BODHI SEAL OF THE PATRIARCHS
COMPOSED BY TRIPITAKA MASTER HSUAN-HUA
by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
THE MASTER WAS GIVEN THE
NAME CHIH-CHING. HE WAS NAMED TA-AN. HE WAS FROM SHAO-KUAN IN KUANG-TUNG
PROVINCE. HE WAS A SON OF THE LIANG FAMILY WHO LIVED AT CHU-CHIANG. HE WAS
BORN IN THE FOURTH YEAR OF THE REIGN PERIOD CHEN-MING
OF THE LATTER LIANG. The latter Liang was one of the Five Dynasties. You can look up these facts in books. I don't care about historical research. I just explain it and let it go at that. FROM THE TIME HE WAS YOUNG HE TOOK NO PLEASURE IN WORLDLY MATTERS. He didn't like worldly fame or profit. He was a loner. He didn't play with other children, or if he did he always suggested they go to the temple. He didn't like worldly things but wanted to study transcendental dharmas. You don't have to look elsewhere to know this, you can tell by the text, which says AT TWELVE HE LEFT THE HOME LIFE. AT TWENTY HE RECEIVED THE COMPLETE PRECEPTS, GOING TO YON-MEN TO RESIDE. He was only twelve years old when he left home, and he took the complete precepts at Yun-men. LIU-SHENG OF THE SOUTHERN HAN REVERED HIS VIRTUE. Following the T'ang Dynasty, in the Southern Han Dynasty, there was a layman named Liu-sheng who revered the virtue of Dhyana Master Ta-an and respected his instructions. He listened well and did as he was told. THE VENERABLE ONE'S MAGNANIMITY WAS VERY GREAT.
THE MASTER HAPPENED TO BE PASSING TA-T'UNG. NOTE: TA-T'UNG IS ONE OF THE EIGHT SCENIC LOCATIONS OF YANG-CH'ENG I.E. CANTON, AT THE MOUTH OF A MOUNTAIN CAVE. At a cave beside the ocean A STRONG WIND FORCED HIM ASHORE. The text says that a wind pushed him up onto the shore, but actually it was Dharma-protecting Bodhisattvas urging him to build a Bodhimanda at that site. The Master had the heavenly eye, so he probably knew. Don't worry about whether what I say is true or false, just believe it. SEEING AN OLD TEMPLE, HE WAS CAPTURED BY ITS SUPERB ATMOSPHERE AND COULD NOT BEAR TO LEAVE. If it weren't that the Dharma-protecting spirits and those of the eight divisions were aiding him, how could he have come across an old temple? He had no lamp. He saw the old temple lit by moonlight and he thought when he saw it that it was a pure and excellent place for cultivation. The Dharma-protecting spirits and those of the eight divisions didn't want him to leave, so the text says that he could not bear to leave. HE ASKED LIU TO RENOVATE IT. The Dharma-protectors told him to ask Liu, a local official, to fix up the old temple. "Certainly,” replied Liu, "and then you can stay here and cultivate," for, as already mentioned, Liu revered his virtue. He saw that this Dharma Master looked like a real cultivator. He was not wearing good clothes, nor did he seem concerned with worldly things. "Whatever you need, I will take care of it," Liu told the Master.
SUNG EMPEROR T'AI TSUNG CONFERRED THE NAME JEWELED LIGHT UPON THE TEMPLE. IN THE THIRD YEAR OF THE REIGN PERIOD T'AI-P'ING HSING-KUO (979 A.D.) HE SAID GOODBY TO THE ASSEMBLY AND DEPARTED. AN EFFICACIOUS LIGHT LIT UP THE SKIES. After his Nirvana, a light which was not green, yellow, red, white, or black, but which had a spiritual radiance, went high into the skies. You don't need to be concerned with exactly how high it went. It was just high. AFTERWARDS, OFFERINGS WERE MADE TO HIS TRUE BODY AND OFTEN TRACES OF HIS EFFICACIOUS LIGHT WOULD REVEAL THEMSELVES. His followers made offerings to his flesh body. EVEN TO THE PRESENT THE BODY HAS NOT DECAYED. PEOPLE CAME FROM NEAR AND FAR, VYING FOR A CHANCE TO BOW TO IT. THE MASTER LIVED TO SEVENTY-TWO YEARS OF AGE.
THE PRAISE SAYS:
A GREAT LORD APPEARED BY TRANSFORMATION;
ENCOUNTERING CONDITIONS, HE THEN RESPONDS.
THE ANCIENT TRACWS OF TA-TSUNG
CONTINUED THE LINE OF FORMER SAGES.
EFFICACIOUS LIGHT LIT UP THE SKIES
SHATTERING THE LONG NIGHT'S DREAM.
HIS UNDECAYING BODY IS A MODEL FOR THE WORLD,
AND FORMS A FIELD OF BLESSINGS FOR OFFERINGS.
ANOTHER VERSE IN HIS PRAISE SAYS:
TWO WORTHY SAGES EMERGED
FROM THE LAND OF BARBARIANS
THEIR WISDOM SWORDS PIERCED THROUGH
TEN THOUSAND YEARS OF STRANGE CREATURES.
THE LIANG HOUSEHOLD HAD A SON
WHO REACHED THE OTHER SHORE.
IN THE LIU FAMILY, WITHOUT A PATRIARCH,
NONE WOULD HAVE BEEN LOFTY AND TRANSCENDENT.
THE WAY HE LEFT
WAS THE WAY WE, TOO SHOULD GO.
OUR COMING SHOULD, LIKE HIS
BE FREE OF TOIL.
SHOULDERING OUR BUDDHA'S
GREAT ANCESTRAL TRADE,
HOW CAN ONE FEAR A BATTERING
BY WIND, RAIN, AND SUN?
TWO WORTHY SAGES EMERGED FROM THE LAND OF BARBARIANS. They were two and yet not two. Not two and yet two. The Chinese people call people from the borderlands, who are illiterate, country folk, "barbarians." But you should not look down on people just because they haven't any education, for some may have a sword of wisdom. THEIR WISDOM SWORD PIERCED THROUGH TEN THOUSAND YEARS OF STRANGE CREATURES. All the strange creatures in Canton were saying, "Believe in me, believe in me." Strange creatures do not necessarily refer to supernatural beings, but to strange people. But the fact that it says ten thousand years indicates that the strange creatures had a little spiritual penetration. However, the Sixth Patriarch had a sword of wisdom, which he used to slice through all of them. THE LIANG FAMILY HAD A SON WHO REACHED THE OTHER SHORE. This can be explained two ways: in the Liang Dynasty one son was Ta-an, i.e. one who has "Reached the Other Shore." Or, the Liang family had a son who had already reached the other shore, that is, he had perfected all the paramitas. We, however, have not.
IN THE LU FAMILY WITHOUT THE PATRIARCH NONE WOULD HAVE BEEN LOFTY AND TRANSCENDENT. This line also can be explained in two ways: Lu is the family name of the Sixth Patriarch. In that family, if it had not been for the Patriarch, the rest of the family would not have been able to be lofty and transcendent. They would not have been able to come out very high. But because of the Patriarch, everyone thinks highly of that family. Another explanation is that in the Lu family there is not a "single member who, because of the Sixth Patriarch's virtue, was not able to transcend the world. All have gone to the Land of Eternal Still Bright Light. They all made it over the top. Later you can find four, or eight, or limitless meanings. It just depends upon how much you want to look into it. THE WAY HE LEFT WAS THE WAY WE TOO SHOULD GO. He's already gone to the other shore. We who are not barbarians should really be ashamed. He was a country hick and became a Patriarch. Why haven't we also gone that way? If you want to, you can. Just follow him. OUR COMING SHOULD, LIKE HIS, BE FREE OF TOIL. Coming here, we should think ourselves equal to the Patriarch and not fear any toil. Where did he go? To the place he was supposed to go. We have not gone there yet. Coming here, we should be here: at Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco, America, the Dharma Realm. You've come to the Dharma Realm, so you should think of yourself as equal to the task. Study to be a Patriarch. Think of yourself as his equal. Don't fear toil, don't fear exhaustion. The harder the better! Don't fear bitterness or demonic obstacles. The more demonic obstructions the better!
OUR BUDDHA'S GREAT ANCESTRAL TRADE. We should take up the burden of the
responsibility for spreading the Buddha's teaching. Hold it on your
shoulders. If it is a little heavy, exert yourself.
AVAILABLE IN FEBRUARY 1976
RECORDS OF THE LIFE OF CH'AN MASTER HUA, VOLUME TWO. This volume traces the Master's pilgrimage south from Manchuria and describes events pertaining to his decade of teaching in Hong Kong. Photographs, letters, documents, portraits, humor, tragedy, prophecy, healing, Dharma talks, and more are found within.
A GENERAL EXPLANATION OF THE ESSENTIALS OF THE SRAMANERA VINAYA AND RULES OF DEPORTMENT, by Tripitaka Master Hua. A thorough discussion of the conduct expected of. a novice in the Buddhist tradition. Detailed explanation of the ten novice precepts.
-March 12, 1976 begins a one week meditation session honoring Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Walking and chanting, sitting in silence, two vegetarian meals, instructional talks, dress warmly, apply in advance, everyone welcome. Evenings the Abbot of Gold Mountain will explain the Avatamsaka, the King of Buddhist writings.
-March 21, 1976 is the anniversary of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's birth. Arrive at 9 am. Call in advance for reservations for vegetarian feast.
-April 9, 1976 begins a weeklong session of recitation of the Great Compassion Mantra. Walking and chanting, sitting in silence, questions & answers, the Great Compassion Repentance Ceremony for dissolving bad karma, two vegetarian meals, apply in advance, all welcome. Avatamsaka Sutra lectures every evening.
-April 13, 14, 15 ceremonies honoring Great Master Ch'ang-chih, Great Master Ch'ang-jen, and the Venerable Abbot of Gold Mountain. Begins at 9 am. Call, for reservations for vegetarian meal.
TO BE PUBLISHED: THE THOUSAND HANDED THOUSAND EYED, GREAT COMPASSION HEART