Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs


--Composed by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

--Translated by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Shoou

      The Master, whose lay name was Ta Hsiu, was from Shan Yin. His family name was Hsia Hou. He grew to seven feet nine inches tall, and his hands hung down to his knees; he had forty teeth. At night his eyes glowed with light, but by day the light was not apparent. The Master could memorize 10,000 quatrains in a single day, and was able to read seven columns of characters at a single glance. When dictating compositions he was able to keep two secretaries busy simultaneously.

When the Master left the home life at the age of eleven he made the following ten vows as a foundation for his cultivation:

First, bodily, I will not renounce the appearance of a Sramana.

      Second, mentally, I will not contradict the regulations of the Thus Come One.

      Third, I will not seat myself with my back to The Sutra of the Dharma Realm.

      Fourth, I will nor allow my nature to be soiled by emotional and obstructive states.

      Fifth, I will not set foot on the grounds of a Bhiksunis' temple.


Sixth, I will not lie on the bed of a home-dweller.

      Seventh, I will not cast my eyes upon unprincipled spectacles.
Eighth, I will not taste the flavor of edibles after noon.

Ninth, My hands will not set down my recitation beads.

Tenth, I will keep my robes and bowl by my side at night.
      When he traveled to Mt. Ching to inquire of Master Ch'in the import of the doctrine, which had come from the West, hereceived the Mind Seal. The Master then dwelled on Mount Wu T'ai where he composed his Commentary on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Afterwards, while he lived in Ch'ang Shih, Emperor T'ai Tsung invited him to the Imperial Palace and bestowed the title of National Master Ch'ing Liang upon him.

The Master lived through nine reigns and was the Precept Master of Seven Emperors. In the third year of the reign period K'ai Ch'ing (839 C.E.), at the age of 120, he sat, and died.

Master Ch'ing Liang's pagoda is at Mount Chung Nan. The Emperor gave him the posthumous title of Miao Chiao, "Wonderful Awareness," the name by which the pagoda is also known.

      Later on a Sanghan arrived at the imperial city and announced that while in the Onion Mountains (the Belaturgh Range in Chinese Turkestan), he had seen a divinity armored in gold who had come to obtain Avatamsaka Bodhisattva's teeth and then return to India to make offerings to them. The Emperor thereupon ordered the pagoda opened. The Master's remains appeared as if he were still alive, except that he was missing two wisdom teeth.

The Master's eulogy says:

The Master's state was unsurpassed, I cannot be compared to him.

Nor can I attempt to expound the radiance of his splendid virtue.

Using the wisdom of the Dharma Sea, he reached the limits of the Dharma realm,

Not only the Master of seven kings, he cast a model for ten thousand ages.

Another verse in his praise says:

Avatamsaka Bodhisattva's name was Ch'ing Liang,

He proclaimed and authored a myriad wonderful works.

Sweet lotus blossoms sprang from his mouth filling the Dharma realm,

And in his hand a precious commentary reached the most distant lands.

His hands hung down beneath his knees--the form of an august king--

His teeth were requested at Manjusri's Hall, the object of offerings.

His brilliant light eternally shines to the shores of distant times,

With my most determined thought I bow to the exalted in the Law.