THE BODHI SEAL OF THE PATRIARCHS
THE VENERABLE MASTER HSUAN HUA
CH’ING DYNASTY DHYANA MASTER TU-CH’E TS’ANG-HSUEH
This Dhyana Master was a high Sangha member of the Ch’ing dynasty. Actually he was born in the Ming and lived through the change of the dynasty into the first period of the Ch’ing, the hsun-chih reign period (1644-1662). He was called Tu-ch'e and Ts'ang-hsueh but in time he also became renowned as the "Poet Monk" in praise of his literary skill.
THE MASTER'S NAME WAS TS'ANG-HSUEH AND HE WAS FROM CHENG-KUNG COUNTY IN YUNNAN PROVINCE. HIS FATHER'S NAME WAS CHAO. WHEN HE WAS YOUNG HE FOLLOWED HIS FATHER TO HAVE HIS HEAD SHAVED. His father was also a member of the Sangha. Not long after the Master was born—when he was about six years old--his father left the home life and he too had his head shaved IN K'UN-MING AT MIAO-CHEN MONASTERY.
AFTER RECEIVING THE COMPLETE PRECEPTS HE SERVED THE ABBOT SHUI-YUEH. AFTER A LONG WHILE HIS BRIGHT WISDOM GREW CLEAR AND PENETRATING. He became extremely wise and had keen intelligence. IN TIME HE BECAME KNOWN AS THE "POET MONK" AND GAINED GREAT PRESTIGE. He deeply penetrated literary ·Y- and was widely respected for his writings.
HE PLANTED HIS STAFF AT WU-HUI AND HAD CLOSE AFFINITIES WITH DHYANA MASTER YU. The two Dhyana Masters really thought the same about everything. They were very good to each other and there existed no jealousy or hindrances between them. ABBOT YU MADE HIM THE SENIOR-SEATED OF THE ASSEMBLY AND EVENTUALLY HE INHERITED THE POSITION OF ABBOT AT CHUNG-FENG. HE BECAME A FAMOUS AND INFLUENTIAL FIGURE THROUGH THE TEN DIRECTIONS. His renown spread far and wide, and he was considered an important person at all the monasteries throughout the ten directions. All the cultivators wanted to be with him. LATER AT PAO-HAU MOUNTAIN HE LECTURED THE SURANGAMA SUTRA. ONE DAY HE TOOK HIS LEAVE OF THE ASSEMBLY AND WHILE SEATED IN THE HIGH SEAT HE DEPARTED. HIS WORK CALLED "THE AVATAMSAKA SEA SEAL" IN FORTY-TWO ROLLS HAS BEEN PROPAGATED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. A VERSE IN HIS PRAISE SAYS:
WITH EMPTY SPACE FOR A MOUTH
AND THE THOUSAND THINGS FOR A TONGUE
IN A SINGLE SENTENCE EVERYTHING EMERGED:
HE SPOKE PERPETUALLY DAY AND NIGHT.
BEARING THE CUDGELS OF TE SHAN
ENDURING THE SHOUTS OF LIN-CHI
PIEH PIEH THE FLAMES BLAZED
AS FROM THE CENSER HE SCOOPED THE BRIGHT MOON.
WITH EMPTY SPACE FOR A MOUTH/He used the whole of empty space for a mouth--he could take in the four vast seas and drink them dry in a single gulp.
AND THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS FOR A TONGUE/As Su T'ung-p'o said,
Of the colors of the mountains,
None are not the vast, long tongue;
Of the sounds of the streams,
All are the clear, pure sound.
BEARING THE CUDGELS OF TE SHAN/He endured the stick-wielding methods of Te Shan Monastery. ENDURING THE SHOUTS OF LIN-CHI. He waited out the shouts of the Lin-chi adherents. When the ancients sought the Way they gave up their very lives in the search. He submitted to the teachings of the sects in order to learn the Buddhadharma. If no one watches over you, how can you break attachments? How can you end birth and death? How can you smash the barrelful of black energy? The ancients all sought to be without a mark of self. "No matter what anyone does to me I will not be moved. I will not be angry." They had hearts like ashes, like water, like cotton. In the Lin-chi sect the method of teaching centers around shouting. Whoever comes, the moment he walks in the door there comes the shout "WHO?" The aim is--perhaps at the sound of the shout, or as in the method used at Te Shan Monastery, perhaps in the beating of a stick--at that one sound of "the lion's roar" all of a sudden one can wake up. PIEH PIEH THE FLAMES BLAZED/Pieh Pieh is the sound of the crackling wood in the heat of the fire. AS FROM THE CENSER HE SCOOPED THE BRIGHT MOON/This is a question of what kind of skill you have with respect to the true nature. This is not something I wish to speak too clearly about just yet because if you have an explanation without the experience of having done the work, then you end up with a lot of "head-mouth zen."
ANOTHER VERSE IN HIS PRAISE SAYS,
IF EVEN DHARMAS SHOULD BE RENOUNCED, WHAT IS THERE TO SAY?
THE MASTER CRAFTSMAN IS NEITHER CLEVER NOR CLUMSY.
ONE SENTENCE FILLED THE STORE OF EMPTY SPACE.
THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS TOGETHER RETURN TO MAHAYANA;
RECOGNIZING HIS OWN ORIGINAL FACE,
HE REMEMBERED HIS OWN NATURE'S ANCIENT BUDDHA.
FIRM IN HIS SEAT HE DEPARTED WELL--FILLING UP REALMS LIKE GRAINS OF SAND.
PRAJNA PARAMITA ABOUNDS WITH SECRETS.
IF EVEN DHARMAS SHOULD BE RENOUNCED/This line is praising this Dhyana Master who, since he had already accomplished his realization, spontaneously did everything right. THE MASTER CRAFTSMAN IS NEITHER CLEVER NOR CLUMSY/Since he is a Master, his work far transcends comparisons of good and bad.
ONE SENTENCE FILLED THE STORE OF EMPTY SPACE/All the Dharma treasures are completely gathered in a single sentence spoken by this Dhyana Master.
THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS TOGETHER RETURN TO MAHAYANA/Mahayana is the Great Vehicle, so it is not as if they return to one small thing--they return to the vast expanse of the Mahayana.
RECOGNIZING HIS OWN ORIGINAL FACE/He remembered what he looked like before his parents bore him. After birth one has a physical shape, but before birth what is one? This is what he understood. HE REMEMBERED HIS OWN NATURE'S ANCIENT BUDDHA/He had carried that Buddha with him for countless aeons; he had constantly been with him. The ancient Buddha is just the Buddha-nature. Understand? FIRM IN HIS SEAT HE DEPARTED WELL-FILLING UP REALMS LIKE GRAINS OF SAND/It is not that he fell asleep, he went off to rebirth while on the Dharma seat. PRAJNA PARAMITA ABOUNDS WITH SECRETS/This is making reference to the wonderful accomplishments of this Dhyana Master.
QUESTION AND ANSWER:
Disciple: A Japanese Zen Master said American Zen is going side-ways by writing books and talking about psychology, theology, and religion. He said someone should stand up and smash it all, and then true Dharma would be maintained in this land of liberty. I would like the Master's comment on this as it relates to the spread of Buddhism in America.
Master Hua: Should all of it be smashed or should the Japanese man be smashed?
Disciple after a pause: Both.
Master Hua: If both were smashed what use would the Dharma have? With everyone dead there would be nothing. A lot of people who use intellectual Zen say things which scare people to death to display th6ir special style. Perhaps at the time, the people he was speaking to found use in what he said, but it is not of use to everyone. It's like a key. It can open some locks, but not all. It's not like a master key that can open all doors.