Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs
THE FIRST PATRIARCH OF THE LOTUS SOCIETY1
CHIN DYNASTY DHARMA MASTER HUI YUAN OF LU MOUNTAIN
--Written by the Venerable High Master Hua
--Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Yin
The Master was the son of the Chia family in Yenmen.2 As a youth he liked to study. He thoroughly examined the Six Classics3 and was particularly fond of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. When he heard Master Tao An lecturing on the (Prajna Paramita) Sutra, he sighed and said, "Confucianism, Taoism, and the nine professions4 are all nothing but chaff." He then left home, and Master An addressed the assembly saying, "As to the flow of the Way into China, it all depends on Yuan!"
In his travels, Master Yuan went to Lu Mountain, liked it, and erected a monastic building. One evening there was a thunderstorm and the following morning the trees were found to be uprooted, and the ground was cleared and covered with white sand, with yellow bamboos, and Tzu trees in abundance.5 The Magistrate then built a temple there called "East Wood" and the Lotus Society was formed for the cultivation of the Buddha-Recitation Samadhi. The Master's students numbered in the thousands and his practices were extremely popular.
Within the space of eleven years, the Master had three holy visions (of Amitabha Buddha). Later, he rose from samadhi, seeing Amitabha Buddha, the two great Bodhisattvas (Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta), and the realm (of the Pure Land.) The Buddha said to him, "Seven days from now you will be born in my land."
In the third year of the I Hsi reign (A.D. 408) he sat upright, saw the Buddha coming to guide him, and died. A verse in his praise says,
Letting forth Prajna's light,
He opened a special door.6
When turbid billows dash the skies
His boat will take you across.
When people and dharmas are forgotten,
Amitabhas are without number
So make the best of your mistake:
Take the long road to Ch'ang An.7
Another verse in praise says,
your heart in the Pure Land
of us like to recite the name
one word "Amitabha"
nine grades of lotus blooms
different times, Yuan saw signs,
recite the name of the merciful king:
the merit’s complete and the fruit is full
ramble at will, just as we please,
ching tu, or "Pure
Land School," one of the five great
2 Northwest Pass in Northern Shanhsi.
3 The Book of Poetry, the Book of History, the Book of Changes, the Book of Rites, the Spring and Autumn Annals, and the Book of Music.
Yuan notes con't.
Students, doctors, geomancers, diviners, protrait painters, painters
(landscapes, etc.), Buddhist monks, Taoist Masters, and musicians.
Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Buddhist Text Translation Society
Sino-American Buddhist Association
San Francisco, California 94103
Dear Friend in the Dharma:
I wish to thank you for undertaking the English translation of The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra and Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, and also for sending me a complimentary copy.
You and other members of the Society are doing meritorious work. Many readers will particularly appreciate the commentarial value of the work and the linguistic means of becoming acquainted with Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua's understanding of the Buddha Dharma.
With best wishes to mutual friends in San Francisco,
Richard A. Card
Director of Institute Services
Institute for Advanced