when cultivators left home they traveled everywhere in search of a “bright-eyed knowing one”.

      Hsuan Ch’e did public relations work for the Sixth Patriarch. He traveled all over China saying, “My teacher is the Sixth Patriarch, the genuine recipient of the robe and bowl!” When he heard about Chih Huang’s cultivation he went to visit him and said, “Hey, What are you doing here? Huh?”

      Chih Huang just said, “I am entering concentration.”



      (Hsuan) Ch’e said, “You say you are entering concentration. Do you enter with thought or without thought? If you enter without thought, then all insentient things, such as grass, trees, tiles, and stones, should likewise attain concentration. If you enter with thought, then all sentient things which have consciousness should also attain concentration."

(Chih) Huang said, "When I properly enter concentration I do not notice whether or not I_ have thought."

(Hsuan) Ch'e said, " Not to notice whether or not you have thought is eternal concentration. How can you enter or come out of it? If you come out of it or enter it, it is not the great concentration."

(Chih) Huang was speechless. After a_ long while, he finally asked, "Who is your teacher?"

(Hsuan) Ch'e said, "My master is_ the Sixth Patriarch at Ts'ao Hsi."

(Chih) Huang said, "What does your master take to be Dhyana Concentration?”



"You say you are entering concentration?" said Hsuan Ch'e, "Tell me, do you do it with the thought in mind that you want to enter concentration or do you not have such a thought? If you do not enter with such a thought, then all inanimate objects can also enter concentration, because they do not have thought either. But if you do, then all living, conscious creatures can enter as well."

Chih Huang replied, "When I enter concentration I don't notice whether or not I have thought. At that time I'm empty!"

Hsuan Ch'e said, "If you don't notice whether or not you have thought, then that is permanent concentration. How can you come out of it or enter it?  How do you come in? How do you go out? If you can enter or leave it, it's not the great concentration of the Buddha."

Chih Huang was dumbfounded. "What am I going to do?" he thought. "I come out of and go into concentration!" He couldn't open his mouth for a long time. He knew that his own words had no principle, that Hsuan Ch'e's wisdom was higher than his own, and that he had no means to debate with him.  Finally he asked, "Who is your teacher? Your eloquence is superb. Surely your master is even more clever than you. Who transmitted the Dharma to you?"

"My teacher is the Sixth Patriarch, the Abbot of Nan Hua Temple in Ts'ao Hsi," said Hsuan Ch'e.

"What does he take to be Dhyana concentration?" Chih Huang asked.



(Hsuan) Ch'e said, "My teacher speaks of the wonderful, clear, perfect stillness, of substance and function 'thus, thus', of five shadows originally empty and six objects non-existent."



The Sixth Patriarch says that the original nature is wonderful, clear, perfectly still and unmoving. Its substance and function both are "thus, thus, unmoving and clear, clear and illuminating." The five shadows, i.e. the five skandhic heaps of form, feeling, perception, impulses, and consciousness, are fundamentally void, and the six sense objects of form, sound, smell, taste, touchables, and mind objects are also non-existent.



"There is neither emerging nor entering, concentration nor confusion.  The nature of Dhyana is non-dwelling and is beyond (the act of) dwelling in Dhyana stillness. The nature of Dhyana is produced and beyond the production of the thought of Dhyana. The mind is like empty space and is without the measure of empty space.”



      When you understand the wonderful function of the original substance, there is no question of either dwelling or not dwelling in Dhyana. The Dhyana nature transcends that kind of “dead Dhyana” which attaches to stillness.

      The nature of Dhyana itself is unproduced and transcends such thoughts as, “Here I sit in Dhyana meditation.”

      Meet the Patriarchs Cloth Sack and Long Ears in Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs in the next two issues of Vajra Bodhi Sea.


Hearing this explanation, (Chih) Huang went directly to visit the Master. The Master asked him, "Kind Sir, where are you from? (Chih) Huang related the previous incident in detail and the Master then said, "It is truly as he said. Simply let your mind be like empty space without attaching to the view of emptiness and the re spending function will be unobstructed.  In motion and stillness do not have thought; forget feelings of holy or common put an end to both subject and object. The nature and mark will then be 'thus thus', and at no time will you not be in the state of concentration."



"What Hsuan Ch'e told you was correct," said the Master. "Just make your mind like empty space, but do not hold onto the view of empty space. You will then function in an unhindered manner.

When an affair comes, you respond;

When it passes, you are still.

This is to be unobstructed.

In motion and stillness, in walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, do not have thought. Do not think, "I'm a sage!" and do not think, "I'm just a common person." Forget about feeling holy or common. Get rid of emotional feelings altogether and be without subject or object. Do not have that which sees and that, which is seen, that which makes empty and that which is made empty. You should know that when you see brightness, your seeing is not bright; when you see darkness, your seeing is not dark; when you see emptiness, your seeing is not empty; when you see form, your seeing has no form; when you see existence, your seeing is not "existent"; and when you see non-existence, your seeing is not "non-existent". The Surangama Sutra says, "When your seeing sees the seeing (nature) this seeing is no (longer) seeing.  Your seeing (nature) is beyond your seeing and your seeing cannot reach it.” Your seeing nature should be separate from (and be unattached to) your (false discriminatory) seeing and you should not hold on to the thought of "seeing".  If you keep the view of subject and object, maintaining that there is someone who sees as well as an emptiness which is seen, you are left with just that knowledge and vision.  You should put an end to both subject and object.

The nature and mark will be 'thus  thus; and at no time will be ‘thus thus’, and at no time will you not be in the state of concentration.”



      Just then Chih Huang attained the great enlightenment. What he had obtained in twenty years vanished from his mind without a trace. That night the people of Ho Pei heard a voice in space announcing, "Today Dhyana Master Chih Huang has attained the Way." Later, he made obeisance and left, returning to Ho Pei to teach and convert the four assemblies there.



      All of a sudden, Chih Huang had a great, not a small, enlightenment and the skill he had acquired in twenty years of diligent cultivation completely disappeared. There was not a trace, not an echo. Originally, he had entered samadhi thinking, "I am entering samadhi," but now he had nothing at all.  Everything was empty. He had returned to the root source of all dharmas.

      Although Chih Huang himself was in Canton, that night in his nature village on the outskirts of Peking, his neighbors, disciples, and Dharma protectors all heard a voice in space saying, "You should all know that today Dhyana Master Chih Huang got enlightened!"

      Later, Chih Huang bowed to the Sixth Patriarch, took leave and returned to Ho Pei to teach the Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, laymen, and laywomen there.

      Ho Pei is about fifteen hundred miles from Canton. That's a long walk.


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