Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs



--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,

            Put your heart in the Pure Land
            and place your will in the West.

            All of us like to recite the name
            in the Buddha hall best.

            In one word "Amitabha" 
            all Dharmas are included.

            Through nine grades of lotus blooms
            ten directions are escorted.

            Three different times, Yuan saw signs,
            of our master and guide.

            We recite the name of the merciful king:
            reciting by day and by night.

            When the merit’s complete and the fruit is full
            we’ll be born in Bliss, Ultimately,

            To ramble at will, just as we please,
            true friends for eternity.

  ching tu, or "Pure Land School," one of the five great 

schools of Buddhism, concentrates on the recitation of the name
of Amitabha Buddha.

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.

Master Yuan notes con't.
The Book of Music was lost long ago.

4 Students, doctors, geomancers, diviners, protrait painters, painters (landscapes, etc.), Buddhist monks, Taoist Masters, and musicians.
5 The ground was cleared for building and the trees were uprooted, split, and ready for use as lumber. Tzu trees are used to make wood blocks for printing.
6 The Dharma-door of the Pure Land, recitation of the Buddha's name.
7 We shouldn't have been born in the Saha world to begin with, but since we have , we can make the best of it by reciting the Buddha's name in order to be reborn in "Ch'ang An," here, the Western Paradise.


Bhiksuni Heng Yin

Buddhist Text Translation Society

Sino-American Buddhist Association

1731-15th Street

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

The Institute for Advanced
      of World Religions