Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs


--Written by the Venerable Master Hua
         Translated by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Ching

The Master was from Feng Hua in Ming Chou, and, because of his propensity for sitting by a riverside, was known as Old Riverbank. No one knew his name, but because he always carried a cloth sack across his back he was known as Cloth Sack Monk. He always spoke strange and wonderful words, and could make anyone alternately laugh and weep. He was constantly chortling and was fond of playing with children.

When he passed through a marketplace, he would beg for anything he saw in an attempt to get people to establish affinities with him. One day he slapped the back of a monk, who was walking in front of him and said, "Give me a coin."

The monk replied, "Tell me the way and I'll give it."

The Master set down his cloth bag, and stood with his hands firmly planted on his hips.

Another time the monk Pao Fu asked, "What is the great meaning of the Buddhadharma?"

The Master then set down his cloth sack.

Fu replied, "Is that all? Is there nothing bigger?"

The Master then picked up the sack, slung it across his back, and left. Later on, he sat upright at Yao Lin Temple on a stone and spoke the following verse:

Maitreya, truly Maitreya,

With a hundred million transformations,

He constantly reveals himself to the world,

But people do not understand.

Although he then entered extinction, he later was seen in another province, walking along with his cloth bag.

His eulogy reads,

Just this cloth sack
          confuses many men.
      He begs from whoever he meets.
          Whatever for?
      Whenever he meets a test,
          there's nothing you can do.
      Don't miss the chance.
          This is the future Buddha!



1 Known in America as Ho Tai, the Japanese pronunciation of his Chinese name.