Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs
 


BHIKSUNI WU CHIN TSANG 
OF THE TANG DYNASTY

Composed by Tripitaka Master Hua                 
Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Chih



THE MASTER WAS FROM TSAO HOU VILLAGE IN HSAO CHOU, SHE WAS THE AUNT OF THE SCHOLAR, LIU CHIH LIAO.

      This Bhiksuni resided in Hsao Kuan, or Chu Chiang. The name of the village was Tsao Hou because the community was formed by the descendents of Tsao. She was contemporary with the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch.

      SHE CONSTANTLY RECITED THE MAHAPARINIRVANA-SUTRA AT THAT TIME THE SIXTH PATRIARCH HAD RETURNED AFTER OBTAINING THE DHARMA FROM HUANG MEI.

      After she left the home life, she always recited the Sutra concerned with the Buddha's Nirvana. At that time she met the Sixth Patriarch, the Great Master Hui Neng, who had returned after receiving the Dharma from the Fifth Patriarch.

      UPON LISTENING TO THE MASTER RECITE THE SUTRA HE IMMEDIATELY COMPREHENDED THE WONDERFUL MEANING AND ACCORDINGLY EXPLAINED IT FOR HER.

      The Sixth Patriarch listened to Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang recite the MAHAPARINIRVANA-SUTRA and knew the mysterious, wonderful meaning contained in the Sutra. At that time the Sixth Patriarch explained it for her.

 

WHEN THE MASTER SHOWED HIM THE TEXT TO ASK HIM THE MEANING OF SOME CHARACTERS THE PATRIARCH SAID, I DONT RECOGNIZE THE WORDS; ASK ABOUT THE MEANING.
      Then Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang took the volume of The NIRVANA SUTRA to ask about some characters. There were words she didn't recognize she wanted to ask the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, about. He said, "I can't read the characters. But you can ask me about the meaning. I understand the meaning. I don't recognize the words, but you can ask anything at all about the meaning."

"SINCE YOU DON'T RECOGNIZE THE WORDS, HOW CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THE MEANING?

THE PATRIARCH REPLIED, "THE WONDERFUL PRINCIPLE OF ALL BUDDHAS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LANGUAGE.

Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang heard the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch say that and she replied, "You don't even know the words, how could you know the meaning?"

"It hasn't any connection with words," replied the Patriarch. "I know the doctrines which were spoken. Whether or not I can read the words doesn't make any difference."

THE MASTER WAS REALLY SURPRISED. SHE WENT EVERYWHERE IN THE COUNTY INFORMING THE ELDERS AND VIRTUOUS ONES SAYING, "HE IS A MASTER WHO HAS THE WAY. IT IS FITTING THAT WE ASK HIM TO RECEIVE OUR OFFERINGS."

She said, "This person who has left the home life has the Way; he has cultivated. He has skill. He's enlightened." All those meanings are encompassed in the phrase, "A master who has the Way."

THE ANCIENT MONASTERY PAO LIN HAD BEEN BURNED BY ARMIES AT THE END OF THE SUI DYNASTY, SO ON THE OLD FOUNDATIONS ANOTHER MONASTERY WAS BUILT.

Pao Lin Bodhimandala, at the site of Nan Hua Monastery, was burned during the war, which took place at the end of the Sui dynasty. Once it was burned no one could live there, of course. When temples are built, sometimes they are destroyed. When destroyed, then rebuild. When the elder monks made monasteries they didn't build them very solidly. If they are not built well then they deteriorate quickly and have to be rebuilt.

THEN THEY REQUESTED THE PATRIARCH TO RESIDE THERE. SOON IT BECAME A FLOURISHING MONASTERY.

Within a short time the place became a large Bodhimandala of the Triple Jewel.


A GATHA SAYS:

THE WONDERFUL PRINCIPLE OF ALL BUDDHAS

HAS NO CONNECTION WITH WORDS.

CONSTANTLY RECITING THE NIRVANA SUTRA

SHE DELIBERATELY SEEMED SURPRISED.

DRAGON GIRL DISPLAYED HER PEARL

SHE FUNCTIONED WITH THE EASE OF CHIU TSU'S MOTHER.

DWELLING NOWHERE, THERE WAS NOWHERE SHE DID NOT DWELL

HER FLESH BODY REMAINS IN THE WORLD.

The subtle wonderful doctrines of all Buddhas cannot be adequately represented by language. Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang constantly recited the NIRVANA SUTRA, and actually she understood it quite well, but deliberately acted very surprised. When the dragon girl displayed her pearl and offered it to the Buddha she instantaneously became a Buddha. Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang was like the mother of Ch'iu Tzu; she dwelt nowhere and there was nowhere she did not dwell. Her flesh body remains in the world as a model for those of subsequent generations.


ANOTHER GATHA SAYS:

CONSTANTLY RECITING THE NIRVANA SUTRA

SHE BOARDED THE BOAT OF COMPASSION.

PROTECTING AND UPHOLDING THE PROPER DHARMA

SHE WAITED, FOR THE FLOCKS OF WORTHIES.

LITERARY PRAJNA IS NOT

THE ESSENTIAL TRUTH.

THE MIND SEALS WONDERFUL MEANING

CANNOT BE EXPRESSED.

SHE GUIDED LIVING BEINGS

TO RECOGNIZE THE SAGE,

ESTABLISHING A BUDDHA FIELD

WHERE MEN AND WOMEN WERE TAUGHT.

THE SOURCE OF TS'AO HSI'S FLOW IS TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE AGES.

NAN HUA MONASTERY AND BHIKSUNI WU CHIN ARE PERPETUALLY FRAGRANT.

Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang, who recited the MAHAPARINIRVANASUTRA, mounted a great boat of compassion and came. She vowed to help the Great Master the Sixth Patriarch, propagate the Proper Dharma, and waited for the worthy ones of the future who would cultivate the Way. The spoken word, the written word are not the genuine wonderful truth of the Buddha. The wonderful meaning of using the mind to seal the mind is basically inexpressible. Fundamentally there isn't anything to say. The Bhiksuni introduced many living beings to the Sixth Patriarch so that they came to recognize the Sage. A Bodhimandala was built where men and women were taught. Another monk here also has a Ts'ao Hsi source and yet he basically hasn't any idea where Ts'ao Hsi is; he's never been there, and yet he's come up with Ts'ao Hsi source. The water of Ts'ao Hsi has been handed down from the past and still remains. Nan Hua Monastery and Bhiksuni Wu Chin Tsang have about them an eternally auspicious air.