of the Patriarchs
by the Venerable Master Hua
by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
The Venerable Ajnatakaundinya, the first bhiksu in Buddhism, and the
first enlightenment bhiksu, was the first Great Arhat. No one holds a higher
position in the Sangha than he.
VENERABLE ONE WAS FROM CENTRAL INDIA AND A RELATIVE
OF THE WORLD HONORED ONE'S MOTHER,
when the World Honored One went to the Himalayas to sit in meditation, his
father sent five people to attend upon him. But every day the Buddha ate only
one grain of rice and one sesame seed, and soon three of the five could not
stand to eat so little so they stole away and paid no further attention to
remained to protect him as he cultivated the Way. Eventually the Buddha reached
the point where he was nothing but skin and bones. He was so emaciated that a
heavenly maiden brought him milk, which he accepted and drank. After that his
body began to put on weight. The two who had not run off witnessed this and
said, "How can that be called cultivation? People who cultivate the Way
must endure suffering, but someone brings you milk and you gobble it up. How can
that be cultivation? We've lost interest in you. We're leaving, too."
those two had departed Sakyamuni Buddha was left alone to cultivate. See how
difficult cultivation of the Way is? Even with the kind of Way virtue and
cultivation, which the Buddha had, all five of his attendants soon abandoned
him. Although they were relatives of his father and mother who had been sent
explicitly to accompany the prince in his cultivation of the Way, in the end
none of the relatives were able to relate to, him. "Forget it," they
said, and walked off. This Venerable One Ajnatakaundinya was one of those who
left the Buddha. He was kin to the Buddha's mother, the Lady Maya.
THE WORLD HONORED ONE REALIZED THE WAY.
After they left him the Buddha no longer sat in meditation in the Himalayas, but
walked until he arrived at the Bodhi tree. He saw that its massive sprawling
foliage was like a great umbrella opening out into space, affording protection
from the wind and rain. The Buddha decided upon that place and said, "I
will cultivate here and not get up until I have become enlightened." He sat
down and sat for forty-nine days until one evening he saw a bright star and
awakened td the Way.
the Buddha accomplished the Way and became enlightened, he contemplated to see
who he should first take across. After a while the five attendants, three
relatives of his father and two relatives of his mother, came to mind and he
knew, "Oh, those five are the ones I should save first. I wonder where they are...Oh, they are in the Deer Wilds Park." Then
the Buddha walked to the Deer Wilds Park to find the five.
soon as they saw him approaching they gasped, "He's coming to get us!
Quick: Run!" and they prepared to run away.
said the World Honored One, "I have cultivated to realization of
Buddhahood. Don't run away. Stay and let me speak Dharma for you."
replied the five, "You've become a Buddha? You were able to realize
Buddhahood?" The three, who had left him first said, "Don't listen to
him. How could he have realized Buddhahood in the midst of such
bitterness?" The two who had left later said, "Don't believe him. No one is
protecting him now, and he's come to get us under the pretence that he is a
Buddha. He drinks milk. Someone brought him milk and he gulped it right down.
What kind of Buddha could he become?" None of them believed it.
just explain a little for you, and you might just listen a while," coaxed
the Buddha. "Don't run away just yet."
five looked at one another and decided to listen first and then decide what to
do. Actually their interest had been aroused, and they sat attentively gazing at
Buddha TURNED THE DHARMA WHEEL OF THE FOUR TRUTHS FOR THE FIVE. He said, "This is suffering, its nature is oppressive. This is
accumulation, its nature is beckoning feeling. This is extinction, its nature
can be certified. This is the Way, its nature is such that it can be
he said, "This is suffering, I already know it, I don't need to know more.
This is accumulation, I have already cut it off, I don't need to cut it off
again. This is the Way, I have already cultivated it, and do not need to
cultivate more. This is extinction, I have already certified to it, and do not
need further certification."
he said, "This is suffering, you should know it. This is accumulation, you
should cut it off. This is the Way, you should cultivate it. This is extinction,
you should certify to it."
VENERABLE ONE, THE HEAD OF THE GROUP HEARD THE SOUND AND AWAKENED TO THE WAY.
When he finished speaking, Ajnatakaundinya suddenly, in a complete reversal,
said, "Oh, so that's the way it is!" and understood what the other
four did not yet understand. Then he said, "I'm not listening. I'm not
listening. That's enough." Why wasn't he listening? He already understood,
didn't need to listen, and said, "My ear's deaf, I can't hear what you're
saying." These are the words of someone enlightened. You should not think
soon as he heard Sakyamuni Buddha explain this Dharma he became enlightened to
the Way, BECOMING THE FIRST JEWEL OF THE SANGHA. He was the first; bhiksu in the
Sangha, and the first Great Arhat. THEREFORE THE WORLD HONORED ONE CALLED HIM
AJNATAKAUNDINYA. HE WAS ALSO CALLED CHU LIN. Both these names arc-Sanskrit.
TRANSLATED THEY MEAN "ALREADY KNEW," "NO KNOWING" THERE IS NOTHING HE DID NOT KNOW, TO THE POINT THAT HE KNEW NOTHING. You
should not think that this means he was ignorant. It's not that he did not know.
His knowledge reached the ultimate point and disappeared. "No Knowing"
means eradication of foolish common knowledge and views. Ajnatakaundinya had
broken through all the views of common folks, he had broken through ignorance to
the point of "No Knowing," he understood ignorance and smashed it. You
don't want to mistake this and think that he was ignorant, THE VERSE SAYS:
KALINGA WIELDED THE KNIFE
HAD ALREADY SAID IT EXPLICITLY.
THE DEER PARK AS SOON AS HE SPOKE
MASTER ALONE UNDERSTOOD.
THE EAR WENT DEAF
THE WHOLE WORLD
IS SENIOR IN THE SANGHA.
the King of Kalinga unsheathed his sword against the Buddha, the vow had already
been stated clearly, "When I become a Buddha I will save you first."
TATHAGATA VOWED IN A LIFE GONE BY
SAVE THE VENERABLE ONE FIRST,
COMPASSION AND EQUALITY
THAN THE SKY.
HIS FOUR LIMBS WERE SEVERED THROUGH
WAS FREE OF ANY ANGER,
THE MUTUAL FUNCTIONING OF SIX PENETRATIONS,
WERE AT DEER PARK,
HE WAS THE FIRST TO AWAKEN.
THE SANGHA OF VULTURE PEAK,
LIMIT" WAS THE FIRST.
MAD MIND FROM NUMEROUS KALPAS
WAS THE FIRST TO CEASE.
TATHAGATA VOWED IN A LIFE GONE BY TO SAVE THE VENERABLE ONE FIRST. This is
identified with the line above, "He had already said it explicitly."
In the past the Buddha had vowed first to save the person who treated him
the worst, and to guide him to Buddhahood. You can go find a present-day
3akyamuni Buddha and be impolite to him and perhaps he will also make a vow
"When I become a Buddha I will first take you across," but such a one
won't be easy to find.
COMPASSION AND EQUALITY HIGHER THAN THE SKY. The Buddha is compassionate and
walks the way of equality. If you are good to him, he remains the same; if you
are bad to him, he doesn't change. He's not like we people who say, "if you
treat me badly I will kill you with hatred. I will murder you and beat you to
death." That is hardly the way of equality. "Higher than the sky" means he was without any selfishness.
HIS FOUR LIMBS WERE SEVERED THROUGH HE WAS FREE OF ANY ANGER. The Diamond Sutra
describes an event from Sakyamuni Buddha's life when he was on the causal
ground, an immortal practicing patience. The King of Kalinga cut off his four
limbs while asking him if he was angry. The Buddha always replied that he was
THE MUTUAL FUNCTIONING OF SIX PENETRATIONS, A WONDERFUL MYSTERY. His is an inconceivable ineffable state. OPPORTUNITIES WERE AT DEER PARK,
AND HE WAS THE FIRST TO AWAKEN. At the Deer Wilds Park the opportunities were
ripe and this Venerable One was the first to become enlightened.
THE SANGHA OF VULTURE PEAK, "BASIC LIMIT" WAS THE FIRST. He is also
called "Understanding the Basic Limit," and "The Very First to
Understand." He is also called "Already Knew," "One of No
Knowing," and "Knowing Nothing." ATI these refer to the leader of the Sangha.
MAD MIND FROM NUMEROUS KALPAS WAS NOW THE FIRST-TO CEASE. The mad mind of this
Venerable One, his arrogance, and hatred through many lives finally was put to
ENLIGHTENED GUARDIAN TRANSFORMED MYRIAD CONDITIONS. This means that he helped
Sakyamuni Buddha to teach and transform the living beings with whom he had
The Chinese text for the preceding article
the next issue Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs will introduce Liang Dynasty
Tripitaka Master The Venerable Jnanabhaisajya, Bodhisattva in the Flesh.