The Collected Lectures of 
Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua on 

                       The SixthPatriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra                    


 Translated by the Buddhist Text Translation Society  
XV. BHIKSU CHIH CH'E -Lecture 37 continued



      Bhiksu Chih Ch'e, a native of  Chiang Hsi, had the family name Chang and the personal name Hsing Ch'ang. As a youth he was a Knight errant. When the schools split into the Northern and Southern. although the two leaders had lost (the notion of )self and others. the disciples stirred up love and hate. The disciples of the Northern School secretly established Shen Hsiu as the Sixth Patriarch. Fearing that the country would hear of the transmission of the robe, they hired Hsing Ch'ang to assassinate the Master.


      Neither Shen Hsiu nor the Sixth Patriarch had thoughts of "self" or "others". But their disciples agitated, stirring up thoughts of love and hate. More specifically, Shen Hsiu's disciples did the agitating, denouncing the Southern Patriarch as illiterate and incompetent.

      The Sixth Patriarch's disciples really believed in him. "You can't talk that way about our teacher!" they said. "He has obtained wisdom without the aid of a master."

      It never occurred to the Sixth Patriarch's disciples that they should kill Shen Hsiu, but Shen Hsiu's disciples were jealous and wanted to kill the Sixth Patriarch. They knew that the robe and bowl were in the South. The rumors flew! "Hui Neng would do anything homicide, manslaughter. Why, in the old days he was a confidence man, and now he's pretending to be a Patriarch. How absurd."

      Others said, "He used to be a poor firewood gather­er in the mountains. What talent could he have? The people in the south have made him their leader, but it's only talk." They did everything they could to ruin him. At Huang Mei everyone knew that he was a barbarian. ''He doesn't know anything at all."

      Although he did not have the robe and bowl, Shen Hsiu had several thousand men behind him. They wanted him to be the Sixth Patriarch, for without a father, how can there be a son? With Shen Hsiu as the Sixth Pat­riarch, the Seventh Patriarch would surely be one of them.

      They didn't dare make this news public because it was all too obvious that the position rightly belonged to Hui Neng.

      T'ang Dynasty Buddhism was extremely complicated.
      Hsing Ch'ang's family name was Chang, but later when he left home, the Master named him Chih Ch'e. As a boy, he had robbed from the rich and given to the poor, always fighting for the underdog. His martial skills were outstanding. Light and limber, he could leap twenty feet in the air in a single bound. They called him "Flying-Cat" Chang because he ran so quickly and lightly that he could break into your house without a sound, just like a cat. Not only could this "cat" walk silently, he could fly. But you won't find this nick­name in any of the history books. You have to have been there.


      But the Master had the power of knowing others' thoughts. He knew of this matter in advance and set ten ounces of gold oil his chair. That night Hsing Ch'ang entered his room intending to kill him. The Mas­ter just stretched out his neck. Hsing Ch'ang swung this blade three times but could not harm him.


      Having unsuccessfully tried to capture the Master by burning off the mountain behind Nan Hua Temple, Shen Hsiu's men decided to hire an assassin to kill the Master and steal the robe and bowl.

      The Sixth Patriarch could read minds and so he was expecting this visitor. He put some gold on his chair and waited until midnight. When the sky was black, Hsing Ch'ang came stalking up the stairs, down the hall, and into the room.

      Was this a tense situation or not? What do you think the Master did?

      He just stretched out his neck and, although he didn't say a word, he thought, "Go ahead and swing your sword. Come on, kill mei" This is called "sticking your neck out".

      Hsing Ch'ang was oblivious. He was determined to carry out orders and had nothing on his mind but murder. "I don't care if you're a Bhiksu, an Arhat, or even a Patriarch, I'm going to kill you!" he said, slicing at the Master's neck. He swung three times but nothing happened. Now, just what do you think this means?


Lecture 38


   The Master said.

“A straight  sword is not bent:

A bent sword is not straight.

I merely owe you gold;

I do not owe you life."

      Hsing Ch'ang fell to the ground in fright. After a_ while he came to and begged for mercy, repenting of his error and vowing to leave home. The Master gave: him the gold and said. "Go I! fear that my followers will come to take revenge. Change your appearance and re­turn on another day and ;I will accept you."


      The Master said, "A straight sword is not bent," that is, the straight sword of the proper Dharma cannot be harmed by deviant dharma.

The deviant cannot defeat the right;

The right always overcomes the deviant.

You may have a sword,

But you can't harm me with it.

"I merely owe you the gold which I borrowed in a past life. I don't owe you my life because I never killed you."

It was all too much for Hsing Ch'ang and he fainted. When he came to, the Master talked with him for a long time. "Why did you want to kill me?" he asked.

      "It wasn't my idea," said Hsing Ch'ang, "they told me that you were a scoundrel, a thief, and a hunter. They said that you were nothing but a firewood gatherer who was pretending to be a Patriarch. Hearing this, I felt it was my duty to kill you, but now I know that I was wrong. Why? If you had no virtue, my sharp sword would have sliced your head right off. Having met you, I realize that the affairs of the world are of no great interest. Please let me leave home and bow to you as my teacher."

      The Master said, "Here, take this gold and go quickly. My disciples are fond of me, and they would kill you if they found out about this. Go somewhere else and leave home. When you return I will teach and transform you."


      Hsing Ch'ang received his orders and disappeared into the night. Later he left home under another Bhiksu received the complete precepts and was vigorous in 

practice. One day, remembering the Master's words, he made the long journey to have an audience. The Master said, "I have thought of you for a long time. Why have you come so late?" 

      He replied, "The High Master once favored me by pardoning my crime.* I shall never be able to repay your kindness. May I try to do so by transmitting the Dharma and taking living beings 'across'?

      "I, your disciple, often study the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, but I have not yet understood the principles of permanence and impermanence. I beg the High Master to be compassionate and explain them for me."

      The Master said. "Impermanence is just the Buddha nature, and permanence is just the mind discriminating good and evil dharmas."

      “High Master your explanation contradicts the Sutra text! (Hsing Ch'ang) replied.

      The Master said, "I transmit the Buddhas' mind the Buddhas' mind seal. How could I dare to contradict the Buddhas’ Sutras?"

      (Hsing Ch'ang) replied. "The Sutra says that the Buddha nature is permanent and the High Master has just said that it is impermanent; it says that good and evil dharmas. reaching even to the Bodhi Mind, are impermanent/ and the High  Master has just said that they are permanent. This contradiction has merely intensified your student's doubt and delusion."

      The Master said. "Formerly I heard Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang recite the Nirvana Sutra. When I commented on it, there was not one word or principle which did not accord with the Sutra text. My explanation to you now is not different."

      (Hsing Ch'ang) replied. "Your student's capacity for understanding is superficia1. Will the High Master please explain further?" 
      The Master said, "Don't you understand? If the Buddha nature were permanent. what use would there be in speaking of good and evil dharmas? To the end of a kalpa not one man would produce the Bodhi Mind. Therefore I explain it as impermanent and this is exactly w
hat the Buddha explained as the meaning of true permanence. "


    "The Buddha explained the Buddha nature as permanent to those attached to impermanence. and he explained it as impermanent to those attached to permanence. If you say that the Buddha nature is permanent, what good and evil dharmas remain for discussion? Living beings would have all become Buddhas long ago, why should one bother to speak the Dharma to them in order to take them across?  If the Buddha nature is permanent, everyone would be a Buddha/ and there would be no need to cultivate. So you see that my explanation of the Buddha nature as impermanent is exactly what the Buddha meant when he spoke of permanence."


    "Furthermore, if all dharmas were impermanent, all things would have a self-nature and would be subject to birth and death the true permanent nature would not pervade all places.  Therefore I explain it as permanent, and this is exactly what the Buddha explained as the meaning of true impermanence."


    Basically, the Buddha nature is neither permanent nor impermanent. This is the ultimate principle of the middle Way. Then why did the Sixth Patriarch say that it is impermanent? Why did he say that the mind which discriminates good and evil is permanent? He did this to cure Hsing Ch'ang of his attachments. All the Buddha-dharma is an antidote, spoken to cure men of their emotional attachments. Once you are rid of attachment, you do not need the Buddhadharma. The Sixth Patriarch took advantage of an opportunity to heal Hsing Ch'ang, but he wouldn't necessarily have explained it this way to every one.


    "It was for the sake of common men. those who belong to other religions. who cling to deviant views such as permanence, and for all those men who follow the two vehicles way and mistake permanence for impermanence creating the eight perverted views, that the Buddha taught the meaning of Nirvana, destroying their prejudiced views.  He explained true permanence, true bliss. true selfhood and true purity."


    Common men and non-Buddhists cling to false permanence; Sravakas and Pratyeka Buddhas mistake permanence for impermanence. These two kinds of men each have four inversions, making eight in all. Common men and non-Buddhists turn the four marks of conditioned existence upside-down and say:
1) The suffering of conditioned existence is bliss;
2) its impermanence is permanent;
3) its impurity is pure; and
4) its  "no-self" is "self".

The Sravakas and Pratyeka Buddhas turn the four virtues of Nirvana upside-down and say:
5) The bliss of Nirvana is suffering;
6) its permanence is impermanent;
7) its purity is impure; and
8) its "self" is "no-self".

    According to the T'ien T'ai classification97 the Nirvana Teaching belongs to the "clarified butter division".


    "You now contradict this meaning by relying on words, taking annihilation to be impermanence and fixing on death as permanence. In this way you misinterpret the last, subtle, complete and wonderful words of the Buddha. Even if you read it thousand times, what benefit could you derive from it?"

    Hsing Ch'ang suddenly achieved the great enlightenment and spoke this gatha:
"To those who hold impermanence in mind,
The Buddha speaks of the permanent nature;
Not knowing expedients is like up pebbles from a spring pond.
But now without an effort
The Buddha nature manifests;
The Master did not transmit it
And I did not obtain thing."


      Unless you understand that the Buddha's Dharmas are expedient devices, you might as well collect rocks from the bottom of a pool, you're useless.

Hearing the Master's instruction, Hsing Ch'ang returned to his root source and went back home. Suddenly enlightened, he understood his mind and saw his nature. But his enlightenment was not given to him by the Sixth Patriarch, and his attainment was actually no attainment. He simply opened up to his own inherent wisdom.


    The Master said. "Now you understand! You should

Be called 'Chih Ch’e'('scope of understanding')."



    The Master gave him certification saying, "Now that you are truly enlightened, I'll give you the name 'Chih Ch'e ."



     (Chih) Ch'e thanked the Master, bowed and withdrew.




      A young thirteen year old boy named Shen Hui. who was from a Kao family in Hsiang Yang. came from YU Ch'uan to pay homage. The Master said. "The Knowing One's journey must have been difficult. Did you bring the original with you? If you have the original you should know the owner. Try to explain it to me."



      Shen Hui was an exceptional child. Precocious and brilliant, he forgot his body for the sake of the Dharma. He could tell at a glance that Shen Hsiu didn't have the genuine Buddhadharma and so he set out on foot for Canton, some eighteen hundred miles distant. His shoes fell apart and the rocks, and bits of glass on the road cut into his feet, but he continued to walk, tearing up his robe to bandage his bleeding feet and acting as if there were no pain at all. When the Great Master saw him he knew that he had undergone much suffering:

      "Good Knowing Advisor, your journey must have been difficult. Did you bring the original with you?  Do you recognize your original face? If you have the original. the Buddha nature, and if you have understood your Bind and seen your nature, you should know the owner. The owner is the Buddha, nature. Tell me about it!"


      (Shen) Hui said, "I take no-dwelling as the original and seeing as the owner."

      The Master said. "This Sramanera imitates the talk others."

      (Shen) Hui then asked, "When you sit in Dhyana. High Master, do you see or not?"

      The Master hit him three times with his staff and said. "When I hit you, does it hurt or not?"

     He replied. "It both hurts and does not hurt." 
     The Master said. "^ both see and do not see."

Shen Hui asked. "How can you both see and not see?' 
The Master said. "What
I see is the transgression and error of my own mind. I do not see the right, wrong. good. or bad of other people. This is my seeing and not seeing. How can you say it both hurts and does not hurt? If it does not hurt you are like a piece of wood or stone, but if it does hurt you are just like a common person and will give rise to hatred. Your 'seeing and not seeing' are two extremes and your 'hurting and not hurting' are production and extinction. You have not even seen your own nature and yet you dare to ridicule others."


      This unruly child had a mind of his own. "I take 'not dwelling anywhere' as my original face," he said, "and my seeing nature as the host."

      The Sixth Patriarch said, "You're just imitating the talk of other people.  You pretend to know what you do not know, to understand what you do not understand, and to see what you do not see. This is nothing but 'head-mouth zen'. It is not an expression of self-nature. "

      Shen Hui had a lot of gall. "When the High Master sits in meditation, " he asked, "does he see or not?" This child was wild and difficult to teach. The Pat­riarch, not being an ordinary person, gave no ordinary answer. He hit Shen Hui with his staff and shouted, "Does that hurt?"

      It is not known whether the child was afraid, or whether he cried or not.

      Shen Hui said. "It both hurts and does not hurt." 
      The Master said. "I both see and do not see"  
      "How can this be?" said Shen Hui 
      "I see my own mistakes," said the Master. "I keep an eye on my evil false thinking and immediately put a stop to it. I do not see the faults of others, others' evils, others' obsessions, others' conditions, others' transgressions."

      Students of the Buddhadharma should take note of this. See your own errors, not other peoples'. Don't be like a watchdog watching someone else's door.

    The dog doesn't have anything of his own and so he watches over other people's things. Don't be critical and don't gossip. See and do not see.

    "I see and do not see," said the Master, "but how can you both hurt and not hurt?  If you don't hurt, you are just like a rock.  If you do hurt, then you'll catch fire and get angry and afflicted, just like an unenlightened common person. Seeing and not seeing are two extremes and hurting and not hurting are dharmas of production and extinction. You haven't even seen your own nature and yet you have the nerve to come here and talk down to me?"


     Shen Hui bowed. apologized, and thanked the Master. 
     The Master continued. "If your mind is confused and you do not see. then ask a Good Knowing Advisor to help you find the Way.  If your mind is enlightened, then see your nature and cultivate according to Dharma. You yourself are confused and do not see your own mind, and yet you come to ask me whether or not I see.  If I see I know it for myself, but is this of any help to you in your confusion?  (In the same way) your seeing is of no use .to. me.  Why don't you know and see it for yourself instead of asking me whether or not I see?"


      The Master said, "Shen Hui, if your mind is unclear and you cannot see the nature, then ask a Good Knowing Advisor to teach you how to work at cultivation. If your mind is enlightened and you have understood the mind and seen the nature, then you should cultivate according to Dharma. You haven't seen your original mind, and yet you come to ask me whether or not I have seen it. If I've seen it, that's my own business, of no use to you in your deluded condition. If you've seen the nature and obtained the original face, that's of no use to me. Why not turn the light around and reverse the illumination to find out whether you've seen it or not? Isn't that better than asking me? What difference does it make whether I've seen it or not?


      Shen Hui bowed again over one hundred times seeking forgiveness for his error. He served the Master with diligence, never leaving his side. 


      Shen Hui was really sorry. Why had he been so in­corrigible? Did he really lack a conscience? His questions to the Patriarch were like trying to sell dime novels to Confucius, or going to remodel the home of Lu Pan, China's first engineer and foremost carpenter. He begged for forgiveness, saying, "I'm just a kid. I don't know how high the heavens are or how deep the earth is.  Please don't hold this against me." From then on, Shen Hui waited on the Master, following him everywhere he went to lecture on Sutras and speak the Dharma.


      One day the Master addressed the assembly as follows! "I have a thing.  It has no head or tail, no name or label, no back or front. Do you all know what it is?"

Shen Hui stepped forward and said. "It is the root source of all Buddhas. Shen Hui's Buddha nature" 


    Everyone shut his mouth; no one said a word. Some of them didn't speak because they knew/and some didn't speak because they did not know. Seeing that no one was going to answer, Shen Hui jumped out and said, "I know what it is! It's the origin of all Buddhas--my Buddha nature!"


    The Master said, "I just told you that it had no name or label, and you immediately call it the root source of all Buddhas. Go build a thatched hut over your head! You're nothing but a follower who (pursues) knowledge and interpretation."


    "In the ranks of the Ch'an School," said the Master, "you're, nothing but a scholar. You have no genuine understanding."

    In a way the Master's scolding was a compliment; it's not easy to be a Ch'an scholar of the school of those who know and interpret.


    After the Master's extinction. Shen Hui went to Ching Lo where he propagated, the Ts'ao Hsi Sudden Teaching. He wrote the Hsien Tsung-Chi which circulated widely throughout the land. He is known as Dhyana Master Ho Che.


    When the Sixth Patriarch died, Shen Hui went to the capital at Loyang to spread the Dhyana School's Sudden Teaching. Later he wrote the Hsien Tsung Chi, a treatise on the Northern and Southern Schools, which exposed Shen Hsiu as a false pretender to the Patriarchate and proclaimed the Southern Patriarch Hui Neng as the real Sixth Patriarch, the recipient of the Buddha's mind seal. Had Shen Hui not written this book, Shen Hsiu would have stolen the title of Sixth Patriarch.

    Shen Hui came to be known as Ho Che, which is the name of the place where he went to live.




    The Master saw many disciples of other schools. all with evi1 intentions, gathered beneath his seat to ask him difficult questions. Pitying them, he said, "Students of the Way. all thoughts of good or evil should be completely cast away. What cannot be named by any name is called the self-nature. This non-dual nature is called the real nature, and within- the real nature all teaching doors are estab1ished.  At these words you should see it for yourselves."

    Hearing this, they all made obeisance and asked him to be their master.



    Not only did Shen Hsiu's party want to murder the Great Master, but those of other sects, such as the Consciousness Only98 School and the Dharma Mark99school, came to ask the Master difficult questions.  "Which came first, " they would ask, "the Buddha or the Dharma? Where does the Buddhadharma begin?" They had many questions.

    The Sixth Patriarch said, "If you can speak the Dharma, then it's first the Buddha, then the Dharma. If you can listen to the Dharma, then it's first the Dharma, then the Buddha. The Buddhadharma comes from the minds of living beings."

    On this occasion he saw that the crowd was full of spies and would be assassins. "Cultivators 'should not hold thoughts of good or evil," he said. "What cannot be named by any name is called the self-nature. The self-nature is non-dual and is also called the real nature, the real mark.  Within it all schools and sects are set up. It's not enough just to talk about it, however. You must understand and immediately give proof to the state of no mark."

    Hearing these words, the assembly realized that all their thoughts were bound up in good and evil; and they were greatly ashamed. They bowed low before him and said, "From now on we'll be different.  Please, Great Master, be our teacher."




97      See introduction, note 21.

98  wei shih tsung. 

99 fa hsiang tsung.

*Erratum.  Insert the words:  Although I have left home and practice austerities. page 7 line eighteen).


-The final installments of THE SIXTH PATRIARCH'S SUTRA



-Records of the Lives of the High Masters

-More from Jones Gulch

-The Avatamsaka Patriarchs in Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs'

-The strange true tale of the Magic Witch and how she was subdued.

-"The Ten Dharma Realms are not beyond a Single

Thought." The text and commentary on a gatha composed by the Venerable Master Hua to commemorate the opening of Hung Fu Temple.

-Meet more eminent Sanghans and laymen in The Bodhi Mirror and The Bodhi Lectern.


Chapter IX.


    On the fifteenth day of the first month, during the first year of the Shen Lung reign (A.D. 705) (Em­press )Tsai T'ien and (Emperor) Chung Tsung issued the following proclamation:

    "We have invited Masters (Hui) An and (Shen) Hsiu, to the palace to receive offerings so that we may investigate the One Vehicle in the leisure time remaining after our myriad duties. The two Masters have declined, saying that in the South there is Dhyana Master (Hui) Neng who was secretly transmitted the robe and Dharma of the Great Master (Hung) Jen and now transmits the Buddhas' mind 'seal'.

"We now send Chamberlain Hsieh Chien with this invitation on. hoping that the Master will remember us with compassion and come to the capital."


    Wu Tsai T'ien was a Empress during the T'ang dynasty. She believed in the Buddha, but she wasn't very orthodox; in fact, she would'do anything! But she believed in Buddhism and so she invited all the high monks to the palace to receive offerings.

    Her son. Emperor Chung Tsung, reigned only a short time before the Empress had him exiled to Lu Ling to be king there so that she could take the throne.

    A proclamation is a letter from the Emperor. When ordinary people receive a proclamation, they bow to it as a gesture of respect to the Emperor, but people who have left home don't do this.

    After attending to the myriad duties involved in running the country, the Empress liked to study the One Buddha Vehicle, the Sudden Teaching Dharma Door, and so she invited Masters Hui An and Shen Hsiu to the palace to receive offerings. But they refused. "We do not have enough virtue," they said, "you should invite Hui Neng of Canton. He .has received the Fifth Patriarch's robe and bowl and is a true transmitter of the mind seal."

    The Chamberlain, an official of the inner court, was Hsieh Chien, a eunuch. The institution of eunuchs, castrated officials who serve the Emperor, began in the Han Dynasty. The Empress took the two masters' advice and invited the Sixth Patriarch to the capital, Ch'ang An in Hsi Ching.


    The Master sent back a petition based on illness saying that he wished to spend his remaining years at the foot of the mountain.

    Hsien Chien said. "The Virtuous Dhyana Masters at the capital all say that to master the Way one must sit in Dhyana meditation and practice concentration, for

without Dhyana concentration, liberation is impossible. I do not know how the Master explains this dharma."


    The Sixth Patriarch wrote back, "I am very ill." Actually he wasn't ill at all; this was merely an expedient device, because the Sixth Patriarch did not wish to visit an Emperor. More specifically, he did not wish to visit an Empress, because it would have been against the rules. Wu Tsai T'ien knew nothing about moral precepts and she didn't follow the rules. But the Sixth Patriarch couldn't say. "You are an Empress and I am a Patriarch and I don't have to visit you," and so he said, "I'm old and sick."

    "Proclamations", is the ninth chapter even though Ting Fu Pao's edition incorrectly lists it as the "Dharma Protecting Chapter". Ting Fu Pao thought he was very clever when he rearranged the chapter titles.

    Chamberlain Hsieh Chien asked the Master if it was truly as the Dhyana Master at Ch'ang An had said, that one had to sit in meditation to understand the Way.


    The Master said. "The Way is awakened to from the mind. How could it be found in sitting? The (Diamond) Sutra says that to say the Tathagata either sits or lies down is to walk a deviant path.  Why? That which comes from nowhere, goes nowhere, and is neither pro­duced nor extinguished is called the clear pure Dhyana of the Tathagata. All dharmas empty and still is the Tathagata's clear pure sitting."


    For an illiterate, the Sixth Patriarch was quite intelligent. He said, "The Way is understood from the mind." You can't just sit there. You have to understand and enlighten to the principles of the Buddha-dharma. The enlightenment is called "understanding" and the sitting is called "practice". Practicing without  understanding is stupid; understanding without practice is "head-mouth zen".

    You must understand and practice. Don't just sit, sit, sit for several decades without ever understanding the true principle or enlightening your mind.


    "Ultimately there is no certification, how much the less a 'sitting'!"


     As ultimately there is nothing to be attained or certified to, why be attached to sitting in meditation?


    (Hsieh) Chien said. "When your disciple returns to the capital, their majesties will surely question him. Will the Master please be compassionate and instruct me on the essentials of the mind so that I can transmit them to the two palaces and to students of the Way at the capital, like one lamp setting a hundred thousand lamps to burn. making all darkness light, light without end?"


    Hsieh Chien wished for instruction on the essentials of the principle of using the mind to seal the mind.  He said that the Patriarch was like a lamp which would set a hundred thousand lamps in the capital to burn bright, bright, limitless light.


    The Master said. "The Way is without light or darkness. Light and darkness belong to the principle of alternation. 'Light without end' also has an end. because such terms are relative.  Therefore the VimalaklrtiSutra gays, 'The Dharma is incomparable because it is not relative,' "100

    Hsieh Chien said. "Light represents wisdom and darkness. affliction. If cultivators of the Way do not use wisdom to expose and destroy afflict ion. how can they escape from beginningless birth and death?"

    The Master said. "Affliction is Bodhi; they are non-dual and not different. One who uses wisdom to expose and destroy affliction has the views and understanding of the two vehicles and the potential of the sheep and deer carts. Those of superior wisdom and great roots are completely different." 


The Master said, "You shouldn't see affliction and Bodhi as different. Affliction and the enlightenment nature are non-dual and not different. Sravakas and Pratyeka Buddhas destroy affliction by means of wisdom, but Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are completely different.


    (Hsieh) Chien said. "What are the views and understanding of the Great Vehicle?"

    The Master said. "The common man sees light and darkness as dual. but the wise man comprehends that their nature is non-dual. The nature of non-duality is the real nature. The real nature does not decrease for common people nor increase for worthy sages. In affliction it is not confused, and in Dhyana concentration it is not still. It is neither cut off nor permanent. It does not come or go. It is not inside. outside, or in the middle. It is not produced or destroyed. The mark of one's nature is just like this. It permanently dwells and does not change. It is call­ed 'the Way'."


    The Master said, "Ordinary people see understanding and ignorance as two, but wise people know that in essence they are non-dual. This non-dualistic nature is the real nature. In states of confusion the real nature is not confused, and in Dhyana concentration it is not still. It is both still and moving; it both moves and is still. The nature and mark are both 'thus'. We call it 'the Way'."


    (Hsieh) Chien said. "How does your explanation of it as being neither produced nor destroyed differ from that of outside religions?"

    "As non-production and non-extinction are explained by other religions, extinction ends production and pro­duction reveals extinction. Their extinction is not extinction/and what they call production is not production. My explanation of non-production and non-extinction is this:  originally there was no production and now there is no extinction. For this reason my explanation differs from that of other religions."


    Other religions see production and extinction as dual. They say that extinction puts an end to production and that production reveals extinction. Their explanation is not the ultimate one. As I explain these terms, originally there was no production and so now there is no extinction.


    "If you wish to know the essentials of the mind, just do not think of good or evil. You will then naturally enter the clear, pure substance of the mind Which is deep and permanently still with wonderful functions as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River."


    If you would like to know about the wonderful mind-transmission Dharma, the essential points of the mind-ground Dharma door, I will tell you: just do not think of good or evil. Then you will spontaneously understand the true principle and enter into the pure mind substance. The mind substance is deep and constantly pure and still.  Although it is always still, within its true emptiness there is wonderful existence and wonderful functions as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River.


     (Hsieh) Chien received this instruction and was suddenly greatly enlightened. He bowed, took leave and returned to the palace to report the Master's speech. That year on the third of the ninth month proclamation was issued in praise of the Master. It read"

    "The Master has declined our invitation because of old age and illness. He cultivates the Way for us and is a field of blessing for the country. The. Master is like VIMALAKIRTI who pleaded illness in Vaishall. He spreads the great fruit widely transmitting the Buddha mind and discoursing the non-dual Dharma.

    Hsieh Chien has conveyed the Master's instruction the knowledge and vision o the Tathagata. It must be due to accumulated good acts. abundant blessings, and good roots planted in former lives that we now have met with the Master when he appears in the world and have suddenly been enlightened to the Supreme Vehicle. We are extremely grateful for his kindness which we receive with bowed heads. and now offer, in return Mo Na robe and bowl as gifts. We order the Magistrate of Shao Chou to rebuild the temple buildings and convert the Master's former dwelling Place into a temple to be called 'Kuo En' ('country's kindness')."


    Hsieh Chien returned to the capital and submitted a written report to the Empress which set forth the principles the Master had discussed with him. The palace then issued a statement in praise of the Master, saying that he was the highest and most cultivated Master in the nation. They said that the Sixth Patriarch , was like the layman Vimalakirti who was sick in Vaisali.

    "The Master propagates the great fruit, the Mahayana Buddhadharma, and transmits the Buddha mind, the mind seal of all Buddhas. At Nan Hua Temple he expounds the non-dual Dharma door," saying that production and extinction are one/suchness and the nature and mark are non-dual. His knowledge and his vision are that of the Buddha. We must have done much good in order to meet this Master and suddenly awaken to the wonderful principle of the Supreme Vehicle. We bow to his teaching every day and hold it respectfully atop our heads."

    They offered the Master an expensive robe made of Korean cloth which had been sent as tribute to the Empress of China. It was a patchwork robe, with a Buddha image embroidered on each piece. Some say that the Empress sewed them herself, but there is no way to know for sure. 

NOTES: 100T. 475, p. 540a:10

The SIXTH PATRIARCH'S DHARMA JEWEL PLATFORM SUTRA was explained by the Venerable Master J-Hua during the second half of the 1969 twelve week Sutra Study and Cultivation Session. The complete text with the Venerable Master's commentary has been appearing in Vajra Bodhi Sea, and is an extraordinarily valuable opportunity for English speaking readers to receive the true principles of cultivation so that they can practice effectively. The last installment of this series will appear in issue #32, completing the first translation of the Sutra to be published with a commentary in English.