Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs

TANG DYNASTY VINAYA MASTER TAO HSUAN OF
CHUNG NAN MOUNTAIN
FIRST PATRIARCH OF THE VINAYA SCHOOL

 

--written by the Venerable High Master Hua
--translated by disciple Bhiksuni Heng Yin

      The Master was the son of Ch'ien Shen, President of the Board of Rites in Ching Chao.l Before he was born the Masterís mother had a dream in which an Indian monk said to her, "The child you are carrying is Vinaya Master Yu of the Liang Dynasty."2

      The child grew up, left home, and disciplined himself according to the Vinaya.  He dwelt at Chung Nan Mountain and cultivated the Po Chou Samadhi. The dra≠gons and spirits were moved, and changed into human forms in order to listen to the Dhanna, and the gods brought him offerings of fine food. Once, in the middle of the night, as he was walking, he stumbled over a room-divider and was about to fall when a youth in armour came to his aid and caught him. The Master asked him who he was. "Your disciple is Chang Ch'iung, the son of the god Po Ch'a;  because of your moral virtue he has come to your aid."  Many magical occurrences followed that one, and he was also given one of the Buddha's teeth.4

      In the Spring of the second year of the Ch'ien Feng reign (A.D. 667) a heavenly spirit said to him, "The con≠ditions of your retribution are about to be exhausted and you shall be born in the Inner Court."5  Towards the end of the tenth month, the assembly saw canopies and flowers, and heard heavenly music inviting the Master to meet Maitreya.  He then died.

      His circulated writings, including commentaries and biographies, come to 81 volumes.  He was a Patriarch of the Vinaya School.

A verse in his praise says,

The Buddha cautioned his disciples
To dwell within the precepts.
Insane wisdom flourishes on the rise,
When men transgress the boundaries.
The Master spread the Four-Part Rule
And his precept light shone afar.
He was a model for a hundred generations
And a pillar at the Dharma's gate.


Another verse in praise of the Master says,

Stern and pure in Vinaya
He guarded himself well,
Once a day, at noon,
Gods brought him a heavenly meal.
Dragon kings heard his Dharma
And Ch'ang came to his aid;
he earth spirit made it known
Just why Lu was late.
6
With Vinaya and vigor
He reached the other shore;
Forbearance Ch'an samadhi
Like Sumeru--even more.
His Standing Buddha Samadhi
Never slipped or faltered 
He was the Master of saints and sages,
A model and a rule.



1Peking

2During the time of Emperor Wu (A.D. 542-548).


3The "Standing Buddha" samadhi; one who cultivates this samadhi walks for 90-days, 
without sitting down or sleeping. 

4By a heavenly spirit.

5The inner court of the Tusita Heaven where Maitreya Buddha now resides, waiting for the time to come when he will enter the world.

6Lu Hsuan Ch'ang (    ) was the god who served Tao Hsuan his daily meal. When Patriarch K'uei Chi arrived hoping to take part in the heavenly delicacies, Lu Hsuan Ch'ang did not show up. The next day the earth spirit told Tao Hsuan that Lu Hsuan Ch'ang had tried to come, but was overcome by the brilliant light emitted by the flesh body Bodhisattva who was dwelling in Tao Hsuan's hut. See VBS #38

  


      In the next issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea, the Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs will introduce T'ang Dynasty Vinaya Master Yuan Chao of Ling Chih Monastery.
      Featured in this issue, the Venerable Master hub's Dharma Talks to a hard-working group of cultivators who attended the 1972 winter sessions.  See Dharma Talks.