BODHI SEAL OF THE PATRIARCHS
DYNASTY DHYANA MASTER SHIH-CH'AN PEN-WU
the Venerable Master Hua trans: Bhiksuni Heng Yin checked: Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih
edited: Bhiksu Heng Kuan
MASTER WAS FROM K'UN MING, THE SON OF THE CHANG FAMILY, AND WAS ORPHANED AT AN
EARLY AGE. ONE DAY WHILE SWIMMING IN K'UN MING POOL HE SAW GREEN LOTUSES
FLOATING ATOP THE WATER. THE OTHER PEOPLE DID NOT SEE THEM, AND THOUGHT THIS
Master was from K'un Ming, and his family name was Chang. When he was five or
six, his father died. One day, as the Master was swimming in K'un Ming Pool he
saw many green lotuses floating on the water and mentioned it to some others.
"What lotuses?" they all said. They didn't see them. Why did he see
them when the others did not? It was because he had accumulated good roots and
so was able to open his five eyes—the Buddha-eye, the Dharma-eye, the
heavenly-eye, the wisdom eye, and the flesh-eye. The flesh-eye does not refer to
our ordinary eyes, however. When you open the five eyes you obtain five kinds of
power: faith, vigor, mindfulness, samadhi, and wisdom. We should constantly
cultivate in preparation for those eyes to open. If you become angry, the eyes
will close. They may have been just about to open, but they will just disappear.
That is why cultivators have to be extremely careful not to become angry or
afflicted. Otherwise, they will have to start their cultivation all over again.
As the verse says:
see what you will do.
you don't recognize
what's before your eyes,
have to start anew.
five eyes start out the size of tiny dust motes and grow. People who have them
can tell if someone has Way-virtue by looking at his five eyes. If the eyes are
big or are about to open, then the person has Way-virtue. They may even be open,
but one can't yet see clearly with them. In this case one should practice a lot
of Way-virtue. "If Dharma Master Pen Wu was just a child," you may
wonder, "how could he have practiced Way-virtue?" He had done so in
AGE NINETEEN HE HAD HIS HEAD SHAVED UNDER MASTER HSIU SHAN K'UNG KUNG. HE
RECEIVED THE MIND DHARMA FROM DHYANA MASTER SUO AN. HE OFTEN REGRETTED THAT HIS
DHARMA-EYE WAS NOT YET CLEAR, BUT HE WAS QUICK AND DETERMINED TO INVESTIGATE THE
received the mind seal Dharma even though he was very young. After he left home,
his eyes weren't always open and he couldn't always see clearly. He sighed with
regret, but he was still determined to investigate his Ch'an topic with all his
DAY AS HE WAS OUT BEGGING, CARRYING HIS BOWL THROUGH THE CITY OF MI HAI, HE
HEARD SOMEONE IN A NEARBY HOUSE SINGING:
CURD LI, BEAN CURD CHANG,
THE PILLOW, A THOUSAND ROADS TO TRAVEL ON;
ONCE THEY WAKE UP,
SELLING BEAN CURD AGAIN.
SUDDENLY HE DROPPED HIS CLOTH BAG.
He was out begging in Mi Hai, Yunnan, and heard someone singing about the
bean curd sellers Chang and Li who when they slept they dreamed a Thousand
things: "Tomorrow I will open a jewelry store, sell my treasures and make a
lot of money. Then I'll open a bank and make even more, much more than I do
selling bean curd." But when they wake up in the morning they pack up and
go off selling bean curd again. When the Dharma Master heard this he suddenly
dropped his bag. This signifies his enlightenment. In other words, he put it all
down. He was suddenly enlightened.
NOBLE MU, AN OFFICIAL OF CHEN NAN, BUILT A PLATFORM AND ASKED THE MASTER TO
EXPOUND THE DHARMA. HE WROTE THE WIND
AND ECHO COLLECTION,
WHICH CIRCULATED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.
Noble Mu was a high government official of the Ming Dynasty. He was blessed with
a lot of merit and built a Bodhimanda where people could speak the Sutras. He
invited Master Pen Wu to lecture there.
VERSE IN HIS PRAISE RUNS:
HIS BOWL FROM DOOR TO DOOR,
NEVER FORGOT HIMSELF.
SINGLE SENTENCE SEVERED THE FLOW,
SHATTERED THE EMPTY VOID.
WORDS AND SUBTLE SPEECH,
THE SUPREME PRINCIPLE ARE THE SAME.
A TIGER WEARING HORNS WAS HE--
GREAT FAN IN THE MYSTERIOUS WIND.
HIS BOWL FROM DOOR TO DOOR/refers to the practice of sequential begging. One
goes from house to house in order and begs to help people plant blessings. As
one begs, one goes to seven houses. If no food is obtained by the time one
reaches the seventh house, one simply doesn't eat that day. If one has not
planted blessings in the past, he will be an "Arhat holding an empty
NEVER FORGOT HIMSELF/means that he never failed to use effort in his
cultivation. A SINGLE SENTENCE SEVERED THE FLOW/refers to the severing of false
thought, to his hearing of the song and subsequent enlightenment.
WORDS AND SUBTLE SPEECH/Coarse words refers to the song about the bean curd
sellers. Ultimately, coarse words and subtle speech IN THE SUPREME PRINCIPLE ARE
THE SAME/They return to the primary principle. It is said:
words and subtle speech
revert to the primary meaning.
A TIGER WEARING HORNS WAS HE/A GREAT PAN IN THE MYSTERIOUS VOID/He had great
understanding and was well known.
A DIVINE PRODIGY, HE GREW UP WITH RARE TALENTS;
THE PAST HE AMASSED WHOLESOME ROOTS,
AND OPENED HIS WISDOM-EYE.
THE WATER, GREEN LOTUSES,
KNOWN TO BE AN UNUSUAL SIGN;
THE MOUNTAINS, THE WHITE SNOW
CUT HIM OFF FROM THE DUST OF THE
CURD! BEAN CURD!" SUDDENLY HE AWOKE;
BODHI, INSTANTANEOUSLY WAS PLANTED.
SINCERITY, HE SUBDUED
THE ENTIRE DHARMA REALM,
RETURNED TO EMPTY SPACE--
TO THE FIELDS LIKE MOTES OF DUST.
A DIVINE PRODIGY, HE GREW UP WITH RARE TALENTS/He was born with a great deal of
wisdom. IN THE PAST HE AMASSED WHOLESOME ROOTS AND OPENED HIS WISDOM-EYE/That is
why he could see the green lotuses. ATOP THE WATER, GREEN LOTUSES, KNOWN TO BE
AN UNUSUAL SIGN/That which others cannot see, he could see. He was basically
different from other people. IN THE MOUNTAINS THE WHITE SNOW
CUT HIM OFF FROM THE DUST OF THE WORLD/"BEAN CURD: BEAN CURD!"
SUDDENLY HE AWOKE/One sentence of the song and his false thinking was severed
forever. BODHI, BODHI, INSTANTANEOUSLY WAS PLANTED/Nourish your Bodhi-tree
quickly. If you understand, you should cultivate. Don't wait for next year and
play this year saying, "Next year I'll leave home," while you run
around and see all the sights. This line of verse means you should not wait.
SINCERITY HE SUBDUED THE ENTIRE DHARMA REALM/He held onto Bodhi at all times and
in the future the fruit of that enlightenment shall fill the Dharma Realm. AND
RETURNED TO EMPTY SPACE--TO THE FIELDS LIKE MOTES OF DUST/ He was free to come
and go. When the Bodhi-fruit is ripe, you can go to any land you wish because
you are very, very free.
means that there is no more Dharma. The Dharma has come to its final stages,
like the very tips of the branches of a tree. The Orthodox Dharma Age can be
likened to the roots of the tree, the Dharma Resemblance Age to the branches,
and the Dharma-ending Age to the twigs, the tips of the branches.
the Dharma Resemblance Age people will still create Buddha-images, but during
the Dharma-ending Age they won't even do that. What will they do? They will be
strong in fighting. "You fight me, and I battle with you," everyone
will be thinking of nothing but struggle and so the good Dharma will turn into
"No dharma." Without the good Dharma, the Buddhadharma will become
there are words on the printed Sutra texts. When the Dharma-ending Age descends,
the words will disappear from the paper. Why? Scientific progress in the field
of chemical warfare has created pollution in the air and there is not a single
place at present where the air is clean. It is all-full of poison, and so when
people breathe it, if they don't get cancer, they come down with some other
incurable disease. Because of this impure air, gradually the words of the Sutras
will be poisoned right off of the paper. The first to disappear will be the Surangama Sutra. That is
why, in the West, the first order of business is to investigate the Surangama
Sutra and promote it. Why do we recite the Surangama Mantra and promote it? Why
do we recite the Surangama Mantra twice every day—once in the morning and once
at night? If there is no one in the world who can recite the Surangama Mantra,
the demons and strange creatures can get into the world. But as long as there is
one person in the world who recites the Surangama Mantra, the demons won't dare
show their faces. So our recitation of the Surangama Mantra supports and
maintains the Orthodox Dharma Age.
are now turning the Dharma-ending Age into the Orthodox Dharma Age.
by the Venerable Master Hua, March, 1969